- Dragon Wytch
- Night Huntress
- Demon Mistress
- Bone Magic
- Harvest Hunting
- Blood Wyne
- Courting Darkness
- Shaded Vision
- Shadow Rising
- Haunted Moon
- Autumn Whispers
- Crimson Veil
- Priestess Dreaming
- Panther Prowling
- Darkness Raging
- Never After
- Inked Anthology
- Etched in Silver
- Ice Shards
- The Shadow of Mist
Witchling by Yasmine Galenorn (book 1 of the New York Times Bestselling Otherworld Series)
Berkley (Mass Market); October 2006
We're the D'Artigo Sisters: Half-human, half-Faerie, we're savvy--and sexy--operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. But our mixed-blood heritage short-circuits our talents at all the wrong times. My sister Delilah shapeshifts into a tabby cat whenever she's stressed. Menolly's a vampire who's still trying to get the hang of being undead. And me? I'm Camille--a wicked-good witch. Except my magic is as unpredictable as the weather, which my enemies are about to find out the hard way...
"At the Wayfarer Inn, a portal to Otherworld and the local hangout for humans and beasties alike, our fellow operative Jocko's been murdered. Every clue points to Shadow Wing, the soul-munching, bad-ass leader of the Subterranean Realms. He's made it clear that he aims to raze humankind to the ground, turning both Earth and Otherworld into his private playground. Our assignment: keep Shadow Wing and his minions from creeping into Earth via the Wayfarer. The demons figure they're in like Flynn. After all, with only my 'bumbling' sisters and me standing in the way, how can they miss? But we've got a secret for them: faulty wiring or not, nobody kicks ass like the D'Artigo girls."
Seattle is gloomy most any day of the year, but October can be especially rough in the bad weather department. The rain pounded down from silver skies, slashing sideways against the windows to form rivulets that trickled down the glass. The water pooled at the bottom in puddles, collecting in the depressions where the weeds had thrust through the cracked pavement. Luckily, the door to the Indigo Crescent was elevated by a slight ramp, just enough to keep customers dry as they entered the shop. That is, if they didn't manage to slip off the edge and land their be-sandaled foot in the puddle like I had.
I shook off the rain as I entered my shop and punched in the security code. Thanks to my sister Delilah, it not only kept an eye out for thieves, it picked up on spies too. And we needed that peace of mind, considering just who we were and where we were from.READ MORE
My foot made a squishing sound as I limped over to my favorite chair and slid off my four-inch heels, picking up one of the strappy sandals. As I wiped off the designer shoe, it crossed my mind that being half-Faerie had its perks. I hadn't spent a fortune on the shoes. In fact, they'd been a gift from the local Faerie Watchers Club group who liked to frequent my shop.
When they saw me coveting the shoes in a catalog, they'd shown up a couple days later with a bag from Nordstrom. I'd debated accepting the gift about thirty seconds, then desire won out and I graciously thanked the club for their gesture while sliding into the shoes, which were a perfect fit I might add.
I examined the sandal, deciding that it had suffered no permanent damage. After drying my feet, and reuniting them with their favorite heels, I took out my notebook and looked over my to-do list. I had books to shelve, orders to fill, and I'd agreed to play hostess to the Faerie Watchers' monthly book club meeting. They'd be here at noon. Delilah would be out on a case the greater part of the day, and of course my other sister Menolly was asleep.
Might as well get to work. I switched on the stereo and "Man in the Box" by Alice in Chains echoed through the store. Later, I'd switch to classical, but for early morning when the store was empty and I was alone, it was all about me. Longing for something interesting to happen, I grabbed a box of new paperbacks and began to shelve them when the bell over the door jingled and Chase Johnson dashed in. Not the kind of interesting I was hoping for.
He folded his umbrella, then dropped it into the elephant-shaped stand by the door. As he slid out of his long trench and hung it on the coat rack, I studiously kept my eyes on the book I was sliding onto the shelf. Great, just what I needed to make the day brighter. The letch of the year dogging my tail again. Appreciation was nice. Glomming, not so much. Chase was far from being my favorite human; he didn't even make the top ten list and I did my best to frustrate him whenever possible. Nice? Maybe not. But fun? Definitely.
"We need to talk. Now, Camille." Chase snapped his fingers and pointed at the counter.
