GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Exclusive Spotlight: Jinxed (Karma #2) by Donna Augustine + Chapter One Exclusive Excerpt | I Smell Sheep

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Exclusive Spotlight: Jinxed (Karma #2) by Donna Augustine + Chapter One Exclusive Excerpt

Book #2 in Donna Augustine's urban fantasy series Karma, releases November 10, 2014 and we have an exclusive sneak peek at the prologue and chapter one. If you haven't given this series a try go ahead and grab book one, Karma.

Jinxed (Karma #2)
by Donna Augustine
Releasing: 11/10/14
Karma, it’s what they call me and the very essence of who I am. When I died young, I was recruited by the agency that keeps the Universe running smoothly. As someone with a human past, most of my coworkers consider me inferior.

But not everyone. Something evil has been stalking me for centuries. It’s been biding its time, waiting for the moment when it will strike and it needs me to to do it.

Its methods of recruitment are tearing apart every aspect of my life. I’m slowly losing myself, both mentally and physically. I don’t know who I can count on but I am finding out how much I'm willing to sacrifice to save the ones I care about.

WARNING: This is an excerpt of a second book in the series. If you have not read Karma, this will not make sense.

 I watched as the sun set over the horizon and the world transitioned into soft light. Dusk; not day or night, but some indefinable place in between, a small window of time that doesn’t belong to either. I’d never paid much attention to it in my mortal life, but now I anxiously awaited its arrival. I lived in my own sliver of life. Not alive but not dead. I used to think it was a curse. But with so many things in life that seem horrible on the surface, there’s often a blessing buried deep within. 

Musings from a transfer. 


“She’s uncontrollable and should be eradicated.” The woman pounded her fist on the massive, long wooden table she sat at, and a clap of thunder echoed through the air. “At the very least, returned to human status where we can limit the damage she does.”

The other woman and man who sat at the table voiced their agreement.

Paddy stood before them, and just shook his head, then looked skyward at the twinkling stars above. He loved this room. It was his favorite place and one of the things he missed most when he returned to Earth. It was hard to understand the beauty of the stars until you were in their very midst, with no Earthly 
atmosphere to dull their glory. 

“She’s adding to the danger, not helping.” The same woman pounded her fist a second time.

Again, Paddy simply shook his head but kept his gaze star-bound.

“What is it about this soul that you are so attached to? That you think she, this pathetic uncontrolled being, will be our salvation?” the male at the long table asked.

Somebody had been talking.

Paddy pulled his gaze away from the stars to survey the three he’d known before eternity, back when they didn’t have individual consciousness. He knew them as well as himself. Or he had, before time and physical distance started to create a divide; as it tended to do to all things, even them.

A long time ago, he’d thought they were immune to what happened to other beings. He too had been foolish in his relative youth. He’d thought that they’d always be in tuned to each other, but here they were, a chasm between them.

“I don’t know if she will save us. I don’t know anything at all, for sure. Not anymore.” The long eons weighed down upon him. This was it. Even if she was the one, and they made it past what was coming, this would be his end.

It had been too long. He’d done all he could. He’d fulfilled his obligations. He was tired. It was time for him to become one with the Universe again. But they needn’t know that yet. They’d fight his decision.

If he went back without them, even with their current status it would be painful to them, mentally and even perhaps physically. He understood it, but he only had enough strength for one foe at the moment.

“Then why?” she asked.

He had spent an eternity playing amongst the stars with them, until he’d decided to walk a different path. Now he was of them but separate, but he still knew them. How could they not see it as clearly as he did? “Because she could be.”

The male at the table leaned forward. “You spend too much time with them. It’s affecting your thoughts.”

“I do, and it’s why I know.” And why they didn’t. They sat removed, peering down from lofty perches that obscured their view.

“Why can’t you return to us? You belong here, not with them,” Farah said, softening slightly. Once he had thought exactly as she did. They’d been inseparable. He’d changed, but so had she.

Yet, when he saw her now, he saw the sadness that leaked through into the anger. She was trying so hard to mask the pain that it was hard to watch.

“You’re wrong. I do belong with them.” He knew what those words would do to her.

