Smoke and Mirrors
(The Ever Chace Chronicles, #3)
Published by: Crimson Tree Publishing
Publication date: May 29th 2017
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Ever Chace is a Valkyrie, but not just any Valkyrie—she’s a Valkyrie queen in the making.
Torn between the past and present, love and obligation, Ever is terrified of saying the words that would break the curse she is bound to. Pushing Derek away hasn’t simplified things; it has only made her miserable. With her father waking, and her and Derek’s lives on the line, can she really shy away from who and what she is becoming? How long can Ever keep her past lives a secret?
Pushing thoughts of his mate aside, Derek tries to focus on the task at hand—tracking down a monster that leaves nothing but a husk behind. But Ever is never truly off his mind, even as two of his own become targets of the unsub. Can he set his personal distractions aside to keep his team alive?
Caitlyn bade Derek farewell and left him staring out at the stars. Making her way outside, she inhaled the night air, tasting the frost in the air before it quickly evaporated, her lungs no longer functional. Her heels clicked against the concrete as she hurried towards her car, the sound of her name being called as she reached the car hasting her movement.
“You heading home?”
Donnie had sensed when she’d left the station and would, of course, make sure she was alright before he continued on with his duties.
“I am. Are you staying here for a while?”
Folding his arms across his chest, Donnie tilted his head and narrowed his gaze. “Yeah, I have one or two leads to follow up before I head out. I should get home just after sunrise.”
“Okay, I shall see you then.” Caitlyn turned around as she heard Donnie swear. A hand on her waist caused her to pause, and she turned back to face him.
He never spoke, never made a sound, but the look in his eyes told her exactly what was about to happen. Donnie crushed his lips to hers, pushing her back against the car so that she was trapped between the metal and his overwhelming mass, ensuring that she could not escape.
It was not a gentle kiss, but a claiming of sorts—a strong, bruising meeting of lips that told Caitlyn that Donnie was done waiting and intended to take what he considered his. He nipped her bottom lip, drawing blood, the copper taste mingling with Donnie’s own unique taste. He gave a little groan, and with a little more pressure on her lips, Caitlyn opened up as Donnie tasted, sucked on, and devoured her mouth. And when Caitlyn felt her control slip, eager to succumb to the passion that this man excited from her, Donnie pulled back, finally allowing her space.
“I had to do that. I needed you to know what my intentions are, Cait. I don’t care who claims you are theirs; you are mine, and I plan to seduce you into agreeing with me. I’m the only man you need worry about, Caitlyn Hardi. Because I am yours—now, forever, and always.”
Interview with a vampire…part deux.
As a child, I’d always imagined what it would be like if vampire’s, my favourite supernatural creature, was real. Now, since the supernatural community had revealed themselves to the world, I sat in the interrogation room at the Paranormal Investigations Team’s HQ, waiting to interview my second vampire. As intimidated as I was when I interviewed the breathtakingly beautiful, Caitlyn Hardi, this time around, I was terrified.
My subject for today, Melanie Newton, was the youngest vampire I had ever been around, and from all that I heard, baby vampires had the least impulse control. From recordings I’ve made, Melanie seemed to have a strong grasp of control, but that didn’t stop me from being afraid. I dressed down for the interview, my normal attire I suppose, in order to not only make myself comfortable, but to show Melanie that I was just like her.
Dressed in jeans, well-worn DC shoes, a t-shirt that said “You only live once, unless your surname is Winchester,” with a check shirt thrown over for good measure. Melanie was well known for her slogan tees, and I loved that little quirk about her.
The door to the interrogation room opened and Caitlyn Hardi strolled in, gave me a brief nod of the head before sanding in the corner while Melanie came in. Dressed in black skin tight jeans tucked into boots and a crimson Fangtasia tee, I couldn’t help but return the grin Melanie gave me.
Her strawberry blonde hair hung loose around her shoulders, eyes of rich jade looking right at me, Melanie had been pretty as a human, but the same chemical magic mumbo jumbo that made humans immortal, seemed to accentuate the features on most vampires and made them stunning. But, from what I had seen of Melanie previously, I was certain she had no idea how beautiful she really was.
