Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Snippet: Judge a Book by its Cover


Whew. What a week. I've been wearing my editor hat, trying to keep up with some pressing deadlines. But I have had a little time to write on some current WIPs AND keep up with my heavy slate of TV shows.

First… Arrow returned! Great episode. Seriously, I feel like I'm watching a movie every time it's on. And Banshee did not disappoint either. Also, Lost Girl? I'm sooooo happy it's back. I love the cast to bits!

So, tonight's post is from Judge a Book by its Cover, a novella with magic and mayhem, two of my favorite things.

Here's the tagline:

Zeth Herrickson has to catch the culprits in a cheating scandal at the academy. Coorah Blair normally sits at the top of his list when things aren't right—except she's the one who brings the matter to his attention. They work together to track down the participants and go after the ringleader, who is much closer to both than they'd believe.

And a preview snippet…

Coorah strode into Zeth's alcove and yanked the heavy curtain, closing off the area to prying eyes and ears. "We've got a huge problem on our hands and you need to fix it."
Zeth glanced up from the text he studied. "Excuse me? Have you been cursed? Hexed? Bespelled?" He leaned back in his seat and crossed his arms over his chest. "Since when do you, the bane of my existence, come to me to fix problems?" He lifted a brow. "Especially when you're the one who usually causes them."
She made a growling sound in her throat. "Look. Act like an asshat later. This is important." She dropped down onto the chair opposite his desk. "I just graded an entire class worth's of spells that had the exact same answers." She leaned forward, placing her forearms on the paper strewn surface. "As in word for word. Verbatim. Exactly the same."
Zeth straightened, his hands dropping to grasp the arms of the chair. "They cheated." He wrinkled his brow. "Honestly? I would have put you right at the top of the list." He tsked. "Except you're bringing it to my attention, so I suppose I'd have to strike you from it… or at least move you down a couple of spots."
She narrowed her eyes. "I. Do not. Cheat. Ever." She rose from the seat and leaned in, getting in his face. "Maybe you shouldn't make assumptions until you know all the facts." She sat back down. "Or judge a book by its cover." She waved her hand. "Something like that."
Zeth's respect for Coorah went up a notch, how could it not? She might drive him insane on a daily basis, but it took guts to call him on his bullshit.
He rested his elbows on the desk, steepling his palms. "You've got a point. And I'm sorry." He met her gaze. "But tell me, why do I have to fix the situation? You discovered the problem."
She snorted. "Because you're the magistrate, right? You enforce policy and arbitrate when necessary."
He nodded. "Yeah, but what do you suggest here? I've got what? Tests with the same answers? Were they all from the same class?"
She shook her head. "Well, no. Only a handful from each." Her shoulders slumped. "Meaning you don't have enough to go on. The law of averages wouldn't necessarily preclude a fraction of the same group coming up with the same answers."
He inclined his head. "Exactly. Without some kind of pattern, it won't do a damned bit of good to bring anyone in." He lifted a brow. "So what's my next move?"
Her mouth dropped open. "Are you really asking me?" She blinked. "I have no idea how to even respond."
He didn't blame her for being shocked. "Start by giving me your impressions of the students with the same answers." He clarified. "I'm looking for the motivation. Are they struggling in class? Pulling a prank? Why do they all have the same answers?"
Coorah tilted her head, pondering. "They're not having problems." She snapped her fingers. "They're lazy. Why do the work if they don't have to?"
Zeth bit back a grin. She'd nailed his suspicions pretty quickly.
He prompted. "So, that suggests what?"
She didn't hesitate. "Somebody's making a tidy profit."
Again, he gave her props, and made a split second decision. He wanted her help to track down the money man.
Zeth leaned in. "I wanna know who that is." He waited a beat. "Are you in?"
She met his gaze. "You want my help?" She glanced around the room. "Are you sure you're not the one who's bespelled?"
He chuckled. "I'm not under a spell. You've got the inside track. You know what to look for and who's involved so far." He settled back against the seat again. "Look. We don't see eye to eye on everything. That's a bonus. Coming from two different angles should speed the process along, yeah?"
She considered the idea. "It won't hurt. And I do wanna nail the person, or people, to the wall. I'm not a big fan of making profit off our cadets."
Zeth's lips curved. "Then let's get 'em." He rifled around on the desk to find a notebook and flipped it open. "Let's start with who's involved…" He glanced up, catching the slightly mortified look on her face. "Problem?"
She jerked her head. "No, no. Just trying to wrap my head around the idea I signed on to work with Hard Ass Herrickson." She held up a hand. "Give me a minute, will you?"
Zeth laughed, long and loud. Coorah Blair had just crossed over into enemy territory, also known as responsibility… new ground for her.

This one has been so much fun. I love opposites attract to find balance stories and Zeth is the one who definitely catches on to that fact first. J

That's it for this week.



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