Hello there! Welcome to my stop on the Bad Girls Drink Blood Book Tour, brought to you by Escapist Tours. Below you will find a synopsis as well as an excerpt from the novel itself. Enjoy!
Bad Girls Drink Blood by S.L. Choi
Series: Blood Fae Druid
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Intended Age Group: Adult
Published: May 17, 2022
Publisher: City Owl Press
Part sun fae, part blood fae, all abomination.
After a life spent dodging slurs, threats, and assassination attempts, Lane gave her past the one finger salute and ditched her former fae home for good. The detective agency she and her sisters run on the edge of Las Vegas continues to limp along, with Lane doing more debt collecting and intimidating than investigating, but anything to pay the bills. Between working for low-lifes to bring down even lower-lifes, eating cheesy poofs by the bucket, and flirting with the criminally attractive bartender where she conducts business, life is good.
That ends when a routine job goes sideways, leaving Lane with a sack full of stolen sun shards—the source of sun fae power. Without the shards, the sun fae face giving up their magic completely, or risk death if they use their power. Considering they would rather see her dead, good riddance, as far as Lane’s concerned—except her father and adopted sister are sun fae. Lane must choose—return home to save the fae bastards that almost killed her, or let them burn.
See Also: Show Me the Money! • What Happens in Vegas… • Sisterhood of the Traveling (Blades)
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/Blood1UBL
I’d been nursing my drink for the past hour, along with my pride. I didn’t want to face my sisters. I didn’t want to tell them I’d screwed up.
The morning sun broke through stained-glass windows high on the far wall of the shotgun-style front room. It illuminated the rich mahogany bar top and the pale red layer of melted ice atop the disgusting virgin Bloody Mary I’d made the mistake of ordering.
“I don’t smell nos blood.” A hand large enough to crack a watermelon like an egg slid in front of me and tapped a chipped fingernail on my glass.
“Too early for that stuff.” He didn’t need to know I was allergic. That type of info would ruin my rep. “Tomato juice and plenty of vodka.”
“Yous should go straight vodka. Don’t mess with that vegetable stuff.”
“Never mind.” I swung around on the well-worn saddle of my stool and faced the ogre. Rip, a regular fixture at the bar, had a remarkably expressive face for something that resembled an unfinished block of gray sculpting clay. Broad as a refrigerator and somewhere close to seven feet tall, he dwarfed my already short stature. Both of his ever-roaming—and more than a little creepy—chameleon-like eyes landed on me.
“Lane Callaghan.” He pinched the lapels of my jacket to straighten it. The shifting sides revealed a shoulder sheath holding a push dagger under each arm, and he tweaked one with a thick finger. “What’s a bad girl like yous doing in a nice bar like this?”
Despite playing into the corny cliché, I snatched his finger and bent it back, stopping before it reached the point of pain. “Never touch a girl’s hardware unless you’re prepared to lose a finger.” I tempered the action with a wink. Though, I meant it. Don’t touch my blades.
“No touch. Gots it.” He threw his hands in the air. Such a drama queen.
From the front of the bar voices rose, furniture clattered on the hardwood floors, and a bottle shattered. The only one to react was Teddy, the bartender, bar owner, and resident eye candy, who appeared from behind the bar and easily vaulted over the counter before the fighters could cause any damage to his establishment.
A nice bar, indeed. Nice was relative in Interlands, but the ogre did run a bookie business from the booth he rented here, so he was biased. To be fair, Teddy kept the place in surprisingly good shape, considering the locals and some of their shady side businesses. Myself included.
Cleanliness was not a typical werewolf trait, not that I’d ever seen Teddy go furry. Not in the seven years I’d known him, but it was obvious in the way he moved, the way he easily cowed other wolves—and just about anyone else, really.
I hitched my elbows on the bar behind me and leaned against it. “What’s up, Rip?”
He rolled his thick shoulders and did a quick side-to-side look, as if there might actually be someone in here who didn’t know why he’d approached me.
“Yous lookin’ for work?”
