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“Any activity so far?” Nerissa hustled through the kitchen door and made for the table, where Camille, Delilah, and I were sitting. We were listlessly toying with whatever we could find to keep our minds occupied. All our phones were on the table, waiting. The minute one of them rang, we’d spring into action—and we knew there would be a call. Until then, Camille was reading, Delilah was working a crossword puzzle, and I was trying to unknot a jumble of thin gold chains that had gotten tangled up when I tossed them in the jewelry box without thinking.
Dropping into the chair next to me, Nerissa used the towel hanging around her neck to wipe the sweat off her brow. She had just returned from her workout with Jason Binds, a mechanic-cum-martial-arts-instructor. He was attempting to turn her into a lean, mean shredding machine. Her face was clear of makeup, her workout top was soaked through with perspiration, and her tawny mane of hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail, although a few wisps had escaped to straggle out. But to me, my wife was the most beautiful sight in the world.
“No, but it’s only a matter of time. We haven’t had a quiet night in several weeks.” I pushed the chains aside. I had doused them in oil and was trying to use a straight pin to separate the tangle. I wiped my oily fingers on a napkin and reached for her hand.
Camille and Delilah had been awake since around five p.m. I, of course, rose at sunset, which was—in early May—running closer to eight thirty. I longed for autumn and winter, when the nights were longer and I could rise earlier and stay up longer. Sometimes I thought I should move to Alaska for half the year, when the darkness held sway over the land. My sisters had switched over to a nocturnal schedule because, so far, all of the attacks had come during the night—usually around two or three a.m.
Everything had snowballed so quickly that we gave up waiting around, and now—instead of simply responding to the danger, we had gone on the offensive. At the first sign of dusk, the guys headed out, hunting for any signs of trouble as they scoured the city. My sisters and I waited at home for their call.
If they found a problem before someone reported a skirmish to the Faerie-Human Crime Scene Investigation Unit, the men called us and we headed out to put out the fire. If the FH-CSI got the call first, they transferred it over to us. Either way, we were front on the line. So far, we had managed to keep this nightmare under wraps, but we were barely holding on. All it would take would be one misstep or overlooked incursion and everything would blow sky high. Once news of what had been going on hit the papers, the ensuing panic would take over from there. We were trying to prevent that panic from happening in the first place.
Earlier, the three of us had pored over a map of the city, trying to figure out if there was some pattern to the attacks. Never mind that we’d already gone over it a dozen times—the activity kept us busy, and right now, busy was good because waiting around like this was getting on all of our nerves.
“I need to shower and change.” Nerissa pushed back her chair and stood.
“Hurry up and I’ll have your dinner waiting.” Iris set a plate of grilled cheese sandwiches on the table in front of Camille and Delilah. She handed them mugs of hot tomato soup. “I’m not cooking anything extravagant because right now, fancy takes too much time. I want to make certain you all get good, solid food into you.”
Nerissa nodded. “I won’t be long. I’m so sweaty from working out, and I need to rinse off, but I’ll be quick. Thank gods there’s been a lull tonight.”
I glanced over up at her. “So, how did it go at Jason’s?”
“Good. He says that I’m learning extremely fast.” She shrugged. “I wish I could make more progress, but he seems satisfied so I guess I should take what I can get.” With a glance at the clock, she added, “I’d better get moving. We really don’t have the luxury of just hanging out anymore, I guess.” Sounding sad, she leaned down to meet my lips.
The proximity to her body and her hot breath on my cheek made me ache. I wanted nothing more than to curl up with her in the living room. I wanted to cuddle with her and Maggie while we watched the Demon Twins play video games and listened to Iris and Hanna argue over who made the best pie. Basically, I wanted to just go about my daily routine and forget that all of this was happening. But reality was biting us on the ass, hard and fast and with sharp teeth. As Chase was fond of saying, If wishes were pennies, we’d all be rich.
“Don’t be too long. We haven’t had a call yet tonight and you know it’s going to come.”
