3 Urban Fantasy Excerpts: Dark Prophecy, Ill Fated, and Reaper Madness

Today, I’m pleased to share excerpts from the following urban fantasy books:

 

Dark Prophecy by Ann Gimpel

Ill Fated by Rachel Rawlings

Reaper Madness by Nessie Strange

 

These are urban fantasy excerpts that we shared during tours when we were on Books That Hook. Because that website got deleted, we are trying to restore all of our content, in some fashion. Instead of posting the entire tour for each, which would no longer be relevant, we decided to just retain the excerpts for our readers to continue enjoying.

Some of the excerpts are long, so click the MORE button if you want to continue reading.

All images link to Amazon so you can learn more about the books.

Excerpt from DARK PROPHECY by Ann Gimpel

…Hours later, Lara let herself out of her office, reached back in to activate the alarm, and then locked the door behind her. Arabel had gone home at six. Normally her receptionist left a note if there was something she needed to communicate. Tonight there hadn’t been any notes because there weren’t any patients she needed to call. But there had been a few zucchinis from Arabel’s lovingly-tended garden. Lara was grateful, both for the organic produce and for the lack of patient-related affairs to attend to. She was tired and hoped nobody had a crisis that evening.

She double-checked the pager that lived clipped to her belt. As she moved away from the front door of her building, she stumbled. The outside light was out—when had that happened?—and it was very dark in the shadows of the cavernous front porch. She made a grab for the railing to steady herself and took a tentative step toward the street.

“Stop right there,” a familiar harsh voice boomed from behind her.

“Mr. Beauchamp. That is you, isn’t it?” Alarm ricocheted through her, but she knew intuitively it was important to hide her fear. “What do you want?” Though she aimed for nonchalance, her voice sounded thin and shaky. Is it Ken? Aw, Jesus, who else could it be? She closed her eyes, gathering data from an unseen realm she knew well. Once her energies were focused, she discerned his twisted energy field throbbing against the darkness. Better the devil you know flashed through her mind. Not necessarily came close on its heels, as she realized, with a sinking feeling, that Ken Beauchamp really was dangerous. She’d known it the first time he walked into her office, but drawn in by his wife’s soft helplessness, she’d ignored her concerns, compassion overriding common sense.

“I want to talk. No, don’t turn around.” The man’s voice held menace as it sliced into her tumbling thoughts.

“What do you want to talk about, Mr. Beauchamp?” With effort, she kept her voice steady. “Surely whatever it is can wait until tomorrow. You really do need to call my office and make an appointment.” There, that seems like about the right amount of bravado.

“What did you tell my wife today? When you were in the bathroom. You’d better tell me the truth.”

“Are you threatening me? Because if you are, I’ll call the cops and have you thrown off my property.” Anger was rapidly displacing her fear—or at least coexisting with it. She reached a hand into her bag in search of her phone.

“That wouldn’t be smart, Doc, not very smart at all. Take your hand out of that purse.”

Ken Beauchamp’s voice was mild, but an ominous undertone chilled her. Sweat gathered in her armpits and dripped down her sides. Think! she commanded herself. There’s got to be a way out of this.

“Well, Doctor?” Ken’s voice oozed sarcasm, with undercurrents of something darker and far more primal. “I asked you a simple question. Answer it and we can both go home.”

What was he doing? Lara dug deeper with her hyper-honed senses. His breathing seemed…uneven. Was he getting off by intimidating her?

Something clicked ominously. The snick of a gun’s safety mechanism? What else could that cold metallic snapping sound possibly be? Fighting fear that threatened to paralyze her, Lara asked, “How’s Bethany, Mr. Beauchamp? She’s all right isn’t she?” Despite her concerns for herself, Lara was suddenly frantic about Bethany.

“That’s none of your business anymore. We won’t be back. I just want to know what you told her today.”

“Why is that important to you?”

“I ask the questions around here.” Yes, Lara thought as she listened intently, he was practically panting. Oh shit, this guy’s a pervert on top of all his other less-than-stellar attributes. She flirted with flying down the porch steps and trying to outrun him, except she had dress shoes on and her heavy shoulder bag. What if he really did have a gun? She hadn’t heard the metal click again.

A car pulled to the curb in front of her building and she started, heart beating like a mad thing. Christ, is it one of his henchmen come to help out? Practically moaning aloud, she wondered what Ken Beauchamp had in mind for her…

Excerpt from ILL FATED by Rachel Rawlings

“You’re awake?” He sounded more than a little surprised.

“I’m not really sure the state I’m in qualifies as awake.”

