“Hey Fiona,” boomed a commanding voice that she recognized instantly.
Craven rounded the front of the house from the backyard. And judging by the grease that dotted his blue t-shirt and denim jeans, he’d obviously been working in the garage.
“Hi, Craven,” she cleared her throat and averted her gaze, “good morning.”
Fiona was nervous, not only because she was late, but because she’d just crawled out of bed after a full night of having mind-blowing sex and was now standing face-to-face with the alpha of the Fury pack. Craven still didn’t know that his stepdaughter was fooling around with his Beta. And as the daughter in question, she wanted to keep it that way for as long as possible. Forever if she could pull it off.
Fiona’s lips twisted into a nervous smile.
Craven made an almost imperceptible sniffing gesture. “How’s Farrow doing?”
Oh. My. God. He can smell him on me?
Her mouth dropped open and she quickly shut it. Who was she trying to fool, like it or not, Craven always knew what his wolves were up to... especially her. “He’s good, I guess.”
A tense filled moment slipped by and she almost began a slow whistle, but decided that would make her nervousness way too obvious. Damn it, pull yourself together.
“Where is he?” He asked casually.
“Oh, I see.”
Craven ran a hand through his messy amber hair, his light brown stare moving to the second story window where behind a white curtain Farrow slept soundly, unaffected by the painful situation Fiona had found herself in. Lucky bastard. She tipped her head forward and then lifted it back up, then after a short second, her gaze settled on the bridge of Craven’s slightly crooked nose, her base instincts not allowing her to stare him directly in the eyes, especially not now with her body slack from multiple orgasms.
She cleared her throat, and said, “I’m late for a meeting with the elder pair, so…”
“Fiona, are you alright? You’re very pale.”
Heart racing, she took a step back and nodded. “Yeah, I’m good,” she wasn’t, at that moment she was really grossed out for even thinking the word orgasm in the presence of her stepfather, she swallowed the lump in her throat and finished, “just anxious about being late. Meri said she has something really important to discuss with me. So, I best be off.” She lifted her hand to wave goodbye but then slowly lowered it when one of Craven’s brows inched up. Fiona could almost hear it’s decent, like the clicks of a utility knife.
“Can I ask a question that will probably make us both uncomfortable?”
In her head, Fiona was screaming, noooooooooo!
She looked down at her fingernails. They were pretty, freshly polished rose gold to match her hair, then she sighed, “I suppose so.”
“Are things between you and Farrow getting serious?” He asked.
She nodded and shrugged at the same time. “I mean, it’s early still, but yeah, I guess so.”
She heard Farrow chuckle from behind the window. Which meant, so did Craven, and they both chose to ignore it. Heat flushed her cheeks. That didn’t mean she wasn’t going to make Farrow pay for relishing in her discomfort later. And not by withholding sex, that would be a punishment for both of them. And there was no need for that kind of craziness.
“Then I think it’s time we all got together for a talk.”
Wasn’t it too early for the infamous talk?
“Will I be talking with my alpha or my stepfather?” Fiona asked.
His gaze searched hers as if considering how to answer that. A quick grin flashed, he folded his arms, and said, “There is no way to separate the two, but I will try my best not to be too overprotective of my only child. How’s that sound?”
“Sounds impossible, but I appreciate the sentiment,” she shared a long smile with him, and then asked, “Can I go now?”
Craven leaned forward, his large rough hands settling on either side of her upper arms. “No matter what, I am happy if you’re happy,” he whispered in her ear, and then gave her a quick peck on the cheek. “Get out of here squirt, it’s in poor taste to leave the elder pair waiting.”
Let’s start from the beginning.
Four years, two months, and twelve hours ago…
I sat down in Dahlia’s car for the first time since she bought it brand new over a year ago. Her car, much like her clothes, jewelry, and Botox shots, were the only thing the step-wench seemed to give a damn about.
“This is for your own good, Cassis” she said, a little out of breath, as she maneuvered her way behind the steering wheel then turned over the engine. “Now that your father and his financial support are gone, I am not equipped to take care of you. I’m not rich you know.”
I missed my father who died over three months prior in a car accident. Dahlia missed his paycheck.
“I have a job. I can take care of myself.”
She glanced over her shoulder at me.