As she headed toward the bath near the laundry room, a high-pitched note sounded from a ring of crystals sitting on an end table in the kitchen. Nerissa froze as Camille ran over to the wards. Delilah and I immediately shifted into prep-for-battle mode. Nobody had broken through to our land lately, but with everything going on, we didn’t dare ignore the rogue portal out in the backyard. Even though it had been tuned to the realm of the Elder Fae, the very fact that it was a portal still made our home a dangerous target. And not five miles away was Grandmother Coyote’s portal to Otherworld. Though, I thought with a silent grin, I would hate to see what she would do to anybody who tried to mess with her.
Camille ran her hands over the crystals, which had calmed down. “Nothing to worry about. I think it’s just some ghost or something passing through. But, Delilah, can you run and ask the guards to make a sweep around the land? Just to be on the safe side.”
“On it.” Kitten was up and out the door before Camille could say another word.
“Okay, I’m getting my shower in.” Nerissa planted another kiss on my lips. I lingered in her embrace, wanting to stay there forever. I loved her more than I thought I ever could love anybody.
I slapped her on the ass. “Get moving, wife.”
As she darted into the bathroom, I thought about how close I had come to losing her. Only a few months back, we were having serious problems. But I had finally listened to my sisters, and I had quit being so pigheaded. Especially after Vanzir dragged me off to one side to inform me of what an ass I had become. When he wanted to be, he could be extremely blunt and unflattering. But I appreciated his warning because he was right.
I finally I started talking to Nerissa instead of talking over her. But mostly, I started listening to her worries and complaints, and taking them seriously. Turns out, shutting up and paying attention? Actually works. Now, though we weren’t perfect and never would be, it felt like we were finally on the same page. And honesty and clarity were a whole lot better than the illusion of perfection.
As the sound of the shower started up, I went back to the chains, my thoughts still lingering over the dangers. We’d done our best to mitigate the hazards. Hanna and Maggie were sleeping in my lair during the night because we never knew when we’d be called out, and we didn’t want them in any sort of danger.
Because of their proximity to the rogue portal out back, Iris’s husband Bruce had taken the babies—including Chase’s daughter, Astrid—and moved into Nerissa’s old condo. His mother had come to help out, along with a nanny and a guard. We needed Iris here with us, so she spent her days with her family and her nights with us. And Tanne Baum, the Woodland Fae from the Black Forest, was on twenty-four-hour call, only a speed dial away.
The doorbell rang. I answered it, surprised to see Chase there, a tray of drinks in his hand.
“I stopped at Starbucks before I came over. I thought it might make a buffer for what I have to say.” He forced a pale smile, looking as stretched thin as we all felt.
“Uh-oh, that sounds bad.” I took the tray from him and led him into the kitchen.
Camille put her marker in her book. Chase had brought a grande chai latte for Delilah. Camille got the iced venti quad shot mocha. And Chase, the venti black coffee with cream. I foraged in the refrigerator for a bottle of blood, enchanted to a chocolate flavor. Thanks to Morio, I had a wide variety of choices.
Chase settled down at the table beside me, but before the detective could say a word, Camille’s phone rang. She stared at it, a dark wave steeling her gaze, then answered.
“Yes? How many? Okay, we’re on the way. Text us the directions.” She punched the Off button and texted Delilah to get her ass around front ASAP, then yanked the top off her iced mocha to gulp down as much as she could. “We have to book. That was Morio. A raiding party’s breaking through a rogue portal in Vanderson Park. At least a dozen goblins and twice that many bone-walkers. There may be more—they just started coming through the portal when Morio called me. He and Vanzir will hold them off as best as they can until everybody gets there.”
“We’ll have to talk later, Chase. Wait here for us? When Nerissa gets out of the shower, tell her where we went, if you would.” I grabbed my keys, then jammed my wallet in the pocket of my jeans.
He nodded. “I’ll call the Supe militia and put them on standby. One word from you and they’ll be on the way.” He pulled out his phone. “Text me directions the minute you get them. I’ll have Frank and the boys ready to roll if need be.”
