INCENDIO BANNER

Chronicles of an Urban Elemental Book 1: INCENDIO: Flame Born

Inspector Gagne, pronounced ‘gahn-yay’ is just doing her job bringing in the bad guys. However, something is bound to change since the veil between realms has come down and magical creatures live among humans.


 

Incendio: Flame Born snippet – 

 

“I know who you are! You’re one of them. She’s one of them!”

I grip the shoulder of my tweaked-out, freaked out, twenty-something skater dude and encourage him to keep marching up the station’s ramp. “Yep, you got me. I’m one of those crazy cops who bring in nakey guys gone wackadoodle on pharmaceutical.”

He shuffles ahead of me, his bare-footed steps sloppy with whatever synthetic feel-good wave of wonder he’s riding. 

Rene steps out the station’s door and winces, bringing his hand up to shield his eyes. “For the love of all that’s holy. Where the fuck are your clothes, kid?”

Nakey Kid lifts his cuffed hands and I yank him back to keep him from getting touchy-feely. “There’s no hiding from me. I see all.”

“Nobody wants to see it all,” Rene snaps, averting his gaze. “Damn, kid, cover that shit up.”

I chuckle and head inside. “Have a good one, Rene.”

“You too, Gagne. Keep our city safe.”

“You betcha. One streaker at a time.”

The buzz of the station on a busy night feeds my cells. This is my drug of choice. Fighting the good fight. Sweeping the streets. Corralling the whacked and weird and keeping them from ruining the night of innocent, hard-working folks.

“Inspector Gagne.”

I cringe at the pronunciation of my name and glance at the desk sergeant on duty. The old girl has been living in Montréal long enough to pick up on French pronunciations by now.

Hell, I’ve gone over it a half-dozen times for her. “Betty, it’s pronounced ‘gahn-yay’ not gag-knee.”

She slides a disparaging look over me that says how much she doesn’t care.

Yeah, nice talk.

Of course, it’s Betty on the desk on the night I smell like a sewage-vomit love child and have been wrestling with Nakey Kid. If it were Mitchell or Stanton, those old warhorses would think it’s a hoot that funk covers me tits to toes while I frog-march a flasher. 

Instead, it’s the precinct’s matronly mother.

Betty somehow has the finely honed ability to berate me, my position on major crimes, and my successfully single lifestyle all in one steely gaze. 

Suck it, Betty. 

I pass the desk, chin up and spine stiff, and head straight for holding.

Montréal’s Twenty-Third Precinct isn’t sexy or flashy like a couple of the downtown houses. It sags in a few places and shows the wear and tear of its struggles in a few others—much like the cops who work here.

Still, we’ve got a great bunch of dedicated officers. Not only do they work the job, their blood runs blue. 

Calice, Gagne, you smell like de dumpster behind my building.”

I laugh and keep my kid walking. “Because that’s where I camp out on my days off, Morin. By the way, I found your blow-up doll while I was on my stakeout. You really wore her out.”

The guys get a kick out of that one.

Marx pops his head up from his cubicle like a scruffy, balding gopher. “Don’t you have dat big family dinner tonight, Gagne?”

“Yeah. It’s the twins’ birthday.”

Anna and Micah are two teenage kids I pulled from a flophouse during a raid a couple of years ago. They aren’t related by blood but bonded over their rough beginnings and were about the same age. 

Since neither of them had a suitable family to claim them, I hooked them up with my adoptive aunt. She raised my siblings and me after our adoptive parents died in a car crash.

Charlotte Gagne, or as everyone calls her—Charlie.

My adoptive father’s younger sister has a life rhythm that flows to a different beat. When most would zig, she’s solidly a zag girl. She’s odd and spontaneous, and we were lucky to have her.

The night I landed back at our childhood home and introduced her to the kids, she asked them about themselves and deemed them twins. She declared that was their new birthday and sent me to the ice cream parlor to get them a cake.

‘New lives deserve a new birthday to celebrate,’ she stated, welcoming them inside. 

That’s the way Charlie rolls—no one gets left behind.

“Oof, we can’t send you home for a family party looking and smelling like dat.” Morin waves in front of his mustache. “I’ll run de kid up to holding so you can shower and hit de road.”

I chuckle. “And in return?”

He runs his thumbs under his beltline and tugs the waist of his pants around his pot belly. “Well, de courteous thing to do when someone does you a favor is to return dat favor.”

“Uh-huh, and what does that look like?”

He glances at me sidelong and smiles. “Bring us some of your aunt’s baking, and we’ll call it square.”

I laugh. These boys are slaves to Charlie’s baking. “Done deal. Tell the guys upstairs to let Nakey Kid sleep it off until morning, and I’ll write him up before I leave. Tomorrow, I will deliver your bakery bribe.”

Morin grins and waggles his brows at his partner, Marx. “Dat’s how it’s done, assholes. You see?”

