Wild Hunt Book 16

Raven faces a difficult choice when the her other Ante-Fae friends insist that she sever her friendship with Ember. But then Raven's grandfather comes to visit, and she finds herself facing a truly staggering choice. She must decide between taking an assigned place with her ancient Ante-Fae family or staying with her Exosan family-of-choice. She must sort out her loyalties on all sides, even as she attempts to help her friend Trinity deal with his own demons.

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Everything is in turmoil as Herne and Ember struggle to keep up with the collateral damage caused by the war against Typhon. But now, an old enemy reappears--stronger and more dangerous than before. Once again, the Hippocampi call for the Wild Hunt's help. Not only has Straff, the son of Blackthorn, returned to his old haunts, but several teens have gone missing from the Foam Born Encampment. Herne and Ember tread a delicate balance, searching both for the kidnapper, and the psychotic Ante-Fae. But when Ember makes a misstep, she falls into the hands of the King of Thorns. Will she be able to escape before he takes out his revenge on her?

 

Reading Order for the Wild Hunt Series:

Book 1: The Silver Stag

Book 2: Oak & Thorns

Book 3: Iron Bones

Book 4: A Shadow of Crows

Book 5: The Hallowed Hunt

Book 6: The Silver Mist

Book 7: Witching Hour

Book 8: Witching Bones

Book 9: A Sacred Magic

Book 10: The Eternal Return

Book 11: Sun Broken

Book 12: Witching Moon

Book 13: Autumn’s Bane

Book 14: Witching Time

Book 15: Hunter’s Moon

Book 16: Witching Season (forthcoming)

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

I searched my desk frantically. “Where the hell are they? I’m going to kick Herne’s ass for this.” I couldn’t find a file we needed for a meeting, and it was all Herne’s fault.

My desk was one massive pile of papers and folders, and to top things off, I had spilled my latte all over everything, making even more of a mess. The wastepaper basket was full of wadded-up paper towels saturated with the stains of coffee and milk and sugar, and the half-used roll was on the floor, next to my boot. I kicked it out of the way as I scooped up an armful of the files and dumped them on the seat of my chair.

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The next moment, I let out a long sigh when I finally saw the file with the name “Cleandra” on the label. I fished it out from the stack of folders it was sitting in, managing to knock over another pile in the process. Ignoring the mess for now, I hurried out the door. I jogged back to Herne’s office, pausing by the door to collect myself. Then, and only then, did I turn the knob and let myself in.

“Welcome back,” Herne said, smiling pleasantly from behind the desk. But his gaze fastened on me and I knew that—inside—he was cringing. He knew exactly what kind of a mood I was in. I said nothing as I held up the file. “You found it, thank you,” he said. “Let’s get back to business then.”

I slid into the chair next to his desk. Our client—a very wealthy dwarf named Keri Cleandra—gave me a long look, then smiled. I had the feeling she knew that I was about to smack Herne, because she gave me a secret smile that women have when it comes to dealing with men. Dwarf or Fae, human or god, we all had those times when the men in our lives were this close to sleeping on the sofa.

“Yes, I found it,” I said, gritting my teeth. But I was a professional, so I shook off my mood for the moment and turned to Herne. “So, what’s our next step?”

“The next step,” Herne said, “would be to visit Keri’s property. We need to figure out how the thief is getting into her house.”

“I don’t understand why my alarm system isn’t working,” Keri said. “I had it checked out.”

Herne nodded. “Given you have an alarm system and a guard dog, and neither one reacted to the break-in, yet you keep losing property is pushing me to think you might have a poltergeist or something of the sort. But we can’t make that determination until we’ve actually examined the house.” He held out his hand for the file.

I slapped it into his hand, harder than necessary. As I did so, I noticed the blueberry stain on the cover from my blueberry jam and peanut butter sandwich. I tried to ignore it, but Herne caught sight of the mess and gave me a long, meaningful look. I glared back at him and he hastily turned back to the file, opening it and placing it on his desk.

“When would be good for you, Keri? We can come out either tomorrow or Wednesday morning.” Herne pulled out his tablet and brought up his schedule.

Keri, who was around four-two—she was tall for a dwarf—and golden blond, smiled. Like almost all dwarves, she was sturdy, and muscled, but she was also stunning. She ran a mechanic’s garage, specializing in foreign engines. Even though she had a thorough grasp of domestic models, she preferred working on Porsches and Jags.

“Tomorrow morning would be best. Around ten?”

Herne nodded and tapped away with his stylus. A moment later, the appointment came through to my phone and tablet as well. “Ember and Yutani will look around and ascertain what we need to do next.” He stood, and I took my cue from him, also standing.

Keri Cleandra slid out of the chair and gave us a formal nod, then turned. “Thank you,” she said over her shoulder. “I’ll see you then.”

As soon as Herne closed the door behind her, he turned back to me. “What the hell? The file folder is covered in peanut butter and jam?”

“You’re lucky I even found it! And it’s not covered in jam, so chill out. I’ll have Angel make up a new folder. But Herne, if you ever dump a mess like that on my desk again without asking, I’m going to kick your ass. And I know Yutani and Talia feel the same way. What the hell were you thinking, having Rafé stack all those files on my desk? I have an office full of papers that have to be sorted out now. You think I can go through them easier when they’re one big jumble?”

Herne and I didn’t fight often, but the past few days had been one nightmare after another and we were all on edge.

Herne paused, closing his eyes for a moment. He smiled, looking for all the world like a cute but lovable naughty little boy. “Okay, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”

“No, it’s not that simple. You can’t just mutter ‘I’m sorry’ and expect it all to be okay. First, if we had lost the file, we have all the information in the computer and Angel could just print it out for us again. And second, panic will do you no good. We can find the mistakes easier if we go through the files one by one. You don’t need to dump everything on our desks at once. That’s not helping matters any.” I dropped into the chair next to his desk, leaning back as I stretched my legs out in front of me.

We were facing a war with the dragons, the dead were flooding the graveyards, and worst of all, the United Coalition was considering letting the dragons have a seat in government. And on top of all of that, we had discovered a big mistake in the firm. Or rather, Charlie, our vampire accountant-in-training, had. That mistake meant that the Wild Hunt had overcharged at least eighty clients over the past few years.

Herne would have no trouble paying them back. The real problem came in ascertaining just how much each client was owed, and convincing them not to sue us for fraud. While the Wild Hunt never meant to overcharge clients, a court might not see it that way, given how big of a mistake it ended up being and how many people had been affected.

All of that meant that we had to go through every single file and review the hours listed for each client, run the figures through our new software, and note the difference between what our records showed they had paid, and what they should have actually paid. This would also impact taxes for that year, so we were hip-deep in overtime until we took care of the issue. Yeah, it had been an extremely rocky past few weeks, and we were all tired.

I knew that this weighed on Herne’s shoulders more than it did on mine—he was responsible for the entire agency and I was just an employee, but his frantic desire to be done with it and make sure everyone was paid back had resulted in chaos.

“So…talk to me,” I said.

He jerked his head toward the daybed in his office. Herne kept his office organized and clean. The desk and other furniture was heavy walnut, old gleaming wood. The walls of the office were painted a robin’s-egg blue, and the ceiling was white. Over Herne’s desk sat a rack of antlers, massive and heavy, mounted on the wall. Two pair of wingback chairs offered plenty of seating, and a locked case displayed a number of various weapons. The daybed was for when Herne needed to spend the night in the office.

In the year and a half that I had worked for the Wild Hunt Agency, I had never once seen his office untidy. Even now, in the midst of a crisis, it was calm, with plenty of plants to offer fresh oxygen and serenity. Mine had been tidy, too, until this morning.

I followed Herne to the daybed. He curled up against one end and held out his arm. I snuggled up into the niche he offered, resting my head on his shoulder. My long raven hair mixed with the sprawling strands of wheat-colored hair that fell below his shoulders.

“You’re right,” he said after a moment. “I’m sorry. We’re all on edge, I know that. I thought that by dividing the files, we’d be able to get through them faster.”

“Well, it would be faster except that the stacks of files tipped over and they’re now all over the floor of my office. We should’ve just started out taking four or five at a time and worked our way through that way.” I frowned, my anger easing as we talked. I tried to suppress a smile. One thing I had learned during my time at the Wild Hunt: the men who worked here had very little sense of organization. Although Herne’s decisions were being influenced by his focus on the dragon menace. That was a hard reality to avoid or push out of mind.

“Speaking of dragons,” I said.

“Were we speaking of dragons?” Herne asked.

I shrugged. “Well, I was thinking about them. Even though the dead are still on the move, and people are pissed over the curfew, have you noticed how quiet it’s been lately? Regarding the dragons, that is? Gyell is out there, targeting us, but he hasn’t done a single thing to retaliate. When I think of the look on his face the last time I saw him…” I shuddered. “He’d kill us all if he had the chance.”

“I think that’s what’s worrying me most. We haven’t had any reports about the dragons in days. So, what are they doing? We know they’re not just going to give up and go away. Maybe you should contact Ashera to see if she knows anything?”

“I can do that,” I said. “Have you heard from Cernunnos or Morgana regarding Echidna?”

Herne shook his head. “Ever since they transferred her to Annwn, there’s been radio silence. And I don’t feel like I have the right to ask at this point. Morgana and Cernunnos will tell us what they want us to know when the time is right.”

Herne’s parents—Cernunnos, the Lord of the Forest, and Morgana, the goddess of the Sea—had created the Wild Hunt Agency, to deal with the twin courts of Fae.

When we had discovered that Echidna, the mother of all dragons, was still alive, they had swept her away before Typhon discovered she was still alive. Echidna was our one hope in defeating the Father of Dragons, and she was sequestered away in Annwn, discussing strategies with the gods.

I wasn’t sure what to say. Part of me wanted to urge him to contact them. After all, we were in this war, too. But reality was: the less we knew, the better. We were all careful, but should one of us be captured, what we didn’t know, we couldn’t tell.

The phone rang, interrupting us. It was Herne’s landline, so it was probably Angel on the intercom. I shifted so that he could stand up, and he hurried over to his desk to answer. He listened for a moment, then said, “Meet us in the break room.”

He motioned for me to join him and, gathering my tablet and files, I followed him down the hallway. Viktor was already there, along with Angel. Talia and Yutani were almost to the break room when we got there. Rafé wasn’t in yet—he often came in during the evenings, along with Charlie.

When we had gathered, Angel cleared her throat. “I just got a call from Rhiannon. You know, from the Foam Born Encampment?”

We nodded. Rhiannon was the matriarch of the Foam Born Encampment, a Pod of water-horse shifters who lived over on Whidbey Island.

“She’s coming in for an appointment this afternoon. She says it’s urgent and can’t wait.”

A shiver raced down my spine. Shortly after Angel—my best friend—and I started working for the Wild Hunt, we had investigated a case over on Whidbey Island for the water-horse shifters. We thought we had managed to close it, but as time went on, we found out that it wasn’t quite as closed as we had hoped.

We had captured one of the Ante-Fae—one of the ancient Fae. He had been killing people and siphoning off both their life force and their blood. When we delivered him to Cernunnos, Herne’s father had thrown him deep into a dungeon, planning to leave him there for the rest of his life. But then, one of the guards set to watch over him had vanished, and Straff vanished along with her. We had no idea where he was, but we suspected that he was on the prowl again because reports of similar murders had cropped up recently.

“Crap, you know what that means,” I said.

“Don’t assume,” Talia said. “We don’t know yet—”

“Well, I’m not sure,” Angel said. “She did mention that two teens from the Pod have gone missing. One was a young woman named Lecada, and Lecada has a twin. They’re bonded. You know how human twins bond? Well, apparently among the hippocampi, twin-bonds are even stronger and if one of a set of identical twins dies, then the other will feel it.”

“Oh no,” I said, closing my eyes. “Tell me she didn’t feel the pain—because if Straff is involved—”

“Oh, there was pain,” Angel said, a grim look on her face. “But not the way you might be thinking. Aja said her connection to Lecada was abruptly severed. It wasn’t the same as if her sister had been killed or even hurt, but she described it as if she and Lecada had never been connected. It traumatized Aja, because it was like cutting off something in one of her senses.”

Talia paled. “That’s odd. Perhaps the girl was taken through a portal?”

“That’s possible, but Rhiannon didn’t say anything about that.” Angel consulted her notes. “The other girl vanished a month or so ago—her name was Twinkle. She vanished without a trace.”

“We need to talk to the twin, obviously, but I don’t want to scare her. What do the parents have to say? Were the girls prone to running away?” Herne asked.

Angel shrugged. “You’ll have to ask her when she gets here.”

“So, she’s not coming because of Straff?” Talia asked.

“I don’t think so, but again, we’ll have to ask her when she gets here.” Angel glanced at her notes. “She’ll be here in an hour or so.”

“One thing I don’t understand is why Straff returned to Whidbey Island. Surely he has to know that we’ll be hunting him down again?” Yutani was the son of the Great Coyote, and he was a brilliant man, if a tad volatile. He was also our IT guy, and had managed to find a way onto the Dark Web without being traced, which opened up a well of knowledge for us.

“You say that as though we’re dealing with someone sane,” Viktor said. The half-ogre shook his head. “Straff is about as far from sane as I am from being a pygmy.”

I repressed a snicker. “True that,” I said. “But Yutani raises a good point. If Straff’s on the island again, he has to know that we’ll be seeking him out. He can’t think that Cernunnos hasn’t found out that he escaped, can he?”

It seemed ludicrous to think that Straff would be that oblivious, unless he was listening to the guard who had sprung him out of the dungeon. If she was still alive. There was a distinct possibility he had killed her. A sudden thought hit me, one that made my stomach lurch.

“Do we have to contact Blackthorn again?”

“Oh, yes. We’ll need to consult the King of Thorns again,” Herne said. “I don’t relish the thought, either.”

The last time we had met, Blackthorn had shown too much of an interest in me, and I hadn’t forgotten the sleazy, creepy way he had tried to insinuate himself between Herne and me. Blackthorn, the King of Thorns, was Straff’s father, and to me, he had been more frightening than Straff himself.

Angel’s cell phone rang and she glanced at it. “I set the reception phone to forward to my phone.” She moved away from the table to answer, while the rest of us continued to discuss Straff. But less than a minute later, Angel hurried over and turned on the TV.

“Guys, that was Maria Serenades, the deputy mayor. She has what she calls some disturbing news and she wants to talk to us today. She’ll be here around three o’clock. She told me to turn on the television and watch the breaking news.”

We quieted down as the newscaster came on. Marcy Winters—a ditzy bleached blonde for whom the song “Dirty Laundry” might have been written—faced the camera with a blisteringly cheerful smile.

“Today, history was made when Frassáire—the spokesman for the Dakkar Mountain Dragon Clan—bought the entire town of Remington, a small mining town last occupied in the early 1920s by prospectors. Located near Monroe, the town has sat empty since 1941, when the last residents moved away, and has been up for sale the past ten years. Frassáire told our reporters that the Dakkar Mountain Dragon Clan plans to renovate it into a tourist village, with rides and vendors, where families can come to meet and interact with the Dragonkin. They plan to open by early April.”

I stared at the screen. “What the everloving fuck?”

Herne swore, hitting the table with his fist. “I talked to the governor a few weeks ago. I warned him this was going to happen.”

At first, we had been worried that the dragons were going to take over by force, but as the weeks wore on and the dragons made themselves known but backed down in actual attacks, we began to suspect a more devious plot. Though the dead were walking—and they would as long as Typhon was around—we began to realize he was aiming to gain trust. He was a treacherous wyrm, and we had begun to suspect that Typhon and his dragons were going to try to insinuate themselves into society and then demand a seat on the United Coalition, much like the Fomorians had. Now, it looked like we were right.

“What are we going to do?” I asked. “Can’t we stop them from buying up land?”

“No, we can’t,” Herne said. “When I talked to the governor he assured me that his office would keep an eye on the dragons. And when I told him that the gods were looking for a way to drive Typhon out of this realm, he assured me that the state has our back. That the country has our back. The dragons are here on a worldwide basis, and pretty soon the countries will have to come together to decide what to do about this, and that’s just going to end up in one big clusterfuck. Pardon my language, but…we all know it. That’s one reason the gods have taken the reins of this battle.”

I stared at the table. We knew for a fact that Typhon’s end goal was to enslave humanity as both servants and food, but we didn’t dare let that information loose to the general public or panic would ensue. Unfortunately, dragons were both crafty and charming, and they were quite happy to use whatever means possible to bring about their desired results.

“Basically, they’re creating an amusement park and making themselves into a spectacle. On the surface, it seems so undignified,” Yutani said. “But they’ll be able to disarm people. Can you imagine the children begging to ‘go see the dragons’? We’re talking Jurassic Park all over again, except this isn’t fiction, and we aren’t the ones setting up the disaster.”

“Yes, we are,” I said. “We aren’t stopping them from building it.”

“What can we do to stop them?” Angel said. “It’s not like the old days when you could scream ‘illegal immigrant’ about somebody coming over the border and slam the door shut on them. The world is more interconnected, and that’s a good thing. Generally. But it also makes it easier for a group like the dragons to wedge themselves in.”

Herne shook his head. “My guess is that there are laws in place about this, but they’re being overlooked because dragons have money. You can bet that every dragon on this planet has amassed a fortune, and the moment someone who’s both greedy and powerful gets wind of that, the kickbacks are going to be enormous—” he paused as my phone rang.

I glanced at the caller ID and groaned. “It’s Saílle.”

The Queen of the Dark Fae seldom contacted me unless she wanted something, or something so serious had happened that she had to bring me in on it. I was half–Light Fae, half–Dark Fae, and on my way to becoming a goddess.

When I first arrived at the agency, both the Queens of Light and Dark had ignored me. In fact, I had been pariah, a stain on their heritages. Half-breeds, whether the other half was human, Fae, or other Crypto, were excommunicated. But the moment they found out I was engaged to Herne and that I would take my place as one of the Fae goddesses, both Névé and Saílle had done their best to woo me over. I walked a delicate tightrope between the two and felt like I was one step away from tumbling to the rocks below, because with those two, there was no safety net involved.

“Hello?” I had neither the energy nor desire to play their games today.

“Ember, we need to talk to you and your agency about this dragon news. Those beasts cannot be allowed to have a foothold in the land. They’ll—”

Before she could finish, I cut her off. “Queen Saílle, we just heard about it and we’re discussing what to do now. Trust me, we aren’t happy about it either. If you have any ideas beyond taking a nuclear bomb to them, please let us know.”

“Don’t you shush me, girl!” Saílle’s voice thundered over the phone so loud that everybody in the room heard and turned to stare.

I stifled a laugh. We were probably going to need their help and I couldn’t afford to alienate her. “I’m sorry. It’s been a long morning.”

She let out a sigh. “I realize that you’re probably busy and I’m interrupting a meeting, but please tell Herne that we—we being Névé and me—want to meet with him at the first available opportunity to discuss this travesty.” And then, she abruptly ended the call.

I turned back to the others. “That was Saílle. Guess who’s not happy over the announcement about the dragons and wants to meet to discuss strategy?”

Herne groaned. “Wonderful, just wonderful. That’s all we need.”

I sank back into my seat as the others continued to speculate over both Straff and the dragons. Some days, it just didn’t pay to get out of bed.

COLLAPSE

Playlist for Hunter's Moon

Air: Moon Fever; Playground Love; Napalm Love
Airstream: Electra (Religion Cut)
Alexandros: Milk (Bleach Version); Mosquito Bite
Alice in Chains: Sunshine; Man in the Box; Bleed the Freak
Android Lust: Here & Now; Saint Over
Band of Skulls: I Know What I Am
The Black Angels: Currency; Hunt Me Down; Death March; Indigo Meadow; Don’t Play With Guns; Always Maybe; Black Isn’t Black
Black Mountain: Queens Will Play
Blind Melon: No Rain
Boom! Bap! Pow!: Suit
Brandon & Derek Fiechter: Night Fairies; Toll Bridge; Will-O’-Wisps; Black Wolf’s Inn; Naiad River; Mushroom Woods
The Bravery: Believe
Broken Bells: The Ghost Inside
Camouflage Nights: (It Could Be) Love
Colin Foulke: Emergence
Crazy Town: Butterfly
Danny Cudd: Double D; Remind; Once Again; Timelessly Free; To the Mirage
David Bowie: Golden Years; Let’s Dance; Sister Midnight; I’m Afraid of Americans; Jean Jeanie
Death Cab For Cutie: I Will Possess Your Heart
Dizzi: Dizzi Jig; Dance of the Unicorns
DJ Shah: Mellomaniac
Don Henley: Dirty Laundry; Sunset Grill; The Garden of Allah; Everybody Knows
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being
Eels: Love of the Loveless; Souljacker Part 1
Elektrisk Gonnar: Uknowhatiwant
FC Kahuna: Hayling
The Feeling: Sewn
Filter: Hey Man Nice Shot
Finger Eleven: Paralyzer
Flora Cash: You’re Somebody Else
Fluke: Absurd
Foster The People: Pumped Up Kicks
Garbage: Queer; Only Happy When It Rains; #1Crush; Push It; I Think I’m Paranoid
Gary Numan: Hybrid; Cars; Petals; Ghost Nation; My Name Is Ruin; Pray for the Pain You Serve; I Am Dust
Godsmack: Voodoo
The Gospel Whisky Runners: Muddy Waters
The Hang Drum Project: Shaken Oak; St. Chartier
Hang Massive: Omat Odat; Released Upon Inception; Thingless Things; Boat Ride; Transition to Dreams; End of Sky; Warmth of the Sun’s Rays; Luminous Emptiness
The Hu: The Gereg; Wolf Totem
Imagine Dragons: Natural
In Strict Confidence: Snow White; Tiefer; Silver Bullets; Forbidden Fruit
J Rokka: Marine Migration
Jessica Bates: The Hanging Tree
Korn: Freak on a Leash; Make Me Bad
Lorde: Yellow Flicker Beat; Royals
Low: Witches; Nightingale; Plastic Cup; Monkey; Half-Light
M.I.A.: Bad Girls
Many Rivers Ensemble: Blood Moon; Oasis; Upwelling; Emergence
Marconi Union: First Light; Alone Together; Flying (In Crimson Skies); Always Numb; Time Lapse; On Reflection; Broken Colours; We Travel; Weightless
Marilyn Manson: Arma-Goddamn-Motherfucking-Geddon
Matt Corby: Breathe
NIN: Closer; Head Like a Hole; Terrible Lie; Sin (Long); Deep
Nirvana: Lithium; About a Girl; Come As You Are; Lake of Fire; You Know You’re Right
Orgy: Social Enemies; Orgy
Pati Yang: All That Is Thirst
Puddle of Mudd: Famous; Psycho
Red Venom: Let’s Get It On
Rob Zombie: American Witch; Living Dead Girl; Never Gonna Stop
Rue du Soleil: We Can Fly; Le Francaise; Wake Up Brother; Blues Du Soleil
Screaming Trees: Where the Twain Shall Meet; All I Know
Shriekback: Underwater Boys; Over the Wire; This Big Hush; Agony Box; Bollo Rex; Putting All The Lights Out; The Fire Has Brought Us Together; Shovelheads; And the Rain; Wiggle & Drone; Now These Days Are Gone; The King in the Tree
Spiderbait: Shazam!
Tamaryn: While You’re Sleeping, I’m Dreaming; Violet’s in a Pool
Thomas Newman: Dead Already
Tom Petty: Mary Jane’s Last Dance
Trills: Speak Loud
The Verve: Bitter Sweet Symphony
Vive la Void: Devil
Wendy Rule: Let the Wind Blow
Yoshi Flower: Brown Paper Bag

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An Ante-Fae Adventure

Witching Time: An Ante-Fae Adventure
Book 14 in the Wild Hunt Series
Release date: October 2020

It’s Mabon, and Llewellyn’s friends—Marigold and Rain—are running a harvest festival on their farm. Llewellyn and Raven open a vendor’s booth to join in the fun. But Raven soon discovers the farm has a deadly past. When she encounters the spirit of a teenaged girl who was thought to have been a runaway, she quickly discovers the girl was killed.

