MidWeek Sneak: Peek, That Is

With The Demon’s in the Details: The Yo-Yo Files #3 becoming available on January 20 (Eek! That’s next week, isn’t it?), I thought maybe I would post a little excerpt from the story. This one is centered more on Cerise, and gives us a look at her backstory. It also let me play around with the Bigfoot legends a little bit, and add a few new demon-y and not-so-demon-y characters, as well as one old friend. Here’s Chapter One:

The Demon’s in the Details

Chapter One

Johnny sat up in the bed, pushing the tangle of blanket and sheet away. He glanced at his watch on the bedside table. A couple hours until sunrise. He must have been dreaming. But, no, there it was again. The faint lingering scent of magic- slightly burnt with a cloying sweetness. Except he was still in bed and he hadn’t cast any spells before he went to sleep. He tossed the covers aside and slid out of the bed. He followed the faint odor down to the first floor and then to the door leading to his basement workroom. When he opened the door, the smell was stronger but fading. Someone had performed a spell down here not long ago. He started down the stairs, slowly and without sound.

When he got to the bottom, it took several seconds for his eyes to adjust to the hazy fog hanging in the air. Once they did, he stepped into the room and walked over to the long worktable in the center. Sitting on the edge was a small wooden box. It was open and empty. The box usually contained a piece of charcoal made from the wood of a tree sacred to many peoples.  Johnny used it to inscribe a containment circle. He touched the box with a finger. He hadn’t opened it in days. Next to the box, one of his reference books was open to a list of containment runes.

 He looked across the table. The stools that usually sat on the opposite side of the table had been moved to the back wall. The haze and smell were coming from the open space behind the worktable. He walked around the table to get a better look.  A large double circle was inscribed on the floor. There were containment runes inscribed between the lines, and a large cross cut the entire thing into quarters. The lines crossing at the center were broken in multiple places and smoke rose from burned spots on the floor. One of the quarters of the circle was smeared and blackened, the runes smudged and unreadable. The circle had been breached and not closed properly after.  There was a distinct smell of pine and forest mulm near the broken spot. As his gaze traveled around the broken spell, he saw a small form crumpled at the edge nearest the broken quarter. He hurried across the floor, careful not to step on the still pulsing energy field. He knelt next to the still form and saw with a rush of relief that she was breathing. He turned her onto her back and lifted her head.

“Cerise?” There was no response. Johnny shook her gently. “Cerise. Come on, open your eyes.”

With a groan, Cerise blinked her wide green eyes open. She gasped and tried to sit up. The movement made her groan again and reach her thin hands to cradle her head.

“Ow.”

Johnny grinned.

“I’m not surprised.” He helped Cerise sit upright and then sat back on his haunches. “What happened down here? Did you do this?” He gestured to the breached circle behind him. Cerise looked at the still slightly smoking markings on the floor and winced.

“I just thought he ought to know. I didn’t think…”  She stopped and dropped her eyes to where her hands were twisting around each other on her lap. Johnny put a hand on her shoulder.

“Look, let’s get upstairs and I’ll get you a cup of tea, okay? It will help the headache. You can tell me what happened after that.” He started to lift her, but she held up a hand.

“I can walk, thanks, anyway.”

Johnny held out a hand to help her stand and they climbed the stairs to the living room. Cerise sat in an upholstered chair and Johnny went to the small kitchen to make the tea. A few moments later, he returned with a steaming mug.

“It’s got some honey in it.” He waved a hand when she wrinkled her nose. “I know. You usually take it black, but the sugar will help you recover.” She took the mug and sipped.

“Is this that Devil’s Due stuff Luc gave you?”

Johnny nodded. “I figure it might be better than the usual store-bought stuff I have. Finish that up while I go disperse the circle. Don’t want to leave it open too long, especially with it breached. I’ll be back shortly.” He crossed to the basement door again and disappeared. When he came back up, he sat on the sofa across from the chair Cerise sat in. He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees, supporting his chin on interlaced fingers.

