The Bitter Seed of Magic - excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter 2 of The Bitter Seed of Magic

I turned to see DI Helen Crane striding through the entrance of the mortuary, tall and slender, with her blonde hair pulled back in a severe bun: the fortysomething icon for witches and the police force both. She was beautiful, even with her patrician features harsh with anger. And as usual she was blinged-up like a goblin queen, the spells stored about her jewellery-bedecked person flashing and sparking in my sight like fireworks at a trolls’ New Moon party.

I briefly closed my eyes to disperse the afterimage burned on my retinas and wondered sourly why she couldn’t have turned up half an hour later. Now we were going to have to convince her to let me check out the dead girl, a much tougher proposition than the nice fait accompli I and Hugh had been hoping for.

‘I gave strict orders to the effect that Ms Taylor’s particular talents’ – the vitriol in the Inspector’s voice made it clear it wasn’t my talent with magic she was alluding to – ‘were not required in this case, Sergeant Munro.’ She halted, ramrod-straight, and stood far enough back that she didn’t give the impression she had to look up to Hugh; a stance she’d perfected dealing with the trolls who worked for her. ‘Please remove her from my crime scene before I have her arrested for obstruction.’

‘I’m not the one doing the obstructing, though, am I?’ I murmured, annoyed at her attitude, even though I hadn’t expected anything more from her.

Hugh moved so he was between us. ‘Ma’am, the victim is tagged with a Glamour spell; it’s possible she may not be human—’

‘I am fully aware of that, Sergeant which is why I have arranged for a full coven chapter to remove the spells without damaging them. They are evidence, after all, and will need to be investigated. If – and I stress the word “if” – the victim is determined “not human” after the safe removal of the spells, then I shall, of course, inform the appropriate persons within the fae communities.’

‘The coven won’t be able to get here for a good couple of hours, Ma’am, and the spells have been in running water,’ Hugh said in a neutral tone, glossing over the fact that his boss had just admitted to keeping him out of the picture. ‘It’s likely that they will deteriorate before the coven arrives. Ms Taylor can remove them now.’

‘Sergeant, your concern is noted, but we will follow procedure on this. Please ensure Ms Taylor leaves.’

Angry at the way she was treating Hugh and the dead girl, and determined not to let her get away with stonewalling any longer, whatever her reason – and angry just because she was her – I stepped round Hugh and placed myself firmly in front of her, close enough to get into her personal space, close enough to smell her expensive floral perfume and close enough that the spell in her huge sapphire pendant shone like a captive star beneath the pale blue of her blouse, even without using my sight. What the hell was the spell she had stored in it? Oh yeah, something to do with protection from vampires. She had a phobia about them— a phobia that had nearly got me munched on the first time we’d met. Which was the Witch-bitch’s standard operating procedure when it came to me.

I held up my company ID card. ‘Inspector Crane, I know we don’t see eye to eye’ – a hell of a clich├ęd understatement, despite the fact I was looking right into the witch-bitch’s own cold baby blues – ‘but you know I work for As a company we’ve done consultancy work for the police before. You yourself have even employed us’ – okay so she’d never actually employed me, just Finn: my boss, her ex-husband, and now my sort-of . . . well, Finn’s and my relationship is still in a stand-off position, what with the fertility curse hanging round like an over-eager matchmaking mama – ‘so maybe I should stress that the “following procedure” excuse doesn’t wash.’

‘Ms Taylor—’ She paused, visibly composing herself. ‘By the time I get approval to pay your fee, the coven chapter will have been and gone.’

As excuses go, it wasn’t even as good as the ‘following procedure’ one. I flapped my ID card and trotted out a flat version of my usual work spiel: ‘ ~ making magic safe ~ Guaranteed. If you’re not satisfied with the results, then don’t pay.’

Personally I couldn’t care less whether she paid me or not; not only was removing the spells costing me nothing but my own time, since this was my day off, but this wasn’t about money. This was about the curse. And if this poor girl’s death had anything to do with it, then I wanted— no, I needed to know. No way was DI Crane going to sideline me this time.

The Sweet Scent of Blood - Out Now UK/US

The Cold Kiss of Death - Out Now UK/US April 2011

The Bitter Seed of Magic - UK Feb 2011/US 2012