by Tia Reed
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
Discredited journalist Ella Jerome isn’t thrilled about working at Adelaide’s fanciful tabloid The Informer. So when zoologist Adam Lowell seeks her help in finding his missing cousin, she’s cynical of his claim a monster lurks near the Church of the Resurrection. The trouble is, solving the gruesome case could be her best shot at restoring her shredded reputation.
With her old instincts resurfacing, Ella combs the Port for clues. Experience tells her the only monsters are the human variety, and the bloodied stonemason certainly raises her suspicions. But when her investigation turns up everything from petrified remains to the headless carving of a dragon, the truth threatens to steal both her sanity and the man she’s falling for.
After all, gargoyles can’t be anything other than harmless stone. Or can they?
A drop of rain hit her hand. Ella looked skyward and decided to abandon her examination of the canal. The chance of finding an underground passage when police and divers had failed was practically nil. She backtracked, wiping her hand across her rain-splattered cheek. A jolt of fear coursed through her veins as her fingers came away red. Another drop plopped onto her nose. She jumped away from the wall and rubbed the spot with a hastily withdrawn tissue. A blood stain seeped across the white weave. She dropped the tissue, then promptly snatched it up again, and stowed it among the mess in her handbag.
Craning her neck, she noticed a grotesque perched on the ledge directly above, its crooked beak arced outward, its wings half spread from its body. A shadow flitted behind the statue. Ella’s yelp was drowned by an eerie howl, a pained cry that pleaded for release. She pressed closer to the wall. Spots of blood were beginning to congeal on a nearby grassy tuft. Another drop fell, bending the green blade beneath it. Before Ella could collect the evidence, thunder cracked overhead, opening the heavens and releasing a deluge that sent her sprinting for the front doors. She barely avoided the stream of water gushing from the dragon-headed gargoyle as she ducked into the foyer and swung the doors against the stinging wind. Frantic, she wiped the drops from her neck, and sighed when they turned out to be nothing more than water.
Ella listened carefully. Quiet pervaded the church. With the heavy doors firmly shut, the storm was a muted rumble. Her irregular breaths were the only disturbance. She shuddered. It would be a lie to blame her wet hair. Flipping her mobile open, she quick-dialled Rob.
“Hamlyn,” the voice at the other end announced.
“Rob, it’s Ella. I’m at the church. I’ve found some blood.” She realised her voice was low and she was firing her words at twice her normal speed even before he told her to slow down. “I heard a scream. I’m going to the roof to investigate. Meet me here.”
She hung up before he could tell her to stay put and wait for him, eliminating one half of the argument they would later have. With a deep breath, she moved into the belly of the church. Unlit, with little light filtering through the stained-glass, the statues appeared menacing. Glad she didn’t need to pass them, Ella climbed the steps to the gallery. Her footsteps, soft in her trainers, nevertheless squelched louder than she liked. The wind moaned through cracks in the masonry, making the hairs on the back of her neck prickle. Creeping over the transept, she noticed a crack in the mural where the door to the roof stood ajar.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Tia Reed loves nothing better than burying her nose in a story of her own imagining, cuddling her bossy cat and rescuing chewed pillows from her hyperactive dog. She takes every opportunity to do all three when she is not teaching English as a second language. Her other hobbies usually take a back seat but include trying to tame her beast of a garden, hiking and travelling. The latter has thrown her many interesting, sometimes hair-raising experiences, which she loves twisting into stories. She was born in Malta, but lives in Adelaide, Australia.
Tia will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.