Release Date: February 12th
Publisher: Patchwork Press
There’s something strange about David, something that goes beyond the way he makes Ellie feel. He’s wealthy, poised, and a complete enigma. With nothing to lose but her heart, Ellie goes in search of the truth — a search that leads her down an eye-opening path that reveals secrets about the world she thought she knew.The world’s order is held in careful balance, the essence of good and evil tilting the scale. When the fabric of reality is stripped away, Ellie is forced to make a decision to follow the path David’s constructed before her or simply walk away. The Core is missing and someone must step up and stand between the light and darkness, holding each back and maintaining equilibrium.
“You do realize that there is absolutely no chance of us actually getting away with this, right?” Ellie whispered loudly in the small confines of the car.
“There’s no need to whisper. We’re in a car by ourselves, Elle.” Jacob kept his eyes on the car in front of them, the large figure of his sister’s boss moving languidly from the Lincoln to cross the busy street. “Besides, it’s the holidays, and it’s far too busy in this neighborhood for Mr. Kelley to notice us.”
A soft sigh resounded beside him, and sounds of fidgeting filled the air. Ellie was rarely the type to be nervous or overcome with emotion of any sort. If anyone was capable of a stakeout operation, it was most certainly his twin sister. She was only a few minutes older than him, but years ahead in maturity and intellectual curiosities, to be sure. He smiled as he felt the overwhelming heat of her stare. Paying her no attention would be more fun than giving in to her well-founded fits of worry.
“I know you know I’m looking at you, Jacob.” Her punch was much too light to be anything but playful.
He glanced her way only briefly, a smirk on his mouth his only response. He was used to responding non-verbally.
“It’s not me you should be watching, but your illustrious boss. I didn’t come out in the freezing cold to spend my night in a car, hanging out with my bratty older sister. I came to see if I could help you get a few answers. Pay attention!” He turned the heater up, and the previously fogged window cleared, showing a row of beautifully decorated mansions.
Christmas was in full effect on Ebert Street, and the wealthy citizens of the neighborhood spent loads outdoing their friends and family. Their study for the evening was a Mr. David Kelley, Ellie’s boss for the last two years. He was an investor of other people’s money, a financial advisor by some standards and a bookie by others.
“I am paying attention, but I don’t know what you expect to find by sitting outside of a luxurious home in the middle of winter. It’s the holidays, so yes, David goes to parties and wines and dines the rich and famous. What did you think we would find tonight?” She added softly, “I didn’t even ask you to come.”
Jacob turned to face his sister. “You most certainly did ask me to come. You’ve been bitching for the last two years about your boss’s oddities, and it was you that wanted to start looking into his personal life.”
“Not his personal life, but I wanted to see what it is that he does with his time.” She turned to face him as well, a defiant look spreading across her features. “How does someone make more money than God and never really DO anything? Besides, you’ve been wanting a reason to see the Christmas lights in Westchester for years.”
“Christmas lights, pff …” He rolled his eyes. “I want to hear it or I’m leaving.”
“Hear what?” Confusion spread across her features.
“I want to hear that you asked me to come, and that this is your operation.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Jacob.”
He turned to face the windshield and moved to put the car in reverse before her hand clamped down on his shoulder. “Fine. Fine. You’re such a child, but if I need to say it, I will. I wanted you to help me figure out who my boss really is and what he’s up to. There, I said it.”
Jacob put his hands in his lap and looked back at his sister. “Why?”
He sighed before continuing. “Why did you want me to help you? You’ve been with Mr. Kelley for the last two years. Why now?”
Ellie began fidgeting again, her eyes moving from his face to focus somewhere in her lap as her fingers brushed by one another. She didn’t speak for a minute, and he didn’t give her comfort or afford her any alternative besides answering him. He’d been pulled into this unfounded operation, and he deserved a reason for the sudden change in her behavior. She glanced at him and then exhaled loudly, as if realizing that she was, in fact, going to have to share some information that she must’ve wanted to keep to herself.
“Fine. I wanted to know what he was doing because he’s so mysterious, and I’ve yet to figure out what it is that he does. Not to mention that every time I see him I’m reminded of how unbelievably attractive he is. Maybe my only motive is that I just wanted to sit here and stare at him.”
“Liar. Sell that crap to someone else. Tell me the truth or my car and I are outta here.”
“What? He’s hot!” She paused and received a look from her brother that pushed her to continue. “God, you’re so difficult at times. I would totally do this with you if you asked, and I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass why you wanted me to.”
“That’s a lie too. You’d never do this in a million years with me, and you’d most likely call me creepy for wanting to do it. Enough … why are we here? What did you see? Or did you hear something?”
“Both. A few days ago I came in an hour early, and the smell of Clorox hit me in the face like nothing you’ve ever smelled. I dropped my things quietly and walked down to Mr. Kelley’s office, peeking in to see if everything was alright.” She paused and looked at Jacob and then back toward her hands, her large chestnut gaze filled with foreign emotion. “He was only in his slacks, and parts of his chest and back were covered in what looked like blood. There was blood on his floor and a bit on the walls.”
“Good God, Elle. Did you call the police? Was he hurt, or did someone get hurt?”
“That’s the weird part. I never saw anything but the blood and, being a bit overwhelmed by it, I simply left and called in sick that day. I wasn’t sure what to do about it. I can’t imagine him hurting someone, since he’s such a pillar of the community and such. Besides, what if it wasn’t blood, or what if he’d cut his finger or something?”
“Cut his finger? Don’t you think the amount of blood or whatever would be slightly less than what you’re describing from a papercut? Just because he gives to the people around him doesn’t mean he’s not a monster underneath all that Daddy Warbucks stuff.”
She nodded and sunk down in her seat as the large figure jogged back from the house toward his car. The man stopped before getting into the back seat of the Lincoln and focusing for a minute on Jacob’s car, the tilt of his head and bend of his neck telling Jacob one thing—he wasn’t looking at Jacob, but at Ellie.
“We need to go,” she whispered and covered her face with her small hands.
L.A. Starkey is the author of the upcoming Soul Keeper Series, a supernatural young adult series, and The Liarus Detective Series, a supernatural middle grade series.
She is a CPA by trade, a church planter and entrepreneur at heart; however, writing and reading are passions she just can't help but indulge in. With more ideas than one person should be allowed, she is blessed to have a muse that doesn't seem to take a vacation and more energy that one might consider healthy.
She writes under the following pen names:
- L.A Starkey - YA/MG Paranormal
- Kate Thomas - NA/Adult Paranormal
- Isabella James - Sci-fi/Fantasy
- Lauren Elizabeth - Adult Contemporary RomanceSign up for my newsletter:
Author Links:This tour was organized by Good Tales Book Tours.