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Book Spotlight, Excerpt-->The Curse Merchant by J.P. Sloan

The Curse Merchant, by J.P. Sloan


Publisher:Curiosity Quills Press

Date of Re-Release­­: September 15th, 2014

Cover Artist: Conzpiracy Digital Arts (http://www.conzpiracy.co.uk/)


Dorian Lake spent years cornering the Baltimore hex-crafting market, using his skills at the hermetic arts to exact karmic justice for those whom the system has failed. He keeps his magic clean and free of soul-corrupting Netherwork, thus avoiding both the karmic blow-back of his practice and the notice of the Presidium, a powerful cabal of practitioners that polices the esoteric arts in America. However, when an unscrupulous Netherworker interferes with both his business and his personal life, Dorian's disarming charisma and hermetic savvy may not be enough to keep his soul out of jeopardy.
His rival, a soul monger named Neil Osterhaus, wouldn't be such a problem were it not for Carmen, Dorian's captivating ex-lover. After two years' absence Carmen arrives at Dorian’s doorstep with a problem: she sold her soul to Osterhaus, and has only two weeks to buy it back. Hoping to win back Carmen's affections, Dorian must find a replacement soul without tainting his own. As Dorian descends into the shadows of Baltimore’s underworld, he must decide how low he is willing to stoop in order to save Carmen from eternal damnation... with the Presidium watching, waiting for him to cross the line.

My mood was greatly improved the next day. I was counting the hours until I hit the Druid Hill Club. I fried myself an egg and ate it on toast, then walked to the café at the corner and had a nice long cup of coffee as the autumn clouds rolled in off the bay.
It would have been a longer cup of coffee if a walking mountain of human flesh hadn't interrupted.
He was a tall, thick-shouldered Polynesian with a square jaw and pythons for arms. He wore a sharp business suit, which screamed sophistication about half as loud as it bellowed "thug." He towered over me for a few seconds as I finally pulled my head out of my thoughts and looked up at his lumbering frame.
"Am I speaking to Dorian Lake?"
His voice was clean and crisp, almost intelligent. I gambled whether to answer in the affirmative, and hoped he wasn't there to collect some debt I had forgotten about.
"That's me. Who are you?"
"I represent a Mister Neil Osterhaus."
I might have actually rolled my eyes.
"Really?" I examined the man's dress and his expensive sunglasses. "Okay. Represent, my friend."
He lifted an eyebrow from behind his sunglasses and cleared his throat.
"He would ask that, as a courtesy, you discontinue your association with a Mister Julian Bright, as he is currently a client of Mister Osterhaus."
"Bright? This is about Bright?"
He stared at me without response.
"That's a nice suit."
"Thank you."
"So what do you want from me?"
"I would very much like to return to Mister Osterhaus with your pledge that you will discontinue your association―"
"―with Mister Bright, yeah. I get the picture." I snickered. "I can't believe this."
I pushed my chair back to stand up, but the man held out a flat palm at my shoulder level. I froze, watching him carefully. Discretion being the greater part of not getting my ass kicked, I decided to stay seated.
"Now," he continued in an even tone, "what can I tell Mister Osterhaus?"
"Really? He's strong-arming me? That bottom-feeder is trying to strong-arm me?"
His face blanched slightly. He shifted back and forth on his feet.
I shook my head at him. "Look, this is just precious. Honestly. You look like a smart enough guy, maybe even educated."
His brow wrinkled, and he spat, "Penn State, thank you."
"No shit? Did they have a good theater department there?"
"Excuse me?"
"Listen. You did a great job. The sunglasses were maybe a bit much. So, I don't want to string this out too long. Go tell Osterhaus that Dorian Lake says if he has a problem with free enterprise, he can take it up with the Founding Fathers. Until then, he should go crawl back into his playhouse and let the big boys play ball. Can you do that for me?"
He stood silent for a long moment, shuffling back and forth.
"You really want me to tell him that?"
"In the worst way."
He shrugged and nodded.
"Your call."
The man turned and sauntered halfway down the block before he looked back at me one more time. I waved back, trying not to look like a complete smartass.
I had to give Osterhaus credit. It took balls to play the Old World Enforcer Card on a complete stranger. It took even bigger balls to push a practitioner who was clearly his superior. Losing Bright's business must have put him in a desperate situation.

~About The Author~

I am a storyteller, eager to transport the reader to strange yet familiar worlds. My writing is dark, fantastical, at times stretching the limits of the human experience, and other times hinting at the monsters lurking under your bed. I write science fiction, urban fantasy, horror, and several shades in between.

I am a husband and a father, living in the “wine country” of central Maryland. I’m surrounded by grapevines and cows. During the day I commute to Baltimore, and somehow manage to escape each afternoon with only minor scrapes and bruises. I am also a homebrewer and a certified beer judge. My avocations dovetail nicely!

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