Heart of Malice

Heart of Malice

by Lisa Edmonds

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781944728342
Publisher: City Owl Press
Publication date: 06/06/2017
Series: Alice Worth , #1
Pages: 338
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.76(d)

Read an Excerpt

Heart of Malice


By Lisa Edmonds, Heather McCorkle

City Owl Press

Copyright © 2017 Lisa Edmonds
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-944728-34-2


CHAPTER 1

I was just finishing my second beer when someone leaned down to whisper in my ear. "Want to do something insane?"

As pickup lines went, it wasn't half bad.

I set my glass on the bar and looked up. He was dark-haired, gorgeous, and tall, dwarfing me by almost a foot — and at five-six plus heels, I wasn't exactly short. I took a moment to savor the close-up view of his impressively muscled chest and let my appreciation show in my voice when I answered, "Absolutely."

He drained the last of his bourbon and tossed a crisp hundred on the bar next to our empty glasses. "Then let's get out of here."

I let him help me slide down off my barstool. His eyes moved approvingly from my tall boots to my thighs and over my short dress to my cleavage, where they paused for a moment before meeting my gaze. "Scott," he said and held my jacket while I put it on.

I smiled up at him. "Alice."

"Nice to meet you, Alice." He offered his hand, and I took it. We plowed through the crowded bar toward the front door.

When we finally emerged on the sidewalk, I tucked my arm through Scott's and fell in step beside him. Despite the cold, he didn't need a coat; I felt his warmth even through my leather jacket. He smelled smoky and woodsy, like a forest fire.

"What's on the agenda?" I asked as we strolled along Ninth Street, past a dozen bars and late-night cafés.

"Have you ever flown the 101?"

I laughed. "I've driven the Pacific Coast Highway. I didn't know you could fly it."

He grinned at me. "In my car, we can."

"Let's do it." I squeezed his arm. "Where are you parked?"

"Up ahead a couple of blocks."

The March wind was bitterly cold on my bare legs. Though we walked quickly, within minutes, I was shivering.

"Come on — we're almost there." Scott squeezed me against his side with an enormous arm.

"How did you manage to get parking down here on a Saturday, anyway?" I asked, pouting a bit. "I'm all the way over on Fulton, in a pay lot."

"I know the guy who owns McGovern's Steakhouse," Scott replied. "He lets me park in his alley whenever I'm here."

"Well, that sure is convenient."

Scott flashed me a smile. We were in front of McGovern's, which was already closed for the night. At one a.m., there weren't many pedestrians around. It was cold enough that anyone who was out was in a hurry to get where they were going, and the most popular bars were back in the direction we'd come from. Where Scott was parked, there was nothing but long-closed restaurants and shops. I saw one other couple about a block behind us, wrapped in long coats, their heads down as they talked quietly, but no one else was in sight. The sharp staccato sound of my boot heels echoed as we walked.

Finally, we rounded the corner and started into the alley behind the steakhouse. It was a relief to be out of the wind. Ahead, by the light of a single streetlight, I saw a black Porsche 911 Turbo parked in front of a large sign that read AUTHORIZED VEHICLES ONLY.

"Nice car," I remarked as we approached it.

"Thanks," he said, and punched me.

I felt him tense up and managed to turn a fraction of a second before he swung, so his massive fist connected with my side instead of my stomach.

Pain exploded in my ribs. I gasped and hit Scott's chest with both hands. Magic flared, and he flew backward into the side of the restaurant, leaving a man-sized crater in the brick wall. He landed in a crouch with a snarl, his eyes blazing bright red.

My left side hurt so badly it was hard to think for a moment, and I wondered if he'd broken any ribs. I held my side and spooled my earth magic. Green flames sparked on my skin as a five-foot-long whip-like stream of cold fire emerged from my right hand. I lashed the Porsche's front tire, and it split with a loud bang and the hiss of air escaping. I smiled grimly. No quick getaways for him.

