Black In White (Book #1)
NOW on KINDLE UNLIMITED!
“My name is Black. Quentin Black…”
Gifted with an uncanny sense about people, psychologist Miri Fox works as an off and on profiler for the police. So when they think they’ve finally nailed the “Wedding Killer,” she agrees to check him out, using her gift to discover the truth.
But the suspect, Quentin Black, isn’t anything like Miri expects. He claims to be hunting the killer too, although for reasons of his own, and the longer Miri talks to him, the more determined she becomes to uncover his secrets.
When he confronts her about the nature of her peculiar “insight,” Miri gets pulled into Black’s bizarre world and embroiled in a game of cat and mouse with a deadly killer––who still might be Black himself. Worse, she finds herself irresistibly drawn to Black, a complication she doesn’t need with a best friend who’s a homicide cop and her boyfriend in intelligence. Can Miriam see a way out or is her future covered in Black?
A paranormal mystery romance, introducing brilliant, dangerous, and otherworldly psychic detective, Quentin Black.
Praise For JC Andrijeski's Writing
“Andrijeski delivers a whopper of an action flick…” ~ New Myths
“The sexual tension is scorching…” ~ The Muses Circle
“Amazing characters in an out-of-this-world scenario…” ~ The Indie Bookshelf
“The most impressive display of world-building I have seen in a while.” ~ I (Heart) Reading
Fifteen-year-old Janine Rico was having a good night.
She was having a great night.
An epically awesome night, by pretty much any standard.
First of all, getting alcohol was easy, for a change. She and her pals Hannah and Keeley managed to shoulder-tap some epically challenged, can-I-come-party-with-you-kids loser on their very first try, outside a seedy liquor store on Fillmore. The owner, an older Indian man, didn’t care––so loser boy emerged five minutes later with one of the big bottles of peppermint schnapps and another of cheap rum. They ditched him in the park minutes later, running off with two guys from their school and laughing their asses off.
That was like, hours ago now.
The boys had gone home.
They’d been wandering the city most of the night since, determined to make the most of Keeley’s mom being out of town and letting them stay in her condo in the Marina District. They’d stopped at a few parks to pass the bottles around and talk and snap pictures with their smart phones, watching the orange-tinted fog billow in odd, smoke-like exhales across the wet grass. They’d already discussed their plans for the next day…which mostly involved sleeping in, along with ordering pizza and movies with Keeley’s mom’s credit card.
An epic weekend, all in all. Awesomely flawless.
Janine was tired now, though. The cold wind cut her too, even through the down jacket she wore over her hoodie sweatshirt and multicolored knit tights.
It was Keeley’s idea to stop at the Palace of Fine Arts before they headed back.
“Nooooo,” Janine whined, flopping her arms dramatically. “I’m ready to pass out. I’m cold. I have to pee…this is stupid!”
“Come on,” Keeley cajoled. “It’s totally cool! Look…it’s all lit up!”
“It’s lit up every night,” Janine grumbled.
Hannah hooked Janine’s arm, but sided with Keeley. “We can take pictures…send them to Kristi in Tahoe and make her crazy jealous!”
Hannah always wanted to dig at Kristi. Maybe because Kristi’s family was rich, or maybe because Hannah was jealous that Kristi and Janine were best friends.
Either way, Janine couldn’t fight both of them.
Her eyes shifted to the orange-lit, fifty-foot-tall, Roman-esque columns. They stood on the other side of a man-made lake covered in sleeping ducks and swans, making a disjoined crescent like ancient ruins from an old amphitheater. The fountain in the lake was turned off, so the columns reflected a near-perfect mirror on the glass surface of the water.
As they tromped over slippery grass, Janine found herself thinking it did look pretty cool, with the robe-draped stone ladies resting their arms on top of each column, showing their stone backs to the world. Broken by deep black shadows, the stone faces looked otherworldly. Willow trees hung over the lake, rustling over the water as the wind lifted their pale leaves.
“All right,” she mumbled, rolling her eyes to let them know they owed her.
Hannah broke out the last of the peppermint schnapps, handing around the bottle by the neck. Shivering and pulling her down jacket tighter against the wind, Janine took a long drink, choking a bit. The warmth of the burn was welcome.