As she attempts to prove the girl was the victim of a deadly ritual gone awry, a series of terrifying paranormal events begins to occur. Raven soon realizes that the spirit of the killer is still lurking on the land, and the race is on. Raven must prove that the girl was murdered before the killer’s ghost strikes again, because he’s willing to sacrifice anyone and anything who threatens to reveal the secrets of his past.

Series Reading Order:
1. The Silver Stag
2. Oak & Thorns
3. Iron Bones
4. A Shadow of Crows
5. The Hallowed Hunt
6. The Silver Mist
7. Witching Hour
8. Witching Bones
9. A Sacred Magic
10. The Eternal Return
11. Sun Broken
12. Witching Moon
13. Autumn's Bane
14. Witching Time
15. Hunter's Moon (forthcoming)

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

I stared at Kipa. “Why do you have a box of cigars? You don’t smoke.”

He was holding a box of cigars in one hand and a box of chocolates in the other, looking all too wide-eyed. The past couple of days he had been too bristly for comfort, and I wondered what was going on. Right now, he just looked uncomfortable.

“I thought your father might like them. If he doesn’t, I can always give him the chocolates.” If he had been wearing a dress shirt, I swear, he would have been tugging on the collar by now. As it was, he was wearing a dark green V-neck sweater, a pair of tan cargo pants with a leather belt, and a pair of Fluevog ankle boots with a harness strap on them. They were very rock ‘n roll, and fit his style perfectly. His hair, a deep brown, was brushed, but hanging loose to mid-back, and he had trimmed his beard and mustache. He was gorgeous no matter what he wore, but today he had really spiffed himself up.

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His eyes were shining, as brown as my own, and it dawned on me that he was trying to present a good appearance for when my father arrived. I let out a soft sigh. “Dude, thank you. I know what you’re doing and I wish you’d stop worrying. Curikan’s going to love you.”

“In my experience, very few fathers want to meet the man who’s fucking their daughter.” Kipa laughed nervously and set the cigars and the chocolates on the table. “Seriously, I know I shouldn’t be nervous, but I am. What if he doesn’t like me? What if he wants you to stop seeing me?”

I tried not to roll my eyes. We had played out this scene every single day the past week. It had never occurred to me that Kipa might actually have insecurities, but they had been presenting themselves loud and clear ever since my father called to say he would arrive shortly after the equinox.

“Kipa, I’m young for my people, but I’m still an adult. I see who I want to see. And trust me, if either one of my parents was going to hate you, it would have been Phasmoria. My mother’s far harder to win over than my father, and she thinks the world of you.” I leaned up on my toes to give him a kiss. The metal hoops of his dolphin-bite piercing were cool against my lower lip, but his embrace was warm and I wanted to scramble into his arms and rub myself against him. Kipa had that effect on me.

My recent time spent in therapy had helped immensely and I almost felt back to my old self, and that included my libido. “You want to do me before he gets here?” Even though we’d had sex the night before, I was more than ready to go again.

Kipa pressed closer to me, kissing me on the nose. “I want to do you all the time. If we could be in bed twenty-four/seven, I’d be happy about it. But I’m afraid that’s not going to happen because I promised Herne I’d show up at the Wild Hunt this morning. He’s got news from the Spiral Web about Gyell and the white-dragon twins.”

The Spiral Web was a secret organization of dragon shifters who were on our side, intent on helping us take down Typhon, the Father of Dragons, and the Luminous Warriors—the dragons who followed him.

That took the oomph out of my sails. Reluctantly, I gave him another kiss.

“Well, that puts a crimp in things, but I understand. Go and be careful.” That phrase—Go and be careful—had become a running refrain between us. We were facing a deadly enemy and everyone at the Wild Hunt Agency had a target on their back. As did I.

“I promise. Remember to lock the door, set the wards, and wand your car if you go out,” Kipa said, stretching and yawning.

“I’ll be going out. I’m reading cards down at the Sun and Moon Apothecary this morning, then I need to shop for groceries, so yeah, I’ll remember.”

Because of the dangers we were facing, Yutani—a coyote shifter from the Wild Hunt—had created wands for everybody at the agency that could detect bugs, bombs, and other such devices. He had made one for me, too, since I worked with them on occasion. When we ran them up one side of the car and down the other, they would emit a high-pitched beep if there was something amiss. The wands weren’t a guarantee of safety, but they could still catch a wide variety of monitoring and explosive devices.

Kipa shrugged into his leather jacket as I walked over to the sliding glass doors leading out into the side yard, off the kitchen. It was raining out, the clouds crowding thickly over the Puget Sound area. The leaves were still covering the boughs but they were in mid-change, turning brilliant shades of copper and rust and yellow as the autumn days began to deepen. While they weren’t ready to go spiraling off the trees, summer was definitely long gone.

As I opened the sliding door, letting fresh air filter in, I noticed a tang to the morning—that chill that foretold nights filled with woodsmoke and the heady scent of petrichor. This was the first hard rain of the season, and from now on, sunny days would be few and far between.

“I think the season’s going to be rainier than usual,” I said, staring at the downpour.

“I think you’re right,” Kipa said, coming up behind me to wrap his arm around my shoulders. “How are you doing, love?”

“I’m better,” I said, leaning back against his chest. “Sejun has managed to remove most of the triggering emotions. The memories I can deal with, as long as the emotional triggers aren’t there. But I tell you this. If I ever see Pandora again, I will do as much damage to that bitch as I can. I may not be able to kill her, but she’ll never put her hands on me again.”

Pandora, the daughter of Zeus, had kidnapped and tortured me. With the help of an Elven counselor—Sejun—I had come to terms with the memories and I actually felt stronger than before. He had helped me turn the panic into determination. Add to that, I wasn’t nearly as naïve as I had been a few months back, and I felt more capable of facing the world. But I was holding a long, dark grudge against Pandora. One day I wanted to meet her on the battlefield and best her. I wanted her to think twice before ever again trying her tricks on another person.

“I know, love. That’s why the extra wards—she’s still out there. I know. And so are Gyell, Aso, and Variance.”

The latter three were dragons determined to bring down the Wild Hunt agency. But all four of them, including Pandora, weren’t as frightening as the force behind them.

Typhon, the Father of Dragons, had set his sights on enslaving the world, on turning it into a dragon free-for-all buffet. Which was why Kipa and I were helping at the Wild Hunt—they were on the frontlines of this battle. The gods were tackling Typhon, who was a Titan, and Herne’s agency was out to stop his emissaries.

I glanced up at Kipa. “I think it’s going to be a cold and dangerous winter.”

“I agree,” he murmured softly. “But we’re together, and that’s what matters.” And once again, the Lord of the Wolves turned me to face him and pressed his lips against mine.

***

After Kipa left, I wandered into the kitchen to rinse our breakfast dishes and put them in the dishwasher. Raj joined me. A gargoyle, he was my best friend, and I took care of his every need. He was about the size of a large rottweiler, with leathery gray skin and puppy-dog eyes. His wings had been cut off by a demon when he was a baby, and I had managed to rescue him via a winning hand in a poker game. I’d paid a powerful witch to wipe Raj’s memory so he wouldn’t remember the pain the demon had inflicted on him. He had lived with me ever since.

“Raven seems quiet today. Is Raven okay?” Raj asked. He walked on his back feet and his front knuckles, a lot like an orangutan. Now, he sat down on his haunches, leaning forward with his hands against the floor.

“Raven’s fine, Raj. Raven is good. She’s just thinking about the autumn.” I tried not to worry Raj. I wanted him to have as carefree a life as he could.

Gargoyles were intelligent, but their intelligence came through in a different way than human or Fae, or—like me—Ante-Fae. They seemed childlike because they perceived the world in a vastly different way.

“Autumn’s fun. Raj likes to go chasing leaves.” He looked glum. “It’s raining. Will Raven still take Raj for a walk later?”

I winced. “Raven’s sorry, Raj. She needs to stop at Llew’s shop and then go grocery shopping. But when she gets home, she’ll bake chocolate chip bars! How about tomorrow?”

Raj thought for a moment, then nodded. “Raj can wait. Raj will watch Acrobert and the Alphas.” He paused. “Raven’s father comes tonight, right?”

“That’s right,” I said.

Sometimes it was hard to describe family relationships to gargoyles. In the wild, they lived in extended family units and sometimes they never knew who their birth parents were. Everyone within each generation was considered a mother, father, sister, or brother. I wasn’t sure how the dynamics worked, but I had been doing some research on the subject and it seemed to be the norm among the various gargoyle clans.

I paused, turning to kneel by him. “Would Raj like some potato chips while he watches his show?”

Raj nodded, his eyes practically glowing. “Raven usually won’t let Raj eat potato chips this early!”

“It’s a special day,” I said, pulling a bag of chips out of the cupboard and shaking out a small bowl of them. “Just wipe the crumbs off if you spill any.” I carried the bowl to the sofa, waiting till Raj got himself situated with the remote. Handing him the bowl, I returned to the kitchen, relieved to hear the television blaring. I had a lot on my mind and really didn’t feel like trying to talk to Raj while I worked.

I took a last look through the fridge and cupboards, jotting down what we were low on, then set the dishwasher to run while I was out. Heading to my bedroom, I stopped to peek in on the ferrets. I had already fed them and changed their bedding, and now they were tuckered out, asleep in their cages. They had several active play sessions a day between which they were out like a light. Finally, I slipped out of my robe and shimmied into black transparent tights. I dressed in a black full skirt, a black mesh turtleneck, and a purple underbust corset. Sitting on the bed, I pulled on a pair of ankle boots covered with buckles and hardware. It wasn’t terribly chilly, but I added a black and plum bolero jacket. I brushed my hair again—I already had my makeup on—and grabbed my purse.

Raj was fully engrossed in his show, so I kissed him on the forehead, made certain all the wards and the alarm system were set, grabbed the wand that Yutani had given me, and took off for my car.

***

The Sun & Moon Apothecary was owned by my friend Llewellyn Roberts, one of the magic-born. He was a fairly powerful witch, married to Jordan Roberts, a tiger shifter who owned the coffee shop right next door—A Taste of Latte. I stopped there first, and ordered a triple-shot caramel mocha with extra whipped cream, then made my way through the bustling streets over to the magic shop.

Herne had helped the United Coalition—the government council—to hold a press conference, warning the nation about the dragons. It had been a move nobody wanted to take, given the possible panic that might ensue. But when the shadow dragons preceding their father’s return had spread out, bringing the dead back to life to attack the living, warning the public had become a necessity. Typhon’s father was Tartarus—the Titan who ruled in the Underworld—and so Typhon and the shadow dragons were keenly in tune with the world of the dead.

I didn’t think any of the other dragons could bring the dead back. Some were in league with Typhon, while others were on our side. When push finally came to shove, nobody on this planet would be able to ignore the fireworks. Dragons weren’t subtle.

I darted into Llew’s shop just as a deluge of rain drenched everyone who was caught outside. The raindrops pounded down, beating a rhythm on the sidewalk. I paused in the door as the wind picked up, driving the rain sideways.

“Boy, if this is the first rain of the season, I dread thinking what it will be like when we’re into the thick of autumn,” I said, hustling over to my table by the window. I set down my cup and then shrugged out of the jacket. Shivering, I scooted over to one of the heating vents on the floor and stood directly over the heat that radiated up.

“Hey, Raven,” Llew said from behind the counter. He had a perplexed look on his face. “What should I take to the farm this weekend? What do you think would sell best at the fair?”

Llewellyn had booked a booth at his friends’ harvest fair that weekend, and I was going along to read the cards. Llew and I had agreed to a twenty-eighty split on my readings, and that was fine with me.

Rain and Marigold Childs, who owned Dream Circle Farms, were a human pagan couple who lived on the outskirts of Woodinville. Rain had taken Marigold’s last name when they married, even though people kept making jokes about how she was a “rain child.”

They sold eggs, flowers, jams, jellies, and honey that they harvested off their farm, and in the autumn, they sold pumpkins and corn during their harvest fair. Come November, they shifted focus and sold vendor spots to local artisans for the winter holidays.

“Potpourri for the autumn, cinnamon sticks, pumpkin pie spice, garlic braids for magical protection. Actually, any protection oils and charms you take will probably fly off the table given everybody knows about the dragons. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more panic.”

Shortly after the announcement there had been an initial surge in hoarding, but people seemed to have gotten comfortable again, and while visits to graveyards were limited to certain hours during which the cemeteries had protection, the majority of people didn’t seem to have made any adjustments to their lives.

“Good idea. I’ll pack up everything for protection and cleansing that I have.”

Llew was a handsome man, lean and lanky with a perpetual smile. His hair was silken smooth, braided back to keep it out of his way. He had grown out his goatee into a neatly trimmed beard and mustache and was wearing a pair of purple jeans, an autumn-leaf print shirt, and a pair of sneakers. He was eclectic, for sure. He was also one of the best friends I had.

“You might want to take some autumn-themed candles,” I added. “You know, spiritual visitation, venerating the ancestors, house cleansing, that sort of thing.”

“I’ll add those into the mix, along with some orange, yellow, and green tapers.” He glanced over at me. “You have two clients this morning, but I kept this afternoon free as you asked.”

I read the cards at Llew’s shop a couple days a week and I had a steady clientele. I was accurate and to the point, and I took the time to help my clients decipher how the readings fit into their lives. It led to repeat customers, which was always a bonus.

My first client was a young woman who wanted to know how her freshman year in college was going to go. The cards predicted she would be a big hit with the geek crowd and ace her studies, and she seemed satisfied by the time we finished.

The second client was a regular, and he asked the same question he always asked. I was running out of advice to give him. I was also running out of patience.

Gary was a nervous man who lived alone. In his mid-thirties, he was a homebody and afraid to put himself out there. His idea of a wild time was to have a beer with his pizza. He also worked the night shift as a security guard in a big office building. In other words, the dude barely knew anybody, worked a cockeyed schedule, and desperately wanted to meet a nice woman with whom he could settle down.

The cards told me pretty much what I could have surmised on my own: If he didn’t get his ass out in public, he wasn’t going to meet anybody. But the thought of going to a bar made him cringe, and when I suggested he join a group that pertained to his side interests, which were birdwatching, reading, and toy poodles, he kept making excuse after excuse as to why it wouldn’t work.

“Gary, you’re never going to meet anyone if you lock yourself in your house all day. The universe doesn’t just toss women like Mardi Gras beads.” I shuffled the cards and put them aside. The reading had said the same thing the last three readings did.

“But why won’t the cards tell me what to do?”

“They have. Three times in a row. They’re telling you the same thing each time because you haven’t got the message through your head yet. I don’t have a different answer for you because there isn’t one.”

He stared at the table, a glum expression on his face. “But I don’t like going out.”

“Do you want to find a date?” I leaned back and folded my arms across my chest. “Either you get your ass out of your house or you sign up for an online dating service and go out with someone the computer matches you with. Hey, that might be the ticket. Why not give it a try?”

He frowned. “What if we don’t get along? What if we have nothing in common? What if I just don’t like her—or she doesn’t like me?”

He was starting to spiral. “Gary, listen to me. Focus.” I held his gaze. “If you don’t like her, you don’t have to go out with her again. If she doesn’t like you, she’ll just refuse a second date. What can you lose, except one evening?” I stared at him, waiting.

Fidgeting, he finally looked me in the eye. “All right. But I’m afraid.”

“Of what?” I was getting irritated. I had cut off clients before when they kept coming back, wanting a different answer without doing the actual work.

He shifted in his seat and finally leaned across the table and whispered, “I’ve only gone out with three women in my life. I’m just…” He blushed and stared at the table.

I reached across the table and patted his hand. “You’re shy. There’s no crime in that. A lot of people are. But you have a lot of wonderful qualities, Gary. You’re smart, you have a good job, you actually want a relationship instead of just somebody to fu—” As he blushed even deeper I quickly shifted to, “sleep with.”

“Thanks, Raven. I suppose you’re right. Unless I put myself out there, how am I ever going to find someone? I’m just not sure what to do.”

I thought quickly. “Let’s get Llew involved. He’ll set you up with a spell to meet someone who’s right for you.”

As the blush on Gary’s cheeks faded, he gave me a genuine smile.

I motioned to Llew. “Gary needs a love spell to attract a good match for him. Could you get him set up with something? I’ve got to run. My father’s coming in tonight and I have to go grocery shopping and get home before he meets Kipa without me.”

While I was certain my father was going to like Kipa, I had a sudden vision of my boyfriend stumbling over his words and blurting out something the wrong way. If I was there, I could smooth the introductions.

Llew motioned for Gary to follow him. “Come on, let’s go get you situated. Have you ever done any magic at all?”

Gary shook his head as Llew led him over to the counter. Feeling a little guilty about foisting Gary off on Llew, I gathered my things and slung my purse over my shoulder. Dropping my cup in the recycling can that Llew kept in the shop, I glanced outside. The rain was still thrashing the streets. No matter what, I was going to get soaked on my way back to my car.

Steeling myself, I pushed open the door and made a run for it.

COLLAPSE

Playlist for Witching Time

Air: Moon Fever; Playground Love; Napalm Love
Airstream: Electra (Religion Cut)
Alexandros: Milk (Bleach Version); Mosquito Bite
Alice in Chains: Sunshine; Man in the Box; Bleed the Freak
Android Lust: Here & Now; Saint Over
Band of Skulls: I Know What I Am
The Black Angels: Currency; Hunt Me Down; Death March; Indigo Meadow; Don’t Play With Guns; Always Maybe; Black Isn’t Black
Black Mountain: Queens Will Play
Blind Melon: No Rain
Boom! Bap! Pow!: Suit
Brandon & Derek Fiechter: Night Fairies; Toll Bridge; Will-O’-Wisps; Black Wolf’s Inn; Naiad River; Mushroom Woods
The Bravery: Believe
Broken Bells: The Ghost Inside
Camouflage Nights: (It Could Be) Love
Colin Foulke: Emergence
Crazy Town: Butterfly
Danny Cudd: Double D; Remind; Once Again; Timelessly Free; To The Mirage
David Bowie: Golden Years; Let’s Dance; Sister Midnight; I’m Afraid of Americans; Jean Jeanie
Death Cab For Cutie: I Will Possess Your Heart
Dizzi: Dizzi Jig; Dance of the Unicorns
DJ Shah: Mellomaniac
Don Henley: Dirty Laundry; Sunset Grill; The Garden of Allah; Everybody Knows
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being
Eels: Love of the Loveless; Souljacker Part 1
Elektrisk Gonnar: Uknowhatiwant
FC Kahuna: Hayling
The Feeling: Sewn
Filter: Hey Man Nice Shot
Finger Eleven: Paralyzer
Flora Cash: You’re Somebody Else
Fluke: Absurd
Foster The People: Pumped Up Kicks
Garbage: Queer; Only Happy When It Rains; #1Crush; Push It; I Think I’m Paranoid
Gary Numan: Hybrid; Cars; Petals; Ghost Nation; My Name Is Ruin; Pray For The Pain You Serve; I Am Dust
Godsmack: Voodoo
The Gospel Whisky Runners: Muddy Waters
The Hang Drum Project: Shaken Oak; St. Chartier
Hang Massive: Omat Odat; Released Upon Inception; Thingless Things; Boat Ride; Transition to Dreams: End of Sky; Warmth of the Sun’s Rays; Luminous Emptiness
The Hu: The Gereg; Wolf Totem
Imagine Dragons: Natural
In Strict Confidence: Snow White; Tiefer; Silver Bullets; Forbidden Fruit
J Rokka: Marine Migration
Jessica Bates: The Hanging Tree
Korn: Freak on a Leash; Make Me Bad
Lorde: Yellow Flicker Beat; Royals
Low: Witches; Nightingale; Plastic Cup; Monkey; Half-Light
M.I.A.: Bad Girls
Many Rivers Ensemble: Blood Moon; Oasis; Upwelling; Emergence
Marconi Union: First Light; Alone Together; Flying (In Crimson Skies); Always Numb; Time Lapse; On Reflection; Broken Colours; We Travel; Weightless
Marilyn Manson: Arma-Goddamn-Motherfucking-Geddon
Matt Corby: Breathe
NIN: Closer; Head Like A Hole; Terrible Lie; Sin (Long); Deep
Nirvana: Lithium; About A Girl; Come As You Are; Lake of Fire; You Know You’re Right
Orgy: Social Enemies; Orgy
Pati Yang: All That Is Thirst
Puddle of Mudd: Famous; Psycho
Red Venom: Let’s Get It On
Rob Zombie: American Witch; Living Dead Girl; Never Gonna Stop
Rue du Soleil: We Can Fly; Le Francaise; Wake Up Brother; Blues Du Soleil
Screaming Trees: Where The Twain Shall Meet; All I Know
Shriekback: Underwater Boys; Over the Wire; This Big Hush; Agony Box; Bollo Rex; Putting All The Lights Out; The Fire Has Brought Us Together; Shovelheads; And the Rain; Wiggle & Drone; Now These Days Are Gone; The King in the Tree
Spiderbait: Shazam!
Tamaryn: While You’re Sleeping, I’m Dreaming; Violet’s In A Pool
Thomas Newman: Dead Already
Tom Petty: Mary Jane’s Last Dance
Trills: Speak Loud
The Verve: Bitter Sweet Symphony
Vive la Void: Devil
Wendy Rule: Let the Wind Blow
Yoshi Flower: Brown Paper Bag

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Book 13 in the Wild Hunt Series
Release date: August 2020

The Father of Dragons has returned to the world and all hell is breaking loose. A group of vrykos is running loose, threatening to spread plague through Seattle. A shadow dragon has his sights set on destroying the Wild Hunt. And in the midst of the chaos, Ember’s facing a major decision brought on by a twist in her status with the Queen of Dark Fae.

