ISBN: 978-1-63211-008-4 (ebook)
ISBN: 978-1-63211-009-1 (print)
eBook release date: 1-30-15
Print release date: 1-30-15
Black Dog, Book Two
Black Dog, Book 2
Thierry Thackeray is having the worst week ever. Her ex is back in town, death omens are camping out on her mother’s lawn and her estranged father has gone missing. Then there’s the small matter of the High Court requesting her presence in Faerie.
Now the wrong fae has answered her summons, and she’s stuck with a not-so-charming prince who offers to fix all her problems…for a price. She can’t afford to tell him no, but with her luck, she might not survive saying yes.
Titles available in this series include:
Heir of the Dog Excerpt
Flaming red hair. Check. Pasty white skin. Double check. Breath like a slaughterhouse in July… I inhaled deeply then wrinkled my nose. Yep. Houston, we have a troll sighting.
Now would be a great time to have a partner. Too bad mine was an ex in every sense of the word.
Buzzing at my ear preceded a manic giggle as a drunken sprite landed on my shoulder and dry-humped my earlobe. Gross. I thumped him in the stomach and sent him tumbling through the air. Four of his buddies zipped past me, whooping with amusement.
Yeah. Real funny. Pick on the marshal. Pests. Sprites were the fae equivalent of mosquitoes, and the town of Wink, Texas was infested.
My flicker of inattention cost me. The troll had gained more ground.
I tugged on the cuff of my glove from habit then tightened my grip on my satchel and followed my mark deeper into the crowded back streets heading toward the O’Leary Bazaar, a nightly street fair held by fae vendors, mostly Unseelie, where you could buy anything your heart desired as long as you were willing to sell your soul to afford it.
No refunds or exchanges.
“Love charm for the pretty lady?” A damp palm grasped my wrist. “Find a man—fall in love.”
A trow, a bowlegged woman with a gangrene complexion, jerked me a step toward her booth. Leather bags hung from twisted cords around her neck. The one she jangled in my face boasted a red anatomical heart on its front. As its innards tinkled and its spell awakened, the bloody outline pulsed.
Shrugging free of her, I wiped her slimy residue off my skin and started walking. “No thanks.”
The last thing I needed was a man. My heart was still mending from my last breakup.
“Two coppers for the charm,” the trow cried. “Pretty lady. Charming lady needs a charm.”
I shouldered through the crowd until a head of flame-bright hair came back into view. Bodies parted to ease his brisk passage then clumped together to slow my pursuit. Unseelie solidarity. Nice.
“Charm.” That same toad-skinned hand closed over my arm. “Lady needs a—”
Gritting my teeth, I spun toward the trow and noticed the cloudy pink sweat dotting her forehead and dribbling into murky eyes frantically darting between my face and some point past my shoulder.
“Trows,” I said thoughtfully. “They’re troll cousins, right?”
Her answer involved peeling her eel-skin lips from her ichor-stained teeth and hissing at me.
“We can finish this later.” I scanned the street until spotting a flicker of ginger bobbing over the sea of inky-haired sameness. I bolted in that direction as pain razored across my forearm. Dark blood welled and glistened in the furrows the trow had raked in my flesh, but I healed before a single drop fell.
“Finish this now,” she growled. “Pretty lady.”
“Fine.” I was closer to the troll than I had been all week, and I wasn’t leaving the bazaar without him.
I raised my left hand, let the trow see the shimmering wards stamped into the black leather glove I wore, let her wonder what all those bindings meant. And then I showed her. Murmuring my Word, I sensed the protective magic locking the glove at my wrist relax. I removed it and flexed my fingers.
Runes covered my skin from wrist to fingertips, casting a soft peridot glow around my hand.
Her rheumy eyes flared. “Cú Sídhe whore.”
Every person on the packed street craned their necks. Mouths fell open. Bodies shuffled the hell out of my way. No one spoke. They barely breathed while I strolled the narrow gauntlet they formed, taking time I didn’t have so all saw the markings, my birthright, and understood what they meant.
Sometimes it paid having Macsen Sullivan for a father.
Ahead of me, the troll glanced back. His bone-white face contrasted with his scalding hair. Stark blue eyes pierced mine. Freckles crawled like ants over his bulbous nose. His teeth, when he smiled, were so much worse. Square pegs, each thicker than my thumb and made for grinding, edges too dull to slice through flesh.
