About the Book
A Kiss Before Doomsday
Author: Laurence MacNaughton
Released: July 11, 2017
Series: Dru Jasper #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Author contact links:
Author website: www.laurencemacnaughton.com
“Rane?” Dru turned and headed toward the front of her shop. What was left of it, anyway.
Since the Four Horsemen had plowed a truck right through the front windows a few days ago, nearly flattening everyone inside, the place was now a boarded-up disaster area. The fluorescent overhead fixtures were destroyed, so now the only light came from a couple of battered table lamps propped up in the far corners. Plus what little rainy-day gloom made it around the edges of the plywood covering the former front windows.
The lamps illuminated piles of broken bookshelves, scattered crystals, and shattered artifacts. The remains of Dru’s entire livelihood.
A dark figure rooted through one of the piles, tossing aside handfuls of fragile crystals. As Dru entered, the hunched figure turned, silhouetted by the lamplight.
Dark, gaunt, wrapped in a long black cloak or maybe a coat. Definitely not Rane.
Dru looked around for any crystals she could use as a weapon. In the nearest pile of wreckage lay her dagger-shaped wedge of spectrolite, a naturally protective crystal. She grabbed it and charged it with her own magical energy, amping up its protective powers until the crystal glowed from within, casting a breathtaking rainbow of lights around her.
She held up the crystal and backed away between the waist-high piles of debris. “The shop is closed. For remodeling.” She swiped wet hair out of her face. “A lot of remodeling.”
Still hunched over, the figure staggered toward her. The lamplight fell across his lean face and long, wavy hair. He had a sort of old-fashioned handsomeness to him, but right now he was obviously in pain. Half-crazed gray eyes peered out through his hair, accentuated by black eyeliner.
She recognized him immediately, even without his trademark silk top hat, the kind favored by stage magicians. Or circus ringleaders.
“Salem?” Dru let out a shaky breath and lowered the crystal. “Where’s your hat? I didn’t recognize you. Almost totally zapped you.”
He dismissed that with an arrogant shrug. “Would’ve been amusing, watching you try. But I have better things to do. Where’s your fuller’s earth?”
“Seriously? Have you seen this place? I don’t even know where my purse is right now.” She went back to looking for it, frantic to go after Greyson. But how could she? She didn’t have a car.
Then again, Salem did. “Salem, where did you park? We need to go after someone. Right now.”
From the look on Salem’s chiseled face, he clearly didn’t believe her. “Kristalo sorcisto helpos,” he growled in the sorcerer tongue. “I thought you got your kicks helping sorcerers in need. Surprise, surprise, when I’m in need, you don’t care.”
“No, I’m just in a hurry, so—”
“Busy redecorating?” He looked around with disdain before returning his attention to her, seeming to finally notice the fact that she was soaking wet. “Are you actually chasing someone?”
Before Dru could reply, Rane clomped down the stairs and strode into the shop, carrying an open carton of milk in one big hand. With the other hand, she powered down the last of a bag of baby carrots. “Dude. You need to start keeping more protein around this place. It’s shameful. Why are you all wet?” She saw Salem and stopped short, eyes growing big beneath her pink-striped headband, a fat baby carrot clenched between her teeth.
Salem held Rane’s gaze for a lingering moment. A mixture of resentment and hunger flitted across his lean features.
Dru glanced from him to Rane and back, scrambling to think of a way to break the suddenly awkward silence. “So, um, you two don’t really talk since . . .” Since they broke up.
Rane bit down on the carrot with a crunch that sounded like a gunshot. She chewed noisily.
Dru shook herself back into action. “Salem, look. Shop’s closed, so, we’ll find your stuff later. This is an emergency.” She turned to Rane, who slowly raised the carton of milk to her lips. “The apocalypse is still unfolding. Hellbringer was here. Greyson is alive.”
At that, Rane choked and spewed milk and bits of carrots across the floor. Coughing, she set down the milk carton and swiped the back of her hand across her mouth. “What?”
