My name is Lizzy Tucker, and I used to think I was normal. My hair is blond with some chemical assistance. My eyes are brown from my Grandpa Harry. I'm 5'5" tall, and my breasts measure more than my waist so I'm a happy camper. I had a mildly embarrassing childhood free from any truly significant disasters. I wasn't a cheerleader or the prom queen. I didn't graduate with honors. I chose culinary school after high school, where I limped my way through butchering beasts and excelled at baking cakes. I was engaged and disengaged. Good riddance to him. In January, three days after my twenty-eighth birthday, I inherited a house from my Great Aunt Ophelia, and I took a job as pastry chef at Dazzle's Bakery in Salem.
For five terrific months, I felt like my life was finally coming together. And then two men and a monkey dropped into my world and changed it forever.
One of the men is called Wulf, short for Gerwulf Grimoire. He's eerily handsome, with midnight black, shoulder-length hair that waves over his ears. His skin is pale, his eyes are dark, and his intentions are even darker. The other guy is big and scruffy, and beach bum blond. He has a hard muscled body, a questionable attitude, and a monkey named Carl. The big, scruffy guy is unexplainably charming, and he has only one name . . . Diesel.
The men are my age. And according to Diesel, we're part of a loosely organized band of humans with abilities beyond the ordinary. I don't entirely believe all this, but I don't disbelieve it, either. I recognize that some people are smarter, braver, stronger, can sing better, are luckier than others. So who's to say some people don't have abilities just north of normal. I mean, it's not like he's telling me he's Superman from the planet Krypton, right?
This is my first October in New England. I still love my job and Ophelia's small, two-bedroom saltbox that sits on the crest of a hill overlooking Marblehead Harbor. The house was built in 1740 and over the years has had some renovation, with varying degrees of success. It's a little lopsided and the windows aren't plumb, but it has a working fireplace, and from day one it's felt like home.
Usually, I work from five in the morning until one in the afternoon, but today I had the day off. Rain was slanting against my kitchen windows, and the ancient maple in my backyard rattled in the wind. I was in the middle of chopping vegetables for soup when my back door blew open and Diesel stepped into my tiny mudroom. He was wearing motorcycle boots, washed-out jeans, a T‑shirt that advertised beer, and an unzipped gray sweatshirt. He had a two-day beard, his hair was thick and unruly and wet from the rain, and he was sex walking.
"I need you to come with me," Diesel said. "Some guy just got pitched off his fourth-floor balcony, and Wulf is involved. There's a rumor going around that Wulf's got a lead on another SALIGIA Stone. I imagine this murder fits in somehow."
The story Diesel tells is that seven ancient stones hold the power of the seven deadly sins. They're called the Stones of SALIGIA, and if you combine them in the same vessel you get really bad juju going . . . like hell on earth. Some people believe the stones have found their way to Salem. Wulf happens to be one of those people, and he's made it known that he wants them. Since Wulf is thought to inhabit the dark side from time to time, Diesel has been bestowed the responsibility of...