Character Spotlight and Giveaway (US/Int): How to stay alive and avoid nasty baddies with Alex from Mary Buckham’s Invisible Magic
Please help us welcome the saucy protagonist of INVISIBLE MAGIC, INVISIBLE POWER and the upcoming INVISIBLE FATE!
Hi! I’m Alex Noziak, part-witch/part-shaman and the one leading the show in the first three Invisible Recruit series novels. Which is good, because I suck at following orders. My dad’s a full Shoshone shaman and shifter, while my mum’s a Celtic witch.
So I’m Native-American and Irish; sort of warrior genes on both sides of the family tree. I have four older brothers and, if that wasn’t a big enough PIA to deal with, they’re all shifters, so I learned early how to fight and hold my own.
About a year ago I was sent to prison for killing a man. There were some extenuating circumstances, such as he was a rogue Were trying to kill my brother, but yeah, I took him out and would do the same again. Just when it looked like I’d be spending the rest of my days behind the walls of the Idaho Women’s Correction Institute I was given a get-out-of-jail card. One with a hefty price tag. Join a group of kick-ass women selected to fight preternatural bad guys for a year and, if I survived, I could walk away and go back to my old life in Mud Lake, Idaho.
So I jumped at the chance. Wasn’t the first mistake I’d made but it might be the last. And that was before I met a way too sexy for my sanity warlock named Bran. He has that whole toe-curling, yum, yum, be-still-my heart vibe going on which makes it a wee bit of a challenge to remember that warlocks are blood enemies to witches.
Staying alive consumes most of my time since joining the IR (Invisible Recruit) team. That and learning to work with four other women who are as gifted (or cursed depending on your viewpoint) as I am, while avoiding nasty fae, shifters, grimples, demons and basically anything that can scare your socks off!
Hidden from a world unaware of magic, a recently and only partially trained group of operatives known as the Invisible Recruits are the only ones willing to stand between mankind and those powerful preternatural factions seeking to change the balance of power and gain world domination.
Alex Noziak, part witch/part shaman, anticipates facing dangerous preternaturals out for blood . . not fashion week. But when the rookie agent is sent undercover to find out who, or what, is behind a series of world-wide thefts of top-secret intelligence, Alex tangles with the Seekers.
Seekers hunt gifted human individuals like Alex and her squad whose rare powers can keep the balance between human and nonhuman squarely on the side of the humans. Her simple assignment turns into a battle of survival for everyone involved when she crosses Bran, a mysterious warlock, who might be her only ally or worst enemy.
To save the innocent, Alex must call upon her untested abilities, but at what cost?
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Sometimes being a witch paid off. Today wasn’t one of those times, not when facing a prison yard of nasty women who made mean their only reason for existence.
Worse? They weren’t after me. Mean didn’t equate with stupid, and it had taken most of the inmates here only a few days to know not to mess with Alex Noziak. That was me, Idaho-born, Native American on my father’s side, convicted killer. And they didn’t even know I was part-witch, part- shaman. Most folks could sense trouble if they pay attention.
Nah, these bullies targeted those who couldn’t, wouldn’t, or didn’t fight back. Victims-in-waiting like the unfortunately named Been-There. Her parents should’ve known sticking a name like that on any kid was like painting a neon bulls-eye on her back.
Been-There had been at Pocatello Women’s Correctional Center, PWCC for those who didn’t like the mouthful, three months longer than my two months, four days, and twelve hours, which should have sharpened up her survival skills. Heck, twenty-four hours should’ve done that, but some people were born to be punching bags. Been-There was one of them. If I had to guess she was probably a tree-sprite or one of the lesser fae beings. There were so many it was hard to recognize any but the most obvious. Maybe she was even a pixie—gentle but clueless.
Not that anyone else but me knew she was non-human. For most of us with special gifts and non-human blood, keeping our heads down and our gene pool secret was the only way we survived. Unless you went on the talk show circuit, but humans didn’t really believe what they were shown so they accepted those non-humans as fakes. It kept all of us rubbing shoulders instead of slaughtering one another.
I didn’t really know Been-There. Her last four months had been spent in the medical facility with a high-risk pregnancy. Idaho wasn’t one of the states that allowed a mother to keep her child while in prison, so two days after her daughter was born, Been-There lost her to a foster family. She’d been a mess ever since. Which is why her second day out of the infirmary she stood in an open yard that was more dirt than grass, surrounded by a circle of snarling women looking to take out their anger on the easiest target.
Crap and double crap.
Not my business I told myself for the hundredth time as I watched women in groups of two and three hustle and chin-nod one another into corralling Been-There, like dark thunder clouds roiling on the horizon. The mob-mentality inmates were led by Big Mad Martha. Now there was a woman named right.
BMM lived to torment and she was damned good at it. First day I arrived she tried to shake me down, but a quick, sharp banishing spell had her flaring her nostrils and backing off. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson playing with magic that could backfire, but sometimes you had to pull on whatever resource was at hand. Besides I hadn’t killed her, which happened the last time I called on my dark-tinged magic.
All magic came at a price, and straddling the line between white, or good magic, and dark magic could be a very slippery slope. I knew; it was why I was here.
Murder. In a world where non-humans were acknowledged, it should have been justifiable manslaughter; as a rogue Were had been about to kill my brother who was in the process of shifting into his wolf form. But what human court was going to believe in Weres, shifters, and killer witches? And that was the tip of the iceberg.
