I'm very proud to announce my third book in The Wizard Hall Chronicles series, Wizard War.
After spending the last year deep in edits, working with beta readers, and sending out books to ARC readers, I'm so excited to share this new adventure with Annie Pearce, Cham Chamsky and the rest of the Wizard Guards as they traipse through Europe in search of a vampire on a murderous streak.
Eight months ago, Annie Pearce, closed the murder investigation of Princess Amelie of Amborix and put her killer in prison. So receiving a newspaper article with a picture of the princess alive and well, walking the streets of Paris, left Annie shocked and confused.
Who sent the picture?
With the threat of exposure hanging over her, Annie and her wizard guard partner, Spencer Ray chase the wily, young, vampire across Europe attempting to stop her murderous streak. When finding the vampire seems nearly impossible, Annie seeks out an old nemesis, Sturtagaard the vampire, to help them kill the demon princess.
But all is not as it seems. As Annie traipses across the jurisdiction of other wizard guard units, who blame her for the situation, tensions rise. A vulnerable Annie, must push aside her self-doubt and focus her energy on stopping the vampire. If she’s not careful, all her plans can lead to a wizard war, one that only she can stop.
Cyril B. Stonewell waited patiently for the world to forget Princess Amelie Maxillian of Amborix, but it would take longer than the six weeks he allowed for it. Hundreds of stories had been written, pictures posted to millions of websites; her life story could still be accessed as if she were still living. This was in part due to the lack of closure. Though they knew who killed her, no one outside of Wizard Hall America, or the Wizard Council of America knew why she was murdered. And most importantly, no one anywhere knew what Stonewall was planning to do.
Stonewell dragged the heavy sack across the perfectly manicured lawn. It bounced, and the man stuffed inside groaned as he woke from his magical stupor.
Before reaching his destination, the body inside woke and grew restless, or scared and tugged at the canvas sack he was stuffed inside. When he couldn’t loosen the ropes, he kicked and flayed. Stonewell, not a young or healthy man, stopped, issued a hard kick to the man’s kidney and squatted beside the dirty bag.
“Keep this up and I’ll kill you now,” Stonewell hissed. The man, spoke only German, but he understood the tone of Stonewell’s words; he stiffened into a tightly wound ball and himself be dragged across the dew covered lawn owned by the royal family of Amborix.
With his destination in sight, Stonewell, short and fat, stopped again, and panted in exhaustion; the bag was heavy, even as thin and malnourished that his victim was. It was too much exertion for Stonewell.
I should have teleported!
He picked up the drawstring of the sack and hobbled his way toward the gravesite, where the royal family had buried their only daughter, far from the prying eyes of the world. But she wouldn’t be buried there for much longer.
With each labored stepped, the former high ranking member of the Wizard Council, grunted from the exertion and sweat poured down his cheeks. He wrapped the canvas handle around his hand, and took another step toward the large oak tree at the center of the open land.
Wind carried voices.
Security is here too soon!
Panic filled his gut; Stonewell hobbled as quickly as he could toward the gravesite, where the grass hadn’t fully grown back. A moist patch of dark earth, smooth yet visible lay at his feet.
Stonewell dropped the bag, wiped sweat from his forehead, leaving behind a streak of dirt and leaned against the granite headstone.
The voices, grew closer, yet they were still off in the distance, traversing the large clearing.
I need to move!
Not relishing the thought of being discovered, Stonewell glanced around the clearing searching for shadows of the security officers against their flashlights. When he saw none coming, he waved his palms across the first layer of loose dirt, pushing it to the side of the grave. He worked alone to remove several cubic feet of the heavy earth, and with each sound in the darkness, he’d spin around, anxious security would find him messing with the gravesite. He removed a second layer of dirt, the pile growing enough to draw suspicion.
Flashlights illuminated the thick, dense trees, that circled this open lawn. The harshness of the German grew louder, stronger.
They’re angry. Damn!
Stonewell ducked behind the large oak tree as Amelie’s headstone lit up with streams of light.
