[Blog Tour] Hostile Takeover by Cristelle Comby

 

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Vale Investigation (book #1)
Urban Fantasy
Date Published: August 1, 2018
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When a mysterious beast savagely mauls random residents of Cold City, the police assume that these are the killings of a rogue wolf. But experienced private investigator, Bellamy Vale, is unconvinced.
Ordered by Death herself to investigate, Vale has no choice but to obey for his boss is not someone to disappoint—if he wants to keep breathing, that is.
With friend and computer hacker Zian, interfering journalist Candice Kennedy, and homicide sergeant Melanie Ramirez by his side, Vale has no choice but to end the killings or face the wrath of the demon who literally holds his life in her hands.
Hostile Takeover is a fast-paced, edge-of-your seat paranormal mystery that will leave your heart racing, and have you looking over your shoulder.

Excerpts:

01

I was having a bad day.

The ugly thug facing me readied himself for the next swing. “What did you say, bastard?” His red-splattered knuckles were ready for the next round; my body wasn’t.

“I’m haffin a fah fay,” I managed to repeat through a mouthful of saliva and blood.

That made Julian Ragazzo, former welterweight boxing champ and top bodyguard to the city’s prime Italian Mafia family, smile. His wet beard glistened with sweat beads around stained teeth. Glad one of us was happy.

I took stock of the damage Ragazzo had already done. Broken nose, check. Split lip, check. Swollen eye, check. Broken rib, double check, and the list went on and on. It could have been worse. The injuries, though painful, weren’t enough to put me in the hospital. Sure, I’d hurt for a week or four, but I’d live to tell the tale outside of a body cast. I knew that, and Ragazzo did, too. This was a game we’d both played before … not that I’d gotten any better at it.

I caught a reflection of myself in the glossy surface of a cabinet door. My messy mop of brown locks was matted with blood on one side and the five o’clock shadow had a hard time concealing a fast-bruising chin. One eye was swollen shut and the other had a pale blue, haunted orb dancing amidst a sea of red veins. I was a mess, and not a hot one.

I closed my good eye and waited for the next blow. The bodyguard didn’t disappoint. A second later, he delivered a power punch and I saw stars. It didn’t help that I was tied to a chair and my already sore shoulders screamed in protest at the added strain. In a noise that only I could hear, my body cried out, ‘How in all the hells was this part of the plan?’ Fair question—it wasn’t.

In truth, there may have been a few glitches here and there. Like those two extra guards at the office building’s back entrance, plus that wrong turn I took on the fourteenth floor. Yeah, okay … the plan was just as screwed as I was.

Ragazzo followed up his haymaker with another kick in the guts. It would have ripped a scream out of me if I’d had any breath left for it. Instead, my lungs just took in short, choppy gasps I couldn’t control.

“Well, well, well … look what the cat dragged in,” taunted an Italian-lilted voice.

I recognized the lazy drawl and opened my good eye to confirm my suspicions. Sure enough, Alonzo Vitorini, Cold City’s resident wannabe kingpin, stood near the entrance in a dark-green pinstriped suit. Shit, looking at his ugly get-up hurt worse than any of Ragazzo’s blows.

Vitorini sauntered into the room, smiling as he noticed my stare. “Like the suit?” he asked, doing a little pirouette to show off this walking insult to fashion.

I wasn’t going to reply, but the second my eye caught sight of the finishing touch, a pair of black-and-white spectator shoes, my mouth kicked into gear on its own.

“Al Capone called,” I wheezed out. “He wants his brogues back.”

Vitorini laughed, the corners of his muddy-green eyes wrinkling. Not sure if he was laughing at the crack or the fact that he was going to kill me for it in another minute or two.


02

I’d just got out of the shower when she showed up. Same entrance as usual. One second she wasn’t there; the next, she sprawled languidly on my bed. That always gave me the creeps. And how in all the hells could she always have such perfect timing? But I knew better than to question how she appeared from nowhere, disappeared without a trace, or knew the things she knew.

We were old acquaintances and she had seen into my soul and beyond. I had no problem with her seeing my nakedness. And even if I did, I was too worn down to care anyway. I flicked the bedside table lamp on, walked past her, ass-naked, and reached for a shirt and a pair of sweatpants. Someone else may have tried to educate her on social behavior, but I’d long ago given up on the hope that she would ever come to grips with a concept as trifling as privacy.

