Sin City Salvation
Holidays Are Hell
A Hell’s Belle Prequel Novella
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: 56West, LLC
Date of Publication: 11/27/18
Number of pages: 136
Word Count: 38,000
Cover design by Robin Ludwig Design Inc.
Tagline: What Happens In Vegas Needs to Stay In Vegas
There are thousands of bodies buried in the Las Vegas desert. Nina Martinez does not want to be one of them.
Blood Ops agents Nina and Frankie came to Las Vegas for a little R&R. But their holiday takes a detour when there is a mass suicide on the Vegas strip. With the sigil of Satan burning on the bodies, what looks like a human problem quickly turns supernatural. Satan is in Sin City, and he’s been reinvented as the self-help guru behind the multi-billion-dollar organization BestLife Ministries.
With an offer to attend the BestLife’s Yule Ball, Nina accepts her invitation to dance with the devil. But what happens in Vegas needs to stay in Vegas. For all of humanity’s sake…
This action-packed prequel novella to the acclaimed Hell’s Belle series gives fans of series a glimpse at Nina’s origin story while new readers can sample the unique Hell’s Belle world.
"You hear that?" Frankie asked.
"Do I have vampy hearing?" I countered with my own question. Of course I didn't hear it.
"That's right. Sorry," he said with a teasing smile. "There's a lot of chatter in the wind, a lot of bobbies, EMS, that sort."
Frankie was a posh Brit. Sometimes his terms needed translations.
"By bobbies, you mean cops, right?"
"Right, police. They keep calling code 10-56. Any idea?"
"No, but Google will."
I stopped walking and pulled out my phone. I fired up my browser and punched in the police code while Frankie crossed his arms and sent his eyes skyward. His hatred of Google was irrational, considering the vamp never used a computer.
"Suicide," I said, reading off my phone.
"That many at once?" he asked. His eyes narrowed but his lanky body went electric, like he was listening to the wind again. "That's a terrible number of 10-56s being called."
"Maybe they're repeating?"
"Different voices. Dispatch is sending bobbies out to different locations."
"Where?" I asked, my own body tensing with adrenaline.
"All different hotels. All on the Strip."
"No," I said, launching myself forward, our ridiculous hotel less than a mile away. Get in, get to the room, close the drapes, pretend this wasn't happening.
"What?" Frankie asked, matching my steps. "Aren't you curious?"
"Human problem," I said. "Suicide is a human problem."
"Nina—" he started in that voice.
That. Voice. I knew that voice. That was the voice that said we should wade in.
I pressed forward. "Are they talking about puncture wounds in the neck? Are the bodies gutted, half eaten entrails left behind? Anyone speaking in tongues?"
He slowed his gate, so his answer came from behind me. "But this sounds like a mass suicide."
I pushed my pace even faster. If he wanted to explore whatever the hell the idiot humans were up to, he was welcome to it. I, however, wanted to wash off the stink of failure and then crash in the hotel's promised "Angelic Cloud" bed.
Frankie, of course, caught up. He wasn't even breathing heavy. Of course, he was dead so he didn't technically breathe.
"You ever hear of those Heaven's Gate nuts? That was human," I pushed out, getting a little winded, not by my speed walking but from the spike of my stress level. We were supposed to be on vacation. Hunting monsters 24/7 over the past nine months had me fatigued. I needed a time out. "Jim Jones? Not supernatural. Human."
"That was murder," he pointed out.
"Whatever. You get the idea," I said. "Suicides, even mass ones, happen for human reasons, Frankie. I promise you. This has nothing to do with us."
That was when Frankie football tackled me, shoving us off the sidewalk into the street. We slammed against the door of one of the stopped cars, then bounced forward a little before both of us landed on our asses in the gutter.
A body landed on the sidewalk in exactly the spot were were just standing. It made a loud thud on impact. Then a pink spray covered our bodies while fragments of bone pelted us, pinging off the metal of the cars still backed up on the street.
"What in bloody hell was that?" Frankie asked as we both scrambled back up to our feet, ignoring the shrieks of the woman driving the car we hit.
My own eyes tracked up the length of the high-rise casino beside us, where three heads poked out an open window, arms flailing and pointing down.
"Jumper," I said, looking at what was left of the body.
The torso was intact. Two arms and one leg had separated from the body. The one remaining attached leg was akimbo. His head was pulp.
In my job, I've seen human bodies ripped apart by werewolves and drained of blood by vampires. But this? This was a gruesome way to go.
I ignored the gore that covered my bomber jacket, now destined for the garbage bin. No amount of cleaning would wipe away the mess on this coat.
"Let's get out of here," I said to Frankie, who was wiping his leather down with a handkerchief. "Frankie, you're gonna need more than a little hankie to get that shit out."
"Don't you think we should stay for the police?" he asked.
"Human problem," I repeated.
"Nina." There was a warning in Frankie's tone, and I pulled my eyes away from the body and to a man huddled by the revolving door of the casino. If he had been mere seconds earlier, he would have been pancaked under the jumper.
The man's eyes were wide. His skin, sheened with sweat, took on a grey pallor. He couldn't have been much older than thirty, but what he just witnessed seemed to age him one hundred years.
"You okay, sir?" Frankie called out to him.
The man shifted his eyes towards Frankie. Fear and confusion danced behind his violet irises. I watched his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed, trying to find his voice. The pulse of the artery in his neck throbbed.
"I . . . I'm . . . what the—"
That was all the man could manage to get out before his eyes tracked back to the body and his face melted from shock to horror.
"Human problem, eh?" Frankie snarked with a nod to the remains.
I closed my eyes as my stomach roiled. Deep down, I knew. A string of suicides on the Vegas Strip the night before Christmas Eve? By jumping out high-rise windows? I didn't want to see, didn't want to know, didn't want to admit: this was no human problem.
"Nina—" Frankie prodded. "You gotta look."
With a determined sigh, I opened my eyes and saw a blue flame dance on top of the dead man's torso. Frankie and I inched towards the body until we hovered over it, watching the flame ignite into a shape from groin to chest.
"Do you see that?" the frightened man whispered from behind us. "You both see that, right?"
There was no way I could unsee any of it, especially the sigil formed from the flames.
This wasn't just any old sigil.
This was the mark of Lucifer.
The devil was in town.
And Frankie and I were likely the ones who had to run him out of Vegas.
About the Author:
Karen Greco’s entire career has revolved around writing. She studied playwriting in college (and won an award or two). After not writing plays for a long time, a life-long obsession with exorcists and Dracula drew her to urban fantasy, where she decapitates characters with impunity. Titles in her Hell’s Belle series include: Hell’s Belle, Tainted Blood, and Steele City Blues. Sin City Salvation is a prequel novella to the series. She wrote contemporary romance for a small press under the pen-name Jillian Sterling. She is currently re-writing and expanding those books for re-release. She is a freelance entertainment publicist and feature writer. She is a regular contributor to Providence Media’s various regional titles.