Siren's Call (A Rainshadow Novel)

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9780515155747: Siren's Call (A Rainshadow Novel)

In the mysterious world of Harmony, there are places filled with unexplored marvels. But Rainshadow Island isn’t about to give up its secrets...

In the alien catacombs of Rainshadow, there are creatures whose compelling songs lure the unwary to their death. That’s why Rafe Coppersmith, hired to clear out the catacombs for exploration, needs a music talent. He’s knows the perfect one, but she probably doesn’t want anything do with him...

Ella Morgan had once fallen hard and fast for Rafe, but then he disappeared for months...and he’s not about to tell her why. Ella, too, has secrets that only her dust bunny knows. She’s not just a music talent, she’s a Siren: a paranormal singer capable of singing men to sleep—or to their deaths.

But once on Rainshadow, Rafe and Ella will learn that surrendering to passion doesn’t come without risks—and fighting fire with fire only adds to the flame...

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About the Author:

Jayne Castle is a pseudonym for Jayne Ann Krentz, the author of more than fifty New York Times bestsellers. She writes futuristic romance novels under the Castle name, contemporary romantic suspense novels under the Krentz name, and historical romance novels under the pseudonym Amanda Quick. There are more than 35 million copies of her books in print.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

A Note from Jayne

Welcome back to my other world—Harmony—and another adventure on Rainshadow Island, where everyone has a past. The local inhabitants are good at keeping secrets—their own and those of their neighbors. On Rainshadow you don’t ask too many personal questions. The island has long been a refuge for people who don’t fit in anywhere else.

Those who make their home on the island are also accustomed to dealing with the dangerous mysteries concealed in the ancient underground catacombs and inside the forbidden territory known as the Preserve. Rainshadow, it turns out, was once the site of ancient Alien bioengineering labs. (What could possibly go wrong, hmm?)

The tight-knit community on Rainshadow figures it can handle the monsters, the reverse-engineered dinosaurs, and the deadly legends that seethe just beneath the surface.

The real problems, as usual, are caused by humans.

Chapter 1

It was the wedding of the season and it went off flawlessly—right up until the moment when the bridesmaid announced to the bride, the pastor, and the crowd in the pews that the groom had murdered his first two wives. . . .

“If anyone knows why this man and this woman should not be married, let him speak now or forever hold his peace,” the pastor intoned.

Ella’s cell phone rang. Everyone grumbled at the breach of good manners, although several people surreptitiously checked their own cell phones to make certain they were switched off.

But Ella dug hers out of the middle of the bouquet where she had concealed it and read the text, her pulse racing.

“Stop the wedding,” she shouted.

All three hundred guests, the bridal attendants, the best man, and the wedding singer stared at her. She focused on the message she had just received and then looked at the bride.

“Karen, you can’t marry him. His real name is Leo Bellamy and he’s wanted for the murder of his first two wives. He’s also wanted for questioning in the murder of another woman, a fiancée.”

Karen Leggett, a delicate blonde draped in yards of white tulle and silver satin, was nearly speechless with shock.

“Ella,” she finally managed. “What is wrong with you? Have you gone crazy?”

Ella moved to stand between Karen and the too-handsome, too-perfect groom. Her senses were heightened and she could see the cold, dark shadows in the dreamlight fields of Bellamy’s aura. She knew a monster when she saw one, and she had known Bellamy for what he was ever since Karen had introduced them a few weeks earlier.

“I sensed that there was something off about you the first time I met you,” she said. “I had a private-investigation agency take a closer look into your background.”

Violent energy spiked in the groom’s aura but his expression was one of calm, compassionate concern. He was a chameleon-talent, Ella reminded herself. He had a talent for deception.

“Karen, your friend is having some sort of nervous breakdown,” he said gently. “Someone should escort her to the emergency room at the nearest para-psych hospital. Perhaps one of our guests will volunteer to assist her.”

“I’m not going anywhere.” Ella held up the phone displaying the text message she had just received. “This is from Jones and Jones, Karen. It says that the man you know as Charles Forbes is a chameleon-talent whose real name is Leo Bellamy. He lied to you from the start. Lied to the matchmaking agency, too.”

