Author L.J.K. Oliva has a real treat in store for us today! Check out her guest post and be sure to read to the end for a code which enables a FREE download of Ptolemy’s Tablet!!! Then stay for the preview of A WORLD APART, Book 1, Shades Below series.
GUEST BLOG by L.J.K. Oliva
You know how some characters just get in your head and set up camp?
While I was writing my new urban fantasy novel, A World Apart (Shades Below, #1), two characters I hadn’t paid much notice to suddenly starting demanding attention. They wouldn’t leave me alone until I finally agreed to tell their story, too.
That’s how the idea for my Shades Below Shorts was born. Meet Rev. Emil Stone and his Peer, Misha “Puzzle” Kaslov. Emil and Puzzle are supporting characters in the Shades Below series, but there’s so much more to them than what you’ll read in the books.
The Shades Below Shorts are M/M companion novellas to the Shades Below novels. Below is an excerpt from the first piece, Ptolemy’s Tablet.
Allow me to introduce the guys…
A companion story to Shades Below, Book One: A World Apart
“You’re leaving? Already?”
Reverend Emil Stone clapped his fedora back onto his head and aimed a fond look down at the petite woman in front of him. The sad tone in her voice tugged at him. Lena Alan was high on the increasingly short list of people who genuinely enjoyed his company. He’d let most of his earthly attachments fall away long ago; yet another cost of his chosen career.
He’d almost convinced himself he didn’t miss them.
There was a knot in his throat when he clasped her in a hug. “I’m afraid so. This is the first real lead we’ve had so far, and it gives me an idea. It might be nothing, but Puzzle and I need to check it out. You never know.”
Lena held him at arms’ length. Her vivid blue eyes bored into his. “You promise you’ll keep me posted.”
As if the tone of her voice left him another option. Emil grinned and dusted a kiss over her cheek. “You know I will.”
Beside him, his partner cleared his throat and stepped out onto the porch. Emil pretended he hadn’t heard. Down time always set Misha Kaslov on edge. Jesus, the man could be exhausting. But then, Peers weren’t exactly known for their patience.
Emil rolled his eyes and turned to the man hovering behind Lena in classic older-brother fashion. “Cyrus.” He gripped the man’s hand. “Look after things.”
The newest addition to their motley group stood behind them, one hand behind his back, the other wrapped around the curved head of his cane. Detective MacMillian. Emil studied him. Even though they’d just met, the man struck him as above average for a human.
And he was a baro, whatever that meant.
The detective met his gaze, eyes sharp. Emil resisted the urge to squirm. Then he bit back a laugh. When was the last time a mundane had set him on his toes? Perhaps Jesper MacMillian wasn’t such an odd fit in their world, after all.
Maybe, just maybe, he would survive.
He stepped forward and extended his hand. It was a calculated risk. MacMillian’s eyebrows went up. He hesitated, finally grasped it in a brief but firm shake.
Emil nodded and stepped back. “Again, thank you. Jimmy would have spoken to us eventually, but I don’t mind saying the idea of applying more pressure was… unattractive.”
MacMillian’s jaw ticked. “To both of us, believe me.”
Emil inclined his chin. Torture was a nasty, messy business, even if the unfortunate mark already happened to be dead. He turned on his heel and strode to where Misha stood waiting. He paused, and looked back over his shoulder. “Watch after each other. All of you.”
Misha shifted back and forth, itching to go. Emil finally followed him down to the sidewalk, didn’t turn when the door of The Wayfare Hotel clicked shut.
He scarcely noticed their surroundings as they walked. Over the last decade, the mundane realm had become incidental, almost inconvenient. Had he really lived in it for so long? Really expended energy learning to drive, tracking down the best restaurants, stressing over gas prices? Looking back, it all seemed so pointless.
Now he had bigger things to worry about.
“So. Any ideas?”
Emil jerked out of his thoughts to find Misha looking at him. “Sorry. What?”
Misha’s lips twitched. “Ideas. You know. About what’s going on around here.”
“Right. Of course.” Emil hesitated. Something was nagging at him. He couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was. Hell, it was scarcely anything at all, just a small prickle at the outermost edges of his mind.
Misha was still looking at him. The feel of the man’s eyes made something quicken in his belly. Emil took a deep breath. “What if it’s not just one thing?”
Misha’s eyebrows drew together. “What do you mean?”
Emil blew the breath back out. “I don’t… hell, I’m not sure. Haven’t things felt off to you lately? I mean, more than usual?”
The crease in Misha’s forehead deepened. “Off…?”
“Yeah, you know. Off. Remember Basque, a few weeks ago? And Marrakech, last August? I’m telling you, something’s not right.”
