Rogue Fae Chapter 1

Please note, this is an unedited excerpt. The published version may be different.

Chapter 1

“The body of a young woman was found next to the so-called Witch’s Grave in Eastern Cemetery this morning.”

“What?” My iPhone slid off my lap and landed on the carpet with a thud as I bolted out of my armchair to grab the remote. My fingers fumbled as I hit the volume’s up button to hear more. 

A reporter stood before yellow barrier tape in front of Eastern Cemetery’s gate. She wore a red puffer coat and held a microphone with the mic flag of a local news station. A breeze ruffled her long blonde hair, and she pushed a few strands behind her ear. Around her, a thin layer of snow coated the ground and tombstones.  

The reporter continued. “According to the Louisville Metro Police Department’s spokesperson, the woman was found around 8 A.M. by a couple who came to see the popular Witch’s Grave. No word if foul play was involved. The victim’s name is being withheld until notification of next of kin.”

She signed off, and the news returned to the anchors in the studio. I ignored the rest of the broadcast. How had the woman died? Was there any significance in her being discovered near the Witch’s Grave? Despite the rumors, fueled by the five-pointed star on her gravestone, the deceased was said to likely be a member of the Order of the Eastern Star. Nothing pagan nor satanic.

Unfortunately, Eastern Cemetery was mired in tragedy. Multiple bodies had been buried in graves assigned to one person, among other atrocities. Targeted by vandals, the graveyard now closed at 6 PM. No one, however, seemed to disrespect the Witch’s Grave. Instead, people left small gifts of coins, keys, cigarettes, and other trinkets.

Perhaps the young woman had also been paying her respects.


The next day when I came into work, part of the day’s schedule had me assisting Zariel, one of the medical examiners, with the Eastern Cemetery woman’s autopsy. Except for Kiyo Tatsumi, a fellow deputy coroner, none of the other deputy coroners or medical examiners knew he was an angel of death. I only knew because I was also an Alter-Native, recently turned into a vampire, although I kept my human qualities.

The woman’s driver’s license identified her as Lori Henderson. She lay on the autopsy table dressed in jeans, a beige cashmere sweater, and black suede ankle boots. Light brown hair fanned about her face.

I took photos of the body clothed and removed the bags from her hands. After clipping her nails and placing them in a labeled container, I took her fingerprints. Lori’s clothes removed, I packed them in a clean plastic bag for the crime lab. Next, I measured and weighed her. Height and weight noted on the initial autopsy report, I returned to examining Lori Henderson for any scars, tattoos, or other markings. The only injury I found and diagrammed were white scars on Lori Henderson’s wrists. Perhaps she’d suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome. Other than that, I noted no other injuries, recent or past. Livor mortis had settled in her knees and the front lower extremities, consistent with kneeling. A temperature reading indicated she’d died between twenty-four and thirty-six hours ago.

Zariel picked up his scalpel, made the Y-incision, and peeled back Lori’s skin to reveal her internal organs. Using the loppers, he cut and removed the rib cage to access the heart and lungs.

“Well, well, look at this.” Zariel put the loppers aside.

I’d seen hearts drained of blood. This one was literally in two pieces.

Zariel removed the halves and placed each one at a time on the scale, and then both together. He noted the various weights.

“We’ll mention cardiac arrest in the initial autopsy report. The Louisville Paranormal Investigation Agency needs to look into this.” Zariel put the heart halves on the exam table and proceeded to dissect the atrium.

“What do you think happened?” I’d heard of people claiming someone died of a broken heart, but never expected for it to literally happen.

Zariel frowned. “No idea. I’d like you to notify Ms. Henderson’s family about her death. See if you can learn why she was in Eastern Cemetery.”

“Want me to give Mark and Paul a heads up?”

He shook his head. “No, I’ll take care of that. Because if this is what I think it is, there may be more victims.”

Not what I wanted to hear. 

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