It was the Jones & Jones name that finally penetrated Karen’s state of stunned shock and sparked a wave of low-voiced concern among the wedding guests. Like Ella, Karen and many of those present were members of the Arcane Society. Within Arcane, everyone was aware of the organization’s storied investigation firm.

Unfortunately, Leo Bellamy recognized the agency’s name, too.

“Shit,” he growled.

Before anyone realized that he was not going for the ring, he pulled a small mag-rez pistol out of the pocket of his tuxedo and grabbed Ella. He put the barrel of the gun to her temple.

“If anyone moves half an inch, the bridesmaid dies,” he shouted to the crowd. “She and I are leaving now. If I see a cop in the rearview mirror, Miss Morgan is dead.”

He edged toward a side door, dragging Ella with him. The pistol never wavered from her head.

The crowd watched in horror.

Bellamy’s arm was around Ella’s throat. She put her fingertips on his bare hand. He ignored the light touch, intent on hauling her through the doorway and out into the parking lot.

Ella pulled hard on her talent. She had physical contact. That was all she needed. The delicate crystal chimes on her bracelet shivered. They weren’t absolutely necessary but they helped her focus.

She began to sing.

It was a silent, psychic song, audible only to Bellamy because he was the focus of her paranormal music. The crashing, soaring chords drew power from the far end of the spectrum. She wove ominous, compelling harmonies that ensnared Bellamy’s dreamlight and pulled him down into the depths.

No man could withstand such violent notes. All of Bellamy’s senses—normal and paranormal—foundered on the rocks of oblivion.

The pistol fell from his limp hand and clattered on the floor. He made a weak attempt to tighten his grip on Ella’s throat but she slipped effortlessly out of his grasp.

He stared at her with eyes that were glazed with the unnatural sleep that was swiftly dragging him under.

She thought she read belated comprehension and horror in his gaze. His mouth opened on a single word spoken so softly that only she could hear.

“Siren.”

In the next instant he crumpled to the floor in a deep coma.

She decided to play it safe and give him a small encore just to make sure that when he woke up—if he woke up—he would not have any clear memories of the bridesmaid he had attempted to use as a hostage.

She crouched beside him and touched his throat as though checking his pulse. The little bells on her bracelet shivered again.

She sang a few more bars, aiming the crushing waves of music at his aura.

Bellamy twitched a couple of times and then lay very still.

•   •   •

The dramatic ending to the wedding of the season got full media coverage and made the front pages of every newspaper in Crystal City. The police and the medical professionals concluded that Bellamy had suffered from a previously undiagnosed aneurism that had burst under the stress of the moment. The mainstream press focused on the story of the wealthy bride who had almost married a two-time wife-killer.

For the most part everyone forgot about the bridesmaid who had been held hostage for a short time at the altar. That turn of events was fine with the bridesmaid.

Bellamy eventually surfaced from the coma but his senses were severely scrambled. He was deemed incompetent to stand trial and was sent to an asylum for the criminally insane. The para-psych doctors noted in their reports that the patient was obsessed with painting. He worked on his pictures as though consumed by a fever.

All of the images featured the same subject—a woman sitting on rocks that jutted out of a wildly churning sea. In the paintings, the lady on the rocks played an ancient stringed instrument and sang to the drowning sailors who had been summoned to their deaths by her music.

Ella did not breathe a sigh of relief until the media frenzy died down. In the end only the Curtain—a notorious tabloid that catered to fans of conspiracy theories, scandals, and assorted exposés about women who claimed to be pregnant with Alien babies—came anywhere close to getting the story right.

WEDDING OF THE SEASON ENDS WITH ARREST OF GROOM

DID A SIREN SING KILLER INTO COMA?

Ella tossed the paper into the recycle bin. Fortunately, very few people took the Curtain seriously, and even fewer believed in the Sirens of myth and legend—women who could sing men to their deaths.

•   •   •

A month after the near-disaster, Karen took Ella out for drinks.

“I don’t know how to repay you, Ella.” Karen picked up her glass of white wine. “The matchmaking agency I used said he was a perfect match. If it hadn’t been for you I probably would have become Dead Wife Number Three. How did you figure out that Bellamy was a chameleon?”