Plonking down across the table from me, Melanie flashed her teeth and said. “Caitlyn’s here to make sure I don’t rip out your jugular. Sarge says it would be bad publicity. That okay?”
“With you ripping out my jugular? Um no. But with Caitlyn staying, no worries.”
Caitlyn chuckled even as she shook her head, closing the door so we could get started.
SH: Melanie thanks for agreeing to this interview today. I know you all have a big case going on at the moment.
MN: Ya, and I’m a little nervous that I might mess something up…or you know kill someone.
I glance at Caitlyn, who only shrugs.
SH: how does it feel to now be a full-time member of P.I.T? I mean, you were before, but from behind a desk. now you get to kick ass and take names...
MN: I guess it's just different. I always felt a little on the outside before, even though everyone always tried to make me feel included. I will say it's great to know that I can definitely take care of myself now .... I mean look what happened to me out there as a human lol.
SH: but that had nothing to do with you being human, I mean, Derek got himself kidnapped not so long ago and he's all wolfy and male...
MN: Maybe but let's be honest - they would NEVER have let me out there to help as I was .... and that would always have kept me separate from the team.
SH: that’s true…I understand…I asked Sarge once if I could go on a ride along and he simply glared at me in that way that makes you want to comply… Did it really take becoming a vampire to make you feel part of the team?
MN: I think so .... but I think a lot of that is probably on me. I'm sure if you ask the others they probably didn't see it that way. But being around them all day, with the amazing things they can do .... now I AM one .... it is all the more obvious how much I wasn't before. I mean how do YOU feel when you are around you?
It was then that Caitlyn interjected with a sad sigh.
CH: We would never have thought less of you because you were human.
SH: Hey (I say with palms up) I'm supposed to be asking the questions...but I get it, being around all these powerful supernatural creatures can be a little intimating....
MN: *Flashes her fangs* which earns her another glare from Caitlyn
SH: OK OK (I say with a grin) Next question.
I begin to relax, the ease of the interview, and the fact that Melanie seems so comfortable in her skin now, something that I feared she would be missing since becoming a vampire.
SH: How has your training been going? I mean, vampire strength is one thing, but I'm pretty sure Caitlyn could take you down without breaking a sweat!
MN: It's a learning curve for sure! But I have great teachers, and they certainly have no problem putting me in my place if I am getting a little full of myself
SH: Let me guess, Donnie? (I say with a smile.)
MN: lol yes - he certainly reminds me who's boss!
We share a laugh and I take a second to consider my next question.
SH: How do the rest of the team treat you now that you’re a vampire?
MN: *laughs* they are getting used to me. Seriously they have been amazing especially Ricky *sighs*. There is always that fear that you could lose control you know ... I mean that is ALWAYS there .... but they know how this works and I couldn't ask for better support
SH: And speaking of everyone’s favourite sexy smartass…do you think that he’s a little intimidated that now, you outrank him on a supernatural level?
MN: HA!!!!! Oh, I hope so!!!! Wouldn't that be fun?
I don't think intimidated is the right word though .... honestly, he scares me .... but don't tell him that.
SH: Why does Ricky scare you? Anytime I’ve chatted to him, he’s been a sweetheart.
MN: He has more power in him that I think anyone can realize .... or maybe he just makes me feel that way. I mean have you SEEN him?? You can’t be in a room with him and not notice.
There is a slight hitch in her voice as Melanie talks about Ricky, but having met the man himself, I can understand the effect Ricky has on a mere mortal, but someone he gives the full charm offensive to, damn …you’d be a goner.
SH: There is no room that Ricky Moore can walk into without being noticed for sure...but then again...all you guys have that same aura about you!
MN: Really? Hmmmm maybe it's a supe thing. I don't notice it so much with other people though
SH: For an obvious reason (I say with a smirk)
MN: Ricky has always had a different effect on me .... even when I was human.
SH: (I glance quickly at Caitlyn before I continue.) Maybe it’s that thing, you know. That there will always be one person in the room that has this pull to them, and no matter how hard you try, the magnetism will not go away
MN:* Looks around the room before quite obviously avoiding the issue* Hmm yeah ok,this interview just got far too intense .... don’t you have some fun questions your readers want to know?
