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*includes a digitally signed, printed author note*


Artemus Steele is many things. An uncelebrated expert in the ancient and arcane. A metalsmith with unusual skills. The owner of an antique shop and a switchblade that is more than just a knife. What he doesn’t want to be is a hero. When the hellhound he first met on the night he turned six appears on his doorstep in the guise of a rabbit, Artemus suspects his life is about to go from strange to hell in a handbasket.

Callie Stone arrives in Chicago with one purpose in mind: to sell one of her dead husband’s prized possessions. But when the auction house gets attacked by fiendish creatures and the relic goes missing, Callie realizes that the life she has known is a lie and the world is full of frightening things straight out of her worst nightmares.

Moments after snatching a priceless artifact, Drake Hunter is confronted by enemies he thought he’d left in his past. Brought face to face with the mysterious organization after the relic, Drake knows he is dealing with something evil. Because the devil inside him is stirring once more.

With no option but to join forces with a pair of ruthless mercenaries, the reluctant associates are cast into a race to uncover the organization’s dark intentions and the true nature of the artifact. To survive, they will need more than brute strength and wit. They will have to figure out what twisted Fate links them. And they will have to embrace powers they never knew they possessed.

Format  Paperback
Pages  322
ISBN  978-1-912834-06-8
Dimensions  5 x 0.70 x 8 inches
Publisher   Silver Orb Publishing
Language  English
Edition  Second Edition, April 2024


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Blood and Bones
Fire and Earth
Hallowed Ground


Artemus Steele walked into the shop, tossed his windbreaker on a coat stand, and headed briskly toward the rear of the old brick building. He opened the door to his office and had one foot over the threshold when he froze.

A package sat on his well-worn antique desk. He stared at it for several seconds before carefully releasing the doorknob and backing out of the room.

“Hey, Otis! Did you take a delivery this morning?” he shouted down the gloomy passage to his right, his gaze still on the object taking up a considerable amount of space on his one-of-a-kind bureau.

Artemus grimaced when the sound of his own voice reverberated painfully around his skull; it felt like someone was swinging a hammer inside the damn thing.

Footsteps sounded on the rickety staircase that connected the first floor of the shop to the apartment above it. A figure in a worn housecoat and fluffy slippers shuffled into view at the end of the passageway.

Otis Boone yawned, blinked blearily behind his glasses, and scratched the expanse of pale chest visible above the sagging neckline of his flannel shirt. “What delivery?”

Artemus studied his assistant’s sleepy expression and slowly counted to five.

Don’t bite his head off. It’s not his fault you’ve got the mother of all hangovers and lost five grand last night.

He indicated his office with a cocked thumb. “That delivery.”

Otis joined him and peered inside the room. His eyes widened.

“Shit! Is that blood?”

“So, you didn’t see who brought it?” Artemus demanded sharply.

He regretted his tone instantly when an invisible force drove a chisel straight through his left temple.

Otis shook his head. “Nah-huh. I was out like a light. Got me some new cocoa. Stuff’s magic.”

Artemus sniffed the air and caught a familiar smell above the faint odor of stale human sweat emanating from his assistant.

The hot cocoa had evidently been supplemented with weed.

They stood and stared at the package. It was two feet by one foot and wrapped in heavy-duty, brown packing paper. Someone had tied the whole thing up with string and finished it off with a deceptively cheerful bow on top.

Artemus narrowed his eyes.

It would have looked like one of those quaint parcels delivered by a smiling postman on a bike to a picture-perfect housewife in the classic fifties movies he and his mom used to watch on TV when he was a kid, were it not for the bloody handprint on the side and the congealing crimson puddle beneath it. It didn’t help that he was getting bad juju vibes from it. Like, uber bad.

The package rustled.

Otis let out a strangled scream and clutched Artemus’s arm. “Oh my God, did that thing just move? Is it—is it alive?!”

Artemus swallowed the bile rising in his throat, peeled his assistant’s fingers from his flesh, and reached for the knife tucked in his left boot. The weapon looked like any switchblade you could buy from a military surplus store. He flicked it open and started across the room, pulse hammering away in his veins in tandem with the vicious pounding in his head. Floorboards creaked softly beneath his feet as he approached the desk.

The package rustled again. A sudden stillness came over it. Artemus hesitated.

He couldn’t shake the feeling that he was being watched.

He glanced at the bottle of bourbon standing on top of the filing cabinet to his left.

Another drink is not going to make this shitty situation any better.

He sighed. Let’s just get whatever the hell this is over and done with.

The dark red blemish staining the inlayed, brown leather surface of his beloved Victorian oak pedestal desk caught his attention once more. Artemus frowned, ire rising and overcoming the thread of apprehension thrumming down his spine.

And some asshole is going to pay for that.

He reached out and slipped the knife under the bow. It sliced effortlessly through the string.

For a moment, nothing happened. Then paper swished and crinkled, the package slowly unraveling before him like some kind of gory Christmas gift.

Limpid brown eyes locked onto him from behind the bars of a steel cage.

Artemus stopped breathing. The room faded around him.

For one wild, dizzying moment, he was back there again, in that field behind his house. The night he turned six. The night he saw strange lights in the sky. The night he witnessed the birth of a monster.

Artemus’s fingers clenched around the blade in his hand as the world came sharply back into focus. The handle grew hot and the metal trembled under his touch. Why the hell has he turned up again?

Gazing at him steadily from inside the metal cage sitting in a pool of blood on his priceless antique desk was the ghastly beast he’d seen that ungodly night when his life had changed forever. Except it didn’t look like a beast. Instead, it had assumed the shape of something so mundane Artemus would have laughed had he not known what lay beneath the innocent facade.

“Is that a—a bunny?” Otis stammered in a horrified voice.

There, looking like an exact replica of the first and only pet Artemus had ever owned, was a tan and chocolate Rex rabbit. Considering Artemus’s love of all things fluffy and floppy-eared, he should have been in a fit of rapture right about now.

Except this particular Rex rabbit had glowing red pupils and was gnawing on the remains of a dead rat, the unfortunate creature’s blood staining the velvety fur around his cute rabbit muzzle in gruesome wet streaks.

“That ain’t no bunny,” Artemus stated coldly.

The animal’s lips peeled back to expose two rows of deadly fangs.

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