“See that’s what I’m talking about. All you care about is you, you, you. What about me? How will I survive?”
I shrugged while looking out the passenger side window. “Here’s an idea. Maybe you could get a job?”
The back of her hand struck my cheek so quick I was unable to stop the side of my head from cracking against the glass. Pain blossomed in my eardrum and on both sides of my face. After only a couple of seconds, I straightened back up in my seat as if nothing happened and smiled to myself over the familiar heat across my cheek…saying that to her had been worth her vengeance.
“That’s why I’m taking you to private school. They’ll know how to deal with an entitled little snot like you.”
“I’m almost seventeen. I can find my own place to live.”
She gaped at me in shock…always the drama queen. “What kind of person do you think I am to let a young girl live out on the streets? Oh, no…I have my own plans for you.”
Rather than answer her, I sank back into my seat. Little did Dahlia know I planned on running away from whatever home she was taking me to the moment I had a chance. She might think that she still had control over me, but one big thing had changed after my father died: me. I was done; done with her, done with it all.
As I thought about my eminent escape from whatever hell hole Dahlia planned on stuffing me in to, my eyes moved down the front of my too-tall, too-skinny body. The red sleeveless shirt I wore was big for my petite frame; the bottom of it pooled in half hazard folds in my lap. My jeans had holes in the knees and legs—and not the cool distressed kind, but the ripped at the sides, and frayed at the bottom, kind caused from years of wear and tear. My sneakers were in a little better shape. Still, it was clear that my wardrobe was inexpensive, and while Dahlia’s manicure cost more than my entire outfit, I loved what I was wearing because my part time job at the Sun Soak tanning salon had paid for it all.
After ten minutes of driving, Dahlia pointed out of the car’s front windshield and into the near distance.
I closed my eyes and gripped the stones around my neck. Rue did the same with her’s. Then I said, “Prepare to fight!”
Usually, when the proxy-mind-meld hit, I was given a clear, real-life, image of the game board as it would be if it actually existed, and as though I were experiencing it as my proxy. This time was no different. And all of this was possible because of a little fact I’d found out not too long ago: I was the daughter of the Essence of Fairy; a creator of worlds. So it was with little effort and a concentrated dose of magic that I had created my own game, Malice & Magic. The gaming world didn’t thrive with natural life, but it sure felt like it during the times I became one with Rayne.
The smell of sulfur and minerals filled the air, as real as the sweet and calming scent of vanilla and lavender candles burning in the room with my physical body. I opened Rayne’s--now mine--eyes and had clear knowledge of where I was. An arrangement of intricate symbols glowed bright, a strong indicator that I was standing within the Cavern of Runes. In the whole cave, save for the runes on the wall, nothing seemed magical or extraordinary. It was just as I had envisioned it to be. The soft sound of rushing water was nearby, as was my sworn enemy, and Rue’s proxy, Nix, a beautiful, extremely dangerous, water nymph.
I lifted one hand and placed my palm flat against a fire-rune, then, I covered the air-rune with the other. I chose these symbols because I knew that when fighting a water nymph it was always best to attack using elemental magic. In other words, I’d fight water with fire.
The wall blazed hot underneath my flesh. There was a split second to where I almost pulled my hands away for the pain of it. But instead, I pressed against the searing stone even harder. When the transfer was finished, so was the pain. I turned my hands face-up. Dead center of both my palms the runes glowed bright. Now, all I had to do was defeat Nix in the upcoming battle and I’d be able to keep my newly acquired magic.
When magically altered drugs begin to surface in Sonnet Vale’s hometown, all signs point to one place for answers-- Phantom City.
To repay a debt, necromancer Kris Chase finds herself slinging drinks behind the bar of a well-known supes club, Devil’s Playground. But that doesn’t mean her life has settled into anything resembling normal. Vampire kills are still on the rise, and now, a new enemy has surfaced.
Battered bodies of the young and beautiful are popping up everywhere. And true to form, the ghost of one of the victims implores Kris for help.
As Kris delves deeper into the case, she suspects that the murderers are monstrous enemies from her past, and when vital clues are uncovered, helping to prove her hunch, she sets out to find the perpetrators behind the brutal slayings.
Official website for New York Times & USA Today Best Selling Paranormal and Urban fantasy author Gena D. Lutz.