SH: So you really just want to ask you about TV shows you like? Sure you wouldn’t like to continue talking about Ricky?
MN: TV shows sounds FANTASTIC
SH: Okay. okay… I get it …so what do you watch? And by the way, what’s it like to live in Caitlyn’s house? I mean that place is impressive!
MN: That place is AMAZING! Seriously it doesn't feel real half the time. I wake up and expect it all to have been a dream...... now if certain other people living in the house would just accept (gets scathing look from Cait) ....... ummmmmm *pauses as she tries to change direction* ........ oh never mind let's just go with it's amazing! What was the other question? What do I like to watch *Laughs* ...How long do you have?
SH: Just accept what? C'mon Melanie you can’t leave me hangin'
MN: *Glances over at Cait* .... nope you're on your own
SH: Really? Do you not think readers would LOVE an inside look into your family dynamic?
MN: Not my story to tell. Hey, you should interview Donnie ...... I bet you could get some great insights from him.
*With a look of pure glee on her face, Melanie turns to Caitlyn. *
Ha look at that - guess I am learning some restraint *Toothy Gin*
SH: Donnie’s next on my list but he keeps dodging me...like I’m the one with the ability to read minds! And damn you and your restraint! I want the lowdown.
MN: Yes, Donnie is very good at avoiding things.
MN: interviews and awkward questions lol
SH: Dude, your poker face is on point!
*hums a few bars from the Lady Gaga song*
SH: *I laugh and say, as I sneak a peek at Caitlyn, who simply arches her brow at me. *
I'm not going to get a straight answer from either of you ever am I?
NM: What can I say - I learned from the best
There’s a knock at the door and Ricky pops his head in...."Hey sorry guys, but we got some techy stuff that we could use Melanie's help with.” Then he vanishes out the door again
MN: Oooh saved by the warlock
SH: What’s with the Melanie? what happened to Lanie?
MN: *shadows cloud her eyes for just a moment before she answers* .... it's complicated *sigh*
SH: Why do I feel that story should be told over a drink., off the record?
MN: that definitely sounds like a plan!
SH: Before you go, I have a present for you! * I pull out a t-shirt in a moss green colour (nothing at all to do with Ricky's eyes!) and hand it to Melanie *
MN: What's this? - I do LOVE a good T-Shirt
Melanie holds up the tee: it has a picture of a cat with the slogan “Schrodinger's cat walks into a bar. and doesn't.”
Melanie unfolds the shirt and erupts in fits of childish giggles
MN: This is BRILLIANT - Schrodinger's cat walks into a bar. and doesn't
Melanie shows the T-Shirt to Caitlyn say who remarks that this is just what Melanie needs - another sarcastic shirt. This causes both Melanie and myself to share a laugh while Caitlyn rolls her eyes some more at us.
SH: I know you like your tees as much as I do, so you can wear it ...or don't …man that’s such a horrible joke!
CH: You two are far too alike.
I think it’s the greatest compliment Caitlyn could give ever give me.
I stand as they make to leave the room, and am surprised as Melanie embraces me in a quick hug. Then she zips from the room as Caitlyn pauses in the doorway when I say her name.
SH: After all she’s been through, she really is remarkable.
CH: She is the very best of us.
Then Caitlyn is gone from the room and I finally let go of the air in my lungs. I realize, after my interview with Melanie, that while the team may be filled with members who are a little worn around the edges, it might take the tech turned vampire girl to show them all that dying doesn’t mean that you stop living; it simply gives you another perspective on what living really means.
And I have a feeling that things are about to change very rapidly.
Susan Harris is a writer from Cork in Ireland.
An avid reader, she quickly grew to love books in the supernatural/fantasy and Dystopian genre. She writes books for young adults and adults alike.
When she is not writing or reading, she loves music, oriental cultures, tattoos, creepy snow globes, DC shoes, stationary, anything Disney, Marvel movies, psychology and far too many TV shows. If she wasn't a writer, she would love to be a FBI profiler or a PA for Dave Grohl or Jared Leto.