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New Release: Blood Remains – Cathy Pegau

Blood Remains - Cathy Pegau

QSFer Cathy Pegau has a new FF historical paranormal romance out (bi, lesbian): Blood Remains.

Butcher and Blood Mage, Callie Payne, once left a city behind for a different life. But when she is forced to return to the streets of Seattle, the woman and the things she thought she left behind come to reclaim her.

Callie Payne once ran with the Jackson Street Roses, but she left Seattle—left the Roses—to marry a rancher. After his death, she returns to take over the family butcher shop; a fitting career for an out-of-practice blood mage. When the leader of the Roses, Eileen “EJ” Jordan, stops by, Callie knows it isn’t just to buy T-bone steaks. What does the suave gangster really want after all these years?

EJ needs Callie’s magic against rival gangster Paul Underwood, who is horning in on Rose territory. Callie refuses to get involved; she won’t risk violating the Laws of the Covenant forbidding intentional harm. Then EJ tells her Underwood was responsible for the death of one of the Roses years ago. Callie is compelled to get revenge however she can.

A three-day incantation to repel Underwood re-establishes and strengthens Callie’s connection to the Roses, particularly EJ. Old feelings return, but EJ worries a personal relationship will endanger Callie. Their desire, however, proves impossible to ignore.

Days after Underwood threatens them, he’s found dead in an area awash in magic residue. The cops and the Covenant Investigation Office are eyeing EJ and Callie for the crime. Whoever is responsible knows magic well enough to be a step ahead, and they’re setting up EJ and Callie to take the fall.

EJ is determined to find the culprit, no matter the cost, and Callie is willing to bend the Laws for her. Can they catch the killer before more blood is spilled?

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Callie caught a glimpse of another person coming into the shop, the impression of a hatted female figure in a dark coat, but she wanted to wash her hands before waiting on the newcomer. “Just a second.”

“No hurry,” the woman said.

In the workroom behind the main shop, Callie ran water into the sink and added hot water from the kettle on a small stove. Before washing her hands, she raised them to just under her nose and inhaled. The tang of blood danced along her senses, like a fizzy drink felt on her tongue. Everything sharpened, came into focus and awareness. The effect was almost dizzying; Callie never felt more alive than when she took in the coppery scent.

Careful, warned her inner voice.

Every mage had an affinity for a particular element.

Hers was blood.

Contact with their element—earth, air, fire, water, blood—was required to cast spells, but some took it too far. Jemma, her mentor, had warned Callie that blood mages had to be especially careful. Their reputation was often in question to begin with, no matter how regulated and responsible they might be.

Few outside of the Council knew her discipline, and Pop and Gran were fine with it being kept quiet. Luckily, Jemma was strong enough to provide guidance despite her not being a blood mage herself.

While magic was a useful skill to cultivate, Callie and her folks decided to keep her talents to themselves, for the most part. Not that they didn’t want her to use her skills to succeed, but there was often a fine line between success, abuse, and exploitation.

So Callie learned the family trade.

When she was old enough, Pop taught her how to butcher the sides of lamb, beef, and pork they received from local farms and ranches. Magic enhanced the cleaver and knife skills she’d learned, and neither talent failed her when she needed them. Not that she used her magic all that often, especially in the last decade.

Callie washed her hands with a bar of Ivory, then dried them on a clean towel. She straightened her skirt and retied the apron string behind her back. Tucking her hair back into the bun atop her head, she returned to the counter, smiling as she caught the strains of “Someone to Watch Over Me,” her favorite Gershwin tune.

“Good morning, what can I get for you?”

The woman had been bent over, perusing the glass case of sausages and hams, the brim of her hat obscuring her face, until she straightened and looked at Callie.

Large, dark eyes and high cheek bones sent an old and familiar zing through her. Smooth brown skin glowed with a hint of blush from rouge, not from the flush of emotion that Callie knew colored her own cheeks. The wicked smile that said she knew more about you than you knew yourself struck Callie deep in her gut.

“EJ.” Her name left Callie’s lips in a soft breath, all she could manage as her heart thumped hard against her sternum then raced along with the memories that galloped through her brain.

“Hullo, Cal. Long time, no see.” The bright smile warmed. “How’re things?”

Callie took a moment to come to grips with the fact that Eileen “EJ” Jordan was standing in her shop. Her long, fur-trimmed gray coat was open, revealing much of her willowy form beneath a jade green suit. Wisps of black hair curled from under her hat. Perfectly applied kohl lined eyes that Callie knew could go from soft and laughing to brittle and deadly in a blink.

Author Bio

Cathy Pegau grew up in New York state reading horror, science fiction, and fantasy novels, and playing RPGs. Her science fiction romances have won RWA Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal (FF&P) Chapter Best Futuristic Romance and Best of the Best Prism Awards and a Golden Crown Literary Award for Science Fiction/Fantasy. She lives in Alaska with her spouse, several dogs and cats, and numerous roaming moose.




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