Sunday, February 08, 2009

Shift Work 1: Late Shift by Hannah Beckham

Shift Work 1: Late Shift
by Hannah Beckham

cover art by Reneé George
ISBN (13): 978-1-60521-176-3
Genre(s): Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Theme(s): Ménage, Shapeshifters
Series: Shift Work
Length: Novella

Trinity Staten works as a file clerk by day and a hunter by night. Her parents were slayers, and until they died when she was sixteen, they’d raised Trini to do the same. Her unique ability to shift skin color like a chameleon is an invaluable tool in the fight against the monsters. Since a one-night stand went bad, Trinity’s been unable to control her natural camouflage.

Merlin Davitch, super-hot genius and Trinity’s best friend, is trying to discover why her body is changing. Merl is the only family Trinity has left, but if she can’t stop going into heat every time he’s near, she’s afraid she’ll lose him too.

On top of that, suddenly the demons are knocking on her door. The hunter is becoming the hunted.

She seeks help from an unlikely ally, Newton Price, a telepath who works for the demons. He is buff and beautiful, with scars of his own, but he won’t stay out of her head, literally.

If she doesn’t get her shifting ability, her raging hormones, and her life under control, she’s going to become demon bait. As the mystery unravels, Trinity tries to hold on to her sanity and her men, and she discovers more about her origins than she ever wanted to know.


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The shrink’s small office smelled musky, but not unpleasant. It was like a mix of orange spice and dust. Trini stared at the small man in the brown suit and bow tie who sat across from her, looking down at his pad and paper, scribbling little notes in the margin. His hair was short and his forehead stretched to the top of his dome. She pondered whether his hair had retreated to the back of his head or whether it had just migrated to his eyebrows. They were bold and bushy.
He wore spectacles, the old-fashioned kind, hiding bulging eyes, and Trini couldn’t help but wonder if he’d ever heard of Lasik. Nah, the doctor probably liked the effect of the round spectacles -- made him feel more competent somehow. Or maybe he was very competent and didn’t care what anybody thought.
Psychiatrists and psychologists were a real bone of contention for Trini, who had her own motives for not trusting the profession. The only reason she was giving Dr. Myron Gray a try was because her best friend, Merl, said he worked wonders with behavior problems. And she definitely had behavior problems.
He still hadn’t stopped writing in his little yellow notepad. Trini was beginning to think he was solving world hunger or curing cancer, because she’d only been in his office for five minutes and surely that wasn’t enough time to write a book. She clenched and rubbed her hands together, trying to avoid putting her fingers in her mouth. She’d already shredded most of her nails to the nub, and didn’t want to suffer the humiliation of having the doctor read some deep psychosis in a nail-biting habit.
Suddenly, he stopped. “Let me see if I understand what you think the problem is. You have problems maintaining yourself in stressful conditions. Is that it?”
“Exactly!” Her hand-wringing worsened as she fought the urge to nibble. “I can’t take it, Doctor. One minute I’m green, the next blue, brown, silver, purple, then I’m back to my old self again. It drives me nuts!” She hadn’t meant it to come out quite that way. It sounded crazy, even to her own ears.
“Green, then blue. Interesting.” He jotted on the pad.
“I’m talking metaphorically of course.” Damn it, her right index finger cuticle had found its way between her teeth.
“Metaphorically. Interesting.” More jotting commenced.
“I mean I don’t really turn blue or green, or any other color for that matter. I’m just… well, you know.”
“Yes, interesting.”
Trini was beginning to think that all that scribbling was going to lead to her being locked up in the looney-bin. She couldn’t go through that again. After her parents had died, she’d been locked up for four years, until she was twenty, and Merl, eighteen and barely out of college, came to her rescue. Trini wouldn’t allow that to happen a second time.
She stood up. “You know, Doctor. I don’t think this is going to work out. I’m going to be fine.” Slowly, she worked her way over to her coat and purse. “I mean, of course I’m going to be fine.”
She tried a casual lazy smile, just to let him know she really was all right, but Trini wasn’t sure if she knew exactly how to pull off casual lazy. She hoped it didn’t look maniacal. “Just fine.” Her scarf went on first, then the coat. “I don’t really need therapy. I don’t know what I was thinking! I must be crazy.”
This was going bad in a someone-just-planted-dynamite-at-the-top-of-the-Alps-and-an-avalanche-is-coming-to-demolish-a-tiny-Swiss-town way. Talk about a little-ole-lady who was going kersplat.
She grabbed her purse and put a hand on the doorknob. “I didn’t mean that. I’m not crazy really, just a little…”
He was looking at her hands.
Good God! They’d turned bright green. She knew she shouldn’t have worn the neon green coat, but it was her favorite -- all fluffy and fuzzy. Quickly, Trini shoved her hands that now looked like matching mittens into her pockets.
Dr. Gray didn’t appear ruffled in any way. He just calmly put down his pad and paper and said, “Sit down, Trinity. I think I can help you.”
Dead stop. Something in Trini’s brain clicked and her voice went two octaves higher. “You can?”
“Yes. Changing colors, though not a voluntary behavior, is still behavior. Once we get down to the root cause, or the why, then it’s just a matter of training your body to an alternative behavior.”
“So, you don’t think I’m crazy?”
“No, Trinity.” He smiled and it was a wonderful smile with shiny little white teeth. “I don’t think you’re crazy.”
What a beautiful little man… “Call me Trini.” She took off her coat. “Everyone calls me Trini.”

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