SHYLA COLT: TAKES CENTER STAGE: HAIL TO THE QUEEN
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With two coronations to attend, you’d think the universe would stop piling catastrophes on top of Louella Eschete, but you’d be dead wrong. As she prepares to ascend two thrones, one as Lady of the Cortez Vampire Court and the other as Matriarch of the Eschete Witches, she must face a new evil.
Just when Lou is ready to stab a seamstress with a hat pin, murder and strange occurrences begin to happen around her city. Stolen corpses in the cemetery, decapitated astronomers, and hearts taken from nursing homes is odd, even for Louisiana. There is no rhyme or reason to the carnage, but the sigil left behind at a scene points to something ancient.
It’s a race against the clock for humanity. There’ll be nothing to rule if everyone’s dead.
Shyla Colt is the sassy international bestseller of the popular series Kings of Chaos and Dueling Devils M.C. These genre-hopping stories feature three of her favorite things: strong females, pop culture, and alternate routes to happy ever after. Listening to her Romani soul, she pens from the heart, allowing the dynamic characters, eccentric interests, and travels as a former flight attendant to take her down untraveled roads.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, this mid-west girl is proud of her roots. She used her hometown and the surrounding areas as a backdrop for a number of books. So, if you’re a Buckeye, keep an eye out for familiar places.
As a full-time writer, stay at home mother, and wife, there’s never a dull moment in her household.
She weaves her tales in spare moments and the evenings with a cup of coffee or tea at her side and the characters in her head for company.
“If it’s demon, you have one of two things … a younger one, who came to do the dirty work himself, or one who’s higher on the food chain, and didn’t need to.”
“I’m hoping for option one.” I pause. “How can you tell?” The question is out before my brain can filter it.
The joy leaves her face. “When you become attuned to the darkness, you see things you wouldn’t normally. It’s like the sixth sense all witches have turned on its ear. You become aware of the creeping darkness. The disturbed and unnatural. It binds you to death in a way our kind is never meant to be.”
I see a shadowy figure nearly hidden in the depths of her irises, longing to break free, and gain control. She blinks. It’s gone, out of sight, but never forgotten. I dread the day I look into her eyes and see the person she used to be trapped and desperate to escape.
I’ve summoned entities before, but never demons. They’re a different story altogether. The summoning needs to be airtight, and the summoner must be more powerful than the being he seeks to command to hold them. If this creature is as high up as she believes, it’d be dangerous to try.
“I wouldn’t suggest trying to summon this thing unless you really know what you’re doing. Demons are born tricksters. One misstep and they have their in.” She paused. “I can try to make contact through a séance if you’re willing to enter into a circle of protection with me.”
“I’ve never done one before.”
“It’s basically the same rules as a circle. You can’t break the protection, and you have to mingle your powers to call out to the creature you wish to summon.”
I hesitate. Keeping my magic separate from black magic is more than a moral call. It’s physically uncomfortable to mix incompatible magic types. Black magic feels terrible. Still, I owe my people their safety. There’s no way of knowing how many will lose or have already lost their lives to this creeping silently in the darkness.
“Let’s go get the items we’ll need. I want to perform the ceremony outside. I have a table that will work, and the weather’s nice. We can actually use the earth to keep us grounded if necessary. There’s no way I’m inviting anything into my personal space.”
“Makes sense.” I nod my head in agreement. I let her take the lead as we move to her closet and she begins to gather her ingredients. Ten black pillar candles, and a velvet bag later, we’re seated around her mid-sized, black iron garden table.
“No matter what happens, do not let go of my hand. Once I’m in a trance, I’m a conduit. The spirits want to get out. They’ll do anything to create an opening that’ll allow them to escape into this realm, so be cautious and keep your mental shields up. We don’t want anyone or anything hitching a ride out of here.”
“No, we don’t.”
“Okay.” She lights the candles with a thought and slips out an antique, silver-edged, circular mirror. The smoky glaze makes me gasp.
“A black mirror.” Used for scrying and contacting the other side, the item is known to amplify power and increase psychic energy. She places the mirror in the center of the circle of candles between us and draws the sigil on the center with her finger. Straightening, Hal holds out her hands for mine.
“Here we go.” We link hands, and her energy jumps up and latches on to mine. I wince. Her magic is like molasses, thick and cloying as it slides alongside my own, slithering like a snake on its belly. I grit my teeth, ignoring the sensation of tiny insect feet traveling along my skin. My magic balks. I force it to play nice and mix. Like oil and water, they float on top of each other, without real cohesion, but it’s enough. The connection between us is made. Hal hums as she slowly rocks in a circle. I’m unable to take my eyes off her transition into a trance. Her expression goes slack, and her cerulean eyes glaze over. A frost covering turns them white.
She ceases all movement. “We seek the being summoned with this sigil.” Her voice is sexless and louder than it should be as it echoes through the backyard. I can practically taste the power behind it as her call stretches out to the other side. My heartbeat kicks up a notch when the temperature drops. We’re no longer alone. My palms grow clammy, and I tense.
“Come. Do not linger on the outskirts. We demand answers. You’ve come to a realm that is not yours and caused harm and chaos. Who gave you permission to do this?” The table begins to rattle. I feel a pressure beating against our circle. I grip her hand tighter and reinforce the circle as we’re rocked back and forth like a ship in rocky waters. My teeth chatter and the air from my mouth makes white clouds. Chill bumps cover my arms, and my hands begin to feel numb.
“Speak,” Hal demands. She jerks in her seat. Her eyes bleed black. It takes every ounce of courage I have not to let go of her hands as the entity rushes into her body, bringing the feeling of pure evil with it. Not Hal cracks her neck and focuses its attention on me. The menace is rolling off her in waves, literally, cause bile to climb its way up my throat. I swallow, forcing it back down, and know I am staring into the eyes of something that was never human.
Thank you so much for having me.