Between Ice & Fire includes 3 series
These series feature the next generation of the multiverse. Characters in this series and their relationships with the first generation are introduced in other series in the Multiverse Collection.
Soul of Ashes (Lyla & Michael)
Darkness descends. Power rises from the heart.
Lyla isn’t just an ordinary princess; she is destined to be the leader of a multi-billion citizen universe.
When a mission on Earth goes wrong, she is isolated in a strange forest with a guard, a friend, and a witch.
She could win battles. She could defeat evil. She could put the whole universe on fire.
But when darkness demands her friend’s life, will she compromise?
No war is without sacrifices. Can she make the hard decision?
Mage of Bloodstone (Caedmon & Alyna)
It's a curse to be the best.
She was trained to be leader.
She was taught to win combats.
She is the best fighter in the most powerful mage operating private security company in the city. In the future Earth where all humans need protection from the supernatural forces, private security is a booming business.
Unfortunately, no business can last long in such a chaotic world. When her mage tribe is in deep trouble, her talent alone couldn't save the day.
To convince the only man who could help her mage tribe, she must do the unthinkable ...
Magic in the Vineyards (Jasmine & Bertram)
Mystery brings them together. The truth tears them apart.
She's a witch in a small town. He's a city detective. They serve and protect their communities. But now the supernatural world wants them dead ...
Magic in the Vineyards is a romantic paranormal mystery series, a part of the Multiverse Collection.
Magic in the Vineyards
Jasmine placed her signature meat and cheese platter on the counter of the wine bar. She enjoyed the last drop of sunlight that reflected off the tall glass door and bounced across the polished wooden surface of the bar. She loved the color and the texture of red wood. The wood was local and sturdy, but elegant, with unpredictable whorls.
She could set up a table for two but decided against the idea because it didn’t suit the occasion. It was a Sunday afternoon, and nothing on this side of town was open. She wasn’t supposed to be at the restaurant, let alone holding a reception for a city detective who was here to stick his nose into the business of this small community.
Gisborne, a small town on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia, was known for its tranquility and the peaceful lifestyle it offered.
The human community had only recently hit the ten thousand mark. The paranormal community was about fifty thousand, based on the official registration—there wasn’t much she could do about the rogues. She preferred that the size of the population stay the same for as long as she was a resident.
For an introverted witch like her, small towns were perfect. She used to be one of the top chefs in London. She was much sought-after until the lingering effect of a spell she’d learned the night before set the entire kitchen on fire. Paris’s food-snob community loved her until an ice spell accidentally froze and shattered all the crystal and a vintage wine collection. She could try to explain to the average mundane human that her talent with food had nothing to do with her ineptness with magic, but she didn’t think they would understand.
Gisborne was her dream home now. She moved easily between the paranormal and the human communities. She had friends who loved her for who she was and supportive communities to work with.
Jasmine heard a car engine coming from the far end of the Chardonnay block at the main entrance of the vineyard. She then recognized the sound of a wheel dipping into a rain-filled pothole. The hole was quite deep, so any car that was low to the ground would suffer a scratch or two on its undercarriage. The engine hesitated for a few seconds and then came to life again.
She winced. She had meant to get Bob, the jack-of-all-trades handyman in town, to fix that hole. But between the burst pipes of the vineyard’s irrigation system, the order of the next lot of fertilizer being misplaced, and the murder of a visitor in the B&B up the road with a bottle of cabernet sauvignon produced by her vineyard, she had forgotten all about the hole in the driveway.
A couple of minutes after she’d heard the car tire hit the pothole, Detective Bertram Hayes walked into the restaurant.
He was in his thirties, tall with dark hair. Jasmine thought he was well built, but it was quite hard to judge with the long jacket he had on, the kind corporate executives in London and Paris wore. His eyes were intense, focused, and determined.
Plan B then.
After finding out that a city detective was coming their way, she’d had just enough time to have a quick discussion with her two best friends, Beatrice and Mia, about a plan of action. Plan A, they convert the detective into a believer in the paranormal community and ask for his help. Plan B, they swap the body out and give him something an ordinary human could comprehend.
She stepped out from around the counter. “Jasmine,” she said and reached her hand out for a handshake.
“Detective Bertram Hays. I was told to get the keys—”
“That was the plan. But this is the first time you’ve stayed here, and it could get tricky between getting the keys in the mailbox and getting a comfortable stay.”
“How do you know this is my first time here?”
“I’ve managed this resort for quite a while. I remember all our customers, Detective Hayes.”
He grinned. “Bertram.”
She would pay to see that grin again. “I was just kidding. I checked our records when your city office called to make the booking.” She gestured toward the bar and walked behind it.
“You shouldn’t have waited for me.”
She smiled. “I didn’t wait especially for you. We don’t open on Sundays, but this is a special occasion. You aren’t exactly coming here on a vacation.”
He nodded. “Still, I’m sorry for the inconvenience it might cause.”
“It’s not a problem. Even with the uncomfortable reason for your stay at my resort, I refuse to let anyone visiting here go to bed hungry.” Standing behind the counter, she pointed to the platter. “When I see what you like, I’ll pair it with the proper wine.”
“I shouldn’t drink.”
“Your duty doesn’t start until tomorrow morning. So for now, you’re my guest. This is on the house.”
“Thank you.” He grinned again and then sat on a barstool. “Would you join me? I can’t enjoy this feast all by myself.”
“Sure. After you, though.”
She placed two wine glasses on the counter and observed him. He forked up a slice of red meat and put it on his plate.
“Great!” she said and picked up a piece of the same. She waited for him to taste the meat and saw a spark of appreciation in his eyes. If there was anything she excelled at and could be proud of, it was food creation.
