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The Reading Chameleon
I whipped around, still brandishing the shovel like a weapon, and my hat hit the dirt. Tipton, my boss and the Fair’s Beast Whisperer, headed toward me purposefully, his long strides devouring the distance between us. He was part demon with an uncanny gift for working with and managing the Fair’s animals. But I wasn’t interested in any of that. He wouldn’t be here unless—
“Blythe called in sick. You’re going to have to pull a double.” He held up a hand to stave off my retort. “No help for it and you know it.”
“Son of a bitch, Tip, you know that’s not right,” I huffed, driving the shovel tip into the ground, my frustration at being startled bleeding over into irritation with my co-worker. I started to curse her but stopped abruptly. With my pedigree, malicious thoughts were a manifest bad idea whether backed by intent or not. Even if my suspicions were right and I lacked any significant abilities, the risks were simply too high.
If banshees were rare, then angels were infinitely rarer. And archangels? They were simply off-the-charts of scientific study. I was the daughter of a banshee and an archangel. My parents’ genetics—banshee mother, Archangel of Death father—had guaranteed my own pedigree would revolve around death manifest. It was a terrifying proposition, the idea I might accidentally cause someone’s death by cursing him a little too exuberantly when pissed off. Worse was the fear I might be found out. See, because I was an absolutely unique hybrid, I’d be a goldmine of information to the government, scientists, religious zealots and mystics alike…except for the fact I really was a total null. I was neither angelic nor a banshee, didn’t morph into anything whatsoever, and the only significant skill I had was in foretelling death when I touched a person with the palms of my hands. Of course, it might not matter to any of them, though, and I’d be just as likely to find myself institutionalized again, my own life out of my control.
I began to breathe harder and tremble. The idea that every stop could be the one where someone found me out made me want to pack up and run. But I craved what had become my home and cherished my privacy. So I would stay here, in the shadows, as long as the Fates would allow it. Tipton watched with narrowed eyes as I gathered myself from my little internal Fear Fest and got back to the conversation at hand—the one that would have me pulling a double shift. “I get stuck picking up her hours every time she takes someone new to her bed.”
He arched a heavy brow. “You paying attention to who’s bedding who now?”
I fought to meet the big man’s orange-flecked eyes, ignoring the blush that burned my cheeks. “I’m just saying I shouldn’t be held accountable for the apparent fact my co-worker does more work on her back than she does while standing on her own two feet.”
Tipton rubbed his upper lip hard, but he couldn’t suppress the grin. A deep chuckle reverberated through his massive chest. “True enough. I’ll talk to her. Doesn’t change the fact I’ve got to have you around to make sure the animals are prepped and ready for the matinee and to start evening feeds.”
Some days being the dependable one in a group sucked ass.
About Raising Cain:
Hiding places are scarce when both Heaven and Hell intend to find you.
Dani Fayel’s backbreaking job as a stable hand at The Freaks’ Fair isn’t glamorous, but for someone looking to keep to the shadows? It’s perfect. Neither paranormal freaks nor human norms ever notice her. But when Dani is forced to either let a child die in order to maintain her anonymity or choose to save him and risk being discovered, she finds herself unwillingly thrust into the spotlight.
Cain, Hell’s premier assassin and a predatory incubus, is close to fulfilling his final contract and earning his freedom. Hired by the Archangel of Death to find his daughter, Cain follows her trail to the Fair. He works undercover, certain his mark is inside one of the portable canopies or traveling cages. Dead or alive, she equals his ticket to freedom.
When Cain’s objective is divulged, Dani realizes she can’t outrun her destiny. As the fabled Key—the one soul with absolute free will who is tied to the three realms of Heaven, Earth and Hell—only she is capable of opening the gates for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Whoever frees the Horsemen allegedly commands them. Now both Heaven and Hell are vying for her allegiance, and there are no limits as to how dirty they’ll fight to obtain it. With Hell raining indiscriminate chaos as Heaven maneuvers its players around her, Dani realizes her would-be assassin may be the only man capable of helping her survive.
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Kelli Ireland Bio:
Kelli Ireland spent a decade as a name on a door in corporate America. Unexpectedly liberated by Fate’s sense of humor, she chose to carpe the diem and pursue her passion for writing. A fan of happily-ever-afters, she found she loved being the Puppet Master for the most unlikely couples. Seeing them through the best and worst of each other while helping them survive the joys and disasters of falling in love? Best. Thing. Ever.
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