About the book
She was born to be a thief. To save the world, she will have to become a queen…
Zoey Donovan-Quinn is growing restless. After months of searching, her crew hasn’t been able to locate the resting place of the one man who could save Daniel. While they frantically continue their quest, Zoey is still struggling to recover from the devastating losses she suffered in Faery. In the midst of her grief and worry, Louis Marini appears and demands the Blood Stone he forced Zoey to steal. Zoey has no other choice than to hand it over.
When the giant ruby’s true nature is revealed, Zoey discovers she has given their greatest enemy a weapon of unimaginable power. Equipped with the Blood Stone, Marini intends to dominate the supernatural world and, on a more personal note, claim Zoey as his companion.
Desperate and on the run, Zoey, Dev, and Daniel forge an unlikely alliance with an old adversary who claims he can lead them to the wizard who can free Daniel from Marini’s clutches and help him claim his throne. As they race to solve a thousand-year-old mystery and gather their forces for the ultimate battle, Zoey prepares to do what she does best.
If Daniel and Dev are to have any hope of victory, she will have to do the unthinkable... surrender to Louis Marini and steal back the Blood Stone.
Neil howled his pain to the world, the sound chilling my soul. I turned, my weapon in hand. Too far. The distance between us was too great. There was no way I would ever be able to get to him in time. I stood on the blood-stained floor, looking at my trusted friend, and there was nothing I could do to save him. He would fall beneath the strange creature, and I would never see him again. It was sad because our adventures felt as though they had just begun.
If only we hadn’t gone into the dungeon. We’d been too trusting. We should never have listened to the wizard. He’d promised us great treasure if we only managed to get through the dreaded dungeons of Darkmoore Keep. We ignored all the signs that foretold our doom. The five of us had laughed mightily at the old woman who pleaded with us not to continue on. She warned us, but we were young and arrogant. That treasure could make our reputations and our fortunes would be set. We’d been so sure of our strength. It was going to cost us now.
At least one of us would fall.
The enormous creature screamed his rage and Neil tried valiantly to raise his sword and vanquish the foul beast. Beside me I felt Dev attempt a spell. He called forth his magic and sent it slamming into the huge bear-like creature trying to take our Neil from us. Nim wept at the unfairness of it all. She sent an arrow into the monster’s torso, but that only made it angrier. Zack threw a knife and it hit the beast in the leg, but it barely noticed. His odd, beaked face opened and emitted a sound of pleasure as he tore into Neil’s flesh and his blood began to spill out upon the floor.
“OMG!” Neil shrieked, pulling me out of my imagination. “I would never be killed by anything called an owlbear. What the hell is that anyway? That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard.”
“Dude.” Daniel’s head fell back, his exasperation obvious. It wasn’t the first time he’d gone over the rules to the game. “You missed your saving throw. You’re dead. You needed a ten and you rolled a seven. You died in the dungeons because the owl bear ate you while protecting its treasure.”
Neil frowned and looked down at the offending die. “I don’t want to be eaten by a weird thing.”
Dev giggled. “After all the crap you eat, it’s fitting.”
Neil turned on Dev. “You were supposed to use a spell and save me. What kind of mage are you?”
“A drunk-ass one,” I posited, which once again sent my husband into a fit of laughter. I attempted to stare him down, but I don’t think he cared.
“He can’t roll either.” Danny seemed to be even more drunk than Dev. “This is the worst campaign I’ve ever run. Dev sucks. He’s not even following the storyline. He just keeps fucking around with his mini.”
Dev looked up, his gorgeous green eyes mischievous. He had taken the miniature that represented my character and put it in some very tawdry positions with his own. “I want to know when my character gets to fuck Zoey’s character.”
“I told you, man. It’s not that kind of game,” Danny explained like he’d been through this a thousand times. “Seriously, do you think I’d invite Neil and Zack along if we were playing sex games with our wife?”
“Our characters don’t have sex?” Nim asked, her lips curving into a naughty little smile. “That is disappointing.”
Danny gave the thousands-of-years-old nymph a drunken smile, his dimples on full, heart-stopping display. “Sorry. You know we like to keep those things a little more on the private side.”
Dev sighed. “I can’t get Dan interested in public sex. There’s even a club here in Dallas. He won’t let us go.”
Dev and Daniel continued arguing about someplace called Sanctum, but my brain was somewhere else. Two months had passed since we left Faery, and every day I worried a little more. We’d come home to Ether and settled back into the penthouse. Dev and Daniel agreed to take two weeks to get our lives back in order before we decided on what to do with the Blood Stone I’d found in Faery. Time runs differently in a sithein and though we spent roughly six weeks on Dev’s home plane, a full nine months had passed on the Earth plane. Time always moves more slowly there, but sometimes it’s a couple of days longer and sometimes whole months can pass. Dev had to dive back into his businesses and Daniel had to make his contacts aware he was back at home.