But when the shadow dragon attacks her friend Viktor and drags the half-ogre into the world of the dead, Ember must set aside her personal drama and journey to the Phantom Kingdom to rescue him. Will she be able to save Viktor before it’s too late? Or will she lose her own soul to the armies of the dead?

 

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

The afternoon sun splashed through the windows overlooking the alleyway, the blinding glare so bright that I squinted, tilting the blinds to block out the light. I was in the break room, foraging through the refrigerator, looking for lunch. I had forgotten to bring anything, and Angel was away from her desk so she hadn’t remembered to order in. I finally chose a frozen fried chicken dinner and popped it in the microwave, turning as Viktor entered the room.

“She said yes!” He bounced into the break room, rattling the floorboards like a troupe of dancers on a rickety stage. “She said yes, she said yes, she said—”

“Let me guess,” I interrupted, grinning. “She said yes!”

The half-ogre nodded, beaming. “I can’t believe I’m getting married!” He looked around. “Where is everybody?”

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The break room was empty except for me, surprising given it was one p.m. on Friday afternoon. We normally all ate lunch together, but today was different.

“Herne’s in his office, talking to the mayor. Angel’s downstairs at urgent care.”

“Urgent care? Is she all right?” Viktor’s smile slid off his face.

I hurried to reassure him. “She’s fine, or she will be. She got into a fight with a splinter. She rammed it right under her nail this morning.”

“Ouch. How’d she do that?”

“She was out in the garden, trying to prune one of the bushes. One thing led to another. She tried to coax the splinter out, but half an hour ago she gave up and Herne told her to go down and get it looked at. As for the others, Talia took the afternoon off. She’s got a headache. Kipa’s not coming in today, and Yutani is in his office, talking to ComputaGeek. We need an upgrade to the computer system, apparently, and he’s giving them the specs. Rafé won’t be in till later, of course. Charlie, either.”

Rafé was our new company clerk, and he came to work in the evenings, so that he could do all the filing and organizing needed after we were all gone. It also prevented him and Angel from getting tired of working together, although it did cut down on how many dates they went on. But Angel said it had been good for their relationship, and they both seemed happy. Rafé working evenings served another purpose. He was able to work with Charlie Darren, our resident vampire, on the evenings Charlie came in, and they got more done together than apart.

“Oh. All right.” Viktor sounded a little dejected.

I took one look at him and realized he was disappointed. He was bursting to tell his good news, and I could tell that he wanted everybody in the office to know. I settled back in my chair, fork and TV dinner in hand.

“So tell me, was she surprised?” I had planned on eating at my desk, but Viktor needed to celebrate and I was determined to make him smile.

He thrust his hands in the pockets of his jacket, sitting down beside me.

“Yes and no, actually. Sheila told me that she thought I might be about to propose, but she hadn’t wanted to get her hopes up, just in case she was wrong. However, she didn’t expect a diamond. My mother gave me my grandma’s ring to give to her,” he added, suddenly somber and staring at the ground.

“Oh, that sounds lovely. Your grandmother, is she still alive?”

“No, I’m talking about my mother’s mother, who was human. My maternal grandmother. Besides my mother, Nanna was the only one who fully accepted me for who I was. I still remember her telling me, ‘I love you because of who you are, and everything you are goes into making up your nature, Viktor. Both your human side and your ogre blood.’ Nanna never once tried to deny my ogre heritage, nor did she praise my human side more.”

Viktor had told us many times that he was estranged from his father and his father’s people, but I hadn’t realized that his mother’s side hadn’t accepted him either.

“I’m sure she’s watching over you,” I said. “When did she die?”

Viktor shrugged. “Long ago. My father had traveled to Russia and that’s where he met my mother, back in 1767. He married her and brought her home on a sailing ship, back in 1768. Her parents and her two little sisters came along with her. They settled up on Mount Rainier in the ogre compound. The ogres accepted Tatiana—my mother. She and her family were among the first settlers in this territory, but they lived in the village Keyren, the ogres’ village. It was hidden deep in the mountain, though now it’s moved to the area surrounding the national park.”

“I knew your father’s people had first lived up there, but once Mount Rainier was turned into a national park, I wasn’t sure what had happened.”

“After my parents split, we moved down into what’s now the Puyallup area. My grandpa Viktor was strong and with me to help him, we made our homestead thrive. I’m named after him. He wasn’t all that fond of me, but he didn’t mistreat me.”

“I wondered about your name.”

“Right. At first my name was Yalt. In Ogrísh—the language of the ogres—it means Blessed Between Worlds. My father named me. But when the clan leader instructed him to disown me, my father formally reclaimed my name and gave me to my mother. Among my father’s people, if you’re turned out from the community, they steal your name and you’re no longer allowed to use it, under pain of death. So Mother renamed me after my grandpa.”

That seemed harsh, but then, ogres weren’t a gentle people. They could be brutish and crude, although you’d never know it by how Viktor acted. “How did the local natives feel about you and your family?”

“They were friendly enough. They didn’t care for the ogres, which was understandable given my father’s people are given to thievery and loutish ways, but they didn’t hold my blood against me. We farmed and my mother kept the cows and chickens. We traded with the local tribes for what we needed. I think my grandparents longed for their days in Russia, but they never blamed my mother or me.”

“They never went back, then?”

He shook his head. “How could they? If they took me along with them, there would be so many questions and no one would accept me back home. If they left me and my mother, we would have died in the wilderness. No, my grandmother swore up and down we’d make a comfortable home, and we did.”

“She sounds like a strong woman.” I wondered if Viktor had any living relatives besides his ogre family. I had heard him speak of his mother, but she was human. “Your mother…”

“Tatiana is still alive. She remarried when I was eighteen. I don’t often talk about it, because my stepfather died twenty years after they married and he’s long gone. He fell into a river and drowned before anyone could save him.”

“But she’s alive?”

“Yes, Pierre was one of the magic-born. On their wedding day, he offered her a potion that would extend her life by some three hundred years and she decided to accept it. He offered it to the rest of her family as well, but no one else wanted it. The only problem is, longevity potions and spells don’t guard against accidents and murder. So my mother lost him in 1817, and decided that she’d live out the rest of her life, but she wouldn’t seek to extend it further. She told me she’s seen and done more than most people ever get the chance to.” He suddenly blushed. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be so chatty today. I’m sure this is all very boring.”

“On the contrary. I’m fascinated.” I finished my meal and crossed to the counter, where I poured myself a cup of coffee. Viktor was usually reticent about his family, so him opening up made me feel like he trusted me a little more. “Coffee?”

“Thanks, with cream.”

I handed him the mug and set the dish of creamers in front of him. “What about your grandmother? You said you miss her?”

“Oh, I do. Grandmother Anna used to call me her ‘big boy’ and she’d hold me on her lap. By the time I was four, I was the size of a ten-year-old human, but she never said anything bad about my size. My grandmother’s hair smelled like apples and hay, and she always had a cookie in her pocket for me.”

“How old were you when your parents split?”

“I was…oh…ten? Eleven? Somewhere around there. As it became apparent I wasn’t going to reach the expected size of an ogre male, my father started acting out against my mother. He blamed her and wanted nothing to do with me. The leader of the ogres ordered him to either cast me out into the wilderness, or for her and me to leave. My father told my mother she had to choose.

“I overheard that fight. It isn’t a pleasant memory,” he said, closing his eyes. “In the end, Mother chose me. She told my father to go to hell. The next day, we gathered our things, and my father relented enough to give us the supplies to last through the summer while my grandpa and I built a little cabin. We left the mountain and moved down into the Puyallup valley. Grandpa died of a heart attack five years later, but my grandmother and my mother kept the homestead going. Pierre came along a year or so later and he did wonders adding on to it.”

I pressed my lips together, thinking that all of us at the Wild Hunt had been through one form of hell or another. Well, maybe not Herne, and probably not Kipa, but we had all faced our demons as we grew up.

“I’m sorry it was so hard. Your mother has always supported you, hasn’t she?”

He nodded, his voice softening. “She’s never stopped being my cheerleader. She loves Sheila, and while we’ll never have children of our own—Sheila really doesn’t want to go through pregnancy—we thought we’d adopt. My mother likes the idea. You’ll meet her at the wedding, which will be on Imbolc. Sheila honors the goddess Brighid, though she’s not a priestess. So we thought it would be nice to get married then.”

“I’ll be there with bells on, Viktor. Congratulations again.” I reached up on tiptoe and threw my arms around his neck, giving him a long hug. “You deserve happiness, and so does Sheila.”

At that moment, Herne entered the room. I spun around, poking Viktor on the arm as I did so. “Tell him before I do.”

Herne glanced from me to Viktor and a slow smile spread across his face. “You did it! You asked her?” He tossed his file folders on the table and hurried over to Viktor’s side, grabbing the half-ogre’s hand and shaking it as Viktor nodded, grinning.

“Yes, I did—we’re engaged! The wedding will be on Imbolc. We were wondering if you would mind hosting the wedding at your house, Ember? We want a garden wedding—we’re hoping for snow, but that’s something we can’t control.”

“Of course you can! We’d be thrilled to host it. I know Angel will agree.”

“Thank you. And…Herne, I have a special request. If the answer’s no, that’s fine, but I don’t want Sheila to know until our wedding day.”

“What is it? You know you can ask me for anything, man.” Herne pumped Viktor’s hand again, his voice cracking just a little.

One look at Herne’s cornflower blue eyes and I knew that he was putting on a good show, but behind the smile was a trace of worry.

I hadn’t answered his proposal yet. I was close to an answer, but the ramifications of what it meant to be the wife of a god had set in, and I wanted to be fully aware of what I was promising before I gave my word. But Herne was struggling with my hesitation and I knew I had to give him an answer soon.

“I was wondering if you might ask the Lady Brighid if… You see, Sheila reveres her, and I know—I just know if Brighid were to oversee the service or even send her blessing…” Viktor faltered, wincing. “I just realized what I’m asking.”

“No, good gods, man, it’s not a problem for me to ask her. She might say yes. The Lady Brighid can be extremely generous about things like this.” Herne turned to me. “I have to go visit my father in Annwn tomorrow. I’ll drop by Brighid’s palace then and see what she says. Do you want to go with me?”

I shook my head. “Actually, your mother’s coming to dinner at my house tomorrow around six.”

Morgana had been to my home once or twice, but always with Herne, and sometimes with Cernunnos. It felt awkward asking her to come solo, but I wanted to have a heart-to-heart chat with her, and I didn’t want Herne listening in.

Herne cocked his head, squinting at me. “All right, then. Well, you are pledged to her.”

That was another thing. How would that work once Herne and I were married? If I became a goddess—a thought that freaked me out—what the heck did that mean for my interactions with Morgana? It was too much to think about right now.

“So, are we on for Lughnasadh tomorrow night? Marilee’s leading the ritual, if we’re still all good for it.” I leaned back in my chair, thinking about marriage and holidays and all the celebrations that made up our lives.

Milestones were important. They were reminders of crossroads in our lives, and the touchstones that kept us connected to the cycles of the earth. We called it the Wheel of the Year, and the Fae and other Cryptos weren’t the only ones who celebrated the Sabbats—the name for the eight great festivals that marked the quarters and cross-quarters of the year. Human pagans also celebrated the holy days, and together, we bridged gaps in age and race and even species, coming together to mark the tides of life in joy and in sorrow.

“We’ll be there with bells on. Or, corn tassels. Marilee has done wonders for you, and for Angel.” Herne gave me a quick peck on the forehead. “I’ve got to run. Will I see you tonight?”

I shook my head. “No, Angel and I decided we need a girls’ night. It’s been too long since we’ve just climbed into our PJs and binge-watched some of our favorite shows with a big bowl of popcorn and a tub of ice cream.”

Snickering, he merely nodded. “I get it. No boys allowed.”

“Right.” And because I wanted to set him somewhat at ease, I added, “You know before too long I won’t have that option. Not if you and I are…” I paused, biting my lip. Was I really ready to say yes? But then I caught a glimpse of Viktor over at the refrigerator. This was his night and I didn’t want to spoil it for him.

Herne leaned in and gazed into my eyes. “Are you saying…”

“Not yet.” I gave a covert nod toward Viktor. “But soon. I promise you, before the week is up, I’ll have an answer for you. I just have a couple more things to decide.” I kept my voice low, not wanting Viktor to overhear. “Meanwhile, why don’t you take Viktor out tonight, to celebrate his engagement? Get Yutani to go as well, although he doesn’t drink much.”

Yutani, our IT guy and a coyote shifter whose father was the Great Coyote himself, was a borderline alcoholic. He kept himself sober and when he did drink, he never had more than one or two drinks. He was tightly wound, and a Dom, and altogether, a good man who walked on the freaky side of life. But then again, weren’t we all a little freaky?

“Good idea. We don’t have to go to a bar. I think I could persuade Yutani to go bowling.” He glanced over at Viktor. “Hey, want to go bowling to celebrate your engagement? We can take Yutani and Rafé with us as well.”

At that moment, my phone rang. I glanced at the caller ID. It was Angel. Frowning, I answered. “Hey, what’s up? How are you? When are you getting your butt back up here?”

She didn’t bother to answer. “Ember, turn on the TV. Channel 8 KPOZ. Hurry.”

I grabbed the remote from the counter and pointed it toward the break room television and switched it on to channel 8.

“This just in,” the newscaster said from behind the desk. “The town of Klarkson, on Highway 2, has been overrun by creatures that no one has yet been able to identify. They’re attacking the townsfolk. Several people have been seriously injured, including five children. Right now, police are swarming the graveyard from where the creatures are believed to have originated, but officers have been forced to fall back twice. Bullets are proving useless, and the creatures are inhumanly strong and appear entirely uncommunicative. Mayor Willis of Klarkson has appealed to the National Guard for help, and there’s so much chaos that no one seems to know what course of action to follow.”

The news anchor held her hand to her ear, pausing, then looked bleakly at the camera. “I have a report from the Klarkson Hospital. They are reporting the admittance of four adults in critical condition, along with three children who are also critical. If you are in Klarkson, police ask that you please stay in your houses and lock your doors and windows.”

I turned down the volume, looking at Herne. “What the hell?”

He was staring at the screen, a solemn look on his face. “This started in the graveyard? You know what I’m thinking.”

“Yeah, me too. Typhon.” I returned to my phone call with Angel. “How did you find out about this?”

“Urgent care has a TV in the waiting room and I’m waiting to pay my bill. You think it’s Typhon?” She paused, then added, “I have a feeling in my stomach, Ember—it’s not good.”

When Angel had a gut reaction to something, we paid attention. She was human, mostly—and I say mostly because we suspected that she had some degree of magic-born blood in her system—and she was an empath. She was also my best friend and had been since we were eight years old and got in a mud-wrestling battle that netted us both a trip to the principal’s office. After that less-than-auspicious start to our friendship, we bonded instantly.

“Not good, how? Not good as in, gee this sounds nasty, or not good as in, we’d better get ready or get our asses kicked?” I wasn’t sure where Klarkson was, but I knew that I didn’t want to go there.

“Not good as in, we’d better get prepared because there’s something much bigger on the horizon.” Her voice drifted off and after a moment she said, “I’ll be up shortly.”

I shoved my phone back in my pocket and turned to Herne. Both Viktor and he were watching the footage out of Klarkson. There wasn’t much yet, and they were running the same clips over and over, along with video taken by the townsfolk using their cell phones. A lot of it was fuzzy and indistinct, but after a few moments, a clip came on that was clear as a bell.

The creature looked a lot like a zombie in many ways, but there was a brightness to the eyes that whispered “cunning” to me. But zombies weren’t cunning. They had some form of sentience, but they weren’t the brightest bulbs in the socket. These creatures were corpses in varying stages of decay, but they crouched low, skulking along, and there was a malevolence to them that felt like more than the feeding frenzy of zombies. Nor were they ghouls. Given I’d spent most of my adult life cleaning up messes with sub-Fae and the undead, I could spot the differences.

“What do you think they are?” I asked Herne.

He shook his head, his gaze fixed on the screen. “I don’t know, but we’d better find out.”

“Angel thinks we’re in for something big.”

As we watched the report spinning out, I could feel the hair standing up on my arms. Angel was right. Typhon was sending something new at us and, whatever it was, we weren’t going up against a mere batch of skeletal warriors.

I took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. All the joy that I had felt over Viktor’s announcement had drained away. We were truly entering the war against the Father of Dragons, and life wasn’t going to let us forget what we were facing. After a moment, I turned and headed down the hall, poking my head into Yutani and Talia’s office. Yutani glanced up and I saw that he was watching the news on his tablet.

“You saw?”

He nodded. “Yeah. But it’s worse than that. The local channel just came out with a report. Something similar is happening in the Worchester District. We’d better get ready to rumble.”

As he stood, I cursed under my breath. Just what we needed right now. Angry that we couldn’t have one day to celebrate—just one day to breathe—I gave him an abrupt nod and headed for my office. It was time to get suited up and ready to go.

COLLAPSE

Playlist for Autumn's Bane

Air: Moon Fever; Playground Love; Napalm Love
Airstream: Electra (Religion Cut)
Alexandros: Milk (Bleach Version); Mosquito Bite
Alice in Chains: Sunshine; Man in the Box; Bleed the Freak
Android Lust: Here & Now; Saint Over
Band of Skulls: I Know What I Am
The Black Angels: Currency; Hunt Me Down; Death March; Indigo Meadow; Don’t Play With Guns; Always Maybe; Black Isn’t Black
Black Mountain: Queens Will Play
Blind Melon: No Rain
Boom! Bap! Pow!: Suit
Brandon & Derek Fiechter: Night Fairies; Toll Bridge; Will-O’-Wisps; Black Wolf’s Inn; Naiad River; Mushroom Woods
The Bravery: Believe
Broken Bells: The Ghost Inside
Camouflage Nights: (It Could Be) Love
Colin Foulke: Emergence
Crazy Town: Butterfly
Danny Cudd: Double D; Remind; Once Again; Timelessly Free; To the Mirage
David Bowie: Golden Years; Let’s Dance; Sister Midnight; I’m Afraid of Americans; Jean Jeanie
Death Cab For Cutie: I Will Possess Your Heart
Dizzi: Dizzi Jig; Dance of the Unicorns
DJ Shah: Mellomaniac
Don Henley: Dirty Laundry; Sunset Grill; The Garden of Allah; Everybody Knows
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being
Eels: Love of the Loveless; Souljacker Part 1
Elektrisk Gonnar: Uknowhatiwant
FC Kahuna: Hayling
The Feeling: Sewn
Filter: Hey Man Nice Shot
Finger Eleven: Paralyzer
Flora Cash: You’re Somebody Else
Fluke: Absurd
Foster The People: Pumped Up Kicks
Garbage: Queer; Only Happy When It Rains; #1Crush; Push It; I Think I’m Paranoid
Gary Numan: Hybrid; Cars; Petals; Ghost Nation; My Name Is Ruin; Pray for the Pain You Serve; I Am Dust
Godsmack: Voodoo
The Gospel Whisky Runners: Muddy Waters
The Hang Drum Project: Shaken Oak; St. Chartier
Hang Massive: Omat Odat; Released Upon Inception; Thingless Things; Boat Ride; Transition to Dreams; End of Sky; Warmth of the Sun’s Rays; Luminous Emptiness
The Hu: The Gereg; Wolf Totem
Imagine Dragons: Natural
In Strict Confidence: Snow White; Tiefer; Silver Bullets; Forbidden Fruit
J Rokka: Marine Migration
Jessica Bates: The Hanging Tree
Korn: Freak on a Leash; Make Me Bad
Lorde: Yellow Flicker Beat; Royals
Low: Witches; Nightingale; Plastic Cup; Monkey; Half-Light
I.A.: Bad Girls
Many Rivers Ensemble: Blood Moon; Oasis; Upwelling; Emergence
Marconi Union: First Light; Alone Together; Flying (In Crimson Skies); Always Numb; Time Lapse; On Reflection; Broken Colours; We Travel; Weightless
Marilyn Manson: Arma-Goddamn-Motherfucking-Geddon
Matt Corby: Breathe
NIN: Closer; Head Like a Hole; Terrible Lie; Sin (Long); Deep
Nirvana: Lithium; About a Girl; Come As You Are; Lake of Fire; You Know You’re Right
Orgy: Social Enemies; Orgy
Pati Yang: All That Is Thirst
Puddle of Mudd: Famous; Psycho
Red Venom: Let’s Get It On
Rob Zombie: American Witch; Living Dead Girl; Never Gonna Stop
Rue du Soleil: We Can Fly; Le Francaise; Wake Up Brother; Blues Du Soleil
Screaming Trees: Where the Twain Shall Meet; All I Know
Shriekback: Underwater Boys; Over the Wire; This Big Hush; Agony Box; Bollo Rex; Putting All The Lights Out; The Fire Has Brought Us Together; Shovelheads; And the Rain; Wiggle & Drone; Now These Days Are Gone; The King in the Tree
Spiderbait: Shazam!
Tamaryn: While You’re Sleeping, I’m Dreaming; Violet’s in a Pool
Thomas Newman: Dead Already
Tom Petty: Mary Jane’s Last Dance
Trills: Speak Loud
The Verve: Bitter Sweet Symphony
Vive la Void: Devil
Wendy Rule: Let the Wind Blow
Yoshi Flower: Brown Paper Bag

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WITCHING MOON: An Ante-Fae Adventure
Book 12 in the Wild Hunt Series
Release date: June 2020

When you dance with Death, you have to be willing to roll the bones...