She thought about school on Monday, and telling the other kids about their night.
Hannah was right. This was so going to blow Kristi’s mind.
Cheered at the thought, Janine grinned, taking another slug of the schnapps and shuddering when it wanted to come back up her throat.
“I think I’m done,” she said, handing the bottle to Keeley and wiping her mouth.
“I soooo want to get married here!” Keeley said, after taking her own drink.
“Me too!” Hannah seconded.
The three of them wandered the asphalt path between orange-lit columns. The path led to the rotunda, but would also spit them out through the row of columns on the other side, and back to the lawn that would eventually let them off at the edge of the Marina District.
Maybe this wasn’t such a bad short cut after all.
The columns looked way bigger and taller up close, like something really and truly old. Janine gawked up with her two friends, despite the dozens of times she’d walked here with her parents or during school trips or whatever.
Pulling out her smart phone, she took a few pictures, first just of the columns themselves, then of Keeley and Hannah as they posed, hanging on the base of pillars and stone urn.
“We should send these to Kristi now!” Hannah squealed, laughing with her arm slung around Keeley’s neck. “She will be sooo pissed!”
“No, her mom checks her phone, like, every day,” Janine warned. “She would totally bust us if she saw what time we’d sent these.”
Hannah’s expression sobered.
Before she could answer, they all came to an abrupt stop.
Keeley saw it first.
She smacked Janine, who came to a dead stop, right before Janine grabbed Hannah, gripping her friend’s peacoat jacket in a tightly-clenched fist.
Before them, a woman wearing a white, flowing dress lay in a strangely elegant pose on the ground. Something about the way her legs and arms were positioned struck Janine as broken-looking, despite the precision…like a store mannequin that had been accidentally knocked over and lay facing the wrong direction.
The woman’s legs were almost in a running or leaping pose. Her arms curved up over her head, the wrists and fingers positioned inward like a ballerina’s. Her chin and face tilted up, towards the lake, as if to look between her delicately positioned hands.
Whatever caused the position, it didn’t look right.
The woman’s face didn’t look right, either.
It belonged to a porcelain doll. Someone had slathered so much make-up on her cheeks and eyes that they appeared bruised.
Those details, however, Janine remembered only later.
In those few seconds, all she could see was the blood.
The woman’s dress from waist to bust-line was soaked a dark red that looked purple in the orange light under the dome. That same splash of red covered her all the way to her thighs, past where the dress bunched up and flared out like the dress of a princess in fairytale.
It was a wedding dress.
The teenagers just stood there, all three of them breathing hard now, like they’d been running. They stared at the woman under the Palace of Fine Arts rotunda as if the sight put them in a trance. Janine found herself unable to look away.
Then she realized they weren’t alone.
Next to the woman in white, a man crouched, staring down at her.
Janine must have seen him there.
She must have been staring right at him, along with the woman. Even so, his form seemed to jump out at her all at once.
Her first, irrational thought was: He must be the groom.
Then Janine saw his hands reach for the mid-section of the woman on the ground.
He was touching her.
His face remained in shadow. Black hair hung down over his eyes. He straightened in a single, fluid motion and like the woman in white, blood streaked his skin like glistening paint, all the way past his elbows to the edges of his black T-shirt.
His face and neck wore dark and shining splotches of the same.
He turned his head, staring at the three girls.
For the first time, the angles of his face caught the light, displaying high cheekbones and a distinct lack of expression in the sunset-colored flood lamps aimed at the dome. Those almond-shaped eyes looked oddly yellow––almost gold––under that glow of the rotunda.
Janine saw those feral-looking eyes focus on Hannah, then Keeley.
Right before they aimed directly at her.
Her trance finally broke.
A loud, familiar-sounding voice let out a piercing scream. The scream echoed inside the hollow chamber of the dome, replicating there.
It occurred to Janine only later that the scream came from her.
That was her screaming, Janine Rico.
In the same instant, a voice rose in her mind.
This one didn’t sound like her at all.
Run away, little girl, the voice whispered. Run away now, little one, all the way home, before the big bad wolf decides to eat you, too…
Janine didn’t have to be told twice.