A chilling prophecy. A child in danger.
Following the defeat of the vampire elders, Guardian fire witch Arianna Calin and vampire prince Andreas De Luca are considering moving to his estates in Italy to raise their daughter in its idyllic setting. As if being descended from two powerful witch bloodlines wasn't challenging enough, Rayne was born with a mysterious star tattoo on her shoulder. Her parents suspect she is the Chosen, the focus of the Star of Esielen prophecy. But that's something to worry about in the distant future. Isn't it? After all, their child may be precocious, but she is only five.
Then the murders begin. The stench of demonic activity hangs over Olde Town, and a symbol carved in blood indicates Rayne may be the next victim. Suspicion points in several directions: a rival vampire prince, a mysterious stranger, and a werehyena leader attempting to break the bank at Andreas's new casino.
Abandoning plans for a quiet life, Ari and Andreas hunt for the killers. While Rayne may someday have to face her destiny alone, it's up to them to make sure she's ready...and to keep her alive.
A crisp breeze caught the last of the early morning fog and swirled it over the gravestones. The Olde Town cemetery slowly emerged from the mist, its silent memorial to the dead marred by an unusual amount of activity. A uniformed Riverdale cop completed a final loop of bright yellow tape around several stone vaults and two small crabapple trees. CS techs snapped photos and set out evidence markers as they processed the crime scene.
With a hot Styrofoam coffee cup in each hand, Arianna Calin bumped her jeans-clad hip against the iron entrance gate, knocking it open, and slipped inside, her footsteps crunching the brittle September leaves. When an eerie chill nudged her senses, she swept the scene with a sharp glance.
Nothing she hadn’t expected. Not yet. Nothing bad enough to trigger her witch alarms. But then, it was a graveyard. The remnants of so many dead souls could mask a great deal.
She ducked under a high section of the bright tape and focused on the blond man in jeans and a dark gray sweatshirt crouched beside a still form. “ME’s not here yet?” she asked.
Lt. Ryan Foster, her partner from the all-human Riverdale Police Department, looked up and stood, his blue eyes lighting on the cups in her hands. “On his way. One of those for me?”
A smile touched her lips, and she handed him one, withholding further comment until he’d taken his first jolt of caffeine. “Dispatch said it was a stabbing. Human female victim. Is the suspect one of mine?” As a supernatural cop and guardian for Riverdale’s Olde Town district, Ari wouldn’t be notified of an RDPD case unless the Otherworld was involved. Usually that meant vampires or werewolves—the predominant species in town—had run amok
“I’m not sure….” Ryan rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Sorry to drag you out so early on a hunch, but I have a weird feeling about this one.”
Ari nearly choked on her coffee. “Oh, no you don’t. That’s my line. There’s only room for one of us with spidey senses in this partnership.”
“Cop instincts,” he corrected. His early-morning face was grumpy, displaying his constant annoyance with things he didn’t understand. “It works for us mere mortals.”
“OK. Show me. What have you got?” She stepped around him, the humor slipping from her lips at first sight of the victim.
“Judge for yourself if something doesn’t feel off.”
Vivid red blood stood in stark contrast to the middle-aged woman’s light lemon sweater. Not a typical stabbing…her throat had been slashed, leaving a spray pattern of arterial blood on the fading grass around her and a glistening trail down the sides of a gaping wound. It had soaked her neckline.
Ari’s nostrils flared, taking in the sharp, metallic scent and seeking something more, whatever had triggered Ryan’s reaction. All kidding aside, working with him for eight years meant she trusted his gut feelings almost as much as her magic.
Ally Shields grew up in the Midwest along the Mississippi River, still considers herself "a river rat," and currently resides near Des Moines. After a career in law and juvenile justice, she turned to full-time fiction writing in 2009. Her first urban fantasy, Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch #1) was published in 2012, and she currently has thirteen published novels. She loves to travel in the US and abroad and incorporates many of those settings into her books. Ms. Shields enjoys chatting with readers through her website/social media and can frequently be found on Twitter.