It was supposed to take two weeks, three tops, they promised me and then we would head to England. Nim had left the Faery plane in order to lead us to Merlin’s tomb. It turned out she was the legendary Nimue, who had imprisoned the wizard Merlin. She’d also been known as Vivienne, the Lady of the Lake from Arthurian legend, and she’d decided Daniel was the next warrior worthy of carrying the sword Excalibur.
Nim was sure Merlin could help. We were hoping the old guy would be happy enough to be freed that he would be willing to solve Danny’s little problem. The only trouble with that scenario was the fact that Nim was having trouble remembering exactly where she had stashed “the old goat.” Apparently the British Isles had changed a little in the past millennium.
The waiting made me anxious. There was a small device on Daniel’s heart. It was filled with silver and if Louis Marini wanted to, all he had to do was press a button to kill my vampire. I only knew about the device because Marini was using it to blackmail me into working for him. I’d completed my first assignment. The Blood Stone Marini forced me to steal from the Faery plane was secure in the safe in Dev’s office. After numerous Internet searches and questioning everyone I could safely question, I still knew very little about the jewel. I could call Marcus Vorenus, Daniel’s patron and a Council member, but he wasn’t answering his phone. It was starting to drive me a little crazy.
So we were all in a holding pattern. Daniel was working with his small army of vampires. Dev was bringing in the cash. I was waiting for it all to fall apart.
And now Neil was dead and Daniel’s plan to get his friends and family into role-playing games was going very poorly.
Dev smiled. “We could make a better game, Dan. It could be all about sex. We roll the dice and that’s how many orgasms we have to give Zoey.”
I threw my hands up. “I give up, boys. What’s going on with Dev? Who gave the faery hard-core drugs?”
It was the only explanation. Dev could drink all day and never show a single sign of being trashed. Over the course of the last two hours, Dev had downed a single fifth of Scotch in an attempt to help Danny get his drink on. Dev drank, Daniel fed, and a good time was had by all. We’d taken a break about thirty minutes before so Daniel could have his faery snack. When the boys had returned to the game table, they’d both been wasted.
“Don’t look at me.” Neil sipped his glass of Pinot Grigio. “I didn’t help him go all Trainspotting on us.”
Zack glanced between Dev and Danny and then back to me. “I just smell the Scotch, Zoey. Are we breaking up then?” Poor Zack had put on a brave face, but I knew he was anxious to get back to his apartment two floors down where his girlfriend, Lisa, had just moved in. I was pretty sure Zack couldn’t care less about role-playing games, but he would never tell his master that. Zack was nothing if not a good and faithful soldier.
I shot Zack a pleading look. “Don’t go yet, please. I don’t think I can get either one of them to bed if they pass out.”
Dev laughed long and hard. “Oh, my lover, I will always come to bed for you. Just leave a trail of your pretty little underthings and I will follow.”
Daniel thought that was hilarious.
“Seriously, I want to know what’s going on.” I gave them my best “nagging wife” look. “Nim, you didn’t smuggle something fun out of Faery, did you?”
Nim’s violet eyes narrowed. “Nothing I gave to the boys. Does Devinshea really believe he can perform as plastered as he is?”
Dev pointed at the nymph. His gorgeous face was a mask of outrage. “That is a ridiculous question. I promise you, I can perform. I can perform right now.” He looked down and something caught his eye. “Look, Daniel, my little painted character has managed to get Zoey’s little painted character into a perfect sixty-nine. Quick, give me yours and I’ll work him in.”
Daniel laughed as he passed over the little resin figure he used when he played. I snapped my fingers in front of the vampire’s face and he turned to me. “Hey, baby. Have I ever told you how hot you look in Hello Kitty PJs? It makes me think of pussy.”
“I am serious, Daniel,” I said harshly, not pointing out that just about everything made him think of his favorite part of the female anatomy. “What did you do to Dev?”
His blue eyes were sleepy even though it was only two in the morning. He should be at full strength, but Daniel had never been able to handle his liquor. Becoming a vampire hadn’t changed that. Dev might be able to perform, but my vampire was going to pass out soon. “It’s no big deal, Z. It was just a little experiment.”
“Shut up, Donovan,” Dev shouted, looking like a five-year-old who was about to be told on. “We’re not supposed to tell our wife about that.”
Neil looked up from his wine, gasping in anticipation. “Oh, god, Dev and Daniel are experimenting. Someone get a camera. I’ve waited for this day all my life.”