“I wasn’t expecting to see you tonight,” I said as I shrugged the clothes on. My sore shoulder protested and I winced.

“Why would you?” she replied with a slight accent that was impossible to place.

I glanced at her for clues. Her hair was loose and dark brown again. She had a little makeup on, looked to be anywhere between twenty-five and forty. Her feet were bare and she wore a long and oh-so-thin black dress.

I recognized the look. It was the one I’d dubbed “the Mediterranean” and I knew what it meant. She sat up and her gaze darkened to a coal shade as she took a good, long look at me.

“I’m not in the mood,” I said as I finished pulling down my shirt. I tried hard not to notice the movements her dress made against her feminine curves. But I was a man and no straight man in his right mind could resist giving the attention demanded by that oh-so-perfect cleavage.

“You do not get to choose, mon Bel-Ami,” she said.

Hearing her use my name like that did things to me that no human being could have ignored.

“Or have you forgotten how this works?” she added.

“I haven’t, but no amount of French-silver-tonguing will make me like it,” I retorted. It was a weak protest and we both knew it.

She laughed, a deep, throaty, sultry sound that did things to me I wish it didn’t. Then she moved again, seeming to undulate as she stood to her feet. In two steps she was in front of me, ripe for the taking, temptation personified. She was beautiful, every man’s dream, and she knew it.

“What do you want?” I asked, throat dry.

“A man died tonight,” she murmured. “I want you to investigate.”

The change of topic helped me get my mind off … other things. “For God’s sake, why? Certainly, you would know what happened.”

She remained stock still. It was as if I hadn’t said anything, and maybe I hadn’t as far as she was concerned. She sure had a tendency to only hear what interested her.

I glanced at the clock and saw that it was just past three a.m. “Look,” I told her, “I’ve had a lousy day that doesn’t seem to want to end. I’m more banged up than a crash test dummy right now. So why don’t you and I make an appointment for next Thursday, when I’ll—”

That would be the part she heard clearly. She was on me in a second, swift as a viper. Her cold fingers laced themselves around my throat, pushing me backward until my back hit the wall. The pain of the injuries, which I kept finding new ways to aggravate, registered this time. Must have had something to do with how I felt my feet lift off the ground as she kept me there, pinned like an insect.

“You signed a contract with me, Bellamy Vale,” she hissed. “Your life for a favor. It was granted to you, thus I get your life.”

Her gaze bore into me and her vice-like grip did not relax. I tried to struggle, but she was as immobile as a statue.

“You are mine,” she said. The sexy accent was long gone, replaced by something darker and deadlier. “I see the tapestry of life and I hold your string in one hand and the scissors in the other.”

I’d have swallowed if I could. Instead, I started to suffocate, spots clouding my vision as my heartbeat took up a staccato rhythm. In spite of all that, her arm remained rigid.

“I will cut it when it pleases me,” she continued. “Until then, you are mine and you will do as I command.”

Blood thumped in my ears and I could feel my heart slowing down. I nodded; it was all I could do.


 

About the Author

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Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, in Greater Geneva, where she still resides.
She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting.
She is the author of the Neve & Egan Cases series, which features an unlikely duo of private detectives in London: Ashford Egan, a blind History professor, and Alexandra Neve, one of his students.
Currently, she is hard at work on her Urban Fantasy series Vale Investigation which chronicles the exploits of Death’s only envoy on Earth, PI Bellamy Vale, in the fictitious town of Cold City, USA.
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[Perma-free eBook] Esme’s Piano & My Heart Remembers

Fyresyde publishing (1)

Esme’s Piano*

It was supposed to be a simple transfer. Nothing I hadn’t done before. I was a park ranger. Someone who watches as tourists venture through the wilderness and keeps poachers from breaking the law.

Then I met her.

At first, I didn’t know what to think. To others she was a person to avoid. To me, she held a certain appeal.

Then on my first day I heard it – the music of a piano. I had no idea how far it would take me. I definitely didn’t expect it to lead me in the world where light and dark magic battled each other….

 

My Heart Remembers*When theStars Align

I tried to free him from being hunted by the dark Fae. Then I realized…

I couldn’t live life without him.

Time passed and I began searching for him only to learn he had passed away.

My heart ached.

