Heartless




About the Series

Forget the economy, these are times of romantic recession. Jagger ought to know - the proverbial “torch” was passed to her in Hollywood, where the paparazzi have as much control over happily-ever-after as one of her supernatural arrows.

Complicating matters, her office is on Hollywood Boulevard where even celebrities have a standing spot in the line of unmatched, unloved, unrequited, and the just plain desperate.

Perhaps if Jagger lived in the era of Napoleon and Jospehine, or Adam and Eve like her revered ancestors she’d have less disdain for the task forced upon her. But while she may have given Cupid a sexy new look, the first female as arrow-toting matchmaker hasn’t yet hit the mark.

Instead, she’s dodging cameras, her own forbidden romantic entanglements, and a fanatic cult of the love-scorned on a dangerous journey through time.  Sometimes humorous. Always action-filled. Cupid’s quests aim straight for the heart.

Everlasting love? Now that’s supernatural. 



Intrigued? Here's the first chapter from the first book in the series:



CHAPTER ONE

Love would be the death of her.
Jagger Valentine hoped it would at least be merciful. Quick, like a flash of lightening rather than something akin to a root canal.
She wedged the points of her boots between the steel diamonds of the ten-foot tall security fence, pushed upward and grunted. Her pant leg snagged on a piece of jagged metal and tore a hole in the camouflage above her right knee. She felt no pain – just frustration.
Bloody hell.
Inching upward, she struggled for footing, relishing the thought of actually folding her body over the top of the fence and cursing she’d put herself in this position. Again.
Seth, her near two-hundred-pound English mastiff, barked encouragement from the cab of her Ford pick-up. She meant to glare at him but instead her gaze met the toothy grin of the truck’s chrome grill, as though it too mocked her predicament.  To both she said, “You’re not helping.”
Seth’s bark deepened.
So much for being discreet.  
She gripped the top of the fence, pricking the palm of her hand on the rusted chain-link tips. Blood pooled and then dripped toward her wrist. She smeared it across her white t-shirt and briefly inspected the scrape. Minor.
Jagger supposed she should be grateful she’d opted for chain link and not barbed wire, but instead was just pissed she’d forgotten her key. Again.
Ignoring the stab of pain in her hand, she swung her right leg upward, straddled the fence, took stock of the yard – and nearly decided to just go home. Her shoulders sank, causing the quiver strap attached to her back to slide toward her bicep and release a green-tipped arrow. Upon its impact with the sidewalk, sparks flicked in all directions and the now headless shaft fell flat against the concrete.
“My Winchester bids you sweet dreams, LA creepy crawlies.”
She adjusted her bow and turned her attention back to the chaos in her yard.
All this in two days?
Packages of various shapes and sizes – and in every God-awful shade of pink – overflowed from her mail slot and led a trail from her rear door to the edge of the sidewalk. They’d even inched on to the grass.
Before she’d thought to fence off the back entrance of her property, she often stumbled upon potential clients camped out beside the yard’s lone palm tree, or hiding among the chocolate lilies like garden gnomes.
Love fools, every last one of them.
Across the street, an enormous T-Rex feasted on a plastic clock, his reptilian body emerging from the Odditorium like a rising phoenix. Most days she kept her front blinds closed to block out the dinosaur’s mammoth head and shoulders. Lizards gave her the creeps.
Opposite him, and a couple of doors down from two hundred and twenty wax celebrities, Jagger’s single-story office rested  – perhaps unassuming on Hollywood Boulevard if not for the long line of potential clients that often snaked its way past the Guinness World Records museum, all the way to the Chinese Theatre on the corner.
Jagger inhaled a sharp breath before swinging her left leg around to the back of the fence and dropping to the ground. Her knees wobbled on the first step and she stubbed her toe on one of Seth’s dog bones, twisting her ankle. Pain shot up through her calf.
Perfect.
She stood and dusted off her pants.
The scent of Hazelnut coffee permeated through partially open windows. She followed the smell along the short cobble-stoned path, ignoring the neon envelopes protruding from her mail slot. Caffeine first. Always. On any day without it she’d be grumpy – today she’d be a downright bitch.
She reached under the Skull and Crossbones “welcome” mat to retrieve her spare key, and stilled at the sound of a noise from within her office. Laughter?
Impossible.
Jagger pressed her ear against the door and waited a beat. Another giggle.
Not again. Last year she’d kicked a gaggle of drunken girls out after they’d broken into her office, mumbling about finding their soul mates. Talk about looking for love in all the wrong places. The idiots even drank her last bottle of JD.
Jagger swung Chester off her shoulder and loaded a green tranquilizer arrow. Pulled the string taut. And was just about to kick open the door when it swung wide, and a way-too-peppy cheerleader type dressed all in pink chimed, “There you are! I just knew you’d forget your key again.”
Jagger grabbed the steaming coffee offered to her and snarled. “Who the hell are you?”
The girl didn’t even blink.
“Heidi,” she said, and grinned. “Your new assistant.”
Bloody hell.