"Bitch," Scott growled. His voice was deeper and more gravelly now that he was no longer pretending to be human. "My car!"

"I guess you won't be flying the 101 anytime soon," I said. "And by the way, that's a terrible line."

The half demon glowered at me. Above us, the streetlight buzzed and flickered. "What do you want?" he demanded.

"You're coming with me. I've got a Court summons with your name on it."

His eyes glowed brighter with anger. "I don't answer to the humans," he snarled.

The corner of my mouth turned up. "No, the other Court."

Scott hissed. I tensed and shifted my weight, ready for him to attack.

Instead, the bastard ran.

I cursed and took off down the alley after him, feeling a burst of sharp pain in my side with every step. My boots and short dress might have worked well to catch his attention in the bar, but they were far from ideal for a foot chase. By the time I reached the end of the alley, Scott was already almost a full block ahead of me.

As we ran down the deserted sidewalk, headed farther from the relative safety of the bar district and possible witnesses, I set my jaw and blocked out the pain. Scott Grierson was not getting away from me tonight, not after all he had done.

Up ahead, Scott darted across the street. Between gasping breaths, I groaned. He was headed for Fields Park. If I lost sight of him in there, he was gone.

I put on an extra burst of speed, breaking into a full sprint. Half-demons were larger and stronger than humans, but it was heavy muscle mass. They might get off to a fast start, but they weren't built for running long distances. By the time Scott ran through the gates of the park, I'd cut the distance separating us in half.

The moon, a day from being full, hung bright in the clear sky, and I could see my quarry ahead of me, his steps crunching in the gravel path.

Scott heard me gaining on him and suddenly veered off the main path toward some trees. I cut across the grass, hoping to intercept him before he found cover. Behind me, I thought I heard running footsteps back near the gate but couldn't turn to look. If he had an accomplice, I'd deal with that when I had to; right now I couldn't chance him getting away.

When I got within twenty feet, I raised my hands. White magic sparked on my palms, and I unleashed a gust of air that sent the half-demon sprawling into the grass with a surprised grunt.

Scott rolled to his feet with a growl and turned to face me. His eyes glowed brightly in the darkness. "Who sent you?"

I stopped ten feet away, breathing hard. "I'm here because of Maggie."

"Who?" I couldn't see his expression clearly, but his tone sounded genuinely puzzled, and it infuriated me.

"Maggie Hill, the girl you picked up a month ago from the same bar we were just in."

Scott grinned. Unfortunately for them, a lot of women had found his smile to be charming. Of course, they hadn't seen it paired with his red eyes — at least, not until it was too late. "Was that her name? I had no idea."

My jaw clenched so hard that it hurt. "Did you know any of their names? Maggie? Alison? Katie?"

"Nope," Scott said with a shrug. "Honestly, I didn't care. I don't even know what your name is."

Suddenly, his arm moved.

A flash of metal glinted in the moonlight and I lashed out with my cold-fire whip. The bright green arc of lightning intercepted the blade in midair and sent it flying back in the direction it came from.

And buried it to the hilt in the half-demon's right eye.

It was over in a heartbeat. For a moment, Scott remained upright, his single red eye wide open in surprise. Then he fell backward and landed on the grass with a solid thump.

I approached him warily, my whip still crackling at my side. The half-demon was dying. His remaining eye stared up at me, glowing faintly. Dark blood ran from his right eye socket, where a four-inch knife handle protruded. His mouth moved, but nothing came out.

My fingers itched to pull the knife out and put it through his other eye. Instead, I crouched next to him as my whip coiled back into my hand and vanished. Disappointment left a bitter taste in my mouth. He didn't deserve a quick death; it should have been slow and painful. Maggie deserved that, at least.

"My name," I told him coldly, "is Alice."

Scott exhaled in a long, rattling wheeze. His eye dimmed, then went dark.


