“Impossible. You’re perfect for me. Besides, wait till you meet their wives. Or have you already heard stories?”

She shook her head. “New reports of your most recent exploits haven’t yet come in to the masses.”

It was humiliating to know they’d never realized they were being spied on. “Well, Sabin and Strider are consorts to bloodthirsty Harpies. Lucien is engaged to Anarchy. All three females are annoying, always stealing weapons out of my room, but as they would say, they’re simply amazeballs—and so are you.”

A smile—small, but there. “Thank you.”

He soared. “Is there anything you’d like to purchase before I take you out of the city? Anything at all. I plan to get you some clothes, but we can also get shoes, purses, jewelry, whatever you’d like.” If he had to buy her affections, he would. He didn’t care how pathetic that made him. He just wanted her happy.

“No. Really, I’m good.”

The vibrations in his wedding ring intensified significantly, startling him. Frowning, he held the metal band to the light. In the center, as if the band were a movie screen, he watched Red shove his way through a crowd.

Kane glanced up—and spotted Red, shoving his way through the crowd, closing in on him. The ring had known, had...warned him?

“Is something wrong?” Tink asked.

“Yeah. We’ve picked up a tail.” He trashed his coffee, did the same to Tink’s.

“Hey,” she grouched. “I wasn’t done with that.”

“Sorry. Don’t want you to burn yourself.” He launched forward, barreling past oncoming humans, dragging Tink with him. With his free hand, he withdrew a dagger.

“Who’s the tail?”

“One of William’s kids.” No. Scratch that. All of William’s kids were probably here. Those four were like ants: never alone.

“What are they, anyway?”

“Trouble.” And they weren’t coming near Tink. He would kill them first.

Yeah. It was time to kill, he decided. He’d warned the Rainbow Rejects about what would happen if they came after Tink. The warning had been a courtesy to William. His last courtesy. The boys hadn’t listened. Now, Kane would follow through.

“I’m going to hide you in one of the shops, okay? I need to have a chat with the boys, and I don’t want you to—”

“Kane!” Tink vanished.

No, not Tink. Kane. No longer was he racing down the sidewalk with his woman behind him. He was standing in a narrow hallway, white fog wafting all around him. A shout of denial split his lips as he turned left, right, searching for Tink.

He clawed through the mist, only to discover—more mist. He checked his ring, but there was no longer a reflection. Panic set in. Where was he? What had happened? Not many beings had the power to flash another without contact. Only Greek and Titan royalty, and—

The Moirai, he realized with sickening dread. They’d used their powers to transport him from New York to their home in the lower level of the skies.

He sped down the hall. He’d been here before, knew the way, and didn’t need to look to know the walls were comprised of thousands upon thousands of braided threads. Those threads vibrated, coming alive, playing scenes from his life—past, present, and maybe even future—but he didn’t allow himself to stop and study.

He was careful to breathe as little as possible. The air was laced with some kind of drug, something to keep him pliant, and maybe even susceptible to suggestion. Tink thought the Moirai operated that way, that they weren’t really controllers of fate, but rather massagers of it, pushing and kneading, tricking, until their victims were putty in their hands, blindly following wherever they led.

Not me. Not any longer.

He reached the end of the hall and entered the weaving room. The three hags sat on wooden stools, each female hunched over the loom, with her long, white hair frizzing over her shoulders.

Klotho had spotted hands and spun the threads.

Lachesis had gnarled fingers and wove those threads together.

Atropos had pupil-less eyes and snipped the ends of the locks.

“Send me back. Now.” The last time he was here, he’d shown the utmost respect. He’d kept his tone level, his gaze averted. This time he whipped out his demands, his gaze direct. The outcome was too important.

“You made a wrong turn.” Klotho cackled.

“Such a bad wrong turn,” Lachesis reiterated.

“Bad turns lead to bad ends,” Atropos said without any inflection. “You should have married the other one. Or two.”

No. No, he wouldn’t believe it. Tink belonged to him, and he belonged to her. He wanted no one else—would have no one else.

“There’s still time to change directions,” Klotho added.

“Oh, yes, there’s still time,” Lachesis reiterated.

“That’s the only way you’ll survive the pain,” Atropos said.