“We’ve talked amongst ourselves, and we’ve decided to end her,” Fia, the other woman, said, her first words spoken a death sentence.

“No.” Paddy didn’t scream but calmly listened.

“It must be done. What if she keeps going against us?” Fith, the other male, asked.

“You end her and you won’t need to worry about them any longer. I’ll be your biggest problem.” It was a lie. Paddy would kill himself before harming them. But even though he still knew them, they no longer knew him well enough to realize it was an idle threat.

Farah jumped from her seat. “You wouldn’t.”

“I would.” That she thought it was possible destroyed him. He needed to leave this beautiful place before more harm was done.

He walked out of the chamber. He’d hoped they’d see reason. If not, that they’d trust in his judgment; but the gap was worse than he’d realized.

Chapter One

First step is admitting there’s a problem.

I pushed my hair back from my face, took a breath and decided to accept the inevitable. Lady Luck, my closest friend here, had set up this meeting, thinking I still needed help transitioning. Even though I wasn’t sure this was the way to go about it, I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was a waste of time.

So I stood in front of my mostly bored looking coworkers and decided to get this over with. “My name is Camilla, and I’m a dead girl.”

“No!” Luck quickly scanned through the notes in front of her. “You are supposed to say, ‘My name is Karma, and I’m a recovering mortal.’”

Was she kidding?

She looked at me and smiled encouragingly. No. Not kidding.

Trying to keep an impartial expression on my face, I stared at the people in front of me, sitting on folding chairs amidst the dingy office that the Universe called its headquarters.

We were in a building operated and run by Unknown Forces of the Universe. The place was a dump and my coworkers weren’t exactly awe inspiring, either. The whole place and everything we did was hush hush, but I wasn’t sure it mattered. Even if I brought a normal mortal here, to this dated building filled with Formica and employees plucked from every spectrum of the reject rainbow, who in their right mind would buy it? They were more likely to run out of here laughing than scurry up a mob for a witch-hunt.

Luck stared expectantly at me from where she sat next to Murphy’s Law, another coworker. I repeated the line and then stood there, waiting for the next order. She’s so lucky the ten-year-old coffee maker had held today. If I hadn’t had that extra cup, I’m not sure what might have happened.

I didn’t know what she wanted next, but she was a tad bossy so I knew I wouldn’t have to wait long.

“Now, give us a story of what your normal day would’ve been, back when you had this horrible problem.” Luck checked something off on her notepad, while Kitty, the cat herder in charge of black cats, sat behind her, yawning.

Jockey was a seat over from Kitty, picking his teeth with a piece of hay. I’d heard there was an entire stable of Night Mares around here, but I hadn’t found it yet. That was on my to do list, right after I tracked down Santa, who was still on Spring Break.

The Tooth Fairy, who I’d only met recently, smacked Jockey’s hand away from his mouth and handed him floss. T, as a lot of people called him, was a nice enough guy, but it was hard to talk to him, with the way he stared at your mouth when you spoke.

Luck cleared her throat, demonstrating her eagerness to continue this little gathering she’d instigated.

The sooner I finished, the better. “Um, well, I’d get up in the morning around seven. Some days, I’d meet with clients or do paperwork. You know, file motions and such. Sometimes I’d have court. Those were the most interesting days, and I think what I was best at, getting up in front of a judge and jury, and trying to sway them over to my way of thinking.” My thoughts wandered back to those days. I’d wear one of my classic black suits that lent my girlish looks more of a mature, respectable appearance. “It was invigorating,” I said, mostly to myself, as I stared off in space. Some mornings, I still had to remind myself of where I was and that I didn’t have clients anymore.

Luck groaned. “That sounds just tragic!” She had a flair for the dramatic.

“It doesn’t sound that bad—” Murphy was cut off by Luck’s elbow meeting his ribs. He opened his mouth, as if to complain, and then just shut it again. Good move, Murphy. He didn’t have a chance against her.

Luck either didn’t notice his annoyance or, more likely, didn’t care, as she covered her heart with her hand. “What a tragedy. It’s a blessing it all ended.” She looked around the room, giving everyone the evil eye until they started agreeing with her.

Pleased, she moved on to the next thing on her list. “Who’s got the one month dead coin?”