I fluttered my eyelashes at him. "What? You aren't going to try to sweet talk me first? I'm hurt. You could at least say please."
"Your attitude's showing again." Chase rolled his eyes. "And can you turn down that racket?" Shaking his head, he snorted. "You come all the way from Otherworld and what do you listen to? Heavy metal crap."
"Eh, shut up," I said. "I like it. Has more life than a lot of the music I grew up on." At least he hadn't tried to grope me, although the lack thereof should have been my first clue that something was wrong. If I'd paid more attention to my intuition rather than my irritation, I'd have packed up my gear, turned in my resignation, and headed home to Otherworld that very afternoon.
I reluctantly set Grisham down on the table next to Crichton so they could have a nice little chat, and slipped behind the counter, turning the stereo down but not off. The Indigo Crescent was my bookstore as far as anybody on the outside was concerned, but in reality, it was a front for the OIA-the Otherworld Intelligence Agency-and I was one of their Earthside operatives. Lackey, if I wanted to be honest.
I glanced around. Still early. No customers. Lucky me. We had leeway to talk in private.
"All right, what's going on?" I sniffed, aware of a pungent odor that was emanating from Chase. At first I thought he must have just come from the gym. I'd smelled a lot of things off of him in the past: lust, testosterone, sweat from his workouts, his ever-present addiction to spicy beef tacos. "Good gods, Chase, don't you ever take a shower?"
He blinked. "Twice a day. Smell something you like?"
I raised one eyebrow. "Not so much," I said, trying to pinpoint what the smell was. And then I realized that the odor coming off of him was fear. This was not a good sign. I'd never smelled this much worry off of him before. Whatever he had to tell me couldn't be good.
"I've got some bad news, Camille." He cut to the quick. "Jocko's dead."
"You have to be kidding. Jocko can't be dead." Jocko was a giant and an OIA agent, albeit just a tad vertically challenged. He barely cleared seven-three, but there was nothing wrong with his biceps. "Jocko's strong as an ox. What happened? A bus hit him?"
"Actually, he's been murdered." Chase looked dead serious.
My stomach lurched. "Well, hell. What happened? Some jealous guy find out Jocko was fooling around with his wife and shoot him?" It had to be. No normal human could take down a giant without a big-assed gun, not even one Jocko's size.
Chase shook his head. "You aren't going to believe this, Camille." He glanced around the store. "Are we alone? I don't want any of this getting out until we know exactly what we're dealing with."
Usually when Chase wanted to discuss something in private he was trying to get under my skirts, but I found it easy to resist his charms. Chase wasn't my type. For one thing, he was obnoxious as hell. For another, he was an FBH-a full-blooded human. I'd never slept with an FBH and had no incentive to start doing so.
Dressed to the hilt in black Armani, Chase stood six-one, with wavy brown hair, and a smooth Roman nose. He was handsome in that casual way that suave men have, and when my sisters and I'd first met him, we thought he might have a little Faerie blood running in his veins. A thorough background check had quashed that idea. He was human to the core. Good detective. Just lousy with women, including his mother who was constantly calling him on his cell phone, asking him when he was going to be a good son and pay her a visit.
"Where's Delilah?" His eyes flashed.
I grinned. I knew just what he thought of my sisters, although Delilah startled rather than frightened him. Menolly just creeped the poor guy out, and she usually did it on purpose.
"She's out on a case. Why do you want to know? Worried she's going to jump out and say boo?" Delilah didn't mean to alarm people, but she walked so softly she could sneak up on a blind man and he wouldn't hear.
He rolled his eyes. "I really need to discuss this with all three of you."
"Yeah, okay, that makes sense." I relented and flashed him a smile.
"You know we'll have to wait until after dusk. Menolly can't come out to play until then. So have you contacted the OIA about Jocko yet?"
Not that I expected much in the way of a response from them. When headquarters had assigned Delilah, Menolly, and me to live Earthside, we figured out that we were one step away from being fired. While we were hard workers, our track record left a lot to be desired. One thing was for sure: none of us would ever make employee of the month. But, as the months wore on with no real word or major assignment from them, we'd begun to relax and decided that involuntary relocation wasn't altogether bad. At least we were having fun getting used to Earthside customs.
