A Kara Hilder Mystery...Paranormal Cozy.

Jenna St. James

I started writing my A Witch in the Woods series in 2021. I was about eight or nine books in when I realized I'd like to do a spin-off series. I started plotting and outlining, and pretty soon, a new paranormal cozy series was born! This series features Kara Hilder, a Valkyrie abandoned by her supernatural mother and left in the human world, and Zane, a fallen angel. Both are detectives who work with the Paranormal Apprehension and Detention Agency, and in their spare time, they rally together to try and solve Kara's own mystery--who is her father? And why did her mother flee Mystic Cove without telling anyone she was pregnant? Join Kara, Zane, Rota, Link, and a slew of other supernaturals as they take on the bad guys and unravel the mysteries assigned to them.


"Happy birthday to me.”

I caught the bartender’s eyes, lifted my empty glass, and signaled for one more. Usually I was a one-and-done kind of girl, but today was my fortieth birthday, and it wasn’t like there was anyone waiting for me at home. Not on two legs, anyway. My cat, Savage, was probably taking his perpetually grumpy mood out on the leftover Christmas and New Year’s decorations I still had up around my otherwise sparse apartment.

It was still early for a Friday night, barely six o’clock. I’d have one more drink and then head to my place to wallow in self-pity the rest of the night. Normally, my ex-partner, Alex Stone, and his teenaged daughter, Zoie, would treat me to a birthday dinner. But Alex had moved from Seattle a year ago, and the only communication I had with him now was over the phone. I once tried to locate exactly where he’d moved to, but when I told him I couldn’t find Enchanted Island anywhere on the map, he said the place was too small to even show up. It baffled me why he’d give up a career as a detective with the Seattle Police Department to move to some tiny island and be their new sheriff.

“What kind of name is Enchanted Island, anyway?” I mumbled into my empty drink.

A body pressed up against me, but I didn’t even acknowledge the guy—even though the scent of his soap was divine. “Excuse me? My name is Zane. I was hoping to buy you another drink so we can talk for a few moments.”

I barely refrained from rolling my eyes. As far as pick-up lines went, it definitely wasn’t offensive, but I wasn’t in the mood to play nice. I didn’t even turn to look at him, just stared into my drink. “Look, Zane, I’m just here to have a drink. Go peddle your wares somewhere else.”

The man laughed, and I turned to glare at him—and did a double-take. He was hands down the sexiest man I’d ever seen. And that was saying a lot, considering my ex-partner usually held that honor. Dark hair, darker eyes, prominent nose, dazzling smile, and what I figured was a permanent five o’clock shadow. And there was just the faintest hint of something nefarious lurking underneath. He was dressed in an expensive black suit, deep purple tie, with a matching purple pocket square. A first for this dive bar, I was sure.

“My wares?” Zane said. “I assure you, Kara, I am not trying to pick you up.”

I narrowed my eyes. “How do you know my name?”

“If you’ll give me a moment of your time, I will tell you.”

The bartender set my whiskey in front of me, and I turned back to thank him. As the barkeep walked away, I reached down and pushed my leather jacket aside, exposing my detective’s badge. “I mean it, pal. Back off. Or I will arrest you.”

“As entertaining as that might be,” Zane said, “I’m afraid I must insist.”

“That’s where you’re wrong.” I took a long swallow of my whiskey and tried not to shudder as it burned a path down my throat to my stomach. I definitely needed to splurge next time and go for the more expensive stuff. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go.”

I grabbed my purse, tossed out enough bills to pay for the two drinks and leave a nice tip, and walked away without looking back.

Pushing open the restroom door, I headed for the sink. Splashing water on my face, I looked in the mirror and assessed myself. Cornflower blue eyes, smooth skin with no signs of wrinkles yet—which was saying something—narrow nose, full lips, and a body I kept trim with daily martial arts. The haphazard knot on top of my head was slipping, so I withdrew the bobby pins and elastic band, shook it free, then quickly plaited my long, blonde hair loosely down the back of my head, before securing it once again with the elastic band.

Blotting my face dry, I threw away the paper towel and headed outside to my dilapidated car I prayed made it one more year. I couldn’t afford a new one just yet. Budgeting was hard to do on a detective’s salary.

With keys in hand, I strode across the bar’s parking lot. I was almost at my vehicle when I heard a noise behind me. Without thinking, I whirled around and kicked out at my assailant…and was momentarily stunned when the guy blocked my kick effortlessly with his forearm.

Straightening, I sent a jab to his face with my right hand…and again he blocked me.

“I can do this all night, little warrior,” Zane said. “But I prefer not to. Your grandmother, Rota Gunner, is eager to meet you.”

I blinked in surprise. “My grandmother? I don’t have a grandmother. I was abandoned as a child. Not that it’s any of your business.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Kara. You do have a grandmother, and she’s a Valkyrie, just like you. She’s been excited to meet you ever since she found out about you.”

“Enough! I told you to leave me alone. If you insist on playing up this ruse, I will make you regret it.”

Zane sighed. “I just want you to remember that I tried many times to do this the easy way, but you stubbornly refused. Not that I should be surprised. It’s a trait your grandmother and you share.”


I was about to reach for one of my concealed knives when I froze. The devilishly handsome man in front of me now sported the largest pair of black wings I’d ever seen.


I groaned…then winced when the sound echoed loudly in my head. Forcing my eyes open, I scrambled to sit up in the seat. “Where am I? Where are you taking me? Kidnapping a police officer will get you countless years in prison, pal.”

“Relax, Kara, you are perfectly safe.”

“I’m expected back on duty Sunday,” I said. “If I don’t report in, you’ll have dozens of cops after you.”