Dev snorted as he laughed. “Not that way. He would always have to be in control. I would always have to catch. He would never let me pitch.”
I snapped my fingers. “Focus. What experiment?”
Previous experiments had included shooting Daniel to see how quickly he would heal, Daniel flying Dev into the upper atmosphere to see how fast he passed out from oxygen deprivation, and the infamous “is Daniel really faster than a speeding bullet” incident. I had lost a good set of china to that experiment. I blamed MythBusters.
I turned to Zack, who all too often was the guy making notes as Dev and Daniel acted like idiots for their version of science. Zack pressed his lips together in a mulish show of male solidarity.
Shaking my head, I played the brand new card I had against Zack. “I’ll just have to ask Lisa. I’m having lunch with her tomorrow. I’m sure we’ll have lots to talk about.”
Zack’s eyebrows formed a perfect V in the middle of his brow. “That is so…how am I supposed to respond to that?”
“Don’t tell her, Zack,” Dev said as he found new ways for minis to fornicate. “Don’t give her the upper hand. You’ll never get it back.”
“Don’t tell me, Zack,” I repeated with a grim resolve. “I’m sure Lisa would love to hear about all the dangerous stuff you have to do. You know women. We need to vent every now and then. I’m feeling the need to bond with your girlfriend.”
Zack’s eyes widened in desperation. Yeah, I had him on the ropes. “Zoey, I can’t go against my master.”
“Your master passed out.” Neil pointed to Daniel, who was drooling a little on the table where his head was currently resting. “I don’t think he’ll even remember tomorrow.”
Sighing, Zack stood up and stared down on his vampire master. “It was just a little experiment. Dev can’t get drunk and he thinks it looks like fun. So Danny had the brilliant idea to, you know, take a little too much blood when he fed. Danny got more alcohol. Dev got a nice buzz.”
“From blood loss!” I was astounded at the idiotic lengths men would go to for a little high.
“I’ll build it back up,” Dev said nonchalantly, standing up. He swayed a little and Neil got to his feet to catch Dev’s six foot five inch, two hundred pound body should he fall—from blood loss. “I think it was a successful experiment. We’ve proven that you can get buzzed if a vampire takes one pint too much. Make sure you write that down, Zack.”
“Zack, carry Danny back to our bedroom, please,” I requested as the werewolf lifted Daniel easily over his shoulder. Zack was solidly built, but I doubted he would have been able to handle Danny’s powerful two hundred twenty pounds of pure muscle had he not had all that werewolf strength to back him up.
I walked around to my faery. He swung his arm over my shoulders and leaned heavily against me. I peeked back at Nim and Neil. “Why don’t you guys have another glass of wine? I’ll be back after I get the boys settled down in bed.”
“Don’t expect her to be back anytime soon,” Dev shouted over his shoulder as he shuffled along. “I intend to prove that I can still perform. I’m sure I’m even better like this.”
Groaning as Dev stumbled along, I seriously doubted he would be able to waylay me for a little sexy fun. Even if he had enough blood to get hard, he would almost certainly pass out because his brain needed blood, too. “Are you sure I shouldn’t call a doctor?”
Dev shoved me up against the wall outside our bedroom door.
Zack walked out of the bedroom. “Do you need a hand with him?”
“No, she doesn’t need a hand with me,” Dev protested as he crowded me with his inebriated affection.
I sighed and sent Zack on his way. If Dev fell, he could just sleep where he landed. As soon as Zack was out of sight, Dev proved that he actually could function with all his available blood in his penis.
“Baby,” he groaned in my ear, grinding that hard part of himself against me. “I want you. I love you so much. You’re so fucking gorgeous.”
I had to smile. At least he was a sweet drunk. “I love you, too.”
“I don’t need anyone else.” He cupped my face in his hands and stared down at me. “You and Daniel. You’re my family. You’re the ones who understand me.”
“We love you, Dev.” My heart ached for him. Our trip to Faery hadn’t gone the way Dev had hoped. He’d looked forward to reconnecting with his brother and mother, but it all fell apart when he sacrificed the ascended god inside him to save Daniel.
Bris, the fertility god Dev had bonded with, had made the sacrifice willingly and was still hanging around waiting for the strength to reintegrate, but it hadn’t been enough for his brother. Declan had been so angry Dev was willing to risk his people’s fertility that the twins hadn’t spoken more than two or three words since.
Dev leaned down and kissed me, his tongue playing softly along my lips. “Let’s make a baby, Zoey. I want a real family for us. I want a whole bunch of kids. I want little boys who look like me and little girls with red hair and sticky fingers.”