“There!” Footsteps sloshed across the wet grass. Stonewell, nearly caught, waved his arm around the edge of the thick trunk, and swiped his palm in the direction of two security guards heading to the mysterious bag. Little did they know it contained a half drugged street urchin.
“Help me!” the man shouted. The security officers gained speed seeing the bag move and the pile of dirt beside the grave of Princess Amelie.
Stonewell’s jinx hit both men, they stopped mid step, frozen as living statues. He swished his palm again, knocking the men over; they landed with thuds against the grass.
Poking his head around the tree trunk, Stonewell surveyed the scene, wiped his brow of sweat, slid out from his hiding spot. His first order was a swift kick to the bag, he heard a crack in the man’s ribs. “They’re gone. You won’t be saved,” Stonewell sneered and began to remove the dirt before the security guards woke from their forced nap.
The earth from the grave loosened and floated to the pile easily but the exhaustion seeped through Stonewell’s body as he expended a lot of magical energy to unearth so much dirt and locate the coffin.
I must be close!
Three hours after he began, the cement tomb was finally visible. He wiped sweat and dirt from his face, wiped it on his expensive suit, already covered in mud. He swiped away the final layer of earth revealing the bronze plaque on the cement lid read that read, Amelie Victoria Maxillian, Rest In Peace.
As if he knew what was to come, the victim, struggled inside the canvas bag, closed tightly with a sticking spell and other magical jinxes used to prevent his escape. His moans, grew fearful as he screamed obscenities through the thick fabric.
His legs kicked out as if he could rip through the heavy fabric. Stonewell glanced at the indigent and threw a jinx at the moving mass, immobilizing him.
Standing at the edge of the hole, Stonewell held his palms upward and raised the heavy cement lid, floating it up through the grave and landing it on a clear patch of grass. Shining his light inside, he examined the coffin—still polished, nearly pristine—it lay untouched by air or time. He jumped down, tightly enclosed inside the hole. Adrenaline coursed through him as he raised the lid, unsure of what he’d find.
he silk lining ripped to shreds and covered in streaks of blood.
The newly risen vampire lay still, her expensive silk lining, ripped to shreds, covered in blood. He flashed his light inside, her angry eyes were black holes. She blinked rapidly as she stared at her savior hovering above her.
“What took so long?” she sneered.
“I know, love. It couldn’t be helped.” He smiled and reached for her hand, but the agile, young vampire rejected his assistance. She easily stood and leaped from the coffin, without breaking a sweat or dirtying her emerald green, silk dress.
Stonewell hoisted himself from the hole, slipping in the wet earth, landing in the coffin. Amelie sneered as she watched him struggle from her former prison. He glanced up at the lovely princess, and grimaced. Rather than embarrassing himself further, he teleported to the grass, bent over and sucked in a deep breath.
“I’m famished,” Amelie cooed through purple, pouted lips. Her hair fell wild around her face; her dress slipped from her shoulder. Her fingertips, raw and bloody from attempting to escape had marked up her silk dress. Smudges covered her neck, her cheek, her lips.
A breeze wafted across the clearing, Amelie closed her eyes, felt the wind across her bare skin. Though she no longer felt hot or cold, the breeze still tickled her skin.
Stonewell wanted to run a brush through the golden locks, dress her in the finest of clothes like the princess she was.
With a bath she’d be perfect.
“I’ve brought your first blood, your highness.” He bowed low to the princess as he showed her the bag with the victim squirming inside.
“Don’t call me that!” she shouted. Her voice rolled through the trees.
“Yes. Amelie. Here. Here’s the food I promised.”
Stonewell, once a high official of the Wizard Council, now succumbed to being Amelie’s slave, he untied the strings that held her first victim inside.
As a young vampire she knew nothing about the art of the sensual kill. She pounced on her prey, ripped opened the bag and held the victim to the wet grass. She sniffed him and licked his tender neck. He struggled against her vampire strength; she held him tighter, bound his hands behind his back in one of her delicate hands and pulled his neck backward, giving her room to sink her fangs into the artery. Warm blood passed her lips, she sucked deeply. Her first taste of blood was all she needed to understand the ecstasy in that moment. A slow groan of pleasure escaped her as she writhed against her first victim. As he was drained of life, he no longer struggled against her grasp, she loosened her hold on him until he finally went limp.