“Here I was, terrified to poke the dragon, and you’re already drinking coffee and talking in complete sentences.”

I snorted and took a sip of the aforementioned liquid gold. “Are you always like this in the morning?”

“If you’d let me sleep over you’d already know the answer to that question. Why aren’t you asleep?”

In general or just tonight, I silently wondered. “Bad dream. I’ve been tossing and turning all night. I finally gave in and got out of bed.”

Papers rustled in the background and when he spoke again, his voice was lower, intimate.”You want to talk about it?”

“Something tells me my nightmares are the least of our problems.”

“You have no idea. I need you to come down to my office.”

I sighed. “Can it at least wait until after sunrise?”

“Would I be breaking the no phone calls before noon policy if it could wait?”

“There really is no rest for the wicked, is there?”

He laughed and the sound warmed me more than a hundred cups of coffee. “Apparently not, in your case. Now, there’s a dirty chai latte and a croissant for you if you’re here before Amalie. I can’t promise real coffee and pastries will survive beyond five minutes of her arrival.”

“It’s four-thirty in the morning, Mas. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll make sure at least  one dirty chai and croissant remain unmolested.”

“I’ll see you soon.” He was laughing as he hung up the phone.

Three hours ago I’d practically crawled through the doorway, exhausted from cleaning up after a newbie vamp who’d broken the Jus Sanguinis Intergentes when she killed her donor. The blood pact between people and vampires had a clear no killing, no exceptions clause.

It was up to the maker to ensure their child was ready to feed unsupervised. If something went wrong and the Council found out about it, we cleaned up the mess and the sire was subject to heavy fines and possible revocation of their rights to expand their blood lines. She’d been quite literally a bitch to track and take down.

It had been a long night and it was shaping up to be an even longer day.

I wasted little time getting dressed, opting for a slip on black jersey dress, eighteen hole Docs and a leather jacket. Jewelry was a hindrance in my line of work. My meeting with Mason could easily turn into a run. Choked with my own chain? No, thank you. Unclasping the necklace, I set it in a glass dish on my bathroom counter. I ran a brush through my hair, a toothbrush over my teeth and slipped into the between. I stepped out of the alley two buildings down from the station and walked the last block and a half.

Amalie was swarmed by detectives trying to get at the goodies she brought over from the Daily Grind. She greeted me with a warm smile, shaking her head when I offered to pull her out of the fray. She had managed to endear herself to the entire department in record time. All it took was real coffee and fresh pastries. I pointed to Mason’s office. She’d make her way over once the starving masses had their fill.

Mason was so engrossed in the file on his desk he didn’t hear me come in. He looked as tired as I felt – too many double shifts. Despite an uptick in activity, SPTF was short staffed due to budget cuts. Without enough man power to staff the shifts properly overtime was mandatory.

“Is that for me?” I pointed at the to-go cup and white paper bag on his desk.

He finally looked up and gave me a smile which lit up his whole face. “As promised.”

I stole a quick kiss, grabbed the coffee and croissant, and settled in the chair across from him. I took a long sip of my latte, savoring the delicious mix of tea and espresso. “Man, I needed this. Is that the case you’re working on?”

“Yeah, we’ve got a real problem on our hands.”

“Don’t we always.” I tried to peak at the file.

Mason closed the manila folder. “I’d rather wait until everyone is here.”

“Who else is coming besides Amalie?” My curiosity was definitely peaked now. I reached across his desk, hoping to grab the file.

“You look exhausted. Tell me about your dream while we wait.”

I narrowed my eyes and glared at him. “I see this for the obvious distraction it is but you’re right.” Sighing, I rubbed my temple.“However, I’m exhausted, too exhausted to argue. So I’ll tell you. Prepare to be confounded.”

He listened intently as I filled him in on the nightly visits from the weathered old woman who washed my clothes and hauntingly called my name. I expected him to laugh and tell me it was just a dream, that I had nothing to worry about.

I didn’t expect him to look so stricken.

“Bean Nighe.” He all but whispered the name.

“You’ve heard of her?”

“Of course I’ve heard of her. How long has she been coming to you?”

I stared at him curiously. “A few weeks. Why?”

“A few weeks and this is the first I’m hearing of it?” He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, obviously struggling to control his temper.“We talked about this. No holding things back, remember?”

“I thought it was just a dream.” I shrugged.“Honestly, I didn’t think it was a big deal.”

“It was a big enough deal for you to research it.” Agitation rolled off him in waves.

When I agreed to give this thing with Mason a chance I also agreed to some conditions. No more flying solo, no more rash decisions or rushing off to play the hero. We were a team, in everything. This was just one of many set-backs.

