Cape Storm



What Has Come Before

My name is Joanne Baldwin, and I used to control the weather as a Weather Warden.

These days, I can also control the forces of the earth, like volcanoes and earthquakes, and the forces of fire.

Sounds like fun, eh? Not when it makes you a target for every psycho crazy world-killing danger that comes along.

Good thing I've got my friends at my back - Lewis Orwell, the most powerful Warden on the planet; Cherise, my best (and not supernatural) friend; and a wide cast of sometimes dangerous allies who've got their own missions and agendas that don't always match up with mine.

And I've got David, my true love. He's also a supernatural Djinn, the fairy-tale three-wishes kind, and he's now co-ruler of the Djinn on Earth.

What I don't have is peace, because even while I walked down the aisle to get married to my true love, an old enemy totally ruined my chances for a happy honeymoon and possibly even my survival. I'm not just in danger now, I'm dangerous - to everyone I love.

I've got to go and fix this, before the whole world suffers the consequences.

Chapter One

I've had many oh crap moments in my life. If you know me at all, you can imagine how many of them there have been, and the rising scale of crapitude that these moments cover.

So when I say that I looked out past the Miami Harbor horizon to the east and saw the storm that was heading for us, and said a heartfelt oh crap, you'll understand that my concern was not so much for the state of my already disheveled hairdo, or my not-so-designer clothes, but more about survival.

And not just my survival. An ominous line of storm-black out there was spreading like ink, and it was already large enough to rain destruction all over Miami before it ripped through Florida's panhandle and blew apart into tornadoes, floods, deadly downbursts.

Hurricanes: the gift that keeps on giving.

I tightened my grip around a handy light pole as the wind buffeted me. Rain had already started to fall, and although it was nearly midday, it seemed very dark. I couldn't see any hint of sun overhead, not even a pale shadow through the clouds.

Chaos ruled the docks, as shipmasters rushed to secure their vessels against the unforecast storm. Tourists scrambled for shelter. Locals resignedly broke out the plywood and hammers. I'd heard that the major freeways were jammed and that the hurricane evacuation plan had been triggered, but it was never going to work. The thing was simply moving too fast, and there wasn't enough warning.

And needless to say, all this was my fault.

I mean that literally. I'm supposed to be able to control the weather, and other elements at work on this planet; I'm supposed to be able to stop things like this from happening. I'm supposed to be the hero, dammit.

It came as a bit of a shock to be both helpless and - although no one knew it yet - a villain.

As the storm came roaring toward us, I knew it was my fault.

I could feel it in the burning of the black tattoo on my back, high up on the shoulder. Not the normal tramp stamp you could get (with hepatitis on the side) at any corner needle shop; mine was courtesy of an old enemy named, appropriately, Bad Bob. Bad Bob had once gotten the upper hand on me, and I was still vulnerable to him in magical ways.

Ways that I was having a very hard time controlling. The sickening thing was that as I studied the approaching hurricane, and felt the black torch on my back burn brighter, some part of me wanted landfall. Wanted to feel that awesome power rip into the fragile human community, twisting glass and metal, ripping wood and flesh, reducing all of this to a sea of wreckage and devastation.

It terrified me.

Focus,I told myself, and concentrated hard on pushing back against those impulses. I knew where they were coming from. Bad Bob was using the tattoo - no, the mark - to remake me in his image.

I had been denying it for days now, but it wasn't a tattoo.

It was a Demon Mark, put there by the scariest Demon alive.

And I really didn't know how to stop it.

"Jo!" A male voice bellowed in my ear, and I clawed rain-soaked hair out of my eyes and turned to look. It was my fellow Warden Lewis Orwell - the boss, actually.