“He’s alive. We have to go after him!” Dru turned to Salem. “Where’s your car? Let’s go!”
He folded his arms. “Fuller’s earth. I need it.”
Rane jabbed a wide finger at him. “You need a swift kick in the ass. For running off with that Gypsy tramp-o-matic, what’s-her-name.” “Ember,” Dru supplied, instantly wishing she hadn’t.
At the sound of Ember’s name, Rane’s face became a mask of rage. She stalked toward Salem. “And while we’re on the subject, you want to know what I need?”
“Shut up, shut up, shut up.” Dru held her hands out like a referee. “None of this matters right now. We’re talking about Greyson, here. He’s alive.”
Rane grunted in surprise. Slowly, her face transformed from anger to disbelief. “No way, D. You blew up that whole damn bridge with your crystal. In the netherworld, right? Nobody comes back from that.”
Before Dru could reply, Salem let out a gasp and sagged against a broken bookshelf, holding his side. “Fuller’s earth.” He lifted one skinny arm and snapped his fingers at her. “Chop-chop.”
Rane turned her palms up. “The hell is fuller’s earth?”
Quickly, Dru explained. “Once upon a time, fullers were people who cleaned wool. They used absorbent clay to soak up impurities. And mop up spills.” She glanced at the orange-speckled milk puddle congealing on the floor between them and forced herself to ignore it. “They lived happily ever after. Now let’s go.” She took Rane’s muscled arm and steered her toward the door.
Salem drew in a shaky breath to speak, but he never got the chance. He slumped over and collapsed to the floor with a clatter of falling shelves and breaking glass.
Rane rolled her eyes. “Oh, here we go with the drama. Seriously? He does this whenever he doesn’t get his way.” She cupped her hands around her mouth. “Get up, dude. We’re not buying it.”
He didn’t move.
Dru hesitated. Maybe something really was wrong.
She hurried over and knelt next to Salem, hoping this was some kind of joke, some dramatic play for sympathy. But when she shook his shoulder, he didn’t respond.
She rolled him over onto his back. Within the depths of his trench coat, his ruffled silk shirt was slashed with four long gashes that stretched diagonally across his chest. The pale skin underneath bore what appeared to be claw marks.
Dru bent closer, easing the slashed fabric open to get a better look. The wounds didn’t bleed. They were filled with a black substance, like paint. Or burn marks. And they gave off a foul odor.
“Ugh. What is that?” Dru wrinkled her nose. She spotted an old brass magnifying glass lying on the floor nearby. Rane followed her gaze and handed it to her.
The edges of the gashes were ragged and, under closer inspection, appeared to be made up of thousands of tiny, fuzzy black dots that squirmed and grew. “Looks like . . . mildew?” Dru said. “Living mildew?”
“Not living,” Salem whispered. His eyes opened up to pained slits. His breath rattled in his lungs. “Undead.”
It seems as if Dru, proprietor of the Crystal Connection and newly minted sorceress, has only just averted one apocalypse when another comes along. Undead creatures have appeared on the streets of Denver, attacking sorcerers, who are acting even more strangely than usual. Signs point to forbidden necromancy in the hands of someone trying to fulfill the prophecy of the apocalypse scroll.
With the dead rising from the grave, Dru fears someone is picking up where the Harbingers left off half a century ago. Now more than ever, Dru needs half-demon Greyson and his infernal car, Hellbringer. Though Greyson is missing and presumed dead, Dru believes he’s alive—and trapped at the center of this evil.
Dru will need her friends—and her enemies—trusting in Rane’s strength, Opal’s wisdom, and her own crystal magic to infiltrate the mountainous fortress of a powerful sorcerer intent on bringing about doomsday.
Because the moment the prophecy is fulfilled, legions of undead will rise to consume the souls of everyone on earth. . . .
About the Author:
Laurence MacNaughton is a fantasy writer and the author of It Happened Once Doomsday, The Spider Thief, and Conspiracy of Angels.