My nostrils flared with a slow, deep breath. The crisp grapefruit scent of whatever cleaner Teddy used to keep a bar full of humans, fae, and other degenerates suspiciously clean invaded my senses. If I said yes, my sisters would be pissed. I was already on a job, but I’d screwed it up, and we were less than a month away from having our electricity cut off, so why not?
“You know, being propositioned for work in a bar would offend most women.” I tugged my ponytail forward and began twisting the deep auburn strands into a fat braid. A red so deep it was nearly black, but not the black-on-black of a true blood fae.
The ogre’s full belly laugh sounded like stones rattling inside a bass drum. His gut was about the size of one, too. “Most don’t get paid to beats up folks and take their money.”
“True.” My business card might say private investigator, but as my failed attempt to tail someone solo proved this morning, I should stick with being the muscle of my sibling trio, even if my sisters insisted otherwise. “All right. Who is it, and what’s the timetable?”
“Lotta whos. Grounders. A pack of them.”
I barked a laugh. “You want me to shake down a bunch of overgrown hamsters?”
The trenches carved into the big guy’s forehead deepened. “Yous don’t know much about them, do you?”
“Enough. Doesn’t matter. I’ll swipe the Easter Bunny’s carrots, so long as you’re paying. Here.” I pulled the palm-sized pad emblazoned with the business name, YML Investigations, from my jacket pocket and handed it to Rip. “Details. Names, descriptions, their usual haunts. You know the drill.”
The pad disappeared into Rip’s massive mitt. He paused. His thick lips pressed into a tight line. “Yous don’t underestimate these guys. Theys not so easy.”
“Hey, I’m the big bad blood fae, remember?” Blood fae enough. “That’s why you hire me. Let me worry about me.”
Rip reached across the counter, grabbed a pen, and began scribbling the info. “Yous still on that other job?”
My turn to frown. Although, I shouldn’t be surprised. Information kept him in the bookie game. “How’d you know about that?”
“Word gets ’round. I gots money on you bringing her in by end of tomorrow.” He paused his scribbling to look me in the eye, which took getting used to. His protruding, conical-shaped eye sockets swiveled in all directions. “Yous gonna deliver?”
“Geez. Is there anything you don’t run bets on?”
“Nope.” His broad grin revealed two cracked teeth and a whole lot of pride. “Yous company is popular. YML makes me good money. Stupid tourists bet against yous. House wins.”
“Why didn’t I know about this? As the L in YML, I should have. I could’ve been double dipping, doing the jobs and betting all along.” And paying bills on time.
Rip returned my pad. “Didn’t seem ethical.”
“Riiight. Because you’re all about ethics. Put me down for a grand. I’ll have your money by three.”
One conical eye remained on me while the other rotated to the clock above the bar. His hairless brow shot skyward. “Almost noon. Yous telling me yous wrap this up in three hours?”
“Yup. I got this. Odds?”
His puffy lips pulled wide in a slow grin. “No bet. Yous bring my money in three hours or less, yous keep half.”
“Let me guess, if I’m late I don’t get paid?”
Rip tapped his bulbous nose, smiled, and pushed his way through the crowd toward his booth in the far corner. A brass plaque embossed with his name hung on the wall above the back bench.
Hot damn, half of what the grounders owed. They better owe a lot. It’d been a slow year for YML Investigations. Good for me and the more physical jobs—money collection, intimidation, even a little bit of protection. Those jobs were fun, for me, but didn’t pay nearly enough to cover our bills. Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy to drum up investigative business in a town of degenerates and criminals that didn’t want to be investigated. The job I’d bombed this morning was meant to be our big payday.
I returned the pad to my pocket, but it caught on a bar napkin I’d shoved in there. Not from this bar, but to the bar in the fae-friendly casino I’d trailed my mark to this morning. Notes were never good. The one scrawled on the napkin was no exception. I tugged it free and fit the pad into place. Instead of replacing the napkin, I smoothed it on the bar top and stared down at the spindly black script.
Better luck next time, hybrid.
Fury roared through me. My ears burned and scalp tingled.
“What the hell is that?”
I spun with a snarl. My fangs elongated instantly, painfully.
Teddy’s tall, lean frame bent over my shoulder as he read the napkin. My body thrummed with the surge of unspent adrenaline and possibly the intimate proximity. I flexed my fingers, curled them, flexed again.
