Cover, Excerpt & Trailer
by Hope Schenk-de Michele & Paul Marquez
with Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Lucinda’s Pawnshop Book One
Good and evil dwell within her immortal soul.
Lucinda is as old as humanity itself, yet perpetually young, beautiful, and endowed with supernatural powers. She lives a double life—human and immortal.
Born out of a betrayal of trust between the first woman, Eve, and father Lucifer, Lucinda has worked covertly and subtly for millennia to be true to her mother’s love by subverting her father’s schemes.
In her human guise, she manages Lucinda’s Pawnshop & Antiquary, the doors of which can open to any street anywhere in the world at any time. Mortals who have arrived at a moral or spiritual crossroads are drawn into the mysterious shop. If they acquire one of its cursed artifacts, they may find themselves drafted into Lucifer’s service.
And if the Devil's daughter will not love a man he can control, can Lucifer control the man she loves?
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Content/Theme(s): Shifters, Mystery, Military, Fae, Magic, Time Travel, Demons, Dark Fantasy, Contemporary Science Fiction
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: Bird Street Books, Inc.
Excerpt & More
Lucinda leapt from Mona Collins’ kitchen window thinking that mortals who complained about hating their jobs had no idea what they were talking about. She had just left a malevolent ticking time bomb in the home of an innocent family whose only real fault was that they had allowed guilt to divide and conquer them. Dan’s guilt at not being able to keep his old job or find a new one; Mona’s guilt that she had been unable to heal the rift between her husband and her son; Rowdy’s guilt at being unable to stay in his mother’s home and buffer her from his stepfather’s temper.
None of it—none of it—was necessary or rational, but that was mortal life. It was a jumble of conflicting impulses and warring ideals. The brain craved what the soul knew was dangerous or wrong or just plain evil. Thus had begun humanity’s struggle with the knowledge of good and evil—a simple choice between the desires of the body and the soul.
What was it about this particular dysfunctional family that engaged Lucifer? How did he plan to use them? Was Dan Collins the targeted tool, or Mona, or was it the boy, Rowdy? Why had that particular demon been drawn to Mona?
Well, yes, Lucinda knew in general terms that the watch—the watch to which Sterling Vincent’s soul was tethered like a captive beast seeking escape—had a penchant for turning the merely angry into abusive tyrants. But she did not know what the watch was supposed to accomplish.
Her father’s schemes came in two “sizes.” There were schemes intended only to wreak as much random havoc as possible and generally make human beings miserable, and there were schemes that were part of his overarching goal of uprooting humanity—of proving to the All-Father with finality that His cherished human beings would never outgrow their animal roots. That they were unworthy of His love and impervious to His attempts to educate them.
Which type of scheme the Lord of Demons was constructing was never clear at the very beginning. Only once the dots began to connect would the outline emerge. Lucifer, being Lucifer, did not like to divulge which were which.
It had been almost a game between them over the centuries—or perhaps it was a test; Lucifer would set things in motion, then wait for Lucinda to grasp what he was doing. She had long ago realized that she was less a daughter than a student. Her father was most pleased with her when he thought she had figured out what he was doing and stepped in to help. She was most pleased with herself when she figured out what he was doing and was able to spoil his plans while making him believe she was helping.
Lucinda was her father’s daughter in one regard—she had gotten very good at deception. She also knew when to follow her human instincts. She had done both when she purchased the Qur'an. Her father’s interest in the Middle East was not only obvious, it was inevitable. He was following a script written for him in the pages of scripture, and she knew that scripture just as well as he did.
She would prod Nathaniel to see if he might have some more pieces of the puzzle, and if those pieces might connect the Collins family with a larger plot. Likewise, the young would-be witches; what part would they play, and in what scenario? Her father’s plans, she knew from experience, were never simple or transparent. They were layer upon layer, thread upon thread, of deceit and seduction, and he enjoyed constructing them immensely.
In the courtyard outside the Collins’ apartment, in the lee of a fire escape, Lucinda resumed her usual human form, but had taken only a step or two before she realized something rather disconcerting: she took no enjoyment from the prospect of walking back downtown today. Normally, she reveled in the tactile, visual, visceral joy of being in human form. But not now.
She looked up toward Third Avenue. The sun had already disappeared behind the rooftops, and the streets—in which she usually enjoyed the sheer frenetic energy of the mass of humanity that lived in New York—seemed like cold, dim canyons peopled by scurrying, ratlike predators. She could well imagine that it might always be that way—that Manhattan would remain locked in some perpetual gray twilight. Frozen between the time the sun set and the time the rats put on their nighttime finery and went out to frolic in the pretend illumination of neon.
She delved into the internal cityscape of her own soul and felt a strange unease— an odd, almost frantic desire to be somewhere else. No, to be someone else. Someone mortal and mundane. She breathed in, hyperaware of the sensation of her lungs expanding, taking in scents from the scattered restaurants along the avenue. It only made her more twitchy. She looped a strand of hair behind one ear and stepped into the Between, coming out again in the confines of her shop.
Rey looked up from behind the counter where he was playing with a clock—a small, jeweled replica of Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, complete with golden horses wearing diamond-studded harnesses. It held in its grasp the spirit of a ballerina so jealous of a rival dancer that she had murdered the woman by arranging for her to receive a gift—a poisoned gift that killed through the simple act of setting the time.
This wasn’t the first time Lucinda had found Rey studying the timepiece. She often wondered at his attraction to it. What drew him to it—the use of poison, the betrayal of a rival who thought her murderer was a friend, or something not immediately apparent?
Rey blinked at Lucinda as if waking from a reverie, then shook his head and laughed. “I swear to God, I’ll never get used to you doing that. It’s been, like, fifty years and it still makes me jump.”
“It’s been forty-four years,” she told him, “and you really should be used to it by now.”
“I don’t have your radar, Lucinda. I can’t tell when one of you demons is coming until the ‘door’ opens.”
She cocked her head and looked at him curiously. “What do you feel when one of us demons steps out of the Between?”
He pointed at the back of his neck. “Static electricity. Like little ants dancing along my spine. Of course, when it’s you, there’s another kind of electricity that goes with it. A very sexy kind.” He gave her a crooked smile.
“I’m flattered,” she said, without inflection.
He made a face. “I wish you were more than flattered. I wish . . .”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
He stood, his expression saying clearly that “sorry” was not good enough. “Since you’re back, I guess I’ll go see if His Highness needs me for something.”
Any reply Lucinda might have made was lost in the tingling awareness that someone was at their threshold. No, not just someone—Dominic Amado. Something in her expression must have alerted Rey, because he hesitated, turning to look at the door.
The little bell sounded, the door opened, and Dominic stepped into the shop. He was dressed in a deep red shirt, black leather jacket, and jeans that looked brand new. His hair was curried and shining, and he was freshly shaven. Lucinda caught the scent of his cologne—something with bergamot.
She smiled. “Nick! What a pleasant surprise. Did you think of some more questions, or did your poor camera finally give up the ghost?”
He returned the smile; it lit up his face. “Camera’s still good. I, uh . . . I did have some more questions, but I was wondering if . . .” His gaze made a circuit of the room. “I was wondering if maybe we could go get a coffee or something. In a more . . . relaxed atmosphere?”
Lucinda scented more than his cologne now; she caught his energy—wary, uneasy. It was the shop, she realized. The shop made him nervous. Her realization brought with it a relief that she didn’t want to feel. She wasn’t supposed to care how he felt.
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