I pushed against him and he glanced down, surprised I had stopped the play. “Dev, we talked about this. It isn’t the right time.”
“I know. I just…” He stopped for a moment but then got his footing back. His lips tugged up in a seductive smile. “Well then, my wife, I’ll just slip into something a little uncomfortable and then we’ll be safe to practice all we like.” He kissed me again, his hand wandering down to cup a breast and rub my nipple until it was a hard little point. “Come on, Zoey. Let’s go to bed. I rolled a ten last, so I owe you ten orgasms.”
“Okay.” I was fairly interested to see if he could pull it off. I could consider it my own little science experiment, though I had no desire to call Zack back with his clipboard. Dev turned and made his way into the bedroom, pulling his shirt over his head while he walked. I followed, hoping he didn’t fall down.
The bedroom to our penthouse apartment was a magnificent blend of natural beauty and modern luxury. The back wall of the room was covered in greenery. Shiny green vines, ivies, and ferns dominated the room. It was a fitting domain for a fertility god.
Daniel was already asleep on the enormous bed Dev had ordered when the three of us had committed to being together. It was covered with a huge downy comforter and a whole lot of pillows. I never felt safer than when I snuggled down in that bed between the loves of my life.
Dev threw his big body on the bed, landing beside Daniel. Daniel was still dressed in his T-shirt and sweatpants. Dev smiled up at me, his perfectly cut torso on full display. He looked crazy sexy with his black hair down.
“You want to have wild, drunk sex next to Daniel’s unconscious body?”
“He won’t care.” Dev patted the spot next to him, and his smile promised all manner of dirty pleasures. “If he manages to rouse himself from his stupor, he can just join in, lover.”
“All right.” I was game for a little pleasure. I would need to get that protection we had talked about earlier, though. I walked into the bathroom and found Dev’s stash of condoms. I pulled out a couple to put beside the bed in case he proved to be up for more than one round. I was beginning to get a little excited at the prospect of what drunk Dev might come up with, and there was a smile on my face as I entered the room. “All right, big boy, I’m ready for whatever you can dream up.”
My face fell and I laid down the little packets because I wouldn’t need them. Dev had fallen asleep with his cheek pressed against Daniel’s chest. Before long, Dev would be curled around him because Dev just pressed himself up against whatever was in bed with him. I shook my head. They were awfully cute lying there cuddled up. I pulled Dev’s shoes off and tossed them in the closet before covering the boys with a blanket and letting myself out on the balcony.
The spring air was cool on my skin. I could probably use a sweater over my tank top, but I didn’t want to bother with it. The lights of Dallas twinkled all around me. It felt so good to be home, but I couldn’t ever forget what I’d left behind in Faery. I needed a minute to compose myself before I rejoined the others. Dev had done the one thing guaranteed to get me emotional. He mentioned babies.
I thought about the child I lost all the time. If I hadn’t lost the baby, I would have been just about to start my second trimester. How would my body have changed? Would I be getting a curve to my belly? Daniel would be able to hear his heartbeat much more clearly. Dev would have his hand on my belly almost constantly, I was certain of that.
When you combine my miscarriage with the revelation that Daniel and I had a child somewhere on a Faery plane, the subject of children was just a touchy one for the time being. My best girlfriend, Sarah Day, was pregnant with her first baby. She’d recently moved to Seattle with her husband, Felix, who was going to college there. I missed her, but I was self-aware enough to know that watching her glow with happiness might hurt my heart a little.
I didn’t begrudge her the joy, but it just seemed so far away for me. I expected resolution to be at hand when we returned from the Faery plane. Daniel was supposed to get that thing off his heart. With the help of the wolves and the Unseelie, we would take down the Council and then the three of us could get around to some serious baby making. It didn’t work out that way.
Daniel seemed perfectly happy with the delay. I was beginning to think he didn’t really want to go on this little quest. He didn’t think there was anything that anyone, even a sorcerer like Merlin, could do. He didn’t want to hear that he was screwed. He didn’t want to even contemplate that possible reality, so he was hiding away. I knew Daniel well enough to know that he was genuinely happy for the first time in a long time, and he was also waiting for something terrible to happen to destroy his satisfaction.
Dev was still getting over the fact that his people had rejected him again. He was still coming to terms with giving up his post as the Seelie High Priest. He’d been welcomed by the Unseelie, but I knew all those shattered dreams of being able to go home haunted him.
We were all hiding, and I worried the time was rapidly coming when that would no longer be an option.
“Oh no, sister,” Neil said as he opened the door to the balcony. He managed the door despite carrying two glasses of wine. “There will be no self-contemplation for you. Thinking never made anybody happy.”
