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The Soul Hunter

Preview Chapter 1

You’d think I’d have learned my lessons by now. Some promises, it turns out, are not to be believed. Some people, it turns out, are not what they seem. Some secrets, it turns out, are better left untold. And some specters, it turns out, are better left unseen.

I thought I’d gotten all the education I needed a year or so ago, starting with an innocuous decision I’d made to go to a cold spring pool on a hot summer day. I’d found myself standing in the gaze of the red-hot eyes of hell and discovered, quite by accident, that I’d caught the attention of the universe somehow. But not the kind of attention you really want, if you get my meaning.

I’d looked evil in the eye that day and faced it down in the weeks that followed, more out of necessity than anything else. It certainly had nothing to do with bravery or spirituality or any quixotic sense of adventure I might have had. I’d just found myself in the target zone, so I’d fought when I had to, ducked when I could, and run when I couldn’t think of anything else to do. And I’d eventually gotten myself out the whole mess with a good-sized dose of grit, some help from the Almighty, and a couple of trips to Chicago.

But the answers, it turns out, don’t always arrive in order. And when they do show up, they just might kick open a door you’re better off leaving closed up tight.

It began this time, as some of my least intelligent moments do, in front of the mirror. It was the eve of my thirty-fifth birthday and I was feeling the need for self-examination, I suppose. Some misguided ritual to mark the passageway to the other side of my thirties.

Magnifying mirrors were invented by Satan, I’m convinced. No human I’ve ever known could spend any time at all in front of a magnifying mirror examining pores and eyebrow hairs that closely without coming away from there with a toxic sense of shame and self-doubt.

On this occasion, I committed the additional catastrophic error of looking at myself from behind. In a department store dressing room. Under fluorescent lights. While trying on bikinis. In winter. Any fool should know better.

To my dismay, stuck right there to the back of my own, formerly firm legs, were my mother’s thighs. My mother’s Texas milkmaid thighs.

Now I’ve always prided myself on my physique. Not my figure, mind you. That’s another conversation. But my physique.

I work hard to stay in shape. Though I am an academic, and most of the professors I know are thoroughly slovenly in their personal habits, I have resolutely risen above the fray. I am non-lumpy. I have fitness goals. I have completed a triathlon.

And I absolutely refuse to let my rear end slide south toward my ankles...