Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Blog Tour: The Doll



Sci-fi Urban Fantasy

Date Published: 09-28-2021

The sudden death of Jenna Hess provides an ideal setting for The Dollmaker. Jeremy Dillon is captivated by CR1XY, an elite model that he can't resist. Is her creation exclusive to him, or are we merely learning about an elaborate plot? Nothing is certain in this high stakes game.


Chapter 1


After the last drop of tequila rolled off my tongue, the empty shot glass taunted me. I slammed it against the bar. “Hit me again.”

“Sorry, Jer, I’m cuttin’ you off.”

A sharp pang of sorrow cut off my oxygen and echoed in my throat as I growled, “Don’t call me that. Jenna called me that.”

Matt flung the bar towel over his shoulder and rolled his eyes. “Dude, I’ve been calling you Jer since junior high.”

Jenna’s angel-like voice flitted through my mind: Jer. My sweet Jer

I glanced at Matt, standing behind the bar, eyeing me with a narrowed gaze. Since we were teenagers, the scruffy blond-haired guy, littered with piercings and tattoos, had been my best friend. His twin sister, Missy, had brought Jenna to my eighteenth birthday bash.

The uninvited memory unfurled in my brain, with me helpless to stop it.

My parent’s living room, stripped of its furniture, had been transformed into a makeshift rave to house my crew. Missy—the grand entrance queen—made her appearance a half-hour late, with a dark-haired girl at her side. The girl’s big brown eyes found mine, turning my brain to mush. I just stood there, gawking like an idiot.

Missy tossed her long blonde mane over her shoulders, grabbed the girl’s hand, and led her through the crowd toward me. “Jenna, meet the birthday boy, Jeremy. Jer, this is my BFF, Jenna.”

“Nice to meet you, Jeremy. And happy birthday,” she said in a sweet, angel-like voice.

I offered her my most charming smile. “Thank you. And it’s great to meet you too.”

She looked at my hair. “I like the man bun. Very hipster.”

“Is that a good thing?

Missy groaned before she walked away and joined the others.

Jenna’s eyes seemed to smile at me; then, she’d giggled. “Yes, it’s a good thing.”

Realization punched me in the gut. She was flirting with me. Holy crap!

Don’t be a creep. Relax. Take a breath, I thought to myself and casually asked her, “Can I get you something to drink?”

I shook my head, forcing my attention to the present and back to Matt. “It was the way she said my name. You know, with sheer devotion. She was…” My voice crackled with pain.

Reaching across the bar, Matt laid his hand on my shoulder and narrowed his jade-colored eyes. “I can’t even imagine the heartache you must feel, but Jenna wouldn’t want this. She’d want you to keep living.”

Hot tears stung my eyes as her face formed behind them. I soaked in every beautiful inch of her before blinking her away. Alcohol was the only thing that allowed me to forget, even if only temporarily. Jenna wasn’t coming back. “She didn’t just walk out of my life—that, I could’ve dealt with—but her death… it haunts me,” I said, wiping the tears from my face. “I should’ve told her not to drive, to wait until the morning, but I… I wanted to see her.”

“The accident wasn’t your fault. You can’t blame yourself.”

“She’d be alive if it weren’t for me!” I yelled, anger spewing from my lips. “She wouldn’t’ve fallen asleep at the wheel and crashed if I’d just told her to wait.” Taking a few deep breaths, I held up the shot glass and urged, “Please, Matt.”

A look of sympathy tugged at the corners of his mouth.

“Just one more, I promise.”

He shook his head in a slow, sad manner. “I’m doing this for your own good.” He snatched my car keys off the counter and set them behind the bar. “Someone’s gotta look out for you.” He filled a mug with black coffee and set it in front of me. “You can hang out and wait for me to drive you home, or you can Uber it, but you’re not driving.”

I waved him away and grumbled, “Fine.”

“You’ll thank me later.”


Matt walked away to tend to a couple at the other end of the bar.

I took a swig of coffee, cringed, and scanned the bar for packets of sugar.

“Looking for this?” a male voice inquired from my right, sliding two packets of sweetener my way.

“Thanks,” I said, eyeing the bald, wrinkly-faced man.

He moved to the barstool next to mine and remarked, “I couldn’t help but overhear. Was she your girlfriend?”


“Lost my wife years ago. Without The Dollmaker, I don’t think I could’ve overcome this.” The focus of his gaze slipped.

I jerked my head in his direction. “Dollmaker?”

He pulled a tattered business card from his worn denim jacket and laid it on the bar top. “This man saved my sanity. Might be able to help you too.” He offered a kind nod, got to his feet, and exited the bar without another word.

The name on the card read “The Dollmaker,” with a phone number printed underneath—no address or website on the front or the back. What the fuck? How could a dollmaker help me? I shrugged, then punched the number into my cell.

It rang twice before a recording clicked on, announcing, “You’ve reached The Dollmaker. We are closed at this time, but please leave your name, number, and a brief message, and we will return your call the next business day.”

Once the machine beeped, I sputtered, “Yeah, um… My name is Jeremy—Jeremy Dillon. Cell’s 310-555-9189. A prior customer gave me your card and said you could help.” I paused, debating if I should elaborate. Instead, I mumbled, “Thanks,” and ended the call.


About the Author

LAURA DALEO is the author of six books. She is best known for her storytelling of the vampiric persuasion. Her Immortal Kiss series is an interesting twist on the Egyptian pantheon being the original vampires. Her current project, Once We Were Witches, is a modern-day, dark fantasy where witchcraft is forbidden. She lives in sunny San Diego, California, with her four dogs, Stuart, Morgan, Dexter, and Rose.

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