I have to say, this series takes a lot out of me. Almost as much as Helena Hawthorn books. While I was writing Case: 1, I kept surprising myself with how alive the characters felt and behaved. I may be on the NSA’s list of suspicious people due to my strange Google searches. All in all, I believe there were a lot of times when I found myself sitting back and watching the events unfold as Annalise and Devlin were solving their possession case that turned out to be so much more.
Now then, enough about that. Why don’t I provide you with a small sample instead?
1 – Rumours
“Chief, is this some kind of a joke?” Annalise demanded, turning red with anger. “He can’t become my partner. He works for Falcon!”
Chief Sunderland reclined in his seat and released a heavy sigh. “Mr Madoc has a great track record in solving cases. You can take this offer or leave it. Remember, Storm, you can’t work without a partner.”
Devlin—the man she thought was killed during their escape from the Falcon facility in the Silver District—stood next to her with a beautiful smile on his face. He remained the same, strikingly handsome with majestic blue eyes that could keep any man or woman tethered on a spot for hours. She scanned his pristine charcoal suit, taking in his strong, broad shoulders and slim waistline. If she did follow her father’s wishes, she would be engaged to him and planning their wedding. She pushed the thought aside. He is part of the reason why Mavel is on the run.
“After what happened, I’ve been demoted,” Devlin explained. “I chose this department because there was an opening.”
She scowled at him. “Do you expect me to believe that?”
“Believe what you will, Annalise. Falcon has no use for people who help prisoners escape,” Devlin added.
That left her speechless. He did help them get out with their lives. After that, Rios and Jamen were given the location of the facility by Mavel. They raided the place, but everything was gone. There wasn’t a smidgen of DNA that indicated anyone had occupied the damn building. With that hiccup, she was made to look like a fool, and the physical damage she took pushed more suspicion onto Mavel over the past three weeks. She had heard the rumours whispered behind her back. People started believing that Mavel hurt her, and she was trying to cover it up by shifting the blame.
Lowering her head, she looked at the ground. Mavel was no longer her beast. The moment he wrote that letter, he had severed ties with her. Even though it was only yesterday that she had read it, it felt like a thousand years had passed.
“So, what’s your decision? Are you going to accept him as your partner?” Chief asked, pushing a digital tablet across the table towards her. “I need an answer, Storm, because I have a case ready if you do.”
Sparing one last glance at Devlin, she grabbed the tablet. “What is it?”
Chief smirked. “We received a report this morning. A possessed basilisk was trying to attack one of the security officers at the Montgomery Institute for young girls. I chose you for this case as it’s a school listed in your file. It should be easier for you to investigate.”
Annalise cringed at the memory of the school she had spent most of her childhood and teenage years attending. The relentless ass-kissing she received from her teachers drove her mad. Each one wanted her to put in a good word with her father. She was planning to do that until the day she overheard her Physics and Mathematics teachers talking about her in the courtyard. She was nothing more than a pawn to them in the progression of their careers. Ever since, she avoided making any friends at school and spent most of her time with Mavel.
“Storm? For God’s sake, say something,” Chief huffed, smacking his palm on his desk to draw her attention.
Her head snapped up, and she forced a smile. “I’ll take the case, sir.”
“And him?” Chief nodded to Devlin who raised a brow when she glanced his way.
“I’ll take him as my partner as well, temporarily. In the meantime, I’m going to search for a new servant.”
Devlin offered her his hand. “It will be a pleasure to work with you.”
She shook his hand, feeling a light electrical current brushing her skin when they touched. Jerking her hand away, she marched out of the Chief’s office. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea. While they worked together, she could press him to talk about the Falcon Group and find out more about them and how they operated. This could be an opportunity, and she had to take it. After all, he was only one man—a man who occasionally made her heart race.
Once she parroted the destination into the onboard computer of her car, she waited for Devlin to climb in. His long legs seemed cramped in the passenger seat, and she stifled a laugh.
“Are you comfortable?” she asked, amused.
Devlin studied her with an intensity that made the car seem a lot warmer than it should have been. Under his unwavering gaze, her cheeks heated up. She changed the car into manual to take her mind off him. Why is his presence bothering me so much?
Halfway to the institute, Devlin finally said, “I’m glad you accepted me as your partner. For a moment there, I thought you would decline.”
“At first, I didn’t want to accept.”
“Why do so in the end?”
“Because you know about Falcon.” Her fingers gripped the steering wheel tighter. “And I need answers.”
Devlin intertwined his hands in his lap and looked out the window. “What do you want to know?”
She spared him a glance, checking to see if he was serious about their sharing session. He didn’t seem like he was joking. “What happened after we escaped?”
“I was shot in the shoulder and treated at a secret Falcon facility in Bronze. They purged the location in Silver, eliminating all evidence of their presence, and I was given a choice.”
She licked her lips as her nervousness started to surface. “What kind of choice?”
“To work my way up from the bottom of the totem pole again or leave Falcon. I chose to leave.”
She snorted. “Just like that?”
