THE STORY

After stopping a serial killer and shutting down an interstate human trafficking ring, Sloan Jordan is ready for a break. But back at home in Asheville, her problems have only just begun.

The supernatural world has taken an interest in her, and strange things are happening. Her powers are multiplying, she’s plagued by vivid nightmares, and a deranged young woman, babbling an unknown language, has been detained by police. The only clue to her identity—Sloan’s name carved into her arm.

If that wasn't enough, the FBI has launched a full-scale investigation into her private life, believing Sloan might not be as innocent as she claims.

With her boyfriend, Warren Parish, deployed with the Marine Corps, Sloan is left in the protection of Detective Nathan McNamara. And their complicated friendship is about to be tested. Sloan has a secret…one that could turn even Nathan against her forever.

shadow-ornament

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EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER TWO - THE ANGEL OF DEATH

My ability to summon people had drastically improved, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that Detective Nathan McNamara’s face popped up on the screen when my cell phone rang as I left Dad’s office.

I tapped the answer button and pressed the phone to my ear. “I was just talking about you,” I said in lieu of a greeting.

He chuckled. “You know, it’s not always you putting your voodoo on me. Sometimes I call or come by all on my own.”

I smiled and squinted against the sunshine as I unlocked my car and got inside. “Whatever you say, Nathan. What’s up?”

“Where are you?” he asked.

“I stopped in to see my dad, but I’m heading back to work now.” I started my engine and backed out of the parking space.

“Good. Come by my office on your way in.”

I slammed on my brakes, bringing the car to a lurching halt. Nathan’s office was located inside the jail, and I was no longer allowed to take my Xanax. “No.”

“No?” he asked. “Trust me. You’re going to want to see this.”

I groaned and put the car in drive.

“I’ll see you in ten minutes,” he said and disconnected the call.

Nathan knew how much being at the jail affected me, and he wouldn’t ask me to come if it weren’t really important. So, on the drive there, I practiced deep breathing exercises and tried to think about anything but the panic attack that I knew was on its way.

A few minutes later, I pulled into the jail parking lot and parked in the space beside Nathan’s county-issued SUV. I took the steps to the front door two at a time and sucked in a deep breath before pulling the door open.

I breathed a small sigh of relief when I saw Virginia Claybrooks stuffed into the office chair behind the front desk. Her uniform was screaming at the seams, and her shoulder-length black wig was sitting a little too far back on her forehead. She was on the phone, and her bright red lips bent into a fake smile when she saw me.

She held up a long manicured fingernail, signaling for me to wait before continuing her animated verbal assault on whoever was on the other end of the line. “Honey, if you wanted to have Thanksgiving dinner with your baby boy, you shoulda raised him better so his ass didn’t wind up in jail! I don’t give a turkey’s butt about whatchoo think is fair and not fair. Not fair is me having to sit my ass on this phone, listening to the whinin’ and complainin’ of you people when I oughtta be…Hello? Hello?”

She stared at the phone for a moment in disbelief. “I can’t believe that bitch done hung up on me!”

I tried to suppress my laughter, but I wasn’t successful.

She rounded on me. “You think sumthins’ funny?”

I covered my mouth with my hand and shook my head. “No, Ms. Claybrooks. I’m sorry.”

“How ‘you know my name?” she barked at me.

“Ms. Claybrooks, I’ve worked with the sheriff for years.” I tapped my chest. “I’m Sloan Jordan.”

She tossed her head from side to side. “I don’t know no Sloan Jordan.”

I sighed. “Can you please tell Detective McNamara I’m here?” I asked. “He’s expecting me.”

She looked me up and down so skeptically that I half-expected her to throw me out the front door. “Mmm-hmm,” she said, pressing her lips together. She picked up the phone and pushed a few buttons. “McNamara!” She waited. “De-Tec-Tiv Mc-Na-Mara!” Her voice bounced off the concrete walls around us.

She slammed the phone down and looked at me. “He ain’t answerin’.”

Her phone rang, and she picked it up. “Hello?” She rolled her eyes toward the ceiling and huffed. “They’s six thousand offices up in this buildin'. How do you people expect me to remember ‘em all. I got close enough for you to hear me so stop your bitchin’.” She looked over at me. “You got a girl up here askin’ for ya…Uh-huh, OK.” She hung up the phone and forced a smile in my direction. “He’ll be right with you.”