Now, however, with Jocko dead, we'd be responsible for cleaning up the mess. And if he'd been murdered, the OIA would want answers. Answers that we weren't likely to find, considering our lack of results in the past.
"Headquarters is blowing me off," Chase said slowly. His lip twisted into a frown. "I contacted HQ this morning and all they said was to turn the case over to you. I'm supposed to help out in whatever way you need."
"That's it?" I blinked. "No guidelines? No lengthy bureaucratic regulations that we have to observe in our investigation?"
He shrugged. "Apparently, they don't consider Jocko's death a priority. In fact, the person I talked to was so abrupt that I almost thought I'd said something wrong."
While it wouldn't be the first time Chase put his foot in his mouth, HQ's reaction was strange enough to make me take notice.
I glanced at the empty aisles. Still no customers, but in a little while the place would be jumping when the Faerie Watcher book mavens arrived. Entertaining a pack of gawking, camera-happy fans wasn't on my Top Ten list of favorite activities, but hey, it paid the bills and helped Otherworld-Earthside relations at the same time. And the women were nice, if a little giddy.
"Come on, let's talk. The FWC contingent won't arrive until noon, so I've got some time to kill."
"The Faerie Watchers Club?" It was Chase's turn to grin. "Oh come now. Don't tell me you finally gave into them? Don't you just love being a celebrity?"
I snorted. "Oh sure, I love belonging to the Anna Nicole Smith set. All Earthside Faerie live in tabloid-land, you know." In fact, yellow journalism had gotten a huge boost when we showed up, our presence infusing new blood into the Enquirer, the Star, and numerous other tabloids. "Hey, it could be worse. I could have Guardian Watchdogs breathing down my neck."
"Heaven help us from that," Chase said under his breath.
A vigilante watchdog group, the Guardian Watchdogs considered anybody who wasn't an FBH to be an 'alien.' They called themselves the 'earth-born' and lumped everyone from Otherworld together as a threat to society, a threat to their children, and a threat to morality in general. Wouldn't they be surprised to find out who was lurking in the shadows long before we'd ever opened up the portals on our side? Earth had its own tidy measure of vampires and Faeries, along with a few other creatures that didn't show up in the storybooks.
The Watchdogs took it upon themselves to keep track of any incidents involving the Sidhe and their kin and then exploited them for their own ends. They were a whole lot scarier than the Faerie Watchers Club, who just popped a dozen flashbulbs in our face every time we turned around and asked for an endless string of autographs.
"Say, you don't think they could have had something to do with Jocko's death, do you? The Guardian Watchdogs, that is?" I asked as I led Chase to a folding table that sat beside a shelf filled with obscure foreign novels. Pushing away the remains of my morning egg-sausage muffin and venti mocha, both to which I'd become thoroughly addicted, I motioned for him to sit down.
"I don't think so," Chase said. "They're pretty much all talk and no action, other than their never-ending protests and picket-signs."
I settled into my chair and propped my feet on the table, crossing them at the ankles while I made sure my skirt was covering everything Chase might want to see. "Do you have any idea who killed Jocko? And how did he die?"
"New shoes?" Chase asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Yeah," I said, not about to tell him where they'd come from. "So do you? About Jocko?"
Chase let out a long sigh. "No. And he was garroted."
Garroted? My feet hit the floor as I straightened my shoulders. That didn't track right.
"You're sure you told headquarters how he died? And they blew you off?"
"That's what I said." He leaned back and slid his hands in his pockets.
"But I've got a weird feeling about this. I don't think we're dealing with humans and there's nothing that I can tell you that would explain why. Just a hunch."
"If he was garroted, you're probably right. Sometimes the dregs from Otherworld slip through the portals. And not all of my kin in OW play by human rules." I frowned. "Maybe somebody has a grudge against giants, or got drunk on a bad batch of goblin wine? Or maybe somebody was just in a bad mood and decided to pound on the bartender? Could be this is just a case of some OW thug taking out his frustrations while he's Earthside."
"Could be," Chase said, slowly nodding. "But I don't think so."
I squinted, staring at the table. Chase was right. I knew I was howling at the wrong moon. "Okay, let's look at this logically. Nobody Earthside has the strength to garrote Jocko. At least no one who's human. Did you find any sign that one of the Sidhe might have a hand in this?"