Marx chuckles and leans back in his chair. “Ah, oui, I see. I see your belt moving to de next notch.” 

“I know who you are!” the kid yells again as Morin carts him off. 

His declaration hits home. Normally, I’m guarded enough that the shit flung at me doesn’t stick. Except I’ve been thinking about the twins today…where they came from…where I came from… Huh, I guess I opened old wounds.

I know who you are.

That makes one of us because I sure as hell don’t

***

I head into the locker room, doing my best to get Nakey Kid’s words out of my head. I grab a change of clothes from my locker and take them and my cleanup kit into one of the private shower stalls. Once I’ve shut myself in, I strip down and toss my stanky clothes into my canvas backpack. 

I kind of miss being a uni because now when I get grimed up, it’s not police-issued clothes getting wrecked. 

It’s my wardrobe.

I lean into the shower stall, crank the water as hot as it’ll go, and give it a second to heat up.

The guys rib me about my “molten lava” setting preference, but hey, this is me. I love the singe of water on my skin and the humidity of the air filling my lungs. 

Who needs a spa? This is a poor girl’s sauna. 

Just because their delicate skin can’t deal with it doesn’t make me wrong. I’ve always liked my showers near scalding. Besides, if any day ever called for a truly hot shower, it’s this one. 

“Man on deck!” Marx’s voice rings out as he pushes the locker room door open.

All officers use the same locker room, men and women. It’s not like I’ve ever cared if any of the guys see me getting ready or winding down after a shift, but the men still call out whenever they enter, just in case I’ve suddenly sprouted a debilitating case of modesty. 

Calice! It’s a sauna in here. You trying to steam press our uniforms again, Gagne?”

I flick water over the grungy curtain, hoping I get him. “What are you doing in here in the middle of your shift, Marx? Forget your shoes again?”

“Har-har. Très drôle.” Marx has three girls, all under five, and I don’t think he’s had a full night’s sleep in years. It’s no surprise he occasionally makes it all the way to the station in only his socks. “Dat only happened once.”

“Once is too often for an officer of the law to leave his boots at home, don’t you think?”

He chuckles. “Talk to me when you’ve got two kids kicking around in your bed all night because a dumbass cousin thought it was fun to watch scary clown videos.”

I laugh. “The next time Charlie teases me about finding a man and settling down, I’ll flash her your badge picture. The bags under your eyes are epic.”

“Happy to be of service.” The echoing metal-on-metal clang signals him shutting his locker and the conclusion of his business. He takes his leave, still razzing me about how hot it is.

“You know what they say, old man. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the locker room.”

I stand under the water until the filth from my shift swirls in the drain, then a little longer. The tension I carry in my muscles releases bit by bit.

The pipes squawk when I shut the faucet. I run my hands over my head and shake off the excess water. Toweling off and getting dressed is the work of a moment.

I slide on my black tactical jeans, a white tank top, and the thin gray hoodie I’ve worn almost threadbare.

With all my lady bits covered, I gather my shit and exit my shower stall to finish getting cleaned up in the locker room. 

After another rough pass of the towel over my head, my hair hangs straight to my shoulders, and I grab my brush and make a quick pass.

I’ve never been a mousse and style kinda girl. Why bother? In five minutes, I’ll have a helmet on anyway.

I toss the towel into the department laundry bin in the corner and my brush into my locker. The hollow bang of metal echoes against the space's hard surfaces, and I take that as my cue to leave. 

The silver buckles of my cool-as-fuck motorcycle boots snap closed across my ankles. My leather trench is next. It’s snug over the hoodie but better when I reach back and pull the hood free from my collar. It falls to the back of my knees, and I have to hike it up when I sit so it doesn’t touch my pipes.

A small price to pay.

It’s badass.

After shrugging on my backpack, I grab my helmet and keys and head out into the Montréal night.

I’m not a huge fan of shifts that end this late, but when you’re trying to catch cockroaches, it’s gotta be dark out. 

Still, the hour makes the ride home more fun.

My boots drum out a steady rhythm as I close the distance to my most prized possession.

Scarlett—my Ducati Multistrada V4S motorcycle. 

Fire engine red with black detailing, she’s about the sexiest thing you’ve ever seen. Straddling her seat, I get things started and let her purr for a moment while I finish getting suited up. Helmet on, Bluetooth synced up, gloves on.

I ease off the station property, the engine purring with the knowledge that as soon as we’re clear, we’ll be gripping and ripping. 

Scarlett is a beast. A sexy, glorious beast. 

I make my way north, dodging the traffic hemorrhaging from Olympic Park stadium. 

There must have been an event tonight.

By the look of the crowd, it was a big one.

Doesn’t matter. After six years on the force, I know all the side streets and alleys, and dodging obstacles makes the ride more fun. 