Last fall I’d summoned a death demon and then sent it away before any humans arrived on scene. My magic was so rusty with my magic that I’d been damned lucky I hadn’t killed my brother along with the Were. I wasn’t lucky in that the death demon had decapitated the Were, after it had disemboweled him. So when the cops showed up I was standing in a pool of blood looking like a psycho killer. I’d been convicted on the brutality of the killing, with no way to clear my name without exposing the hidden world of black magic, demons and non-humans. A lose-lose situation.
But that was then and this was now. Sweat dampened my back in spite of the chill of a late February day, and I wondered if saving Been-There were going to do either of us any favors. It wasn’t like protecting Been-There was going to win me any points with the Council of Seven, the governing group of non-humans and preternaturals. The same council that was letting me rot here. Their mandate was do what needed to be done to keep the status quo with humans, even if that meant locking an innocent witch away for life.
Sure Been-There was Native American like I was, or half of me, but that didn’t mean she was my BFF or that I owed her anything.
Maybe getting the snot beat out of her might save her life in the long term here.
Nah, even I couldn’t buy that. But messing with a serious whack job like Big Mad Martha wasn’t like casting an easy unlocking or a sunshine spell. Though that gave me an idea. Maybe I could call a storm? Something to break the tension, focus the agitated women on something other than drawing blood, specifically Been-There’s blood.
Trouble was I didn’t have a broom plant, a bowl, salt, rice, or a red candle. But I did have words. And myself.
I stepped toward where Been-There stood, head down, shoulders caved, staring at the scuffed dirt as if she’d find her lost daughter in its grains. Been-There had my straight ink-black hair, but where mine was waist-length and pulled back into a single braid, hers looked like someone had chewed the chin-length ends. The strands barely hid her moon-round face or the sadness staining her features, sadness so deep it tugged at a person’s heart.
Except Big Mad Martha didn’t have a heart. My gut told me BMM had strong dark demon-blood churning through her DNA, which explained the lack of soul I sensed every time I got next to her. Which wasn’t often.
“Hey, Martha,” I hailed her, catching her and her nearest minions off guard. Only the crazies initiated any dialogue with BMM; she was more the less talk, more beating the crap out of you type of communicator.
A short Latina chick named Rodriguez spit at my feet and snarled, “Nothing to do with you, Noziak. Back away.”
“That’s where you’re wrong.” I offered a smile that had nothing to do with pleasantness. “Been-There’s a friend of mine.”
Even Been-There raised her head at that blatant falsehood. In prison no one had friends. One had allies or enemies and a boatload more of the latter than the former.
Rodriguez smirked, an expression that looked natural on her. “She your prairie nigger?” she asked. “Your chole?”
“Nah, I don’t need coconuts surrounding me like some,” I tossed back, nodding my chin toward Big Mad Martha.
That punched Rodriquez’s buttons. No one liked being accused of passing as another race, especially in a segregated stew-pot like the prison system. Being white, black, Chicano, or Native created an immediate identity, one that many times could be your
only veil of protection. Shred that veil and you had nothing.
Rodriguez thrust her shoulders tight, notched her chin skywards, and muscled toward me, knowing her posse had her back. Unlike me who was posse-less.
But I wasn’t the one who halted Rodriguez from taking a swing at me. Big Mad Martha wanted that right.
I didn’t see the left-handed paw rocketing toward me, but damn if I didn’t feel the thud of a beefy fist square on my cheek.
I’d been kicked by a mule once, and it had taken a week to learn to walk without a limp. This smack made that seem like a love tap.
Rolling ass over teakettle I smashed up against the chain-link fence, spitting dirt and mud. I looked up into a half-circle of scowling women blocking the light above me, most of the circle taken up by Big Mad Martha with a goblin-gleam twist to her lips.
“Been waiting to do that, Noziak.” Her smile tightened, telegraphing the shift of her stance. “This, too.”
The thick boot caught my right thigh though it’d been aimed at my kidneys, but growing up with four brawling brothers taught me how to read a fight and protect the vital organs. Not that leather to bone didn’t still burn like a banshee’s brushfire.
BMM’s crew was just warming up. Twisting into a fetal curl, hands protecting neck and head, knees defending my core, didn’t really defend against the kicks and blows raining down on me. Thuds belted into me, one after another, harder, faster, each more brutal than the last one.
Good news, Been-There was out of harm’s way.
Bad news? Much more and I wouldn’t survive.
About the author
USA Today Bestselling author Mary Buckham credits her years of international travel and curiosity about different cultures that resulted in creating high-concept urban fantasy and romantic suspense stories. Her newest Invisible Recruit series has been touted for the unique voice, high action and rich emotion. A prolific writer, Mary also co-authors the young adult sci-fi/fantasy Red Moon series with NYT bestseller Dianna Love. Mary lives in Washington State with her husband and, when not crafting a new adventure, she travels the country researching settings and teaching other writers. Don’t miss her latest reference book Writing Active Setting.
Currently she is neck-deep into writing an Urban Fantasy series centered around five women drafted to combat preternatural beings agitating for world domination. The INVISIBLE RECRUIT series combines a fantasy/paranormal element with high stakes and the pace of action adventure stories. Mary loves creating thrills, spills and spells as she follows the ups and downs of fascinating characters starting with Alex Noziak, the heroine of INVISIBLE MAGIC, INVISIBLE FATE and INVISIBLE POWER.
Mary is giving away a copy of INVISIBLE MAGIC, the 1st book in the Invisible Recruit series, to one commenter on today’s post! The winner can choose a physical copy (continental US mailing addresses only) or an e-copy in Kindle (mobi/prc) or Nook (epub) format (no location restrictions). To enter to win, leave a comment or question for Mary or Alex in the comments area below. Good luck!