Here you can find some snippets from my upcoming releases!  These excerpts will change with time and won’t necessarily be in the correct chronological order!  :)


From Close Encounters of the Magical Kind (Tales of Lentari #6)

“What about asking Shardwyn?” Sarah suggested.  She noticed the frown on her husband’s face and sighed.  “I know it isn’t ideal, but we are running out of options.  Hopefully he knows something about it or else can point us in the right direction.”

“Fine.  We’ll play it your way.  Let’s go see what that goofball has to say.”

Sarah heard a distant snort of laughter.  It had sounded like Andra Alwyn!  She knew the batty old record keeper had been confined to her desk.  Could she have possibly heard Steve’s comment about Shardwyn?  Maybe the old goat had a personality after all.

Leaving the Archives behind, much to the archivist’s delight, Sarah led her husband out of the castle and towards Shardwyn’s tower.  This tower, Sarah knew, was both home and workshop to Lentari’s resident wizard.  The location of Shardwyn’s tower, away from the castle proper, was not a matter of convenience but by kingly decree.

“I wonder when the last time he blew something up was,” Steve mused.

“Does it matter?” Sarah asked, curious.

“Sure.  If it’s been a while then that means he’s due.  I don’t suppose we could get him to come out here, could we?”

Sarah grabbed her husband’s hand and forcibly pulled him inside the large stone tower.

“Stop being a baby.  There’s nothing in there that could hurt us.”

Unbeknownst to her, the tower’s next explosion was less than five minutes away, and for once, Shardwyn would actually be able to say that he wasn’t responsible.

Climbing up several flights of stairs Sarah knocked three times on the heavy oak door.  Frowning, she leaned towards the door and sniffed.  She could detect a number of different scents, the most prevalent reminding her of a potion gone wrong.  She eyed her husband and gently opened the door.

“Shardwyn?  Are you in?  Is anyone home?”

A bright-eyed boy of sixteen rounded the corner and smiled at them.

“Hello.  Can I help you?”

Steve shook his head, “Not unless you took an anti-aging potion, kid.  Is Shardwyn here?  We need to talk to him.”

“He’s up in the loft, looking for some book he insists is up there.  I tried to remind him he burnt it up two weeks ago but he wouldn’t listen.”

“Who are you?” Sarah asked, genuinely curious.  “I didn’t know Shardwyn had an assistant.”

“I’m his new apprentice,” the teenager proudly declared.  “I’m Gareth.”

Sarah held out a hand and waited for the boy to grasp her forearm in the manner Lentarians used to greet each other.

“I’m Sarah.  This is my husband, Steve.  We’re pleased to meet you, Gareth.”

The dark haired boy blinked with surprise.  He looked over at Steve and his eyes opened wide.

“You’re the Nohrin, aren’t you?  Lady Sarah, the teleporter, and Sir Steve, the fire thrower.  I can’t believe I finally get to meet you!  Although, if I’m going to be honest, we kinda met a few years ago.”

Steve repeated the Lentarian method of grasping forearms and raised an eyebrow at the friendly boy.

“We’ve met before?  Really?  Under what circumstances?”

Gareth suddenly appeared suspicious, nervous even.

“Umm, let’s just say the conditions were less than favorable.”

Jumping to the conclusion that her husband must have given the boy one of his trademark scowls at some point in the past, Sarah frowned.  She crossed her arms over her chest as she glared at her husband, wondering what he could have possibly done this time.

“Steve, is there something you need to tell me?  How could you have…”  Sarah turned to Gareth and smiled apologetically.  “You know what?  That’s an argument for another time.  I’m so very sorry for whatever he did.  Believe it or not he’s a really a nice guy.”

“Now wait a moment,” Steve began, giving Sarah an imploring look.  “I didn’t do anything!”

“I’m the one who should be apologizing,” Gareth corrected, coming to Steve’s aid.  “I’m the one who did some stuff a few years ago that I probably shouldn’t have.”

Curiosity piqued, Steve cleared his throat.

“Like what?  You would have been, what, ten years old at that time?  What could you have possibly done?”

“Well, for starters, I was twelve when this happened.  I, uh, might have been responsible for forcing you to experience what it was like to be a dragon for a while.”

Sarah’s eyebrows shot straight up.  This boy was responsible for the time she, Steve, and Pryllan had switched bodies?  That could only mean…  Alarmed, she glanced at her husband.  Steve, much to his credit, knew instantly who he was facing.  His face had paled.  Sarah swallowed nervously.  This wasn’t going to be good.

“You’re the renegade wizard,” Steve accused.

Sarah would later recall that it had felt like time itself seemed to have slowed to a crawl.  Her husband threw an arm around her waist and yanked her backwards so that he was physically between Gareth and her.  His hands ignited and Sarah watched, mesmerized, as both arms were raised.  Steve blasted a huge jet of fire straight at Gareth, intending to wipe the smile right off his face.

Gareth let out a cry of alarm, made an arm gesture of his own, and leapt back.  The full brunt of Steve’s blast hit Gareth head on, only instead of being fried to a crisp the fires bounced harmlessly off the young wizard’s hastily created protective shield.  However, Gareth was knocked off his feet by the sheer brute strength of the blast.  He hastily scuttled behind a large threadbare sofa that was sitting in the middle of the room.

“Wait!” Gareth pleaded.  “I’m not the same person anymore.  I won’t hurt you, I promise!”

Holding Sarah tightly against his chest so that she’d be protected from his flames, Steve concentrated on the sofa.  In seconds it had been reduced to ash, forcing Gareth to dive behind a large wooden bureau a few feet away.