“It’s nothing.” I snatched the napkin and jammed it into my jacket pocket. I’d deal with how exactly that woman knew I was a hybrid later. That was a secret for me and my sisters, and I aimed to keep it that way.
There was only one hybrid, and I was the unlucky genetic winner. It wasn’t for lack of fae mixing, that was something they did often and copiously, but offspring were always of one race. It kept their magic powerful, and if fae worshiped anything, it was power. My existence wasn’t an exalted position.
“It’s nothing,” I stressed, my gaze steady on his. I meant business.
“Okay, okay.” He tipped his forehead toward my face. “You should holster those things before you hurt someone besides yourself.”
Crap, not again. All at once my lip became a persistent throb, reminding me of the pain from my fangs punching out. I dragged a finger along the edge of my mouth. It came away sticky, warm, and wet. When startled, I had zero control of the things. It was embarrassing.
Teddy tucked a clean napkin into my palm and pulled me close to whisper, “You shouldn’t be wasting blood when you refuse to drink it.”
His hot breath warmed my neck and tickled my ear. The heady mixture of woods, earth, and vanilla—Teddy’s distinct scent—filled my nostrils, made me dizzy. Something melted and puddled in my core. My gaze fastened on the way my dark red hair danced with his bourbon-brown strands. The way they both brushed against the hard line of muscle leading from his neck to his shoulder.
That delicious scent shouldn’t be so strong. My olfactory sense was the same as any other fae, unless I’d smelled their blood. Then again, with the amount of brawls Teddy broke up in this joint, he was bound to have bled at some point.
I stepped away and scowled in a desperate attempt to hide my reaction. “And you should mind your own business.” What was wrong with me lately? I’d known the guy for years, but recently Teddy seemed more flirt than friend. I felt disgustingly girly when he got near.
“Whatever you say, sweet fangs.” He chucked a knuckle under my chin, letting it linger long enough to turn the gesture from playful to intimate.
I rubbed my chin on my shoulder. This was Teddy. He couldn’t possibly be flirting. He’d known me since I roared into Interlands at fifteen with way more balls and bravado than sense. More importantly, I wasn’t his type—empty headed and easy.
He swaggered toward the end of the bar, and some mysterious magnetic force pulled my appreciative gaze to the way he filled out his denim. My view disappeared as he stepped behind the counter. When I looked up, Teddy watched me with a knowing grin. I bared my fangs. He laughed.
I growled under my breath and turned to leave as he circled the bar and headed for the spot across the counter from me.
“Why take these jobs, Lane? They’re bad. You’re so much more than this.”
Teddy’s earnest words stopped me, and I looked back. His bottomless black gaze gripped mine.
My chest tightened. Teddy didn’t know how misplaced his faith in me was. I grabbed a freshly filled tumbler full of amber liquid from the bar.
“Hey!” The owner of the drink turned, opened his mouth to say more, and laid eyes on me. I raised my brows in a dare. The guy wisely spun to face the bar and tapped the counter, ordering a new drink for himself.
“Because I’m really, really good at it. Besides, haven’t you heard?” I slammed my confiscated drink. The taste of gasoline chasing cinnamon scorched a path down my throat. My nostrils burned and eyes watered. I shoved down the sensation and flashed a smile filled with a whole lot of fang. “I’m a bad girl.”
With that mic drop moment, I turned away from the bar prepared to swagger my sweet ass out the door and instead came nose to leather-clad chest. I stumbled back and focused on the crest pinned to the left pectoral area of the moon fae who wore it. A silver moon, intersecting a gold sun, with a tree rising in front of both—the Royal Fae Guard insignia. Or since that was more breath wasted on fae who didn’t deserve it, the RFG.
“Duskmere,” I said and straightened.
“Malaney Callaghan, there is no bad. There is no good. There simply is.”
What was with the self-help, infomercial crap? “Don’t waste your philosophy lessons here. I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of me.”
His silver eyes tightened. Duskmere was all hard angles and sharp lines, just like his personality. Narrow face, slashing cheekbones, the elongated points to his ears, even the way his lips compressed into a razor’s edge. His spiky, close-cropped silver hair didn’t dare have a strand out of place. He nodded to an occupied booth near the door and headed that way, not waiting to see if I followed.
