Rejected by Heaven – Snippet 1

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Chapter One

James sat in the passenger seat of Shay’s Fiat as they drove to her place. Recent events replayed in his mind.

He didn’t give two shits about killing Walt Anderson. Even most bounties he had gone after had more honor than that man. The greedy little bastard’d had a wife who’d given up everything for him.

And he still wasn’t satisfied.

Vengeance hadn’t fulfilled James as much as he would have liked. Killing was easy. Living was hard. He’d miss Leeroy for the rest of his life, like Alison would miss her mother…he supposed.

He never had a mother, that he could remember.

Shay glanced at him. “I don’t know what crawled up your super-armored butt, but shit happens, Brownstone. You gotta shake it off. This can’t be the first time something’s gone south for you?”

“My life has gone south from the beginning,” he replied matter-of-factly.

Shay made it sound so easy—and she was right—but the recent convergence of events had disrupted his perfectly ordered and simple world. Nothing was the same now, and he couldn’t pretend it was.

“I mean, look, we’ve both got our issues,” Shay continued, “but you did the right thing back there. And you’re doing the right thing with the girl. And you got revenge for both of the Anderson women.”

He looked out the window of her car. “I wasn’t supposed to get revenge. I was supposed to bring Nicole back to her daughter.”

Shay shook her head. “We were both supposed to bring her back, but we didn’t make it in time. That’s the cold reality. You got some time-magic mojo in your warehouse, Brownstone? Otherwise it doesn’t matter, and beating yourself up over it isn’t going to help.” She sighed. “You know the real difference between men and women?”

He grunted. “Dicks and pussies?”

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That pulled a snort from Shay. “That too. No, it’s that women understand—like on the level of our DNA—that not everything can be fixed. That sometimes you just have to roll with it. But men? Oh, you men…somewhere you’re always thinking, ‘I can fix this shit. Just give me a big enough tool.’”

James chuckled. “Maybe there is a bit of truth in that, but things are still weird.”

She made a quick left, and a horn blared behind her. “Fuck you!” She flipped off the other driver. “It’s Los Angeles traffic, asshole!” She pushed a wisp of hair out of her face. “Given some of the shit I’ve seen you do, I’m surprised to hear that. Weird is relative, you know?”

He shrugged. “Kicking ass, I get. Bringing in the bad guys, I get. Taking care of a girl, Shay? Especially one who’s half-Oriceran? What if I fuck her up?”

She clicked her tongue. “Can’t do worse than the dad, who tried to sell her to a group of gangsters who were torturing her mom.”

He winced. “Yeah, I guess so.”

“Don’t overthink it, Brownstone. Kicking ass is your strength.” Shay grinned.

The Spider pulled up to a nice two-story brownstone townhouse with an attached garage. The well-kept lawns and upscale houses in the area were a sharp contrast to James’ rougher neighborhood, where fresh paint was as rare as hope. Shay’s neighborhood was the kind of place the head of the gang lived, rather than his foot soldiers.

“Nice place,” James mumbled, looking it over.

Shay smirked. “Hey, Brownstone, how do you like my brownstone?”

He eyed her sideways. “You’ve been probably waiting to say that for days.” He snorted. “You should quit the tomb raider gig and do stand-up comedy. I’m sure there’s some magic that would actually make you funny.”

“You know I’m as funny as I am hot.” She pressed a button on a garage door opener connected to her sun visor, then pulled in and parked the car. A sober look settled over her face. “I’ll let you take the lead on whatever you want to tell Alison.”

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James’ only response was a nod as they got out of her Spider.

The field archaeologist tapped a code into a pad near the door, and then leaned forward for a retinal scan.

The door clicked open.

“Actual security, see?” Shay pointed to her setup. “On the whole house, not just the Red Room of Pain.”

James followed her inside. Two earth-toned loveseats dominated the open- plan living room, and a huge TV hung on the back wall. Fine white carpet covered most of the floor. A quartz-topped island stood in the center of her kitchen. The overall vibe he got was clean and modern, yet comfortable.

“Whatever you do, don’t look in my refrigerator or my cabinets,” Shay commanded.

“Why? You got body parts in there?” he asked.

“Nope. Because nothing’s organized.” She laced her fingers together, then pulled them apart. “Your OCD will explode.”

“I don’t have OCD. I just like to keep things si—”

“Simple,” Shay finished as she walked into the kitchen, clicked something in there and came back out. “Sure.” She snickered. “And let’s not even get into my bedroom.” A few beats passed, and she added in a sultry voice, “Unless you ask nicely.”

James plopped himself down on a love seat and didn’t say anything in response. He didn’t want to get into another stupid conversation that ended with her accusing him of being gay.

He was still trying to wrap his mind around Alison being a more permanent part of his life.

Shay would have to take a number.
“You’re so boring,” the woman mumbled. “Better boring than annoying,” he responded.

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She pursed her lips, then nodded. “You’re that, too.”

Light footfalls came down the stairs. Alison tightly gripping the bannister as she took each step. The girl stopped at the bottom and looked toward James, her eyes slightly unfocused as always. Now that he knew what to look for, he could easily see that her eyes didn’t track people and objects.

His face twitched under her scrutiny. “What?”

A huge smile spread across her face. “You’re glowing brighter. It’s so beautiful. I wish you could see it.”

James shook his head. “I… I’m gonna be straight with you, kid.”

Alison’s face fell. “Nothing ever good follows a sentence like that.”

He took a deep breath. “We found the place where your mom was, and we, uh—”

She interrupted him. “I listen to the news, Mr. Brownstone. I know you think I’m just a kid, but I’m not an idiot. I heard about what happened. It’s kind of a big deal, even on national news. They are calling it ‘World War G.’”