“Just like that,” he replied, looking her dead in the eye. “Falcon is a strict organisation. They don’t kill without a reason. And, helping a top politician’s daughter escape the custody of some mad scientist wasn’t considered to be a deadly offence.”
Her shoulders relaxed, and she blew out a breath. “That does make sense. I wouldn’t want to work for people who shot me, either.”
His wrist comms beeped, and he lifted his right hand to check his messages. “It seems Mr Hopps will be there when we arrive.”
“How do you know that?”
“I may be disconnected from Falcon, but I am extremely resourceful. Feel free to utilise me as you please,” he said with a wink.
Annalise returned her full attention to the road while her face turned the shade of a beetroot. She knew she loved Mavel. No. She was certain of it. Yet, this man somehow managed to find his way past her barriers and summon a reaction out of her.
They arrived at the Montgomery Institute a little past noon. Devlin climbed out of the car and opened her door for her—a gentlemanly gesture she didn’t expect. Such chivalry died centuries ago. What an odd man…
Taking a quick look at her old school, which she wished she would never see again, she mumbled a curse. Nothing here had changed. The two-storey, red-brick monstrosity in the shape of the letter C had a large courtyard at the centre of it, full of rare plants imported from across the globe. The building was divided into two sections. Students who belonged to privileged families from the Golden District studied in the more modern, left section of the institute. The others studied in the right section she had never been to. She often envisioned it to be run down with caving ceilings and ghosts appearing in the hallways. It was nothing more than her imagination according to her only friend, Monique, who also studied here.
“Annalise, shall we go in?” Devlin inquired, eyeing her face with interest.
“Might as well.”
Annalise watched his steady gait from behind, appreciating his long, muscular legs. She mentally slapped herself on the forehead. Was he dispersing some kind of pheromone into the air to make her drawn to him? Picking up speed, she hurried past him.
They arrived at the school’s reception. She flashed her badge at the elderly woman sitting behind the mahogany desk, saying, “We are from the HPD. Could you direct us to the crime scene?”
The woman lifted her eyes from her terminal and forced a smile as she used her hands to support her words. “Yes, Detective. Take the corridor to your right and keep going until you reach a separation door. At the door, one of the officers will help you out.”
With that, the receptionist dismissed her, making Annalise slightly annoyed. She followed the directions with Devlin at her side. At the large glass door, which she came to understand was the said ‘separation door’, her partner smiled at the officer standing in their way.
Devlin spoke in a calm and professional tone as he showed his badge. “We are here to see the body.”
The young officer inclined his head and moved aside. “The holo-barrier is a little further down the hall, near the Science labs.”
“Thank you.” Devlin patted the man on the shoulder. He placed his hand on the small of Annalise’s back and guided her through the doorway.
The second they were out of the officer’s earshot, she slapped his hand away. “Did you forget? We’re not engaged.”
Devlin gave the hallway they were in a quick assessment—no one was in sight. He grabbed her by the arm and pulled her to a space under the concrete stairs. “It would be best if you act like we are.”
She gaped at him. “Why on earth would I do something like that?”
“Because there is talk about you and your beast,” he hissed, his grip on her arm turning painful. “There are rumours your father is trying to dispel, but he can only do so much.”
She lowered her voice. Her heart rate started climbing along with her panic. “What kind of rumours?”
“That you two were involved.” He grimaced as if he had eaten something rotten. “Do you want me to continue?”
Annalise’s face paled upon hearing the news. Who could be spreading rumours like that? Sure, she was a little more upset about losing her servant, maybe more than an average pureblood would be, but she did her best to avoid any suspicion. “Why would someone do this?”
“It’s because you are a Storm. Your father is the head of the Anti-Modded Party. If his daughter ends up sleeping with the enemy, what will that say about him?”
She tried to slap him across the face when he caught her wrist and pushed her further into the darkness. Her back hit the wall, and she swallowed. She could scream to bring someone over. After all, the officer at the door was less than ten feet away. Yet, the determination in Devlin’s gaze evaporated any protest from her.
“As your partner, I urge you to act appropriately if you wish to continue working for the DPD,” he whispered and lifted her face with the gentlest touch. “I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
She pushed his hand away. “To alleviate everyone’s suspicion, I have to go on a date with a pureblood or two, right? It doesn’t have to be you.”
A smirk spread across his face. “It would be a pity if you don’t give me a chance.” He lowered his head and breathed his words into her ear. “I would certainly make you burn for me.”
Annalise was glad she was hidden in the shadows as she was struggling to keep her composure. The certainty and arrogance his words were laced with made her want to attempt to slap him a second time. The only problem was that he already held one of her hands, and his thumb was massaging her palm, which was becoming rather distracting.
She managed to jerk her hand away from him. Getting past him, she sucked in dry hallway air to steady her nerves. When she lifted her hand to fix the stray locks of her raven hair behind her ears, she noticed she was shaking.
He nestled his hand on the small of her back and smiled like a charming politician. “Shall we continue to the crime scene?”
***END OF SAMPLE***