Without another word, we grabbed our jackets and headed into the cool, clear evening. I glanced up at the stars that hung over us like an icy canopy, wondering how long we could keep this up. But we couldn’t falter. If we did, Telazhar would win, and Earthside would turn into a vast battleground.
Vanderson Park was about fifteen minutes out from our house in the Belles-Faire district of Seattle. Thank the gods, traffic was scarce, so we made good time. I reached the parking lot first, but Camille and Delilah were close on my heels, and they swerved into the parking lot behind me. As we slipped out of our cars, we could hear shouts coming from beyond a nearby copse of trees.
“Fuck, let’s hope that there aren’t any joggers out here braving the chill for a late-night run. And speaking of weather, the calendar says it’s May, but it feels like March tonight. Where are the temps in the seventies that the weather guys promised us?” Camille neatly slid her dagger into the sheath strapped to her thigh, over the leg of her catsuit. She started jogging toward the shouts.
“News report said the warm front is stalled off the coast but should move in by tomorrow afternoon.” Delilah joined her.
I caught up to them. We followed the curve of the sidewalk, twisting around the bend to see Morio and Vanzir in the middle of a copse of maple trees, caught in midbattle.
A host of bone-walkers swarmed around them, magically animated skeletons that were dangerous and hard to kill. Hack them to pieces and the bones would still skitter until the spell wore itself out. The goblins hung back, shouting encouragement to the bone-walkers. They were using the skeletons as cannon fodder to take the brunt of the damage, which made total sense. Wearing out the enemy before you have to face them was never a losing proposition. Just then, a shout from the other direction told us Shade and Trillian had arrived. Smoky and Rozurial would be on the way.
“We have to prevent the goblins from getting out of the park.” I moved toward a pair of the ugly brutes, but they dodged behind a big boulder.
Camille headed toward Morio. The two of them could do far more damage working together than separately—their death magic was growing stronger every day, it seemed. Delilah unsheathed Lysanthra—her sentient dagger. The blade hummed with a shrill growl of hunger as it smelled goblin blood. As she jockeyed into position with a bone-walker, I sped into a run, then, using the boulder that was standing between us as a springboard, launched myself into the fight, landing square in front of two of the goblins. Their eyes lit up until I smiled, my fangs descending. A sudden lack of enthusiasm flashed across their faces and I smiled, satisfied.
“The oh-shit-it’s-a-vampire look works for you, boys.” I darted in, ignoring their blades. Unless they clipped me in the heart or cut off my head, they couldn’t do anything to me that couldn’t be repaired.
One of them managed to dance out of my way, but the other was within easy reach. I barreled into him, knocking him down and landing on his chest. Throwing my head back, I bared my fangs and lunged at his throat, savagely tearing into the flesh. As muscle was severed from muscle, veins ripping, the blood stained my lips, sending me into a frenzy. I’d been doing a lot of this lately, and each time, it seemed to get easier. I caught a mouthful of the fountaining liquid, hot and coppery and fresh on my tongue and gulped it down. Ignoring the aftertaste—goblin blood was nasty at best—I staved off the desire to stay and drink deep. I rolled to the side and came to my feet. The goblin gurgled with one last burbling noise and collapsed.
His buddy took one look at his dead comrade and raised his sword. I recognized the look in his eye. Vengeance mixed with stupidity did not for sanity or safety make. He tossed the sword from hand to hand, showing off, a shit-eating grin on his face.
“Oh, sugar, you really don’t want to waste your last minutes trying to impress me.” I sauntered toward him. “I’ve taken down creatures far bigger and badder than you. And maybe you should remember what just happened to your buddy. After all, a vampire’s gotta do what a vampire’s gotta do.”
I bent my knees slightly and launched myself into the air, flipping over his head to land in back of him, very Bruce Lee. As the goblin let out a surprised grunt and struggled to turn around, I slammed against his back, knocking him forward onto his own sword. He shouted “Oh crap!” in Calouk—the common tongue of Otherworld—but I cut him off. I grabbed his head and wrenched his neck to the side, the resounding crack putting a stop to anything else he might have to say.