“’World War G?’” Shay asked.

She nodded. “World War Gangster.”

James rubbed the back of his neck. “A lot of that…violence…took place when we went in. We found your mom, but she was already in bad shape by then.”

He didn’t see any point in telling her that her mother had been brutally tortured. The perpetrators had been punished, and it’d do nothing more than give the girl nightmares.

Alison’s lip quivered, and she gave a curt nod. “She’s dead, right?” She swallowed.

“Yes. I’m sorry.”

The girl sighed. “I kind of knew, I guess. But I don’t understand why all this happened.”

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James paused for a moment to gather his thoughts.

He leaned forward in his chair, his hands clasped together as he tried to figure out the right words. “You’re special, and she was special. More than you realize. Your mom wasn’t from around here.”

Alison retorted. “A lot of people aren’t from California.”

James managed a chuckle. “Your mom was two hundred and twelve years old, Alison. She was Oriceran; some sort of Drow princess.”

Her face scrunched. “What’s a Drow princess?”

Shay and James exchanged glances before he continued. “We’re not totally sure on that, and we’ll have to ask around, discreetly. We’re gonna keep it to ourselves for now, so no one else comes after you.”

Alison made her way to a love seat. “I guess that explains a lot of stuff, like why I can see what I can see, and my hair.”

“Your hair?” James looked it. Looked the same as it always had: black with frosted tips. “Did it change?”

While he hadn’t had many girlfriends, he knew from his male friends that not noticing a girl had changed her hair was somehow breaking the unknown Eleventh Commandment.

Relationships with females violated the KISS principle.

“I don’t dye my hair, Mr. Brownstone, and I know there are white parts. It didn’t used to be like this. Dad told me to dye it all black when it started changing, but Mom wouldn’t let him force me. Now I get why. It must be a Drow thing.”

James thought about everything Nicole and Walt had said. He needed to tell the girl everything he knew.

“You’ll probably get darker as you age; your skin, I mean. And, yeah, your hair will get lighter. Your mom had incredible magic, so maybe you’ll get that, too. I just don’t know.”

Alison bit her lip and nodded. “What happens from here? I can’t go back with

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my dad even if he wanted me.”

James let out a breath he hadn’t even realized he’d been holding. “I’m gonna take care of you. At least for now.”

The girl looked down, her breathing shallow. She’d gone from having a family to having no one in a very short period. She was an orphan, something James knew more than a little about.

He’d been pondering whether to tell her about the wish ever since he’d learned about it. It was her birthright, but it was also a hell of a head trip. Considering the girl had just lost her mother, she didn’t need more stress.

Nicole had suggested that James would know when the time was right. The bounty hunter was confused about the Drow people and Oriceran—let alone wishes—but something in his gut suggested the girl didn’t need to know about it yet.

“You don’t have to stay with me if you don’t want to,” James continued. “I’m not good with kids. If you have some other relatives, I can help you track them down. I’m not good with anyone, really, but I have space, and I’m clean.” He was trying to at least sell the one part he might figure she could appreciate.

“Very fastidious,” Shay muttered from the kitchen. She started filling a glass of water.

James let the verbal poke slide.

“I don’t have any relatives that I know of.” Alison smiled. “I wish to stay with you.”

He stared at her for a moment, wondering if the word choice had been coincidental, or if there was some deeper meaning.

Guess I’ll find out the hard way.

“Okay, kid, your funeral,” James told her.

Alison laughed and looked towards the kitchen and Shay. “Is she gonna be my new mom, then?”

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“WHAT?” Shay choked on her water, spewing the liquid onto her countertop. “No, no, no! I’m not old enough to be a mom. Uh, I’ll be the aunt.” She nodded, wearing a satisfied look on her face. “Yeah, that sounds perfect. I’m the aunt. Or the hot older sister.”

“I like ‘aunt’ better,” Alison declared.

James shrugged. “That’s more than what I was going to ask. At least now when I ask you to babysit it’ll be your niece, so you can’t bitch too much.”

After he finished speaking, he realized he might have to try to cut down on the amount of cursing he was doing, at least in front of the kid.

Alison frowned and shook her finger at him. “I don’t need a babysitter. I’m a teenager, not a little girl.”

And so it begins. He groaned mentally.

“Whatever. We’ll figure it out later.” James shrugged. His phone buzzed, and he pulled it out. “Oh, I almost missed it. Hey, do you mind if I watch some Barbeque Wars? With all this fun we’ve had lately, I don’t even know what’s happening on my favorite show.”

“Be my guest,” Shay offered. “The voice recognition’s on for the TV.”

“Don’t you have a remote? I fuc—” James glanced at Alison and sighed. “I don’t like voice recognition systems. They always have trouble with my voice. It’s like they think I’m background noise or something.”

Shay rolled her eyes. “You have the weirdest problems, Brownstone.”

FROM MICHAEL >>> I hope that you enjoyed Feared By Hell – The Unbelievable Mr. Brownstone Book 01, and are anxious to read Rejected By Heaven – The Unbelievable Mr. Brownstone Book 02 coming out this Friday, April 20th, 2018!

We have Book 03, An Eye for An Eye coming May 6th and hopefully will be up for pre-order by the time book 02 is out.

FURTHER, we are getting close to our release of Payback is a Bitch, The Kurtherian Endgame coming at you in just a few weeks.

Talk to you soon! Michael Anderle

P.S. – Just FYI that Shay will have her own series (I Fear No Evil) coming in a month or so – not that we will let that slow us down (Martha Carr is working that series.)