I blew an angry breath from my nose and stomped after the moon fae.
Duskmere stared down the patrons in the booth. Judging by the two empty pitchers on the table, the trio were deep in their cups but not so far gone to miss the lethal energy emanating from the moon fae. They quickly scooted from the benches. I grabbed a half empty mug from one of the former booth occupants as he passed. He glanced at me and kept moving.
With a sigh, I slid onto the still-warm seat and waited for Duskmere to settle across from me.
He set his elbows on the tabletop, leaned forward, and wasted no time getting down to business. “Once you have captured the banshee, Etta’wy, you will bring her to us.”
I barked a laugh. “I’ll do no such thing.”
“Uh, no, I won’t.” I held out a fist and flipped up the index finger. “First, you’re RFG, so by use of the royal ‘us,’ you mean the sun fae. There is no scenario where I help them.”
He opened his mouth to respond, but I continued and popped a second finger.
“Second, Etta’wy is a job. Someone hired my sisters and me. That someone is paying us to bring her in, so they’re the one we’ll be delivering her to.” I held up another finger. “Third, since you didn’t seem to hear me the first time, I will never help the sun fae.”
“I am aware you were hired by the banshee’s husband. He has agreed to allow for delivery to us in his stead. We will pay your fee.”
“Nope.” I slapped my palms down on the tabletop and pushed to my feet. “I’d say sorry you wasted your time, but I’m not. See ya around.”
Duskmere surged from the booth and grabbed my elbow. He leaned close, voice going low. “The sun stones have been stolen.”
“So? Get some more.”
“You misheard,” Duskmere said. “The sun stones have been stolen. The stones. The source. There will be no more shards.”
A slush of ice coursed through my veins, and my nostrils flared on a sharp inhale. I met his pounded steel gaze.
“The banshee was involved. It is imperative we question her. The stones must be found.”
I didn’t know Duskmere well, but he’d always been a stoic, by-the-books prick who never showed emotion. The desperation, the intensity of his plea punched me in the gut.
“That, I am sorry for, but I’m not the one you should be asking for help.” I swallowed and turned to focus on the door. Escape. “Good luck.”
“There are many things said about you, but petty was not among them.” I sneered at his insult, and Duskmere’s grip tightened. “You issue a death sentence with your refusal.”
“Doubtful. This is a sun fae problem we’re talking about. They’re resilient. They don’t need me.”
“Sun fae problems affect all fae.” He tilted his head. “You’re fae.”
Something bitter and vile twisted inside of me. I clenched my fists on my thighs.
“I think the word you’re looking for is abomination. Monster is a popular choice. Or you could be trying for something fancy like mistake of nature. I’ve heard them all.”
“Perhaps there is something wrong with my hearing.” Duskmere’s voice came at me soft and sly. “I thought you said you do not care what anyone thinks of you.”
My stomach clenched. I looked up and let him see everything in my mismatched eyes—one black, one violet. Eyes which forever set me apart. All the rage, all the pain, the black hole of sadness I would never escape no matter how much I lied and told myself I didn’t care.
“Trust me, even if the sun fae did need me, they wouldn’t want my help. They would rather die than accept anything from the likes of me. Who’s the petty ones in this situation? Good luck, Duskmere,” I said again, and this time I meant it. I could at least give him that.
The moon fae’s hand dropped from my elbow. Ignoring the way his gaze went dull, I turned away and headed for the exit. Time was ticking. Getting hijacked by Duskmere had eaten up twenty minutes of my deadline with Rip.
With every step I took toward the doors, away from Duskmere, fae problems slid from my conscience.
Author Bio & Information:
S.L. Choi is an urban fantasy author with a deep love for humor, fast-paced action, and hit-you-in-the-heart feels. She grew up imagining goblins living in the rocks outside her bedroom window, while fairies flew through the flowers. Now she puts those stories to paper. When not writing, she is either photographing the beautiful New England area, hiking, gaming with her equally nerdy husband, or attending to the small furry overlord who rules them both.Author Website: https://slchoi.com/