On my feet again, I turned, staring at the host of creatures surrounding us.
Camille and Morio had joined hands and were taking down a circle of bone-walkers with their death magic. The purple lightning from the circle of power surrounding them crackled, destroying every skeleton it touched as they walked forward, driving the magic in front of them. Delilah was slashing her way through the goblins, her blade singing every time it bit deep into the flesh of one of the creatures.
A glance toward the parking lot announced the arrival of Smoky and Roz. They asked no questions, merely joined Shade and Trillian, who were knee deep in battle, driving their swords through the chaos that spilled out from the portal.
Vanzir was guarding the vortex, attacking as more goblins poured through the opening. He couldn’t prevent them from coming through, but he was making a dent in the incoming tide. And, thank the gods, only a handful of goblins could come through at a time. We were lucky in that regard.
The energy vortex spread between two of the tallest trees like a spider’s web, overshadowing the brilliant green of early-summer leaves. The energy fluctuated enough to signify that it was a rogue portal—not one that had been opened and stabilized when Otherworld decided to reconnect with Earthside. That alone was cause for concern. There were too many rogue portals showing up lately, and we knew why, even if we couldn’t do anything about it right now. And their numbers would only increase until we found a way to stabilize the time-space continuum through which they worked.
I grabbed out my phone and put in a conference call to Iris and Tanne Baum. The Woodland Fae from the Black Forest had been working hand in hand with us over the past few weeks. In December, we had discovered that—if they worked in tandem—Iris and Tanne could shut down rogue portals.
“We’ve got another one.” I gave them directions. Tanne said he would swing by and pick up Iris, and they’d be here in fifteen minutes.
As I returned to the battle, the others were just finishing up the last of the bone-walkers. The goblins were all dead. And Smoky had taken Vanzir’s place, guarding against anything else that might take a notion to emerge from the portal.
“Iris and Tanne are on the way.” I stared at the blood saturating the ground and the field of broken bones. “Anybody call the FH-CSI to send out a cleanup crew?”
“I did.” Delilah shook her head. “How many this time?” She pulled out a notebook and pen.
“Twenty-four goblins and forty-two bone-walkers. The raiding parties are getting bigger.” Camille cast a dark look at the portal. “Either Telazhar has managed to figure out how to find rogue portals or he’s creating new ones. I have no idea how he might be able to do that, but we have to take him out. Eventually, he’s going to figure out how to rip open the portals from the Sub-Realms even without the spirit seals, and then we’re going to have demons coming through instead of goblins.”
Delilah let out a long sigh. “That makes . . .” She stopped to calculate for a moment. “Over two hundred goblins, three hundred bone-walkers, forty-five ogres, and two trolls since this started. A drop in the bucket compared to the thousands under Telazhar’s command, according to Trenyth. And do we even know if he’s opened up rogue portals to other countries over here? Are there goblins overrunning small towns in Norway or Russia that we haven’t heard about, simply because they’re cut off? Camille’s right. We have to kill him.”
Trillian stared somberly at the carnage. “Last we talked to Trenyth, he said Telazhar is bearing down heavily on Ceredream. His armies are pounding at the gates. The City of the East is beleaguered, but luckily they’ve managed to stave off the assault, but you know that’s not going to last unless somebody intervenes. But for now, that gives us an advantage because with most of Telazhar’s resources tied up trying to invade Ceredream, he can’t focus too much on Earthside.”
“Maybe. But I wouldn’t bet on that lasting for long.” I stared at the bleak remains of the goblins and the twitching parts of the bone-walkers. A hand skittered past me on the ground—finger bones clutching at the grass to pull itself along. Without thinking, I stomped on it, hard, crushing the bones. “Why do you think he only sends his recruits during the night?”
“Perhaps he thinks it’s the best way to get one up on us. Who knows?” Shade wiped his blade on the grass. The half-dragon had adjusted to the lack of his Stradolan powers remarkably well, but then none of us had been given much of a choice in how we reacted to changes in our lives. It had become adapt or die, and we were all feeling the strain of too much change, too much chaos, lately. The fact that his shadow-walker self had vanished due to a freak show energy-sucker was harsh, but right now it wasn’t our biggest problem. Luckily, Shade seemed to understand that.