She held him in her arms until there was nothing left inside of him and pulled her sharp teeth from his neck. Amelie licked the last drops of blood from his neck, licked her lips of whatever she hadn’t sucked and then tossed the corpse to the ground. She stepped over him, sashaying to the man who saved her from her confines.
“My master,” the vampire cooed. She smiled coyly, averting her eyes from his lecherous stare.
The princess is happy!
Stonewell smirked to himself as he reached for her hand. He shivered at the icy chill that emanated from her skin.
“Did they notice, my dear?”
Amelie shrugged. “I have no idea what happened to me after I died,” she hissed.
It’s unlikely they found the vampire tracks beneath that thick, golden hair at the back of her head.
“They did a fine job. Fine job, indeed.” Stonewell glanced at the mess he created, reached down for the dead homeless man and pulled him toward the coffin. He was still very heavy.
“I’m so hungry,” Amelie whined. She pressed her lithe body against his squat fat bottom.
“I need to clean up this mess. We can’t give anyone a reason to investigate this grave. They will know you aren’t here,” he said as he dumped the body inside the coffin.
“Now,” Amelie said as her breasts and hips curved against him. Heat rushed through him as her every touch aroused him, even the cold chill from her skin felt alive.
“I will find you someone to eat. Now let me finish,” he ordered and lowered the coffin lid on the dead man.
“Now!” she screamed.
Amelie grabbed Stonewell’s fat wrist and twirled him around to face her. Confusion and fear lined his face.
“Now, my dear. I’ll fetch you someone new. Le-let’s go. We’ll go, now,” he muttered as he glanced at the frozen security team feet from where Amelie held his wrist.
But Amelie was no longer interested in the man who freed her from her prison. Pulling him to her like a rag doll, she yanked on his chin pulling his head back, exposing his neck. She could no longer wait for the taste of iron and sank her fangs deep into his neck and let the blood flow.
He cried out, “No! My love, no!”
Stonewell struggled as all victims did when they realized they were about to die. She felt the life slip from him, his muscles went slack, the life faded from his eyes. Cyril B. Stonewell’s body slumped against Amelie as she sucked from him all that he had.
The minute Annie returned home from the Cave of Ages, she went on medical leave. Two injuries in one week was enough to claim compensation time; she gladly stayed in bed past eight in the morning when the sun burst through the curtains, blinding her.
I should find dad’s missing file.
Her mind raced with thoughts of her father, of his missing file, of the Fraternitatem of Solomon who got away with murder. She sighed and felt Cham’s warm body in deep sleep beside her. Not wanting to wake him, she climbed from the bed, threw on a thick sweatshirt and headed for her kitchen.
Zola, always protective, always there for Annie, busied herself in the kitchen, even as she too was recovering from several injuries, to her wrists, ankles and her ripped fairy wings that hung limply behind her.
“Go rest,” Annie said as she took the cleaning rag from Zola.
“I need to stay busy. You know that’s what you’ll be doing too,” Zola remarked and though Zola attempt to show strength, she was glad when Annie shooed her away. “You rest. I’ll know if you don’t.” Zola smiled before teleporting herself to the guest room for much needed sleep.
Annie poured herself hot water from kettle on the stove and dunked a tea bag inside and sat at the table.
So, where would dad hide a file?
Annie fiddled with the warm mug, the tea seeped and the water grew dark brown. She twirled the tea bag.
She glanced at the open door, left her steaming mug of tea on the table and headed into the damp, cold basement.
Annie zipped up her warm hoodie and glanced around the crowded room, surveying possible locations for a file.
Maybe in the walls or under the floor or maybe the air return vents?
Annie started with the laundry room, a long thin room at the back end of the basement. It was completely unfinished, contained a washer and dryer as well as the other mechanical units for the house.