He always knew how to pull me out of a mood. I took the glass and enjoyed the fruity taste of the wine. Dev really did buy the best. “I was just getting a breath of fresh air.”
“No you weren’t, sweetie, but that’s okay.” Neil put an arm around me and brought our heads together. “I’m sure it seems like it won’t happen, but I know it will. You and Dev are going to make the prettiest babies, who are going to turn into the wildest ass kids. Can you imagine Dev’s sons as teens? Are you just going to start putting aside a bail fund now?”
I laughed and punched him in the arm gently. “They won’t be that bad, Neil. Maybe they’ll rebel against their parents and be perfect, law abiding citizens.”
Neil shook his head. “I would start that fund if I were you. Daniel won’t be any help. He can barely muster up the strength to discipline those vampires of his. Can you imagine how the kids are going to walk all over him?”
I shivered a little and Neil started maneuvering me back into the bedroom. I laughed again when I saw that the boys had been strategically maneuvered around. Daniel had his arms around Dev and Dev was cuddled close to his vampire.
“Neil, they’re going to kill you.” I chuckled, feeling better than I had all night.
“Not if they don’t want the pictures to hit the Internet,” Neil replied with a bright smile on his handsome face. “I could start a whole website about their unrequited man love.”
I switched off the light, promising myself I would fix them before I went to sleep, and Neil and I returned to the living room.
“Hey, Zoey,” Nim said from her comfortable perch on the couch. “I was hoping we could catch up on that model show.”
Nim had really taken to reality television. It was her second favorite thing about the Earth plane. The first had been barbecue. Girlfriend was tiny, but she could put away some ribs.
“I’m really hoping that the tall, skinny one will start a fight with the even taller, even skinnier one,” Nim explained. The legendary Lady of the Lake liked to watch catfights.
The phone on the table started to ring. “Fine, we can watch some TV, but I get to pick the second show.” I was surprised to see it was the phone that rang directly from Ether. I picked it up. “Hello.”
“Good evening, Mrs. Quinn,” Roman, one of Dev’s employees, greeted me. He’d been running Ether while we were on the Faery plane. Dev trusted him implicitly. “Could I please speak to Mr. Quinn?”
I wondered briefly if I could even wake Dev up. I seriously doubted it. Even if I could, there was no way I wanted him handling any kind of business in his current state. “I’m sorry, Roman, Dev is…not available and won’t be for the rest of the night. What’s the problem?”
A long sigh came over the line. “There’s some trouble with the VIP room. I have two parties insisting it is theirs for the evening. My records show that the Hansen party booked the room, but the others are very…persuasive.”
“You can’t just kick ’em out?” That would be my solution, but then I’m not known for my diplomacy.
“We tried. They said they wanted to talk to the owner.”
I found that intriguing. We employed some badass werewolves as bouncers. I wondered what the hell could be down there that the wolves couldn’t handle.
“All right. I’ll be right there.” Dev was a great believer in community property. He liked to share. He got part ownership of my boobs and I’d taken a share of the club. I hung up the phone. “The show’s going to have to wait, guys. There’s trouble downstairs.”
“Okay,” Neil said gamely. He helped Nim up. “Let’s go check it out.”
I pressed the button to the elevator that would take us down to Ether.
“Um, Z…” Neil pointed to the baby blue pajama bottoms that were covered in Hello Kitty faces. Other than that I had on a very nonprofessional white tank top and fuzzy socks.
“Hey, they’re pulling me off my comfy couch, they can put up with my style choices,” I said as we loaded ourselves on the elevator.
Nim was already bouncing to the music that thudded through Dev’s office as we got out of the elevator a moment later. “I really love the club. It’s so much better than the bingo parlors Arawn used to take me to.”
I shook my head, giving Neil a little look. We were always amused at Nim’s tales of her previous life with the Welsh Death Lord.
“Do you want a gun?” Neil gestured to the safe where Dev kept a couple of handguns. The armory was below in the back of the club.
I shook my head. That was a little overkill. “No, I’m just going to tell them to get the hell out. I don’t want a major scene.”
But as I opened the door that led to the club, I realized a major scene was going to be unavoidable. From the stairs, I could plainly see the VIP room and the group currently occupying it. I thought about shrinking back, locking the door, and heading back up to the penthouse as quietly as possible. But that was a useless dream.
From his place on the elegant leather sofa, Louis Marini was holding court. He was surrounded by vampires, but he only had eyes for one person. Me.
Marini waved me down with an imperious gesture of his hand.
“Shit,” Neil said beside me.
Shit was right. My time had just run out.
Copyright 2014 Lexi Blake