Publisher: Hailey Edwards
eBook release date: June 13, 2017
Print release date: June 13, 2017
Lorimar Pack, Book 3
Lorimar Pack, Book 3
Dell has persuaded the Bloodless army to fight alongside her pack in Butler, but she still has to get there. Halfway home, the rift detonates, blasting out a magic surge that sweeps across the globe, frying electronics and spells alike. Leaving her with no way to get home except on her own two–or four–feet.
Dangerous times demand equally lethal alliances, and she has to make a risky deal if she wants to reach the front lines before it’s too late. The bargain grants an ancient fae power over her, a hold she vowed no man would ever have on her again, but freedom requires sacrifice.
As the threshold between Earth and Faerie erodes, humans and supernaturals alike are in danger of being erased as the fae seek to claim this world as their own. This is the moment when new legends arise and old gods fall, when fates unspool and futures unravel, when battles are won and lives are lost.
The war isn’t just coming. It’s here.
Titles available in this series include:
Over the Moon Excerpt
The old man at pump five wouldn’t stop leering at me. The urge to yell pop in your dentures was so overwhelming, I was amazed all that came out was a baseline growl. Without the dentures, his lips curved inward over his gums, and his mouth became this pink hole of writhing tongue meant to telegraph his skill set as he thrust between the V he made with two wrinkled fingers.
A full-body shudder swept through me as I turned my back on him.
Humans were so gross.
The red hair curling around my shoulders earned me occasional looks. Some folks were really into gingers. The cantaloupes filling out my tank top earned me more. But the real problem here was not that an old man was now eyeballing my assets, it was that he could eyeball me at all.
The obfuscation spell Enzo Garza, Lorimar’s temporary pack witch, had cast on the RV kept it invisible. The magical buffers embedded in the working urged other drivers to stay out of our lane and away from the vehicle to prevent accidents. The same went for pit stops like this one. As long as I was touching the RV, that protection extended to me. Or it should have.
A person’s tolerance for magic determined how responsive they were to suggestion, so coverage was hit-or-miss. Today was apparently a miss. The old man, as human as he smelled, must have a magical branch in his family tree.
“Everything okay out there?” Isaac called through the open driver’s-side window. “I heard growling.”
“Old man’s got a staring problem.” I hooked my thumb over my shoulder. “That’s all.”
Usually I was more tolerant—I had been raised by wolves after all—but the distance between me and the pack, and my alphas, had my feral other half pacing under my skin.
“Want me to take care of it?” He made the offer while staring down the problem, who had yet to notice he was caught in certain-death’s crosshairs. Pissing off a fae was never smart. Pissing off my mate, one of the rarest of the rare, a Gemini who could shift into any creature with a drop of its blood, was downright stupid. “Or do you want the honors?”
“He’s just an old man.” I brushed off the incident before it escalated. We didn’t have time for distractions. Not with a war coming. “We’re almost done here anyway. Need me to stock up on snacks for the return trip?”
“I’m good if you are.” He held up a finger. “Let me check with Tiberius.”
For a fae prince, born and raised in Faerie, Tiberius was getting mighty comfy living in our world. Having seen the untamed beauty of his homeland with my own eyes, I would have expected more culture shock, but I suppose, in the end, all teenage boys are the same on a base level.
Feed them cheesy poofs, give them a tablet to play video games on, and they thrived.
“Dell,” Isaac called a moment later, an edge in his voice. “Thierry’s on the line.”
“Finally.” I scrambled into the driver’s seat while Isaac resumed his position as copilot. “About freaking time she answered.”
Stick a fork in our mission. It was done. As requested, we had located King Rook’s sister, Branwen, and secured her Bloodless army to fight alongside the Lorimar pack and Stoners at the rift, and I couldn’t wait to share the good news.
“Hold on,” he said into the receiver. “I’ll put you on speaker.”
“We can see them through the rift. A legion of winged fae. Several varieties. There are fifty or sixty sirens carrying heavy coils of rope.” Thierry’s voice filled the space. “There are more supplies. Not sure what they’re building out there over the lake, but we can’t risk an act of aggression that might set them off. Every second we can buy is precious, and it’s not like we can stop them anyway. Talk to me about Branwen.”
“She’s in.” Remembering the savage glee of her Bloodless army as they rallied for war, I amended, “They’re all in.”
