Entry Nickname: Paranormal Fear, An Exorcist's Murder Trial
Title: King of Skins
Word Count: 91,500
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Zhao Ling, a flippant St. Louis criminal defense attorney, faces the toughest case of his career: acquitting an accused murderer who only has a supernatural alibi.
His client, Wayne Liebesman, is a professional exorcist whose only crime was banishing a spirit from an already dead body. So it only looked like he bludgeoned an old man to death. Who wouldn’t believe that? Zhao certainly doesn’t until he’s visited by his client’s employer and paranormal mob boss, The King of Skins. As a body lender, The King allows anyone to take a ride in someone else's body for a price. Knowing that Wayne might cut a deal with the FBI’s classified, paranormal task force, he threatens to add Zhao to his collection of skins unless Wayne is found innocent.
As if things couldn’t get worse, Zhao is kidnapped and taken to St. Louis’s hidden supernatural underground, a bizarre place of preternatural street thugs, obsidian guardians, and emotion brokers. There he is confronted by a rival paranormal gang leader, a broker by the name of Lady Sorrow. She reveals that Zhao’s life isn’t the only one on the line. The King has made a deal with a horror from outside our reality, and if left unchecked, he’ll unleash a plague of otherworldly monsters upon humanity. Now Zhao must be prepared to sacrifice his own life and the freedom of an innocent man to prevent all of mankind from joining the King’s collection.
The King of Skins strolled into my office late one night, the lingering scent of death his cologne. I had forgotten to lock my office door. Not that it would have made a difference, not to him. I’ve dealt with murders, rapists, and gang lords, and yet something about the man made the lizard part of my brain scream at me to flee in horror.
Of course, when confronted with such an auspicious character it’s only appropriate to address him correctly, “Who are you and what the hell are you doing in my office at eleven p.m.?” No one has ever accused my mouth of coordinating with my brain.
He stared down his nose at me as if I were a nasty stain on his alligator skin suit. I felt a flash of heat. No one disrespected me in my office no matter how piss your pants scary I found him. Without as much as a “may I?” he sat in the chair opposite mine. Off came his fedora. The dim light glinting off his brown skin stretched too tightly across his clean-shaven skull.
“Mr. Zhao Ling?” he asked. I nodded in response. “You recently agreed to represent Wayne Liebesman in his murder trial. He is a very useful contractor of mine, and you will acquit him.”
“I am called The King.” His eyes glowed faintly in the dark like two smoldering coals, “The King of Skins.”
“Okay, that’s just plain weird,” I muttered under my breath.