AVAILABLE IN AUDIO BOOK: May 18, 2021!
The Wild Hunt is on the trail of the Tuathan Brotherhood—a hate group terrorizing humans and shifters alike. Their investigation takes them over to the Olympic Peninsula, where they plunge into the heart of the haunted old-growth forest in a desperate attempt to stop the group before they strike again.
Meanwhile, one of Herne’s friends turns to the Wild Hunt. He’s unwittingly unleashed a terrifying spirit who threatens Port Ludlow with the fury of her storms. Now, they must not only locate Rafé, who has vanished while undercover in the forest, but they must also appease the Cailleach before she destroys the entire community and everyone within it.
Herne stared out the window, his hands behind his back. The night sky held that soft silver sheen that came with a snowstorm, and the soft fall of snow drifted down through the night to blanket the ground and muffle the sound of traffic.
I curled up on the sofa with Angel, while Rafé sat cross-legged on the floor, staring at his tablet. On the covered patio, steaks were sizzling on the grill, and Angel had made hot cocoa for all of us. I leaned back against one arm of the sofa, pulling my knees to my chest as I held my mug and stared at the flames crackling in the fireplace. It was Friday night, and we were all trying to relax after a particularly grueling week.
“It’s been a rough six weeks,” I said, to no one in particular.READ MORE
Herne nodded. “You can say that again. And I’m afraid things aren’t going to die down any time soon.” He glanced outside at the grill. “I’ll check on the steaks.” He ducked out the sliding glass door, armed with tongs and some barbecue sauce.
“He’s worried, isn’t he?” Angel asked softly as he shut the sliding glass door behind him.
I nodded. “Yeah, but aren’t we all?”
We were on the trail of the Tuathan Brotherhood, a hate group that had claimed responsibility for a number of crimes around the area. At least forty people were dead, and dozens had been injured, including me.
A couple weeks after the credit union bombing, in which I had been injured, there had been an active shooter incident claiming eleven victims, the last one being the shooter himself. He killed himself before the cops could get to him. This time it had been one of the Light Fae—a student on the Washington Hills college campus who had apparently been recruited into the hate group the same way the others had—through drugging and brainwashing.
“Can we let it go for tonight?” Angel asked. “I just want one day’s reprieve from thinking about it.” She leaned forward and grabbed another marshmallow, popping it into her mug.
“I agree. We need a break. No more talk about the Tuathan Brotherhood tonight.” I flashed her a smile and sipped my cocoa. “Instead, let’s talk about Yule. Are you going to visit DJ?” Angel’s little brother was living with a foster family, and she had seen him at Thanksgiving, but I wasn’t sure whether she had decided to spend the winter holidays down there.
She shook her head. “No. Cooper is taking the entire family on a ski trip for the holidays, and I want DJ to go. Not only do I not ski, I simply can’t take the time off, given we’re headed over to the peninsula this week. We may not be back in time for Yule.”
“Right. Well, he’ll have fun. And yes, we’ll probably still be over on the peninsula.” We were out to infiltrate the hate group—or rather, Rafé was—and the entire agency was going over. We hoped Rafé would be able to feed us the information we needed in order to bust up the group right there. But I knew that Herne would have let Angel go if she asked. No, I knew there were two reasons behind her reluctance. The first was Rafé himself—she was worried about him.
And the second was while DJ had enjoyed having her there for Thanksgiving, Angel had confided to me that she felt like an outsider. Her brother was fitting in well with his new foster family, and she had felt like he had spent time with her just because he felt like he should. I tried to convince her that she was wrong, but the truth was—I had the feeling she was right. Angel was a strong empath and had a good read on people.
“Then we should plan out an agency-wide Yule party for the Solstice. If we get stuck over there, we’ll celebrate when we get back.” I drained my mug and set it on the table. “Rafé, do you go home for the Solstice?”
He glanced up, shaking his head. “No. My family doesn’t welcome my presence.”
“Then you’ll spend it with us,” Angel said, hastily adding, “If you want to, of course. I don’t know if you already have plans.”
He grinned at her. “No plans, and yes, I’d love to spend the holidays with you.”
I let out a contented sigh. Angel and Rafé were getting along. Herne and I were doing well. Leaving the work issues out of it, life was actually pretty good.
