First of all, thank you so much for having me! I’m thrilled to be here and to introduce my novella from the Devil Take Me anthology. The minute that Rhys Ford and CS Poe told me about the anthology–which a whole nother story, by the way–I was firm ‘my story is about the sidhe!’. I mean, I’m Irish. It’s a no-brainer right? Instead I went somewhere entirely different, because I’m me and I always do.
So this exclusive prequel ficlet is your welcome to the grimy little world of ‘Collared’. Mind the step! (Or follow the link to read the rest of the post on my blog!)
By midnight all good-living and God-fearing men were tucked up in bed, locked away from the hot temptations that lived in the dark. Perhaps that was why Jackson Riggs came to hammer at Elijah’s door. Elijah had only been in town for a few months, but the town gossips had already decided that he–a professional man who lived alone, not even a maid to set his breakfast for him, with no obvious vices–could be neither good nor god-fearing. Particularly since he showed no interest in changing the status quo of his household through employment, marriage, or debauchery.
“Dr Martin!” the porter yelled as he hammered at the door. “Doc Eli! Wake up. It’s an emergency.”
Elijah groaned, the sound sour with the taste of last night’s whiskey, and lifted his head off the pillow. In his experience the only urgency in a coroner’s life was the slow deadline of rot. Since Riggs seemed unlikely to stop his assault on the front door, however, Elijah dragged himself out of bed. The thin, sweaty sheets came with him and dragged over the floor.
“A minute!” he yelled, fairly confident his voice would carry through the drafty windows. “No need to break my door down!”
Elijah snatched a robe up from where it was hung carelessly over a chair and dragged it on over his shoulders. The remnants of his vanity pulled his eyes to the mirror that stood in the corner of the room, fly-spotted glass framed in ornate, dark cherry wood.
He felt like one of the indigent drunks the Craven deputies would pull from the gutters and drag to his morgue for Monday morning, usually dead but sometimes just dead drunk. There was grit behind his eyes and his skin felt coarse and loose. In some ways the man in the mirror could still pass for handsome, or at least distinguished, with his grey-streaked hair and sharp, bony face.
Maybe the pale grey eyes were bleary and, from his side of it at least, his breath was foul. That could be put down to sleep though.
It was self-indulgent. James hadn’t been Elijah’s to mourn for years, that duty belonged to his well-bred young wife and their better-bred children. A dynasty of thoroughbreds, cold nosed and glossy coated. Elijah grimaced at his reflection as he belted the robe with impatient hands, couldn’t he take even his own self-destruction seriously?
Riggs, who had emptied enough bottles out of the morgue’s trash to know that there was a good chance Elijah had passed back out, started to batter the door again. This time Elijah was awake enough to register the wine-sick headache that vibrated between his ears.
“Enough, enough,” Elijah groaned. He stamped down the stairs, wood cold against bare feet, and wrenched the door open. The cold whispered in around his ankles and walked damp fingers up toward his thighs. He knuckled at his sleep-sticky eyes and squinted at Riggs. The porter pre-dated Elijah at the morgue, a wiry, grey haired man of uncertain age. Tonight he looked old. “What is it?”
“The train crashed at midnight,” Riggs said. He grimaced and dragged his hand down his face as if whatever he’d seen had stuck to him like cobwebs. “The dead are everywhere.”
What train? What dead? Elijah could ask, but the haunted look in Rigg’s eyes made him hold his tongue. It must be bad if they’d sent to the coroner for help.
“I’ll get dressed,” he said. “Wait a moment.”
He slammed the door and took the stairs two at a time, the robe shed before he reached his bathroom. It was only as he wrestled his waistcoat on–had the town’s cheap laundry shrunk the fabric or the cheaper wine expanded his waist?–that something occurred to Elijah.
The poker game at the bar had gone on well past midnight. Elijah had hunched over a row of bad hands as the grandfather in the corner of the judge’s chambers chimed the hours, each sonorous bong bounced around his tender skull. It had been near dawn when he finally staggered home to an empty bad and bittersweet memories.
The town had been quiet. Silent. No screams, no panic, no alarms raised or eager ghouls on their way to the spectacle. There was no way the train had crashed at midnight. Elijah supposed, with a pinch of uncertainty, that it could have been a mistake.
That was strange. It would only get stranger.
Read the rest of ‘Dead Man’s Handle’ on TA Moore’s blog! Password is: Deviltakeme
10/10/18 – My Fiction Nook: Jordan L. Hawk
10/11/18 – It’s About the Book: TA Moore
10/12/18 – Love Bytes Reviews: Ginn Hale
10/13/18 – Joyfully Jay Reviews: C.S. Poe
10/15/18 – Two Chicks Obsessed: Rhys Ford
10/16/18 – The Novel Approach Reviews: Jordan Castillo Price
Devil Take Me Blurb:
Temptation lurks around every corner in worlds sometimes dark, sometimes lurid. Giving in is both dangerous and satisfying, though never in the ways one expects. While these enticements offer a vast range of benefits and boons, the cost is a soul and the devil expects his due. Sometimes suave and charming or calculating and cruel, these devils have schemes and desires of their own. They can be creatures to run away from… or toward.
Join the most unique and celebrated authors of LGBT urban fantasy and paranormal fiction for a fast-paced and unpredictable ride, from a city on the other side of reality, to a world suspended in dusk, to a twisted version of the 1960s and 70s.
Meet devils in top hats and waistcoats, a defrocked motorcycle-riding priest, and a genderfluid antihero—among many more. Full of humor, romance, horror, action, intrigue, and magic, these stories have one common element….
They’re one hell of a good time.
When ex-priest Jack finds a dead man nailed to his bed, he knows it’s going to be a bad night. He just has no idea how bad. Now he’s been recruited by his own personal demon to find the thieves who killed a man, kidnapped his family, and stole something of indescribable value from the demonic Math. To find answers he has to delve deep into the infernal underbelly of his town and face his own past. Jack’s been promised his soul back if he succeeds. As local cop Ben Ambrose risks his own soul by following too closely in Jack’s footsteps, and with a child’s life on the line, Jack has to decide if it’s a deal he’s willing to make.
TA Moore is a Northern Irish writer of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and contemporary romance novels. A childhood in a rural, seaside town fostered in her a suspicious nature, a love of mystery, and a streak of black humour a mile wide. As her grandmother always said, ‘she’d laugh at a bad thing that one’, mind you, that was the pot calling the kettle black. TA Moore studied History, Irish mythology, English at University, mostly because she has always loved a good story. She has worked as a journalist, a finance manager, and in the arts sectors before she finally gave in to a lifelong desire to write.
Coffee, Doc Marten boots, and good friends are the essential things in life. Spiders, mayo, and heels are to be avoided.