Sneak Peak: The Profane Series Book 1: Medium Rare – Chapter 1a

Writing is coming along at a good clip this month, and I’m planning on releasing Book 1 in the Profane Series: Medium Rare during the first week of February… Sort of like a 2 year anniversary celebration.

In the meantime, I thought I’d post the first couple of chapters for you guys to take a sneak peak at. These are still rough, mostly unedited, and subject to tweaking before they go to Amazon, but I hope you enjoy them!

I think you can expect 1-2 updates a week until February.

Chapter 1a: May 2012 – Capitol Hill – Lachlan

Last night a girl had died. He only knew this because, as he had left his own apartment the following day for his morning—emphasis in this case being absolutely necessary—coffee run, he had encountered the girl’s grandmother crying just outside her door one floor below him.

“Oh, it’s you, Lachlan. I’m sorry, dear, let me just get out of your way.”

“Good morning, Amelia.” Lachlan Graham paused, one foot on the next step, one foot in the hallway, torn between comforting a neighbor in distress and the amount of energy it would require to deal with her. “Something wrong?” he asked.

Her sigh shivered through her whole body, her hands shaking as she blotted at the tears gathered in the corners of her eyes. It didn’t look as though she’d had the time to apply her face that morning before the instigating emotional event, because despite the presence of water flowing down her face, there were no dark mascara stains on her cheeks.

“It’s okay,” he murmured, placing a steadying hand on her shoulder before she backed away. The habits formed from five years with the Seattle Police Department kicking in, rusty as they may have been after three years disuse, and thereby making his decision for him whether to stay or keep walking. “Why don’t you just tell me what happened?”

Amelia Hobbes pressed a shaking, wrinkled hand against her wet cheek and made a low, pained noise in the back of her throat before gathering her wits well enough to explain that she’d just had a visit from a police officer.

“He told me she jumped. You know what that means?”

Lachlan racked his brain for a second, trying to dredge up a shred of significance to attach to her question. It meant Amelia’s granddaughter was dead. It meant the girl had killed herself. It meant— His eyes flicked to the string of beads wrapped around his neighbor’s wrist and the pieces clicked into place.

It meant the girl was a suicide and therefore couldn’t be buried in consecrated ground.

Well, shit.

“I’m sorry,” he told her, the words falling empty from his lips.

Amelia stroked her thumb across the shiny beads adorning her wrist, staring off into space.

He could feel the time ticking away from him, the onset of a caffeine headache itching behind his left eye, threatening to bloom into a full on migraine if he didn’t get downstairs and across the street to blessed caffeinated salvation. Lachlan couldn’t remember when he’d become so dependent, but it made little matter now that he was truly addicted.

(If he were being honest, of course, he would be able to pinpoint his caffeine addiction to the day he walked away from his career in law enforcement and took up slinging espresso for rent money instead. But Lachlan wasn’t always the best at being honest. Especially with himself.)

“Maybe if you talked to your Bishop—” he tried, but Amelia interrupted him with a snort. He watched as she squared her jaw and wiped the misery off her face like someone had taken a windshield wiper to it.

“There’s no way my sweet girl jumped. Not like that. And I’m not going to beg on my knees for a pittance when I know well and good enough where she belongs. Next to her grand…” her voice wavered. “Next to her grandfather in the family plot.”

Lachlan felt the corners of his mouth turn down. He wasn’t Catholic himself. He wasn’t much of anything these days, even though his parents had been fervent Baptists and raised him the same.

“I’m sorry.”

Amelia shook her head and clasped one of her sweaty hands around his fingers, squeezing once as she stared up at him. He had never been a believer in his gut instinct, but at that moment, as he watched the way her eyes flicked around the shadows in the hall before landing back on him, Lachlan felt a chill crawl down his spine. A waking moment of prescience that left his aforementioned gut full of dread.

“Now, son, didn’t you use to work for the police department? That’s right, I remember that uniform you wore before you made Detective. You looked so handsome. Oh, sweetie, don’t you think you could maybe go down to the station and talk to that police officer who came here and tell him to look again?” She squeezed down harder on his fingers, her knuckles turning white and boney.

“Look again at what?” he asked, the words drug out of him against his will.

Amelia’s face pinched.  “Look at—look at her. Look at what happened. There must be something. She wouldn’t have…she wouldn’t have done what they say she did. She wouldn’t have.” Amelia kept repeating the words to herself until they matched the throb in Lachlan’s temple, her eyes catching on his, unwavering.

Which is of course half the reason he found himself, about an hour later, standing across the street from the late Julie Hobbes’s apartment building—to escape her grandmother’s stoic unwavering eye contact. The rest…well, he was a bit of a sap. He didn’t see the point in trying to explain to Amelia that he was pretty sure pretending to be a Private Investigator without a license was illegal.

“Maybe it only matters if you carry a gun,” he muttered into his coffee. He hadn’t owned a personal firearm in almost two years.

The steam from his cup burned his upper lip.

The sky had been cloudy when he left the apartment, sticky smelling like it was going to rain, but by the time he made it onto the right bus that would drop him off down the street from Miss Hobbes’s apartment, the sun had broken through, leaving him uncomfortably warm under his arms and along the back of his neck. Now he couldn’t help but regret that he’d gotten his drip hot-to-go instead of iced while still feeling unwilling to part with it all the same.

Lachlan felt sweat break out along his flushed skin while he stood there, silently assessing the building. The scene outside had already been cleaned up: the body whisked away to the city morgue; the car she had—by all reports—landed on top of, towed; and the police tape rolled up so that if he hadn’t been subjected to the address being painstakingly written on the palm of his hand by his neighbor, he wouldn’t have had any suspicion that a girl had jumped from this particular roof in the wee hours of the morning.

That’s how good they were at erasing death from the pavement.

Lachlan snorted and ducked across the street.

That’s how good they all were at erasing it.

He ducked into the building before the door could close on a harried-looking young man on his way out. His backpack banged into Lachlan’s side with the sharp edge of a laptop case as they passed one another.

“Shit—sorry,” the man muttered under his breath, hardly sparing him a second glance. But a second was all it took for the light from a passing car to reflect back through the man’s retina, lighting up for a second like two green beacons in his  sallow face.

Lachlan paused on the threshold, watching the building’s tenant hunch his shoulders, head bowed low, as he all but ran away from the building.

A werewolf. He hadn’t come that close to one—not consciously at least—in almost three years.

tbc

(c) Lia Cooper 2016 No part of this may be reproduced or distributed without express permission from the author.

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