Rather than sit, I paced the lobby. Evil reverberated off the walls like a heartbeat. The whole place pulsed with dark energy, and it seemed to be tightening around my throat. I took a deep breath in and blew it out slowly. The mechanical doors slid open, and Nathan stuck his head out. “Sloan!”

I jumped, then scurried over.

Even my rising anxiety wasn’t enough to completely suppress the butterflies that were disturbed every time I laid eyes on Nathan McNamara. He was in his standard outfit of khaki tactical cargos and an olive drab green fleece pullover. He wore his badge around his neck and a ball cap with an American flag patch on the front pulled low over his face.

Nathan was the guy that mothers wanted their daughters to marry, and the one that fathers warned them about, all wrapped up in one. He was the blond-haired boy next door with a baby-face smile and the ability to put a bullet between someone’s eyes. He was also the kryptonite to my better judgement, and he had been nothing but trouble for me since the day we met.

“Hey stranger,” he said. “Long time, no see.”

That was a joke. I had seen Nathan every night for the past three weeks. Warren had asked him to keep tabs on me since we found out I had a cosmic bounty on my head.

His eyes widened when I stepped through the door. “You OK?”

I pumped the collar of my blouse forcing cool air down the front. “You know I’m not. I hate this place.”

He motioned me forward. “Come on. We won’t be here long.”

We walked past his office, and I jerked my thumb toward his door. “Where are we going?”

“Women’s solitary,” he answered.

I shuddered. “Isn’t that where they keep the really bad people?”

“Sometimes.”

“Nathan,” I whined, dragging my feet.

He urged me on. “We’ll be on the medical hall. I promise it’ll be worth it.”

My rising blood pressure stirred my doubt in him.

Once we were deep inside the jail, we went through one more heavy metal door that opened to a long hallway. Nathan escorted me by four locked rooms that reeked of evil before stopping in front of an empty cell. “What is this?” I asked.

He nodded toward the door. “Look through the window.”

Curious, I peeked inside.

The stale white room was flooded with blinding light from the overhead halogens. There was a steel frame bed shoved against the wall, a metal toilet, and a matching small sink. “I don’t get it,” I said, looking back at him.

He looked in, then took a step back. “Under the bed.”

I leaned toward the glass again. This time I saw long strands of red hair laying across the concrete floor, and the edge of a corpse peeked out from the shadows. I gasped. “Why is there a body in there?”

“Keep watching.” He knocked his knuckles against the metal.

A hand shot out from under the bed in our direction. I jumped back. “What the hell?”

He put his hand on my shoulder and ushered me forward again. Covering my mouth with my hands, I watched an emaciated woman, paler than anyone I’d ever seen, drag herself out from under the bed. I scrambled to get away, but Nathan held me still.

He put his lips to my ear. “She can’t get to you.”

“She’s not a she, Nathan.” I gripped his sleeve as I looked at him. “She’s not human.”

He looked only mildly surprised. “They found her wandering around the Vance Memorial completely naked. She doesn’t speak English, but she kept saying one thing very clearly.”

“What was that?”

“Sloan Jordan.”

My mouth fell open. “What?”

Then her soulless eyes settled on me. They were the color of flawless sapphires. “Id vos, Sloan!” The woman banged her fists against the glass, her nails caked with dirt, or blood, I wasn’t sure which. I’d put my money on blood given the heavy white bandages on her forearms. “Id vos! Id vos! Utavi! Ename utavi.

Had I not already been mid-panic attack, she would have triggered one. I stumbled back into Nathan.

Nankaj morteirakka!” she screamed.

My heart was pounding. The air was as thick as soup. “Nathan, I can’t stay in here.”

He put his hand on the back of my neck. “Did you take your Xanax?”

I shook my head. “No. I forgot it,” I lied.

The woman threw her body against the door. “Ketka, Sloan! Ename utavi!

Nathan took hold of my arm, just as my legs began to wobble. “Come on. Let’s get you out of here.” He hooked an arm around my waist.

