Title: MARKED RAVEN
Author: J.B. Dane
Genre: Urban Fantasy PI Mystery Comedy
Valentine’s Day. The most dangerous day of the year.
It wasn’t until I was standing at the booth that I caught a glance at the girl wedged as far back in the opposite seat as she could get. Her lipstick was definitely candy-apple in color and unsmudged, unlike her friend’s. Her eyes were heavily kohled and were unnaturally wide. Her gaze darted from the couple across from her to the strange assortment of other patrons. An untouched mug of troll beer sat before her and she had the lower edge of her bottom lip firmly gripped between her teeth.
“Naomie!” I gasped.
Beelz had lagged behind me in the crowd, apparently lingering to help himself to something’s unattended meal. Plates were much easier to reach in Great Dane mode. At my exclamation, I caught his instant drop back to dachshund form from the corner of my eye.
“Boss!” Naomie gasped back at me. But I saw her shoulders relax. Her teeth freed her bottom lip. Yep, Sir Bram had come to rescue her. Everything was—or soon would be—fine in her world once more.
“What the hell are you doing here? Do you have any idea how dangerous this place is?” I demanded. Okay, maybe I snarled it. The Bridge catered to folks who snarled. It was catching.
The ghoul pushed to his feet and found that, even standing, I had the height advantage. I saw the balk, but he decided to brazen it out. “Clear off, slick. This party’s doing fine without you part of it.”
His shirt was unbuttoned to display a hairy chest and a gold amulet on a thick chain. I grabbed a handful of both fabric and chain, dragged him up on his toes, and leaned into his upturned glare. “Pal, the Seventies called and left a message. They want the wardrobe back.”
“You don’t scare me,” he growled.
“You know who I am?” I countered.
“Yeah. The guy in the books. The Raven.”
True, but Naomie and her friend didn’t know that. “Fictional character, bucko,” I said and added a nasty grin. “But if I were The Raven, what do you think I’d do to a slime ball like you?”
He tried to shrug me off and found he lacked the traction to do so. “I ain’t doing nothin’ wrong, Farrell. Leave me be.”
I glanced over at Naomie. “Time to go.”
She scooted across the bench so quickly I wondered whether Ruth had begun waxing the seats. Her friend, however, stayed where she was.
I leveled a glare at her. “You, too, sugar.”
She took a deep breath, folded her arms across her awesomely displayed rack, and turned mulish. “No,” she said. “I’m enjoying myself.”
“You won’t for long. This piece of shit”—I shook the dangling ghoul until his teeth rattled a bit—“has already slipped you happy drugs. He likes to make stupid little girls disappear. He’ll sell you to anyone with cash in hand and let them do whatever they want to you. If they happen to kill you, he’ll just charge them extra and arrange to have your body disposed of.”
“You’re just trying to scare me,” she insisted adamantly.
“Apparently doing a lousy job of it, too,” I said and turned my attention back to the ghoul, letting him drop back to his feet. He staggered a bit but caught himself on the table. “You’ve got a relative I’ve been asked to locate. Solomon Prisk. You think he’ll like hearing that you and I had a nice cozy chat?”
“We ain’t having no cozy anything, Farrell,” he said.
I smiled in a way that was far from friendly. “You know that, and I know that, but do you think Sol will believe it if I tell select people how helpful you’ve been in giving me information about him?” Not that I’d be grilling him about Prisk quite yet. I’d hunt him down for that treat in the very near future, though.
The ghoul’s expression alone said his cousin wouldn’t take his word as line-and-verse in the bible of the streets. His bravado packed up and left.
“Fine. Take ‘em both with you,” he snarled, then pushed through the crowd toward the bar. Not a one of the self-absorbed customers had paid any attention to our contretemps, and they ignored his shoves as well. Life went on for the regulars at The Bridge Bar and Grill.
In his absence, Ruth surfaced and glared at both Naomie and her friend. “You’re both barred from this establishment,” she announced. “We don’t like troublemakers.”
Naomie’s friend gaped at her. “Troublemakers! He’s the troublemaker here!” She pointed at me.
“He’s the woodsman like Chris Hemsworth in those movies,” Ruth corrected. “I called him to save your scrawny neck. Now get the hell out.”
Naomie was already on her feet and buttoning a long trench coat that looked like it had seen duty in World War II. She spotted Beelz at her feet before she finished. “Oh, you brought back up!” she cried and swept him up in her arms, getting super emotional. Tears of relief leaked from her eyes.
Beelz took care of washing them from her face. Didn’t seem to mind that, with them making her eyeliner run, they wouldn’t be exactly tasty.
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It’s funny, action-packed, has twists on various paranormal/legendary beings, its suspenseful, there’s a couple mysteries to solve, it’s got a touch of romance, it has magic. It has cars blowing up! It is, however, missing a kitchen sink. Just an oversight. It is the second book in the series with the third set for 2022 release.
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J.B. DANE is a pseudonym of a multi-published, multi-genre novelist who goes by many names. Not because she is in Witness Protection. Really not in Witness Protection. Really. She may start hiding from citizens of Detroit since her Raven Tales urban fantasy comedic mysteries have populated their fair city with neighbors who might be supernatural, paranormal or legendary beasts…or not so beasts…but probably ARE beasts. They could be hungry, too. She has also tampered with the lore of the Claus family, you know the one at the North Pole, and hopes this does not land her on the Naughty List, even if Nick Claus has landed on it frequently himself. She might be found at www.4TaleTellers.com, but leave a message to be picked up by a disguised courier and delivered to a secret location.
Social Media Links:
Facebook.com/JBDaneWriter or @JBDaneWriter on Twitter