“Rilla had us trailed,” Isaac added, and the mention of the crazed alkonost bent on putting her nephew on Faerie’s throne had a snarl bubbling up the back of my throat. “She’s aware of several of the Bloodless’s discarded boltholes now, so they can’t go back to them. The army will be joining us via tree—don’t ask—so the loss isn’t critical. Going forward, however, the conclave might have to help them resettle in safe territory.”
Why not ask the conclave for help? It wasn’t like they hadn’t been tracking the Bloodless all along.
“I’ll make sure they have all the help they need once this is over,” Thierry promised.
If any of us survived.
“There’s something…” The line crackled on her end. “Freaking monkeys. What is that?”
“Thierry?” I leaned closer. “You’re breaking up. Say again.”
“The rift…” her voice faded, “…ripping open…” a static burst made me wince, “…magic surge…”
A chorus of howls rose in the background, the song a rallying cry to battle.
“Thierry,” Isaac yelled. “What’s happening up there?”
The line fizzled in response, and a shrill beep ended the call.
We sat there, first looking at the phone and then at each other.
“What just happened?” The wolf coiled in my chest, a whine tightening my throat. Those were my people, my pack, my alphas. I should have been there. I should be fighting by their sides, not safe in an RV hundreds of miles away. “We have to get back to Butler.”
The RV rumbled to life with a twist of my wrist. We strapped in, and I stomped the gas, snapping the breakaway hose attached to the pump since I’d forgotten to remove the nozzle, and burned rubber. It was a nine-hour drive to Butler, Tennessee, from Orange Beach, Alabama, according to the GPS app on Isaac’s phone. I drove like a bat out of hell for two hours, but a bright light on the horizon caused me to squint and then my eyes to water.
“What is that?” I lifted a hand off the wheel to shield my face. “It’s—it’s moving toward us.”
“Put on your seat belt,” Isaac yelled to Tiberius. “Dell, keep both hands on the wheel and brace for impact.”
I held his gaze, and my gut knotted as the roiling, golden froth swatted cars aside and kept on coming. Of all the things I could have said, what came out was, “Don’t leave me again.”
He clamped his hand on my thigh, squeezed. “I won’t.”
Impact shattered the windshield, and the RV rolled hard to the right. Power jolted through my body, and my teeth vibrated with a harsh resonance that summoned my wolf to the fore. The heavy pendant I wore slid from under my shirt and smacked me in the eye. That would leave a mark. I didn’t dare rub the sting, because we kept rocking. I lost count of how many times we flipped until fading momentum left us in a crumpled heap, the vehicle resting on the passenger side, in the middle of a pasture.
“Isaac,” I panted, hands cramped around the wheel.
“Present,” he groaned.
“The tablet won’t turn on.”
I huffed out a laugh. “So you’re fine. Good.”
“That must be what Thierry meant.” Isaac popped his seat belt and stood on his window then held me up while I unfastened my strap, dumping me into his arms. “The mass exodus of fae into this world must have ripped the portal wider.”
I got on my feet, and together we went to free Tiberius. “That was a magic surge?”
“Didn’t you feel it?” he asked.
“Magic has never hurt me like that.” Except, I recalled, while I was in Faerie. “This felt like I was being electrocuted.”
Isaac studied the prince. “Tiberius?”
“The energy was pure. It tasted of home.” He dropped out of his seat belt without our help, released Bea, who rocketed past us and out the shattered windshield into the sky, and then followed us back up front. “Once magic flowed freely between our realms. There were no walls, no barriers. Not until the Black Dog raised them.”
After clambering over the driver’s seat, I shoved open the door, which smacked against the dented side of the RV. Each of us climbed out and took a seat on the battered metal, gazing out over the rolling pastureland.
“This is what we once were,” Tiberius said. “This is a return to normal.”
“Normal was before Faerie collided with our realm in the first place,” I countered, gripping Isaac’s hand. “Though I can’t regret that, we may live to regret this.”
Faerie was infecting our world, and that first punch of magic had fried all our electronics.
It was like someone had jacked the saturation of our world up by twenty-five percent. The colors were brighter, the air perfumed with life and magic. The birds hopping down the power line overhead squawked at the tiny fae riders perched on their backs. Motion caught my eye to the right in time for me to spot a shadow glide across the ground, devouring hay bales as it went. Luckily for us, it was oozing in the opposite direction. That might change once it noticed the easy pickings near the ruined vehicles. We had to get moving.
