Genre: urban fantasy/paranormal romance
Publisher: Fairhill Publishing LLC
Date of Publication: March 20, 2016
Number of pages: 303 in ePub
Word Count: 117,259
Cover Artist: Damonza
In loving him, she overcomes her pain, but to discover his true identity would shred the reality she thought she knew.
He is Barakiel. Warrior. Exile. Hopeless romantic. Barakiel is Covalent, a race of ancient beings who use their great power to keep the elemental forces of Creation and Destruction in Balance. The Covalent Council exiled Barakiel to the Earthly Realm as the price of the treachery of his father, Lucifer, who wages perpetual war against it. Lucifer also relentlessly pursues his son. The Council thinks Lucifer views his son’s power as a threat, but Barakiel knows his father seeks to destroy even the memory of love.
She is Alexandra “Zan” O'Gara. FBI Agent. Army veteran. Recovering drunk. Zan’s troubled past left her with little interest in men, but she had never encountered anyone like the stunning Rainer Barakiel. Zan believes Rainer is a wealthy businessman with expertise in edged weapons who can help her with a case. From the moment she meets him she wants him more than she’s ever wanted anything, but her intense attraction is as frightening as it is thrilling.
This is their love story. As Zan’s deepening feelings for Rainer lead her to confront her emotional damage, he struggles to meet the demands of his home world so he will be free to love her, and to reveal his true nature. Through the gruesome crime that first brought Zan to his door, Barakiel learns that his presence in the Earthly Realm has placed some of its most vulnerable citizens in danger. Compelled to protect them, he undertakes a series of duties he may not survive, even as Zan rescues him from centuries of a deadened heart.
Excerpt from part one, Vernal Equinox, Chapter 1
The front of the main building had a set of massive wooden double doors and a smaller heavy wooden door to the side with the bell. She rang, and when the door opened she forgot she was supposed to speak. He was gigantic, at least six foot eight, with broad shoulders and a lithe, athletic build. A few strands of his unruly, mid-length blond hair fell over eyes that seemed to be several shades of blue at once. They drew her in with more than their beauty, as if something primeval was hidden in their depths, just barely restrained. He faintly smiled. She knew her face was getting red.
What the hell. Don’t be such a fool.
“Um, hello, I’m Special Agent Alexandra O’Gara of the FBI.” She stuck out her hand. “My office made an appointment.”
“Yes. I’m Rainer Barakiel. A pleasure to meet you.” His voice was rich and deep and he spoke with a slight accent. When he shook her hand, she held it too long. She still felt flushed.
“I, um, I appreciate you taking the time for this, Mr. Barakiel.”
“I’m happy to help.”
God, so lame. He must have to deal with swooning women all the time, but I doubt he expected it from an FBI agent.
Turning gracefully, he showed her through the door. Zan tried not to stare at the way his jeans fit his hips, or the contours of his muscles beneath his gray cashmere sweater. Gripped by a strong urge to run her hands all over him, she was lucky his place was filled with fascinating things to distract her. Antiques and art were arranged tastefully in the open space, among brown leather couches and chairs and colorful woven rugs. Pale sun from high skylights glinted off a sunburst mosaic above the mantle of a huge concrete fireplace. Zan tried to concentrate on her surroundings, at least until her pulse slowed down.
“What a fantastic place.”
“Thank you.” He dipped his head toward her in an old-fashioned display of manners that she found charming.
“This whole property is great. What was it used for, before you lived here?”
“This land was part of the old Rohm and Haas Chemical plant you can still see as you enter. The facility was shut down in 2010.”
“I wish more people would reclaim these abandoned places by the river. Most of it just goes to waste, and meanwhile they’re developing Chester County farmland.”
“Yes.” He looked at her intensely. “I felt good about redeveloping a brownfield. I had to do a lot of remediation, but now it’s an excellent place to live.”
“All you need now is for the city to buy the front parcel and turn it into a park.” Zan gave him her best sunny smile, with an openness she knew made people trust her.