A thick tentacle of water broke through the nearby window.  The glistening tentacle singled out Steve and tried to wrap itself around his body in an effort to extinguish the flames.  Sarah felt her husband tense and risked a glance up at his face.  His eyes were screwed shut and he had a frown on his face.  She felt him trembling and instantly knew what was about to happen.  She pressed her face tightly against his chest and waited for the inevitable.

The concussive blast vaporized the water tentacle instantly.  It also, unfortunately, blasted out the glass in every single window in Shardwyn’s tower.  Sarah heard a loud bell begin to toll.  It was the castle’s alarm.  Clearly someone in the castle had noticed a few peculiarities coming from Shardwyn’s tower.


From The Case of the Fleet-Footed Mummy (Corgi Case Files #2)

Much to my dismay, Dr. Tarik steered the discussion over to mummies and the Egyptian process of mummification.  The process began with the complete evisceration of the body.  Now, in case you’re not familiar with the word, allow me to shed some light on its definition:

Eviscerate [verb ih-visuh-reyt; adjective ih-vis-er-it, –uh-reyt]
  1. To remove the entrails from; disembowel
  2. To deprive of vital parts
  3. To remove the contents of (a body part)

 

If that doesn’t make you cringe then this next part will.  The removal of the brain.  The brain is usually removed by way of a long, slightly hooked tool introduced through the nose.  It was then swirled around a bit, liquefying the brain matter, and then the brain is poured out through the nose.  Apparently, according to the good doctor, it is not uncommon for the brain to be left in the mummy.  However, that wasn’t the case for this poor fellow.

The next step was to dessicate the body. 

Dessicate [des-i-keyt]
  1. To dry thoroughly; dry up
  2. To preserve (food) by removing moisture; dehydrate.

 

“The deseased,” Dr. Tarik lectured, “was laid out on a mound of natron salts – salts native to the area – and after a period of 35-70 days the salt would absorb all moisture.  The flesh would shrink and the skin would darken.”

Let me interrupt here and say that by now I was completely and thoroughly grossed out.  A quick glance around the room confirmed I wasn’t the only one.  Flutes of champagne and plates of fancy hors d’oeuvres were quietly handed to the uniformed waitstaff who were quietly moving through the crowds.  I held out my own plate of Andouille sausages and crackers to a passing waiter, who grinned at me and took the plate without question.

“The final step,” Dr. Tarik said, “was to remove the lungs, intestines, stomach, and liver.  Once dried out they were placed in four separate canopic jars, one each for the four sons of Horus.  For protection.”

“What about the heart?” one woman asked from the audience.

“That’s Maya Nelson,” Jillian whispered in my ear.  “She’s married to the police chief.”

“I remember him,” I whispered back.  “He didn’t care for me too much.  Trust me, the feeling was mutual.”

Dr. Tarik smiled and nodded, “The heart.  I am glad you asked about that.  The heart had to remain in place.  It was believed that it would testify for the deceased in the afterlife.  A scarab, or sometimes a pendant, was often placed over the heart to protect the deceased in his voyage to the afterlife.”

I leaned toward Vance.

“Remind me not to sign up to be mummified when I die.”

Vance nodded, ‘You and me both.”

“Hush,” Tori scolded, throwing a frown at both of us.

“Sorry,” Vance mumbled.

“Sorry,” I added, at the same time.

Dr. Tarik then launched into more details about why more than one mummy was oftentimes discovered in the same tomb.  One of the ways to show status was to be buried with your possessions.  All your possessions, it would seem.  And that, unfortunately, included slaves.  

I shook my head in disbelief.  Poor unlucky bastards.  Your king dies and you’re chosen to be mummified along with him?  Talk about pissing off the wrong people.

Once more my mind drifted back to the monster movies I had seen when I was a kid.  Considering my present circumstances, I really wish that the mummies didn’t creep me out as much as they did.  Flashbacks of nightmares I have had as a child came back to me.  Shriveled, linen-wrapped fingers reaching out to me, desperate to wrap around my throat to squeeze the life out of me.  Or suck all my fluids out so that it could be properly reanimated.

I groaned, drawing a questioning look from Jillian.  I gave her a shrug.  I really did watch too many movies.

“Without further ado,” Dr. Tarik was saying, “it gives me great pleasure to introduce the star of Egyptian Exhibitions, Meriptah, direct from KV62.  Here he is!”

“He’d better be there,” I murmured.

“What?” Jillian softly inquired.

“The mummy.  He’d better be there.”

“Where else would he be?  Gone?”

“Yeah, you know, like he wandered off or something.”

“You heard what they did to mummies,” Jillian reminded me.  “I’m quite certain he’ll be right where he’s supposed to be.”

There was a great splattering of applause as the red stage curtains were whisked away, revealing…

My stomach sank.  I mean it literally felt like it suddenly dropped down to my toes.  At the same time a woman screamed.  Actually, I was pretty certain it was Mrs. Nelson, the police chief’s wife.  Fingers began pointing.  I quickly looked back at our host.  Dr. Tarik’s expression was not something I was ever going to forget.  There was a look of utter shock on his face, which quickly switched to sheer terror.

Behind the curtain a golden sarcophagus – nowhere near as ornate as King Tut’s – had been propped up at a 45° angle, allowing the audience to look inside.  The lid was open and everyone could see there wasn’t any mummy nestled within.  There were also five small glass display cases arranged in a semicircle behind the sarcophagus displaying a variety of golden trinkets and sparkling jewelry.  Well, four of them were.  One of them had been smashed apart.