“You’ll need to call in to your precinct tomorrow and ask for time off.”

I snorted. “The heck I will.” I threw up my hands. “I can’t even believe I’m having a somewhat rational conversation with you right now about kidnapping me!”

“It’s not kidnapping,” Zane said smoothly. “I’m simply taking you to see your grandmother on your birthday.”

I closed my eyes and leaned back in the seat, doing my best to block out my captive’s ridiculous ramblings. I had to get it together and figure out a way to escape. My hand crept to my side, where I kept one of my blades. It was gone.

“I didn’t want you to stab me by accident,” Zane said. “Not to worry, you can have it back, along with the knife you keep strapped to your ankle, when we get to where we’re going.”

“I hope I don’t accidentally stab you then.” I sat up and patted my outer thigh through my dress pants. “How did you manage to take this knife?”

Zane grinned. “Do you really want to know, Valkyrie?”

“I’m definitely going to stab you when we get to where we’re going.”

Zane laughed. “You’re funny, valiant warrior. Now, just sit back and relax. The ‘65 Aston Martin is a pleasant ride, I can assure you.”

Ignoring him, I ran my hand over the expensive tan leather interior of the sports car. I’d seen pictures and watched movies with vintage Aston Martins, but I’d never actually sat in one. Some of them went for over three hundred thousand dollars!

“If you’re cold,” Zane continued, “I can put the top up. I almost always drive with it down for my own pleasure. But if you’re cold, I can—”

“Stop talking to me. I can’t deal with your level of crazy right now.”

Zane chuckled, but wisely kept his mouth shut.

“I need to be back tomorrow,” I said. “I have a cat who depends on me to feed him. And trust me, you don’t want to see him angry. Or better yet…hangry. He lives up to his name.”

“All right, I’ll bite. What’s your cat’s name?”

“Savage,” I said. “On really ornery days, it’s Savage Beast.”

Zane laughed. “Why am I not surprised the Valkyrie would own an angry, fighting cat?”

Ignoring the taunt, I glanced around and tried to find familiar markers that would tell me how long I’d been out. But I didn’t recognize the landscape outside. It was too dark to see much, but from what I could tell, we were in the middle of nowhere on a two-lane road surrounded by trees and open land. Definitely not in downtown Seattle anymore.

“You said your name was Zane?”

He nodded. “Yes. My full name is Azendiel. But everyone calls me Zane.”

“What’s your last name?” I demanded.

“It’s just Zane.”

I snorted. “Like Cher or Madonna?”

The corners of his mouth lifted. “Something like that. I never needed a last name.”

I rolled my eyes. “Everyone needs a last name. You can’t just have Zane on your social security card.”

He didn’t say anything, just continued to drive.

“Where are we going?” I demanded.

“We’re almost there.”

“How did I get inside this car?” I asked.

“You don’t remember seeing my wings?”

I scoffed. “Wings? What are you? Half bird?”

“Fallen angel, actually.”

Don’t panic! Don't react!

“I see.”

Zane smiled. “Your tone says otherwise, Valkyrie. I flew you to the car. It was quicker for me to use my wings and fly to where you’d be tonight than to drive the Aston to Seattle. So once I left Mystic Cove, I drove to the nearest abandoned warehouse in your world, parked the Aston, and flew to you.”

“My world?” I snorted. “Are you from outer space, then?”

Zane gave me a ‘get real’ look before turning his attention back to the road. “No, I’m not from outer space, but I am from a world you don’t know. I’m a supernatural, Kara. Just like your grandmother.”

I frowned. “A supernatural? Like that show on TV about the two brothers who hunted down demons and stuff?”

“Something like that. In my world there are witches, vampires, merpeople, pixies, werewolves, dragons, fair—”

“Stop right there.” I threw up my hand. “I don’t want to hear another outrageous lie from your mouth.”

Your lying, crazy, beautiful mouth.

“You don’t remember coming to while we were still in the air flying? You freaked out and started screaming, and then you passed out when I did a little nose dive.” Zane chuckled. “I expected more from a Valkyrie. You know there was a time when Valkyries rode the skies on their winged horses, right?”

“Why do you keep calling me a Valkyrie?” I waved my hand again in the air. “No. No. Never mind. The less I know, the better.” I turned in my seat and stared at him. “Were you just released from a mental health facility?”

Zane scoffed. “I’m offended by that question, Kara. You know what you saw. You just can’t admit it right now. But soon you will. We’re almost home.”

“Uh, I already have a home, and I’m not looking to join your little cult and mingle with your twenty wives as we sell fruit and shake tambourines on the side of the road.”

Zane threw back his head and laughed. “I find I enjoy your humor, little warrior.”

“Lucky me,” I muttered.

Zane downshifted and made a left turn onto a narrow lane that actually had grass poking out of the dirt and rocks.

“Um, Zane? I don’t think this is right. The sign back there said this was a no-outlet road.”

Zane didn’t say anything as we bumped slowly down the lane. There was no longer a road to speak of, just grass and trees. When his headlights focused in on a massive tree in the middle of the road, I expected him to stop and turn around.

He didn’t. He just kept driving.

I grabbed hold of the dashboard. “Are you crazy? That’s a tree in front of us! You need to stop and turn around.”

“Trust me, Kara.”

I opened my mouth to scream as we plowed head-first into the tree…and passed right through, exiting onto a paved road that led to a brightly lit seaside town less than half a mile away.

“Welcome to Mystic Cove,” Zane said.

If you'd like to read the rest of the story, you can grab it here: http://viewbook.at/KHSOMB1

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