"Not that I noticed. Of course, I might not know what to look for. I did, however, find the cord used to strangle him. Here." Chase tossed a braided leather thong on the table. It was spattered with blood.
"There's a feeling I get when I touch this...I thought you might be able to ferret something out."
It occurred to me that Chase had a touch of second sight. Picking up the braid, I closed my eyes. The faint scent of sulfur hit my nose as a dark miasma slowly began seeping out of the woven strands, oozing over my fingers like burnt oil. I jerked away, dropping the rope back on the table as I drew a sharp breath.
"Bad news. Big bad news."
"What? What is it?"
I swallowed a lump that had suddenly risen in my throat. "Demonkin. That rope has demonic energy infused into the fiber of every strand."
Chase leaned forward. "Are you sure, Camille?"
I folded my arms and leaned back. "Positive. There's no feeling in the world that even comes close to demon energy. And this rope reeks of it." Which clenched matters. We weren't facing some disgruntled Faerie or dwarf, or any of the other numerous inhabitants of Otherworld who could easily be captured and deported.
Chase stumbled over the same thought. "I thought demons were banned from Otherworld."
"They are, for the most part. Oh, we have some gremlins, imps, a bunch of lesser vampires and the like, but nothing on the order of what it would take to produce this strong of an aura." I stared at the murder weapon. "I hate to even give voice to the thought, but there's a chance that a demon has made its way up from the Subterranean Realms and slipped through a portal."
"That's not supposed to happen." Chase sounded so plaintive I almost felt sorry for him.
"You're right, it's not." When we'd accepted our post, the OIA had guaranteed that demons from the Sub-Realms couldn't get through. All the reports said that throughout the hundreds of years they'd been watching the portals, not a single demon or ghoul from down-under had made it topside. But then again, the OIA promises a lot of things they never follow through on. Humans have nothing on the Sidhe when it comes to bureaucracy.
He tried again, skirting to find another angle. "You're positive your inner...magic...ticker just isn't off?"
"Inner magic ticker? Oh please, you can do better than that. Chase, you asked me and I told you. This rope belongs to one of the Demonkin. You can believe me or not as you choose."
"Okay, okay," Chase said with a grimace. "I just don't like the sound of that. What should I do about the OIA? Tell them about the rope and what you sense off of it?"
"Yeah, give it a try." I snorted. "See if that kick starts their butts. I advise contacting them again as soon as possible."
The Wizards' Guild, the IT workers of Otherworld, had set up a communications network for OIA's Earthside contingent. Trouble was, when headquarters didn't want to take a call, they just ignored the message. Of course, when they needed to contact us, we'd be in deep shit if we didn't answer.
Chase glanced around. "Are you sure it's safe to talk here? I can just imagine what would happen if the papers got hold of the news that a demon's running around. It's dicey enough with you Faerie folk and the like."
I didn't bother to remind him that I was half-human and had as much right to be on Earth as I did in Otherworld. "You're like a fussy old mother hen, Chase. Chill. I just warded the store against snooping yesterday. We should be safe enough."
"Uh huh, sure you did. You positive you didn't turn the place into a bullhorn by mistake?" He laughed so loud it turned into a snort.
"Excuse me?" I leaned across the table and flicked his nose. "It was bad enough back home, but now I should put up with this crap from an FBH? I don't think so! I happen to be magically challenged. You have a problem with that?"
"Magically challenged, so that's how you're describing it now? Hey, far be it for me to give you grief, but I'm not the one who ended up nekkid for the whole world to see," he said, grinning as his gaze ran up and down my body.
"Get your mind off my naked body, Johnson. While you're at it, let's see you try your hand at a little magic," I said curtly. "Care to show me what you've got, Superman?"
That shut him up. One thing I'd discovered since we arrived in Belles-Faire, a seedy suburb city of Seattle, was that Chase craved power. He couldn't wield magic himself, so he did the next best thing when he found out about the OIA. He went to work for them. Sometimes, I thought he actually enjoyed it when my spells backfired.
He held up his hands to ward me off. "Sorry! I didn't mean to strike a sore spot. Truce?"
I let out a long sigh. Tactless or not, he had a point. And with the pall on that rope, we had bigger fish to worry about than my ego.