Camille sucked in a deep breath. “I wanted to save this card for when Shadow Wing made his big move, but I think we have to use it now. It’s time for me to call on the dragons for help. They’ve pledged to me they would work on our side during the war. We can set them after Telazhar, over in Otherworld. That might be enough to give us a respite.” Her expression grew dark, sweeping across her face like a thundercloud. She had paid dearly for the promise of help from the Dragonkin. Their offer had been given as reparations for a wound that she would never fully be able to leave behind her.
“I think you’re right, my wife. It’s time.” Smoky smiled faintly. “We need help in Otherworld, and so does every free country over there. We’ll talk to my people in the morning.”
As Morio and Vanzir poked among the dead, searching for any information that might help us, my sisters and I headed over to a nearby bench to wait. We were all covered with blood—except for Smoky, who was his usual pristine self. It occurred to me that Shade didn’t share the same trait. Maybe it was because he was only half dragon. But the good news was, we had managed to avoid any damage to ourselves except for a few bruises here and there.
“You really think it’s time to summon the dragons?” Delilah’s eyes were wide. She had lost her naïveté over the past years, but she still could look the part of the little Kitten.
“You’re marrying a half-dragon and I’m married to a prince of the realm. Don’t sound so surprised.” Camille laughed, breaking the tension. “It’s not like we don’t know any.”
I chimed in. “Cut her some slack.” But I was smiling. “After all, we are talking about dragons, and anybody in their right mind knows better than to be blasé about Dragonkin.”
Delilah wrinkled her nose. “I just meant . . . are we at that point? Has it really come to this?”
“Yeah, I think we’re really all in.” Camille smiled grimly. “It came sooner than I expected, but right now, I’d say we’re beyond the point of no return. There will be no more demon generals . . . no more Mr. Nice Guy. Shadow Wing is on the move, and Telazhar is his angel of death, leading the brigade. I feel it in my bones.” She shivered, crossing her arms. Then, softly, she added, “Let’s face it—life is changing all around us. We can’t avoid the future.”
“Destiny’s a bitch.” I let out a short grunt.
Camille entwined her fingers, staring at her hands. “Destiny will out. We can’t stop the future from coming. Once I move out to Talamh Lonrach Oll after my coronation on Samhain, nothing will ever be the same. Unless you two come with me, this will be the first time in our lives we’ve lived apart.” Her eyes were misty, her voice quivering just enough to reveal a hint of fear. “I’m going to be a queen . . . and I’m not sure I know how.”
And none of us could give her advice. We sat silent for a moment, and then Delilah let out a long sigh.
She straightened her shoulders. “We were waiting to tell you, but I think we need some good news now. Shade and I have decided that we want to get married this year. We don’t want to wait any longer. I don’t want to wait any longer.”
Camille forced a smile and kissed her on the cheek. “Yay, another wedding to plan! I love weddings.”
I wrapped an arm around Delilah’s shoulder. “Whenever you want, love. Tell us and we’ll make it happen. You want a white gown and a Cinderella wedding, you’ve got it. You want a quiet garden wedding—you’ve got that, too. Just promise me you’ll marry at night so I can be there.”
“Oh, there’s no doubt about that. A nighttime wedding for sure.”
As I stared at the darkening sky, I thought about everything that was happening. Finally, after a few minutes of silence, I said, “Will you and Smoky go to the Dragon Reaches tomorrow?”
Camille stared up at the stars, then slowly nodded. “Yeah. We will.”
I pursed my lips. “War has sneaked in to land on our doorstep and there’s no way to turn back the clock. It would be a good idea if we could establish whether Telazhar is filtering his recruits through other portals around the world. Delilah, can you ask the Supe Community Council to put out feelers, to see if there’s been an increase in activity? And I’ll ask Roman to check through the Vampire Nation.”
Camille let out a long sigh. “And I’ll ask Aeval and Titania to check with the Earthside Fae. Maybe we can figure out just how wide a swath Telazhar is managing to cut.”
