Welcome to Scene-Snippet Sunday, where I share a little slice of a scene from a work-in-progress or upcoming release. Today, how about a teaser from Elysian Fields? The third book in the Sentinels of New Orleans series picks up two weeks after River Road, and will be out on August 13. Yeah, it’s a long time to wait, but I don’t make the schedules!
In this scene, which comes in the first third of the book, DJ has been digging up information on a serial killer from early 1900s New Orlean who was known only as the Axeman. Some copycat ax murders are taking place in the city, and she suspects it might not be a copycat at all but the real Axeman, a member of the historical undead. She’s still recovering from fractured ribs she got at the end of River Road. And then another problem comes knocking…
I’d become so engrossed in the local NBC affiliate’s special on the Axeman that I jumped like a cat with his tail on fire when my cell phone blared its new Zachary Richard ringtone. I’d spent most of the day doing Axeman research and was skittish from trying to figure out the mindset of a psychopath.
“Crap.” I knocked the phone off the coffee table and had to lean over to get it, which in turn squeezed my sore ribs. Zachary got off a full chorus of “Big River” by the time I’d slapped a hand on the phone, picked it up, saw an unfamiliar number, and punched talk. “DJ’s orthopedic ward, how may I help you?”
“Open your back door. I have dinner.”
Dinner sounded good.
I’d ended the call and shuffled halfway to the kitchen before realizing I had no idea who I’d be dining with. Male voice, but not soft enough for Jake. The right timbre, raspy and deep, but not Southern enough for Alex.
The kitchen was dark, and I glanced at the wall clock as I flipped on the lights, opened the kitchen door, and stared at Quince Randolph. He lived catty-cornered across Magazine Street in an apartment above his landscaping business, Plantasy Island.
I didn’t like him because unlike every other human I’d met, alive and historically undead, he gave off no emotional signature whatsoever. Which meant he either had been trained to shield his thoughts and emotions, or he wasn’t human. I tolerated him only because my best friend Eugenie had convinced herself he was The One. What was The One doing at my house at six p.m. with dinner and without his girlfriend?
“Where’s Eugie?” I gazed past his shoulder at her house directly across the street. No sign of her. “Is she on her way?”
He pushed past me with a big plastic bag and two bottles of beer—Abita Amber, my favorite. He was tall and lean, built like a swimmer, with broad shoulders and a touch of muscled lankiness. Not to mention pretty as a girl, with shoulder-length, wavy hair the color of honey, and too-alert eyes a bluish-green.
“Rand!” I shouted, and he finally stopped fiddling with the food to look at me, pretty mouth turned up in a questioning smile. “Why are you here without Eugenie?”
I hated mysteries. Never liked Matlock reruns, didn’t watch detective shows, avoided whodunits. Okay, I’d watch CSI for the gross-out factor and had gone on a Law & Order jag when we’d first started investigating prete cases, but I got over it.
Not understanding Quince Randolph annoyed me. I was almost sure he wasn’t human, but not sure enough to come right out and ask him. Plus, he just flat gave me the creeps.
“No big mystery,” he said, smiling as my eyes widened. Coincidence about using the word mystery, right? Had to be. “I wanted Chinese tonight and Eugenie doesn’t really like it. So I’m eating with you.”