* * *

I sat on the grass next to the body while I caught my breath. Pain lanced through my side, and the chill of the night started to seep into me. Running had made me sweat, and now the wind felt icy on my damp skin.

My jaw ached from clenching my teeth, and my fingers dug into the ground in frustration. "Damn it, Alice," I chastised myself. When Scott threw the knife, I'd acted to defend myself, drawing on years of training that had become instinct. Unfortunately, as a result, he'd escaped justice, and now instead of presenting him to the Vampire Court as my prisoner, he would have to be tried ex mortem. I hoped the Hills could at least find some answers and closure from that.

Time to call the vamps to come get the body. I reached into my pocket for my phone.

I heard footsteps running from the tree line a half second before two flashlight beams blinded me. "SPEMA! Hands on your head!" The voice was loud and male, its tone unmistakable. My night had just gone from bad to infinitely worse.

Slowly, I pulled my hand out of my pocket, showed that it was empty, and clasped my hands on top of my head, half expecting to hear gunshots ring out and bracing for bullets that never came. Through the glare of the flashlights, I saw two dark figures in long coats, both pointing guns at me.

"My name is Alice Worth," I said calmly over the pounding of my heart. "I'm a licensed private investigator and a registered earth and air mage. My ID is in my wallet in the left pocket of my jacket."

"Do not move," the other agent, a woman, warned me.

I kept my hands on my head as the larger of the two shadows moved the beam of his flashlight to point at Scott Grierson's face. He swore and walked over to check the half-demon's pulse. "Dead. Goddammit, did you have to kill him?"

I blinked. I wasn't dumb enough to admit anything — even self-defense — in front of two federal agents, but the frustration and anger in his tone made me think these two hadn't just happened to be taking a late-night walk in the park.

I looked closer at them, and then it clicked. "You were following us, back on Ninth," I said slowly. "Why?"

No reply, not that I'd really expected one. These two federal agents were the "couple" I'd seen as we walked from the bar to Scott's car. I remembered hearing footsteps behind me on the path in the park. Had the agents seen and heard the entire thing? And who had they been following: Scott, or me?

The male agent held me at gunpoint while his partner walked around behind me. She was a few inches taller than me, built solidly, wearing a long coat over a dark suit. "On your feet, slowly," she ordered me. I heard metal clinking.

Carefully and a bit stiffly, I stood. She grabbed my left wrist and twisted my arm down behind my back. The movement made pain flare in my side. "You're under arrest," she said, closing a spell cuff on my wrist. She pulled my right arm down and cuffed it too.

The instant the first cuff closed on my wrist, my magic was suppressed, and I jerked in the agent's grip as the dampening spell settled on my skin like an itchy blanket. The discomfort made my stomach churn.

Once I was cuffed, the female agent recited the Miranda warning, and I acknowledged with a simple yes that I understood my rights.

She went through my pockets, starting with my wallet. "Alice Evelyn Worth," she told her partner. "Mage private investigator's license, SPERA registration, and current permits. Are you carrying any weapons or spells?"

"Air magic healing spell and spell cuffs in my right pocket," I said. "No weapons."

When my arms started to ache, I laced my fingers together and tried not to pull on the cuffs. They drained your strength if you did, which was why I'd planned to use a pair on Scott. They worked well to restrain half-demons, vampires, and others with superhuman strength. Between the cuffs and a sleep spell, I should have been able to get Scott Grierson to the vamps without much trouble. I glared at the half-demon's body. I ought to have just dropped him the instant we got into the alley instead of waiting until we were completely out of sight from the street. The consequences of my hesitation grew more dire by the second.

The agent continued the search, dropping each item, including my cell phone, in the grass as she went through my jacket pockets. Then she frisked me very efficiently and thoroughly. When her hand slid over my ribs, I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from flinching.

The male agent, who had been crouching next to Scott's body, stood and came over. He was well over six feet tall and blond, wearing a long coat and dark suit like his partner. He picked up my wallet and read through its contents for himself.