“Jones and Jones came up with that information,” Ella said. “I just knew there was something off so I hired J and J to look into Bellamy’s past.”

“‘Something off’ is putting it mildly.” Karen shuddered. “Bellamy is one of the monsters—the kind of evil talent they write fairy tales about. And to think I nearly married him.”

“You didn’t marry Bellamy, that’s the important thing.”

Karen raised her glass. “Here’s to the next Mr. Right.”

“To Mr. Right.”

“It’s your turn, pal. When are you going to register with a matchmaking agency?”

“Someday.”

“I’m surprised your family isn’t pushing you hard to register.”

“They understand that I’m trying to get a career going first,” Ella said.

“Let’s face it, you’ll never get anywhere if you stay with the Wilson Parsons Talent Agency. Parsons won’t let you establish a name for yourself. No matter how good you are at dream counseling or how many clients you attract to his firm, he’ll always take all the credit.”

“Between you and me, I’ve been thinking about going out on my own. The problem is that the dream counseling business is very competitive, especially at the low end of the market. A lot of people, including a lot of frauds and con artists, think they can analyze dreams. The secret to success is to project an upmarket image and that’s expensive, what with rent and advertising costs.”

“You can do it,” Karen said. “You’re good. And as soon as you get established you’ll register with a matchmaking agency, right?”

“I’ll think about it,” Ella said.

And she would think about it—she would think about it a lot. But she would never register.

Registering with a matchmaking agency would mean having to lie on the questionnaires. It would mean lying to the marriage counselors. It would mean lying to a prospective husband. And if she ever did marry, it would mean that she would have to live a lie for the rest of her life.

The last thing she wanted was a marriage based on a lie. She wanted a real marriage, one founded on love and intimacy and passion and all the other things that she would probably never experience up close and personal.

“Thank goodness your intuition was better than mine,” Karen said. “More acute than the matchmaking agency’s programs, for that matter.”

“Just a lucky hunch on my part,” Ella said.

She could not tell Karen or anyone else outside her own family the truth—she had recognized the monster for what he was because he had touched her on a few occasions in an effort to charm her. The contact had been fleeting and casual—the light brush of his fingers when he handed her a glass of champagne; his hand under her arm when he assisted her out of a car. But that was all she needed.

No, she would not be registering with a matchmaking agency. There were no fairy-tale endings for women like her. When it came to identifying the monsters, the old saying held true. It takes one to know one.

Chapter 2

The Alien music locked in the green quartz walls sang to her senses. Gorgeous notes floated in the paranormal currents. Haunting bells chimed their ethereal harmonies at both ends of the spectrum. The dark thunder and lightning of crashing chords reverberated in the atmosphere.

Ella did her best to ignore the thrilling music in the tunnel walls so that she could concentrate on her driving.

“You know,” she said to the dust bunny clinging to the utility sled dashboard, “I’d assumed my first client would be human.”

The dust bunny responded with a low, rumbling growl. Not so much a warning or a threat, Ella concluded; more like an urgent plea for speed. Then again, what did she know about dust bunnies? The one perched on the sled’s dashboard like a hood ornament was the first one she had ever encountered outside of picture books and cartoons. Every kid on Harmony had read the tales of Little Amberina and the Dust Bunny.

Dust bunnies had a cute mode—hence their popularity in children’s literature. When fully fluffed they looked like oversized wads of dryer lint with six little paws and two big, innocent blue eyes. The one on the dashboard of the sled, however, was not even trying to look adorable. She was fully sleeked out and her second set of eyes—the fierce amber ones that were designed for night hunting—were open.

“I’m sorry,” Ella said. “I’ve got the sled rezzed to the max. I can’t drive any faster.”

They were whipping through the maze of ancient Alien tunnels at a speed that was only a little faster than the average person could run. The sled looked a lot like a golf cart and it moved like one, too. It was powered by a sturdy, but simple, old-fashioned amber-based engine. Low-tech was the only option in the heavy psi-environment that permeated the catacombs and the great subterranean Rainforest. The Underworld had been engineered by the long-vanished Aliens, who had relied on as-yet little understood forms of paranormal energy. Sophisticated human technology such as high-powered engines, computers, and guns either exploded in your hands or simply flatlined in the eerie realms the vanished civilization had created below the surface.

