Spirited by Cari Z.
Pink Petal Books Presents Shamans
lightly erotic/sensual paranormal romance
urban fantasy novella
cover art by Pink Petal Books
Detective Andrea Haney is tracking down the manufacturers of a new drug, fairy dust, that is dangerously toxic and killing an alarming number of users. After three months of difficult investigations she’s disgusted to learn that her superiors have brought her former partner and lover, Darren O’Connel, in to help with the case. The drug has a magical component that makes it very difficult to preserve, and Darren’s magical abilities lend themselves to the task. They had parted five years earlier under painful circumstances, and while he seems eager to get back in her good graces, she’s not sure she can trust him.
After a rocky start Andrea begins to care for him again, but the case is going badly. The drug is difficult to track and more people are dying, so Andrea and Darren resort to desperate measures. Andrea can push her spirit from her body and track almost anyone in that form, but it’s a dangerous procedure. Darren convinces her to try, and swears he can keep her body safe from damage while she tracks down the sorcerer behind it all. Can she trust him to keep his word? Can she trust herself to put her life in his hands?
A single pink orchid sat on my desk when I returned to the station. Just the one flower, elegant and exotic, curving slightly towards my chair with its sweet-smelling blossom perfuming the room. And it was growing out of my coffee cup.
“Damn it!” I swore. I threw the paper sack that held my lunch onto my desk. No way. No way in hell. I stormed out of my cubicle and down the hall to where my supervisor, Jack Myers, spoke on the phone in his own, much larger, office. He held a hand up to forestall any speaking on my part while he continued nodding into the phone. I waited with ill grace until he hung up a few minutes later, and then I exploded.
“I’m not doing it!”
“Andrea.” He tried to placate me. “It wasn’t my idea, but the commissioner insisted on it. Try to be reasonable.”
“Reasonable?” I exclaimed. “How can I be reasonable, when you’re handing my case over to that arrogant, selfish, ass-kissing little—”
“Andrea, you’re keeping the case. O’Connell will just be assisting in the fieldwork. It’s safer for you to have backup anyway. Someone inside the clubs, not just sitting in a squad car a block away.”
It was reasonable, but I didn’t want to listen. “He can’t tear himself away from a mirror long enough to be helpful. Jack, I’ve been working on this case for three months and I deserve to be the one to see it through. Just because the police commissioner thinks Darren O’Connell is the greatest thing since the inception of forensic thaumaturgy doesn’t make him a good man in the field. He’s a lab rat disguised as a caped crusader. He doesn’t follow orders. He—”
“Steals glory?” Jack interrupted softly. His voice was kind but his expression was firm. “I know how you feel about O’Connell. I know you two have a history together. But you said it yourself, Andrea. You’ve been working the case for three months. You still haven’t managed to get your hands on a sample of the drug. We need to know what we’re dealing with in order to hunt down the people who are manufacturing and distributing it, and this stuff has the fastest half-life of any magical narcotic we’ve ever encountered. We can’t hold the people who sell it because as soon as they turn out their pockets, the stuff disappears.” He sighed heavily, the lines in his face deepening.
“Meanwhile we’ve got everyone from runaway kids to the wife of a state senator getting sick on the stuff. O’Connell’s skills fit this case. The police commissioner thinks we need him to close it, and I’m tending to agree with him.” Jack heaved himself up from behind his desk and walked around to me, then took one of my hands in both of his.
It wasn’t strictly professional, but I didn’t care. Jack and I went way back. He was one of the only people in the world I could truly call a friend, him and his wife Moira. The only other person in this part of the country I’d known as long as them was Darren, and our relationship hadn’t turned out so well.
“He’ll be back pretty soon. He had some sort of official luncheon to get to and couldn’t wait for you. When he comes back, let him read the case file, okay? Try to be polite. You’re both adults. Both professionals. Both cops. You can do this.”