Steal the book.
Save the future.
In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.
Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.
But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.
The following excerpt is the first glimpse readers get of Viola Vaccarelli, or at least the first glimpse they get of her from her own perspective. Viola is Dolph’s assassin. She’s barely 5-feet tall, but she can kill a person without touching them. She can also skewer them with her knives, so she’s a formidable foe. She’s also one of my very favorite characters. I hope you all love her as much as I do.
Viola Vaccarelli watched as the lamps around the edges of the saloon were lit, illuminating the apprehensive expressions of the patrons. She understood the nervous glances they traded with one another, because she’d felt it too. The blackout had been something more than the usual inconvenience.
Dolph caught her eye from across the room. He was already making his way through the uneasy crowd to where she stood behind the bar.
Leaning on the bar for support, he spoke in low tones, as though he didn’t want anyone else to hear. “You felt that?”
Viola made a pretense of polishing a glass, but gave him a subtle nod as she kept her attention on the room, alert for any sign of attack. “What was it?” she murmured low enough so the patrons at the bar couldn’t hear.
Behind her, a man called for another drink, but she ignored him and set a glass in front of Dolph instead.
But she didn’t miss the way his hand tightened on the cane. Ever since the night on the bridge, the night they lost Leena, Dolph had been changed. She knew the loss had been a blow, but there had to be something more to have made him so different. Where once he never betrayed his worries, now he was often on edge.
The customer down the bar was whistling now, hooting to get Viola’s attention as he thumped his glass on the counter. “Hey! You hear me or what, puttana?” the man called.
Dolph glanced over and began to push himself away from the bar, but Viola tapped his arm and shook her head slightly. She didn’t need protection, at least not from some drunken stronzo making a nuisance of himself.
“Scusa,” she said, her other hand already finding the familiar cool weight of the knife she had tucked into her skirts. “I’ll be right back.”
“Try not to kill him too badly,” Dolph said, pulling away from her and smiling softly into his glass.
Viola made sure she had the man’s attention before she gave him a slow, warm smile. He elbowed the customer sitting next to him, gloating at his success, as she began to approach him. She let him think she was interested, amused even at his antics, and with the smile still on her face, she drew the knife and with a flick of her wrist sent it sailing through the air.
The satisfying thunk of it finding a sheath in the cast zinc vibrated down the length of the bar, and she didn’t hide her laugh at the look of surprised horror that flashed across the man’s face. She took her time closing the distance between them to retrieve her blade, and when she finally made it to the end of the bar, she leaned across to whisper a warning into his ear.
When she pulled back, away from the rank stink of his body and the beer on his breath, she saw that the man’s face had all but drained of color. Va bene. Good.
“Thank you for not skewering him,” Dolph said with a hint of humor when she returned.
Viola made a throaty sound of disapproval under her breath. “You’ve told me it’s a bad business to kill the customers, no?” she said tartly. She had trouble controlling her accent when she was angry, and for a moment, she heard her mother in her own voice and felt a fierce pang of longing.
“I appreciate you watching out for my bottom line,” Dolph mused. “Perhaps you could also watch out for my property? I’ll have to pay to repair what you’ve done to my bar.” He frowned thoughtfully. “I’m not even sure I can repair the mark that knife of yours left.”
Viola shrugged off his concern. “Leave it as a warning,” she said, picking up another glass to distract herself.
“I might,” he said after a second.
She could practically feel him watching her, as he often did when he was trying to press her into opening up to him. But she didn’t have anything to say. What was done was done. She’d made her choices, and if she had regrets, she’d save them for Father Murphy.