“That would be ideal,” he replied, “but I’m not holding my breath.” He returned her smile.
My god, you’re beautiful. How are you that beautiful? Why am I here? The knives.
“Um, in the interest of not taking up any more of your time than necessary, these are the knives in question.” Zan held up the case. “Daggers, I think. Did Professor Carson explain where we found them?”
“Well, someone conducted some kind of ritual in Independence National Historical Park. We wouldn’t be that concerned with weird people doing weird things at night, but we found a human spleen. We tested the DNA and ran it through the database and discovered that the spleen came from a body found this past winter by the Philadelphia police. All its internal organs had been removed. The police called us because they thought it might involve organ trafficking, but we never found any evidence of it, so we weren’t much help. No one ever filed a missing persons report on this man, and Philly PD was never able to identify the corpse, let alone solve the crime.”
“Disturbing,” he said.
“Very. We thought if you could tell us something about the knives it might give us some insight into what this whole thing was about, maybe generate some sort of lead. They look old, and Professor Carson said you are an expert in antique bladed weapons.”
“Yes. I collect them. I’ve learned a lot over the years.”
“Let’s take a look,” Zan said. He led her to a massive carved table to the left near the kitchen area. She opened the case and laid the daggers out on a cloth. After he leaned down to scrutinize them, he said they were ceremonial daggers and asked if he could pick them up. Zan told him that because they were evidence, he would need to wear latex gloves. She handed him a pair. He tried to put one on for a minute, then frowned at her.
“I’m sorry. It’s too small.”
Zan stared at his hands. They were huge, but not meaty. They looked like they could crush a man’s skull, but also assemble a fine Swiss watch.
Or maybe gently touch me.
She felt the heat rise to her face again. He raised an eyebrow.
“You can use the glove like a handkerchief and just pick it up that way,” she said, fixing her gaze on the floor.
Picking up a dagger, he held it level with his eyes. When he had done the same to all four and they were back in the case, he motioned Zan closer and directed her to lean down. He showed her the intricate motifs and the manner in which the blades were joined to the hilts. He explained that from these features, he could determine that the blades were ceremonial, made in France in the late 19th century. She struggled to listen to what he was saying. That impossible face was so close, and she could smell him. He smelled like a pristine forest in the spring.
“What kind of ritual was it?” he asked. “These daggers would have been used for ceremonies, like the opening or closing of a formal meeting. They are valuable as antiques but they are not real weapons.”
“We haven’t really explored the evidence in terms of the ritual yet, because we’ve been concentrating on the spleen.” Zan shook her head. “That sounds odd, doesn’t it?”
“It’s an odd situation.”
“If I showed you some crime scene photos, do you think you would have any insight?”
He rubbed his chin. “I might be able to say whether the daggers were related to the ritual.”
“That could be helpful. May I bring them by?” Zan asked, failing to disguise her pleasure at the idea.
“I’m leaving town for a few days tomorrow. Can you come back this evening?”
“Yes, I think so.” She paused to consider for a moment. “I need to remind you that you can’t discuss anything about this with anyone. Did you read the agreement?”
“Yes. I understand that I’ve agreed to keep all this confidential.”
“Good. I should be able to come back around 7:00.”
“I’ll be here. In the meantime, if I may take some photos of these daggers, I can send a few emails. My contacts may be able to discover their provenance.”
“That would be extremely helpful. Just don’t reveal that they were involved in a crime.” He nodded and began to snap pictures of the knives with his phone.
“I have to say, Professor Carson was right,” Zan said. “I’m amazed you were able to identify a time period and a use for those in just a few minutes. I would love to have that kind of expertise. I know a lot about guns because it comes with the job, but I love edged weapons. They’re so elegant.”
“Yes.” He looked at her intensely again. “Would you like to see my collection?”
“I’d love to.”
Just great, O’Gara. One handsome face and you toss your professionalism right out the window.
They moved to the left, behind the open kitchen, to an ultra-modern staircase of black and silver and honey-toned wood leading to a mezzanine lined with bookshelves. Zan enjoyed following him up the stairs.
