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Monday, 9 March 2015

Dragons, Diamonds, and Discord by Angel Martinez

(Part of the Brandywine Investigations series)

The most valuable pieces of jewelry are vanishing from the god Hermes’ Manhattan stores and the security feeds pick up only clouds of smoke. While the god of thieves, messengers, and commerce doesn’t appreciate someone stealing from him, he’s intrigued by this thief’s ingenuity and skill. When Hermes enlists his family to trap his burglar, he gets the surprise of his immortal life.

Fafnir just wants to be left alone. Doomed over the centuries to a never-ending cycle of violent death and painful rebirth, he had hoped to find an escape in the quiet life of author and illustrator. But there are forces at work he doesn’t understand, and his peace is shattered by the return to old cycles and the sudden interference of a beautiful and incredibly irritating Greek god.

Genres: Gay/Contemporary Fantasy/Shapeshifter/The Arts/Action/Adventure/Suspense/Thriller/
Heat Level: 3
Length: Extended Novella (39k words) 

Read a short excerpt...

...The last of the daytime lights shut down in succession, signaling the departure of the last employee. Velvet dark descended, with only the security lights illuminating the empty cases and the exits. The presumed target, locked away in the safe behind the case, was a marquis cut pink diamond of incredible clarity, set in a choker of white diamonds and pearls. According to Hermes’ calculations, this was indeed the third most expensive piece for sale in the city. The most expensive one left now, actually.

“I hate waiting,” Dio whispered as he hunkered behind the screen.

Hermes shot him an irritated look. “Yeah. Big shock. Why are you here, again?”

“I think they stole your sense of humor, too,” Dio grumbled.

That hit too close to home. Hermes ran a hand over the back of his neck as he tried his best to unclench every tightened muscle. “Sorry. You came to help. That was uncalled for. There’s something wrong about this whole thing. Has me in knots.”

“’S’Okay. After we catch the creep, why don’t you bring your guitar, come jam for a few hours? I’ve got some good red stocked. We could see if Orpheus is up for it, too.”

Hermes bumped shoulders with his favorite brother. “Thanks. That might be just the thing. Let’s see what happens here first, right?”

Dark eyes huge in the dim light, Dio nodded and quieted. Yes, he was the family party boy, but he was also still half-wild. His nerves would be humming with the thrill of the hunt. There was the difference, Hermes realized. Zack, Dio, Uncle Hades, even Charon—they were all hunters and warriors. This sort of set up excited them, invigorated them. Hermes, jittery and slightly nauseous, was starting to think he should have waited in the van with Hephaestus.

An hour passed, then half an hour more. Just as he was convincing himself his thief had taken the night off, the door to the employee entrance clicked. Alarms should have sounded. Either the person had a key and the alarm codes, or the thief had disabled the system.

Or they were already in place before my staff left? But he’d still have to disable the alarm. Maybe I have to start designing magic-proof security systems. Wonder how much of a market there would be?

Dio gripped his arm and pointed. A shadow slid along the far wall, possibly a large man, but the strange lighting could have added the perception of mass to a small one. The shadow stopped. Soft hissing drifted across the room, the same they had heard on the sound reconstruction the previous evening. And cue the smoke…

Creepers of gray slid along the floor toward the safe. They climbed over the cases, moving, ethereal vines obscuring the glass, and edged up the walls to block the security cameras. The soft rhythmic hissing slowly evolved into whistling, Peer Gynt again, but the more haunting melancholy of “Solveig’s Song” instead of the Mountain King’s menace. Strange choice. The whistling became humming, the thief making no effort to hide his heavy footfalls. Hermes caught a glimpse of Doc Martens, size thirteen at least, before the boots vanished into the smoke surrounding the little room with the safe.

Tumblers clicked. The clank of a safe handle echoed through the smoke-shrouded quiet. That strange hollow laugh, bone deep and mirthless, emanated from the vicinity of the presumably open safe.

“Now, Zagreus!” Uncle Hades bellowed. A sharp snap followed, then the susurration of thousands of metallic links swiftly dragged upward. The thief’s roar rattled cases, an impotent storm of fury as Heph’s magical golden net snared him and hoisted him, struggling and snarling, toward the ceiling.

Hermes uncoiled from behind his screen, prepared to confront this being who dared to steal from a god, even indirectly...

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