“I really hope you know what we’re doing,” Ella said. “Because I’m going to owe Pete a big favor once he finds out that I borrowed his sled.”

Pete Grimshaw was the proprietor of Pete’s Underworld Artifacts, the shop next to her new office in the Old Quarter. A retired ghost hunter, he had closed early that afternoon in order to have a few beers with some old hunter pals.

Ella had opened her little one-person consulting firm—Morgan Dream Counseling—less than a week earlier, but she had already discovered that short workdays and long nights in the local bars was business as usual for Pete. There had been no time to find him and ask permission to take his prospecting sled. The dust bunny that had scampered through her doorway a short time ago had been frantic. You didn’t have to be psychic to know when an animal was anxious and desperate.

Ella drove the sled into a large circular chamber and stopped. There were more than half a dozen intersecting tunnels, each glowing with the acid-green energy infused in the quartz that the Aliens had used to construct their underground world. She looked at the dust bunny.

“Which way?” she asked.

She knew the small creature could not comprehend what she was saying, but under the circumstances, she figured her meaning was clear.

The dust bunny faced toward one of the vaulted entrances and bounced up and down, making urgent little noises.

“Got it.”

Ella rezzed the sled and drove into the indicated tunnel. The dust bunny did not protest, so she concluded she’d made the right choice.

...

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Descrizione libro Berkley Books, United States, 2015. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In the mysterious world of Harmony, there are places filled with unexplored marvels. But Rainshadow Island isn t about to give up its secrets. In the alien catacombs of Rainshadow, there are creatures whose compelling songs lure the unwary to their death. That s why Rafe Coppersmith, hired to clear out the catacombs for exploration, needs a music talent. He s knows the perfect one, but she probably doesn t want anything do with him. Ella Morgan had once fallen hard and fast for Rafe, but then he disappeared for months.and he s not about to tell her why. Ella, too, has secrets that only her dust bunny knows. She s not just a music talent, she s a Siren: a paranormal singer capable of singing men to sleep--or to their deaths. But once on Rainshadow, Rafe and Ella will learn that surrendering to passion doesn t come without risks--and fighting fire with fire only adds to the flame. Codice libro della libreria ABZ9780515155747

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Descrizione libro Berkley Books, United States, 2015. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. In the mysterious world of Harmony, there are places filled with unexplored marvels. But Rainshadow Island isn t about to give up its secrets. In the alien catacombs of Rainshadow, there are creatures whose compelling songs lure the unwary to their death. That s why Rafe Coppersmith, hired to clear out the catacombs for exploration, needs a music talent. He s knows the perfect one, but she probably doesn t want anything do with him. Ella Morgan had once fallen hard and fast for Rafe, but then he disappeared for months.and he s not about to tell her why. Ella, too, has secrets that only her dust bunny knows. She s not just a music talent, she s a Siren: a paranormal singer capable of singing men to sleep--or to their deaths. But once on Rainshadow, Rafe and Ella will learn that surrendering to passion doesn t come without risks--and fighting fire with fire only adds to the flame. Codice libro della libreria BTE9780515155747

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Descrizione libro Softcover. Condizione libro: New. In the mysterious world of Harmony, there are places filled with unexplored marvels. But Rainshadow Island isn’t about to give up its secrets In the alien catacombs of Rainshadow, there are creatures whose compelling songs lure the unwary to their death. That’s why Rafe Coppersmith, hired to clear out the catacombs for exploration, needs a music talent. He’s knows the perfect one, but she probably doesn’t want anything do with him.Ella Morgan had once fallen hard and fast for Rafe, but then he disappeared for months and he’s not about to tell her why. Ella, too, has secrets that only her dust bunny knows. She’s not just a music talent, she’s a Siren: a paranormal singer capable of singing men to sleep—or to their deaths.But once on Rainshadow, Rafe and Ella will learn that surrendering to passion doesn’t come without risks—and fighting fire with fire only adds to the flame. Codice libro della libreria 114452375

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