Look at that ass. That ass is perfect.
They walked along the mezzanine to a huge sunny room at the back. Zan stood gaping when they entered. Save for several large windows, every square foot of the stucco walls was hung with bladed weapons: axes, pikes, halberds, and swords, mostly swords, in more styles and sizes than Zan knew existed. Wood and glass cases filled with daggers and other small blades sat at the far ends, with an island of leather couches and chairs at the center, rimmed around a thick Persian rug in velvety red.
“This is the coolest room I have ever seen,” she said. He chuckled and thanked her.
That was adorable. God. Get ahold of yourself.
“So, um, Mr. Barakiel, what kind of time span do these weapons represent?” she asked.
“Please, call me Rainer.” Zan flushed and looked up at him. He still had that adorable look on his face, like a little boy showing someone his secret clubhouse. Before she gave a thought to what she was doing, she had asked him to call her Zan.
About the Author:
Libby Doyle is the pen name of an attorney and former journalist who took a walk around the corporate world and didn’t like it. Considering she’s written an extravagant yarn filled with sex and violence, she thought a pen name would be prudent. She also thinks it’s kind of fun.
Libby grew up on the East Coast of the United States. She attended college in the 1980s and became immersed in the underground music scene. She met talented people and troubled people. She met people who taught her what it means to be your own person. In the 1990s, she went back to school to get a master's degree in journalism. Before beginning work in her chosen field, an attack of wanderlust set her traveling. For all that Libby loves books, she believes nothing compares to the education of travel.
After her wanderings, she returned to her career. For more than a decade, Libby worked as a journalist, until her interests led her to law school. She kept her full-time job while attending law school at night, the most brutal experience she’s ever had. She cursed her own stupidity countless times as her body and mind became sick with exhaustion, but she’s glad she did it.
Libby knows she’s a lucky woman. She’s had countless adventures, memories that feed her imagination. She stood atop a hill in Connemara in a cold wind, watching sunlight sparkle off the pristine sea below. She crested a trail after a grueling hike to find the glory of the Continental Divide spread before her. She was followed by a howler monkey in a Mexican jungle, shared the midday meal with Buddhist monks in Korea, and got pummeled by an opponent in a martial arts test in Japan. She trekked for days among the Himalayas, mountains so high and timeless they made her feel completely insignificant.
She’s married to a man who is funny and kind and patient enough to listen to her chatter on about her characters. They're not even real, but she feels like they're her friends. She’s confident they'll keep you entertained. Through her fanciful tale, she hopes they speak to you.
The Passion Season©
Book I of the Covalent Series
This music was chosen by Libby Doyle as a soundtrack for the novel. Some songs reflect the state of mind or aspirations of the characters. Some pieces are performed by the characters as part of the story, and others are meant to reflect the plot. Libby hopes you enjoy them.
Love Reign O’er Me – The Who
Cannonball – The Breeders
Burn – Nine Inch Nails
Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones
Rosary Sonata n. 6, The Agony in the Gethsemane Garden – Heinrich Biber -- played by Le Bizzarrie Armoniche (Riccardo Minasi, violinist)
Indiscipline – King Crimson (live, feat. Adrian Belew)
Brendan -- Fugazi
Top of the World – Shonen Knife
Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down – Lester Flat and Earl Scruggs
Caprice 24 – Paganini -- played by Hilary Hahn
Nasty – Janet Jackson
La Cumbia Campesina – Luis Ornelas
There Goes My Gun – The Pixies
Sex Machine – James Brown
Perfect Day – Lou Reed
The Weirdness – The Stooges
Salt Creek – The Tony Rice Unit
Chaconne, Partita No. 2 – Johann Sebastian Bach – played by Hilary Hahn
Dark Road – Sarah Jarosz
My Idea of Fun – The Stooges
War Pigs – Black Sabbath
Angel of Death – Slayer
To Be Over – Yes
Love is Blindness – Jack White
The World’s a Mess; It’s in My Kiss – X