Jagger pushed by, brushing against the blonde’s t-shirt. I love nerds was stretched across her ample bosom. “I don’t need an assistant.”
“That’s not what Nic says.” The girl’s heels clicked against the tiled floor. “And um, Jagger? He’s pretty legit.”
Jagger rolled her eyes. “I’ll be sure to let him know when I call to ream his ass out.”
She stomped across the room and stepped out onto Hollywood Boulevard. A blast of Los Angeles heat blew her hair back. Sweat immediately misted her brow.
“It’s going to be a long wait, people,” she said to the crowd gathered outside. She guessed there to be about 70 of them, waiting in line with their hearts on their sleeves. She recognized Jennifer Aniston about halfway through the bunch and quickly looked away. Again?
The mob echoed a collective groan. Well, at least they weren’t throwing things this time. Egg yolk still stained the front of her door and some jerk had spray-painted an “st” over the “c” on a sign that now read Stupid at your service. Pity she couldn’t block off the front yard as well – the security fence seemed to cut back on the vandals.
Jagger slammed the door shut and threw the curtains closed. In the lobby, Seth lay curled at Heidi’s feet. So, the girl had taken the liberty of letting the dog in. Jagger snarled. How thoughtful.
“Traitor,” she muttered, and stalked to her desk. After shuffling paperwork for a useless 30 seconds, Jagger leaned back in her chair and sighed. Heidi hovered at the doorway, looking a little like a lost puppy. Appropriate.
“Look, I really don’t need this today. Just send me a bill for your time.”
Heidi’s grin widened. “You can’t fire me.”
“That would imply that I hired you,” Jagger said. She scowled deep enough to show her teeth, which were sadly not fangs. “Problems? Take em up with Nic.”
Jagger pushed back her chair, stood, and marched into the kitchenette. She reached into the top cabinet for a bottle of whiskey, and barely uncapped it before Heidi snagged it from her hand with reflexes Catwoman herself would admire.
“It’s not even 8:00 in the morning,” she said. “No wonder you have image issues.”
“I’m going to kill Nic.”
“Yeah, um, before that…”
Jagger froze at the threshold of her office and considered reloading the tranquilizer arrow if only to stop Heidi’s annoying voice. “Yes…?”
“Um, I was going through your mail and found some great opportunities for you. Like, can we talk about the Bachelorette?”
Jagger counted to ten, taking deep breaths. She walked to her desk, shrugged out of the quiver, and settled into a leather reclining chair cluttered with paper, pens and Sweetheart candy wrappers. A giant file cabinet stood ominously in the corner of the room. Unkept files protruded from drawers half shut.
“Well of course Ashley is going to choose Ben,” Jagger said and rolled her eyes. “Those idiots in marketing think it’s easy to play matchmaker? I’d gladly hand over my bow.”
A dull hum emitted from the corner of the room where Jagger had left her bow. The four arrowheads began to glow, a steady pulse in the otherwise dim office.
Heidi sat on the edge of the desk, leaning forward. Jagger didn’t need to tell her to get off – her glare spoke volumes. Heidi’s cheeks blushed, but the silent dress-down didn’t appear to damper her spirits.
This nut would be tough to crack.
“Exactly! It isn’t that easy. People just don’t appreciate the work you do. It’s so important.”
Jagger waved a hand in front of her face. “Well, I wouldn’t…”
“Which is why I think you should really consider their invitation to make a guest appearance on the show. Well, you and Chester of course, because…”
Jagger slapped her hand on the desk with enough force her pens rattled in their cup holder. “No.”
Heidi blinked. “Just, no?”
“Really, Hildi.”
“Heidi.”
“Right, Heidi.” Jagger motioned toward the front window. “In case you’re blind, there’s a line up a mile long outside my door. You need to go. I’ll settle up with Nic. Just – ” She flicked her hand in dismissal. “Let me enjoy my coffee before I figure out who my first victim is.”
Heidi’s twinkling eyes dimmed. “I think I may have that figured out. I found a parcel on the back step this morning you should take a look at. The lady who delivered it is waiting outside. I put it in your desk drawer.”
“That’s not typically how I do – ”
Jagger’s voice hitched as she pulled open her drawer and retrieved the package, the feeling of déjà vu rendering her speechless.
It wasn’t its shape, for almost all of the mail she received was branded somehow with a heart. It wasn’t even the box’s decor, though the artwork itself was intricate.
She felt compelled to touch it. To lift and inspect it.
Such exquisite art.
…Somehow familiar.
Jagger blinked, and reopened her eyes to the swirls of color that created beautiful Indian-inspired scenes. Each turn of the box presented a new abstract image: a woman dressed in a sari, an elephant decorated in jewels, the Taj Mahal reflected against the Yamuna River.
Every brush stroke evoked a different emotion, vivid imagery capturing hope, joy, love and sadness. Much sadness. The scenes, though truly indescribable, drew her in, compelling her to caress the box, trace her fingers along the jewels adorning its cusp. And yet, she felt fear as well.
What the hell?
Irrational, she thought, shaking her head with annoyance.
She hooked her fingers under the lip and eased open the lid. She saw red first, then felt the stickiness of blood before her eyes fully registered the box’s contents. In white tissue paper, packaged like a grim Valentine’s gift, nestled what appeared to be a human heart.