At that moment, Herne returned with a platter full of sizzling steaks. Angel reluctantly unwound herself and headed into the kitchen. As we gathered around the table, she returned with a basket filled with baked potatoes, and a salad. Rafé held my chair for me, then guided Angel to her seat. Herne placed the platter in the center of the table and I stared hungrily at the food.
“Dig in,” Herne said, offering me a steak. He served Angel, then Rafé, and then took the last for himself.
“How’s Danielle doing?” I asked. “Is she coming home for Yule?”
Danielle was Herne’s daughter, whom he had only recently met. She was currently living with the Amazons on the island of Themiscyra, learning the ways of her mother’s people.
“No, I don’t think so, though she wants to come back during the spring for a week and we’re working on arrangements now for that. She’s made friends and her studies are going well. Myrna hardly ever writes to her, but I make sure to stay in touch. We’re getting along better.” He ladled more barbecue sauce on his steak and spread it across his potato, adding grated cheese on top.
Rafé glanced at him. “How long have you known about her?”
“Only about two months. We got off to a rocky start, but we’re sorting it out. Her mother’s absolutely no help, and now that Danielle is over in Themiscyra, Myrna appears to have washed her hands of the girl.” Herne’s expression darkened. “But better it happen now, than before I came into the picture.”
I cut open my potato and added butter and cheese. The smell of the food hit me hard and my stomach rumbled. Ever since the Cruharach, when both of my bloodlines fully emerged, I had developed a love affair with meat that eclipsed even my former passion for hamburgers and hotdogs. It was my Autumn Stalker nature—the hunter within had fully emerged and she was hungry for beef on bone. On the other side, I had also noticed my singing voice had gotten better, thanks to my mother’s Leannan Sidhe blood.
We set to eating but halfway into the meal, Herne’s phone rang. He glanced at it and frowned. “Excuse me, I should probably take this,” he said, moving away from the table.
I waved my fork at him, my mouth full.
Angel laughed. “Go on. We aren’t going anywhere.”
As he moved off toward the living room, I swallowed my food. “So, let’s go get a tree tomorrow,” I said to Angel.
“All right, but I want a fake one. A big, huge, beautiful, fake tree. My allergies aren’t too bad but I don’t think they’d be all that happy with a real tree in the house. And Mr. Rumblebutt would take every chance to climb it.”
I sighed. I hadn’t ever bothered with a Yule tree since I had been on my own—twelve years now—but this year, I wanted a big beautiful spruce tree. “All right. But if we do that, then the wreath on the outside of the door has to be real, and we decorate a couple of the trees in the yard, too.”
“I’m good with that.” She glanced up. “We’ll need to go shopping and pick up ornaments.”
Herne returned at that point, looking perplexed. “That was odd,” he said, returning to his seat.
“Anything wrong?” I asked.
He gave me a shrug. “I’m not sure, but… Yes, actually. The call was from a friend I haven’t heard from in a long while. Angus Lesley. He and his wife Fiona are originally from Scotland. I met them there, a couple hundred years ago. They’re magic-born.” He paused to take a bite of his food.
“What seems to be the problem? Brexit?” Angel asked with a grin.
Herne snorted, then rested his fork on his plate. “No. Angus wanted to know if we—the Wild Hunt—could help him. He’s concerned about his wife.”
“Is she ill?” Rafé asked, spearing another potato.
“Angus seems to think she’s possessed.”
That put a stop to the conversation. I finished my steak and toyed with my potato.
“Possessed? Like in…a spirit?”
He nodded. “I suppose. I’m not really sure. He just said that she’s been acting strangely lately. He also mentioned that there are storms coming through the area that seem…odd. He used that word a lot—odd. Anyway, he asked if we could come over to give him our opinion.”
“Where do they live?” Rafé asked.
“That’s the thing. They live in Port Ludlow, which isn’t far from Port Gamble, where Dr. Nalcops is located.”
Ezra Nalcops was the doctor we suspected was in cahoots with the Tuathan Brotherhood. We hadn’t done anything yet because we didn’t want to tip him—or the brotherhood—off.
“Is Angus prone to paranoia?” Rafé asked.
“No, not unless he’s changed over the years.” Herne shook his head, a worried furrow lining his forehead. “Angus isn’t given to exaggeration. He’s always been a steady man who has easily dealt with a variety of difficult issues. The fact that he’s concerned enough about his wife to call me—that alone tells me this is serious.”
