For The Love Of…Excerpts by Artemis Crow

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I just released book 8 in my Zodiac Assassins, Bryn’s Flight, and I’m so excited to have a new book out. But when you’re writing a long series there’s no time to toast with champagne! Here’s the opening to what will be book 10, Thea’s Truth. I hope you enjoy it!

Thea watched the late morning sun inch across the wooden floor of her attic bedroom, watched the rays caress the curlicues of her Victorian dresser like a lover only to abandon it for the chair and ottoman, its bright light illuminating the faded floral fabric and leaving deepening shadows in its wake. Shadows that whispered to her of secrets long held, secrets of a past she’d never known, secrets she shied away from with a growing constancy with each passing year.

A door slammed jerking her away from the secrets lingering in the shadows and into the present. She turned in her chair to face the vanity mirror again, adjusting the long, white wig until the bangs were no longer over her right ear, but squarely centered on her forehead. A lock of her natural hair slowly escaped the hairnet and fell onto her shoulder, the thick, straight-as-a-stick, someone-painted-it-like-a-chrome-car strands reflecting the morning light like a mirror. 

“Damn it. Rena!”

Heavy footsteps pounded up the stairs to Thea’s attic bedroom. The door flew open, and Rena, Thea’s Aspis best friend—one of the most unique of the InBetween’s paranorm species—stopped in the doorway, her entrance as dramatic as the rest of her. 

“Good goddess, you’re a grown woman, Thea. When are you going to learn how to girl?”

Rena strode across the room, which took her all of five steps—undermining the effect of a good strode—and snatched the ratty wig off of Thea’s head. She tsked and worked the hair net free and let the stunning chrome hair fall to Thea’s midback. 

“Honestly, it’s October in the northeast, home to witches and all manner of spooky things, and you want to hide this stunning hair?” Rena asked, squinting against the hair glare. 

“And blind someone?”

“Okay, maybe you have a point, but when the sun is down…”

Thea closed her eyes and dropped her head back. “Just help me, no lectures.” She lifted her head and gave Rena her best pleading look. “My clients expect a white-haired witch to do their reading, just as I’ve done for years, and that’s what they’re going to get. At least the wig is white instead of black.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Rena said, gathering Thea’s hair. “Let’s do a plait then add the hair net. That’ll contain this thing of beauty you so desperately hide and give me something to anchor the wig to.”

Thea kept her grin to herself, instead opting to close her eyes and relax under Rena’s quick but gentle hands. The woman was magic with hair and makeup, far better than the Fae—Dark or Light—and without the pesky after effect of owing a favor to a dangerous and fickle creature. 

Not that Rena wasn’t dangerous; the woman was an Aspis, after all. A humanoid snake who hid her black, blue and green iridescent skin with makeup and layers of all-black Goth clothes, who wore contacts to conceal her gold eyes with the viper-slit pupils, who had to take care not to bite or scratch anyone because her venom was many times deadlier than the most poisonous snake. Oh, and fangs that she couldn’t hide or file down, thus the Goth attire to give her an excuse for long, sharp, needle canines.

The wig secured, she tipped Thea’s face up with a finger. “Hmm, I need to fix this, too.” 

Rena dug through the mostly unused pile of makeup she’d given Thea. 

“Not too much makeup. I don’t want any undue attention.”

“With your face and figure, anytime you leave this village, you create undue, even without makeup. It’s rather annoying.”

Thea snorted and frowned until Rena flicked her cheek. “Did you just flick me?”

“To get you to stop scowling, hell yes. Now sit still and tell me again why you turned down that job in Boston because I know I didn’t hear you right the first time.”

“I can’t leave mom and Gram. You know this.”

“You wouldn’t be leaving them; you could commute every day.”

“But I’d have to leave the village every day for work. You know I can’t.”

Rena swept rouge on Thea’s cheeks. “Your mom and Gram brought you here as a baby. Surely they don’t want you to leave this place in a pine box.”

“I leave plenty of times, like tonight and tomorrow night, and every night in October, that I can get booked.”

“In a costume, only a few miles away, and with that around your neck for protection,” Rena said, nodding at Thea’s pendant.

Thea gripped the large piece, her thumb running over the intricate, eight-pointed star, the metal old and unique and no doubt valuable. The Star of Chaos, her Gram had told her when she was old enough to wear it; a symbol of the primordial goddess who had created all the known universe, including the Portends, of whom Thea was one. It purportedly hid her from the goddess-created, subterranean paranorm world mom and Gram had taken Thea out of at the moment of her birth. They’d never said why she had to be removed from her kind and the protection that the InBetween had afforded all persecuted paranorms. 

As the years rolled on, Thea stopped asking, growing afraid of the truth her mom never wanted to speak, content to live her small life in their small New Hampshire town, or village as Rena like to call it.

May your words flow freely,

Artemis

The Zodiac Assassins series
Available on Amazon Kindle and Print, Nook and Kobo

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