Immediately, Annie noticed the metal chair leaning against the wall and a single iron shackle that had been left behind when the clean-up team had dealt with the evidence and mess of Zola’s abduction a few days prior.
Why is that still here?
Annie pulled the shackle from the floor, noticed the blood and hair and summoned an evidence bag. With the iron bracelet secure, she began to thump against the walls, assessing the sound for possible voids in the wall. When she found nothing, Annie did a quick search of the area behind the water heater and furnace, but there was no sign of a file or a container to store a file.
With the evidence bag secure, Annie stepped back into the main basement room and scanned the walls, the floor, the boxes, filled with junk.
What was here when dad was alive?
Weary and not wanting to tackle the boxes of junk Annie decided to head upstairs for breakfast, until she noticed the small door to the crawl space, an open area beneath the staircase to the second floor.
Would he hide it in such an obvious location?
Annie had never been in the crawl space, let alone seen what was stored inside, if there was anything at all.
Sitting on the cold floor, Annie pushed against the panel that should have slid open manually. But it wouldn’t budge and use of magic did nothing to dislodge The opening. Annie sighed and summoned a crystal. Holding it over the door, she maneuvered the crystal scanning for magic. It didn’t take long for the rock to glow brightly with white magic.
The magic floated around the crystal, she stared at the old magic.
Eight years old maybe?
“Hey.” Cham rubbed his eyes of the last bits of sleep as he climbed down the staircase. “Whatcha doing?”
“I think I found the hiding spot.” She tossed him the crystal; he stared inside, reading the magic.
“Ah … that’s a really simple spell,” he noted.
Maybe dad assumed no one would ever look here.
“You really think it’s as easy as that?” Annie asked. It surprised her how simple a spell her father used.
“Yeah. I do.” The doorbell rang. Annie and Cham glanced at each other, Annie shrugged. “I’ll get it. You open,” he offered and headed back upstairs.
Annie scooted closer to the crawl space door, casting a reversal spell against the thin panel. It creaked and popped and slid open with an easy touch.
“Really dad?” Annie chuckled. With her flashlight, she stuck her head inside the space. Musty, dusty scents wafted to her; the dirt floor, the cobwebs, a possible nest in the corner. She cringed as the light roamed the small space stopping on the box in the corner.
The box had been there for years, covered in dust, and water stains. She backed away not wanting to crawl through the bugs, or snakes or mice that might be living in here.
Annie summoned the box, the same that stored the printer paper at Wizard Hall. It easily floated to her. She lay it on the cement beside her, almost frightened to see what was inside.
“You got an unmarked package,” Cham said, handing her an envelope addressed Annie Pearce; it had no return address.
She glanced at the scribbled handwriting, barely legible and felt the package; light and pliable.
“Odd. But guess what I found,” she announced proudly and showed him the box.
“So Jason did hide the file. You okay to look inside?”
I wonder if I am?
Ryan gave Annie his full support to investigate her father’s death. She lifted the box and floated it beside her as she walked the stairs with her unmarked package.
“I don’t recognize the handwriting. I wonder if I should take it to work.” Annie said as she tossed the package on the table beside the box.
“Or you could look for wayward magic,” Cham suggested with half a grin.
“Already there,” she announced as she moved her crystal over the mystery package. The rock didn’t glow.
Annie squished the package between her fingers.
She held the mail to the light, but the envelope was thick and opaque offering her no clue as to the contents. Curious, she ripped open the seal and peered inside.
Well that’s not what I expected? She thought as she slipped the contents on the table.
“What the hell? It’s a… a French newspaper?”
The paper was well read, and folded with purpose. The picture attached to the article was clearly visible. Black and white, the red circle was hard to mistake. Annie summoned a magnifying glass and examined the picture as Cham looked on from over her shoulder.
“Oh crap,” she held the glass and stared into the picture.
“That can’t be.” Annie was stunned as they stared at a picture of Princess Amelie, alive and walking among the crowd.Continue reading