(Arcane Artisans #1)
By A.C. Spahn
Publication date: March 18th 2019
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy
Adrienne Morales is a hunted woman.
Stalked by Voids—people immune to magic—and pursued by a deadly past, Adrienne wants nothing more than to avoid spells and sorcery. Her powers as an enchantress make that impossible. Every few days she must release the magic gathering around her, or it’ll steal her sanity. The only way to stay alive is to practice her magic in secret, hiding enchantments in works of art she sells in her craft store.
When a firebreathing psychopath controlled by enchantment tries to burn down her store, Adrienne unleashes her powers to stop him. Unfortunately her battle has a witness—Adrienne’s handsome business partner. Turns out he’s a Void, and sworn to a Union that executes rogue magic users. Worse, the firebreather isn’t the only victim to pop up around San Francisco. Someone is using magic to create monsters and destroy minds, and the Void Union wants them dead.
Now Adrienne must capture the rogue enchanter before they ruin more innocent lives—and before the Voids punish her for the rogue’s crimes. But Voids aren’t the worst thing chasing her. Every enchantment she crafts makes it more likely her past will track her down. And if it does, madness will be the kindest fate awaiting her.
"Adrienne?" Desmond’s voice mingled shock and anger. “What the hell are you doing here?”
I pushed off of him and backed up several paces. “Why weren’t you answering your phone?”
“I was driving. Our sentry reported someone coming to the ranch. After the warning Maribel gave, I wasn’t expecting it to be you.”
“It wasn’t me. I just fought the enchanter off. He ran a minute before you arrived.”
“Where’s the sentry? He can back up your story.”
Uh-oh. “He’s dead.”
Desmond stared at me. “You realize you’re making this hard to believe.”
“If I was lying, the story would be better.”
He sighed and gestured to the open door. “After you.”
The gesture seemed gentlemanly. But it also ensured he didn’t have to turn his back on me.
We entered the stable and I showed Desmond the body of the sentry. “He must have struggled with the enchanter, then fallen and cracked his head.”
“Wow,” said a voice from the rafters. “That sucks.”
I jumped out of my skin. Desmond swore. We both looked up to see Kendall perched on one of the wooden beams, stark naked.
Desmond stared for a couple startled seconds before suddenly averting his eyes. “I told you to stay in squirrel form,” he said sharply.
“Wait,” I said. “You brought her but not me? You asked <i>Kendall</i> for help before me?”
“Kendall isn’t a person of interest in the case.”
“Kendall can’t defend herself against enchantments!”
“Kendall can hear everything you’re saying,” Kendall remarked mildly. She swung down from the rafters and held out her hand. “Jacket, please.”
I shrugged off my sweatshirt and handed it over. “You didn’t answer my calls.”
“I forgot my phone at home when Desmond picked me up.”
“That’s why we got here late,” said Desmond with a scowl, still struggling not to stare at Kendall’s exposed skin. “It took forever to wake her up.”
Kendall managed to squeeze into my jacket, though it hugged her curves and looked like it might burst if she moved too fast. Desmond removed his own hoodie, revealing a form-fitting brown t-shirt underneath. Kendall tied his sweatshirt around her waist like a skirt, completing her makeshift outfit. “You can stop hiding your eyes, boss. Though I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to look.”
“I don’t date employees.”
“Does that include Adrienne?”
“I’m not an employee,” I said quickly. “I rent my shop space.”
“This is not the time for this!” Desmond said, face flushed. With anger or embarrassment, I couldn’t tell. “Adrienne, you’re going to need to explain what you’re doing here.”
“I already did.” My own temper kindled, flickering in my chest like a red candle teasing a curtain. “The alarm went off. I couldn’t reach you or Kendall. I came here, found the body, and scared off the enchanter.”
“That’s not going to be good enough for the Union,” Desmond growled.
“Hey,” said Kendall, “why are you picking on her?”
“It looks like she murdered this guy!” Desmond pointed a trembling finger at the corpse.
Kendall looked from the body, to me, and back. “He has a point.”
A. C. Spahn is the author of the Endurance series and the Arcane Artisans series. Her shorter works have been published by Daily Science Fiction, Star*Line, Outposts of Beyond, Disturbed Digest, and others.
She wanted to be an interstellar starship captain when she grew up. Since nobody was hiring, she became a writer instead. She enjoys training in martial arts, organizing messy rooms, and cooking, sometimes all at once. When not commanding imaginary starships, she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and feline overlord.
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