“I got curious, did a little digging. Until tonight, everything I found pointed to deep seated family issues, particularly with a mother figure. I’ve told you about my childhood, does that dream analysis surprise you?”

His growl told me he wasn’t in the mood for reasonable—at least to me—explanations. “When did you discover the true meaning of the dream? How long have you known about the Bean Nighe?”

“Tonight. This morning. Before you called me.” I held up a hand to stop the tongue lashing I knew he wanted to give me. “I would have told you. I got the impression on the phone there were more pressing matters than my insomnia.”

“Is this why you won’t let me stay at your place?” His gaze roamed over my face, searching.“Why you never stay at mine?”

“Is that the real reason why you’re so upset?” I arched my brows. “Because we’re not having sleepovers?”

“I stayed at your lovely apartment the first night we met.”

I turned to watch Aidan glide into the room, stopping behind my chair. Rolling my eyes, I snorted and muttered, “In the closet.”

Mason’s jaw twitched but he didn’t take the bait. “Aidan.”

“It’s almost sunrise. Shouldn’t you be hunkered down for the day?” I sighed, wondering what he was doing here. I was too tired to deal with Aidan and Mason and their combined testoserone.

Putting the three of us in a room together was like throwing lit matches at sticks of dynamite – eventually one of them will explode.

 

Excerpt from REAPER MADNESS by Nessie Strange

Sam wasn’t kidding when he said I had no idea what I was getting into. And now, as I stared Death in the face—literally—from an uncomfortable black leather executive chair, it occurred to me for the first time that I was in way over my head. Between the pinstriped suit and dark, slicked-back hair, he resembled a character from The Godfather more than a deity who ruled over the dead and dying. Death was one scary motherfucker. And he was smiling.

“Care for a drink, Jennifer?”

I shook my head, but he rose anyway, retrieved two glasses from the cabinet behind him, and filled both with amber-colored liquid. “Relax, I’m not going to bite.”

That wasn’t what I was worried about.

“Now, how long have you been with us? About six earth months?”

I cleared my throat. “Ah yes. About that long.”

“I find it intriguing,” he said. “You have been telepathically linked to one of my reapers this entire time, yet you really demonstrate no capability when it comes to this job. One would think that would give you an edge, hmm?”

Ouch.

“You’d think,” I laughed. OK, I sucked at it. It was only recently I’d been allowed to travel back to earth to help retrieve souls. Sam did most of the work, while I trailed behind, like one of those ankle-biting little purse dogs. What I wanted to know was why he’d insisted I do the job in the first place. I’d never asked to be a reaper. It wasn’t like I wanted this.

“The occupation listed from your most recent incarnation on earth was a mortician, was it not? So you should be accustomed to working with the deceased and the sensitivities that go along with it.”

“These two jobs are absolutely nothing alike.” Shit. I’d reacted again, lost my cool because of something he said. Now that my brain had caught up with my mouth, the fire snuffed out and with it went my nerve. I needed to learn to bite my tongue. Considering the habit crossed over with me from my last life, maybe that was wishful thinking. “Well, I mean, because when I was a mortician, those people didn’t talk back to me.”

Death studied me. “No, I don’t imagine they did.” He scrunched his lips up, his brow furrowed—the only hint of emotion I’d seen from him—but it quickly faded. “What exactly is it that’s holding you back or hanging you up? I’m just trying to understand here.”

“Well, I guess some of it is that I feel bad for them. I want to make things easier, but Sam’s all about scaring them and intimidating and manipulating them. It doesn’t seem right. I mean, we’re their first point of contact with the afterlife; why does it have to be frightening?” I was doing it again. OK, I needed to breathe. “I just… I see the fear in their faces, and it tears at me. It doesn’t feel right. It’s not me.”

“Fear makes them more pliable. Which in turn, makes your job easier when it’s time to collect.”

“But I don’t…”

He held up a hand. “I don’t like excuses, Jennifer. You may not agree with all of the methods you have been taught, but you still need to learn them and be able to utilize all of them. Years down the line, when you actually have some experience, perhaps then you can develop your own strategies. For now, as a rookie in the division without a single reaping under your belt, you are obligated to follow the instruction of your mentor. Do you understand?”

I nodded.

“I also hear that you’ve been visiting the civil records bureau every day, searching for the whereabouts of a human soul that you arrived with.”

I twisted the glass between my fingers. Jack and I had been separated soon after our arrival, and I hadn’t seen him since. We’d been a couple on earth, but since arriving in purgatory he’d all but vanished. “I had no idea that was against the rules.”

