The female is doing that scrambling thing she always does when a new book comes out, so I’ve stolen the keyboard for a very short period of time. Booked for Murder: A Vigilante Magical Librarians novel (Book one of five to be precise) is now out in the wilds for your enjoyment. Hooray!
Here is the first scene. Enjoy.
Once upon a time, I had lived on the edge, but I’d fallen off somehow, emerging scarred and broken. Once upon a time, I’d lived in the ivory tower, looking down on the streets below in search of threats and fortune. I’d found both to a frightening degree. Once upon a time, I’d been the lethal shadow of a man who wanted to change the world to his liking.
I assumed he still did. Bradley Hampton wasn’t the kind to quit once he decided to do something.
A sports car roared by, and it surprised me to discover I missed my once upon a time.
The vehicle, a red Bugatti worth more than the idiot who drove it, darted through traffic. I scoffed at the driver’s inaccuracies, skirting too close to the lines for anyone’s comfort. Precision mattered when controlling a car at high speeds—or at any speed, really. A single tap of the brake could end lives or save them. The wrong turn of the wheel could result in a crash. Such a mistake, not on my part, had cost me my once upon a time, and a chill sliced through me at the memories the red vehicle revived.
Once upon a time, my job had been to drive one of those cars, protect the man I’d been sworn to for life, and rise above all others except for him.
Bradley Hampton wanted only the best and to be the best, and he’d expected more from me than anyone else.
My once upon a time had ended with the recklessness of another bodyguard who’d believed a few minutes of time might actually matter. My last conscious act had been to position my car so my precious passenger would walk away from the accident. Even as I’d hit the brakes and turned the wheel, I’d been aware I would pay for his life with mine.
I’d done so with pride.
I couldn’t remember any fear, only pride.
I couldn’t remember any pain, either. Trauma could do that to a person, erasing critical moments.
Taking the brunt of the accident, created by another bodyguard’s foolish pride, had cost a principal his life in addition to dumping me into a coma so deep and long I’d been transferred across the country to a specialty hospital and left for dead.
I gave my ex-boss credit; he’d taken the ‘for life’ portion of my contract seriously, and he’d refused to have my plug yanked. Others of his ilk would have without hesitation. It didn’t change anything for me, though. His instructions, should I awaken, had been brutal and simple enough.
He didn’t want to hear a damned word about me until I could return to duty.
In typical Bradley Hampton fashion, he’d believed I’d be returning to duty. He likely still did, which would forever cause me problems. In good news for him, he wouldn’t learn the bitter truth. It’d taken the doctors a month following my return to coherency to acknowledge I wouldn’t be returning to duty.
Sometimes, I wondered if he would ever be bothered to ask what had happened to me. If he did, what would he do? Would he care? People like me often fell prey to the hope our principals might actually care about us. I’d heard the lecture when I’d been selected for my duty.
I lived to serve, and my life had no other purpose than that. Emotions only got in the way of the job.
Those same emotions had created my willingness to position my ex-boss’s Ferrari in the way I had, putting his life over mine. It hadn’t just been pride in my job. I’d cared for him. I’d cared for his haughty parents who thought the world of him but tried not to acknowledge my existence.
Caring always found a way to cause me problems, and I couldn’t stop myself. I still cared.
I always would.
I scowled at the painful reminder I shouldn’t have left my cane at home. Without it, I’d put too much strain on my busted ankle even with the medical boot allowing me to walk at all. Forgetting the cane had been yet another dumb stunt induced by the pain-filled fog of a morning without medication.
Had I not been discarded, I might have gone without the incessant discomfort. Fool that I was, I’d screwed myself over with my cover story, which offered me the ability to avoid detection from the very man I’d once guarded. Along with a partial name change and a move back to my old haunts, I’d taken the hiding in plain sight thing a little too far. But what sank me was registering my magical aptitude rating at 17.2%, too high to count as a pure mundane but too low to use magic at all.
Had I gone for a saner 30.5%, I could have visited a doctor for a renewal of my prescription without having to tap out enough of my magic to maintain my ruse. To tap my magic, I needed to manipulate someone’s blood, circumventing their heart or adjusting their personal chemistry to suit my needs.
Opportunities to use my magic came few and far between, and I didn’t have access to cadavers to practice on, nor was I willing to inflict misery on some random stranger to drop my reserves to dangerously low levels.
There was only so much I could do with my own blood before I ran the risk of death.
I cursed the sports car and its idiot driver for making even more of a mess of my morning.
I didn’t need any more damned problems in my life. I needed my cane, but if I turned around and limped home, I’d be late for work. Being late for work couldn’t happen, not without a damned good reason, and forgetting my cane didn’t count. Once at the library, I could figure something out—or bribe one of my co-workers to run down the street to my apartment. If I had owned anything worth stealing, I might’ve been concerned, but my apartment did a good job of representing my bland life. With my salary, I skipped luxuries, and the little extra money I didn’t shove into a savings account went down the drain trying to rehab my foot.
Spiting the damned doctor who had sworn I’d be wheelchair bound for the rest of my life amused me. The last time I’d gone to his office, I’d done so without my cane, earning a scolding over it. I’d gotten him to finally admit I might one day walk without my boot.
My new doctor had faith in me and my mangled foot. Even on the days I faltered, she believed. With enough hard work and a few more surgeries, I might even manage without a limp.
I even understood that after successfully rehabbing my foot, I wouldn’t return to my once upon a time. Those days were gone, and for the most part, I didn’t miss them.
Okay, I missed them. I missed having a hotter than hell boss with a sense of humor, I missed driving luxury sports cars better than anyone else, and I longed to take the latest and greatest to the race track so I could play with them, as they were banned from the road for being too fast and glorious to be street legal.
Bradley Hampton liked rewarding his minions for good behavior, and he’d figured out how I’d ticked within months of hiring me to be his for life bodyguard.
I fucking loved cars.
Instead of stomping my foot at the unfairness of some incompetent driving a car I could handle better, I limped to the corner, pressed the button to cross the street, and muttered curses over my lot in life.
I loved working at the library and getting lost in a good book, but I remembered.
Nothing good came from old memories, lost dreams, and unobtainable ambitions. I’d earned a nice, quiet life, and I meant to enjoy it. Forgetting the past would just take a little more time.
You can download Booked for Murder at all major retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, and Google Play.
Happy reading, folks!