“You want to tell me what you were doing down there?  And why you were doing a summoning without me? That is what you were doing, right?”

Cerise nodded. “When I found out, I just figured he might care. A little. I had no idea what was going to happen. And I don’t know how to fix it.”

“Okay, hang on. Who should be caring about what?” At her confused look, Johnny sat back. “Look, just start at the beginning. I’m not mad, but I am worried. Something got you upset enough to try that summoning. Which was a very bad idea, by the way. There’s a good chance I can help you fix whatever it is, but not if I don’t know what happened.”

Cerise stared off into the distance, her green eyes clouded. She was usually confident and ready with a quick remark. Now, sitting with her hands wrapped around the mug and shoulders hunched, she looked small and vulnerable. She brought her gaze back to Johnny’s and sighed.

“Day before yesterday, I got a call from Quinnell.”

Johnny’s eyebrows raised but he didn’t comment.

“He said my mother died a couple days ago.”

“Diane? Why didn’t you say something?”

Cerise shrugged. She leaned forward to set her empty mug on the table between them and rested her hands on her knees.

“She’s been sick for a while now. It wasn’t a surprise.”

Johnny stared at her, trying to read her emotions. He couldn’t.

“We could have gone out there, you know. Visited her before, well, before it got to be too late.”

Cerise shrugged again.

“I didn’t want to upset her. We’ve never been close. You know that. She passed me off to Quinnell so she wouldn’t have to be reminded about what happened. I figured there was no sense reminding her when she was busy dying.”

“Okay, but why a summoning?”

“Like I said, I thought he ought to know.” She stopped, letting her words sink in.

“He? Who is he?” Johnny’s eyes widened as he figured it out. “Oh. Ohhhhh. Your father!”

Cerise nodded.

“So, you know who he is?” Johnny asked.

“No, not exactly. When my ability to see daemonflash started showing, Quinnell told me what he was. He also told me what happened to him. Sort of. I never could get much detail out of him about that.”

“And you figured you’d ring him up and let him know that the woman who bore his child had died. How did you know what demon to call?”

“I just sort of concentrated on my real father and he was- just there. So, I told him about her.”

“How did he take it?”

Cerise shut her eyes.

“He laughed. Didn’t even remember her. Said she was just one of, well, a whole bunch of human women he’d been with. He called me a fool. And then.” She stopped.

“He broke the circle.”

“Yeah.” The word came out in a whisper. Cerise lifted her head and looked at Johnny. “I really didn’t think that would happen. I’ve seen you do summonings a million times. I thought I’d done it right. I don’t know how he got out, but he did, and now he’s loose again, and it’s all my fault. I won’t blame you if you fired me.”

Johnny leaned forward and put a hand over hers.

“I’m not going to fire you. You’re too valuable to what I do. I’m going to help you. Are you sure it was your father? You know how easily demons lie, especially high order ones like you called.”

Cerise drew a deep breath and let it out with an audible sigh.

“I’m not sure how I knew, but I am sure it was him. I felt it, something. A connection maybe. I can’t describe it, but I know.”

“Okay,” Johnny said. He got up. “We need to tell Quinnell.”

Cerise squeezed her eyes shut.

“Do we have to?” she asked. Johnny nodded.

“We do. That demon lived out there where Quinnell and your mother did. Good chance he’ll head back to familiar territory.”

********************

So that’s how it begins. This one is a bit longer than the first two, and comes in as a solid novella. You can get the rest of the story starting on January 20, pretty much everywhere e-books are sold. I enjoyed writing this one. I hope you enjoy reading it.

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The third story in my urban fantasy series the Yo-Yo Files will be available on January 20 Until then, the second story in the series, Snake’s Alivewill be free on Smashwords. Five and Daemon, the first in the series is also available. 

Urban fantasy like the above not your thing? Well, I have science fiction and more traditional fantasy stories available, as well. Look here for all the deets on the above series and the rest of my published stories.

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