“I thought we weren’t actually dead?” I asked.

There was a lot of ambiguity surrounding that subject. We weren’t mortal anymore, that was for sure. I could swing by my grave and prove that anytime I wanted. But we had bodies with needs and could get hurt or killed. And although I’d been told we didn’t age, my hair continued to grow. I still woke up hungry in the morning, and watch out if I didn’t get a cup of coffee. It was like we were straddling some invisible fence between immortality and human frailty.

“Seriously? Are we dead or not?” I asked again when I still received no response.

I got several yeses and nos at the same time, confirming my own belief. Somehow, we were neither.

Luck turned to me and her eyes flared. “We are not ruining this wonderful meeting with another dead debate. Now, who has the coin?”

No one spoke. This could go bad and quickly. Please, could someone have the goddam coin so we could be done?

“I thought Jockey was getting it?” Crow said, the black bird on his shoulder cawing in what could’ve been agreement. If the bird had any sense, he was mocking us all for the fools we were.

“Death said he was getting it!” Jockey, always a little bit defensive to begin with, stood in alarm.

Death, who appeared to be middle-aged man in a sweater vest, looked up from his How to Help Those of the Recently Deceased book. “No one told me to get anything. I thought Mother was getting it.” Death free-lanced as a grief counselor when he wasn’t escorting the newly departed along their way. Really, the guy knew how to work both ends of a situation, and he was excellent at both. He helped kill your loved ones, and then collected a check from teaching you how to cope with it. I could only imagine how bad that would be for his booming business if it got out.

Mother, surrounded by her beefy gardeners, just shrugged in her perfectly petite way. Mother Earth didn’t particularly like to get her hands dirty in trivial matters she considered beneath her.

“Fine. I’ll get it myself tomorrow, you bunch of lazy good-for-nothings!” Luck was practically frothing at the mouth at her coworker’s lack of enthusiasm in making her meeting a rousing success

“Is this almost over?” my boss, Harold, asked. His chair was situated at the very outer limits of the space, where he could still claim participation and yet not have to interact much. Harold didn’t particularly care for me, but he wasn’t the warm and fuzzy type, so it was very hard to distinguish the difference between his likes and dislikes. I’d yet to find anyone or thing he did like, other than his piles of papers.

Before Luck could address Harold’s question, Fate walked in. His eyes immediately landed on me and stayed there. My gaze quickly moved away, but it didn’t lessen the effect, or how my senses seemed to attune only to him now.

Everyone else’s eyes shot to him. He had a way of doing that, hogging all the attention. This was a meeting about me, not that I wanted it, but he even hogged this. The fact that I didn’t think his hogging problem was intentional made it no less annoying.

In truth, it was just something about him. I used to think it was his dark good looks, or maybe his height and build, but the more I got to know him, the more I realized it was none of those things.

Even if his looks were the first thing that drew your attention, there was something else entirely that kept you transfixed. It was something in the way he moved, the way he spoke, and the look in his eyes. It wasn’t that the people around him were lacking, it was that he just had more of everything.

To sum it up, Fate was like the Universe’s experiment in extra credit. If the rest of us were a scoop of vanilla ice cream, he was a sundae, with extra fudge and a cherry.

Luck stood and pointed a finger at him. “You’re late. You said you would be here,” she scolded, in no way wilting, even under Fate’s full glare, something that caused most people to whither.

I, on the other hand, tried to avoid all direct contact. I’d been dodging Fate for the past few weeks. It wasn’t that I disliked him. It was just…complicated.

He’d been letting me, too, up until a couple of days ago. But something had changed in the past forty-eight hours. He’d become a hunter and I the prey. I didn’t like the feeling of being a gazelle sprinting away from the lion with about as much cover as the grass on the plains.

No matter where I ducked lately, he showed up. Obviously, I should have expected him to come to this. I just wish he hadn’t.

“A job ran late,” he said to Luck, unperturbed. He found a chair at the back, slung his arm across the empty one next to him and kicked his feet up on the one in front of him. Only Fate, the space hog, would need three chairs to get comfortable.

