An Unholy Alliance
Genre: Paranormal Thriller with Romantic elements
Word Count: 40,000
Cover Artist: Deb Sanders
What would you do if the future of mankind depended on whether you lived or died?
Reyna Blair has learned two things from life – she can tolerate a lot of pain and wounds aren’t always visible. After a stint in the army, she’s ready to drop off the grid and heal. A job as Peace Officer in the small community of Purgatory, Texas sounds like the perfect solution – until the town is rocked by a gruesome murder.
When sexy Texas Ranger, Ty Carter, steps in to help with the investigation, Reyna is both thrilled and annoyed. He’s nice to look at and a definite boost to her sagging ego, but his aggressive ambition might push her right out of a job. To make matters worse, she’s being stalked by a mysterious stranger with a sword that can burst into flames on command.
Reyna’s problems are only beginning. The stranger is an angel of God . . . an Enforcer . . . sent to eliminate a Nephilim woman prophesized as giving birth to the Antichrist. Realizing she’s the target, Reyna must flee or be killed. Along the way, she discovers dark secrets which alter her world forever, challenge her faith, and force a choice between life and death.
*** This story uses a biblical theme but includes scenes with graphic violence and strong language.
The stench of decaying flesh filled the air like day old road kill on a hot August night. Reyna Blair kept her distance as she folded a handkerchief, covered her nose and choked back the urge to heave.
The medical examiner pushed wire framed glasses further along his nose and looked up. “Hard to say, Officer Blair. This damn heat’s accelerated the breakdown of tissue.”
“Then how 'bout a guess?"
The older man squinted, twisted his mouth to one side, and arched bushy brows as he considered her question. "Well, the blowfly larvae are at third instar so I'd say your vic has been dead four, maybe five days. Once I get him to the lab and run some tests, I’ll give you a better estimate.”
Reyna nodded, her eyes riveting to the gaping wound in the dead man’s chest. Someone split his sternum from throat to abdomen, leaving an open cavity that now hosted an infestation of slithering maggots.
Great. Just fucking great.
Rubbing her temples, Reyna glanced away. The mid-morning sun penetrated her dark blonde hair, raising sweat bubbles on her scalp and provoking an already short temper. She glared at the uniformed Texas Rangers swarming her crime scene like an army of pissed off ants.
Crime scene. The words sounded odd when paired with Purgatory - a small retirement community cradled in the rolling hills between San Antonio and Austin. So much for living the quiet life of a small town cop.
Reyna had accepted the position of Peace Officer six months ago after an old army buddy told her about the opening. It wasn’t a seamless hire. The mayor didn’t like her and protested publicly when the town council extended an employment contract. Some said he opposed women in law enforcement. Reyna suspected it had more to do with her contempt for his inflated ego.
In spite of Mayor Townsend’s disapproval, and Reyna’s exasperation with the slower moving senior citizens, she’d been thankful for the job. Purgatory was a much needed antidote for her frayed nerves. A place to hide - and heal. A refuge from the murder and mayhem plaguing her adult life. She’d wished for such a place after being discharged from the army.
But as her drill sergeant used to say, "Wish in one hand and shit in the other, soldier. See which one fills up fastest." Today was a perfect example of what Reyna had come to expect in life – a handful of shit.
“Where's the law in this town?”
A teasing voice drifted over her shoulder, eliciting a grudging smile from her tightly sealed lips. Ty Carter. Texas Ranger and eye candy extraordinaire. She turned to greet the detective walking toward her. His crisp khaki shirt and creased slacks appeared immune to the heat and humidity. No man should look that good in uniform.
Ty let out a long, low whistle as he stared at the corpse. "What a way to start the day."
“You talkin’ to him or me?”
He snickered. “From the look of things, I'd say his day ended long before yours started. Who found him?”
She leaned toward him with a conspiratorial whisper. “Agnes Gaines, who graciously served as tour guide for family and friends before deciding to notify me.”
"That explains the golf carts parked on the side of the road. Looks like a damn old folk’s convention." A lopsided grin lit up his face as he thrust a cup of coffee into her hand. “Iced Mocha Grande. Figured you could use it.”
Cute. Ty Carter was definitely cute. Ever since the tautly muscled detective first sauntered into her office issuing a cocky introduction and a list of services available through the Texas Rangers, she'd joined the ranks of secret . . . and some not so secret . . . admirers. Logic told her he was way too young, or at least he looked it with boyish dimples aligned perfectly on either side of a too kissable mouth.
Five years separated their ages, but Reyna felt decades older. The war had stolen her innocence. War - and working as a beat cop in one of the toughest, most drug infested neighborhoods of Tulsa, Oklahoma. She'd witnessed horrors most people couldn't imagine and would never want to see - which left Reyna even more confused about why a bunch of retirees would rush to view a decomposing body.
She took one more look at the stiff carcass and turned away. For once, it was a blessing to detach emotionally, even though her army shrink considered it a debilitating personality trait. Admittedly, Reyna had sandbagged the counseling sessions but only because the good doc displayed a superiority complex the size of Antarctica. Reyna had no use for know-it-alls or prima donas, and the psychiatrist demonstrated a proclivity for both.
Scowling with the memory, she lifted the cup of coffee to her lips and took a sip. The lid loosened, flooding the front of her shirt with a dark, icy stain. Reyna gasped, quickly brushed away what she could of the beverage and launched a mortified glance at the bystanders hovering near the yellow crime scene ribbon. God, I hope nobody saw that.
It was the most people gathered in the city park she could recall since starting her job, proof of what she'd suspected all along - Agnes Gaines was a natural instigator. Political lobbyists would pay big bucks for someone with her skills.
Her gaze settled on a tall stranger standing apart from the crowd. Black hair spiked across his forehead as he stared at her with unnerving intensity. Shark eyes. Dead eyes. Reyna pushed her aviator sunglasses further up her nose, camouflaging her scrutiny with the reflective lens.
Whatcha lookin' at, mister? You know something I don't? The hair rose on the back of her neck as he continued to watch her. It was as though he could see right through the sunglasses and into her mind.
Massive shoulders filled his long coat, suggesting he wasn’t from the area - or else a complete idiot. What native Texan would wear a heavy duster in the middle of July? He tilted his head to one side, reinforcing her perception he was a telepath.
You’re one strange son of a bitch. The side of her mouth shifted upwards as he flinched. Damn, maybe he really can read my thoughts. The possibility left her more uncomfortable than ever.
About the Author:
I’m an adventurer – more by destiny than design. I’ve explored the back roads and highways of 35 states, resided in eight, and traveled through parts of Mexico, Canada and the Bahamas. My journeys have provided interesting tidbits which I’ve managed to weave into scenes for some of my books.
When I’m not in front of my computer, you might find me perched atop a rock at the back of a box canyon, crouched low in the middle of a dry creek bed with camera aimed at a majestic Elk, or perhaps hanging onto a skiff after a whale has breached next to me. At other times, I’ll be Geocaching with grandsons or attempting a new project inspired by something I’ve discovered on Pinterest.
Not all wanderers are lost. Some of us prefer to throw away the map and meander through life on the road less traveled.
I physically reside in North Carolina with my husband, Golden Retriever and two rescue cats. My soul resides in Arizona.