Title: THE CURSE MERCHANT
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 81,800
Dorian Lake thought he was the best hex crafter in Baltimore, but after a crazed client pulls a gun on him, he realizes how far he has fallen from the top of the hermetic industry. Blocking his comeback is Neil Osterhaus, an unscrupulous soul monger encroaching on his territory. He wouldn't be a problem were it not for Carmen, Dorian's ex-lover who sold her soul to Osterhaus. When she asks for his help, Dorian must weigh the prospect of winning back her affections against the sinister trade of soul-trafficking.
Osterhaus demands that Dorian find a replacement for Carmen in two weeks, before her soul hits the open market. Descending into the Baltimore underworld, Dorian must decide how dark he is willing to paint his soul to save Carmen from eternal damnation. Along the way he uncovers disturbing truths about both his ex-lover and the man poised to consign her soul to infernal forces... including the most shattering revelation of all. The last two years of his life have been a lie.
The tricky thing about screwing with other people's karma is, from time-to-time, it screws you back. I took quick stock of my personal karma as I stared at the end of Gina Desalo's snub-nose revolver. I didn't consider myself to be a bad person, necessarily. A man in my line of work has to take a somewhat liberal view of morality, after all. But it wasn't my view of morality that mattered at the moment.
It was Gina's.
"What did Jackie ever do to you?" she sputtered from across the table, swaying on uncertain legs, her hands shaking from what I hoped was anger.
"Who's Jackie?" I whispered.
In hind sight, I could've come up with a dozen more intelligent, survival-motivated responses, but having a gun shoved in my face wasn't doing the logic center of my brain any favors.
Gina slammed her left hand down on the worn Formica card table between us, her eyes squinting.
"You know god damn well who."
I really god damn didn't.
"Thing is, Gina, I don't even remember you. If we've done business--"
"You don't remember me? You ruined my life, and you don't remember me?"
"You'd think I'd remember something like that."
The gun inched closer to my nose. I had to watch what I said, or Gina was going to redecorate this cheap motel room in Smartass Red.
"I know it was you. Jermaine told me."
Jermaine. That name was familiar, but I was having trouble getting past the gun.