The second his eyes turned back on me again, I started squirming in my spot. Wow, look at that interesting dirt mark on the wall near the door. The pretense became more than that as I realized just how dirty the walls really were. You would think they could get a painter in this place. Hell, give me a gallon and I’d do it myself. Someone really needed to get a handle on the housekeeping around here.

There was even shadowing around the doorknob. No wonder they always tried to dim the lights. I’d thought it was Harold being cheap, trying to lower the gas and electric bill. We might be Unknown Forces of the Universe, but Santee Cooper, the local electric company, sure knew how to find us. I’d seen the bills on Harold’s desk last time I was snooping.

Somewhere in those stacks, he’s got a file on me. I never passed up an opportunity to try and find out what they’d written about me. One of these days, and I had a lot of them coming since I was signed on here for the next thousand years, I’d find it.

The dirty door I’d been staring at opened suddenly, and a blond Adonis stood there, making everything look even shabbier with his elegance. No, not just an Adonis, this was the real deal. Cupid. Decked out in a suit of white silk, from head to toe, he was a sight to behold. Large diamonds in his ears and on his fingers, flashing their value the way only a superb stone could, dimmed in comparison to the person wearing them.

Cupid wasn’t just in the building, he was inside our space. Our office radio would’ve screeched to a stop if it had been playing, and not just because the antenna was broken and someone had walked in just the wrong circumference to disrupt the signal. Just like that, without another word, the meeting adjourned and everyone in the office shot into action. Chairs scraped across the floor, metal clanking into metal, as we all scrambled to get as far away from him as possible.

I wasn’t surprised Cupid’s appearance had everyone running for cover. I’d found out from Luck, in one of our chitchats, that I hadn’t been the only victim of Cupid’s love charm. Those who hadn’t had firsthand experience still knew enough to avoid him.

But it was worse now. Word had spread that he had a way of transmitting his spells without ingestion, and no one knew how he was doing it. The only case I’d known of was with me, so someone had spilled the beans. Unfortunately, loose lips—also known as Lady Luck—hadn’t been discreet enough to omit who had become afflicted.

When confronted about her gossiping ways, she swore she’d only told Murphy. Murphy then swore to her he’d only told Crow. I lost track of the chain of information somewhere around Death, who had even relayed the story to the Tooth Fairy. For all I knew, they’d even told the human accountant—just some run of the mill guy who they’d accidentally rented space to—some jumbled up version of the truth.

That was when I realized that even though it was a small office, filled with beings who weren’t quite human, it was still gossip central. And those gossipers were running like hell was on their heels right now.

Cupid was blocking the only exit. Everyone was aware of what could come from close proximity, and with no other place to retreat, we all bee-lined it for Harold’s office.

“Where’s everyone going?” Cupid yelled. Nobody looked at him or answered, as if we could all just pretend we hadn’t noticed him as we did the fifty-yard dash.

I tripped on a cat toy in my rush to get to the door and Luck, a step a head of me, paused briefly then mouthed the words, I’m sorry, as she kept going. I didn’t blame her. We all knew the stakes.

Just as I was preparing for the inevitable, two hands went under my arms and lifted me up, propelling me forward.

“Oh no, you’re not staying out here when I’ve got other places to be tonight,” Fate said.

Karma (Karma #1)
People say karma's a...well, you know. Personally, I don't think I'm that bad.

It's not like I wanted this job. I wasn't even in my right mind when I accepted

the position.

Now, I'm surrounded by crazy coworkers like Lady Luck, who's a bit of a tramp,

and Murphy's Law, who's a bumbling oaf. But the worst is Fate. He's got a problem with transfers like myself, and I have to see him constantly. It's unavoidable. We're hunting the same man, my murderer.

Author Note: This is an urban fantasy, with a continuing storyline. Although there is a romantic interest, this is not a romance.

About the Author:
Donna Augustine’s lifelong ambition was to become the crazy cat lady. Unfortunately, when family allergies cut short her dream of living in a house full of furries, she turned her ambitions toward writing. Combining her love of fantasy, scifi, horror and romance, she tries to string together interesting twists on urban fantasy.

A native of New Jersey, when she isn’t writing, or overdosing on caffeine, she can occasionally be spotted in disguise at the local dog park.