Coming Soon: Available for Pre-Order on Amazon at the end of January 2022!
An entertaining new paranormal cozy mystery series from Laura Hesse, the author of The Silver Spurs Series and The Gumboot & Gumshoe Series with a new host of quirky characters including Mary Jane, Lucifer’s niece, a quirky half-angel whose murder triggers series of calamitous events from a Heavenly war to the stealing of her uncle’s horses from the Hellfire Stable.
Here is a quick preview:
Hot breath fanned my face. It smelled faintly of Quaker’s Apple and Cinnamon Oatmeal.
My chest felt like someone had shoved a red hot poker through it. I inhaled sharply and opened my eyes, too weak to sit up.
A soft grey and white muzzle nuzzled my cheek; wide flared nostrils sniffed my face. Dark warm eyes regarded me with concern.
“Hello, Mr. Jeepers,” I mumbled as the elegant white and grey dappled horse delicately chewed on a strand of my purple hair.
Another equine head nosed in, but this muzzle wasn’t soft, it was as hard as bleached bone, which of course it was.
“Binky, that hurts,” I eschewed the Grim Reaper’s skeletal steed.
“What are you two doing here,” I asked the two Hell horses looking down upon my prone form, “and where is Leyland?”
“Mary Jane,” a soft masculine voice whispered in my ear. “Time to get up, sweetie.”
“In all the realms, why would you bring her here,” another male voice growled.
I recognized the latter voice. It belonged to Saint Peter. Saint or no, he was as poisonous as a scorpion’s sting. Dad threatened to cut off his arms once when Peter refused to let us through the Pearly Gates so my father could plead my case before God. I was little then, but I still remember the cold hatred emanating from the guardian of the gate and his rich baritone voice. Not everyone in Heaven hated me, but many shared Saint Peter’s opinion of Nephilims. Oh, did I mention that I was a Nephilim – a half-angel/half-human? Well, I am.
What was I doing at the gates and why was Saint Peter glowering at me, his expression smug, and his lips pressed together in a thin determined line?
Confusion clouded my mind. The last thing I remembered was galloping full tilt towards the water jump atop my bay stallion, Leyland, in the final lap of the National finals. Leyland and I had a chance of making the Olympic Eventing team. Scuttle butt at the horse show was that Leyland and I were a shoe-in. It was our last shot because Leyland was aging out and the Olympics were next summer. The large fine tuned Hanoverian cross had finally overcome his fear of water and we were rocketing around the course in record time.
Darn it, where was Leyland? And what were Mr. Jeepers, Binky, Death, the Grim Reaper, and Saint Peter doing in the middle of a three day equestrian eventing competition?
Pain coursed through my chest and abdomen as I sat up. The world canted sideways. Someone righted me before I toppled over.
“Sorry, Mary Jane,” the Grim Reaper apologized, squatting down beside me, an arm wrapped protectively around my shoulder. “I never thought I’d have to reap you.”
“Don’t worry about Leyland,” Death crooned, not having to kneel beside me as he was a short little man with an infectious smile, one that I dearly wanted to wipe off his face at the moment, even though I really liked him, but seeing Saint Peter had unnerved me. Death looked a lot like Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones. He too had the ability to drink all who challenged him under the table, except for me and Zepar, the Grand Duke of the demon armies. “Your friend, Bernie, is looking after him. She’s quite distraught. I’ll pay her a little visit in her dreams tonight to see if I can cheer her up.”
“Please don’t,” I wheezed, the pain in my chest making it hard to speak. The thought of Death paying a visit to one of my two best friends gave me the strength to sit up on my own. “I don’t think Bernie would understand your humor. Besides, I can’t die; I’m half angel, right?”
“I’m afraid you can if killed with the right instrument,” Death replied, gently patting me on the shoulder. Mr. Jeepers, Death’s steed, nosed his master, and then yanked hard on another strand of my hair. Death shrugged sympathetically and retrieved what was left of my mane of purple hair from the horse’s mouth.
“Never thought I’d see the day I’d have to attend to you like this,” the Grim Reaper moaned. “I mean, I thought Diana’s arrows never left her chambers anymore, but there one is, embedded in your chest.”
A long slender arrow made of dark polished wood with a white swan feathered fletching pierced the center of my Kevlar safety vest. The Kevlar was impossibly strong which is why every event rider wore a vest to protect their ribcage in case of a serious fall. The sharp arrowhead protruded from my back. This was no easy feat considering the arrow had to travel through the Kevlar and the ample bosom squished beneath the vest.
No wonder it hurts to breathe.
“So I’m dead then,” I stammered, fingering the arrow that penetrated my heart. I felt stupid for even saying it, but at least the pain was going away.
“I’m afraid so,” Death sighed.
“And we aren’t quite sure what to do with you,” the Grim Reaper agreed, his voice holding a note of sympathy. “Honestly, I thought the All Father would intervene.”
“Yeah, don’t hold your breath,” I grimaced, “which I don’t seem to be able to do right now.”
“I summoned Gabriel, but he has yet to make an appearance,” Death ventured, clearly not amused.
“That’s no surprise, he hasn’t for eleven years.”
“Well, you can’t leave her here,” Saint Peter spat. “I didn’t open the gates for her as a babe and I won’t now. She’s an abomination!”
“I am not,” I cried, suddenly realizing the seriousness of my situation. Angels didn’t have souls, but they were children of Heaven so could come and go as they pleased. Humans had souls, and if they were judged good and true, Saint Peter would open the two intricately carved golden gates looming above us and let them pass. Being only half-human meant I only had half a soul.
Heaven hated me, and God did too. At ten when my boobs started to sprout and my baby fat wasn’t going away, the Arch-Angel Gabriel, my father, stopped coming to visit. My mother took it in stride, and told me if I couldn’t be beautiful like her or my father, I needed to be smart. Unfortunately, I wasn’t born an Einstein either so bold and rebellious became my answer to everything. Three days before the horse show and my twenty-third birthday, I dyed my silver hair and wings bright purple. Ah, Captain Hindsight. Who knew the price of that small rebellion would be facing eternity this way?
My eyes burned. Tears trickled down my face. Loss overwhelmed me – loss for the horse I loved more than anything else in the world and for the two priceless friends left behind, for the Olympic Team I would never be a part of, and for the mother I never told how much I loved her near enough.
My worst fears had materialized: I was an unwanted child of an arch-angel, refused salvation, barred from Heaven, pitied by Death himself, and scorned by one of the most powerful saints in Heaven, so I did the only thing I could think of to do.
“UNCLE LUCIFER, I NEED YOUR HELP,” I screamed so loudly into the white and blue haze below me that Binky’s bones blew apart, Mr. Jeepers staggered backwards several feet, and Death, the Grim Reaper, and Saint Peter tumbled backwards onto their buttocks.
End of Draft Preview
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