Publisher: Hailey Edwards
ISBN: 978-1-63211-010-7 (ebook)
ISBN: 978-1-63211-011-4 (print)
eBook release date: April 30, 2015
Print release date: April 30, 2015
Black Dog, Book 3
Black Dog, Book 3
With tentative peace established in Faerie, Thierry returns to her job as a conclave marshal in Texas while the countdown to her coronation begins. But what happens in Faerie doesn’t always stay in Faerie. A crown wasn’t Thierry’s only souvenir from her trip. Her new husband, Rook, is scheming again, and this time his plans are invading her dreams.
When her best friend throws a beachside going-away party, Thierry is grateful for the distraction from Rook…and from Shaw. But her presence in Daytona rouses an old evil, one who wants the future queen as the crown jewel of his private collection.
Titles available in this series include:
Lie Down with Dogs Excerpt
“Three wishes my ass,” I muttered while crawling on my hands and knees behind a crate full of women’s underthings. I snatched a pair of beige granny panties off the pile and used a plastic clothes hanger to wave them like a control-top flag. “Truce,” I yelled at the djinn. “Put down your weapon.”
“Hey, there you are. Come on out, dollface. The party’s over here.” His deep tone cracked when he laughed, shooting his voice two octaves higher. “Besides, it ain’t a weapon if you’re born with it.”
If I rolled my eyes any harder, I’d be examining my frontal lobe.
His chuckles tapered into a slow exhale. “I just wanted to have some fun.”
I bet. The exposed skin from my left elbow down to my wrist was shiny pink and still smarting from the scalding blast of superheated vapor he fired at me when I attempted to apprehend him. Who knew tarnished lamps made such versatile weapons?
“I won’t hurt you,” he promised.
Uh-huh, right. Djinns were liars and manipulators, much like my estranged pseudo husband. Not that I was hauling around emotional baggage with the Prince Regent’s name on the tags or anything.
“Lower your weapon and put your hands behind your head,” I called. “Kick the lamp to me.”
“Play with me. It’ll be our little secret.” His voice dipped. “No. Make that our big secret.”
Great. Not only was Herbert a teenage djinn on a crime spree, he had compensation issues too.
A lesser known fact about djinns was if you attempted to gain control of a magic lamp and failed, not only did your wishes go unfulfilled, but you accrued a debt equal to theirs. The tables turned, and the victorious djinn could then compel you to grant them three favors. I was just spitballing here, but I got the feeling Herb’s wish list involved me, the risqué contents from one of the crates scattered throughout the warehouse, and the sexual education he had acquired via the Internet. Thanks, Tumblr.
The crate in front of me shimmied while faint pink mist smelling of roses spilled over its sides. Well, that explained a few things. Being his age was hard enough without having floral-scented mojo.
“You still want to rub my lamp, right, baby?”
Yeah, Rook, the aforementioned pseudo husband, would love hearing how I was the first girl to spit-shine this guy’s lamp. Rook would kill Herbert, and I don’t mean that in a cutesy newlywed kind of way. I mean Rook would literally end him. He was a death portent, like me.
Killing was his thing.
It was my thing too, sometimes, but at least I was conflicted about it.
Through a crack between crates, I tracked Herb’s leisurely exploration of the storage warehouse for a major discount clothing chain. While perusing a bin full of thongs, he spun his lamp around his pointer finger. His face split into a grin as he lifted a sheer black teddy off the pile of lace and sateen.
After casting a sly look my way, he unzipped his pants and took his joystick in hand.
No. No. No. This was not happening. “Put that thing away. This is public indecency.”
“Don’t be mad, sweet cheeks.” He flashed me a full-frontal nightmare. “We’re private here.”
I covered my eyes. I had to. Please God, don’t let that be the last sight I behold. At nineteen, I wasn’t much older than Herb. The gap in our ages was only two years. But for pity’s sake. Grow up.
“You wanna see what you’re missing?”
Call it morbid curiosity, but vigorous grunting sounds dragged my hand down my face. It took a second for what I saw to register. I admit it, I stared. My mind spluttered no freaking way, refusing to process the information, while my eyes screeched make it stop, make it stop and begged to be gouged out.
Djinn and their lamps scoffed at the laws of physics. Otherwise, you couldn’t stuff a grown man or a woman into a six-inch space, even with magical lubricating mist. So part of me grasped that it was possible for a djinn to cram things larger than the circumference of their lamp spout into its opening.
But I had obviously never considered other possible uses for that hole that would occur to a teenage boy.
Herb’s energetic hip thrusting made me wince in sympathy, and I didn’t even have dangly bits. Seriously. Wouldn’t that much friction chafe? Finally, embarrassment won out, and I managed to tear my gaze from the wannabe porn star long enough to cook up a decent plan.
Reeling in the fine silver chain around my neck, I fished a quarter-sized medallion from inside my shirt and closed my hand over it. My thumb found the familiar grooves where a plain triskele had been stamped into its center, and I worried the slight indention.
The magic-imbued pendant had come standard with the rest of the marshal equipment issued to me by the Southwestern Conclave after I completed the marshal academy. At the time, it had served one purpose. It summoned the Morrigan. But the Morrigan, who was now my mother-in-law, overlaid the original enchantment with a slightly less legal version as a welcome to the family gift the last time I summoned her. Now the talisman was a direct line to her—yay?—as well as a pocket portal that linked to the closet in my office.