She was still wailing in her cell. “Sloan! Sloan!”

My heart was pounding so loud I could swear it was echoing off of the walls. I feared my head might pop right off my shoulders. Nathan was carrying me more than I was actually walking. “Hold on,” he said, pushing a door open.

When we got to the front of the building, we reached a door that could only be opened by Master Control. Nathan pressed the button and held it down. When no one answered, he groaned and pushed it again. Finally, Ms. Claybrooks came over the speaker. “Seriously!” she shouted. “They’s only one of me up here, ya know!”

I bent at the waist and rested my hands on my knees for support as the floor spun in and out of focus.

“Ms. Claybrooks, it’s Detective McNamara. I need you to open the door immediately.” He was trying to sound calm but not doing a convincing job of it.

“Hold your horses! I’m just one woman,” she said.

Finally, the door slid open, and I sprinted through it. I was panting when Nathan caught up with me at the front door. “Happy Thanksgivin’, y’all,” Ms. Claybrooks called as I bolted outside into the crisp, cold mountain air.

I sucked in an icy breath and blew it out toward the sky. “Oh my god.”

He gripped the sides of my waist, and bent to look me in the eye. “Geez, Sloan. You about gave me a heart attack. Breathe.”

I took a few deep breaths. “Please get me out of here.”

He clicked the unlock button on his SUV. “Come on. I’ll buy you lunch.”

I didn’t have time for lunch, but nothing in me wanted to argue. He opened the passenger side door, and I climbed in and rested my forehead against the dashboard. He got in and started the engine, peeling his tires as he exited the parking lot. When we were a safe distance away, my heart rate began to return to normal. I sat back in my seat and opened my eyes.

“I’m sorry. I had to get out of there,” I said.

He shook his head. “It’s not your fault. I didn’t really think it through before calling you.”

I turned toward him. “What was that thing?”

He shrugged. “I was hoping you could tell me. Deputies brought her in this morning. They called me when she kept rattling on about you. No name, no ID. Nobody even knows what language she’s speaking.”

My stomach felt sick. “You’ve heard it before. I’m pretty sure that’s my demon mom’s language.”

“You think so?”

I was still panting as I nodded. “Yeah. And I don’t know much Latin, but I think whatever she was saying had something to do with something or someone dying.” I tapped my chest. “Probably me.”

He scowled. “Don’t start talking like that.” He jerked his thumb back toward the building. “Do you think she’s like you and Warren?”

I looked over at him. “Maybe. Or she could be like Abigail.”

He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. “Do you think there’s a chance she could be Abigail?”

I cringed at the thought. I’d watched the body the world knew as Abigail Smith turn to dust, but the angel Samael had told us she would procure another body. I chewed on my fingernail. “Abigail doesn’t strike me was the type to allow herself to be locked up.”

He nodded. “I thought the same thing. That’s the only reason I even considered letting you near her.” He leaned toward his door and wedged his hand into his pocket. He produced his cell phone and handed it to me. “Look in my photo gallery.”

After a moment of searching, I navigated my way to the pictures on his phone. I saw my own face before I saw anything else. There was a succession of photos of me making funny faces that I’d taken one night when Nathan left his phone lying on my sofa. It had been weeks before, and he hadn’t deleted them.

“Check the folder called ‘work’ in the gallery list,” he said, snapping me back to reality.

I tapped the work folder open, and immediately cringed at the sight of blood. “Eww.”

“Look at the first few,” he insisted. “That’s what’s under those bandages on that girl.”

It took me a second to figure out I was looking at pictures of the red-head’s forearms. Two different words were written on…no carved into her arms. The first one was a little hard to read. “Ver…vernalis?” I asked, looking over at him. “Is that what it says?”

He shrugged. “I’m not sure, but that’s what it looks like.”

“What does it mean?”

He shook his head. “I don’t know that either. Could be a city in California. Could be a pharmaceutical company in the UK. Could be crazy-person-speak for ‘let’s give McNamara a headache.’ Beats me.”

My bottom lip poked out as I looked at the second word. “Nathan, why does she have my name carved into her arm?”

