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The Inquisitor’s Hymn

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Among warring terrorist werewolves and underworld vampires, Conway is busy keeping Sonya out of the Inquisition’s dungeons. What is Eternity?
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Author: Cin Eric
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The Inquisitor's Hymn

The Conway Cases: Book 3

by Cin Eric

Genre  Urban Fantasy /Noir /Alternative History

Tags  Vampires, werewolves, gargoyles, inquisition, Sydney, 1950s, Australia, journalists, reportage, urban fantasy, noir, alternative history, series, sex, detectives, PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, gangs, protests, underworld, terrorism, love, betrayal, friendship, relationships, suspense, action, politics

Release  February 7, 2014

Editor  Anne Duguid

Line Editor  Greta Gunselman

Cover Designer  Karen Phillips

Words  50462

Pages  214

ISBN  978-1-77127-490-6

Price  $5.50


 

Back Cover

When the graffito tag “Eternity” starts appearing all over the city, the werewolves and vampires use it as an excuse to war in the streets, breaking the Inquisition-enforced peace treaty between the two species. After a bloodsucker is almost killed, Inquisitors Conway and Sebastian, who are on Eternity Man's case, must also search for the would-be killer because the two may be linked.

But when Inquisitor Conway discovers that Sonya Romney, infamous gossip columnist for The Star Observer, is keeping potential evidence of Eternity Man’s identity to herself, he goes after her. The only problem is he won’t interrogate her, can’t even bear the thought of her in an interrogation room.

Meanwhile, Aldo Maltagliati, head of the city’s most notorious underworld vampire clan, is using the unrest to hatch a machination of his own, and he has his eyes on Conway.

What is Eternity?


Excerpt

“Happy Christmas. I was in the area, saw your car parked outside… May I come in?”

Jesus Decorous Christ. Sonya cocked her head to one side, taking in the raccoon circles around his eyes, the bluish stubble on his jaw and chin, yesterday’s suit and shirt hanging off his angular frame like a wrinkled ensemble on a coat hanger. And the tightness hidden underneath but radiating out, as though it were taking all his effort to stop whatever was simmering inside him from seething. None of it showed on his face, which he kept studiously still, and Sonya felt a twinge of unease in her chest. She had been expecting this confrontation, only not today.

In an effort to lighten the mood, she beamed and said, “I’ve been thinking about you.”

Conway smiled as though he were trying not to, but couldn’t help it. It somehow made it mean more. “Nothing good, I hope.”

Sonya opened the door wider to let him in, felt the tension as he brushed past, then closed it and followed him into the living room. “You’re upset with me,” she said, irreverent.

“No.”

Conway drew a sharp breath, winced at her bruised mouth, the swelling in the left corner, which she’d spent hours applying ice to before deciding that alcohol was the better choice of first aid because it soothed her nerves too.

Sonya brushed the tips of her fingers down his sleeve. “How’s your partner?”

“Actually,” his voice jerked through the syllables, “I’d rather not talk about that.”

“Fair enough.” After their argument a fortnight ago, after coming to her senses, Sonya admitted to herself that it was stupid to expect an inquisitor to play fair, not to withhold, not to manipulate the question and answer for his own ends. After all, it was her job and every other journalist’s in the world to play the same game on a daily basis. “What would you like to talk about?”

Light from the window glanced off his dark blue eyes as they shifted around from the plate of mini fruit mince pies on the table, to the open packet of Black Cat cigarettes, to the cut crystal decanter of whisky, her empty glass. Then he took a seat on the sofa, leaning forward with his forearms across his knees and sighed. “I’m sorry, but I’m not in the mood for Twenty Questions.” His stare fed on her face. “I just wanted to see you.”

Sonya smiled and picked up the heavy decanter. “The scotch and I were getting cosy.”

“Yes, I’ve noticed.”

“A woman needs something to keep her warm.”

“Well, now I’m here.”

“Uh huh. Drink?”

“Double or nothing. Please.”

Retrieving a glass from the rickety cabinet, she poured a double and handed it to him. The sweet alcohol scent hung in the air between them. “I thought you’d have better places to be today.”

“Better places?”

“Oh, you know, the Holy Office Christmas party.”

He grimaced. “That was last month.”

“A family get together?”

“The parents are dead. No siblings.”

Sonya’s eyebrows flicked up with interest and surprise.

He waved a dismissive hand and hissed out a sharp breath. “Once upon a time, when Conway was an innocent eleven-year-old,” —he dripped sarcasm— “his father killed himself by, ah, drunk-driving into a telegraph pole. Several years later, tragedy struck again when Conway’s mum died of disappointment after finding out he’d dropped out of medical school. The end.”

Sonya blinked and glanced at the tumbler of whisky in his hand, struggling to formulate a proper response. Jesus Lost Christ, how’d you end up in the Inquisition?

“Besides,” —Conway pulled a wry face— “what could be better than spending time with you?”

Sonya smiled. “Vivienne Heflin, spoiled little rich girl, hanging off your arm?”

“Ancient history.” He tossed back the whisky, unsurprised she’d scoped out the name.

“Huh. I could tell by the way the two of you were dancing that it wouldn’t last long.”

Conway clunked the empty glass onto the table and then leaned back against the cushion, schooling his expression to melodramatic astonishment. “You could tell all that from one dance?”

“Uh huh.” Sonya sat on the armrest next to him, crossed her legs to encourage the hem of her sherbet silk frock to slide high up over her knees, flash a bit of thigh, and took her time fitting a cigarette into a long ebony holder. Remembering his manners, Conway lit it for her. She took a puff and said, “That poor girl tried to cajole you into a slow dance, and you reacted like an awkward schoolboy forced to learn the steps with his teacher in front of all his mates.”

“I thought my performance was tiptop.” Conway’s face was unreadable as ever.

Sonya tossed back her head, let out a raspy laugh, winced at the pain shooting through her mouth. “You would, and that’s just what it was—a performance.”

Conway grinned and it lit up his face. “You would know,” he said, speaking through a snigger.

“Touché, darling.”

The words he’d challenged her with, after their intimate encounter in the phone box, were persistent, kept invading her thoughts. What do you presume to know about me that isn’t garnered from gossip? It was precisely why she’d become a journalist: to crack open the bottled-up wants, tragedies, and regrets that made people tick-tock.

After finishing her smoke, Sonya got to her feet, padded over to the gramophone, and put a record on. A few crackly seconds later, “Make Yourself Comfortable” began to play. Taking Conway by the hand, she smiled down at him and whispered, “How would you dance with me, I wonder?”

He could stare down the barrel of a loaded gun with complete indifference, she’d witnessed it, but ask him to let his guard down with her and the muscles in his jaw and throat flickered, fear dilated the pupils of his widening eyes, turning them into black holes. Sonya was delighted at this response.


 

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