Still shaken from her run-in with the serial killer, Raven turns to a new and unlikely friend. But the Ante-Fae Trinity has dark secrets in his background, and he threatens to destabilize Raven and Kipa's relationship. When Trinity introduces Raven to a secret garden, it quickly becomes the place of nightmares. Will Raven’s recklessness endanger her friends as well as herself? Or will the Wolf Lord and Raven's dearest friends not only put the nightmare to rest, but also drag Raven back from the edge of the chasm?

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Even though it was a few minutes past nine, the sun was just beginning to dip below the horizon. Dusk was spreading out over the city as the echo of birdsong played through the trees, jumping from swaying bough to swaying bough. The firs and cedars were thick in the cemetery, along with a massive yew tree, its multitude of trunks weaving together to form a thick foundation rising out of the ground. The spirit in the yew tree was ponderous and ancient, watching over not only the cemetery but the entire area. Its energy leached into many a house and hearth for miles around.

I stood near a mausoleum, staring at the spirit who was hovering in front of me. She had been dead for so very long, but now she had woken up from her slumber and was staring down at me, pissed out of her mind. I took a deep breath and stepped back.

“Go back to sleep, old mother. Return to your grave, Lenora Maureen.”

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My voice rang clear and sure, as I forced as much energy into the command as I could. I had the power to drive her back to the Phantom Kingdom. She couldn’t move on, not until she let go of her anger and accepted her death, but I should be able to break her hold on the material world and send her packing.

However, Lenora didn’t want to go. Instead of obeying me, she reared up, her misty form taking on substance. Crap. That’s the last thing I needed. Ghosts who could take on corporeal form were the hardest to deal with.

Old mother, back into your bed to slumber! Return to your grave.” I intensified my focus and as I did so, the opening in the fabric of the Veil became visible. I could see the rip that led to the Phantom Kingdom as clearly as I could see the mausoleum.

The Phantom Kingdom was the world in which all realms intersected, and it stood outside of time and space. There, spirits who hadn’t yet gone on to their rest or a new life wandered, looking for rips in the Veil so they could return to the world to which they were still so attached. The Phantom Kingdom also led to the Dreamtime, the spirit world, the astral realm, and other etheric altaverses. It was the universal realm that acted as a gateway to all other worlds, both physical and energetic.

I focused on the opening, softening my gaze. The rip didn’t look like a natural portal, but rather like it had been torn open. Over the past few months, more and more tears like this had occurred, and they were directly related to Typhon’s waking. He had not yet come into the physical realm, but he was awake and hiding out someplace in the Phantom Kingdom. As he spun out his plans, more breaches in the Veil were occurring. This was the fifth time I’d been called out by Herne and the Wild Hunt to drive angry ghosts back to the grave.

Feeling both irritated and exhausted, I resorted to one of the oldest tricks in the book. It was an old remedy, but effective. I opened my traveling bag o’ magic and sorted through it until I found what I was looking for. Goofer dust. A variant of the usual hoodoo blends, I had mixed it with the specific intent to drive ghosts back through the Veil. First, I had blended a mixture of graveyard dirt, ground black pepper, silver filings, asafetida, and powdered raven’s bones. Then I added clippings from my mother’s hair—which she had willingly given to me—and charmed the whole mixture in Circle, invoking Arawn’s energy into the cauldron.

Hand on my hip, I stared up at Lenora. She was rapidly taking form and it occurred to me that I’d better work fast, because by the look on her face, she was getting ready to dive-bomb me.

Frowning, I edged back a step as I tried to twist the lid off the jar of goofer dust. Apparently, that’s all the impetus Lenora needed. I went flying through the air and landed on my butt at the base of a fern. The goofer dust went rolling to the side as I landed on a sharp rock jutting out of the ground.

“Motherfucking…” I groaned as I eased my tailbone off the rock, but froze as the spirit came barreling toward me again, this time in the shape of a misty ramrod.

“Oh no you don’t!” I rolled to the side, grabbing up the jar of goofer dust. I came to a squatting position, keeping my eye on Lenora. The attack had disrupted her form, and she was now a scattered mist, but she was trying to gather herself together again—the mist was beginning to coalesce again.

Panting, I wrenched the lid off the goofer dust and waited for her to attack me again.

“Come on, bitch! You want a taste of me? Come on, try it again, I dare you!” I usually had respect for the dead, but not when they were trying to kill me. And with her attack, Lenora had crossed the line into my I don’t give a fuck category. I would do whatever needed to send her back to where she came from.

As the sun vanished below the horizon, Lenora took on an ethereal glow, shimmering in the twilight. She was eerily beautiful, like a memory caught in time, transparent and tragic. Her face was vaguely skeletal—she had lost the vestiges of the woman she had once been. Chances were, she hadn’t chosen to wake up. Chances were good that the Father of Dragons had been responsible for her waking. But even though it wasn’t her fault, she was here now, awake and angry, and I was her current target.

“Time to go back to the grave, Lenora.”

As she began to take form again, the mist thickening, fear rose in my throat. She’s just a spirit, I whispered to myself. You’ve tackled far harder jobs than this before.

But then, before Lenora could attack again, I caught a glimpse of my hands. I was wearing fingerless lace gloves, but they couldn’t hide my memories. My nails were shiny and new, they had grown in quickly, but there were scars all over my fingertips. I stared at them, feeling dizzy, and then…

***

I was staring up at Pandora, chained to a metal table in a cavern, and nobody knew where I was. The blonde who had been so friendly to me at Fire & Fang was now leaning over me, gently stroking my face. But there were stars in her eyes and she swayed as I watched, the look on her face terrifying and cruel.

“I’m afraid this is going to hurt you a lot more than it does me, darling,” she said, her smile turning feral. She held up a wicked pair of pliers. “We’ll start easy, how about that? Now, buck up. I know you can handle this, lovely one. You’re one of the Ante-Fae. You can handle far more than you think you can. I promise you that.”

I tried to speak, but my tongue felt like cotton. She had charmed me so I couldn’t say a word. I could scream, but I couldn’t form words.

I struggled to speak, but I could barely open my lips. Frustrated, I let out a faint noise, the sound ripping out from my throat.

“Oh, love, don’t thank me.” A sneer replaced the smile. “Trust me, by the time I’m done with you, you’ll curse me, you’ll hate me, you’ll fear me, and with every scream and every tear you shed, I’ll feast on your sorrow. You’ll never, ever forget me. I’ll live in your dreams and your nightmares.” She raised the pliers and moved away from my face, turning her attention to my left hand.

I felt her take my fingers, but couldn’t see what she was doing. She had me shackled to the table, and the iron cuffs chafed at my wrists. Thank the gods I was Ante-Fae and not Fae or my skin would be blistered and burned by now. As it was, the iron would take its toll but it would take longer to do so.

As she held my index finger, I stiffened, realizing what she was going to do. I shifted, fighting against the restraints, but to no use. The cuffs were rock solid.

“Don’t worry, this won’t take any time at all,” Pandora said.

I tensed as I felt cold metal touch the tip of my finger. And then, the next moment, she laughed as a blistering pain registered through my finger. Before I could scream, she moved onto the next finger and by the time the screams ripped out of my throat, she was on the third. My voice echoed against the ceiling, ricocheting off the walls.

Pandora laughed and moved up to gaze in my face. “Delicious. You’re absolutely delicious.” She licked her lips, looking lascivious and wanton. As the fire spread through my hand and into my body, she returned to my side and took hold of the fourth finger.

Once again, the flames roiled inside…

***

Lenora cackled as she body-slammed me to the ground and I shook out of my memories. I rolled up, crouching low as I finally yanked the cap off the goofer dust. As the ghost launched another attack, I poured a mound of the dust in my hand and tossed it at her.

The dust hit her square in her face and confusion spread over her face as she went reeling back through the rip in the Veil. I held my hand up to the rip, focusing on smoothing it shut, and the tear sealed back together.

Lenora was back where she belonged. At least, for now.

I sat down on the grass, staring at the graveyard around me. It was quiet now, and although I could see a few spirits wandering the grounds, none of them seemed out of place or intent on causing trouble. I leaned back, bringing my knees to my chest. I wrapped my arms around my knees as the sound of birdsong echoed around me. As dusk settled, I gazed up at the emerging stars and began to cry. Around me, the spirits passed by, giving me muted looks of sorrow from their shadowy realm.

***

“I’m home,” I said, opening the door. I had texted ahead. Kipa was constantly nagging me to let him know where I was and that I was all right. While I understood why, the truth was—his constant need for reassurance was beginning to bother me.

Raj came lumbering up to rub against my legs. While I had always loved him, lately we had grown closer. He kept an eye on my moods and it was as though he could sense I was lost in my thoughts again, trapped in my memories.

“Raven looks sad,” Raj said. He stared up at me, his eyes wide and welcoming. “Is Raven in the bad place again?”

That was Raj’s way of asking if I had slipped into another flashback. Ever since Pandora had kidnapped me, I found myself slipping into fugues, reliving the things she had done to me. And if Ember and Trinity hadn’t come to my rescue, I’d be dead by now. I was all too aware of that fact. I prided myself on my ability to take care of myself. We Ante-Fae were hard to kill, but when a goddess took it into her mind to turn sadist, there wasn’t much that mortals could do to stop her. And I had been reminded all too violently of my mortality.

“Raven’s all right, Raj. Raven’s home now.” I knelt down and wrapped my arms around his neck, kissing him on the head. “How’s Raj doing?”

Ignoring my question, Raj said, “Kipa misses Raven. Raven spend time with Kipa?” He gave me those big brown puppy-dog eyes that only gargoyles, cats, and dogs could muster.

I bit my lip, feeling torn.

Kipa had been nothing but wonderful since I had come home from the Healing Center in Annwn. But as much as I appreciated Kipa’s protection, I chafed against it. Part of me wanted to retreat inside his arms, to beg him to go with me every time I left the house, just in case that psycho bitch was still gunning for me. But another part of me wanted to fight back, to prove that she wasn’t ruling my life now.

I pressed my lips together, stroking the leather hide of Raj’s back. He looked so worried that I finally smiled and nodded. “Yes, Raven will spend time with Kipa. Raven loves Raj.”

“Raj knows Raven loves him. Does Raven love Kipa?”

Kipa and I were still dancing around those words, though I had the feeling he really did love me. But neither one of us approached the thought easily, and neither one of us took the declaration lightly. So the words remained unspoken, and I figured that—if they came—they would come in their own time. However, when it came to Raj, there was a fine line between love and like. He looked so anxious that I just nodded.

“Yes, Raven loves Kipa.” And it was true, if I let myself admit it.

Satisfied, Raj wandered back to the living room where he fired up the television. The lively sounds of Acrobert and the Alphas blared out, breaking the silence. I leaned back against the door, took a deep breath to steady myself, and then plastered a smile on my face and headed toward the living room where Kipa was waiting with Raj. He glanced up, his eyes lighting up.

“I’m glad you’re home. Did you scare away the ghost?”

“She’s back in the Phantom Kingdom, but it wasn’t easy.” I shrugged off the light jacket I was wearing and hung it on the coatrack. “I swear, there has to be a better way to deal with the situation. The gods are no closer to having an answer than they were last month, and things are getting very real, very fast.”

Kipa scooted over on the sofa and patted the cushion beside him. “The gods are doing everything they can, but as long as Typhon’s hiding out in the Phantom Kingdom, there isn’t much we can do. To be honest, none of us know how to drive him back into stasis. There’s a lot of talk and bluster, but not much to act on. Did you have any trouble tonight?”

“No, it was all pretty standard.” I didn’t want to tell him about the flashback. I was tired of having flashbacks, and I felt like I should be over them by now. Also, if I told him, he’d start to panic and then he’d try to make things better and we’d only end up in an argument.

“Is there any spaghetti left? I’m still hungry.” Instead of sitting beside him, I headed toward the kitchen. I saw his smile fall away before I left the room.

He followed me into the kitchen, leaning on the counter as I rummaged through the refrigerator and found the cold spaghetti, neatly packed away inside of a plastic tub. Kipa had certainly gotten better at cooking over the past month or so, and he had also taught himself how to clean up after I had laid into him about leaving a sink full of dishes for me to do. I knew he was trying, and I wished I didn’t feel so prickly.

“You want me to heat that up?” He moved to get a plate, but I shook my head.

“I like cold spaghetti. I’ll just eat out of the container.” I grabbed a fork before he could get it for me, and skirted him as I headed toward the table. He caught me around the waist though, pulling me in for a kiss. I stiffened, but let him kiss me on the cheek, then quickly disentangled myself and headed for the dining room.

“Do you want me to stay over tonight?” He followed me, but didn’t sit down. Instead, he stood behind one of the chairs, leaning on the back of it. He was gorgeous, and he cared, and I hated that I really didn’t want to be around him right now. I felt horrible because he was so good-hearted, but that was also why I didn’t want him around right now. I was snapping at anybody over every little thing, and I didn’t want to make him a target.

“No. Go ahead, I’m sure you must have things to do. It’s so late that I think I’m just going to eat dinner and crash for the night.” We had only had sex two or three times since I had escaped Pandora’s lair. When anybody held me too tightly, even for a hug, I began to panic.

His shoulders slumping, Kipa let out an exhausted sigh. “Fine. I do have some errands to run.” He paused, glancing at me.

I could feel the hesitation there and finally set down my fork. “I know you want to say something. I can tell. Please, just be honest.”

“Do you even want me around? I’ve tried to give you space, I’ve tried to help. I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t know if you want me here, or if you just want me to leave. I’m never certain that you mean what you say nowadays. I don’t know if you even still like me.” The broken notes in his voice almost broke my heart.

Tears flecking my eyelashes, I turned to him. “I don’t know what to say. I do care about you, more than you can possibly imagine. But I’m not coping very well with the aftermath of all this. I don’t like being touched. Every time somebody hugs me, I feel like I’m trapped. I wake up in a panic if the blankets are too tight. I’ve…” I paused. I hadn’t told him about the flashbacks yet.

“What? You’re not telling me something.”

“Kipa, I’ve been having flashbacks—I had one tonight while I was fighting that ghost and it gave her the chance to knock me over. I’m afraid every time I go out. I know I should be stronger than this. Hell, what she did to me hurt, but it wasn’t as bad as what she did to the others. And I survived. I’m one of the Ante-Fae. I’m supposed to be strong. I’m supposed to be able to cope with things like this.” I stared down at my spaghetti, not wanting to see the look of disappointment on his face.

Kipa pulled the chair out and slid into the seat. He didn’t reach for my hand, but his voice was soft. “Raven, you may be one of the Ante-Fae, but you’re still young. And you’ve never had to face anything like that before. Pandora didn’t get as far with you as she did her other victims, but she was headed there. You have a right to be terrified. Neither I—nor anybody else—expects you to come through this without help. If you think that I expect you to just pretend it didn’t happen, or be some strong silent heroine, you’re totally wrong. I do want to be here for you. And I’m okay with not having sex right now. I’m okay with you not feeling capable of cuddling or hugging right now. What I’m not okay with is you keeping all of these emotions bottled up.”

I hung my head. “Great. I feel guiltier than ever. No, really, you are being so good about this, and I feel like I’ve just turned into a total bitch.”

“I wish you would talk to someone. I wish you would talk to Ferosyn. You have PTSD, and don’t you even try to deny it. He could help.”

It felt like I could barely breathe. I wanted to say yes. I wanted to ask for help. The trouble was, I wasn’t quite ready. I felt like I was trapped in some horrible dream and every time I turned, there was something to remind me of that night. Whether it was the new teeth growing in my jaw where she had ripped out all my molars, or whether it was looking at the shiny new nails on my nail beds, or whether it was catching a glimpse of the scars on my body when I looked at myself naked in the mirror, Pandora was everywhere in my reality. Her reminders were everywhere on my body. It didn’t help that she was still alive, either. The gods were immortal, and I felt like I’d never be free of wondering if she was still out there somewhere, waiting to come after me again.

“I wish I could, too. I wish it was simply a matter of me saying yes, I want help. I just don’t think I can talk about it yet, to anybody. Any therapist is going to want me to relive it, and I don’t think I’m ready to go through it again.”

“Raven, you’re facing it every day,” Kipa said. “You’re coping with this alone, locked in your heart. Nobody can handle memories like yours without a little help.” He paused, then let out another sigh and stood. “I’m here when you need me. I’ll spend the night at my place, but if you call, I’ll come running. You don’t have to say anything, you don’t have to do anything except just say the word—just one word—and I’ll be here. Meanwhile, I’ll give you some space.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, tearing up. “I’m so sorry.”

“You have nothing to be sorry for.” Kipa slipped on his leather jacket, and headed for the door. Pausing, he looked back over his shoulder. “I’m not letting you push me away. I know that’s not what you want, and I know you’re trying to protect me from your moods. Trust me, I can handle far more than you think, and I’ve seen far worse. I’m here when you need me.” And with that, he patted Raj on the head and took off out the door.

I pushed back the container of spaghetti, trying to steady my breath. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. I wanted to break things and throw things. It was like I had an inner spring that was coiled so tightly that it was ready to break. Finally, I managed to calm down. I stared at the table until I could breathe again, then began eating again.

COLLAPSE

Playlist for Witching Moon

Air: Moon Fever; Playground Love; Napalm Love
Airstream: Electra (Religion Cut)
Alexandros: Milk (Bleach Version); Mosquito Bite
Alice in Chains: Sunshine; Man in the Box; Bleed the Freak
Android Lust: Here & Now; Saint Over
Band of Skulls: I Know What I Am
The Black Angels: Currency; Hunt Me Down; Death March; Indigo Meadow; Don’t Play With Guns; Always Maybe; Black isn’t Black
Black Mountain: Queens Will Play
Blind Melon: No Rain
Boom! Bap! Pow!: Suit
Brandon & Derek Fiechter: Night Fairies; Toll Bridge; Will-O’-Wisps; Black Wolf’s Inn; Naiad River; Mushroom Woods
The Bravery: Believe
Broken Bells: The Ghost Inside
Camouflage Nights: (It Could Be) Love
Colin Foulke: Emergence
Crazy Town: Butterfly
Danny Cudd: Double D; Remind; Once Again; Timelessly Free; To The Mirage
David Bowie: Golden Years; Let’s Dance; Sister Midnight; I’m Afraid of Americans; Jean Jeanie
Death Cab For Cutie: I Will Possess Your Heart
Dizzi: Dizzi Jig; Dance of the Unicorns
DJ Shah: Mellomaniac
Don Henley: Dirty Laundry; Sunset Grill; The Garden of Allah; Everybody Knows
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being
Eels: Love of the Loveless; Souljacker Part 1
Elektrisk Gonnar: Uknowhatiwant
FC Kahuna: Hayling
The Feeling: Sewn
Filter: Hey Man Nice Shot
Finger Eleven: Paralyzer
Flora Cash: You’re Somebody Else
Fluke: Absurd
Foster The People: Pumped Up Kicks
Garbage: Queer; Only Happy When It Rains; #1Crush; Push It; I Think I’m Paranoid
Gary Numan: Hybrid; Cars; Petals; Ghost Nation; My Name Is Ruin; Pray For The Pain You Serve; I Am Dust
Godsmack: Voodoo
The Gospel Whisky Runners: Muddy Waters
The Hang Drum Project: Shaken Oak; St. Chartier
Hang Massive: Omat Odat; Released Upon Inception; Thingless Things; Boat Ride; Transition to Dreams: End of Sky; Warmth of the Sun’s Rays; Luminous Emptiness
The Hu: The Gereg; Wolf Totem
Imagine Dragons: Natural
In Strict Confidence: Snow White; Tiefer; Silver Bullets; Forbidden Fruit
J Rokka: Marine Migration
Jessica Bates: The Hanging Tree
Korn: Freak on a Leash; Make Me Bad
Lorde: Yellow Flicker Beat; Royals
Low: Witches; Nightingale; Plastic Cup; Monkey; Half-Light
M.I.A.: Bad Girls
Many Rivers Ensemble: Blood Moon; Oasis; Upwelling; Emergence
Marconi Union: First Light; Alone Together; Flying (In Crimson Skies); Always Numb; Time Lapse; On Reflection; Broken Colours; We Travel; Weightless
Marilyn Manson: Arma-Goddamn-Motherfucking-Geddon
Matt Corby: Breathe
NIN: Closer; Head Like A Hole; Terrible Lie; Sin (Long); Deep
Nirvana: Lithium; About A Girl; Come As You Are; Lake of Fire; You Know You’re Right
Orgy: Social Enemies; Orgy
Pati Yang: All That is Thirst
Puddle of Mudd: Famous; Psycho
Red Venom: Let’s Get It On
Rob Zombie: American Witch; Living Dead Girl; Never Gonna Stop
Rue du Soleil: We Can Fly; Le Francaise; Wake Up Brother; Blues Du Soleil
Screaming Trees: Where The Twain Shall Meet; All I Know
Shriekback: Underwater Boys; Over the Wire; This Big Hush; Agony Box; Bollo Rex; Putting All The Lights Out; The Fire Has Brought Us Together; Shovelheads; And the Rain; Wiggle & Drone; Now These Days Are Gone; The King in the Tree
Spiderbait: Shazam!
Tamaryn: While You’re Sleeping, I’m Dreaming; Violet’s In A Pool
Thomas Newman: Dead Already
Tom Petty: Mary Jane’s Last Dance
Trills: Speak Loud
The Verve: Bitter Sweet Symphony
Vive la Void: Devil
Wendy Rule: Let the Wind Blow
Yoshi Flower: Brown Paper Bag

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Life isn't easy when you bear the mark of the Silver Stag...