He cringed and turned his palm up. “Sorry. I’m striking out with answers today.” He held out his hand for his phone, and I gave it to him. “Is there any way I can get the info on her to Warren? I’d like him to see it.”

I sighed and shook my head. “Nope. He called this morning. He’s officially on his way to wherever they’re sending him.”

His face twisted into a frown. “That sucks. How are you doing with it?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “I hate it, but we knew it was coming sooner or later.”

He pointed his finger down the road ahead. “Wanna blow off work and go to the bar?”

“As tempting as that sounds, I can’t.” I rested my head back against the seat, and the cloth ceiling of Nathan’s SUV caught my attention. It was covered with patches for his hat. “This is new,” I said, giggling as I read some of them.

Finish your beer. There are sober kids in Africa.

My idea of ‘help from above’ is a sniper on the roof.

I’m here to kick ass and chew bubblegum and I’m all out of bubblegum.

He grinned. “It’s become somewhat of an obsession. People at work are giving them to me now.”

“It’s definitely a conversation starter.” After a moment, I rolled my head toward him. “What will the jail do with her?”

He turned his palm up on the steering wheel. “Probably release her to the mental hospital. She’s not stable enough to be released into public, and they can’t keep her locked up.”

“What if she comes after me?” I asked.

He looked over his shoulder at me. “You know I’m not going to let that happen. Besides, you won’t be home this weekend to worry about her.”

I straightened in my seat. “Oh, yeah! We’re going to Raleigh. I’ve had so much on my mind, I almost forgot. When are we leaving?”

Nathan’s family had been waiting for months to be able to finally lay his baby sister, Ashley, to rest. I’d promised to be moral support for the burial service.

He pulled into the parking lot of my favorite restaurant, Tupelo Honey. “Well, my mom invited you to come to our house for Thanksgiving tomorrow, but I told her you would probably want to spend the day with your dad. So we can leave on Friday, if you want.”

“Sure,” I said. “What are you doing tomorrow?”

He shrugged. “Getting take out and watching football, I guess.”

I rolled my eyes. “No, you’re not. You’ll come eat with us. Dad and I are cooking, so the food might suck, but it would be nice to have another body at the table.”

He smiled as he put the car in park. “I’d love to. What can I bring?”

I laughed as we got out. “A backup plan.”

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What People are Saying

"The Soul Summoner hooked me, The Siren made me fall in love and The Angel of Death blew my mind." - R.K. Close, author of Red Night

"This book is engaging, hilarious, adorable, heartbreaking..." - Erani Kole, book blogger

"Hold onto your mukluks because this book is going to blow them off. This story isn’t just paranormal. It’s PARANORMAL. I’m talking epic, with battles between angels and demons, good vs. evil." - K. Hughett

"One of the best books I've ever read!!!!" - L. Shaw

"This book has action, romance, jealousy, the paranormal, suspense, and quite a few answers to some of the questions we were left with from the 'The Siren'. Elicia Hyder sure does know how to spin a yarn and I cannot wait for the next book." - KiraH

"The best volume in the series so far." - R. Gottinger

"Elicia Hyder has restored my faith in the series by an indie author. Her storytelling skills shine." - Amazon Reviewer

THE PLAYERS

Sloan Jordan, The Soul Summoner

Aside from my wonky superpowers, I'm exceptionally ordinary. Unfortunately, the universe thinks I'm far more capable than I really am. And it's becoming a problem.


Nathan McNamara, The Detective

Nathan is the guy that mothers want their daughters to marry, and the one that fathers warn them about —all wrapped up in one. He's the blond-haired boy next door with a baby-face smile and the ability to put a bullet between someone’s eyes.


Warren Parish, The Mercenary

Warren has a body that can only be ranked on a scale of one to oh-my-god, and he makes love like he should require a height restriction. 


The steamiest book of The Soul Summoner series yet...

THE SETTING

The room glistened with Christmas trees and twinkle lights, but the centerpiece of the decor was the view. Beyond the panoramic glass walls, the sun dipped behind mountains speckled with snow-covered pines, splashing the dark blue sky with violet and fuchsia swirls. I’m pretty sure if Heaven exists, then Asheville at Christmastime was modeled after it.

Asheville, North Carolina
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