“Marrakech is never right in August,” Misha muttered. He fell silent. Finally, he nodded slowly. “Let’s say you’re right. One problem at a time. Your Wayfare Hotel. What do you make of their newest guest?”
“I’m not sure. That detective may have gotten him to talk, but that doesn’t mean he was telling us the truth.” Emil stopped walking.
Misha stopped too. “You told the Alans you had an idea.”
Emil hesitated. “I do. Well, sort of.”
Emil shifted. “It’s thin, but I think it merits running down, just in case. How’s your Masri?”
“Terrible.” Misha arched an eyebrow. “But yours isn’t.”
Emil allowed himself a tiny smile, and started walking again. “Ha’ee’i.”
All the Shades Below Shorts will be offered free to my newsletter subscribers, but as a thank-you for stopping by (and in a shameless bid to get you as obsessed with my new series as I am), simply punch in this code and get your free copy of Ptolemy’s Tablet: EY88Z
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About the Author:
L.J.K Oliva is the devil-may-care alter-ego of noir romance novelist Laura Oliva. She likes her whiskey strong, her chocolate dark, and her steak bloody. L.J.K. likes monsters… and knows the darkest ones don’t live in closets.
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A World Apart
Genre: Urban fantasy
“There are things that go bump in the night, Mr. MacMillian. It’s my job to bump back.”
Private investigator Jesper MacMillian was sure he’d seen it all. After all, in a city like San Francisco, strange is what’s for breakfast. Following a long recovery after a horrific accident, his life is finally the way he wants it- or at least, close enough. The only monsters on his radar are the ones that keep him awake at night.
All that changes the day he meets Lena Alan.
Before MacMillian has a chance to brace for impact, Lena drags him into a world where monsters aren’t just real, they’re hiding in plain sight. Suddenly, everything he knows is suspect, starting with his current case. For Lena, a medium since childhood, it’s just another day at the office.
For MacMillian, it’s the beginning of the end of everything he thinks he knows.
Available at Amazon
The elevator came to a stop. The doors started to open. MacMillian backed away and shook his head. “Do me a favor. Leave now. Don’t come here again.”
He stepped into the hallway, then froze. Clustered outside the door to the office was a horde of people, the widest slice of humanity he’d ever seen crammed into one place. There were cowboys, businessmen, soldiers. Native Americans, what looked to be early Chinese, and more than a few women resembling the one from the side street.
The woman stepped out of the elevator behind him. She hissed. “Jesus. Is it always like this here?”
MacMillian stared down at her. “What are you- you can see them?”
She rolled her eyes. “Well, obviously. I’m a medium, remember?” She started down the hallway, paused, and glanced over her shoulder. “Are you coming?”
MacMillian hung back. She shrugged. “Suit yourself.”
She walked up to the edge of the crowd and cleared her throat. “Okay, someone want to tell me what you’re all doing here?”
Multiple heads swung towards her. An elderly man in a suit that would have been the height of fashion in the late eighteen-hundreds stepped forward. MacMillian strained his ears, but he couldn’t hear what the man said. The woman listened closely, made a curious sound in the back of her throat and turned back to him. “He says there’s a medium here. Are you sure you’re not sensitive?”
He was feeling rather sensitive, but he shook his head. “I don’t even know what that means.”
The woman humphed. “That’s what I thought.” She turned back to the man. “So you’re all here to be moved on?”
The man nodded.
Her shoulders relaxed. She reached out and took the man’s hand in hers. His eyes widened, then a peaceful look came over his face. His lips turned up. White light appeared in the center of his chest, expanded outward until his entire body glowed. With what looked like a sigh of relief, he evaporated.
MacMillian’s jaw dropped.
The woman moved slowly through the crowd. Hand after hand reached out for her. She took each one, held on until its owner flashed white and disappeared. By the time she reached the office door, the hallway was empty. She leaned back hard against the wall and closed her eyes.
MacMillian didn’t remember moving, but somehow he was standing in front of her. He closed his free hand around her arm and towed her inside, not stopping until they reached his office.
He slammed the door. “What the… what was…” He dragged a sleeve across his brow. It was drenched in sweat, but his skin felt freezing.
The woman watched him, her eyes sympathetic. “Rough day, Magnum?”
She sighed and rubbed her forehead. “That, my dear detective, was the other San Francisco. You’ve probably seen it before, just out of the corner of your eye. You’ve probably dismissed it all your life. Maybe you always told yourself you’d just had too much to drink.” She paused, her gaze heavy on his face. MacMillian squirmed. “But I’m guessing you always knew better.”
His head was throbbing. He shook it once, twice, but it didn’t clear. “I don’t get it, Miss…”
“Alan,” she supplied.
He nodded. “Ms. Alan. Why are you here?”
Her eyes darkened. “Because there are things that go bump in the night, Mr. MacMillian. It’s my job to bump back.”