I tried so hard to give him peace. To let him rest in the tomes of time but the longer I waited, the worse the pain became…

 

 

 

 

Download Esme’s Piano on Kobo, Nook, and iTunes

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* This is a work of flash fiction. It is incredibly short but I wanted to share it anyway so I hope you enjoy it and feel free to leave a review!

[Spotlight] The Blood Within The Stone by T.R. Thompson

TBWTSCoverTitle: The Blood Within The Stone (Book 1 of The Wraith Cycle)
By:  T.R. Thompson
Published by: Odyssey Books
Date of publication: 22/7/17
Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Young Adult (12+)
Blurb:
A shadow is spreading across the land. Fear will be your downfall.
When the Prefects of Redmondis discover that their quick minds and quicker fingers hide secret potential, young thieves Wilt and Higgs find themselves unwilling recruits. Wilt’s ability to sink into others’ thoughts, knowing what action they will take before they do, is both a prized and dangerous gift.
The Nine Sisters of Redmondis have sensed a growing threat, and search for the one who can control the power of the blood within the stone. But even their sinister plots are nothing compared to the force that controls them.
As Wilt and Higgs rally their newfound weapons, they discover that the threat to their lives, and their reality, is much greater than they realize.

Excerpt:
“Daemi, isn’t it?”
Daemi increased her pace, so Wilt hurried along beside her. He wasn’t going to give up that easily.
“I was wondering if you could help me.”
“Do not speak to me.” Her voice was harsh and cold, her breath fogging out of the gap in her helm the only sign of humanity.
“Pete–the old man who healed me–he’s a guard too, isn’t he?”
Daemi swung around suddenly and shoved Wilt to the ground. She paused for a second to look down at him, and Wilt saw something new in her eyes. Fear perhaps, or regret. Daemi turned away quickly and resumed her march.
“I told you not to speak to me.”
Wilt lay in the dirt for a second, considering his predicament. She was faster than seemed possible in that armour. Maybe it wasn’t as heavy as it looked.
He pushed himself to his feet and skipped after her. “The reason I ask is, he’s missing a finger.”
Daemi spun again but this time Wilt was ready. He ducked the blow and grabbed her wrist as it sailed over his head, then stepped in and twisted her arm behind her. Before she could react, he slid her glove from her hand. Sure enough, her little finger was missing, and a fresh bandage covered the wound where it had been.
“Just as you seem to be missing one.”
“You dare!”
Wilt heard the raw anger in her voice and let go, stepping well clear. She spun to face him, the long knife already clasped in her other hand, pointing directly at his heart.
Wilt held up his hands in surrender, her glove still clasped in one of them. “Let’s not do anything either of us will regret later.”
Daemi was beyond reasoning with. She let out a scream of incoherent rage and charged at him. Wilt barely had time to spin clear.
“There’s no need for this. Here.” Wilt threw her glove back to her, making sure it sailed high enough to lift her eyes. Sure enough, he saw their green light follow the arc of the glove. As soon as they left him, he shot forwards and kicked the knife from her hand.
The blade spun away and landed in the dirt. Wilt felt quite pleased with himself, for all of a second or so. Daemi’s cry of rage turned into a grunt of effort as she dropped and spun, her back leg sweeping around to take Wilt’s legs out from under him. He flopped back onto the ground and the air exploded from his lungs. Before he could roll away Daemi was on top of him, her hands clasped tight around his throat.
Wilt gaped up at her and felt himself fade as her image blurred. There was no air left in him, and no way to suck any more in. Bright stars burned through his vision.
No! He is reaching for me. I will not let him in, I must not let him in. I will kill him first.
Wilt saw himself lying prone, hands wrapped around his throat, his eyes grey and strange, all colour drained from them, yet still staring, peering into him, completely into him, taking him over. His hands loosened their grip.
Damn you! I will not let you take me!
But I do not want to take you. Just let go. Let me breathe. Like that.
Wilt saw his eyes begin to clear then slipped back into his own mind, the thick black rope that had linked their minds slithering away from her.
Wilt coughed and sat up, rubbing his throat. Her nails had drawn blood.
Daemi had rolled free and was on all fours, her body shaking. Something like a sob wrenched out of her.
“That will do I think.”

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About the author:TTAuthorPic
Tom is an Australian speculative fiction writer. He lives in Belgrave on the outskirts of Melbourne with his wife and two young sons.
When not writing or reading he spends too much time gaming and taking long meandering walks through the forest that always seem to end up at a tavern.
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