"Yeah, yeah. Truce. As to my warding, don't have a hissy fit. To back up my magic, Delilah installed an electronic surveillance system. She has a knack for your technology, and she rewired it to pick up on any bugs or other listening devices that may have been planted around here."
I didn't tell him that she'd also blown a fuse and sparked herself a good one. The resulting flash of electricity threw her across the room. But Delilah was no quitter. Eventually she'd figured it out and got it working.
"Good girl. I knew you wouldn't let us down."
"Girl?" I gave him a long look. "Chase, I'm old enough to be your mother."
He blinked. "I tend to forget that. You don't look it."
"I'd better not look it," I said, raising on eyebrow. I was damned proud of my looks and took pains to accentuate the positive. One perk about living Earthside: the makeup was fantastic. For one thing, it didn't stain like cosmetics made from herbs and berries. Back in Otherworld, I'd spent longer than I'd ever planned to looking like a Pict when I tried out some face paint made out of woad. Never again. When I returned home, I'd be carting a butt-load of M.A.C. cosmetics with me, especially tubes of Verushka lipstick and tubs of Soft Brown eye shadow. I nurtured my little vanities.
Chase coughed and I saw the glimmer of a smile behind his eyes. "All right," he said. "Here's how it went down. This morning I took a call from one of the homeless guys who live in the alley around back of the Wayfarer. He found Jocko's body. The dude's been one of my informants in the past and was scrounging for a few bucks. So I got there first, which was a good thing, considering Jocko wasn't looking all too pretty. Of course, I immediately activated the FH-CSI."
I stifled a smile. The Faerie-Human Crime Scene Investigations team was Chase's brainchild and was a mix of human and Otherworld agents, specially trained to deal with the problem of crimes against OW citizens. Chase had initiative and foresight, I had to give him that. It was unfortunate that he had to answer to Devins, a real prick who was a few offices higher up then Chase, but usually he was able to keep his boss out of the loop.
"We're using an OIA medical examiner and all the info has been sealed."
I slumped. Suddenly it all seemed too real. The thought of Jocko meeting his end in a back alley made me cringe. He may not have been the brightest bulb in the socket, but he made up for it in congeniality and I'd genuinely liked the gentle giant.
"Jocko was one of the most even-tempered giants I've ever met. That's why he got the job, you know. He could interact with others without pounding them into the ground when he got irritable. He was a good hearted man who did his best. I'll miss him."
"He wasn't a man," Chase said, wrinkling his nose. "He was a giant. And he was crude, loutish, and made fun of my suits."
"As you said, he was a giant. Giants are like that, only most are much worse. What do you expect?"
Chase gave me an exasperated look. "I have no idea, I don't know any other giants. I never met a vampire or a lycanthrope either, until I met your sisters, so give me a break if I don't react with much enthusiasm. Giants and bloodsuckers and werewolves-"
"Werecat. Lycanthrope means werewolf. It's not synonymous with Were. Delilah would scratch your eyes out if she heard you lumping her with the Canids."
"Right, werecat. What was I thinking? Sorry," he said, his voice anything but. "Section five of the handbook. Not all Weres are the same."
"Damned straight they aren't, and don't you forget it. Some of them would slit your throat for even suggesting it." I was giving him a hard time, but better that than let Chase learn the hard way. The point of a sword or fang was a whole lot sharper than my tongue.
"Whatever. What I'm trying to say is that all of you were simply tales of myth and legend until a few years ago, when you crawled out of the woodwork. Even you-you're a witch. And half-Faerie at that. I'm still wrapping my mind around all this."
"Point taken," I said, grinning. "I guess we do come as quite a shock, especially when you've been taught your whole life that we don't exist. Okay, back to business. Tell me more about Jocko's death."
"Well, other than the fact that the killer had to be at least as big and as strong as he was, there's not much to tell. Nothing in the bar to give us any idea what happened. Nothing in the portal log to indicate that somebody new came through last night. Basically, it boils down to the fact that the Wayfarer is out one bartender and HQ wants you to take care of it."
The Wayfarer Bar & Grill, like the Indigo Crescent, was OIA run and operated, and part of a worldwide network of safe houses and portals. The bar was also a hub for FBHs who wanted to meet the Fae. And there were plenty of admirers who lined up for a chance to see-or talk to-or screw us. The crowds were thick and the partying hard.