Kane came forward, with every intention of shaking the females into submission. “Send. Me. Back.”

Klotho looked up and frowned. “You’re ruining our tapestry, warrior. The scenes you’re creating aren’t as colorful as the ones we wish to create.”

They’d predicted his future for the colors his actions would lend to their blanket? Inconceivable!

Roaring, Kane slashed his dagger through the threads closest to him. Moved forward, slashed through more. All three hags gasped with horror.

“You’re going to send me back to my wife, or your throats are next.”

“You wouldn’t!” the one in the middle gasped.

“If you’ve seen my past, and gotten a glimpse of my future, you know I’ll do much worse than that.” Determined, he stalked forward.

* * *

ONE SECOND JOSEPHINA was being dragged by Kane, the next she was on her own in the middle of a crowded sidewalk. Shock had her stumbling to a halt, but she quickly righted herself. Where had he gone?

She spun, searching the area, trying not to panic. People, people, so many people, each on a mission, marching in every direction. A building here, a building there. Birds on the sidewalk, pecking at trash.

“Kane,” she shouted.

The lady next to her jolted back, as if she’d gone insane.

“Kane,” she shouted again. There was no response.

He’d...abandoned her? Decided she was too much trouble?

“Someone must have flashed him away,” a voice said from behind her. “How perfect. We’ve been looking for you, female.”

Trying not to cry out, she whipped around and faced the male from her nightmares. The handsome Red, capable of morphing into the monster she’d drawn into herself.

First rule of fighting, she thought, recalling Kane’s rules. Act casual. “I don’t know why. I want nothing to do with you.”

“We wish to spend time with you.”

Anger burned through her. “I advise you to reconsider. I’m a biter.”

His brothers stepped up beside him, flanking him, and all three stared at her with rapt fascination.

“For you, I won’t mind teeth marks,” Black replied.

Humans continued to walk around her, the females stopping to give the warriors a second and third glance, as if interested in exchanging numbers, before realizing the males weren’t the type to be played with and hurrying away.

Refusing to back down, she said, “I know what you really want, and my answer is no. My ability only works with my consent.”

Red offered her a slow smile. “Getting your consent won’t be a problem.”

If he’d hoped to intimidate her, well, he’d just done a great job. She was certain there had never been a colder smile.

Second rule of fighting. Don’t be afraid to show off your weapons. Sometimes fear will drive people away. “I’m willing to fight for my freedom,” she said, proud of her lack of quivering. She withdrew the blade Kane had given her. Where was he?

“You’ll lose,” Red replied matter-of-factly. “But don’t worry. We’ll be careful with you.”

Black and Green nodded.

Dread nearly knocked her off her feet.

They approached.

* * *

KANE APPEARED IN the exact spot he’d left. Only, Tink wasn’t there. He rushed to Sabin’s apartment, gaze constantly scanning, searching for any sign of her. Every second was agony. When he reached his destination, he burst through the doors.

Lucien jumped up from the couch, frowned. “Where’s the girl?”

“I don’t know.” About to hyperventilate, Kane plowed a hand through his hair. “I have to find her.”

The Rainbow Rejects wouldn’t kill her, he knew that much, but oh, she might want to die when they finished with her. She could be in pain, right that very moment, and the thought tortured him.

“Get Torin on the phone,” he croaked. “I need to know what happened, and I don’t care how many databases and security systems he has to hack into to find out.”


The Realm of Blood and Shadows

IT DIDN’T TAKE Torin long to dig up the video Lucien had requested for Kane. “I’m sorry. Just one second longer,” he said, then messaged the footage to the pair. That done, he swiveled his chair around.

First, his gaze hit the painting still resting beside his door. He hadn’t peeked.

Second, the female sitting at the edge of his bed.

The mystery of her name had not yet been solved, even though she’d come every day, as promised. In an effort to relax her, he hadn’t pressed her for information, but had allowed her to watch him as he researched the Paring Rod, looking for answers about Cameo and Viola, all the while getting to know his mannerisms, his habits. He’d fed her. He’d allowed her to wander around the confines of the room.

What would crack her hard shell?

“You’re very good to your friends,” she said.

“They’re very good to me right back.”