And with that, we saw Chase’s cleanup crew coming up the walkway. They headed over to the carnage. They would clear up all signs of what had happened here. And behind them, Iris and Tanne Baum came striding up the sidewalk. Shelving further discussion, we wearily met the pair and led them to the portal.
“We’re getting all too much practice at this.” Iris stared at the shimmering energy. “It’s so beautiful, and so deadly.”
Tanne said nothing, simply waited for Iris to ready herself. She cast a spell and a layer of ice began to form across the surface of the crackling vortex. As soon as it had frozen solid, Tanne began to sing, his voice resonating deeply through the air. He placed his hands on one side of the ice and Iris placed her hands on the other, joining him in song, weaving a contrabeat with her voice as they drove their magic through the portal, fracturing it from within its core.
We knew enough to stand clear as cracks began to race through the ice covering the opening. Iris and Tanne held their song steady. It undulated through the portal like an earthquake rippling through the ground. Nearby trees began to shake as a shrill hum filled the air. The cracks widened, light pouring between them. Iris dropped the beat, then found a single alto note and held it—her voice trilling with a rich wave of power. Tanne followed suit, and the vibrations of their voices blended together to force their way through the fractures. Another moment, and the vortex began to blink in and out of phase, rapidly rotating through a whirl of colors. Then, with one last groan, the frozen web of lightning shattered—splintering into a shower of hailstones, destroying the magic as it did so. Fragments of ice pelted everything in the area, including us, the rock-hard pellets striking like sharp pebbles.
Iris glanced at Tanne, a tight smile on her pretty face. Together, they had destroyed five new portals over the past two weeks, and each one was a strain. The magic required to rip apart a vortex that joined two worlds was immense, and it was taking a toll on both of them.
“You okay?” She held her hand out to Tanne, who allowed her to lead him over to another bench. They both looked bone-weary.
“Yeah, but this is getting old. I’ve got the clan looking out for more activity, by the way. We’ve taken out three groups of psy-demons lately. They are Earthside-based, but rare, so I figure something must be riling them up.” He paused. “Would you like to meet the Hunters Glen clan? I’d be happy to introduce you.” Demon hunters from the Black Forest, they were a group of Woodland Fae who had sent a select faction of their members to establish a new colony over here in the United States.
I glanced at Delilah and Camille, then nodded. “We should, at some point. We need as many allies as we can get. We’ll call you and set up a time. Meanwhile, we had better get back home and clean up before another call comes through. You want to come with us, Tanne?”
He shook his head. “I’m all right. I’ll go hunting with the guys—they can always use another hand.”
And so after a brief discussion, we split up again, the men heading back out on reconnaissance, and the four of us women back to the house. As I sped through the silent night, my jeans covered with goblin blood, I wondered just how long we could hold out under this schedule.
Chase was still there when we got home. He had fixed a plate of sandwiches and a potato salad with Hanna’s help. As we trailed in, he began serving up plates for Camille, Delilah, and Iris. They all looked tired, and so was I. The continual fighting from the past couple of weeks felt like it was seeping into my bones, like a chill that would not go away. As Chase carried the tray into the living room, complete with another bottle of blood for me, he seemed even more sober than when we had left.
“Nerissa went downstairs to sleep. She’s going to need it for tomorrow. A situation has cropped up and I’m afraid the ramifications aren’t going to be good. Maybe we’ll luck out and nothing will come of it, but I’m not hedging any bets on that outcome.”
“What’s going on?” Kitten settled onto the sofa with her plate.
Chase let out a long breath. “This afternoon, I got a call from a friend of mine. John’s an investigator with Scotland Yard, over in England. He told me that early morning, there was some unauthorized activity within Stonehenge. He was sent out to check on it. He said a great host of creatures were pouring out of the center of the ring. Now, he’s well aware of what the Fae are, and he said they looked like no Fae he’d ever encountered. Instead, they were large, burly men with massive weapons, along with a group of creatures that, when he described them, I can pretty much guarantee are bloatworgles.”