I raised my left hand, spoke my Word, and the spell holding my glove in place relaxed. The dozens of intricate runes starting at my fingertips and creeping up my wrist cast soft emerald light that illuminated the area around me. I held the design on the tip of one finger against the triskele while picturing a small room with a locked door, a safe place where I could hide what I didn’t want found.
With my eyes shut, I imagined myself unlocking the door and reaching inside the room. I rifled through the gloom until I located what I was looking for—the coarse black pelt of a hound—and then I let myself have it. When I cracked my eyes open, dark fur overflowed my hand, pooling on my lap.
Soft footsteps had me twisting around to check on Herb. No sign of him, his lamp or the teddy.
Raising my chin, I inhaled the scents of starch, fabric softener…and Spicebomb cologne.
Time to put my plan into action. I lifted the skin and draped it across my back, tugging the nose over my head until I peered through the shriveled slits where its eyes had been. A few tense heartbeats later, it stuck, making me shudder while the world shifted from full color to muted yellows, blues and grays.
With a shiver, I shook out my fur and on four legs trotted after Herb’s spicy-sweet scent.
He knew where I had hidden. Whatever game he was playing, I wanted it finished. The guy had low-end tastes. His larcenous grand total might hit a thousand dollars if I included the box of Milk Duds he’d pocketed at the Grab ‘N’ Go on Hendricks Boulevard.
Herb was misguided, not dangerous. His wasn’t a high-priority case, except to me.
How much of my hot mess of a life could those fix?
I wish I had never met Rook. I wish for an evergreen money tree (grove) that auto-updated portraits, seals, serial numbers, ink, border and paper. Oh yeah, and I wish I had never met Rook.
Padding across the floor, I swiveled my ears, listening for the sound of heavy breathing.
Nothing. Nada. Zero, zip and zilch.
Herb was surprisingly stealthy when he wasn’t busy oiling his lamp. Three steps later, I realized why. Hovering six inches above the poured concrete floor while sitting on a cloud of swirling condensation, he sat with his legs crossed at the ankles, looking downright blissful. I curled my lip. Ick. He was all afterglowy.
Careful to keep an eye on the levitating lothario, I circled behind him, putting crates between us when I could. Herb drifted across the floor, humming a tune under his breath. My nape prickled when I stepped out into the open. As I drew closer, I recognized the tune as “Pop Goes the Weasel”.
I took a step back, but he whirled on me. Tendrils of roiling fog snapped like bullwhips. One rose-scented tentacle dove at me, pulling up short while Herb scowled at the snarling black dog standing where he expected a pissed-off woman. The snakelike appendages writhed while their master’s lips quirked.
“Let me guess.” His laughter bounced off the walls. “You like it doggy—”
I lunged for his throat, teeth snapping.
He squeaked and toppled off his menacing cloud. The haze vanished with a hiss.
“Look, lady.” He backpedaled with his lamp hand lifted. “I didn’t do nothing.”
Except blast me with superheated mist when I tried to question him. Searing layers of skin off a marshal was not the way for him to earn a get-out-of-jail-free card. No matter how petty his previous crimes, and even though I had targeted him for less than altruistic reasons, assaulting a marshal meant his chances of getting out of this unscathed had vanished in a puff of smoke. Selfish as my motives were, he was unaware of them when he chose to greet me with violence. Still, I wouldn’t hurt the guy.
A growl rumbled in my throat while I advanced on Herb.
“T-that’s close enough.” His lamp scraped against the concrete as he crab-walked out of range. “I told you the truth. I can’t grant wishes. Not until I’m an adult, in like another two thousand years.”
I flattened my ears against my head. He had told me that, and it might be true. I had no one to blame for this situation but myself. I chose to come after Herb. I saw his file, had a selfish thought, and here I was. That didn’t change the fact he had decided to up the stakes in his game. He already made plans for whoever came at him next. It just so happened to be me.
Since I hadn’t mastered the art of speaking while in this form, not in this realm at least, I chuffed. The guy was terrified and disarmed. I might as well shift back so I could read him his rights.
Almost a full minute passed while I grappled with the hound’s skin. Shifting in the mortal realm was much harder than it had been in Faerie. During that time, Herbert experienced a change of heart. It must have been obvious I was struggling. He got his feet under him and called his mist to cloak him.
This was not good. I had little control over my body while in transition, and this skin was stuck like glue. I couldn’t rip it off or smooth it back down fast enough to dodge him, so I braced for his attack.
It never came.
A grim-faced man materialized in front of Herb, placing himself between us, and pressed the blade of his sword against the young djinn’s bobbing Adam’s apple. The warrior’s skin was ashen. He tied his sleek black hair in a queue that hung past his hips. The somber man was sidhe, an Unseelie, and half of the matched set assigned to protect me during my final year in this realm.
Three hundred forty-eight days left…
Glum as they both were, I couldn’t tell my guards apart until my roommate hit on the idea of tagging their light black armor with nail polish. Judging by the olive drab streak on the back of this guy’s upper thigh, my bacon had just been saved by Righty. Lefty, who boasted a red crème swatch on his calf, must still be using glamour to conceal his presence, because only shut and locked bathroom doors kept them from breathing down my neck.
Sometimes even then I had my doubts.
Note to self: Invest in thermal goggles.
With a shiver, the hound’s skin finally released me. I rose on two shaky legs with the pelt in hand.
“Thanks for the save.” I patted Righty on the shoulder.
He didn’t blink, but I read you’re welcome between the lines.
Copyright © 2015 Hailey Edwards
All rights reserved