Cambion’s Blood by Erin Fulmer
Publication date: June 7th 2022
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Half-succubus attorney Lily Knight has blood on her hands.
Haunted by guilt, behind on her rent, and facing professional disgrace, Lily must figure out how to survive in the wreckage of her former life. To make ends meet, she accepts a contract job she never wanted but can’t seem to avoid—hunting another demon murderer. This time, the victims are human, and a shadowy government agency will reward Lily with a way out of her dire financial straits.
If Lily doesn’t solve the case before the news gets out, fear and hatred will put all demonkind at risk from the proverbial torch-carrying mob. But when a young succubus on the run from the authorities begs for her help, Lily faces a new conflict of interest—especially after the suspect, Eve, reveals her father is Lily’s old frenemy.
Now Lily must juggle the pressures of a high-stakes murder case, her complicated relationship with her “not-boyfriend” Sebastian, and responsibility for a wayward teenager as she races to find the real killer. Worse, the culprit isn’t just a demon, but a self-proclaimed goddess who will stop at nothing to carry out her bloody quest for justice. To stop the killings, Lily must confront that which she most fears: the truth about what went down with Eve’s father in the desert—and its consequences.
That is, if the goddess doesn’t get to her first…
I swung open the glass door of the clinic’s office entrance and propped it ajar with my hip. Safe Haven crowned the top of one of San Francisco’s breakneck hills and its porch faced downhill. The bristling, cramped, exuberant peninsula sparkled before me under a slow-breaking wave of evening fog that curled in from the ocean and swallowed the distant span of the Golden Gate Bridge.
One high heel inside, one braced on the weathered slats of the patio, I waited on the threshold. The clinic’s rules required us to use the buddy system while locking up at night, and Rae McGuire, the advocacy director, had run back inside to do one last thing, as usual.
A sudden clamor of harsh cries broke out from the eaves. I craned my neck and squinted up through the twilight. A cloud of black birds swirled into the air from the building’s gables, their windswept calls conveying some avian dispute I couldn’t comprehend. Others winged up the hill to join the bickering flock. They gathered here each night at sunset in unnerving numbers, clustering along the roof line until some unknown signal flung them back into the sky in a swirling mob.
“Damn birds.” I ducked back under the overhang and shielded my head with my purse in case one of them decided to take a dump on me. That would be just my luck. “Can’t you go flock somewhere else?”
“It’s called a murder.” Rae’s quiet, husky voice behind me made me jump.
I spun. “What?”
With her array of prominent body piercings and her bright scarlet hair swept back in a long, thick French braid to expose a sharp-angled undercut, Rae McGuire looked more like a punk rocker than the director of the city’s biggest nonprofit survivors’ shelter. Her desiderata bristled with enough sharp spikes to put my teenage goth phase to shame and shimmered with the copper-bright scent of new pennies.
She stepped out onto the porch, a tall, imposing, gray-eyed figure in a black denim jacket, torn jeans, and clunky steel-toed boots. “The crows.” A slight smile quirked her lips. “When they flock like that, it’s called a murder.”
“They have complex social structures, and they’re quite smart.” She turned to lock the door, her heavy braid dropping forward over her shoulder and shadowing her face. “If a human hurts one of their own, the rest of them never forget the culprit’s face.”
I shivered, though the chill of San Francisco’s fogbound evening couldn’t touch me. “I didn’t know you were a bird expert.”
“Once upon a time,” Rae said, straightening, “I wanted to be a wildlife biologist.” In the fading light, my night vision revealed her wry expression, and my demon side sensed the energetic pulse of the rest of the story, a weight she chose to hold back.
“Can I ask you something?”
“I threw my application in the ring for the clinic attorney job last month.” Her eyebrows went up, and I rushed through the rest of my rehearsed speech. “I haven’t heard anything yet. Do you—”
“I have a question for you, Lily.” Rae’s desiderata shifted, became a fog-piercing searchlight bearing down on me. “You were a prosecutor. What would you do if you knew someone had committed a crime, and no one would do anything about it?”
“I—” What was this, some kind of test? The scent of ozone clogged my nose, the air charged as if with an oncoming storm. “Do you mean in a legal sense?”
“Legally. Morally. Whatever.” She shrugged. “You’re the lawyer. I’m just a layperson. I’m wondering what you would do.”
“I’d advise you—advise anyone—to report the crime to the authorities.” But I faltered under her keen gaze. I hadn’t gone to the police last fall. I didn’t trust them to help me. In the end, I’d made my own justice, but I couldn’t make my own peace.
“But if you have no evidence, the authorities won’t believe you. They’ll say there’s nothing they can do.”
I frowned, catching her drift. Safe Haven’s clients came to us with cases like that all the time, like the college student who wept in our meeting room earlier that day because her university found no credible evidence of her assault. Not so long ago, I prosecuted cases like that. But even then, I couldn’t do much to hold abusers accountable if the cops didn’t take a report.
“If the crime is ongoing, document everything,” I said. “Build a case so strong they have to charge it. Get a restraining order, find other victims. Bad behavior is rarely a one-and-done. It’s usually a pattern.”
“Right,” Rae said. “They get away with it and then they escalate. That’s the cost. It could be someone’s life.”
Ariel had escalated, and I would kick myself for the rest of my life for not recognizing his patterns. He’d fooled me, and people had died because of it. Danny would have died if I hadn’t brought her back.
But I couldn’t bring the rest of them back.
Erin Fulmer (she/her) is a public benefits attorney by day, author of urban fantasy and science fiction by night. She lives in sunny Northern California with her husband and two spoiled cats. When she’s not writing or working, she enjoys yoga, taking pictures of the sky, playing board games with friends, and napping like it’s an Olympic sport.
CAMBION’S BLOOD, the second book in her Cambion series and sequel to her debut urban fantasy CAMBION’S LAW, is out June 7 from City Owl Books.
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