“Can this be undone?” I jerked my gaze to Tiberius’s.
“It took a power as mighty as the Black Dog to separate our realms the first time. He set the threshold himself.” His gaze drifted, lips tightening. “That he allowed this to happen means he has decided it is right and fair. He won’t intervene.”
And his daughter must not have the power, or she would have sealed up the rift rather than circumvent the system to prepare for this.
At least we had one Black Dog on our side.
“Tiberius.” I caught his attention. “Do me a favor? Hop down on the ground.”
He did, and he stuck the landing.
“The spell is broken.” He brightened. “I can leave the RV.”
“The magic surge fried both the electrical and the magical.” Isaac rubbed his fingers together. “I wonder what that means for us.”
Isaac summoned his warg aspect, and a heartbeat later, a massive wolf stood beside me. He leapt to the ground and reared up, two-thirds the height of the vehicle. I reached down and patted his bulky head.
“Faerie stunted my magic.” I was afraid of what shifting might do to me. “But it seems to be treating you right. How about you, Tibs?”
The prince blinked at me, taken aback by the nickname, then grinned like maybe he liked the informality of it. After lowering his personal glamour, which had remained unaffected, he stretched out his golden wings. They appeared to be their normal span. He wasn’t freakishly overblown like Isaac.
“I’ll scout ahead,” Tiberius called, sliding into invisibility. At least we didn’t have to worry about him getting spotted. His camouflage was flawless.
“What did you eat?” I ruffled the wolf’s fur. “Some of Jack’s beans?”
Isaac shrank back to his usual height as he released the wolf aspect then climbed up to sit beside me. “The only time my magic gets weird is when Theo is in trouble. Serious trouble.” He flexed his hands. “I have less control when he’s injured or sick, and my mimicry goes funhouse mirror on me.”
That…did not sound good.
Theo, who was still locked up at Macon Correctional Facility, pretending to be me. If their tech had been fried too, the prisoners might be trapped in their cells. The second half of that thought hit me square between the eyes. “The magic surge would have fried the blood he was using and stripped the power from it.”
“Tiberius maintained his glamour,” Isaac said, following the logic chain. “It’s possible Theo was able to maintain his Dell aspect.”
“That still means he can only be me for as long as his current fix lasts, right? After that, he’ll revert to himself, and our asses will be grass. The conclave will realize I’m in the wind and that Theo took my place.”
And then they would realize how he’d managed that feat, and his life would be in danger.
Muscles flexed in Isaac’s jaw as fear for his twin divided his loyalties.
Return to Butler or chart a course for Wink, Texas? Stand by the pack or with his brother?
“What should we do with the prince?” I worried a torn thumbnail with my teeth. “Send him on ahead of us?”
“King Rook is safe as long as Rilla doesn’t have Tiberius. She can’t stage her coup without him. We keep the prince with us, give Branwen time to locate and secure her brother, and then we put in our appearance. After that, Thierry can figure out what to do with him.”
“Good plan. I’m on board for letting someone else make the calls for a change.” I hesitated before asking a question that had been on my mind since the start of our misadventure. “Why didn’t you ever tell me Theo was special?”
His shuttered expression gave me the impression I had stepped on a landmine about to go boom.
“Theo’s gift is rare, and I could leave it at that. That’s reason enough to keep quiet about him. But that’s not why I did.” He rolled his shoulders. “I like the way you look at me when I pull off a new aspect you’ve never seen. It’s nice. No one who’s ever seen Theo shift has ever given me a second glance. I guess… I wanted to keep your amazement to myself. At least until after we got mated and you couldn’t throw me over for him.”
Fighting a smile, I leaned against him. “You realize I saw him shift at Macon, and it just pissed me off?”
“He was impersonating your meemaw at the time,” he pointed out.
“True.” That was not the way to get on my good side. “But having spent time around you both, I know I landed the better brother.”
“How do you figure that?” He sounded doubtful.
“In case you haven’t noticed, you’re no slouch in the aspect game either. You may not be able to mimic people, but you can replicate fae and all kinds of brain-meltingly fantastic creatures. Including wargs. How can you do that and still find room to be envious of your brother?”