"Alice Worth," he said quietly, as if to himself. Then he looked at me, his eyes hard. "Why were you with him?" he asked, hooking his thumb at the body.

I kept my mouth shut. If I had the right to remain silent, I was going to use it.

The male agent looked over my shoulder at his partner behind me. Whatever unspoken conversation they had, he didn't like it. His scowl deepened, and he stared at me. I fixed my gaze on his chin and stayed still, even though the discomfort of the spell cuffs and the pain in my side made me want to shuffle my feet.

Finally, he grunted, pulled out his own identification, and stuck it under my nose. "Special Agent Lake of the Supernatural and Paranormal Entity Management Agency," he said brusquely. "My partner is Special Agent Parker. We believe Mr. Grierson might have been involved in a series of disappearances in the area."

I said nothing.

A muscle moved in Lake's square jaw. "Since August of last year, we have six cases of young women going missing. A few days ago, we obtained camera footage from an ATM that showed the latest victim, Maggie Hill, on the night she disappeared, with a male suspect we believe to be Grierson. If you have any information tying him to these disappearances, or know anything about the whereabouts of these women, now is the time."

I thought about it. As with most supes and mages, my distrust of SPEMA agents ran deep. They had nearly limitless power and authority, and we had so few rights. I was acutely aware that Lake and Parker could haul me off and I would disappear into one of the Agency's supe prisons, never to be seen or heard from again. I'd killed Grierson in self-defense — by accident, really — but it would be difficult to prove that. As such, I wasn't particularly inclined to say anything.

The longer I stayed silent, the angrier Lake got. He stepped closer to loom over me. "I can take you down to our office, if you'd be more comfortable talking to me there," he said grimly. We both knew my comfort didn't figure into the equation, and the odds of me walking back out of the Agency office were slim at best. "I want some answers. I've got six families waiting for news, and so help me, if you know what happened and you're not telling me, I will find a way to get it out of you."

I stared at him, my face blank. He'd gone from intimidation to explicit threats in a blink. Neither was anything new to me. If he expected me to be rattled, he was destined to be disappointed. I'd spent the first twenty-four years of my life being threatened with — and suffering — far worse torments than he could even begin to imagine.

"Forget it," Parker said. "She isn't going to tell us anything. Let's go." She yanked on my cuffed wrists, and I barely suppressed a wince.

Lake held up his hand and met my gaze. The anger in his eyes faded, replaced with grim determination. He sighed. "We saw what happened," he told me.

From behind me, Parker made a disgusted noise. She let go of my arm and stepped back, as if to distance herself from Lake.

"We overheard you tell him that you were here because of Maggie, and we heard him confess to taking the girls," Lake said. "We saw him throw the knife. You didn't mean to kill him; you were protecting yourself. If I take those cuffs off you, will you tell me what you know?"

"For God's sake, Lake," Parker exploded. "You can't do that."

"I can and I will," Lake snapped. "You want to go back and tell them we don't know where their girls are?"

Parker stayed silent.

"Do you?" Lake demanded.

"No, but —"

"Take the cuffs off." Lake glowered at Parker. A full minute passed.

Apparently Lake won the staring contest, because suddenly I heard a jingle of keys. I braced myself, but when the cuffs came off, the surge of released magic caused me to stagger before Lake caught me by my left arm.

Before I could stop myself, I grimaced at the pain in my side as my weight pulled on my arm. "Are you injured?" Lake's eyes narrowed as he looked me over.