Trolls were fond of chewing their victims to a squishy pulp without breaking the skin. They cut off the head and rolled up the corpse starting from the toes, the same way humans used a tube of toothpaste, squirting out the goo then discarding the empty wrapper in the nearest trash bin.
Grinning, the troll licked his lips. He flipped a table then darted behind a row of booths. When he bolted between two buildings, I broke into a sprint. If I lost him now, I might not get another chance, and I wanted that bonus.
Magic sucker-punched me when I reached the mouth of the alley. No subtle push here. This was a seasoned uppercut while your head was turned.
Usually charms like the one I sensed made the location emit nothing to see here vibes that spun most folks on their heels. This one blared fuck off.
With my head reeling, I braced my bare left hand against the nearest brick wall and shook off the oily threat permeating my senses. Entering the alley alone was a Very Bad Idea, but I didn’t get paid to let fae eat humans. Our race was a nibble away from discovery as it was. Both Seelie and Unseelie houses agreed if the fae had to come out, they wanted the big reveal to be on their own terms. Having an ass-ugly troll with people stuck in his teeth for their poster boy? Probably not the smoothest move in the campaign to convince humanity our races could coexist in harmony.
That first step into shadow made my bones creak. Pressure built in my ears until I swallowed to pop them. Runes on my hand provided the only light, a faint green glow. Given tonight’s full moon, I chalked the pervasive darkness up to black magic. Someone had gone shopping tonight.
“Smells of dog, it does,” the troll’s thick voice boomed. “What business does it have with I?”
Paper crinkling on my left made me squint that much harder. “Are you Quinn O’Shea?”
“Aye.” He crushed something underfoot, closer to my right.
He was circling me.
I raised my palm, hoping to distract him with the immediate threat while I tugged a daylighter flare out of my satchel. “In that case, O’Shea, I bet you can guess what I’m doing here.”
Hot air blasted my nape as his damp nose snuffled me. “You’re Black Dog’s get.”
I suppressed a shudder. “That’s what they tell me.” I had never met the guy myself.
“Black Dog knows I.” He exhaled near my ear. “Thinkin’ he won’t want it to hurt I.”
“The conclave sent me.” I twisted the cap off the flare. “My father has nothing to do with this.”
“It has Dog’s black hair.” His chuckle slithered over me. “Does it have Dog’s black heart?”
I was nothing like Mac. Our magically radioactive left hands were the only things we had in common, not that I had ever seen his to compare.
“The conclave bids you come with me of your own free will to stand trial.”
He chuffed. “Don’t much like I’s odds if I goes to court.”
“If you’re convicted of the murders—” and we both knew he would be given his starring role in the convenience store surveillance video, “—you can appeal the verdict. But if you don’t report, and if you really do know my father, then we both know what happens next.”
“It don’t have the power.” The troll grunted. “It wouldn’t be set loose here if’n it did.”
“Last chance.” I gripped the flare with one hand and its cap in the other. Each flash of my runes telegraphed my movements. No hope of concealing them. The glow didn’t come with an off switch.
“Don’t fear death.” Claws scraped asphalt when he shifted his weight.
“Don’t fear you neither.”
I rubbed the coarse striking surface of the cap against the button on the flare. Nothing happened. Damn it. Trolls turn to stone in sunlight. I had planned to identify Quinn, whip out my daylighter flare and then babysit the hunk of troll-shaped rock until the conclave dispatched a unit with a flatbed for pick-up. But Quinn’s nasty little charm must protect him by dousing all forms of artificial light, like my flare.
With a sigh, I tossed the worthless daylighter aside. “You aren’t coming peacefully, are you?”
His answer was to hook his meaty forearm around my throat and yank me against his chest. My lungs burned while his bulging muscles flexed, crushing my larynx. I dug the nails of one hand into his wrist. Runes eased beneath my skin, shining like beacons, banishing the gloom.
Damp and fleshy, his tongue slid down my nape. The glide of his blunt teeth followed.
A shudder cemented my resolve. Kill or be killed. I had a choice to make.
An easy one.
I clamped my bare left palm over his thick wrist. “This is going to hurt.”
Copyright © 2015 Hailey Edwards
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