“Practice?” He rolled a shoulder. “I’ve had our whole lives to work on my grudge.”
“I can’t Monday-morning quarterback your brother’s decisions,” I said, and I meant it. Whatever had prompted Theo to embrace the drifter lifestyle and leave his family at home was his business. “But you stayed. You helped give Cam the family unit she needed to survive. You helped your mom run her businesses. You gave up on travel, on all the things you wanted, to be there for your family. I understand why Theo left, and I would never want to make that call and live so isolated from my own family, but you could have gone with him. You could have done a lot of things that you didn’t.” I pressed a kiss to the underside of his jaw. “I think you’ve got a lot more sticking power than either of us ever gave you credit for, Mr. Cahill.”
“I never thought of it like that.” He wrapped an arm around my waist. “Must have been practice for the day I met you, Ms. Preston.”
Maybe his unusual upbringing had bent him enough he wouldn’t break being with me. If that was the case—fae or not—I owed Cam and Dot thanks.
“Want to help me check my equipment?” He trailed his fingers over my hipbone. “I packed it away in anti-magic boxes, but it might be all the tech we have available to us for a while. We ought to salvage as much of it as we can.”
“Sure. We need to comb the RV for supplies and pack as much food, water and equipment as possible.”
Leaving him to keep watch for Tiberius, I swung my legs around and leapt back into the RV’s darkened interior, grabbing our backpacks from Faerie out of storage and upending them. We needed to pack smart and light.
“Let’s get this show on the road,” I called while sifting through the remaining MREs and nutrition bars for the more edible flavors. “Prison breaks wait for no man.”
“What about Lorimar?” He landed beside me a heartbeat later and cupped my face between his hands. “They’re your family.”
“You’re my mate. Your brother is family too.” I pushed out a heavy breath. “Branwen will lead her army to Butler. Even if we left now, they would still beat us there. Our combined forces aren’t much compared to the ground support she’s bringing.” I searched his expression. “Thierry is in Butler too, which means Theo is alone. She can’t leave the front line to help him, and odds are good she can’t get word to her friend to help him either. Busting him out of Macon is up to us.”
As Gemini twins, the brothers’ lives were connected. Protecting Theo protected Isaac. Simple math, really.
He rested our foreheads together. “Thank you.”
The urge to tease him out of his somber mood surfaced. “Hasn’t anyone ever told you not to thank—?”
He cut me off with a soft press of his lips to mine, and my heart swelled to painful fullness.
“Thank you,” he said again when we came up for air.
“Keep saying that, and I’m starting you a tab.”
“What if I can’t pay?” His eyes sparkled. “ATMs may be down too.”
I tapped my bottom lip. “Then you’ll just have to work off your debt.”
“I am a hard worker, and I’m willing to put in long hours.”
About to say something inappropriate about the length of his hours, I almost swallowed my tongue when Tiberius popped his head into the RV.
“You’ll want to see this.”
We climbed out to get a better look, and I noticed people abandoning their ruined vehicles to walk in clusters down the highway. Safety in numbers, herd mentality at its finest. This time, that instinct might be all that saved them from what was coming.
“Look.” Tiberius pointed in an easterly direction. “See that?”
The sun blazed overhead, but tucked away in the sky, sheltered behind an expanse of darkening clouds, courtesy of Bea, I spotted the cause for his alarm. A second waxing crescent moon hugged the outline of the first. Faerie really was bleeding into this world, too fast for us to staunch the flow. Maybe nothing we did would make a difference. Maybe our actions would only prolong the inevitable. But we had to try.
“How do you eat a bear?” Isaac wrapped his arm around my shoulders when the weight of what we faced pushed them down.
“Very carefully?” I hazarded a guess.
“One bite at a time.”
I laughed softly. It was bad as far as jokes went, but I got it.
“First we hike from central Alabama to west Texas.” His finger drummed against my arm once. “Then we break into a maximum-security prison within spitting distance of a marshal outpost.” Two more taps. “And then, if we’re still feeling adventurous, we hustle up to Butler in time to watch the first wave of Faerie insurgents crash against our defenses.”
“One bite at a time,” I agreed. “Easy-peasy.”
Suddenly, I had a taste for bear.
Copyright © 2017 Hailey Edwards
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