Title: WAKING THE DEAD
Author: Kerry Blaisdell
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Hyacinth always assumed dying would simplify her life. But when her new boss, Archangel Michael, sends her on her first official mission--to retrieve a powerful rock from a collector in Germany--things go downhill fast. For one thing, the Dead keep popping up, expecting her to guide them to the Afterlife. For another, her part-demon nephew Geordi’s powers are starting to leak out, at age seven. What if Michael finds out about him? Worse, what if Satan does?
Then there’s her love life-after-death. Rooming with a dead French cop no one else can see is complicated enough. But when Jason, Geordi’s lying Dioguardi Demon cousin, resurrects himself--so to speak--all Hell breaks loose. Literally. Can Hyacinth get Michael’s rock back before Satan steals its powers and breaks free of his prison? Or will her single-minded pursuit put those she loves--and the rest of the world--in the path of Satan’s fury?
I nudged Geordi and whispered, “I think we’re in business.”
He nodded solemnly, and I fought down a sudden ache. It must be so hard to listen to the adults, casually discussing his mother’s death in terms of monetary gain. Losing her at all was impossibly awful. I should know—I was younger than him when my own parents died. Lily found a loving adoptive family, but I bounced around foster care until I aged out of the system.
I would not abandon Geordi to that fate.
Behind us, the door opened and Herr Gutzwiller returned, followed by a woman in a blue blazer, dark flowered skirt, and red heels, who I remembered seeing in the lobby earlier. She wore the vaguely distracted expression of one who spends their days crunching numbers on a computer, and then comes up for air long enough to marvel that a world exists outside her office. Her brown hair was twisted up in a knot, a blood-red-and-blue night lily tucked jauntily into one side. It must have been fresh-picked, because its rich, sweet scent wafted over me. She glanced briefly at me, then around Herr Gutzwiller’s office as though it’d been awhile since she’d seen it.
He went to sit behind his desk, his expression as close to beaming as it had probably ever been. “I have spoken with our director, and we are most sorry we have not taken better care of your financial needs to date.”
That explained both the woman’s presence, and her distraction. Probably bank directors were rarely bothered with the day-to-day workings of their bank. I must be extra-special. Go me.
Herr Gutzwiller continued, “With your car as collateral, we would be delighted to advance you as much money as you will need, up to the full balance in your account—once the car has been appraised. It is outside, yes?”
“Er, no. We walked.” His expression headed south, and I added quickly, “I don’t drive it very often. I keep it in a garage near my apartment. To protect it.”
The genial beaming returned. “A splendid plan. And driving it so little—it must be in very good condition indeed.”
“Practically new.” That at least was true. Or would be, if I could be sure the car was still intact. I coughed delicately, but the bank director only gazed at a point above my forehead, seemingly unconcerned about the condition of my car.
I said to Herr Gutzwiller, “I have to leave town for a couple of days. Would it be possible to leave the title with you, and make an appointment for the appraisal when we come back? Say, two weeks from tomorrow? In the meantime, if you could advance me a very small amount—just enough for rent and our travel expenses—I’d be very grateful.”
He hesitated. Without an appraisal on file, I’m sure he wasn’t supposed to advance me anything beyond the original sum he’d quoted. However, the previous owner’s name weighed heavily in my favor. I expected him to confer with the director, but evidently, she was only here to see that I was “properly taken care of,” not to interfere.
“Madame,” he said at last, “if this former client of yours was so grateful, perhaps he would be willing to advance you the funds himself.”
“He probably would,” I said, startling Herr Gutzwiller, who, I’m sure, expected hemming and hawing, and various delay tactics. But it was true. My clients were grateful, and generous. When possible. “Unfortunately, he’s somewhere near the South Pole right now, but if you contact his personal assistant, I’m sure he’d vouch for me.”
Gutzwiller chewed on that, then caved, and I resisted a celebratory fist-pump.
“Very well,” he said, and began typing on his keyboard.
A few minutes later, a sum was moved from the joint account to an individual one I’d opened when we arrived in town. The amount wasn’t exorbitant, but it would suffice to make Frau Blauch do the happy dance. Of course, when we retrieved the rock and returned to Switzerland, I’d have to—somehow—produce my car for the appraisal, but I’d worry about that later. For now, it was enough to know we weren’t entirely without resources.
During the whole process, the bank director stayed silent, occasionally peering over Herr Gutzwiller’s shoulder, but mostly pacing the office. Several times, I felt her gaze on me, but each time I looked up, she glanced away.
Did she suspect my car wasn’t here? Was that it? If so, why not call me out?
Geordi didn’t notice. He’d taken out the stone scarab he carried everywhere, given to him by a woman we’d met in Turkey. It was about four centimeters long and shiny black. He brought it out when he was anxious, bored, tired, happy—pretty much any time he needed a visit with his “friend.” Today, he’d slid off his chair and was making the scarab “crawl” over the whorls in the carpet beneath our chairs.
When we finally rose to go, I thought I should at least thank the director for her kindness, despite her standoffishness. I said to Herr Gutzwiller, “You’ve been extremely helpful.” Then I turned to the woman, who stood at the window with her back to me.
“Truly—thank you. I appreciate the bank’s willingness to help us out in our unusual situation.”
“It is nothing,” said Herr Gutzwiller.
My gaze snapped back to his. “Actually, I was speaking to—”
I gestured toward the window, and the woman finally met my gaze.
She said softly, “Il me voit pas—he does not see me. I am not the director—I am dead. I am waiting to speak with you, at your convenience.”
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If you like TV shows like ‘Supernatural’ or ‘Constantine,’ this book is for you! Don’t miss the sequel to multi-award-winning DEBRIEFING THE DEAD -- read them both now before book three (DAMNING THE DEAD) comes out!
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Kerry Blaisdell is the award-winning author of The Dead Series, including DEBRIEFING THE DEAD—2019 Royal Palm Literary Award for Best Published Fantasy, RONE Award for Best Long Paranormal, HOLT Medallion Literary Award for Best Paranormal & Best First Book, and Romance Writers of America RITA® Award finalist—and its sequel, WAKING THE DEAD, which InD’tale Magazine recommends for “fans of television shows like ‘Constantine’ or ‘Supernatural.'” She also writes award-winning Romantic Suspense and Historical Mystery. She has a Bachelor of Arts from UC Berkeley in Comparative Literature (French/Medieval English), and a Master’s in Teaching English and Advanced Mathematics from the University of Portland. Kerry lives in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest with her family, assorted cats and dogs, and more hot pepper plants than anyone could reasonably consume.
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