"No." I pulled away from him and forced myself to stand up straight. "Just stiff from the cuffs." If he thought I was hurt, he might try to force me to go to the hospital, and that was something I had to avoid.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Heart of Malice by Lisa Edmonds, Heather McCorkle. Copyright © 2017 Lisa Edmonds. Excerpted by permission of City Owl Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Heart of Malice 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book can' t wait for the next one.
Boundlessbookreviews 9 months ago
I was approached by Lisa Edmonds to read her second book in the Alice Worth series Heart of Fire. Well if you follow my reviews you know I won't start a series in the middle and when I saw that there was an audiobook version available of book one Heart of Malice I purchased the copy for myself. I was beyond surprised by how much I LOVED this story, and I devoured it. I stayed up late into the night listening; I did not want to stop. I only shut it off when I would start to fall asleep. The story is fast-paced, exciting and so incredibly thought out and intricate. I loved the details that went into the character development. I loved Alice and all her nuances. She is one tuff cookie. She is a kick-ass chick! And then there is Sean, can you say yummy! OMG! There was nothing, and I mean nothing, I didn’t love about this story. I want everyone, and I do mean everyone, who loves Urban Fantasy to give this book and this series a try. You won't regret it! I can’t wait to read the next book, and So far Edmonds has officially got herself a fangirl!
BuckeyeAngel More than 1 year ago
Alice Worth is a PI that specializes in the paranormal. She’s a powerful mage who lives under the radar, hoping to never be found by her grandfather’s cabal. This next case leads her into different territory as sh picks up a ghost as a partner and a potential new relationship begins. I really liked this story. I loved learning about this new world and these new characters as I tried figuring out the mystery as Alice was going through it. My only disappointment is that it seems the sequel is still not really set to be released any time soon. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
MBurton More than 1 year ago
Heart of Malice is a great debut for Lisa Edmonds. The storyline was pretty creative and so full of action that you can't really be bored with the story. I think it's pretty funny that one of my favorite characters is a ghost! Malcolm the ghost had me quite entertained throughout this book. I loved Sean, the werewolf. He was a great Hero. He was protective but not overbearing. He genuinely just wanted to spend time with Alice and help her. Alice was a harder character for me. She is hiding a past and has never been able to trust, so I get why she was so standoffish, but I did want to shake her a few times. I was intrigued by her powers. Overall, this was an entertaining story and I look forward to the next one. ARC provided by NetGalley.
Marleene More than 1 year ago
Alice Worth is a mage, a rather powerful one too. As a child, her grandfather took advantage of that fact and, after killing her parents, forced her to do his dirty work. It was a work that included so much evil that she eventually faked her own death to escape. Now, her new life as Alice is much more peaceful, and as a PI she now uses her powers to do good. But when a routine case turns sinister, Alice must take care not to expose herself while at the same time helping her client find the truth. The first chapter of this book really turned me off and I just sighed and felt like I made a mistake to agree to reading it. I felt like it was cliché and I found lots of mistakes and things that didn’t quite make sense. But… even if I was so close to quitting there and then, I decided to read the next chapter too. And I’m so glad that I did. The second chapter was nothing like the first one and luckily the whole book continued in the same way as the second chapter. Also, the first chapter isn't really necessary at all. After chapter two I felt intrigued and I wanted to keep reading. The story had a nice pace and the writing was suddenly solid and the characters well developed. So, if you decide to pick this book up, don’t get discouraged after chapter one, keep on reading. I like how the tension in this book continued throughout the whole thing, it was never boring or slow. New things always happened and the main plot was very well developed and interesting. There are werewolves, vampires and magic in this book, and I suppose it might be seen as cliché and all that, but for someone like me, who hasn’t read much in this genre, it was great. It isn’t the best book I’ve read, but it’s definitely a book worth reading. The only thing I don’t really like is the sex scenes in this book. I usually don’t like reading sex scenes no matter what, but the ones in this book felt cliché and just over the top. I can’t really put my finger on what it is about them, but it felt fake. Forced. The cover isn’t really my “cup of tea” either, but the inside is way better than the outside. So, if you like to read mystery novels with a hint of romance, with vampires, werewolves and mages, then read this one. You won’t regret it. Four stars for this one.