This isn’t a real release.
Not really. It’s not a big splashy thing and it’s not a full collection of stories. It’s a novella, the next tale about Robin Archer. I’d like to do a whole series of short stories and novellas about Robin, a whole Circles & Crossroads series, and then release them in one set, but that’s not ready yet. But in the meantime, I’d like to share a new one with you, just because people have liked Robin so.
It’s a Halloween tale and takes place in Irvington, an Indianapolis neighborhood boasting the oldest and largest Halloween festival in the country. (I’ll be doing posting about some of the local scene soon.) When children begin to disappear from the festival, Robin and Jimmy offer to help search, and Robin recognizes a crime out of time.
Books traditionally release on Tuesday. But because this isn’t a real release, just a story for Robin fans, it hits virtual shelves on Friday, halfway around the week from Tuesday. That seems an appropriately Fae-like way to do it.
The new novella is called Orphan Heirs & Shades of Night. Newsletter subscribers had an opportunity to pre-order for just $.99. (If you missed that, sorry, but you can be sure you won’t miss the next offer — subscribe here!) You can still pre-order on Amazon for $2.99, which includes the first story, “And Only the Eyes of Children,” originally published in Fae and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. This mini-set is available in ebook only at this point.
Due to technical delays (slow processing for the pre-order to go live, out of my control), this post was delayed, but I will still give you a belated #TeaserTuesday snippet!
Officer Sullivan nodded. “We need extra eyes on the residential streets, to see if any of them might be lost or just hanging out away from the street fair itself. We’re getting some people to help sweep around the area. Could you help with that?”
And so a few minutes later, I’d left my number with the police in case of updates and we were headed up a brick-paved and tree-lined residential street, looking for a boy or a pair of girls — likely still together, the worried parents had suggested.
We were shuffling through ankle-deep golden leaves when a peculiar shiver ran up my spine. It’s not the usual creepy feeling you get when watching a scary movie or reading a good old-fashioned ghost story; this is the sensation of being watched, but with a particular quality of watcher. Some humans experience it, and a few learn what it means.
I froze where I was — Jimmy did, too — and turned slowly, looking for what was out of place. Lumpy pumpkin-colored trash bags of leaves gathered beneath a tree, a witch’s back and the rear of a broomstick protruding from another tree, decorative gourds arranged up a sidewalk, a calico cat running along a porch rail, a man walking behind two children on bikes with training wheels, a woman stepping from behind a scarecrow mounted upon a lamp post.
Not a woman.
“Well spotted,” she said, in a rich voice which might or might not have held a hint of condescension.
Jimmy’s eyes ran over her dress of iridescent black, part scale, part feathers. Spiderwebs held it to her shoulders, but without any of the cheese factor of the made-in-China “sexy midnight lady” costumes. It helped that these were real spiderwebs, spun of silk finer than any cheap costume. She wore a tiara of black web and cut glass beads which sparkled and danced even in the daylight over her white-gold hair.
“You should enter the costume contest,” Jimmy said appreciatively. “Bet you could win a prize.”
She smiled. “Maybe I will. And of course I want to see everything.”
“It’s a pretty big festival,” Jimmy said. “Events been happening all week. But there’s plenty left today.” His eyes ran down her left arm to the hand wrapped in web and empty of rings. “I could show you around a little, if you like.”
“Jimmy.” I pressed my palm downward in a “slow down” gesture, but there wasn’t much I could do that wasn’t just as visible — more visible — to her. “We’re kind of busy,” I said. “Missing kids, remember?”
The woman’s face sobered. “Missing children?”
“We’re looking for them now,” I said. “Assisting the authorities.”
She nodded. “Then I must not keep you. Please, continue as you were.”
Jimmy gave me a look which wasn’t quite resentful. “Maybe I’ll see you later, lady.”
I smiled and bowed. “With good news to report, we hope, Lady.” I put an audible capital on the L.
The woman nodded and turned. I glanced at Jimmy, and when I looked back, she was gone.
Now that she was no longer standing in front of him, Jimmy started talking more sense. “That — that was pretty polite for a snark like you.”
I nodded once. That bow had not been a conceit of the holiday.
“She wasn’t human?”
“No,” I said simply. “Not human. Not even just one of the Fae, but one of the Court. And not just one of the Court, but one of the Queen’s Maidens.”
“Oh.” Jimmy sounded faintly disappointed. “So….”
“Out of your league,” I confirmed. “Definitely.”