With the wind whipping around my helmet and the lights of the city glittering around me, I zip down Rue Hochelaga. I wave at the regulars getting their late-night fix at Poutine Centrale. On another night, I’d stop for a delicious plate myself.

With Charlie cooking tonight, I don’t dare.

Notre-Dame Street runs along the river and is my favorite way to cross the city. I’m booking it in the eastbound lanes when I catch the flickering strobe of lights breaking through the trees of Rougemont Park. 

I might be off-duty, but it never hurts to keep an eye out for mischief in the parks late at night.

Especially these days. 

Gearing down, I take the parking lot entrance faster than I should. Scarlett handles the challenge like she’s on rails. 

Yeah, baby.

Sure enough, as soon as I turn off my engine, I hear the laughter of youth. Dismounting, I leave my bike under a light pole in the parking lot and head along the path to check it out.

It wasn’t so long ago Kenzie, Briar, Zephyr, and I used to sneak out to drink and let off some steam in the local parks with friends. 

I know, cliché, right? Adopted kids bucking the system and getting into trouble…shocking.

What can I say? We have a few rough edges.

I follow the asphalt path a few yards into the trees and stop dead.

“What the fuckety-fuck is this?” There must be eighty teenagers and twenty-somethings bouncing to the rhythm of a beat I don’t hear. They’ve got their arms in the air, smiles on their faces, and are having the time of their lives.

They’re not human kids.

As crazy as it sounds, a few months ago the veil between realms came down and we humans found out that not only are the myths of fairies, elves, and fantasy species true…there are members of those communities living among us.

From where I’m standing in the shadow of the trees, I see wings, tails, horns, pink skin, and glowing eyes. Hell, a couple of them even have animal faces and furry legs and hoofs.

It’s a fae rave.

It’s a silent fae rave?

Are they transmitting music on an empowered frequency that humans can’t hear?

Is that a thing?

Honestly, as fae gatherings go, it’s very tame. 

Members of the fae community don’t seem to share the same modesty or restraint as humans. In the past six months, there have been endless sex complaints. Sprites humping in the skies overhead, naked elves enjoying the nature of the park a little too freely, orgies on apartment roofs, and the list goes on.

Those are the lovers. We’ve also got the fighters.

Bickering between species, bar brawls, satyrs ramming people with their horns… Hell, two nixies set a McDonald’s on fire because their fries were cold.

So yeah, dancing to imaginary music is tame. 

Not knowing what to think about it, I scan the scene and strike off toward the only adult I find in the crowd. The DJ working the stage seems to be in charge, so I start there. 

Climbing the three steps of the raised platform, I examine the intricate swirls of the tats covering the muscled rounds of his shoulders and arms.

Wow, this guy is jacked. 

I scold myself for admiring the way the ink hugs those seriously toned muscles and focus on the designs. They aren’t exactly tribal. More like runes. Maybe Norse…no, that’s not right. Maybe Egyptian?

 In any case, they’re damned impressive.

After the art appreciation portion of the evening is over, I tap his shoulder. 

He straightens, tugs one of the earpieces of his headphones behind his ear, and lifts his chin. “Yeah?”

“What’s this about?” I use my stern cop voice and waggle my finger at the mass of bodies. “The park’s closed after dark.”

The guy, about thirty, looks me up and down and I can’t tell if he dislikes me because I’m human or because I’m holding up my badge. “It’s a fly-your-flag freedom celebration.” 

“Yeah, well, do you have a permit?”

“We’re just dancing.”

“Dancing to what?” I stare out at the crowd of swaying bodies.

“Music. Obviously.” The level of sarcasm dripping off his response is admirable. 

“Dude, why are you busting my balls?”

“Why are you busting mine?”

“Did you miss the part where I’m holding a badge, and you don’t have a permit for an event on municipal property?”

His mouth quirks up into a crooked smile. “Actually, it’s less about me missing it and more about me not giving a shit.”

“Nice. What’s your name?”

“Gareth.”

“All right, Gareth. At the risk of receiving the lashing of another sharp-tongued retort, what music?”

He reaches into a bowl at the front of his table and hands me an earbud. I hold it at the opening of my ear—because hello, it’s an earbud in a communal party bowl—and yeah, okay, I hear the music.

“So, everyone’s got earbuds in and are just dancing and having a freedom celebration?”

“Ding, ding, ding. Give the woman a prize,” he says, sounding simultaneously condescending and bored. “Look, we’re not causing any trouble.”

“Except for the part where you’re trespassing during hours when the park is closed.”

“But that’s the whole point. This is a freedom celebration. These kids have been getting heckled and ridiculed so much lately, they needed to have some fun without judgy humans around.”

I check my watch and exhale. I’m sooo late.


 

Find out if the crazy guy saying ” I know what you are” means anything for Inspector Gagne in this new age. Chronicles of an Urban Elemental Book 1: INCENDIO: Flame Born is coming January 6th, so head over to Amazon and pre-order it today.