Typhon, the Father of Dragons, is rising, and in his wake so are throngs of the departed. Amid the fallout, a serial killer who has been possessed by Typhon emerges, targeting necromancers, psychics, and anyone who can control or deal with the dead. The deputy mayor approaches Herne and the Wild Hunt, asking for their help.

Ember and the Wild Hunt head out on the trail of the killer, only to find themselves drawn into the dark underbelly of the Vampire Nation as they try to prevent the assassin from striking again. But the killer’s far more dangerous than anyone predicted, and the next target is Raven BoneTalker. Can Ember and Herne keep her safe, or will the killer slide beneath their radar and claim Raven as the next victim?

Series Reading Order:
1. The Silver Stag
2. Oak & Thorns
3. Iron Bones
4. A Shadow of Crows
5. The Hallowed Hunt
6. The Silver Mist
7. Witching Hour (An Ante-Fae Adventure)
8. Witching Bones (An Ante-Fae Adventure)
9. A Sacred Magic
10. The Eternal Return
11. Sun Broken
12. Witching Moon (An Ante-Fae Adventure) --Coming Soon
13. Autumn's Bane

Published:
Genres:
Excerpt:

Chapter 1

The new moon had just passed, and the only sign of her presence was a thin crescent as she moved into her waxing cycle. I gazed up at the sliver of light as I waited beside the massive maple tree in the park. The leaves were almost full size, and they whispered lightly in the April night. We were into a warm streak, with the days running in the high sixties and the nights in the upper fifties. Beltane was nearing—a little over two weeks away—and I could feel the energy build, especially when I was around Herne. It had been a year since he had come into my world and changed everything in my life.

I turned at a low huffing sound and there he stood, my magnificent god, in his alter shape. The silver stag glimmered, brilliant and luminous, his back as tall as me, antlers rising like silver tines against the shroud of darkness that surrounded us.

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He slowly approached me and I bowed my head. I always felt his divinity more when he was in his stag form. He leaned down to breathe against my cheek and the scent of his musk swept over me. I threw my arms around his neck, gazing into those sloe eyes, and pressed my face against his throat.

“I love you,” I whispered. “I cannot believe how much I’ve come to love you.”

He gently stepped away from me, kneeling onto his front knees. I swung up onto his back and leaned forward, bracing myself with my hands on either side of his neck. He stood, waiting for me to give him the signal.

When I was properly situated, I said, “I’m ready,” and we were off, racing through the woods under the pale moonlight. Herne wove through the trees toward a ravine, and down we went, through the undergrowth, a blur of movement. In his silver stag form, Herne could move faster than any normal stag or elk. This was his domain. The forest was his world, and as Lord of the Hunt, he ruled over it with his father, Cernunnos, the Lord of the Forest. Together, they embodied the woodlands of the world, and their presence was within every leaf of every tree, every animal that called the forest home. They embodied the wild, and ran with the Wild Hunt.

And…Herne was my boyfriend.

That last thought made me laugh. It seemed so mortal, but the gods shared a number of traits with mortals, with the Fae, the humans, and shifters alike. And when I had gone to work for the Wild Hunt—the agency, not the actual Hunt—a year ago, I had quickly fallen for Herne, and he had, against all odds, fallen for me.

I wasn’t sure how long we had been running, it could have been five minutes or twenty, but Herne pulled to a stop next to a trickling stream. The greater Seattle area was rife with both ravines and streams, and the forest wild permeated the cities around the area with tenacious fingers, large swaths spreading between the condos and skyscrapers, shading the spacious streets of the city. The grass and weeds continuously broke through the concrete on sidewalks, jutting up through the cracks to prove that nothing manmade could keep the wild at bay for long.

Herne kneeled and I slid off his back, my thighs warm from pressing against his sides. I wandered over to the stream, kneeling beside the bank. The water played like music and I could sense there were several elementals nearby, dancing through the eddies and swirls that splashed over the stones at the bottom of the streambed.

Here in Western Washington, almost all creeks trickled over a bed of the rounded river rocks that had been left in the wake of the alluvial deposits. As I reached toward the whitecaps, a spray of water rose up, forming into a translucent being that was vaguely humanoid. It reached out and touched my fingers, and I closed my eyes as we met.

I know you. You are one of the water Fae.

The thought came unspoken, filling my mind. Only it wasn’t a thought in words, but in emotions—a sense of familiarity. I smiled at the gentle mind-touch.

Like recognizes like. I am part Leannan Sidhe, I answered. How are things here in the park? Is everything going as it should? I patterned the thoughts into emotions and images that the water elemental would understand.

Herne and I were reconnoitering. We had heard rumors that there were unnatural forces stirring in the park. Given the current state of affairs, we had decided to check it out for ourselves. There was too much at stake to just hope for the best or rely on rumor.

The elemental paused, then I felt a quiver of fear coming from it.

I have seen nothing unusual, but something is approaching. There are those who have rested in the arms of the forest for many years, deep in their death sleep, who are now slumbering uneasily. Their bodies are long gone but their spirits are approaching a wakeful state. What lures them out of their long sleep, I do not know.

And with that, the water spirit dove into the stream and flowed back into the current, and within seconds, it was gone.

“What did it say?” Herne asked from behind me.

I turned to face him. He was in his human shape now, rugged and gorgeous, with shoulder-length hair the color of wheat that was approaching his mid-back. I’d asked him to let it grow—I loved a man with long hair, and Herne wore it well. He had a five-o’clock shadow, the stubble making his jaw look even stronger, and his eyes were cornflower blue. He was wearing a pair of dark jeans and a leather jacket over a dark blue muscle shirt. His belt buckle—a silver stag—gleamed in the dim light from the sliver of moon overhead. I had given it to him on Valentine’s Day, and he wore it constantly now. He was wearing motorcycle boots, with chains and studs.

“According to the elemental, the spirits who have made their rest in the park are waking up. From what I gathered, given the images it showed me, these are mostly spirits of Native Americans who died on this land before any settlers came in, though there are also some of the settlers here, and a few people who’ve been murdered here. They’re all spirits who should have moved on, who should be long gone. As to what’s responsible for waking them up, I have no idea and neither did the water spirit.” I rubbed my chin, glancing around us.

The Seattle area had been inhabited for at least four thousand years, first by the earliest Coast Salish natives, and then, starting in the mid-1800s, by European settlers coming in. Plenty of people had lived and died in the area.

Herne regarded me gravely. “Typhon?”

I pressed my lips together, then let out a sigh. “Probably.”

“Reports are coming in from Mielikki’s Arrow, Odin’s Chase, and all the other agencies like ours. This is happening worldwide. Typhon may still be in the process of waking, but his reach is extending out to affect all areas of the world.” Herne sat down on a nearby boulder, frowning. “We knew this was coming.”

“I know.” I didn’t want to think about it, but we had to face the fact that we were running on borrowed time. It wouldn’t be long and the world would be a chaotic mess when the dead returned, in both spirit and physical form. And all we could do was wait, and take care of the collateral damage when it arose.

“Come here.” He held out his arms.

I sat on his knee, leaning against him as he wrapped his arms around me. He reached up to kiss my nose, the warmth of his breath stirring my blood. I moaned gently as his tongue slid between my lips, and he shifted, lifting me into his arms as he stood. He carried me over to a mossy bank beside the stream and lay me down, kneeling beside me.

“Jeans off,” he whispered.

I unbuckled my belt and unzipped, sliding my jeans down, along with my underwear. As I tugged them off over my boots, he whipped off his belt, then followed suit, his jeans down by his knees. He was facing me as I lay back on the grass, his eyes glowing in the darkness surrounding us. The fire rose inside me, and I pulled up my shirt and began to finger my nipples beneath the lace of my bra. Herne let out a wicked laugh and knelt between my thighs, his tongue searching for my center, bathing me lightly at first and then harder. I caught my breath and reached down to tangle my fingers in his hair.

He wrapped his hands around my hips, holding me firmly as the swirl of his tongue drove the fire higher. I moaned, wanting to feel him inside me, wanting him to drive the length of his shaft deep into my core.

“Fuck me,” I whispered, reaching down to pull him up.

Herne’s eyes glinted, shining as they began to glow. He let out a low grunt and grabbed hold of me, rolling so I was on top. I slid down on his shaft, dropping my head back as I braced myself against him, hand to hand. I laughed, feeling wanton and powerful, and as I began to ride him, he laughed again, lifting me up as he thrust to meet me.

I let go of his hands and he clasped my waist. “Touch yourself,” he ordered.

I reached down with one hand to slide my fingers across my clit, and with my other, I cupped my breast, shaking my hair out to stream down my back.

I rode him hard, and as the stars began to wheel overhead, I felt dizzy with our passion. With one swift move, he smoothly rolled me over, still inside me, and began to drive himself deep into me, his chest pressed against mine.

“You’re mine, love. You belong to me,” he said, his voice husky. His eyes were glowing fully now and he began to thrust in earnest, driving me hard against the soft moss below us. The scent of spring soil rose to greet us, mixed with the spray of the stream. The smell of wild roses surrounded us, heady and intoxicating. I closed my eyes, merging into the energy of the Hunt. Herne was everywhere around me, and the feel of the forest called to my blood, to my heritage.

I let go, spiraling into the web we wove between us. The magic of our sex built the world anew each time we came together. As we renewed our passion and our love, I could sense the journey stretching out ahead of us. It was still new, but I had set foot on a road from which I couldn’t turn away. I had made my decision, and nothing in the world would ever be the same.

“Ember, my love,” he whispered as he gave one final thrust and then stiffened, pinning me to the earth below. I let go even as he did, capitulating as the waves dragged me under. As I sank into the orgasm, the world expanded, the storm shaking me to the core. I burst into tears, overwhelmed, and pulled him tightly against me.

Herne rested his head on my breast, breathing hard as the ripples of our climax began to subside. After a moment, he raised his head, his hair tickling me as it trailed down to caress my skin. “Never leave me,” he whispered. “Stay with me, Ember. Please.”

I gazed deep into his eyes, and right there, right then, I realized that I had everything I wanted in my life. “I don’t plan on going anywhere,” I whispered back, kissing him on the nose. “I don’t think I could leave if I wanted to. You and I are too tightly bound for me to leave you. You’ve become a part of my life, a part of my world. A part of me.”

He kissed me again, and we rested in the shade of the forest as the stars continued to wheel overhead in the darkened sky.

***

On our way back to his house, I found my thoughts returning to the park. Even though I had been focused on sex, the moment we dressed I began to notice the energy that the elemental had warned us about. The forest felt uneasy, and though the magic from our union had calmed the immediate area, it didn’t take long for it to begin to feel agitated again.

“Can you feel it?” I asked.

Herne gave me a solemn nod. “Actually, yes. The forest is ill at ease. I’ll come out later and speak to the trees, see if they have anything to tell me.” He shook his head. “I fear we haven’t even begun to see the effects that Typhon will bring with him.”

Typhon was the Father of Dragons, a Titan who had been cast into stasis thousands of years ago, but now had managed to shake himself out of his slumber. And as he woke, the dead would follow him, returning from the spirit world to enter ours, for he was born of Tartarus—the god who meted out punishment to the dead.

We had been preparing for Typhon’s arrival for several months, ever since Cernunnos and Morgana had first warned us of his approach. While we at the Wild Hunt Agency couldn’t take him on, we were assigned to take care of collateral damage while the gods worked together to find a way to drive him back into stasis. So far, they didn’t have a clue on how to do that.

“Come, let’s get home before sunrise,” Herne said, stepping back from me. I shielded my eyes as he transformed into his stag self. The light was so bright that it almost blinded me. As he knelt for me again to straddle his back, I couldn’t help but wonder how many nights we would have left to run free in the woods and make love under the stars. How long before Typhon stretched out his wings to cover the light? And how much longer before our days—and our nights—were spent chasing down the dead?

But at least, Herne would be at my side, and for that, I was ever grateful.

***

My name is Ember Kearney, and I’m a tralaeth. That’s an ugly word that I’ve reclaimed. I’m half–Dark Fae and half–Light Fae, and according to the Fae Courts, never the twain should meet. But they did, in the forms of my father, who was Dark Fae, and my mother, who belonged to the Light Court. When I was fifteen, they were murdered for daring to love across borders, and as the product of their love, I was considered untouchable in the Fae Courts, a half-breed who shouldn’t exist. As far as I was concerned, they could all go fuck themselves. My parents’ families had been in on the double murder, and I had no use for any of them save for one uncle whom I had only recently met.

Until a year ago, I had set myself up as a freelance investigator/bounty hunter, but then life had intervened. In the space of twenty-four hours both I and my best friend, Angel, had gone from struggling to make our way in the world to being employed by Herne, who ran the Wild Hunt Agency. My official job was to help keep peace between the Fae Courts—or, at least, helping to contain the collateral damage, which seemed terribly ironic given my heritage.

But that job had expanded, and now in addition to keeping the ever-warring factions from offing innocent people with their petty sparring, we had branched out to facing the coming darkness. And somehow, within a very short time, Herne and I had been drawn together, and I was learning what it meant to be the consort of a god.

And to complicate matters, I was pledged to his mother Morgana, a goddess of the Fae and of the sea. And my father had been pledged to Herne’s father—Cernunnos. In the past year, I had seen things I never dreamed existed, and I had passed through the Cruharach—a ritual all members of Fae undergo as a rite of passage when they come of age.

A lot had changed in a single year, but even with the coming shadow, I wouldn’t alter anything that had happened. For the first time in my life I belonged to something bigger than myself. I had my own home, I had friends who formed an extended family, and I had found love. And all the darkness in the world couldn’t overshadow all of that.

***

I yawned and dragged myself under the shower. I didn’t like pulling all-nighters, but we had no other choice than to check out reports when they came in. It was seven a.m. and we needed to dress and head into work. After soaping all the grime off, I blasted myself with cold water and almost shrieked, but it shocked my system enough to drive the brain-fog away.

After toweling off and blow-drying my hair, which had grown noticeably longer over the past year, I dressed in a spare outfit I had left at Herne’s—a blue corset over black jeans. I fastened a silver belt around my waist and zipped up my stiletto ankle boots. I didn’t anticipate needing to go gallivanting around the forest today, and if the need did arise, I kept a spare pair of boots at work, one more suitable for tromping in the woods.

“Triple-shot mocha?” Herne asked as I entered the kitchen. While I showered and dressed, he had grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and was now pulling shots of espresso.

“Quint shot, please. I need more caffeine than that to make it through the day. All-nighters aren’t that easy, even for the Fae. We don’t all have the constitution of a god.” I stuck out my tongue at him.

He playfully returned the gesture. “Fine. Five shots. Seriously, though, if you need a nap, you can come in late.” He didn’t even look winded.

“No, that wouldn’t be fair to the others. I’ll manage, though I may grab a few winks this afternoon, if we’re not run ragged.” I paused, sniffing. I could still smell his musky scent from where I was standing. “Um, not to be indelicate, but don’t you need a shower before we go? I love your scent, but…”

“But I’m a little funky for the office?”

“I was going to use the word ‘rank’ but yeah, that works,” I said, grinning.

He laughed and handed me my drink. “You eat and I’ll have a quick rinse.” He headed for the bedroom.

I slid onto a tall stool at the kitchen island, taking a long sip of the iced mocha before devouring my breakfast. I was still hungry when I finished, so I poked through the cupboards and found a box of doughnuts. Herne kept plenty of snacks around for me. The gods didn’t need to eat nearly as much as the Fae or even humans, but he liked food and made sure his fridge was well stocked. I had finished my second one and was on my third when he re-entered the room, clean-shaven, tidy, and smelling like fresh rain.

“Yum, the new bath wash you bought does the trick.” I polished off the rest of the doughnut. “I left your sandwich alone.”

“How generous,” he said, catching me by the waist and pulling me in for a long kiss. He swatted my ass. “All right, love, let’s get this show on the road.”

As we gathered our things and headed out to the car, I paused, staring at the sky. It was a clear morning and the sun was shining, but there seemed to be a pall over the city. With a sinking feeling, I realized it wasn’t smog. It was an energetic cloud, hanging low and ponderous. I could sense when a storm was about to break, and right now, I could sense a dark one on the horizon. Suddenly pensive, I kept my thoughts to myself as we headed downtown.

COLLAPSE

Playlist for Sun Broken

Air: Moon Fever; Playground Love; Napalm Love
Airstream: Electra (Religion Cut)
Ben Howard: Esmerelda; Oats in the Water; To Be Alone; Burgh Island
The Black Angels: Currency; Hunt Me Down; Death March; Indigo Meadow; Don’t Play With Guns; Always Maybe; Black isn’t Black
Black Mountain: Queens Will Play; Buried by the Blues
Brandon & Derek Fiechter: Night Fairies; Toll Bridge; Will-O’-Wisps; Black Wolf’s Inn; Naiad River; Mushroom Woods
The Bravery: Believe
Broken Bells: The Ghost Inside
Camouflage Nights: (It Could Be) Love
Colin Foulke: Emergency
Crazy Town: Butterfly
Danny Cudd: Double D; Remind; Once Again; Timelessly Free; To The Mirage
David Bowie: Golden Years; I’m Afraid of Americas; Let’s Dance; Sister Midnight
Death Cab For Cutie: I Will Possess Your Heart
Dizzi: Dizzi Jig; Dance of the Unicorns; Galloping Horse
DJ Shah: Mellomaniac
Don Henley: Dirty Laundry; Sunset Grill; The Garden of Allah; Everybody Knows
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being
Eels: Love of the Loveless; Souljacker Part 1
Eminem: I’m Back
Faun: Hymn to Pan; Punagra; Sieben
FC Kahuna: Hayling
The Feeling: Sewn
Flora Cash: You’re Somebody Else
Fluke: Absurd
Foo Fighters: The Pretender; Come Alive; All My Life
Foster The People: Pumped Up Kicks
Garbage: Queer; Only Happy When It Rains; #1Crush; Push It; I Think I’m Paranoid
Gary Numan: Dominion Day; Prophecy; Dead Heaven; Hybrid; Cars; Soul Protection; Confession; My World Storm; Dream Killer; Petals; Ghost Nation; My Name Is Ruin; Pray For The Pain You Serve; I Am Dust
Godsmack: Voodoo
The Gospel Whisky Runners: Muddy Waters
The Hang Drum Project: Shaken Oak; St. Chartier
Hang Massive: Omat Odat; Released Upon Inception; Thingless Things; Boat Ride; Transition to Dreams: End of Sky; Warmth of the Sun’s Rays; Luminous Emptiness
Hedningarna: Ukkonen
The Hu: The Gereg; Wolf Totem
Imagine Dragons: Natural
In Strict Confidence: Snow White; Tiefer
J Rokka: Marine Migration
Jessica Bates: The Hanging Tree
Low: Witches; Nightingale; After Hours; Plastic Cup; Half-Light
Many Rivers Ensemble: Blood Moon; Oasis; Upwelling; Emergence
Marconi Union: First Light; Alone Together; Flying (In Crimson Skies); Always Numb; 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
Nirvana: Lithium; About A Girl; Come As You Are; Lake of Fire; You Know You’re Right
Orgy: Social Enemies; Orgy
Pati Yang: All That is Thirst
Red Venom: Let’s Get It On
Rue du Soleil: We Can Fly; Le Francaise; Wake Up Brother; Blues Du Soleil
Screaming Trees: Where The Twain Shall Meet; All I  know
Shriekback: The Shining Path; Underwater Boys; Over the Wire; This Big Hush; Agony Box; Bollo Rex; Putting All The Lights Out; The Fire Has Brought Us Together; Shovelheads; And the Rain; Wiggle & Drone; Now These Days Are Gone; The King in the Tree
Spiderbait: Shazam!
Tamaryn: While You’re Sleeping, I’m Dreaming; Violet’s In A Pool
Thomas Newman: Dead Already
Tom Petty: Mary Jane’s Last Dance
Trills: Speak Loud
Tuatha Dea: Tuatha De Danaan
The Verve: Bitter Sweet Symphony
Vive la Void: Devil
Wendy Rule: Let the Wind Blow
Yoshi Flower: Brown Paper Bag

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Sometimes, you have to exorcise ghosts from the past before you can move forward…

With the Tuathan Brotherhood taken care of, Ember and the Wild Hunt gear up for the coming darkness that threatens to plunge their lives into chaos. But first, they take on the ancient liche who stole Talia's powers. Lazerous is living near Winter Hall Magical Academy, located near Mt. Rainier. Over the centuries, he's grown so strong that it seems futile to take him on. But with Lazerous stalking the students, stealing not only their magical powers but their lives, the Wild Hunt can't allow him to roam free. Before they can confront him, Talia takes it on herself to reconnoiter the situation and ends up trapped in a maniacal web that could easily spell her death. Now, Ember and Herne must race against time before Lazerous finds her first.