A shadow seemed to fall across our dinner. I shivered, glancing outside. We were having an unusual snowfall for the Seattle area, and the entire world seemed white and cold.
“We were going over next week anyway,” I said, glancing at Angel. She ducked her head, her lips set in a thin line. She was still upset that she had offered up the idea for Rafé to investigate the headquarters of the Tuathan Brotherhood, but it had been his choice in the end.
“Right. I’m thinking we’ll stop in to see if we can help him out. I won’t count this as a regular case, but we’ll just see what we can find out, to help out an old friend,” Herne said.
“How did you meet Angus?” I asked, finishing my potato. A blast of wind hit the trees outside and sent the snow swirling in a spiral and I shivered as a goose walked over my grave.
“Angus and I go way back. He was out on a hunting trip and I was in my form as the stag. He targeted me, not comprehending who I was. When I realized that, I changed back into my human shape and he almost fell over himself apologizing. He was hungry, which was why he was out hunting, so I offered him part of my dinner and we started talking and hit it off.” He shook his head. “A lot of years have passed since those days.”
“Is his wife Scottish, too?” Angel asked.
Herne nodded. “Fiona came over with Angus. As time went on, they decided to try out the New World and just see what it was like. I had moved over by then, and I helped them find a place and get settled. They had three children, all whom have grown up and moved away. The oldest moved back to Scotland, one is living in Maine, and the third died on a fishing boat fifty-odd years ago.”
I carried my plate into the kitchen, and Angel followed me. There was New York–style cheesecake with raspberry sauce for dessert, and I carried it while she picked up the dessert plates and we returned to the table.
“Well, if nothing else, it will be nice for you to see them again.” I stood back, letting Angel take over cutting the cheesecake. I took the plates and poured the sauce on the slices, handing them to the men.
“Yes, it will,” Herne said, sounding preoccupied. While Rafé carried their dinner plates to the kitchen, Herne glanced out the window. “This is not ideal weather to drive over to the peninsula, but we have no choice. I’ll let Angus know we’re coming.”
“We’re still leaving Monday morning, aren’t we?” Angel asked.
“Right,” Herne said.
“You seem really worried,” I said, diving into my cheesecake, relaxing as the creamy filling dissolved in a burst of flavor on my tongue.
Herne shrugged. “I don’t know. I just have an odd feeling about Angus and Fiona. As I said, Angus isn’t given to exaggeration, so if he’s worried enough to call me, yeah, I’m concerned that something is wrong.”
We finished dessert and relocated back to the living room. Herne seemed restless, pacing around the room.
“Would you like to go out for a walk?” I wasn’t looking forward to the chill, but if it would help, I’d bundle myself into my snow gear and head out with him.
But he merely shook his head. “No, I fancy a run. I’m really not good company right now. I’m sorry, but Angus’s call took me by surprise. Do you mind if we cut the evening short?”
Feeling concerned, but realizing that he needed space, I nodded. “Angel, can you and Rafé run me home?”
Angel nodded. “Not a problem. Why don’t we all just call it an early evening? Rafé has to work tomorrow anyway, so you and I can tackle the laundry and catch up on Rudding Place Northwest.”
As Rafé and Angel gathered their things, Herne scraped off plates and put them in the dishwasher. I joined him in the kitchen.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay? I’d be happy to,” I said, touching his arm.
He tilted his head, his wheat-colored hair draping down his shoulders. The light in his eyes mirrored the depths of silent blue lakes, high in the mountains. He poured detergent into the dishwasher reservoir, then closed the door and started the cycle. Straightening, he wiped his hands on a dishtowel.
“Thank you, love, but no. I’m feeling the call of the wild tonight. There are times I need to race out in the woods and leave everything behind. Please don’t think I’m pushing you away.” He took my hands, drawing me to him. I leaned my head against his chest and he nuzzled my hair. “Do you understand?” His voice was trembling.
“Yes, I do. There are times we all need space. I’m not insulted or offended.” I tilted my chin up, staring into his eyes. “Kiss me, though. Remind me that you love me.”
“Always,” he whispered, his lips meeting mine. They were warm, supple, and as he kissed me, he pulled me to him. I felt fully loved and cared for. Yet as much as he possessed me, Herne had never tried to remake me, never tried to change me. He let me be who I was, which only made me love him more.