Delilah paled. “Tregarts. The men. You know they have to be Tregarts.”
Tregarts were humanlike demons who were incredibly strong and brutish. They often paired with other lower-level demons as the brawn—in this case, the bloatworgles, demons who could breathe fire. We had fought both types far more than we cared to remember. Chase had nearly lost his life to them. Only the Nectar of Life had saved him, extending his life to well over a thousand years if he wasn’t murdered or didn’t meet with an accident before then.
“Demons at Stonehenge? But are they coming from the Sub-Realms? Or were they sent from Otherworld? And if so, how did they get over into Otherworld to begin with? The vortex at Stonehenge hasn’t been opened in hundreds of years.” Camille frowned. “You’re right, this is a serious problem.”
“Yes, and possibly worse than you think. The papers caught wind of it. London—all of the UK—is buzzing with rumors. And thanks to the Internet, that news has reached our shores. You can’t do anything anymore without it being instantly broadcast worldwide.” Chase looked a little green around the gills. “If the governments find out about this and actually give it credibility?”
“That would be bad. Very bad.” I shuddered to think about what could all too easily happen.
The governments of the world liked their nuclear bombs. What they did not realize—because they didn’t know about the demons yet—was that uranium and radioactivity only made Demonkin stronger. If the president got it into his head to go on the attack, chances were he was going to plunge us into a dark hole so deep that you’d have to look up to see bottom.
“Bad doesn’t begin to encompass the danger.” Chase shifted in his chair. “I’ve got a call in to a few of the guys I know. They’re higher up in the Department of Defense. In fact, I worked directly with them when we were creating the FH-CSI. I’ll try to explain it to them. How they’ll take it, I can’t even begin to guess. But I’ll do my best to make them understand that we absolutely have to keep this under wraps, that we cannot let the politicians take control of this situation, and above all—no nukes.”
He let out a long sigh. “The day we feared was coming has arrived, girls. The world is about to find out that the demons exist. Given the hate groups that sprang up against you, I dread to think what’s going to happen.”
I closed my eyes, envisioning the potential for disaster. Human supremacist groups were already on the rampage. And we all knew they wouldn’t differentiate between the demons and any other Supe. This was just the extra fuel they needed to blow their campaigns sky high, turning the sparks of a wildfire into a massive conflagration.
“What can we do?” Delilah’s voice was hushed, almost reverently afraid.
“Stop Telazhar. That’s the only way. Take him down, wipe him out, drink his blood. I don’t care what method you choose, but he has to be destroyed. Then we worry about Shadow Wing.” And with that, Chase stood. “I need to get back to the office. I’ve been working eighteen-hour days the past few weeks.” He turned to Iris. “Thank you for watching Astrid while I’m there. I haven’t heard from Sharah in a few weeks. Sometimes I feel like taking my daughter and heading over to Otherworld to be with her mother, and leaving all of this behind.”
Iris nodded, her eyes wet with tears. “I understand. Bruce was talking about heading back to Ireland, but as I told him—it doesn’t matter where we go. Shadow Wing is determined to burn everything to the ground and it won’t matter what country we’re in. Or even what world. We’re all in danger until he’s destroyed.”
With that, we saw Chase to the door.
Camille turned to us as we returned to the living room. “I’ll head out to Talamh Lonrach Oll tonight. I’m tired, but I think we should ask the Merlin to go to the UK. He might be able to quash the mess over there.”
Delilah nodded, her expression fading from worried to dark and beautiful. She had changed a lot since her last round of training with the Death Maidens. Now she routinely saw ghosts and spirits, but they couldn’t touch her unless she chose to allow it. And she was transforming even still.
“I’ll talk to the Supe Community Council.” She stretched, yawning. “We have the militia here, but it’s time to call up reinforcements everywhere.”
I let out a long sigh. “I’ve got time before sunrise to go talk to Roman. We can marshal the vampires. It’s time we all pulled together and walked into the fires of war united.”
And with that, we were off, doing what needed to be done even as the clock seemed to tick away all too fast.