 

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

“If you don’t get your asses in gear and take care of my pixie problem, I’m going to spread the word to all of my friends that you’re unreliable.”

Macy Barnhart shifted in her chair and crossed her right leg over her left. Her legs were long and smooth, unmarred by any visible scars or stray hair. Willowy and tall, she was wearing a chiffon dress whose layers seemed to shift with every move. Her hair was perfectly smooth, the long blond strands gathered back into a loose chignon held in place by a cloisonné butterfly barrette, and her makeup was flawless.

In other words, she looked like a walking, talking mannequin. But Macy Barnhart had the personality of a viper.

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I cleared my throat and glanced at Yutani. He was composed and congenial, but the light in his eyes told me he was suppressing his feelings. The IT specialist had little patience for whiners, and even less patience for members of the entitlement-set. And Macy Barnhart obviously felt she was entitled to star treatment. She was also Light Fae and had already tried to sideswipe me twice with poorly cloaked insults. I’d ignored them, but my temper was rapidly reaching overload, and I couldn’t play nice-nice for much longer.

“I’m sorry, Macy, but we have other clients ahead of you, and we’ll get to your pixies just as soon as we can,” I said, gritting my teeth. “If our timetable won’t work for you, then you’re welcome to find someone else. We’re the best there is, so we get a lot of clients.” I smiled through my urge to tell the bitch to get out and stay out.

She held my gaze for a moment. When I didn’t flinch, her eyes flickered to the side. Finally, her shoulders slumped. “I don’t have the time to find anyone else.”

Neither Yutani nor I said anything.

After an uncomfortable silence, she added, “Fine. Just get your asses over to my house as soon as you can.”

I leaned back in Herne’s chair, feeling a disconcerting satisfaction as I watched her ego deflate. Schadenfreude. “I think we’ll be able to make it out there tomorrow. Expect us around sometime between nine and noon.” The truth was, we could probably fit her pixie problem in today, but I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction. “I think we have enough information.”

“Will I need to be home?” she asked, tapping her stiletto-clad foot on the floor.

I shrugged. “That depends. If we can’t find them, you’ll just have to pay a rescheduling fee. If you’re there, you can show us where they are.”

“Fine. Tomorrow, between nine and noon.” With that, Macy Barnhart was on her feet, and she flounced out of the office without another word, slamming the door behind her.

I glanced over at Yutani. “Man, she’s a bitch.”

“You got that one right.” He snorted. “I’m tempted to cancel and just let her fend for herself.”

“Well, we can’t. We promised, so we’ll be there. But I’m not looking forward to this job.”

“Me either,” he said. “I was amazed by how well you were able to keep your temper.”

Laughing, I shook my head. “I was one step away from losing it, dude. However, I’m going to ask Herne to cross her off the list of clients once we wrap up her pixie problem. I have no desire to ever work with her again.”

“Speaking of, when is he supposed to be back from the airport?” Yutani gathered up the papers and tapped the file folder on the desk to straighten it.

“Myrna was supposed to be in on a nine-thirty flight.” I glanced at the clock. It was eleven-fifteen. “Depending on how much luggage she brought and how bad traffic is, they should be back here any time.”

Yutani paused at the door, turning back to me. “You okay with her coming in?”

I considered the question. Was I okay with Herne’s ex-girlfriend, who was also the mother of his child, coming into town to visit? Considering she was a first-class bitch, the answer was a resounding No, and considering she was also a lousy mother, again—a no. But I didn’t want to sound jealous or petty, so I just shrugged.

“Eh, it’s no skin off my nose. After all, they have a kid together and even though Danielle looks full-grown, she’s not. There’s no way you can have a child with someone and not cross paths now and then.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” Yutani said as we exited the room. “Or maybe, by not answering, you already did.” He ducked as I stuck my tongue out at him. “I’ll be in my office. Talia’s doing some research on Lazerous and I want to see what she’s found so far.”

I waved him off, then tossed the folder on Angel’s desk. “Here, file this under ‘B,’ for ‘Bitch.’ ”

She gave me a long look, half laughing, half serious. “You feeling okay?”

Pulling up a chair to the side of her U-shaped desk that faced the waiting room of the Wild Hunt Agency, I slumped down, leaning my head back.

“You could do me a favor and lose her file. Or accidentally delete her from the computer.” At another look from her, I rubbed my forehead. “Macy Barnhart is an asshole and a snob. She epitomizes everything about my heritage that I hate. I wish we could turn her down, but Herne asked me to smooth things over with her, so that’s what I did. At least, I did the best I could. Smoothing things over would require more ego massaging than I was willing to do.”

“Well, she couldn’t get out of here fast enough. I did manage to remind her that she had to pay the retainer before you and Yutani go out there tomorrow. She stopped long enough to hand me her credit card. I told her we didn’t accept checks, because I don’t trust her.”

When Angel didn’t trust someone, I knew enough to pay attention. “Did the charge go through?”

“Yeah, it did. Hopefully, she won’t dispute it. I could tell by the look on her face when she stormed out that she wasn’t happy.” Angel tossed her pen on the counter, leaning back in her chair. “Has Herne texted you yet?”

I shook my head, then remembered that I had turned off my notifications while I was in the meeting. I pulled out my phone, unmuted it, then checked my messages. Sure enough, he had sent me a text message about twelve minutes ago. I opened up the message and read it.

MYRNA AND I ARE ON THE WAY BACK. TRAFFIC IS PRETTY BAD, BUT I HOPE TO BE THERE IN HALF AN HOUR. GO AHEAD AND HAVE ANGEL ORDER LUNCH FOR EVERYBODY SO IT WILL BE THERE WHEN WE ARRIVE. TRUST ME, THIS ISN’T GOING TO BE ANY PICNIC.

Myrna was Herne’s ex-girlfriend, and the mother of his daughter. She was an Amazon, and she was a bitch on heels. The last time we had a run-in it hadn’t gone very well, and I didn’t expect any difference this time.

WE’LL SEE YOU WHEN YOU GET HERE, I texted back. Turning to Angel, I said, “Herne wants you to order lunch in now. They’re on the way. He doesn’t sound very happy.”

“That’s an understatement, isn’t it?” Angel pulled out the takeout menus and began to skim through them.

“You might say that.” I stood, moving the chair back to where it belonged. I glanced at the waiting room. “We don’t have any more appointments right now, do we?”

“Nope. Not unless somebody else calls today.”

“Good. This gives me a chance to catch up on my paperwork. Talia’s researching whatever she can find out about Lazerous. Yutani’s going to bone up on pixies, as well as help Talia. I’m not sure what Viktor is doing right now.”

Angel nodded, shuffling the papers on her desk. “What do you want for lunch?”

I thought for a moment, but couldn’t pinpoint anything in particular that I was craving. “Whatever you order is fine with me. But I’m sure it won’t be good enough for Myrna. Just make sure there’s plenty of it, and that it’s hearty. The guys don’t go for salads, and honestly, neither do I.”

I headed back to my office, hoping I’d have time to catch up on my paperwork before Herne and Myrna arrived. Although it was likely that Myrna wasn’t coming in with a case. At any rate, why she was here wasn’t any of my business, no matter how nosy I was.

Fingering the ring that Herne had given me—a promise ring formed out of his own antler tine—I realized that I really wasn’t worried about Myrna. Herne was devoted to me and he had made that clear. I just didn’t like her and didn’t want to have to interact with her. But I wasn’t worried about them getting back together.

For one thing, neither of them could agree on how to raise Danielle, their daughter. For another, whenever they talked on the phone it turned into an argument. I was grateful, mostly for Danielle’s sake, that she was close to full-grown. Another ten or twelve years and she’d be ready to take her place as an adult, at least as far as the Amazons were concerned. In actuality, she was older than I was.

As I sat down at my desk, I brought up the Krown-4 news site, and clicked on the livestream video feed.

The newscaster was sitting in front of a picture of a cemetery, signs of disturbed graves in the background.

“Authorities have no idea who is responsible for the desecration of the Wild Thyme cemetery. Anyone with any information is urged to contact the police as soon as possible. Four bodies are missing, the caskets splintered, and the police have no leads at this time.”

I set down my pen, staring at the screen. I pushed my laptop back and turned to my desktop computer, clicking over to another news site. There was the story again, with a little more detail.

On my second monitor—I had a two-monitor system now, like the rest of the office—I brought up Earth Maps, zeroing in on Seattle. I typed THE WILD THYME CEMETERY into the search engine, and waited.

When it brought up a map of the location, I saw that the cemetery rested on the outskirts of the Worchester district, the most haunted area of Seattle. The niggle of worry grew. After our meeting in Annwn with Cernunnos, Brighid, Morgana, and Lugh the Long Handed, anything concerning the dead or spirits or the undead made me nervous. I was about to call Yutani into my office when loud voices erupted from the waiting room. Even from my office, I could hear Herne and Myrna arguing.

“I still can’t believe that you’re letting her get away with this. I’m her mother, I should have some say in this matter.” Myrna’s voice echoed through the hallway. She wasn’t a shrill woman, but her voice rose a good octave when she was angry.

“And I’m her father. I don’t care whether or not this inconveniences you. Thantos is a sleazy, crappy excuse for a man. He’s a lecher and the thought of him coming on to my daughter makes me sick. You know full well that she’s not lying about it. I can’t believe you’re standing up for him! You call yourself an Amazon?”

“He did it one time, and I can’t see what all the uproar is about. He didn’t hurt her.”

“How the hell can you be so blasé about this? Maybe he didn’t hurt her physically, but he scared the hell out of her. You can let him back into your house after what he did to our daughter? I thought the Amazons frowned upon men like that? What did they have to say about you standing up for this creep?”

I decided somebody better get out there to diffuse the argument before it blew up into a full-fledged fistfight. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had that feeling, because Yutani, Talia, and Viktor were headed down the hallway as well. We all reached the main waiting room in a group, which felt rather awkward. There stood Myrna and Herne in front of Angel’s desk, embroiled in their shouting match. Angel was trying to look busy, doing her best to ignore the spectacle going on in front of her.

I stepped forward, hands on my hips. “Obviously, you two are having some sort of beef with each other. Maybe you should take it into Herne’s office instead of coming to blows out here in the waiting room. What if a client came in?” I glared at both of them.

Herne scowled, but gave me a nod. “Ember’s right. Save the fighting for later. This is my place of business and it’s no place to hash this out.”

“So the tralaeth is running the show now? Not surprising, since she has your penis wrapped around her little finger.” Myrna darted a sideways glance my way that—if it’d been an attack—would have left me flattened.

“Myrna!” Herne glowered at her, but I stepped in.

“Listen up. I work here, you don’t.” I turned to Myrna. “You can call me anything you want, but the fact remains this is a place of business.” I wanted to tell her I agreed with Herne, that she was an unfit mother, but that would only lead to an even bigger blowup.

“Fine, I’ll confine my comments to outside of your business establishment.” She turned back to Herne. “We’re not done with this yet, so don’t get it into your head that this argument’s over. I know you’re trying to subvert Danielle’s feelings toward me, so don’t pretend you aren’t. What time do you get off work? We’re going to finish this, one way or another.”

“All right, if you want to have it out, so be it. Meet me here tonight after six. Until then, I suggest you find yourself a hotel. I don’t want to ever see you darken the doors of this building again.” Herne looked like he’d swallowed a hornet’s nest.

Myrna let out a string of curse words that would make a sailor blush, then whirled on her stilettos and marched back to the elevator. Her face was bright red, and it occurred to me that if she wasn’t careful she might stroke out. Come to think of it, that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

As the doors closed behind her, I turned back to Herne. He was standing there, arms crossed and feet braced firmly on the floor. The look on his face was somewhere between livid and apoplectic. I paused, not sure what to say. It would take him a while to calm down, and I knew better than to make a joke, even to break the tension.

“Ember, in my office, please.” He turned, striding toward his office.

I wasn’t sure whether he was also angry at me, but I was about to find out. I glanced back at Angel, who flashed me a sympathetic look.

“Let us know when lunch is here. If you hear loud voices, text me when it arrives rather than knock on the door.” And with that, I followed Herne into his office.

***

As I entered Herne’s office and shut the door behind me, he turned and let out an enormous sigh. “I loathe that woman. I swear, on my father’s throne, I hate her. She’s an abomination. I can’t seriously believe that she thinks she’s a good mother.”

The anger on his face was draining away, replaced by bewilderment and frustration. I moved toward him, unsure whether to offer him a hug. But he answered that himself, opening his arms to me, and I slid into his embrace. He squeezed me tight, holding me to him as he buried his nose in my hair. A moment later, he gently kissed me on the lips and stepped back, turning toward his desk to sit down. I pulled one of the wing chairs on the opposite side of the desk close, sliding into it and crossing my legs.

“So, tell me what’s going on.”

“Well, you knew I was picking her up, and that she flew into town because she wanted to talk to me about something.”

“Right, that much I knew. So what did she have to say?”

“She wants Danielle to come stay with her during summer break. Danielle refused, because Thantos is back living with Myrna. You remember that whole mess?”

I nodded. “Thantos made passes at Danielle, and Myrna refused to believe it.”

“Right. Well, Myrna insists that it only happened once, and that Danielle encouraged it. She’s blaming our daughter for this jackass who’s unable to keep his hands out of the kiddie aisle. He’ll never change. I told Danielle she could come here during the summer if she wants, or I’d pay for her to travel around Europe or wherever she wants to go. As long as she takes someone with her who’s a responsible adult.”

“And I take it Myrna isn’t too happy about this?”

“Myrna wants to parade Danielle around her friends and show her off. It’s a coup having a daughter who’s being trained by the Amazons. That’s the only reason Myrna even wants Danielle to go home.” Herne slammed his hand on the desk. “I have half a mind to drag her before the Triamvinate and gain full custody over Danielle. I could do it, you know.”

I wasn’t sure how much Herne wanted my advice or opinion on the subject. But I decided to give it to him anyway. “Honestly? I think you should. Thantos isn’t going to change and in fact, if he’s like most pedophiles, he’ll try to make Danielle out to be a liar if she complained. Those creeps are uncannily good at that, you know.”

Herne stared at me for a moment. “I’ll call my father and ask if he can set up a hearing before the Triamvinate. Whatever they decide will stand, and not even Myrna can appeal it.” He shook his head, a look of disgust on his face. “I hate men like Thantos. I’d like to break his nuts, and maybe someday I will. Thank you for backing me up.”

“Hey, Myrna reminds me way too much of a few people I’ve known in my life.”

“Okay, that’s settled, then. So tell me what happened with Macy this morning. Fill me in.”

I was about to give him the rundown when there was a tap on the door. I opened it, and there stood Angel, two bags of food in her hand from Fries With That, a new burger joint that had opened up in our neighborhood. They made excellent burgers, and the best fries I had ever tasted.

“Hey, Angel, thank you.” Herne waved her in. She placed the bags on his desk. “Don’t worry, the war is on hold for the moment. But if Myrna shows her face here, you let me know immediately.”

“Will do,” was all Angel said before she hurried back out to her desk again.

I shut the door behind her, then returned to the desk where I sat beside Herne, opening one of the bags. There were two cheeseburgers inside, a large order of fries, and a chocolate milkshake. As I tasted it, I realized it was actually mocha flavored. Angel knew me so very well. She’d better, given she was my best friend in the world.

“So, Macy McBraterson was here. Yutani and I agreed to go out and look at her place tomorrow—she’s got a pixie infestation. But Herne, after this, write her off the books. She’s one of the most obnoxious, snotty clients we’ve ever had. I wanted to wash the floor with her. It took everything I had to refrain from kicking her ass out the door.”

“Maybe we should introduce her to Myrna. Maybe they’ll fall in love and move away.” He laughed, then set his own lunch out on the desk. As we ate, I also told him about what I had seen on the news.

“Do you think the missing bodies have anything to do with Typhon?” I asked.

We were headed into a dark period. An ancient evil was waking up, the father of all dragons whose name was Typhon. There was no way that we—the Wild Hunt—could take him on, but we had been warned by the gods that the dead would be walking, and there would be a lot of collateral damage to deal with.

“I don’t know. The last timeline I heard placed him as almost awake. So this could have something to do with it, or maybe it’s just some grisly grave robber at work. I’ll look into it. While we’re on the subject, Morgana asked me to meet with Saílle and Névé. We need to tell them about Typhon. I set up an appointment for next month at Ginty’s. Right now, he’s on vacation for some sort of holiday.”

Just what I needed, an afternoon with the Fae Queens. But Herne was right, we had to warn them, because everybody would be affected by Typhon’s rising.

I bit my lip, then asked, “So, are we to tell the rest of the United Coalition about this?”

Herne lowered his gaze to his food. After a moment, he said, “No. Morgana and Cernunnos were implicit about that. If the Cryptozoid Alliance gets wind of this, there’s a chance Elatha will attempt to use it for his own gain. And the Shifter Association isn’t going to be of much help, at least not as we see things now. As for the Human League, this would just terrify them. But the Ante-Fae know, and if they know the Fae community will soon know. Someone’s going to let it slip. So if we can warn Saílle and Névé first, we’re ahead of the game.”

As we ate our lunch, I thought about the coming darkness. There wasn’t much we could do to prepare for it, except have all our ducks in a row and enlist everyone we possibly think of to help us. Meanwhile, it was business as usual, and if that involved chasing down pixies in a snot-nosed client’s yard, then that was what we’d do. Trying to shake away my gloomy thoughts, I bit into my cheeseburger, and turned the subject to brighter topics.

COLLAPSE

Playlist for The Eternal Return

Air: Moon Fever; Surfing on a Rocket
Airstream: Electra (Religion Cut)
Android Lust: Here and Now
Arcade Fire: Abraham’s Daughter
Brandon & Dereck Fiechter: Night Fairies; Troll Bridge; Will-O’-Wisps; Black Wolf’s Inn; Naiad River; Mushroom Woods
Chip Davis: Walking in Straw Grass; The Crow Knows; Harvest Dance
Colin Foulke: Emergence
Danny Cudd: Double D; Remind; Once Again (2011); Timelessly Free; To The Mirage
Dizzi: Dizzi Jig; Dance of the Unicorns; Galloping Horse
DJ Shah: Mellomaniac
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being (Original Edit)
Faun: Hymn to Pan; Punagra; Sieben
The Hang Drum Project: Shaken Oak; St. Chartier
Hang Massive: Omat Odat; Released Upon Inception; Thingless Things; Boat Ride; Transition to Dreams; End of Sky; Warmth of the Sun’s Rays; Luminous Emptiness
Hedningarna: Ukkonen; Gorrlaus
J Rokka: Marine Migration
Mannheim Steamroller: Chocolate Fudge; Saras Band; Mist; G Major Toccata; Crystal; Interlude 7; Dancing Flames; Embers; The First Door; The Second Door; The Third Door; The Sixth Door; The Sky; Midnight on a Full Moon; Lumen; Dancin’ in the Stars; Z-row Gravity
Many Rivers Ensemble: Blood Moon; Oasis; Upwelling; Emergence
Marconi Union: First Light; Alone Together; Flying (In Crimson Skies); Always Numb; Time Lapse; On Reflection; Broken Colours; We Travel; Weightless; Weightless, Pt 2; Weightless, Pt 3; Weightless, Pt 4; Weightless, Pt 5; Weightless, Pt 6
Mythos: Surrender; Andalucia; Icarus
Rue de Soleil: We Can Fly; Le Francaise; Wake Up Brother; Blues Du Soleil
Tamaryn: While You’re Sleeping, I’m Dreaming; Violet’s in a Pool
Tingstand & Rumbel: Chaco
Tuatha Dea: Tuatha De Danaan
Wendy Rule: Let the Wind Blow

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Wild Hunt Book #9
October 14, 2019

Ember’s about to face the showdown of her life…

Things are coming to a head with the Tuathan Brotherhood, and Ember finds herself right on the front lines. The goddess Brighid calls in her favor, sending Ember on a journey through the world of Annwn. Her quest? To find an ancient weapon that can turn the tide in the war against Nuanda and the Tuathan Brotherhood.

But as Ember journeys to the Well of Tears, she must face not only the demons that inhabit the mystical forest, but her demons that haunt her blood heritage. Can she recover Brighid’s Flame and put an end to the Tuathan Brotherhood? If she succeeds, Ember must face an enemy unlike any other she’s ever battled. But, if she fails, the Brotherhood will permanently destroy the delicate balance of power between the Fae Courts and the rest of the world.

 

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

“Damn it!” I dodged the dagger as it whistled past me, the blade coming dangerously close to slicing my nose off. How many blades were these goblins carrying? Too damn many, I thought, as another came spiraling toward me. I was near a cedar tree, so I took a chance and darted behind it, pressing flat against the trunk. As I rested, panting, I took stock of the situation.

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We were still facing six goblins, and the sub-Fae didn’t seem to be tiring. They were armed with a fuckton of daggers, and who knew what else. And they didn’t seem to care if they lost their blades, because they were sending them after us at a daunting speed. The scary part was how accurate they were. Viktor’s bicep had already been a target, and he’d had to yank the blade out from where it had lodged in the muscle. Yutani had barely avoided being skewered in the jugular. Instead, the goblin had managed to graze his throat, which wasn’t good, but it was better than a severed artery. Herne and I were uninjured so far, but I wasn’t laying odds that our luck would hold out.

As I caught my breath, I tried to figure out how best to work my way around to the back of the group. I glanced around, trying to think of a plan.

We were on the outskirts of the Carlsford Café & Cattle Ranch—an urban ranch owned by Jet and Maxine Collins. They also ran a diner and a storefront, where they sold beef, milk, and butter. The ranch was located near Crystal Lake, off Crystal Lake Road. The Collinses had retained the services of the Wild Hunt a couple of weeks before to chase down a group of sub-Fae who were scaring their cattle and stealing vegetables from the expansive garden they kept for their café. A couple of calves had also gone missing. The cows had been bewitched and were drying up, which was hurting the calves, as well as milk sales. Neither Jet nor Maxine were sure why the goblins were picking on them, but they wanted the creatures gone, as soon as we could hunt them down and dispatch them.

