Romeo Spikes by Joanne Reay
Working the Homicide squad, Alexis Bianco believes she’s seen every way a life can be taken. Then she meets the mysterious Lola and finds out she’s wrong. More weapon than woman, Lola pursues a predator with a method of murder like no other.
If you think you’ve never encountered Tormenta, think again. You’re friends with one. Have worked for one. Maybe even fallen in love with one.
They walk amongst us—looking like us, talking like us. Coercing our subconscious with their actions. Like the long-legged beauty who seduces the goofy geek only to break his heart, causing him to break his own neck in a noose. Or the rock star whose every song celebrates self-harm, inspiring his devoted fans to press knives to their own throats. The pusher who urges the addict toward one more hit, bringing him a high from which he’ll never come down. The tyrannical boss, crushing an assistant’s spirit until a bridge jump brings her low.
We call it a suicide. Tormenta call it a score, their demonic powers allowing them to siphon off the unspent life span of those who harm themselves.
To Bianco, being a cop is about right and wrong. Working with Lola is about this world and the next . . . and maybe the one after that. Because everything is about to change. The coming of a mighty Tormenta is prophesied, a dark messiah known as the Mosca.
To stop him, Bianco and Lola must fight their way through a cryptic web of secret societies and powerful legends and crack an ancient code that holds the only answer to the Mosca’s defeat. If this miscreant rises before they can unmask him, darkness will reign and mankind will fall in a storm of suicides. Nobody’s safe. Everyone’s a threat.
TORMENTA: THE FACTS
Walking amongst us—looking, sounding, and acting just like us—is a type of demon called Tormenta. And, as demons go, they are particularly . . . fiendish.
A hand locked hard around her neck and the muzzle of her own Magnum, impossibly pulled from its holster, twitched an inch from her chin.
“Do I have your attention, Detective?”
Alexis Bianco found herself staring at a swath of cropped blond hair, the only feature of her assailant visible in the darkness. She mustered a nod.
“Then listen good.”
Lola’s voice was no more than a whisper but it seemed twisted tight, sinking like a needle into her ear.
“Humans are born with a predetermined life span, an allotted number of years to live. Some consume their spans and pass away. Some have their spans prematurely snatched from them by murder or mishap. But some surrender their lives by choice. Humans call it suicide. Tormenta call it opportunity. From their method comes their name. They torment their human prey into giving up their lives.”
Bianco swallowed, attempted to speak, but no words came. She licked her lips, easing a path, and tried again.
“You—you say these Tormenta walk amongst us . . . in plain sight.”
“They are everywhere.”
“I’ve never seen one.”
“Weren’t you listening?”