Happy middle of the week. The cool-cold weather we’ve been having this week is supposed to turn hot, and I can’t wait. There’s something wrong with heating in late June.
Welcome to the Midweek Tease, made possible each week by Angelica Dawson. These past few weeks, I’ve been sharing snippets from my romantic thrillers, and this week, I continue with the opening chapter of Fire Angel, Book Two of the Vengeance Is mine Series.
Everything happens for a reason.
Criminal profiler Jake McKenzie returned from Afghanistan minus a leg, determined never to let anyone get close enough to hurt him again. When his old friend asks him to help with a serial arsonist case, he jumps at the chance to prove his worth, but as the bodies pile up, he realizes he needs help. He convinces the chief to bring in a fire investigator, stunned to discover that the woman is none other than the girl who vanished from his life twenty years ago.
Alexis Michaels fled Paradise and an abusive uncle only to almost die in a fire that left her scarred not only on the outside, but on the inside, leaving her with psychic abilities. With that gift, she’s climbed to the top of her profession. Her abilities may be the only thing that can find and stop the Fire Angel, a pyromaniac turned revenge arsonist serial killer who’s slowly turning a peaceful town into Hell on Earth. The problem is, to do the job, she has to return to the one place where she swore she would never set foot again.
Faced with confusing emotions and a killer who’s made it clear he wants her to stay out of his business, Alexis must deal with the past before she can move on. But things may get too hot even for her as the Fire Angel moves toward the final act in his revenge drama.
This Week’s Tease:
The young man snorted and patted his large beer belly. “No, but I can always make time for what’s important. But I can only have one.”
He chortled. “One’s all it’ll take,” he muttered, his heart pounding with anticipation.
Entering the cabin, he cracked open two bottles of beer, emptied the small vial into one of them, and handed it to the dealer.
“To your health,” he toasted, clanking his bottle against Bandit’s.
“Millhouse Organic. I’ve never tried that,” the dealer said, guzzling half the bottle in one gulp. “Not bad. You must be richer than I thought. Should’ve charged you more.” He tossed the paper bag he’d carried in on the table. “Here’s your stuff. Where’s my money?” He raised the bottle to his lips once more.
“Right over here.”
Before he could take a step, Bandit dropped like a stone.
Stepping over to the fallen man, he kicked him in the ribs as hard as he could.
“That’s for killing my dog,” he said.
Striking the match on the cover, he lit the small angel-shaped candle—there were only six left in the box his wife had purchased for the birthday party that never happened—settled it onto the Styrofoam plate in the center of the tinder he’d placed in the old fireplace, the sulfur filling his nostrils, and dropped the rest of the book of matches on the pile of sticks on the floor in front of it. Like the image on that poster his mother had kept in her room, he was the avenging archangel, his sword aflame, ridding this world of unnecessary vermin.
The candle burned quickly and soon the paper under it caught and then the tinder. The rest of the matches in the book ignited as one. Glancing over his shoulder, he saluted the body on the bed, and moved over to the safe spot he’d created near the door. He wanted to watch the action as long as he could.
“Don’t worry, asshole, you won’t find it cold in here tonight.” He laughed at his own joke. “And your boss won’t lay a hand on you either.”
Wrapping him in the turpentine-soaked blanket and pulling him up onto the bed had been a chore. Would anyone even see the poetic justice of it? A drug dealer, wrapped in a drug-soaked cloth, set alight?
The crackling of the growing blaze filled his ears as the infant fire moved through its tinder. As the flames and smoke increased, it didn’t take long before he heard the sizzle, crackle, and pop from the blaze—music to his ears. The only thing better was the whoosh as the conflagration grabbed the accelerant and lit him up like a torch. It wouldn’t take long before he would be able to hear the boiling of the sap inside the pine logs he’d brought in to help the blaze, but he would have to be outside by then.
