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Remember the part in The Dark Star where Clare and Daniel have the fight and Clare storms off in a rage? She ends up at Grandma Sarah’s house unaware that Daniel has accidently poisoned (<— highlight for spoilers) her. Clare’s arrival was handled off the page in The Dark Star but in Children of the Serpent you get the rest of the story. Here is a small excerpt of the scene featuring everyone’s favorite “feline” trouble maker, Jones.

Twenty-one

Jones didn’t sleep most nights, and when he did, he was plagued with disturbing dreams. He dreamt of the big house he had barely escaped from all those years ago. Only in his dreams the house was furnished with beautiful art and antique furniture. In his dreams he lived there, he belonged there; he could see the faces of the people he loved could hear their voices clearly, only to be plunged back into the murk of his dim memories upon awakening.

           These dreams had haunted him for years, but lately the images of the man that was prisoner in the black cavern was making a regular appearance. The man would be laughing with him, instructing him with a deep voiced French accent. Was the man his father or a mentor?

            Jones could only guess, because in other dreams the man shouted at him, telling him he had betrayed him with tears in his dark eyes. He dreamt of fire and of statues that crumbled to ash as he stepped close to look at them. He dreamt of snakes. Dead snakes laying alongside the burnt bodies of warriors sprawled at his feet. He would awake from these dreams with feelings of shame so deep he was often sick to his stomach.

            For years since that first night in New Orleans he pushed these visions away. He couldn’t remember, so why should he care? Maybe they were things that were best forgot.

            He had stayed with Christophe and The Southern Star until the old chef passed away. He’d been the restaurant’s feline maître d, escorting amused patrons to their tables. There was still a picture of him hung in the bar.

After, he’d wandered the country, hopping the occasional freight train, never staying for more than a season in any one place. Then he landed in Remy, and there was something about the place that made him want to stay. He befriended Stella and her mother, had made a place for himself as Sam’s partner at Trinkets and Treasures and was more than happy to while away the years as Remy’s resident tomcat.

These dreams though, they were persistent, every time he closed his eyes it was the same. It was as if something was trying to work its way up and out of his stubborn memory but couldn’t quite make it to the surface. Ever since Revel Night there had been a strange scent in the air, one that smelled like trouble…and disturbingly familiar. He could get no peace, so he prowled Remy, patrolling the town he’d come to consider his home.

His last stop was Sarah Bright’s house. Her picturesque cottage was on the outskirts of town near the wooded meadow. Jumping up onto the picket fence that surrounded the garden he found everything quiet and accounted for.

It was almost sunup, maybe he would hang around for a bit. He could usually wrangle an invitation to breakfast if he showed up while she was cooking.

Movement on the porch drew his attention. He hunkered, his ruff standing on end. Silently he jumped down off the fence and slunk low to the ground up the porch stairs. It was a person, collapsed a few feet from the door.

“Hey, you!” Jones called. “Who are you?”

An anguished moan answered his query.

“Clare?” Jones ran the rest of the distance. “Clare!”

It was Stella’s oldest daughter. He pawed and nuzzled her shoulder, trying to get a response. The girl turned her head toward him, her long black hair falling from her face. Jones hissed and backed away. Clare’s normally bright green irises were ringed with red, and she was pale as a ghost.

“J-Jonesy?” Clare croaked. “I don’t feel good. I…Grandma…” was as much as she got out before she fainted again.

Jones ran over to the door, reaching up he pawed the doorbell before remembering that it had been broken for years. He scratched at the door then peeked into the window beside it. No lights were on, no one looked to be up.

“Hold on Clare, honey!”

Running around the house he leapt up onto the trellis where big purple clematis climbed up the side of the house. He scaled the trellis, cursing when he almost fell off. Finally, he made it to the window, balancing on the sill he clawed the glass, meowing at the top of his lungs.

“Juno!” he called to the girl in the bed. “Juno!”

She peeked out of the covers. “Go away!” she grumbled.

“Juno Tenebris! You get your sparkly Faerie ass out of bed right now and open this window!” He headbutted the glass for emphasis.

Grumpily she obeyed climbing out of bed and sliding the sash up. “Jeez, okay! Where’s the fire!”

Jones jumped into the room landing with a heavy thud beside her. “It’s Clare! She’s out on the porch! There’s something wrong, she’s sick or something!”

“What!” Juno ran down the hall and pounded on her grandmother’s bedroom door. “Grandma, Grandma, wake up!” she yelled before racing down the stairs.

Bleary eyed Sarah opened her door, her robe half on. “Jones, what on earth!” she said, spotting him in the hall.

“It’s Clare!” he explained again. “She’s back but something’s wrong with her.”

All hint of sleepiness vanished. Pulling on her robe Sarah dashed down the stairs with Jones hard on her heels.

Children of the Serpent is out June 21, 2021 on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited 

COTS Blurb + jacket promo

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