We had already tried twice to eradicate the goblins, with no results. Kipa and Herne had even managed to chase down one of the creatures and destroy him, but that hadn’t stopped the vermin. Goblins were like rodents. Let one loose into an area, and it was an open invitation to a dozen brothers and sisters. They took advantage of every opportunity that came their way. Not to mention, goblins—along with other sub-Fae—were supposed to stay outside of the city limits, but they never paid any attention to the rules.

I took a deep breath, a cloud of vapor coalescing in front of my mouth. We were just coming out of a two-week snowstorm, and while the snow had partially melted and we were back to rain again, there were clumps of dirty, frozen ice and compacted snow scattered around, especially in the shaded woodlands. At least it was melting, though the rain was creating a slushy mess.

Wiping my forehead, I brushed away stray beads of the water that drizzled down from the skies. Late January was a dreary time of year in the Seattle area, and February, even worse.

Letting out an exasperated sigh, I adjusted my grip on my handheld crossbow. At least we had managed to take down three of the goblins so far, but there were six left and they were determined to have their fun. Sub-Fae could be incredibly stupid.

You’d think they would back off when they realized we were stronger than they were, but it finally dawned on me that the sub-Fae just didn’t care. They didn’t reason things out logically. They were rabid little buggers—or not so little, as the case may be—and they were determined. And they were all too good with weaponry.

Both Yutani and Viktor had brushed off their wounds and were fighting on, but I hoped that we could wrap this up and get back to the agency soon. Viktor was massive, with muscles on his muscles, given he was a half-ogre, but the goblins sometimes used poison. And that could down even a half-ogre like Viktor. And Yutani, well, he was lithe, if wiry, and I was worried about the amount of blood he might be losing.

I cautiously peeked around the edge of the tree. There, directly in my line of sight, skulked one of the goblins. He was focused on Yutani, trying to track him. The creature might be small, but he was tough. What he and his ilk wanted with the vegetables was a mystery. Goblins were mostly carnivorous, and they loved human flesh most of all. But beggars can’t be choosers, as the old saying went, and anything that either was—or had been—alive was considered fair game.

I tried to pinpoint the remaining Nobs, as we called them, but they were good at cloaking their presence. Squinting, I tried to pick out anything that might remotely be considered a part of goblin anatomy. Nobs had scattered patches of hair on their heads—rough like steel wool—and their faces were lined and wrinkled, even when they were babies. With wide-set, beady eyes, and sharp yellow teeth, they were ugly suckers and they always made me queasy because they stank to high heaven. But there weren’t any others in sight, not that I could see.

I slowly brought my pistol grip crossbow up, aiming as I did my best to move as smoothly as possible. No sudden jerks, no sudden moves. I squinted, staring through the night vision scope attached to my bow, and let out my breath, squeezing the trigger as I steeled myself for the recoil. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t want anything throwing off my aim.

The arrow sailed through the air and I held my breath, listening, trying to figure out whether or not I hit the goblin. There was a moment’s silence, but then I saw the shaft sticking out of the goblin’s heart. He went down with a shriek.

I couldn’t take a chance on running over to see if he was dissolving into the earth, but I crossed my fingers that my one arrow was all it would take.

Some of the sub-Fae didn’t last long once they were killed. In fact, some of them—goblins being a good example—decayed with an alarming rapidity, bubbling into primordial ooze within minutes. They vanished as though they’d never existed, leaving the ground around them enriched thanks to the goo that had been their body.

I waited for another moment, but saw no movement. My aim had been true. The goblin was dead. Pulling back, I glanced around to see where the others were.

Herne was flat on top of a tree branch about twenty yards away. He was eyeing something in the distance and, as I watched, he paused, then brought up his crossbow, aiming carefully. The arrow silently flew through the air, and a few seconds later another shriek echoed through the forest. Herne glanced down, catching sight of me, and blew me a kiss, then gave me a thumbs-up. He was in his element, deep in the forest, on the hunt.

I caught his kiss and blew one back, then slipped around the trunk of the cedar, creeping through the underbrush, trying to make certain I wasn’t making myself a target.

Viktor was standing near Yutani, and when he saw me, he motioned for me to join them.

I darted over, leaping over stone and root, landing softly on a patch of decaying leaves and moss. It occurred to me that I was so much more nimble than I had been less than a year ago. There were several reasons for this, but most of all, the shift came when I went through the Cruharach, transitioning into full adulthood. Both bloodlines had come to the surface and they both brought their skills into play. While I was still cautious, I was slowly beginning to accept my new abilities. The ramifications of what I could become continued to haunt me, but there was no going back. I could never again return to the Ember I had been, and I wasn’t sure I’d want to.

I reached Viktor’s side, and he nodded to Yutani. The coyote shifter was grimacing as he leaned against a tree. The collar of his leather jacket had been ripped through by the blade—which meant it had been incredibly sharp, and I could smell the blood on him.

“You need to stay out of sight,” I said, keeping my voice low. “You don’t need to play hero over a group of goblins. I killed one, and Herne took one out, so there are only four left.” I turned to Viktor. “What about you? You’re hurt, too.”

“Not so bad. It sliced into me, but then bounced off. I’m good to go.” He paused, looking up into the trees. “Look,” he whispered, pointing.

I glanced up. Herne was slithering through the treetops. He glanced down and saw us. Pointing to me, he crooked his finger.

I gave him a nod. “Okay, Viktor, keep an eye on us and take your cue from what we do. Yutani, stay out of sight. Don’t play hero. I’m going up.” I eyed the fir. It stood at least eighty feet high, and while the branches on the lower trunk were a little sparse, there were enough beyond about the ten-foot mark to use for climbing. “Viktor, can you give me a boost?”

“Sure thing.” He held out his hands, fingers interlocked. I stepped on his hands and he boosted me up. The half-ogre was six-five, and when he lifted me up, I was able to grab hold of one of the lower branches and swing my way up into the tree.

As I did my best to climb toward Herne, I stayed near the trunk, trying to avoid making too much noise. A few moments later and I was sitting on the branch below his. He swung his legs around, so he was facing me.

“If we climb another fifteen feet, we should have an ideal place to aim at the others. We’ll have to be quick, though, before they scatter.” Herne turned to look at me, a feral spark lighting his eyes. He was Lord of the Forest, and he belonged to the woodland as much as any of the trees or wildlife. Herne the Hunter was not only a demi-god, but he was my boss and my lover. And he was gorgeous. His shoulder-length wheat-colored hair was gathered back in a plaited weave, bound by a leather thong, and he was wearing a camo-sweatshirt, black jeans, and a black leather jacket. He was covered in pitch and dirt, and he stared at me with a wild, intense stare.

“Can you climb farther?”

I nodded. “I can. Lead the way.”

As he began to shimmy up the tree trunk, I grabbed hold of the next branch and swung my way up on it, following him as he ascended the tree. As we reached another large crotch in the tree, Herne gestured and I looked in the direction he was pointing. I could barely make out the movement of a couple creatures in the snow below. I looked at Herne.

“Goblins,” he mouthed, raising his bow. He could see in the dark a lot better than I could, but when I slid on a pair of night-vision goggles, I could see them. There were three of them, and one a little farther away. I took my cue from Herne, watching which one he was going after, and then raised my bow to focus on one of the others. We’d have to be quick to get the others, but Herne could move like lightning and he seldom if ever missed with a bow.

He took aim, and I waited. I’d shoot the moment his arrow went winging toward the enemy. And when the arrow was halfway to the goblins, I would loose my own. Herne’s struck true without fail, piercing the heart of the goblin. Mine missed by a fraction, but still tore into the goblin’s arm. By that time, Herne had nocked another arrow and let it fly, and the third goblin was down. I scrambled down out of the tree as Viktor raced forward toward the fray. He was ahead of me and by the time I got there, he had killed off the goblin I’d injured. With Herne’s two kills, that left one more.

“Where the hell did it go?” I glanced around, hoping to catch a glimpse of the last goblin. And then, before I realized what he was doing, Herne raced toward me, grabbing me and sending me flying to the ground. I landed in a pile of snow and immediately rolled to the side, hunching low as I realized what must have happened.

I tried to catch sight of the goblin, who had sent a dagger winging my way. The blade had lodged in the tree that I’d been next to, and Herne had managed to keep me from getting skewered. But before I could find him, Herne sent an arrow winging in the direction the blade had come from, and there was another shriek.

“He’s toast?” I asked, standing up.

“Buttered and ready for breakfast,” Herne said. “That takes care of all of them.”

Viktor and Yutani joined us, both looking tired and ragged. Yutani had managed to stanch the flow of blood drizzling out of his neck, though he looked queasy.

“How can we be sure they’re all gone? That we’ve found the entire gang?” I chewed on my inner cheek, hoping that we hadn’t missed any. We had been out here at the ranch several times over the past two weeks, and each time only managed to catch glimpses of the goblins before they got away.

“The owner told me he caught sight of nine goblins this afternoon. With the one that Kipa and I caught the other day, that would make ten in the raiding party. That’s a standard size for Nobs. There’s no way to know for sure, except to wait and see if any other incidents happen on the ranch. But I’m fairly certain we took care of them.” Herne wrapped his arm around me, hugging me to him. “I’m going to call this a wrap. Good work, guys. Let’s head up to the café and tell Jet and Maxine the good news.”

It was a long walk back to the café, but we’d left our cars there, so we had to make the trek anyway. By the time we reached the diner, it was ten p.m. Shivering, I pushed through the doors, grateful for the warmth that enveloped me. The café was open until eleven, and I tapped Herne on the arm.

“I’m going to order something to go. We need to stop at urgent care for Yutani and Viktor, but I’m hungry.”

“Make it quick,” Herne said. “I don’t want to wait too long before we get their wounds attended to. Goblins are notorious for using poison, and I don’t want to take any chances.”

Jet came over, smiling as he saw us. He and his wife were human, but they were friendly with most of the SubCult, and their diner was frequented by shifters and Fae alike.

“You guys look roughed up. Can I take that as a good sign?” He folded his towel and threw it over his shoulder, straightening his apron.

“We dispatched nine goblins tonight. I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t have any more trouble, although if you do, just give me a call and we’ll come out and take a look again. But I think your problem’s taken care of.” Herne shook the man’s hand, giving him a friendly nod.

“How much do I owe you?” Jet asked, pulling out his checkbook.

“We’ll bill you. Give it a couple days, and then if you haven’t had any more trouble from the goblins, let us know and Angel will send you out an invoice. I want to make sure we’ve done the job right.” Herne went above and beyond for some clients, especially those who were quick to pay, and easy to work for.

Jet smiled. “That’s why I come to you when I have problems, Herne.”

“Do you have anything quick to fix that we can get to go?” I asked. “We have to get these two over to urgent care, but I’m starving.” My stomach rumbled, punctuating my remark. I rolled my eyes, blushing.

“If you can give me ten minutes, I’ll have burgers, fries, and doughnuts all around. Shakes, too. Will that work?”

Herne nodded, glancing toward Yutani, who just shrugged. “That would be great.”

“What flavor of shakes?” Jet asked, pulling out his pad. “And what do you want on your burgers?”

“I want chocolate,” I said. “Ketchup and cheese, no onions, mayo, or mustard.”

Herne and the others put in their orders and we settled into one of the back booths to wait. Less than ten minutes later, Jet carried over four large bags.

“Here you go. Burgers, fries, doughnuts, and shakes. They’re on the house. I’ll call you in a day or two and let you know if it looks like the goblins are back. I have no idea why they picked us to bother, but it was putting a dent in our business, that’s for sure.”

“Goblins don’t care who they go after. If you have something they want, and they think they can get it, you’re going to be a target. Luck—or ill-luck—of the draw,” Herne said.

We waved good-bye and tired, grubby, and hungry, we headed toward Herne’s Expedition.

When we returned to the office, we stopped in at the urgent care clinic that took up the entire first floor of the building. It was open till one a.m., a good thing considering how many streeps—the street people—were living on the streets.

While Yutani and Viktor got themselves taken care of, Herne and I took the elevator to the fourth floor, to the Wild Hunt Agency, which Herne owned and ran. Talia and Angel had gone home for the night, but Charlie looked up as we entered, a startled expression on his face.

“You surprised me. I didn’t expect to see you this late. You take care of the goblins?” Charlie was a vampire, and he was in school, learning accounting so he could take over the books for us when he graduated. In the meantime, he came in at night and helped with data entry and anything else we might need him for, especially when we were overwhelmed with work. And lately, overwhelmed was an understatement.

“I think so,” Herne said. He turned to me. “I’ll meet you in the break room. I need to take a leak first.”

“Okay.” I gave Charlie a tired wave and headed to the break room, where I slumped into one of the chairs. It’d been one hell of a night, and all I wanted to do was eat my food, take a shower, and fall into bed. I pulled out my burger, gratified to see not just one, but two cheeseburgers in the sack. The fries were large, and the shake was also large. Jet and Maxine didn’t skimp when it came to portions, or gratitude.

Herne entered the room as I took a bite of my food. The yeast scent of the buns and the smell of grilled ground beef were making me ravenous. He dropped into the chair next to me, reaching out to take my free hand. He brought it to his lips and kissed my fingers.

“You were almost a shish kebab,” he said, leaning back and stretching out his legs.

“Thank you, by the way. You saved my life, yet again.” I set down my burger and took a long sip of the shake. The frozen chocolate slid down my throat and I closed my eyes, grateful that we were done for the night.

“Hey, it’s what we do. We watch each other’s backs. All of us.” But he had a worried look on his face.

“What are you thinking about? Yutani? I’m sure he’ll be okay. Viktor, too. They were hurt but their injuries weren’t terrible.”

“No. I know they’ll be okay, even if the blades were poisoned. The urgent care clinic downstairs is good at what they do. No, I’m just…mulling over something else, to be honest.” He glanced up at me, the blue of his eyes mirroring the first light of dawn.

I leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “So, what is it?”

“The growing unrest because of the Tuathan Brotherhood. The Fae aren’t going to sit around and accept the role of scapegoat much longer. When the United Coalition shut them out, it stirred up very deep, very bad blood. And the hate groups against the Fae are getting worse. I’ve heard of no less than four vigilante groups starting up in the past few days. Pretty soon, things are going to blow sky high. Boom! Powder keg time. And I’m not sure what to do about it. We aren’t making much progress.”

I stared at my cheeseburger, trying to think of something to say that would make him feel better, but came up with zilch. Herne was right. The situation was volatile—a true powder keg. If we didn’t find an answer soon there would be rioting in the streets, and a lot of innocent people would end up hurt, caught in the crossfire. Collateral damage wasn’t just a theoretical term.

Hell, I had my own scars to prove that. I was still scarred from some of the lacerations I had received in the blast that had taken out the Associated Shifters Credit Union. I had been in the way of a glass door that had shattered, turning me into a pincushion for hundreds of glass shards.

“I know,” I said. “I know.”

We sat there for a moment, staring at each other, and finally I picked up my cheeseburger again. There was nothing we could do at this moment to solve the crisis, and that was another fact we knew.

COLLAPSE

Playlist for A Sacred Magic

A.J. Roach: Devil May Dance
Air: Napalm Love
Alice Cooper: Go to Hell; I’m the Coolest; Didn’t We Meet; Some Folks; Poison; Welcome to My Nightmare
Alice In Chains: Man in the Box; I Can’t Remember; Sunshine
Android Lust: Here and Now; Saint Over; Dragonfly
Arch Leaves: Nowhere to Go
AWOLNATION: Sail
Band of Skulls: I Know What I Am
The Black Angels: Currency; Don’t Play With Guns; Love Me Forever; Young Men Dead; Always Maybe; Death March; Comanche Moon; Manipulation
Black Mountain: Queens Will Play
Broken Bells: The Ghost Inside
Buffalo Springfield: For What It’s Worth
Camouflage Nights: (It Could Be) Love
Celtic Woman: The Butterfly; The Voice; Scarborough Fair
Crazy Town: Butterfly
Damh the Bard: The Cauldron Born; Tomb of the King; Obsession; Cloak of Feathers; Taliesin’s Song; The Wheel
Death Cab For Cutie: I Will Possess Your Heart
Dizzi: Dizzi Jig; Dance of the Unicorns
Dragon Ritual Drummers: Black Queen; The Fall; Dance of the Roma
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being (Original Edit)
Eivør: Trøllbundin
Everlast: Black Jesus; I Can’t Move; Ends; What It’s Like; One, Two
Faun: Hymn to Pan; Iduna; Oyneng yar; The Market Song; Punagra; Cernunnos; Rad; Sieben
Garbage: Queer; #1 Crush; Push It; I Think I’m Paranoid
Gary Numan: Cars (Remix); Ghost Nation; My Name is Ruin; Hybrid; Petals; I Am Dust; Here in the Black; When the Sky Bleeds, He Will Follow; Angel Wars; My Name is Ruin; The Sleeproom
Godsmack: Voodoo
Gorillaz: Last Living Souls; Kids With Guns; Hongkongaton; Rockit; Clint Eastwood; Stylo
The Gospel Whisky Runners: Muddy Waters
Hedningarna: Ukkonen; Fulvalsen; Juolle Joutunut
The Hu: Wolf Totem; Yuve Yuve Yu
Jessica Bates: The Hanging Tree
John Fogerty: The Old Man Down the Road
The Kills: Nail in My Coffin; You Don’t Own The Road; Sour Cherry; Dead Road 7
LadyTron: Paco!; Ghosts; I’m Not Scared
Lorde: Yellow Flicker Beat; Royals
Low and tomandandy: Half Light
Marilyn Manson: Personal Jesus; Tainted Love
Matt Corby: Breathe
Nirvana: Heart Shaped Box; Come As You Are; Something in the Way; Plateau; Lake of Fire
No Doubt: Hella Good; Hey Baby; Trapped in a Box
Opeth: Windowpane; Death Whispered A Lullaby; To Rid the Disease
Orgy: Social Enemies; Blue Monday
A Pale Horse Named Death: Devil In the Closet; Meet the Wolf
Pati Yang: All That Is Thirst
Pearl Jam: Even Flow; Black; Jeremy; Garden
Ringo Starr: It Don’t Come Easy
Rob Zombie: Living Dead Girl; American Witch; Never Gonna Stop; Feel So Numb; Mars Needs Women; Dragula
Robin Schulz: Sugar
S.J. Tucker: Hymn to Herne
Saliva: Ladies and Gentlemen
Scorpions: The Zoo
Screaming Trees: Where the Twain Shall Meet; Uncle Anesthesia; Dime Western; Shadow of the Season; Alice Said; Gospel Plow
Seether: Never Leave; Remedy; The Gift
Sharon Knight: Ravaged Ruins; Mother of the World; Bewitched; Berrywood Grove; 13 Knots; Let the Waters Rise; Siren Moon
Shriekback: The Shining Path; Underwaterboys; Dust and a Shadow; This Big Hush; Now These Days Are Gone; The King in the Tree; And The Rain; Church of the Louder Light; Wriggle and Drone
Simple Minds: Don’t You
Steeleye Span: The Fox; Blackleg Miner; Cam Ye O’er Frae France
Stone Temple Pilots: Sour Girl; Atlanta
Sweet Talk Radio: We All Fall Down
Tom Petty: Mary Jane’s Last Dance
Transplants: Down in Oakland; Diamonds and Guns
Tuatha Dea: Tuatha De Danaan; The Hum and the Shiver; Wisp of a Thing (Part 1); Long Black Curl
Warchild: Ash
Wendy Rule: Let the Wind Blow; The Circle Song; Elemental Chant; The Wolf Sky
Wumpscut: The March of the Dead
Zero 7: In the Waiting Line

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WITCHING BONES: An Ante-Fae Adventure
Book 8 in the Wild Hunt Series
Release date: September 2019

When you dance with Death, you have to be willing to roll the bones...

Raven Bonetalker, the Daughter of Bones, has her plate full. Not only is her neighbor still driving her nuts, but she’s in a new relationship with Kipa, the Lord of the Wolves, and neither one is ready for everything that entails. But life takes a sinister turn when a spirit begins siphoning off the life force of one of Kipa’s wolf shifters.

Gunnar, a member of the SuVahta—the pack of divine werewolves bound to the Lord of Wolves—is dying, and nobody can figure out why. Gunnar blames himself for the death of his beloved wife, and he believes she is haunting him.

When Kipa asks Raven to examine the shifter, she finds a far deadlier spirit latched onto the werewolf. And the only way Raven can help is to first agree to a deadly alliance with one of the ancient Ante-Fae—Arachna, the Web Weaver. But Arachna’s price is far steeper than Raven can afford to pay, and the fallout threatens to shake the very core of Raven’s life.

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

I stared in horror at the shambles that was my kitchen. Skirting the edge of the room, I made my way toward the half-naked man who was standing in front of my stove. It wasn’t that he was wearing an apron and nothing else that bothered me. Kipa was gorgeous and I happily feasted my gaze on his body. But the counters were a disaster. Pancake batter oozed off the counter, dripping on the floor where Raj was licking it up. It looked as though the bowl had exploded, but it was just tipped on its side. A pan of bacon sizzled enticingly, but on the other side of the counter, the jug of syrup had been knocked over, and it, too, was drizzling over the edge to form sticky puddles on the floor.

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“What the fuck? Dude, you’re making a mess! Clean it up, would you?” I pointed toward the cleanup items. “Those are what you call paper towels. The sponge is on the edge of the sink, and that shiny thing? It’s called a faucet, and you can get water from there. The soap is right next to it. It’s not rocket science, I promise you.”