My sister Menolly worked nightshift at the bar. She listened for gossip and rumors that might be important among the travelers who came through from Otherworld. Having her there was a good way to spot potential trouble since the grapevine always ran faster than official channels. It was also one of the few night jobs she could find and she was strong enough to stand in for the bouncer if need be.
Chase pulled out a pack of cigarettes but stuffed them back in his pocket when I shook my head. Cigarette smoke raised havoc with my lungs and was even worse for Delilah. Menolly didn't care anymore. She was dead. Well, undead. The only things she could smell were blood, fear, and pheromones.
I glanced at the clock. "I can't wake Menolly until dark. Delilah's out on a case and won't be back for until late afternoon. Why don't you meet me here at six and we'll go back to the house? That way you'll have had a chance to contact HQ again. And by then the sun will be set."
"Can't you wake Menolly up now since it's overcast?" Chase said.
"Chase, get a grip. Vampires and daylight just do not mix. Besides, it's rough on her to be locked in the house all day. Better for her to sleep as much as she can; it keeps her from getting claustrophobia. Menolly hasn't been a vampire very long, not by our standards. She's still learning to adjust and we're making it as easy as we can on her. I'm doing my best to help her but it's rough going at times. In fact, I'm working on a surprise that she'll probably hate me for, but it will be good for her."
I see your point," Chase said, musing. "All right, I'll try to raise HQ again and tell them what you said about the rope. But if I were Menolly, I'd call in sick tonight. If there is a demon behind this, he might be after OIA agents. And if he had inside help, then he might know that Menolly is an operative."
“An inside job? That thought hadn't crossed my mind. "Great, that's all I need to think about," I said, grinning. "Okay, see you tonight."
Chase headed for the door. As I watched him leave, a shadow seemed to pass through the shop and I reached out to touch it, but it shuddered and dissipated into the gloomy day. Jocko's murder had set in motion dangerous events to come. I could feel it on the wind, though any clear picture eluded my sight. I went back to my work, trying to muster up a smile for the Faerie Watchers who would be here in full force in less than an hour.COLLAPSE
AC-DC: Back in Black
Alan Parsons Project: Snake Eyes
Welcome to My Nightmare
Alan Parsons Project: Man in the Box
B52s: Love Shack
Beastie Boys: She's Crafty
Que Onda Guero
Black Sabbath: Lady Evil
Blind Melon: No Rain
Rip Her To Shreds
Take the Long Way Home
The Bad Touch
You Can't Hold On Too Long
Moving in Stereo
Milli Anni Passi Sunt
Suam Elle Ires
Ballade De Mercy
Cream: Strange Brew
Born on the Bayou
I'm Afraid of Americans
Dead Can Dance:
Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove
I Am Stretched On Your Grave
I Can See Now
Master and Servant
If You Want
Working in a Coal Mine
Don Henley: Sunset Grill
Season of the Witch
Hello, I Love You
My Wild Love
Life in the Fast Lane
Eric Clapton: Cocaine
Everlast: I Can't Move
Faith No More: Falling to Pieces
Fleetwood Mac: Gold Dust Woman
Foo Fighters: All My Life
Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors:
Rest Your Tears Here
Walking With Shadows
Remember I was Vapour
Last Living Souls
Kids With Guns
Every Planet We Reach Is Dead
Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head
Don't Get Lost in Heaven
Harvey Danger: Sad Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Heart: White Lightning and Wine
Jane's Addiction: Summertime Rolls
When the Levee Breaks
Heart Shaped Box
Lake of Fire
Smells Like Teen Spirit
PJ Harvey: Good Fortune
Red Hot Chili Peppers:
Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Sir Psycho Sexy
Rob Zombie: Never Gonna Stop
Play With Fire
The Spider and the Fly
Over the Wire
Dust and a Shadow
Simple Minds: Don't You (Forget About Me)
Burning Down the House
Every Breath You Take
King of Pain
Tina Turner: Love Thing
Toadies: Possum Kingdom
Caught a Light Sneeze
Transplants: Diamonds and Guns
Ween: Mutilated Lips
Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
Fell in Love with a Girl