As a treat (and proof that yes, more is coming), I'm posting a small bite of text from Book Five. It's the second scene in Chapter One. Evy and Wyatt have just broken into a morgue to examine the body of a teenager they believe was killed by goblins, and the scene begins just after.
Thank you for your continued support, and I hope you enjoy the bite!
After Wyatt took a few pictures of the carved name with his phone, we put the body back and then got the hell out of there. I texted Milo and Marcus that we were leaving, so they'd meet us at the arranged location.
They were already waiting when we got there, leaning against the metal barrier that protected one side of the sidewalk from a steep drop into the Anjean River, as though they had every right to be loitering there at one in the morning. The rush of the river below us was the only real sound as Wyatt and I made our way toward them.
I was still a little shaky after our morgue trip, and had broken a sweat the instant we stepped outside into the humid late-summer air. Usually I'm better at hiding my immediate need to vomit, but I must not have been doing a very good job on approach because Milo stood up straight as soon as he got a good look.
"Evy?" he said.
"I'm okay," I replied.
"Worse, but it was definitely goblins."
"They're growing bolder," Marcus said. He hadn't moved from his casual lean against the rail, and the female in me appreciated the way he could make such a simple stance look sexy. Marcus was tall and muscular (but not muscle bound), with tan skin and long, black hair he liked to wear in a ponytail at the nape of his neck. A little bit of scruff—not quite a goatee, but more than a soul patch—on his chin gave him a look I could only describe as "pirate."
Contrast to Milo Gant, who was about my height of five-foot-seven, and lean enough to occasionally appear scrawny, despite his speed and strength. He had sandy brown hair and brown eyes that, once upon a time, I'd have described as kind. Nowadays they were mostly cold. Mostly, depending on the company he kept. Lately Marcus was one of the only people who could make Milo smile.
"There was more," Wyatt said and held out his phone. "They're making this personal for Evy."
Marcus studied the image, while Milo blanched and looked away—the photo did have an unfortunate angle of the dead man's mangled testicles. "What's your assessment?" Marcus asked.
"That whatever's happening isn't random," Wyatt replied. "We know the goblin warriors can't plan for shit, so at least one of the Queens has been cooking this up for a while. Maybe since Kelsa died."
"Could it be tied to the Fey?"
"Possibly. They followed orders from an elf once, so it isn't outside of the realm of possibility for them to follow the orders of a sprite."
My temper began a slow burn, as it always did when I thought about Amalie and how the Fey Council had betrayed and lied to us since first contact more than ten years ago. The Triads had been duped and manipulated to serve their whims, and while the Fey were pacifists who couldn't attack us directly, they'd put a lot of other enemies directly into our path. Sending the goblins against us was not beneath them.
"It definitely gives them a more controllable way to hit us than with the Halfies," Milo said. "Even the Halfies that are still partly sane." He said the word "Halfies" like it was a vile taste in his mouth—the way he'd said it for the last five weeks. Since Felix died.
Instead of dropping off with the death of Walter Thackery and the loss of his Happy Serum—meant to make typically deranged half-Bloods act in a rational manner—the Halfie population had seemed to increase. It was as if the handful of sane Halfies we hadn't managed to execute had gone forth and multiplied, and created more sane Halfies.
You might think sane Halfies would be preferable to crazy ones, but not to me. Crazy means they don't plan ahead, and they almost always screw up in some way or another. Sane means higher thought and the ability to formulate a plan of action. Halfies with plans scared the hell out of me.
"I just wish they'd man up and come at us head on," I said, referring to the Fey. "All of this puppeteer bullshit is getting old."
"Agreed," Marcus said. "The Fey are irritating and cowardly. Therians fight for what they want. We don't have the luxury of living for millennia, as the Fey do."
Milo glanced at Marcus, and the pair shared a look I couldn't quickly decipher. They'd become good friends in the last few weeks, and they spent a lot of their free time sparring in the Watchtower gym. Physically, Marcus looked like he was in his mid-thirties, but he was only ten calendar-years old—which put him at the halfway point of his life. And even though I'd seen a were-osprey grow from newborn to toddler in only a few months, it wasn't an easy thing to remember on a daily basis.
"The Fey are cowards," Wyatt said in a deadly voice. "Somehow we'll find a way to make Amalie accountable for the things she's done and the suffering she's caused." Including his own. Putting every betrayal of the Triads aside, Amalie had protected the Lupa pups who'd infected Wyatt, which made her responsible for his change. Every time I saw Wyatt struggling to control his wolf, to maintain his humanity when the animal seemed stronger, I renewed my vow to be there the day Amalie paid her dues.
Unless we all died before that happened, which was also entirely possible.
"So we got what we needed on the body," Milo said after a moment of awkward silence. "Assignment complete?"
"Assignment complete," I said. "Can we hit a drive-thru on the way back? I need a burger."
"It's one in the morning."
"So?" After inheriting a new, untrained body and then suffering three weeks of hideous torture (and a fifteen pound weight loss) less than two months after, I was now finally (finally!) at a healthy weight and had some pretty awesome muscle tone going on. I deserved a big, greasy burger once in a while.
"I could eat," Wyatt said. "We'll swing by that place on Tenth. It's open until two, I think."
We split up for the walk back to the car, making two potential targets instead of one. Wyatt and I went west up the block, toward the hospital, while Marcus and Milo went east. We'd all turn north at the next respective street, go up a block and double back to where we'd parked.
It was a short, quiet walk. Wyatt and I had gotten to a place in our evolving relationship where we didn't need to fill silences with idle chatter. He knew that if I wanted to talk about the body we'd seen tonight, I'd bring it up in my own time. Forcing me to do anything only made me kick back in the opposite direction. It was a fatal flaw that had gotten me in trouble almost as much as it had saved my life.
We reached the car first, which set off internal alarms immediately. Marcus and Milo should have at least been visible on this side street, with its random parked cars and overflowing trash cans waiting for an early morning dump.
Somewhere down the block a large cat snarled. Wyatt and I took off running.