You know, I have to say…Murder by Ritual is one of my favorite pieces, and yet, I believe because of the material, my readers didn’t see it the way I did. It’s a romance surrounding a murder mystery, and that was very different for me. I hadn’t done that before, and probably won’t again LOL, but I love the piece.
Eris Herrington on the scene of a grisly quadruple murder thinks she’s been pushed too far. Strands–humans who now had the power to walk as animals or, like her, could see into anything they touch–haven’t been public for long. A killer among them won’t be good.
Eris realizes she’s been manipulated for this case in order to join the Strand Special Core, and Ken Satou will be her partner. She’s ready to walk away, but Ken won’t stand for it. If he has to seduce her into submission to solve this case that is exactly what he’ll do.
Eris’s hands shook as she stood, her body swaying. Her headache was pushing toward a migraine. She had to get what she could now. She could only key in to maybe one more. After that, the bleeds, from her nose, eyes, or ears, would come next, and she’d be lost to the world. She couldn’t afford that. They had a killer out there, and she had to help catch him. She wouldn’t be able to forgive herself if she failed.
She stumbled, moving as best she could, and knelt between the parents. Looking at them, she tried to decide which one would be better. The mother’s natural instinct would be to get to her children. She may plead and beg, struggle, but her focus would be entirely on her children. She would try everything in her power to protect the children she had brought into the world. That’s what Eris would have done. That is, if the victim was a good mother. Unlike the bitch of a mother Eris hailed from. She shrugged that thought off, not wanting to lose focus, and forced herself to look at the father. He would be determined to save his family, not only his children but his wife as well. She saw the solid gold bands on both their ring fingers. He would want to take care of them all. But something wasn’t right. The rings were on the wrong hand. They wore them on the right. The sight sent Eris reeling.
“Goddamn it. Torrence, get your ass in here now!”
“What?” he questioned as he came through the door, not looking right into her eyes.
“They are Strand. This is a Strand family. Why didn’t you tell me that before?”
“How did you know?” Torrence questioned back.
“The wedding bands on the right, asswipe. Despite the Civil Rights Act for Strands of 1990, they still aren’t able to legally marry. They hold dedication ceremonies when they join, officiated by their Prime or Prima. Why didn’t you tell me this before?” She didn’t add that Shifter Strands found their mates, and the link there was much stronger than any marriage ceremony could hope to achieve. But that wasn’t a human’s business. It just told her they weren’t Shifter Strands. Shifters didn’t wear bands. They didn’t have to.
Torrence shrugged, thin shoulders barely moving his heavy black leather jacket.
“Because we wanted you to see what you could without any preconceived notions,” another man answered.
There was no reason that her knees should have gone weak at a crime scene. It shouldn’t have even been possible. They did nonetheless. A lilt to his words made him wildly exotic and out of place in the small town of Lineville, Texas. She registered his height first. He towered at least a head over her five-foot-eleven frame. His samurai knot was bound tightly at the crown of his head, his eyes slanted and piercing in black pools. No streaks of color, so he wasn’t a Radheid Vampire, but he for damn sure wasn’t any more human than her. That she could sense. Strands could scent humans. He smelled nothing of a human. He inclined his head at her, his straight nose twitching slightly over sinfully full lips, as if he had read her mind.
Son of a bitch.
“Special Core Agent Satou at your service.”
Satou, Japanese then, she thought to herself.
Sexy, she thought ten seconds after that and then shook her head, clearing the thoughts. She was out of her damn mind. She had to be. It was like her pain was slowly melting away as she looked at him, fading into the background so she could think, rationalize, all about how delectable his mouth looked as he watched her. She was standing amidst death and destruction, and still his body was enticing to her. Mouth-watering even.
She was losing it.