Reeling from the intensity of his kiss, I pulled my head away, catching my breath. “I will miss you tonight,” I said, reaching up to sweep a strand of hair away from his eyes. I traced the line of his face down to his jaw. The scruff of his beard was soft beneath my fingers, and he laughed gently.
“That makes me happy. That you want me. Perhaps tomorrow?”
“I meet with Marilee in the evening, but maybe I can drop over in the afternoon.” I could feel his arousal as he pressed against me, but I could also feel something else—his longing to race into the forest.
Ever since the Cruharach, I’d been able to feel more emotions connected with the wilds, and had felt that same hunger in myself. Only for me, it was the desire to seek and hunt.
I had been practicing with a bow and arrow—the regular kind as opposed to the pistol grip crossbow I already knew how to use. I was also learning swordplay. I could fight with a dagger, in fact, I could wield two of them at once, but the sword was a different animal altogether.
“Call me in the morning and we’ll see what’s going on. For now, though, another kiss will tide me over.” His lips met mine again, and I lost myself in the spiral of desire that spun itself around us. Finally, reluctantly, I pulled away.
“All right, if I’m not going to stay, I’d better go before you get me too hot and bothered.” I laughed, gathering my things. Rafé and Angel were waiting in the living room for me as I headed for the door. “Let’s get a move on, you two.”
They made their farewells to Herne and we headed out to Rafé’s four-wheel drive. As I swung into the backseat, I glanced back at Herne’s house. The mansion was silent under the snow, and as I fastened my seatbelt, there was a glimmer as a silver stag came darting out from the side, standing tall and proud and luminous.
Herne. The Silver Stag. The Lord of the Hunt.
“He’s gorgeous,” Angel said, catching her breath.
Rafé nodded, his gaze riveted by the massive stag. “I still can’t believe I know a god.”
“You think you’re amazed. I’m dating a god. That stag is my boyfriend.” But my words fell away as Herne leapt ahead to race into the park that buttressed his house. He was faster than any normal deer could ever be, and a nimbus of silver surrounded him, a glowing fog that drifted from his body.
I watched silently as he vanished into the thicket. I hadn’t been kidding. The fact that I was dating a god, one to whose mother I was pledged, left me wondering just where my life was taking me. But it was too late to back away, regardless of whatever consequences came from the relationship. I was madly in love with Herne, and he seemed to feel the same way about me. He held my heart in his hands, and all I could do was pray that he’d be kind with it.
Finally, after a moment, Rafé eased out of the driveway and we headed back to the house Angel and I lived in. All the way, I stared out the window, thinking. There were so many things I didn’t know about Herne’s background, so many hundreds—possibly thousands—of years that I knew nothing about. And yet, I was part of his life now, and every day I seemed to learn more about him. That brought my thoughts to Angus and Fiona.
Wondering what could be so wrong that one of the magic-born felt the need to contact Herne, I stared at the drifting snow as we traveled the silent road back to my house.COLLAPSE
Playlist for The Silver Mist
AJ Roach: Devil May Dance
Air: Napalm Love; Playground Love
Android Lust: Here and Now
Arch Leaves: Nowhere to Go
The Black Angels: Half Believing; Comanche Moon; Always Maybe; You’re Mine; Manipulation; Phosphene Dream; Death March; Young Men Dead
Black Mountain: Queens Will Play
Bobbie Gentry: Ode To Billie Joe
Bon Jovi: Wanted Dead Or Alive
Brandon & Derek Fiechter: Will-O’-Wisps; Black Wolf’s Inn; Fairy Magic
Broken Bells: The Ghost Inside
Buffalo Springfield: For What It’s Worth
Celtic Woman: The Butterfly; The Voice; Scarborough Fair
Cher: The Beat Goes On
The Chieftains: Dunmore Lassies
Cobra Verde: Play with Fire
Colin Foulke: Emergence
Crazy Town: Butterfly
Cream: Sunshine of Your Love; Strange Brew; I Feel Free
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Run Through the Jungle
Crosby, Stills & Nash: Guinnevere
Damh the Bard: Silent Moon; The Cauldron Born; Tomb of the King; Obsession; Cloak of Feathers; Lady in Black; Taliesin’s Song; The Wheel; Noon of the Solstice
David Bowie: Golden Years; Sister Midnight
Dizzi: Dizzi Jig; Dance of the Unicorns
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being (Original Edit)
Faun: Hymn to Pan; Oyneng Yar; The Market Song; Punagra; Cernunnos; Rad; Sieben
Flight of the Hawk: Bones
Gabrielle Roth: The Calling; Raven; Mother Night
Gordon Lightfoot: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
The Gospel Whiskey Runners: Muddy Waters
Gotye: Hearts A Mess; Somebody That I Used To Know
Gypsy: Magick; Medicine Song; Morgaine
Gypsy Soul: Who?
