Byron [The Byron Trilogy, Book 1]

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It’s 1920 in San Francisco.


Raven is in a mess this time. She hooked up with a gangster who turns out to be working for a demon named Moloch. And after he sends her to get some info from a religious guy, only for one of his demonic minions to show up and ruin the whole thing, it attracts the attention of Byron Hayes, a supernatural investigator with a dark past. He doesn’t like the look of the busted up church with its broken windows one bit.


To save her own skin, Raven has to convince him of a sob story, and get him to find an artifact that can kill her boss, or she might wind up dead. Or worse. Moloch ain’t the kind of demon who takes “no” for an answer, but neither is Byron.


Will Byron find out what Moloch is after in Chinatown? What about his missing “sort of” girlfriend, an exorcist? Can Raven get out from under the demon-lord’s thumb, or is she headed for the bottom of the river wearing cement shoes? And what has all of this got to do with an old sword?


Come along on a swell adventure full of supernatural suspense, the first thrilling entry in The Byron Trilogy.


Author's Notes:

Back in “ye olden times,” I was a HUGE fan of shows like Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (still am), and also watching and re-watching Underworld (so cool)… which led me to write my blend of them all in Byron. A story about a demon-hunter and an assassin enslaved to a demon-lord. It was set in a vaguely futuristic time period, and it wasn’t half bad. But as time passed and I moved on to other projects, I shelved that trilogy and left it alone for twenty years. And I’m glad I did, because when I dusted it off this autumn and decided to rewrite it, I realized I’m a way better writer now than I was at seventeen. So, this is a “new and improved” version of Byron, with much stronger characters, character arcs, plot lines, and a thrill-ride from start to finish, set in a frankly fabulous time period, full of flappers, bootleggers, Prohibition, and fedora-wearing thugs.





How the hell did she get into this mess?


A bolt of lightning illuminated the San Francisco skyline, and the rumble of thunder echoed through St. Luke’s Cathedral. Raven winced at the chilling sight of the demon-Girl standing over the minister prostrate on the stone floor. She knew his torment, for the Girl often punished her thus. The demon forced him to relive every terrible memory from his days in the Great War, and filled him with despair. Raven had prepared to do whatever she must to get the details from Tobias, but did not expect to stand by and watch an innocent man tormented.


From the stone-cold face of her lover, Damien, it did not bother him. So it shouldn’t trouble her, not after her training. But it did. She clenched her fists. Tension crackled in the air. Pastor Tobias kept his teeth gritted. The Girl loomed over him, her yellow eyes gleaming with pleasure, and her cruel voice reverberated through their minds.

Where is the sword? Tell me and this shall end!


Relentless rain pounded the huge arched stained glass windows, creating eerie shadows that danced across the vivid depictions of saints. Tobias dug his nails into the cracks in the white floor and refused to reply. When the Girl eased her barrage of images to let him catch his breath, he met Raven’s tortured gaze in the dim light. Compassion filled his gentle brown eyes, and he said, “You are meant for more than this life. Do whatever you can to escape it.”


It devastated her to the depths of her being.


Raven’s breath caught in her throat and her heart churned. His words echoed in her ears. She stood on one side of him, and felt an urge to leap forward to help him, checked by Damien’s suspicious glare. If she wanted to survive, she dared show no mercy to Tobias, but it broke her out into a cold sweat. Bile rose into her throat, and she swallowed it.


The Girl said, I will not ask again. Tell me where it is!


The sanctuary reverberated with the sound of a thunderclap and the rattle of glass. Raven flinched and pulled her fur-lined long coat closer about her shoulders. A deep anger built inside her. Moloch sent her to talk to Tobias and learn important facts about the sword; he said nothing about this! Tobias did not deserve to revisit the horrors of the War. She had earned his trust, but the Girl got impatient and took over her interrogation. Raven had to stand aside and let it happen. Though the demon wore a child’s face, Raven dared not defy her. If she flew into a temper, she tore civilizations asunder.


The Girl renewed her torment on Tobias, causing him to moan at the memories of his fallen friends in Germany. His eyes widened for a moment; he clutched his chest, twitched, fell forward, and lay still. Raven froze. Her heart pounding in her ears, she leaned in to touch his shoulder and turn his face upward. It wore an expression of dismay.

Raven glared at the Girl. “He’s dead. Beyond us.”


The Girl’s face twisted into a snarl. Golden locks flying behind her, the shriek she unleashed blasted through the sanctuary and shattered its windows. The glass fell inward. Raven threw her hands over her head for protection, but got a dozen cuts as the shards bounced off her in all directions. A terrible silence fell in its wake, disrupted by the sound of traffic in the city beyond the cathedral.


“Time to go.” Damien dragged Raven to her feet.


They rushed past the Girl, who put a finger to her chin and gave her head an artistic tilt. One moment. I want to leave a gift for one of my old enemies.


Numbed with shock at what she had seen, Raven left St. Luke’s and ran up the street. A flash of blue caught in the folds of her dress drew her eye. She flicked a glass shard into an alley where it glinted on wet pavement. Her pace slowed when she entered a crowd near the bank. She suspected Damien would twist the minister’s wrist a little, but not kill him.


Raven clenched her jaw, adjusted her cloche hat, and pressed close to Damien. A streetcar clanged its way toward them. Stuck between a bowler hat man and a married couple on the corner, Raven searched her purse for a cigarette and found only one. She lit it and puffed to calm her nerves. She’d never seen a man die. It bothered her more than she wanted.


Another flash of light cut through the dark clouds over the city, while the towering buildings offered little shelter from the drizzle. People darted in and out of business, and streetcars rang their bells as they traveled up the center tracks. She shivered.


A chill trickled from the top of her hat to the tips of her stylish shoes. Raven stiffened and choked on the smoke as the Girl appeared, unseen by everyone else. Tobias’ associates will retaliate. Find his exorcist.


The demon vanished in the mass of people that surged forward to board the streetcar. Too shaken to finish her cigarette, Raven ground it out under her heel. Damien grabbed her arm and shoved her inside. Raven slid into an empty seat, unsure what to do. Once you signed on with this crew, you did not turn back. Damien sat next to her, almost too large for the space. Familiar streets raced past. Her thoughts returned to Tobias. After doing nothing to save him, she didn’t deserve mercy from him, yet, he offered it to her and told her to escape.


Shame threatened to gnaw her up inside, but she suppressed it. Going soft could get her killed! A siren rang out in the gloom, dull against the smoky din of the tram, and she watched it pass in the haze.


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