“I suppose it isn’t, technically. Though I do wonder if some might construe it as an abuse of power. Your position as a reaper gives you access to a wealth of information beyond what the general public can see, but it is meant for research and job purposes. Not personal business.”

“I understand.”

Did this guy even blink? He drummed his fingers on the glossy black surface of his desk as he watched me. I braced myself for the inevitable punishment.

“Jennifer, I have a proposition for you.”

I squirmed in my seat. Was I in trouble or what?

“Sammael is one of my oldest reapers, and he’s very dear to me, but I fear he may be up to something. Something illegal or nefarious in nature. I’ve overlooked a great deal with him in the past, but it’s getting to the point where I won’t be able to do that anymore. I’ve no idea what he’s up to. I want you to find out.”

“Excuse me?”

Death leaned forward so that his elbows rested on the desk. “Or have you already learned things? Come now, you must be close. A telepathic bond like this is quite intimate. Surely he’s shown you something.”

Intimate? More like a pain in the ass. Like having a voice in your head, intruding when you least welcomed it, and always listening. “Um…no. Not really.”

“Might I remind you, that he’s unable to hear you while you’re within the walls of this office?”

I paused. “Sam is very guarded with his thoughts. Most of the time I don’t hear anything, well, other than what he wants me to hear.”

“As I expected he would be.” He sipped his drink. “Do I sense some hesitation on your part? You once said you loathed being attached to him. That his thoughts invading your head were like the worst kind of infestation. What happened to that fiery little bitch who marched in my office and demanded to have this bond severed?” His smile returned. “One would think you’d do everything you could to get away from that. Unless you’ve changed your mind.”

I sank back into the chair, cringing at the memory. One of the many times Sam had pushed my buttons a little too far. I’d gone to Death’s office without even thinking about it—a knee-jerk type reaction.

“I tell you what. You find out what he’s up to, and I will personally make sure that link is removed. Then we can decide whether or not you will continue working for me, or perhaps whether schooling or a different apprenticeship would be more beneficial. At least until your contract with me is completed. How does that sound?”

“Well…” I frowned, considering it. Did I want Sam out of my head? Hell yeah. But I didn’t want to have to rat him out to do it. As far as I was concerned, whatever he did was his own business and the less I knew, the better. Besides, how would I pull something like this off? He plucked thoughts from my head when I least expected it, even when I thought I was being clever and concealing them. I couldn’t imagine trying to hide a secret of this magnitude. “I don’t know.”

“Could it be you have changed your mind about him?”

“No. Absolutely not. It’s just, I have no idea how I’d keep this from him. I mean, he’d know right away. Even if I manage to hide the thought, he’ll know I’m hiding something, and he won’t let up until he finds out what. It wouldn’t work.”

Death looked thoughtful. “Have you tried any of the masking techniques I taught you?”

“Well, yeah, but they only work if I concentrate.” And who the hell could concentrate all hours? I was already getting paranoid. I needed to tuck this little piece of knowledge somewhere deep inside and hope that Sam wouldn’t feel the need to pry. Yeah right. I might as well have had a live bomb lodged in my skull.

“I see.” Death swirled the liquid in his glass before taking a healthy gulp. “Be that as it may, you are now a reaper, even if by title only.”

At least he was honest.

“And with that job comes great responsibility. I had such high hopes for you when you first joined us—a bright, intelligent, level-headed woman, someone who could perhaps reel Sammael in before he strayed too far from my reach. But even on a base level, your grasp of the job is subpar at best. I’ve always handpicked the finest individuals. Because of your unique circumstances I believed I’d found a gem. Unfortunately, the honeymoon is over.”

This was new territory for me. I’d never been called incompetent before. During my last life on earth I’d been an honor student in school, then I’d gotten a job I loved and was good at.

“I need results, Jennifer. You must complete a reaping during your next assignment. I need something to prove that first instinct wasn’t wrong, because I”—he sipped his drink again, his gaze never leaving mine—“hate being wrong.”

Death placed his glass on the desk.

“Do I make myself clear?”

I offered a quick, jittery nod and gripped the armrests of the chair. Fuck, how was I going to keep this from Sam?

“Good.” Oh God, he was smiling again. He placed both tips of his forefingers together in an inverted V in front of his nose. “You may leave.”

 

I hope you enjoyed reading these urban fantasy excerpts. If you’d like to read more excerpts, there are some author pages that have them, and all of our posts with excerpts can be found in our main menu under ‘Features’ and ‘Excerpts.’

About Jen Schaper

In addition to being a book blogger, I am a mother of three children, a retail backroom coordinator, and a wannabe writer (when I make time to do it).
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