Extended Excerpt: Ann Aguirre's Shady Lady

Get a peek between the covers of  Ann Aguirre's new Urban Fantasy novel, Shady Lady. With this extended excerpt you can dive right into the latest Corine Solomon adventure which will hit stores in April!


Lust sizzled through me. There were two of them, a matched pair. I knew a woman wasn’t supposed to want such things, but sometimes we had desires—dark desires—that couldn’t be denied. There was no doubt about it.

That was the sexiest set of salt and pepper shakers I’d ever seen.

Briefly, I imagined Chance’s reaction to my infatuation. Corine, he’d say, why don’t you make love to them? You’re making me jealous, woman. With some effort, I put him from my mind. My ex didn’t deserve to be the voice inside my head.

Instead I focused on the treasures I’d found outside my back door. Crafted of pure silver, they depicted lovers reaching toward each other, separated by whatever distance their owners dictated. I studied the artful lines and the graceful arches of the spines. These were classically inspired, likely a representation of Eros and Psyche. On closer inspection, I noted that the pepper flowed from holes in Psyche’s fingertips. I couldn’t believe where the salt came from.

Wonderful. The designer had a sense of humor.

I didn’t expect trouble from these two. Mentally bracing myself, I curled my left palm—now marked with a flower pentacle—around Psyche, lifting her out of the pretty white box. Heat flared, but it brought no pain. As I’d thought, there was no trauma attached. Though I would have loved to keep these, my gift whispered of the fortune I’d make selling them to a professor visiting from Spain. In my mind’s eye, I saw a flickering image of my prospective buyer. I’d recognize her when she came in, and make sure to show them to her.

After the mess in Georgia, I was happy to be in Mexico. Things hadn’t been the same since I found my mother’s necklace; for a moment, I saw myself kneeling in that demon grove, shadows gone green from the Spanish moss, the smell of verdant decay in my nose like a damp, mildewed rag. I reached out and took the necklace—against Jesse Saldana’s warnings—and lived my mother’s death. I hadn’t survived it, or at least, when I came back, everything had changed. My ability was no longer the simple “touch” it once was; I thought I’d received my mother’s power, but I wasn’t a trained witch. Nor did I know who to trust with the revelation. At this point, I didn’t know how to discipline my new power, and that was made for a bad situation, considering the cost at which I’d gained it. In time, I’d move beyond the pain of all those deaths in Kilmer, and these peaceful months at home had helped.

But I was curious about these salt and pepper shakers. As a handler—someone who could read the histories of charged objects—sometimes I wanted to see the stories, even when I didn’t have to, especially when there was no grief or trauma involved. I didn’t read every item that came across the counter in the pawnshop, but when I thought something might have a happy story to tell, I wanted to see it for myself.

As I reached toward Eros, the bell above my door tinkled. Sunlight cut through the shadows, golden motes of dust whirling in the air and hinting at how hot it was outside. The heavy rock walls and cool plaster interior made it possible for me to stand my shop with just a simple oscillating fan. In fact, it was cooler than any un-air-conditioned building I’d ever seen in the U.S.

I recognized the man standing in the doorway, though he was not either of the ones I might’ve expected. Kel Ferguson stood well over six feet and he was heavily muscled. Tattoos covered his skin, even on his skull, written in angelic script. He had eyes like shadowed ice and he professed to be the Hand of God, tasked with killing those who would push the world toward the end of days. Once, in Laredo, he’d claimed if he had been on the job at the time, he could’ve prevented the Holocaust.

I didn’t know if he was crazy, but I did know the man was damn near unkillable. In Texas, I had watched him take multiple wounds so deep they showed bone; I saw him fall. And then he rose again, ready to fight on. Whatever else he might be, I was pretty sure he wasn’t entirely human. I also wasn’t sure whether we were still on the same side. I froze, eyeing him across the counter.

“Corine.” He inclined his head toward the saltshaker. “Don’t touch that.”

My right hand rested on the counter, mere inches away from Eros. I’d intended to read him, now that Psyche had told me where they were destined to wind up. Another thirty seconds and it would’ve been too late, assuming he was right in his warning. Somehow I didn’t think Kel had come all this way to mess with my head.

“Why not?” There was no point in remarking on his lack of niceties.

“It’s hexed,” he told me.


Intrigued? You can read more of Corine's newest adventure when Shady Lady hits stores on April 5th, 2010!