This wasn’t the first time Kipa had left a trail of chaos in his wake. Either he was used to others following him around to clean up his messes, or he just didn’t care. I hadn’t figured out which yet. We’d only been together—and I used that word loosely—for a couple weeks.

He blinked, staring at me with a hurt look on his face. “I’m making you pancakes, woman!”

“What you’re making is a mess.” I shook my head. “I’m happy you wanted to fix me pancakes, but Kipa, look at what you’ve done.” I restrained myself from grabbing a towel. It was his mess and I wasn’t his maid. “Raj, quit eating pancake batter. It’s not good for you.”

The gargoyle gave me a guilty look, but said nothing. Raj’s verdict on Kipa was still out, but he was never one to turn down free food, even if it did give him a stomachache. He slowly backed away, then lumbered over to the giant dog bed I’d bought for him and snuggled down in it. With a huff, he rested his head on the pillow and closed his eyes.

Kipa laughed. “Don’t yell at him if you’re mad at me. He was just taking advantage of the situation.”

“I’m not. The batter will give him a tummy ache.” I glared at him.

“I promise, I’ll clean up after I’m done. Now get back to bed, woman, and I’ll bring you breakfast in bed.” He winked at me and my knees went weak.

I tried to summon up a little more outrage, but the way his gaze lingered on my body chased away all thoughts of the spilled batter and syrup. I cleared my throat, then stuck out my tongue.

“You’d better clean up, and dude, you’d better have lots of sweet treats for me.” Wiggling my ass at him, I headed back to the bedroom. I stripped off my robe, pulled on a plum-colored bustier that lifted my boobs till they almost fell out, pulled on a matching thong, and then jumped under the covers. Sometimes, waking up early was worth it.

***

When Kipa appeared in my bedroom doorway, he was holding a tray with a large coffee cup on it, as well as a rose. He was also fully naked. I felt an immediate ache as I stared at him. His skin was somewhere between golden and brown and his muscles gleamed under the smooth flesh. Scars here and there only strengthened his roguish look. His dark brown hair flowed down past his shoulders. A full beard curved around his chin, and a tidy mustache barely covered the top of his full and inviting lips.

I shuddered, remembering the feel of them as they traced their way down my body, the cool metal of his dolphin bite piercing chilling my skin.

“How about dessert first?” he said.

I slowly threw back the covers, rising to my knees, and let out a little growl.

Kipa silently set the tray on the dresser, his eyes dark as coal. He swept his gaze over me, lingering long enough to set me on fire. I jumped to a crouching position, hand on the mattress to brace myself.

“Come get me,” I said. “I dare you.” I sprang off the bed, leaping for the door.

Kipa let out a loud howl, launching himself in front of me. “You’re not going anywhere, beautiful.” His voice was throaty, raw and hungry.

“Make me want to stay.” I pressed my hands against his chest, pushing him back so I could look at him. His muscles rippled under my fingers, the fierce strength tensing as I leaned forward and slowly ran my tongue down his chest. He was salty, the silken sweat beading on my tongue. I could taste the feral magic in him, like sweet wild strawberries on a summer evening. I fluttered my tongue over his nipples and he let out a husky groan, his eyes gleaming as I looked up to lock his gaze with mine.

Breathing hard, he focused on my face. I could feel his longing. It saturated the room, his pheromones thick, hanging in the air like droplets of moisture.

“Raven.”

His whisper cut through the silence as he gathered me up, pulling me to him. He kissed me, insistent, and I opened my lips to welcome him in. As our lips met, Kipa slid his hands under my butt and I wrapped my legs around his waist, my arms draped around his shoulders. I could feel him pressing against me, his arousal long and thick, hard as rock, hot as a shaft of fire. My breath quickened as he carried me over to the bed and, with my legs still around his waist, laid me down on the sheets.

As I lowered my feet on the bed, bending my knees, Kipa hooked his fingers around the sides of my panties and yanked them down, moving so he could pull them off my feet. I spread my legs, letting him watch as I dropped my hand between my thighs and leisurely stroked myself, teasing him with my smile. I let out a long, shuddering breath and closed my eyes. With my other hand, I slowly trailed my fingers over my breast, over the jacquard of the bustier. I was on fire, so hungry for him that I felt like I might burst. I shivered, brushing my mound with my fingers. Every nerve quivered, every inch of my body aflame. I felt like one giant erogenous zone.

“Look at me,” Kipa ordered.

I opened my eyes as Kipa knelt by the edge of the bed, lowering himself to his knees. I propped myself up on my elbows just enough to watch as he brought his head between my thighs. With two fingers, he spread my labia and lowered his lips, spreading me wide so he could reach me with his tongue. I let out another moan, my breath quickening, as he reached his target. As he lightly fluttered quick strokes against me, I moaned again.

I caught my breath, forcing myself to hold still, but I wanted more so I quickly unzipped the bustier, letting it fall open, and began to stroke my nipples, circling them between my fingers as he drove me closer to the edge.

“Don’t stop,” I pleaded.

I had missed this so much. Ulstair and I had been hot and heavy, and I was used to regular sex—a lot of it. But his death had put an end to that. I missed him, but when I met Kipa, our chemistry had combusted. We couldn’t keep our hands off each other, and he had been the gasoline to my wildfire.

Kipa shifted his position, increasing the pressure. I could barely control my breath, and I began to whimper, little cries escaping from my throat as he began to swirl his tongue faster. I could hear the howling of wolves from the astral. They felt the passion of their master and were adding their voices to our union.

Then the wave swept over me, an undulation of golden light, and I gave in, coming so hard that I felt like I was going to pass out. All through it, those brilliant dark eyes of his burned deep in my soul.

As I fell back against the bed, every muscle in my body relaxing, arm crossed over my head, Kipa joined me on the bed.

He laughed a deep, throaty laugh. “I’m not done with you yet, woman.”

Leaning down, he took one of my nipples in his mouth, curling his tongue around it, and then swung up over me, slipping between my legs. I wrapped my legs around his waist again, pulling him down into me, and he slid in deep and hard. He began to thrust, pressing against me, crushing my breasts against his chest.

The fire began to build again as my pulse quickened. I wrapped my arms around him and rolled him over, with him still deep inside me. I rose up, riding him hard, and he cupped my breasts as I set a new pace, one I controlled. Smiling triumphantly, I ground against him, swiveling my hips against his pelvis, so full with his girth that it felt like he filled every nook and cranny of my body. I was slick with hunger, and he dropped his hands to my waist as the passion intensified, holding me as I picked up the pace. I dropped my head back, my hair streaming down my back, and began to rub my breasts as he watched from beneath me.

His eyes were almost black now, and his breath sharp.

“I’m close,” he whispered.

“Hold on, just a little longer,” I ordered as my own desire quickened again.

He slid one hand down between my legs, fingering me as I rode him, and that was all it took to bring me to climax again, the world exploding in one giant orgasm as Kipa let out a long cry, coming too. I stiffened against him, shaking, as he thrust again, and then once more, and then, one last time.

***

We were snuggled deep beneath the covers. Kipa stroked my face with one hand, his other arm wrapped around me. I lay quietly against his shoulder, feeling both drained and energized. It was as though every drop of tension had fled from my body and left behind a warm glow that buoyed me up.

“That was amazing.” He kissed my forehead.

“Yeah, it was. I’m still basking.” I peeked over him at the clock on the table. It was nearly eight-thirty. “But Raj needs his breakfast, and the ferrets, and I need to eat.” I paused, thinking of the mess in the kitchen. “I think I’ll duck out to buy us breakfast while you clean up the kitchen.”

“Give me a break, woman. I was making pancakes for you!” He laughed. “Don’t I get points for that?”

I snickered, rolling over atop him, straddling his hips. “You would have, if they had turned out and you hadn’t left my kitchen in a wreck. Nope, but you get points for the bedplay. That, you definitely have mastered.” I gave him a quick kiss.

“Another go?” he asked, his eyes twinkling.

The fire in my belly rose again, but I let out a sigh. “No, I need to jump in the shower and get the day started. Will you feed Raj? I’ll take care of the ferrets when I get back. I’ll call and put in an order at Deanne’s Diner, so it will be ready once I get there. What do you want?”

“Pancakes?” He laughed as I hit him with a pillow. “And bacon, sausage, eggs. Coffee. Maybe a doughnut as well.”

“In other words, you want everything on the menu.” I hopped out of bed and dashed into the bathroom through the chill air. It had snowed a little the night before, though it was slated to turn to sleet later today. But sleet or not, it was cold. The high was only forecast for forty-one today, and a humid, wet forty-one at that.

I had washed my hair the night before, so I gathered it into a ponytail to keep it from getting wet before climbing into the shower, where I lathered up with a spicy amber bath gel. As I washed over my curves and the tattoos spread across my body, my thoughts lingered on Kipa’s hands and on his lips. I still didn’t know what to make of the relationship—it wasn’t something I had been prepared for, and I had the feeling he felt the same way. We got along well, I liked him a lot, but we had only been together a few weeks and most of that time had been spent in bed. Whether this was a wonderful, passionate fling, or whether it would lead to something deeper, I had no clue. And I wasn’t in a hurry to rush it.

As I stepped out of the shower onto the heated floor—I had radiant heating—I wrapped a fluffy bath sheet around me and settled myself at the vanity, peering into the mirror. I had no real insecurities about my looks, even though I wasn’t the conventional beauty in terms of human standards. I still wasn’t sure about how I handled the social niceties that went with society, though. At least Kipa was a god. With him, I didn’t have to sort out how I acted, at least not as much as I did—among people, especially humans.

As for me, I was one of the Ante-Fae, the predecessors to the Fae races. We were all a little squirrelly, and we each had unique abilities. While I was cautious with Kipa—the god thing was a double-edged sword—I also felt I could hold my own with him, for the most part. Perhaps it was false courage on my part, but it worked.

I dried off, then put on my makeup. I was a makeup junkie, especially with eyeliner, and I tended to run on the Goth girl side. It was my style, as natural to me as breathing. I applied retro wings to the sides of my eyes, then mascara on my top lashes. As I powdered the foundation down, I realized I was almost out of my favorite color of lip color. I spread the liquid lip lacquer around my bow lips, the deep blackberry shade vivid against my pale skin. Then, shaking my hair out of the ponytail, I brushed the tangle of curls that fell mid-back. With a shake of the head, I gave myself one last look, feeling ready for the day.

As I returned to my bedroom to dress, I could hear Kipa in the kitchen. It sounded like he was cleaning, and I smiled softly. He’d get his props for pancakes when he made them correctly and didn’t dirty up every dish in the kitchen. And when he kept the batter in the pan instead of on the counter, he’d get a few more.

I slipped on a pair of fishnet tights, then chose a black lace dress that fell four inches above my knees in front, and down to my calves in back. It had a sweetheart neckline and lace sleeves, and the overlay of black lace over nude fabric made it look almost see-through. I buckled a purple corset belt around my waist, and then slid my feet into a pair of chunky heeled boots that came up to my knees. They were black leather, with chains on the sides and studs down the front where they laced up. A hidden zipper made them easy to take off and on.

As I headed toward the kitchen, I peeked in the ferrets’ room. Elise stood up against the cage, staring at me.

“I’ll be back in a little bit to clean your cages and feed you. I just need to run out and get some food first.”

She gave me a long look, and then a soft whisper touched my thoughts. Thank you. We’ll be fine until then. I wanted to talk to you about Gordon when you have a moment.

I nodded. “We’ll talk when I’m cleaning your cage. Is everything all right?”

I think so, came the soft thought. I’m just a little concerned, but I don’t think he’s sick.

I shut the door behind me, worried. The ferrets had been with me for over twenty years. I’d found them as spirits up on Mount Rainier, when they were trapped inside a tree stump portal. They were actually spirits of people who had been murdered up on the mountain and then cursed. I had attempted to free them, but in a comedy of errors, had simply transferred their spirits into ferret form. Now they were stuck. But at least they weren’t trapped in the tree trunk anymore, and I could communicate with them while I researched how to break the curse, to free them to go on in their journey.

As I entered the kitchen, I saw Kipa had made good time on cleaning up. The sink was still full of dishes, and there was still batter trailing down a couple of the cupboards, but the floor was clean.

He glanced up at me. “I was about to feed Raj.”

“I’ll do it.” I scooted over to one side and pulled out a dish for Raj. I give him a can of cat food. It was quick, easy, and he liked it. As I spooned the food into the dish, Raj came up behind me, nudging me. I glanced down at him and he gave me a plaintive look. Stroking his head, I realized what was wrong. Kipa had been here for nearly twenty-four hours. Raj and I hadn’t had time to talk. Raj didn’t like speaking in front of other people. In fact, almost no one knew that he could talk besides me. I set the dish down for him, and turned to Kipa.

“Why don’t we just go out for breakfast? I’ll clean the rest of this up later. I have a busy day scheduled, and need to get moving.” I didn’t want to just send him on his way abruptly, but I wasn’t going to betray Raj’s secret. And Raj was having a rough-enough time adjusting to Kipa’s presence. I suspected that the gargoyle was jealous of all the time I was spending with Kipa.

Kipa frowned. “Are you sure? I thought we were going to spend the morning together.”

We hadn’t talked about it, so this was news to me. But I had discovered early on that Kipa assumed that if he liked something, everybody else should as well. And if he had made plans, everybody should be accommodating. It wasn’t rudeness on his part, he was just used to being the leader of the pack, so to speak.

And he was, in his own world. Ember, a good friend of mine, and I had seen just how well he played with others when he and his cousin Herne had gotten embroiled in an argument that ended up with Ember and me down in a pit, facing a deadly foe. The two men hadn’t even noticed we disappeared. Luckily, girl power had seen us through before they found us.

“You never mentioned wanting to spend the morning together.” I stared at him. “This is the first I’ve heard of it.”

He let out an exasperated sigh. “I didn’t know you had anything going on this morning. I just assumed—”

“You just assumed that I’d be available. Well, today’s my day to read cards down at the Sun & Moon Apothecary, so I don’t have the morning to give you. I have to take care of the ferrets, then head down to the shop to meet Llew.” I bit my lip, trying to decide just how bitchy to get. We’d had a wonderful morning, but I wasn’t about to let Kipa start taking me for granted.

“What is it? I can tell something’s wrong.” Kipa crossed his arms, leaning one hip against the counter. It didn’t help that he was so damn sexy.

“Here’s the thing. Obviously, I like you a lot or we wouldn’t be thrashing around in bed so much. And I’d like this—us—to continue. At least until we find out where we’re going. But this relationship won’t work if you keep planning out my days without consulting me. Newsflash: you aren’t the center of my universe. I know it must be hard to hear that, given you’re one of the gods. But I don’t notice Herne doing that with Ember.”

His eyes narrowed and I had a feeling I’d hit a sore spot. In fact, I knew I had.

“Comparing me to Herne, are you?”

“Don’t get your Speedos in a wad. I’m not saying that you need to be like Herne. But it wouldn’t hurt you to be a little more considerate of other people and their feelings, or their time.”

He looked so hurt that I felt a pang of guilt, but it was for his own good. If I didn’t tell him, somebody else might and they wouldn’t do so out of caring about him.

“Listen, dude. You’re fantastic, Kipa. And I know you care about people. You wouldn’t be allowed in my house if you didn’t, god or not. But this is just one example of something I’ve noticed during the past few weeks. You assumed that I would have the time because you have the time. You didn’t bother asking me—and that’s the problem. Understand?” I rested my hand on the counter as I continued to stare at him. I wasn’t going to look away, or let him cow me.

“All right. I’ll try to do better,” he muttered. “I’m sorry. I’m used to being—”

“In charge. I get it. I truly do. But you’re not my boss, you’re not my owner, and you’re not my parent. You’re my lover. And that gives you certain rights, but running my life and organizing my schedule isn’t one of them.” I searched his face, wondering if he would be able to handle me as I asserted my boundaries. It would be a deal breaker if he couldn’t.

He paused for a moment before a crooked smile spread across his face. He held out his hands to me. “Okay, I promise. I will pay more attention to the way I act. I like that you’re not afraid of me. I like that you stand up for yourself. It may take me some time to get used to, but I think I’m going to enjoy being with a strong woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself.” He leaned down, pressing his lips against mine. “Don’t worry about breakfast. I’ll grab something on the way back to my apartment. When can I see you again?”

A wave of relief washed over me. I pulled out my calendar.

“Why don’t you come over for dinner tomorrow night? I’ve got a lot of errands to do tomorrow, but we can have dinner, and then watch a movie. Or not watch a movie, as the case may be.” I blew him a kiss, winking.

I knew very well that even if we started watching a movie, we wouldn’t end up finishing it. The flames burned strong between us. Even now, I found it hard to keep my hands to myself. I wanted to run them up and down his chest. I reached up, smoothing his hair back.

“You are so fucking sexy. If you don’t get out of here, I may throw the day away and drag you back to bed and I really shouldn’t do that.” I caught my breath, shuddering.

Laughing, Kipa stroked my face and, in a husky voice, said, “I’d better get out of here. Or neither one of us will get anything done.” With another kiss, he grabbed his leather jacket, turned, and headed out the door.

COLLAPSE

Playlist:

Android Lust: Here and Now; Saint Over
Beck: Farewell Ride; Emergency Exit
The Black Angels: Currency; Don’t Play With Guns; Love Me Forever; Always Maybe; Young Men Dead
Black Mountain: Queens Will Play
Boney M: Rasputin
Broken Bells: The Ghost Inside
Cher: The Beat Goes On
Colin Foulke: Emergence
Crazy Town: Butterfly
Cream: Strange Brew; Sunshine of Your Love
Damh the Bard: Land, Sky and Sea; Green and Grey; The Cauldron Born; Tomb of the King; Obsession; Cloak of Feathers; Gently Johnny; The Hills They Are Hollow; Lady of the Silver Wheel; The Wicker Man; Scarborough Faire; Lady in Black
Dizzi: Dizzi Jig; Dance of the Unicorns
Donovan: Sunshine Superman; Season of the Witch
Dragon Ritual Drummers: Black Queen; The Fall; Dance of the Roma
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being (Original Edit)
Eivør: Trøllbundin
Everlast: Black Jesus; I Can’t Move; Ends; We’re All Gonna Die; One, Two
Faun: Hymn to Pan; Iduna; Oyneng yar
FC Kahuna: Hayling
The Feeling: Sewn
Fleetwood Mac: The Chain; Gold Dust Woman
Flight of the Hawk: Bones
Gary Numan: Cars (Remix); Ghost Nation; My Name is Ruin; Hybrid; Petals; I Am Dust; Here in the Black
Godsmack: Voodoo
Gorillaz: Last Living Souls; Kids With Guns; Dare; Hongkongaton; Rockit; Clint Eastwood; Stylo
The Gospel Whisky Runners: Muddy Waters
The Guess Who: No Sugar Tonight/The New Mother Nature
The Hang Drum Project: Shaken Oak; St.Chartier
The Heathen Kings: Rambling Sailor; Rolling of the Stones; The Blacksmith
Hedningarna: Chicago; Ukkonen; Fulvalsen; Juolle Joutunut; Gorrlaus; Grodan/Widergrenen; Räven; Drafur & Gildur; Dufwa; Tuuli
The Hollies: Long Cool Woman
The Hu: Wolf Totem; Yuve Yuve Yu
Ian Melrose & Kirsten Blodig: Kråka; Kelpie
Jay Price: The Devil’s Bride; Coming For you Baby; Boneshaker
Jessica Bates: The Hanging Tree
Jethro Tull: Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow; I’m Your Gun; Down at the End of Your Road; Rhythm in Gold; Part of the Machine; Overhang; Witch’s Promise; Bungle in the Jungle; Cross-Eyed Mary; Locomotive Breath; And the Mouse Police Never Sleeps; Journeyman; Weathercock; North Sea Oil; Something’s On the Move; Old Ghosts; Dun Ringill
John Fogerty: The Old Man Down the Road
Lorde: Yellow Flicker Beat; Royals
Loreena McKennitt: The Mummer’s Dance; The Mystic’s Dream; All Souls Night
Low and tomandandy: Half Light
Marconi Union: First Light; Alone Together; Flying; Time Lapse; On Reflection; Broken Colours; We Travel; Weightless; Weightless, Pt 2; Weightless, Pt 3; Weightless, Pt 4; Weightless, Pt 5; Weightless, Pt 6
Motherdrum: Big Stomp
Nick Cave: Right Red Hand
Oingo Boingo: Elevator Man; Dead Man’s Party
Pati Yang: All That Is Thirst
Robin Schulz: Sugar
Rolling Stones: Miss You; Sympathy For the Devil
SJ Tucker: Firebird’s Child; Hymn to Herne
Sharon Knight: Ravaged Ruins; Mother of the World; Bewitched; Crimson Masquerade; Let the Waters Rise; Star of the Sea; May Morning Dew
Shriekback: The Shining Path; Underwaterboys; This Big Hush; Now These Days Are Gone; The King in the Tree; And The Rain; Church of the Louder Light; Wriggle and Drone
Spiral Dance: The Goddess and the Weaver; Boys of Bedlam; Rise Up; Fae Dance; Asgard’s Chase
Strawberry Alarm Clock: Incense And Peppermints
Tamaryn: While You’re Sleeping, I’m Dreaming; Violet’s in a Pool
Tempest: Iron Lady; Same Side of the Fence; Hangman’ Buffalo Jump; Dark Lover; Queen of Argyll; Nottamun Town
Thievery Corporation: Water Under the Bridge; Voyage Libre
Tingstad & Rumbel: Chaco
Tom Petty: Mary Jane’s Last Dance
Traffic: Rainmaker; The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Tuatha Dea: Irish Handfasting; Tuatha De Danaan; The Hum and the Shiver; Wisp of a Thing (Part 1); Long Black Curl
Wendy Rule: Let the Wind Blow; The Circle Song; Elemental Chant
Woodland: Blood of the Moon; Roots; First Melt; Witch’s Cross; I Remember; Will O’ The Wisp; The Dragon; Into the Twilight

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