Good news for those awaiting The Black Wasp! I’ve just received word that it’s currently scheduled for a mid-June release, and while I don’t have an exact date yet ( know, I know) I will very soon. I promise to share that information here as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, (and, of course, the Thorne & Cross newsletter) as soon as I have it.
Now that I know its release is imminent, I feel safe sharing an excerpt – something I’m always a little reluctant to do (with my luck, I’ll pick something with major spoilers and ruin the whole book for everyone.) I don’t think I did that here…
The scene I’ve chosen for The Black Wasp’s first-ever excerpt is taken from chapter 20, which is titled, Hard-Blessed to Believe, and in it, Cade Colter is in desperate search of whatever anti-vampire paraphernalia he can get his hands on. The reason for this is that he needs to get (and keep) his undead night guard, Chynna (one of the good guys) out of his house in order to execute some rather pressing vampire-related plans that involve … things I can’t tell you about yet.
The point is, with Crimson Cove’s only Catholic supplies shop, The Immaculate Connection, being temporarily closed, Cade’s best bet is Father Vincent Scarlotti, the local priest who lives in the old rectory at St. Anthony’s. So, he decides to pay the Father a visit … but how do you explain to a man of God that vampires are a thing and that you need to safeguard your house against them? The answer, Cade wisely decides, is that you don’t …
He didn’t touch his tea, just stared down at his hands, wondering how to proceed. For long moments, the only sound was the hypnotic snick-snack that came from the grandfather clock in the corner, and when he finally spoke, Cade’s words had none of the finesse he’d planned. “Um, I have a ghost in my house.” Oh, the originality.
“Mm-hmm.” With no small effort, he met the priest’s eye.
Father Scarlotti blinked at him.
“But not just any ghost,” Cade added at a gallop. “An evil one. A demon, I think.”
Scarlotti’s brow furrowed. “We don’t really do exorcisms anymore, if that’s what you’re asking, Mr. Colter. I’m afraid I can’t-”
“I don’t mean an exorcism,” said Cade. “Just … I don’t know. Maybe you have some … stuff I could place around the house. You know … holy stuff.”
A pause while the clock’s pendulum patiently swung. “Holy stuff?”
“Yeah, like crosses or something,” said Cade. “A Bible, maybe. Saint medallions. Things like that.”
“I’m not sure-”
“Or holy water! Maybe you could bless my tap water and I could fill up some buckets and put them around the house or something.”
Snick-snack went the grandfather clock as Father Scarlotti regarded Cade with the kind of caution reserved for untamed animals, escaped convicts, and unstable mental patients.
“Look,” said Cade, “I know it sounds crazy, but … well, how is it any crazier than that?” He nodded at a painting of the haloed saint above the fireplace. “Or that?” At the open Bible on the cherrywood coffee table.
“I see your point, Cade, believe me, I do. I’m more open-minded than you’re giving me credit for … but … a ghost?”
“Yes. Or a demon, maybe. I don’t know. Something evil, for sure, though.”
“Evil? What makes you think it’s evil?”
Cade shifted uncomfortably. “Um, because I can feel it, you know?”
“I see.” The priest’s eyes narrowed. “And this … entity … have you … seen it?”
Cade shook his head. “No. But it’s doing stuff, you know?”
Cade thought fast – too fast. “Um, well, it’s moving my kitchen chairs around and making sounds from my television. Really scary sounds, like voices and stuff.” Hearing himself, he wished he’d thought this through a little more. If Scarlotti had ever seen Poltergeist, he’d know Cade was plagiarizing in the worst way. “And banging on the walls.” This, from The Haunting of Hill House, just to shake things up a little. “And my cat. It’s scaring my cat. He almost attacked me yesterday.” The Legend of Hell House. Cade stopped short of claiming to have mystery bite-marks around his nipples; no need to get too carried away.
Scarlotti’s skepticism was obvious. “Well … I suppose I could give the place a blessing.”
“A blessing? And that will keep the … damned away?”
“The damned?” The priest cocked his head. “That’s an interesting word choice.”
“I just meant the demon or whatever it is. You know, the evil. Will a house blessing keep it away?”
Scarlotti eyed him with a strange new interest. “Ideally, yes, it will ward off evil and-”
“Great. When can you do it?”
“I could come by tomorrow and-”
“But I need it today,” said Cade. “Well, tonight.” Not until sunset, until after I can get Chynna out of the house! “Yeah, definitely tonight.”
Another beat of that puzzled silence.
“After sunset,” Cade quickly added, “That’s when the ghost is most active.”
“I see.” Scarlotti’s tone was cautious. “Then I guess you can expect me tonight after sunset.”
“Great. Thanks.” Cade gave the man his address and hurried home, wondering how the hell he was going to get Chynna out of the house once the sun went down.
Think, think, think …
An idea came to him … but no. He couldn’t do that.
It would definitely get her out of the house, though …
But could I live with it? By the time he got back home, Cade had come up with nothing better and supposed that he’d have to live with it, though he couldn’t believe what he was about to do. He hoped he’d be forgiven for it one day.