To Jasmine, cooking was an insulting word. She aimed to create an experience with the food she prepared. Although it might sound witchy, she knew more than anyone that her minimal magical skills had nothing to do with what she did with food.
She pointed at the meat on the platter. “Between the mortadella, the Spanish chorizo, and the salami, the mortadella is the best choice. It’s not just any mortadella—it’s imported here directly from Italy. Crafted with care and by order. Not processed for the mass market.”
He nodded. “No wonder it’s so delicious.”
She grabbed a bottle from behind the counter and poured a small amount of red wine into his glass, then hers. She swirled the large glass to aerate the wine and then took a sip. He did the same.
She smiled. “How’s the wine?”
“The same bottle that killed your victim.”
He choked on his drink.
“No, sorry, I meant the same variety. The bottle that was used to kill her was at the top of our vintage line. Eight thousand dollars a bottle. We don’t have it anymore. It was sold at an auction years before I started here.”
Jasmine smiled and pointed to the bottle. “This one is only eighty dollars.” Now that she knew he approved of the wine, she poured more for both of them.
She popped a marinated olive into her mouth and paused for a second to enjoy the flavor of the marinating sauce she had made from her own recipe.
“So is it only you on this case, or are more coming?”
“Just me to start with. Depending on my report, there might be more.”
“Working in the city, you must deal with a lot of cases like this.”
She shrugged. “Murder.”
He took more meat from the platter. She stayed with the olives and some grilled vegetable sticks. They were another creation of hers that converted all veggie haters into devout fans. He picked up a veggie stick, and after a second of suspicion, bit into it. Another fan. She didn’t need him to confirm or deny it—his eyes said it all.
She topped his wine glass. “So?”
“So what?” he asked and sounded as if her question was an unwelcome distraction from the savory vegetable sticks.
“What’s your background? What kinds of cases do you usually handle? Have you solved a lot of murder cases? Do you always find answers, no matter how weird they might be?”
She shrugged. “Illogical. Like using an eight-thousand-dollar bottle of wine to kill someone.”
He smiled. “I’d prefer not to talk about the ongoing case over dinner.”
She smiled. “Sorry.”
“Oh no, no apologies needed. As you said, my investigation doesn’t start until tomorrow. Not talking about it tonight is my personal preference.”
She nodded. “Cheese?”
He contemplated between Manchego, blue cheese, aged Gouda, and fresh mozzarella. In the end, he picked up a piece of Gouda.
Jasmine leaned over the counter. “You know your cheese!”
He smiled. “Gouda is one of the oldest cheeses in the world. Its slight smoky flavor and unique texture make it a good match for the rich cabernet sauvignon. A killer combination.”
Her smile faded. One thing she’d never had was a poker face.
“Are we all suspects? I mean, the town, the people, anyone who ever came in contact with that woman?” she asked. “Don’t you need a motive? Why would we kill a visitor? It’s bad for business, wouldn’t you think? We’re just ordinary people living in a small town. We’ve never had an incident that alerted the central police. We don’t even have our own police station. Ask your supervisor. It’s a peaceful town.”
She huffed after her rant then downed her drink.
Bertram sipped his wine and looked at her over the rim of his glass. She felt he took the slow-motion sip and gave her that suspenseful gaze on purpose to annoy the crap out of her.
And he succeeded.
“My investigation won’t start until tomorrow. As I said, I prefer not to discuss the case during my private time.”
She nodded. “Fair enough.” She hopped off her stool. “I’m quite active in the local council, and I know people in the community well. If you need any help, please don’t hesitate to let me know.”
She put the room keys on the counter. “This serves as our reception desk for checking in and out. During the day, it’ll be manned by other staff. If you need to contact me, please call my cell.”
She grabbed a takeaway menu and wrote her number on it.
“Likewise.” He gave her his business card, which she slid in the back pocket of her jeans.
She put foil over the plate of cheese and meat and crimped it around the edges. “Take this for your dinner. If you want something else, you’ll have to drive into the town central. It’s a fifteen-minute drive, and you’ll need to do it before seven thirty at the latest. Come on, I’ll walk you to your cabin.” She handed him the plate.
“Thank you, but I can find my way.”
“It’s only a minute up the hill. But it’s dark, and you don’t know the vineyard as well as I do.”
“You have booby traps among the vines?”
She nodded. “The worst kind.” Then she grinned at him.
They walked along the Merlot block up a small hill. “Your cabin is the first on the right—”
A shadow the size of a large dog jumped out from among the vines. She knew it was too dark for Bertram to see what kind of dog it was, but it was so close she could smell its fur and its breath and hear its growls. It ran toward Bertram. He tossed the platter of food into the air, and she knew he was reaching for his gun.
She grabbed his elbow. “Don’t shoot. It’s just a dog. It won’t harm you.”
The dog charged away, past Bertram and into darkness.
Bertram shrugged off her hold. “I didn’t see a collar. If I hadn’t pulled my gun, it would have attacked me.”
“Bertram, it’s just a wild dog! Don’t you think it would be more scared of a stick than a gun? Do you think it understands what guns can do?”
He holstered his gun. “Why are you so upset about a dog? You didn’t seem so upset about the woman who was killed next door!”
“Don’t you dare judge me or anyone else in this town …”
He raised his hands, seeking a truce. “I’m sorry. I overreacted. It was dark, and that dog was big. I didn’t mean to judge.”
She picked up the plate and the pieces of food that had scattered all over the ground. “You’ll have to go into the town central to pick up food for dinner.”
He nodded. “I can do that. Where do you live?”
“Up at the peak.” She pointed toward the far end of the vineyard. “Fifteen-minute walk.”
“Walk? No! I’m going to drive you home first and then pick up dinner later.”
“You can’t drive your car on the internal roads of the vineyard.”
“Then the hell I’ll let you go that way now. That dog just ran in that direction.”