Detective Jake Daggers likes his murder investigations the way he likes his women—straightforward, easy, and with a killer body. So when his older-than-dust partner throws his back out on a goblin raid, his captain assigns him a new running mate—a sexy young half-elf by the name of Shay Steele.
It seems like a match made in Daggers' imagination, but Steele's no pushover. She's a powerful forensic psychic, and she's got sass oozing out of her boots. In a debut case teeming with fire mages, foundries, and a dead guy who's crispier than bacon, it's pretty clear Daggers isn't the only one getting a heaping helping of RED HOT STEELE.
Alex P. Berg is one or our very ambitious students at Superstars Writing Seminars. I've watched him build up his fanbase and produce remarkable novels in his "Steele" urban fantasy series. I thought he would be a perfect addition to this bundle. Alex even provided two titles to the bundle, so you can really get a running start. – Kevin J. Anderson
"Do you like Law & Order? Do you like ogres and elves and swords? Do you like snarky dialogue? Then read this book."– Amazon Review
"Daggers and Steele are one of my favorite team-ups! A cross between urban fantasy, pulp noir, and fantasy, it truly is a fun thrill ride!"– Amazon Review
The door swung open and in walked one of the finer creatures I'd ever seen step foot into the precinct. A woman—nearly six feet tall, with bright azure eyes that stood out like warning beacons—stepped into the Captain's office full of muted browns and grays. Her dark brown hair swept into a pompadour before falling into a long ponytail. Based on her sharp nose, arched eyebrows, and slightly pointed earlobes, I guessed she carried elf blood in her veins, but she wasn't a pure breed by any measure. A coffee-colored pantsuit hugged her waist and flared out over her narrow hips down to her pointed dark leather boots. While the suit's color matched her hair, the lecherous part of me couldn't help but think her bare skin might be a much better complement to her eyes.
"Daggers," said the Captain. "Meet Shay Steele. Steele, Jake Daggers."
I gave the elf-lady a wink and a smile. "Nice to meet you, sweetheart. So you know, I like my coffee black with a hint of sugar."
Her pretty mouth contorted into a confused frown. "Um, excuse me?"
"Oh, and I tend to like fried snacks. Tolek's kolaches from across the street are the bee's knees. Apricot's my favorite." I turned to the Captain. "About time the higher-ups pitched in for a secretary."
The Captain laid into me with a vicious glare. "No, you idiot," he said. "This is Detective Steele. Your new partner."
I could feel the heat radiating off the new girl's cheeks before I turned back to look at her. Faced with the possibility of her as a partner, she suddenly seemed less of a sexpot and more of a liability. Her suit jacket couldn't hide her skinny waiflike arms, and judging by her smooth cheeks and straight nose, the only fights she'd ever taken part in were with her dear old daddy over how much she could spend on a new pair of shoes. She was rawer than my jimmies had been following my fight with the goblin lunatics. The Captain couldn't honesty expect to pair me with this girl, could he?
Little Miss Indignant and her hot cheeks looked at me with ill-restrained furor. I smiled, giving her a knowing wink, and turned back to the old bulldog.
"Ohhhhh…I get it," I said. "Very funny. Let's pull one over on old Jake Daggers."
I heard a piqued voice from behind. "Um, pardon me but—"
"You know, if you wanted to punish me you could've stuck me with Ferndale."
"You realize I'm right here don't—"
"But this?" I said. "This is a low blow, even for you Captain. I mean to make me babysit this farm-fresh chick while you laugh it up—"
The elf-girl went into full on teakettle mode. "I'LL HAVE YOU KNOW I'M HIGHLY QUALIFIED FOR THIS POSITION. I HAVE RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE BEST PROFESSORS IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE, AND—"
"ENOUGH!" bellowed the Captain. "Detective Steele, please have a seat. Daggers, if I so much as hear a peep out of that fat mouth of yours, I'm going to make sure you develop a fat lip to go with it."
Miss Steele sat, her face a brilliant crimson. I kept my yapper shut.
"Detective Steele," the Captain said. "I'd like to apologize for Detective Daggers. His cognitive abilities have suffered from taking too many blows to the head over the years."
I frowned. That was uncalled for, even if my head was lumpier now than it had been when I'd joined the force.
"Now Detective Steele, if you could try to do so in a more subdued tone, why don't you share a little of your background with Detective Daggers."
The elf girl had trained her eyes on the floor during the Captain's short address. She took several measured breaths, lifted her head, and turned to face me. Her cheeks had faded to a dull pink, but her brilliant azure eyes burned with a fierce fire.
Hmm. Perhaps I'd underestimated her.
She launched into a pre-prepared speech. "As the Captain informed you, my name is Shay Steele. I have a degree in Paranatural Ocular Postsensitivity from H. G. Morton's school for—"
I couldn't help myself. "Wait, what the who now? A degree in what from where?"
Elf girl pressed her lips together and raised her eyebrows at me in a way that either indicated she was coming on to me, or she thought I was about as sharp as the edge of a toddler's spoon. I assumed the former.
"As I was saying…from H. G. Morton's school for the Exceptionally Gifted and Talented."
"Gifted and talented how, exactly?" I asked.
"We all exhibit some form of supernatural or paranatural abilities."
The mouse that manned the wheel in my head was taking a break. I couldn't quite connect the dots. "So…"
"I'm a clairvoyant," said Miss Steele.
"You like to spy on people while they get it on? Kinky. I like it. But I don't see how that's relevant here."
Steam puffed from elf girl's ears, but Captain took her off the fire before her teakettle started whistling again.
"No, you dolt," the bulldog said. "That's a voyeur. A clairvoyant is someone who can see into the past. A psychic, if you will."
The mouse wheel finally made a full turn.
"I see." I didn't really though. "So…what then? You can walk into a crime scene and figure out exactly what happened? See a dead body and know who the killer is with a snap of your fingers? Where does that put me? Am I getting demoted to bodyguard detail?"
Elf girl shook her head. "It doesn't exactly work like that."
"So, how exactly does it work?" I asked. "Enlighten me."
"Well, you know how a tapestry is made of woven threads?"
"Of course I do. I'm a master of the loom. Don't patronize me."
That solicited a steely gaze and a pair of puckered lips, but Miss Steele went on. "Well, I think of time as a tapestry, one most people, like you, can't see. Me? I can't see the whole tapestry either, but I can make out a few threads. What I do is pick at those threads until the rest of the tapestry falls into place."
I scratched my head. "So…you're only marginally useful, then. Well, that's a relief. I guess this means I've still got a job."
Miss Steele threw her hands in the air with an exasperated sigh. "You're incorrigible! Do you even know the meaning of the word 'manners'?"
"Hey, that's not fair. Just because I confused a clairvoyant for a sex addict—"
The Captain chose that moment to butt in. "Alright, enough Daggers. Detective Steele, please feel free to set your things up at the empty desk across from Detective Daggers'. And you—" The Captain stabbed a finger in my direction. "Stay here in my office. I need a word."