The Hang Drum Project: Shaken Oak; St.Chartier
Hedningarna: Ukkonen; Juopolle Joutunut
The Hu: Wolf Totem; Yuve Yuve Yu
Ian Melrose & Kerstin Blodig: Kråka
Jeannie C. Riley: Harper Valley PTA
Jessica Bates: The Hanging Tree
Jethro Tull: Jack Frost & the Hooded Crow; Down at the End of Your Road; Jack-A-Lynn; Motoreyes; Rhythm in Gold; Overhang; Witch’s Promise; Mountain Men; Acres Wild; Moths; Journeyman; Heavy Horses; Weathercock; North Sea Oil; Something’s On the Move; Old Ghosts; Dun Ringill
Led Zeppelin: Ramble On; The Battle of Evermore; Stairway to Heaven; When the Levee Breaks; Kashmir
Leonard Cohen: The Future; You Want it Darker
Libana: The Earth is Our Mother; Ancient Mother; Round and Round
Linda Perhacs: Delicious
Lorde: Yellow Flicker Beat; Royals
Loreena McKennitt: The Mummers’ Dance; All Souls Night
Low with Tom and Andy: Half Light
Marconi Union: First Light; Alone Together; Flying (In Crimson Skies); Time Lapse; On Reflection; Broken Colours; We Travel; Weightless; Weightless, Pt. 2; Weightless, Pt. 3; Weightless, Pt. 4; Weightless, Pt. 5; Weightless, Pt. 6
Matt Corby: Breathe
Motherdrum: Big Stomp; Ceremony; Instant Success
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Red Right Hand
Nirvana: Come As You Are; Lake of Fire; Something in the Way; Heart Shaped Box; Plateau
PJ Harvey: Let England Shake; The Glorious Land; The Words That Maketh Murder; The Colour of the Earth
Rachel Diggs: Hands of Time
Robin Schulz: Sugar
Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter; 19th Nervous Breakdown; Lady Jane; Sympathy For the Devil; Miss You
Ruth Barrett: Faeries Love Song
J. Tucker: Hymn to Herne
Sharon Knight: Ravaged Ruins; Bewitched; 13 Knots; Let the Waters Rise; Star of the Sea; Siren Moon; Mother of the World; Berrywood Grove
Shriekback: Dust and a Shadow; Underwaterboys; This Big Hush; The King in the Tree; And The Rain
Snow Patrol: The Lightning Strike: What If This Storm Ends; Life Boats; If There’s a Rocket, Tie Me To It
Spiral Dance: Boys of Bedlam; Tarry Trousers; Burning Times; Rise Up
Steeleye Span: The Fox; Blackleg Miner; Cam Ye O’er Frae France
Steppenwolf: Don’t Step on the Grass, Sam; Magic Carpet Ride; Jupiter’s Child
Strawberry Alarm Clock: Incense and Peppermint
Sweet Talk Radio: We All Fall Down
Tempest: Buffalo Jump; Raggle Taggle Gypsy; Mad Tom of Bedlam; Queen of Argyll; Nottamun Town; Black Jack Davy
Todd Alan: We Are the Walking Breath; Spirit of the Wind
Tom Petty: Mary Jane’s Last Dance
Traffic: Rainmaker; The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Tuatha Dea: Wisp of A Thing (Part 1); The Hum and the Shiver; Long Black Curl; Irish Handfasting; Tuatha De Danaan
Wendy Rule: Let the Wind Blow; Elemental Chant; The Circle Song; The Wolf Sky
Woodland: Blood of the Moon; The Grove; Witch’s Cross; First Melt; The Dragon; Secrets Told; The Dragon; Under the Snow; Golden Raven’s Eye
Zero 7: In the Waiting Line
The Zombies: Time of the Season