“If they don’t?”
“They are governed by emotional attachments. Even the brightest among them suffers this weakness. Go. Now. Watch and wait. When the time is right, burn this fucking place to ash.”
The roach god nodded and let his form collapse abruptly to the floor, disintegrating instantly, a trick he’d perfected in human homes, moving through their houses when they weren’t around, as if he were one of them, sitting on their beds, fondling their combs and toothbrushes, even perching on their toilets, wondering what it would feel like to be whole and large and not a bug.
Thousands of glistening insects rippled across the stone chamber, vanishing into every crack and crevice.
“I will burn for you with fire and fury.”
When the Hunter circled above Chester’s preparing to land, I was surprised to see there wasn’t the usual boisterous crowd gathered outside the club, jostling and bribing and arguing to get in.
Fewer than fifty humans loitered near the rubble of the former club at a safe distance from the cordoned-off black hole.
There wasn’t a single Fae in sight. Normally, there were more Fae than humans, the lower castes that Ryodan wouldn’t permit into the club, trying to seduce the bored, hungry clientele denied entry with an immediate, less potent (and far less attractive!) fix.
As I slid from the Hunter’s back, I was the target for dozens of sharp, envious glares. Jealous of my “ride,” that I had such a powerful beast seemingly at my command, wondering what magical gifts it bestowed—and if it could be eaten for a high probably.
I wasn’t afraid of fifty humans. Not this close to Chester’s.
I had guns, Voice, a Hunter, and Barrons a text away. Still, I stayed near my ride, one thickly insulated glove on its icy flank. I shivered from cold. Without Unseelie flesh in me, it wasn’t nearly as comfortable to be so close to one of the icy beasts. My thighs were numb and my ass was completely frozen. I rubbed it briskly with my palm, trying to thaw it and restore sensation.
“Where are all the Fae?” I demanded, glancing at the underground entrance, surprised to find it was unguarded.
“The doors are locked,” a woman said. “Does it let you eat it?” she asked with a frighteningly bright smile, shooting a greedy look at my satanic ride.
The Hunter swung its great horned head around and snorted a stunningly precise tendril of fire at the crowd.
The woman’s hair went up in flame. She ran off screaming, clutching her head. The rest of the crowd backed warily away from me.
“The door to Chester’s is locked?” I said incredulously. No one answered me and I got a brief bizarre flash of myself as I must look from their point of view: blond Barbie as Barrons had so pithily said, with crimson-streaked hair tangled wild from the wind, coated from head to toe with a light dusting of black ice, standing next to a demonic-looking winged dragon-beast, weapons bulging in my pockets, spear strapped to my thigh, and a snub-nosed automatic I’d tossed over my shoulder as I left for no reason I’d been able to fathom. Just a bad feeling I might need more weapons than usual tonight, or maybe all that kinky, rough sex with Barrons had made me feel more like my badass self. “Chester’s never closes,” I protested. That would be like the sun not rising.
Suddenly the door in the ground rattled and shot open from below. “Ms. Lane,” Barrons growled as he stepped out. “About bloody time. Let’s go.” He closed the door then bent and traced a symbol on it, murmuring softly.
People began to hem him in, chanting, “Let us in, let us in!”
“Get the fuck out of here!” Barrons roared in Voice that staggered even me, and I felt my feet begin to move of their own volition. Not you, Ms. Lane, he shot me a look.
I stopped and stood, watching in astonishment as fifty people turned like zombies and trudged woodenly down the street. The most I’d ever managed was four with a single command.
Then I scowled at him. “One,” I snapped, “how did you do that to fifty people at once. Two, why did it work on me when I thought I was supposed to be immune to you, and three—”
“The abbey is under attack. Get on the Hunter, Ms. Lane. And read this.” He thrust a paper at me. “We didn’t understand why the club was so empty. One of the patrons brought this in. Then Jada called. The others have already gone ahead.”
He’d waited for me. That must have driven him bugfuck crazy, knowing a battle was being fought and he wasn’t there. Waiting for his girlfriend.
“You’re not my girlfriend, Ms. Lane,” he said coolly.
“You could have gone without me,” I said just as coolly.
“You could have checked your bloody texts.”
I gave him a blank look. “I didn’t get any.” I tugged my cellphone from the front pocket of my jeans. It was completely coated with a thick layer of ice. When I fly, I scoot up beneath the bony apex of the Hunter’s wings because it gives me more to hold on to, and my phone must have been pressed to the underside of the frigid crest. I tapped it against a nearby trash can to crack the ice. Sure enough, three texts messages, and the last one was pissed as hell. I made a mental note to carry it somewhere else when I flew in the future.
“You still could have gone without me.”
“I bloody fucking know that.” He cut me a seething glance.
“Then why didn’t you?”
“Because, Ms. Lane, when the world goes to bloody hell, I will always be at your bloody side. Read the fucking paper. Not even Ryodan saw this one coming. Seems his ‘news’ isn’t as spot-on as it once was.”
I snatched the paper and scanned it quickly.
The Dublin Daily
August 7 AWC
STOP THE BLACK HOLES THAT
ARE DESTROYING OUR WORLD!!!
FREE PRINCE CRUCE!
Held hostage beneath ARLINGTON ABBEY is the most
POWERFUL FAE PRINCE ever created!
He is our SAVIOR!
He has the power to stop the black holes that are DEVOURING EARTH.
He ALONE possesses the magic to heal our world!
Fae power damaged it and only FAE MAGIC can SAVE it.
WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!!!
A secret cult known as the sidhe-seers has taken him PRISONER and is holding him in a vain attempt to EXPLOIT HIS POWERS for their OWN purposes!
They have the ability to travel to other worlds and care nothing for THIS ONE.
JOIN THE CRUCEAID!