It wasn’t only the killing and the sound of the fire that appealed to him. He enjoyed the various scents and aromas from the caustic ones created by the chemicals released as it burned man-made items, to the unmistakable, unforgettable perfume of burning hair and flesh, and finally to the familiar, friendly, nostalgic aroma of apple wood or pine. Each was an aphrodisiac in its own right, but it was the second odor that had him almost creaming his jeans—so much better than animal fur. Man, that bastard’s hair had been long, and he was close enough to get a good whiff of the pungent perfume before it was just a memory.
“Made you nice and comfortable for your trip to hell,” he muttered. “No one’s going to miss your sorry ass. Time for me to go.”
Carrying the beer bottles—he’d poured out what was left of Bandit’s on the floor—he exited the building and walked around it to make sure everything was good. Tonight, he would be the only witness, but soon others could enjoy his handiwork, too.
He pulled a joint out of the paper bag, flicked his Bic to set it alight, and took a deep satisfying pull. He was going to miss this shit when it ran out, but who knew how long that would take? There were several packages of the stuff in the back of Bandit’s vehicle, all of it his for the taking now. There would be some antsy customers and furious suppliers out there, but they weren’t his problem. Let them search for the elusive Mack Holden. They wouldn’t locate him—after all, he didn’t exist anymore—had barely existed back then, but he’d finally come in useful. Finding more of the date rape drug in the stash had been an unexpected bonus. He’d been afraid he would have to drive to Ottawa to score more, and finding a source had been a pain in the ass the last time he’d done it.
Leaning against the hood of the van, left hand tucked into his pants’ pocket, he let the joint dangle from his right as he watched the cabin burn.
The fire raged, and it was hungry. The more it ate, the more it wanted. Too bad Bandit hadn’t felt the bite of the flames as they devoured him. Maybe next time, he would use less of the drug and see what happened.
The roof collapsed as the blaze consumed the shack and its unholy contents. He smiled before taking another deep drag, holding the drug in his lungs as long as possible before exhaling. The blaze mesmerized him with the constant shifting of its multifaceted flames. He appreciated that color and temperature were codependent and knew just how hot things had to get to suit his purposes.
Fire fascinated him. He’d been burned a time or two, but wasn’t that the way with pets? Didn’t they always bite until they were firmly under control? Over the years, after that initial blaze, he’d learned to release its energy in a variety of ways—slowly like a serpent slithering and coiling itself around a branch, waiting for its unsuspecting victim to come within range before crushing the life from it, or quickly, striking like a cobra and claiming its prey swiftly and smoothly. Each method brought its own level of satisfaction. His creation, the essence of what he’d become, of what they’d forced him to become, molded in the image he chose—no rules, no overseers, nothing to hinder him in any way.
Fire was his mistress, a beautiful dancer writhing and gyrating just for him. Every single day, he went through the motions at work waiting until he could be alone with his one true love. She had a mind and personality of her own. Depending on her mood, she could be kind and helpful. At other times, she offered companionship and security, but when unleashed like tonight, she sterilized and destroyed at his command.
He dropped the end of the joint on the ground and reached up to rub the muscles at the back of his neck no longer as tense as they’d been earlier. While he’d like another, he would wait until he got home. He still had work to do. He had to get rid of the vehicle before any one saw it. The bog was the perfect place.
He pulled out his pack of cigarettes and took out another cancer stick as his mother had called them. What the hell did she know? She’d bitched his father into an early grave and blamed him for it, just as she’d blamed Mack’s accident on him, before she’d complained herself into a grave of her own. Too bad he hadn’t been able to build a pyre like this for her. Instead, after a little slicing and dicing, he’d placed her in a trash bag in the ground, under her precious petunias, flowers he made sure he “watered” regularly. Knowing the insects would ravage her was satisfaction enough. She’d always been Polly Perfect, complaining about this and that, threatening to tell people about what she called his illness. Let her go ahead. The worms and beetles wouldn’t listen to her either.
Want to read more? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DLK8J6Q
In Plain Sight, Book Three of the Vengeance Is Mine Series will be available next week!
Now check out the rest of this week’s teasers.