Evie Jones and the Rocky Roulette is live!
Meet Evie Jones, a young witch stumbling into adventures, fighting the rules of her authoritarian government, and bringing the fire to everything from her career to her love life.
The equinox is coming and a group of witches planning to use the day’s power to cover their plot are on the move…
Too bad they don’t know their key piece is friends with the wrong witch to mess with.
When Evie’s friend goes missing, it doesn’t take long for her to hop on the culprits’ trail. She can’t take them alone so she calls in her dad and the one connection at the Council who owes her a favor, O’Shay.
As the equinox nears and tensions rise, the trail leads them to Sin City. Evie may have backup this time, but the kidnappers have them beat by numbers. And that’s before they up the ante and grab the person Evie loves the most.
Now, she has to trust the Council rep who tried to kill her not three months ago to watch her back and the stakes have never been higher.
“You can’t come into an active crime scene,” Corey said as we followed him onto the professors’ offices’ floor in the geology building.
“We’ll stay outside the office,” Chet said. “Just don’t want you to be alone right now, man.”
“We’re going to a crime scene. I won’t be alone. Tons of people at crime scenes. You’d be surprised how many of us they can fit into a tiny room.” His voice echoed off the linoleum, making it more hollow and empty than it already was.
Shock. Had to be.
It wasn’t hard to tell what office was Sean’s. A group bunched at the end of the hall, standing on tiptoes and trying to see over each other.
Corey pulled out his badge and flashed it, ordering the crowd to move without a word. They parted for the badge and grief stricken man like the Red Sea.
I pulled up a perception spell and scurried after him, keeping close to his back so I’d get through with him before the crowd closed again.
Chet made a sound and I glanced back at him, shaking my head and winking.
I wasn’t truly invisible, just imperceptible. People would see me, but they wouldn’t realize it. Far easier to bend people’s perceptions around you than to make yourself invisible. That required a knowledge of light bending and physics I certainly didn’t have.
The human brain is designed to filter, otherwise we’d be overwhelmed with sensory input. This spell told the brain I was unimportant and therefore it didn’t need to waste time on me.
Which is why Chet still saw me. His brain was sure of the fact that I was important. I was okay with that.
The uniform at the door held up the yellow police tape for Corey and he walked under, eyes forward and face stony. Cop face, I guess. The body lay under a sheet next to the desk, too straight to have not been moved since he was found.
A woman wearing jeans and a silk top stood with her back to us off to the side with a detective; other than that, the room ran with blue. Cops, detectives, people who must’ve been CSI.
The detective pressed his hand to the woman’s back and half shoved her out into the hall. I couldn’t see her face but something seemed familiar about her swinging black hair and the way she stood.
I plastered myself against the wall next to the door, hoping I wasn’t leaving anything forensic that’d throw them off, or direct them towards me.
Maybe entering an active crime scene wasn’t my best idea, but if a friend, even a casual one, was dead, I wanted to know why.
And more importantly, who.
The cops exchanged words lost in the din of the active crime scene. Who knew they were so loud? A dozen people talking and moving in a small office was as loud as a law school house party, just without the music.
Corey kneeled by the body and one of the others pulled the sheet back. I glanced around and darted across the room between groups of cops, pressing against the wall next to the them.
His face was gone, leaving a red mash of a mess, like someone had cut it off.
I gagged and clamped a hand over my mouth for a second, breathing through my nose.
Death clogged it and I gagged again, breathing through my mouth.
His suit jacket was off, leaving a black tee over strong arms. When he’d worked on my car I’d teased him and Chet about geeks having such big guns. They’d worked out a few times together since our little clique formed last winter.
It was like the male version of shopping.
His hands were gone along with his face, like Corey said. How the hell was he supposed to identify this?
I gagged again and hauled ass out, shoving past the crowd and dropping the spell once I was in the middle of them. They were so fixated on the office, they’d probably think I had been in the little crowd the whole time.
I hit clear air and barreled into Chet. He caught my arms, rubbing them and kissing my head.
“Evie?” someone said from behind me.
I turned and froze.
My friend stared at me with wide eyes and an open mouth.
She’d had her hair smoothed and straightened since I saw her maybe two weeks ago and she looked casual and young outside her usual work suits, but still.
“What were you doing in there?” I asked, rushing forward and hugging her.
“I…” she looked down. “I kind of shoved my way in. The cops wouldn’t listen to me!”
“That’s not Sean!”
I did a double take. “What! Wait.” I held up a hand. “How do you know Sean?”
“Um.” She looked down again, cheeks darkening.
Corey shuffled up to us, staring at the ground. “I couldn’t. Let’s go.”
“Who are you?” Ashley asked.
“This is Corey. He’s a friend of Sean’s and ours,” I said. “Ashley, what do you mean that’s not Sean?”
“What?” Corey looked between us, hope shinning so bright from his eyes it was practically corporeal.
“I saw an arm when I pushed in there, before the cop shoved me out. It’s not him,” Ashley said.
Corey shook his head. “I don’t… don’t understand. Sean doesn’t have any identifying marks. No tattoos or obvious birthmarks.”
“Yeah, no marks, right?” Ashley said, the dark skin not masking the blushing.
“So, it’s not him.”
Corey narrowed his eyes. “If you don’t stop beating around the bush, I’m going to get seriously pissed off.”
She looked at me and I shrugged. “Just say it. We’ve got a dead body. I think you can live with a little embarrassment.”
“Okay, good point.” Ashley sighed, looking back at the ground. “I know it’s not him because I was with him last night. If there are no marks, it’s not him. Trust me. I know how long my… marks last.”
“Marks?’ My eyebrows flew up. “Ohhhhh, marks.”
“They were fucking, I get it,” Corey said, making Ashley flinch. “Nail marks don’t last that long unless you really carved him up.”
“Not nail marks,” Ashley said. “I ummmm, I bite. And he, um, has a very high pain tolerance. He lets me bite as hard as I want. Trust me, he has marks. He’ll probably still have them in a week, but he definitely has them right now.”
Corey’s mouth worked and he stared at her until she looked up.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Positive. I’d be a lot more upset if I weren’t. That body isn’t him.”
Corey whooped and grabbed her, pulling her into a bear hug so hard I was afraid he’d break her beanpole body.
“Guys,” Chet said. “I don’t want to ruin this moment, but, that does beg a serious question.”
“Yeah,” I said as Corey let Ashley go. “We have a dead man, with identifying marks removed, dressed in Sean’s clothes and close enough to his body type to make people think it’s him.”
Ashley’s eyes grew wide again. “So, why?”
I nodded. “Yeah. If someone wants us to think Sean’s dead, at least until the cops can get DNA results, then why? And where the hell is Sean?”
If you liked this excerpt, check out the novella.