Anticipated Release: March 20, 2023
Leto Petrides has her own set of rules to living her long existence as a Sprite, and being tied down to some mate isn't one of them! Life's too long to be chained to some needy being, having to stroke their ego. Besides, she comes from a prominent Fae bloodline, someone should be stroking her ego for a change. Now the New Orleans district manager of The Bureau, the last thing she needed was the Magi trying to fix her up with some surly vampyre--the once-sworn enemy of the Faes.
Maddox Andreiko wanted nothing to do with the Faes, nonetheless being a companion to one. In fact, he found the tinker bells a bunch of snobs and the shaky truce between them was a joke. He's a battled and bloodied Wraith of the High Court, he's not marriage material for some dainty fairy. And why should he abide by some silly Fae custom anyway when in the old days his kind would just simply eat them?
Graphic consensual sex, Torture, Violence, Child endangerment
EXCERPT: A PIA VIP
Maddox looked out the window and to Leto who loaded a fresh clip in her pistol and placed it in her shoulder holster.
“Great, now let’s get moving away from here before anyone comes back. Once I get you off the grid, things will work out well for everyone.”
He moved towards the door, when he noticed she wasn’t moving. Maddox paused when she scowled and he responded with a grunt.
“You see, when bad guys attack once and don’t succeed, they typically try to attack again.” Maddox smiled through his sarcastic tone. “Thus, we should get our asses in gear. Namely, your ass in gear. Now.”
Leto sighed, giving him a snide expression.
“Look, Andreiko. If we’re going to be around each other for what I hope is a short amount of time, you going to want to tone down the authoritative demeanor to me. You aren’t my colleague, you aren’t my boss, you’re not even my species, all right? And if you’re going to be around me, you need to stay out of my way. I have a job to do.”
Maddox frowned. “What are you talking about?”
“I want to get out there to find who’s taking these children. Don’t you get it? It’s my job, and I can’t sit around on my ass when kids are being snatched from their beds while they sleep. Now, if you take me by force, I guarantee neither one of us is going to have a good night because I’m ready to go hunting for this bitch who’s stealing kids. Does the VHC really want that on their conscience?”
Maddox sighed, sinking into her soft blue eyes. Perhaps there was a way to sort this out without him man-handling a Fae princess. He groaned at the determination in those eyes, and that she seemed totally unwavering in her duty to her mission. As inconvenient as it was, he was having a hard time not respecting her dedication. Besides, it wasn’t every day the Bureau and VHC shared a common mission and enemy. Hopefully, it could be used to his advantage.
“I saved a little boy the other night who was taken by a demon. A female. Pretty redhead with gold eyes and a symbol on her cheek.”
Leto slowly lowered her gun. “A symbol on her cheek?” It was just as the book described. She was a Mormolycae, as she suspected.
“Yeah. She starved him and pawned him off to a vampire. So, no. For your information, I don’t want that to happen again. Ever. I rather stop her before she does it again. That is what I’m supposed to do, and what I was doing before I got assigned to you.” Maddox sighed.
“I have information to help us catch her. But if I divulge this information, you need to make a deal with me.”
Leto folded her arms. She should’ve known that was coming. “What?”
“If I help you catch her, you are to come with me, quietly. No bullshit. No stunts.”
She looked around then finally met his eyes. His eyebrows furrowed as he waited for her to decide. She had to admit, the bloodsucker had a good trump card. It seemed like he wasn’t bluffing and knew something that could help her capture the Mormo. Who knew how many others she was taking?
Her thoughts shifted as the creak of his footsteps toward her alerted her. His presence kept her tense, on guard. “No bullshit?”
He shook his head. “Take it or leave it.”
Leto nodded as she paced in a small area. “Fine. It’s a deal. Mormos like to go after children, and since it’s not like every child in the New Orleans area will not start being good little boys and girls simultaneously, it’s not like she has the incentive to stop.”
Maddox grunted in agreement, trying not to focus on the sway of her body. Her movements were delicately controlled and graceful, almost as if she was a dancer. Keeping her distance, her body language clearly had a “fuck off” vibe and he guess he couldn’t blame her. A vampire in her mist wasn’t the warmest greeting, but it’s not like he wanted to be there. Hell, he didn’t choose to be her mate either. He was dumped in all of this just like her. She didn’t have to like him, but she did have to let him fulfill his mission.
Ignoring her strides, he looked around. “She’s giving them to vampires or others, and I don’t think she sells them.”
She stopped pacing. “Why do you think that?”
“Jakob, the asshole I chased down with the boy, said she just gave him the kid. Just out of the blue.”
“Was there any kind of exchange at all. Do you know?” she asked suspiciously.
“Well, where’s this Jakob? Can we make him talk?”
“Yeah, that’s gonna be a bit of a problem.”
She stared at him, exhaling loudly. “And why’s that?”
“Because he underwent judgment.”
She shook her head in disapproval. “You mean executed.”
Maddox shrugged. The Bureau’s finest. Whatever helps them sleep at night. “I meant judgment.”
“Dammit. Did you even question him before you killed him?”
“Of course, I did.”
“But that’s all the information you got out of him?”
“I got what I needed. He ran from the Wraiths and committed yet another crime by taking that kid”
“Look, I get it, but---”
“He pissed me off and I don’t fuck around. He was going to sell a child, so he met the end of my sword. That is the only way to deal with a creature like that. The only way I can feel there’s justice to the situation.”
Maddox shared no sympathy for Jakob. He deserved to die as anyone who dared to harm a child. Human or not, you don’t fuck with offspring. Closing his eyes briefly, the ghostly image of his son, IIya, fleeing from danger hijacked his thoughts. The years only dulled the pain of losing a child, but he could never forget. His failure as a father haunted him in every child he saw. Then and now.
I couldn’t protect my own, but I will protect others.
Leto watched the intensity grow in his eyes, but after a moment saw something else. There was sorrow there, as if his anger was shielding him from something deeper. She didn’t disagree with him as predators of children made her skin crawl, so she figured it best to let it go. Seeing Maddox’s face, she imagined Jakob did not go gentle into that good night. She sighed. It was astounding how more vampires didn’t fear for their lives. The VHC was far more brutal to their own than the Bureau. And yet, vampires found it easier to piss on the Bureau instead. She was increasingly becoming convinced they were a breed glutton for punishment.
“Okay, so we know we have a Mormo who has some sort of ties to vampires. She’s not directly selling the children. So, what’s her purpose? What’s she after?”
“It doesn’t matter. Since when did demons need an excuse to wreak havoc?” Maddox checked his phone for the time. “We should get going.”
“Alright,” she sighed, placing the blade of Tiwaz in its case.
Maddox adjusted his coat and gave her the side-eye. “Just keep in mind that we are working together on this because I’m trusting you to stick to your end of the bargain, and I want that Mormo dead. I’m allowing you to do this for the sake ---”
“You’re allowing me?” She scoffed. “Well, my goodness, that’s so sweet of you to help little ole me from the bottom of your black old heart. Despite what you may think, vamper. I’m totally capable of taking care of myself. With or without your ridiculous brawn, all right.”
The vampire had some nerve talking to her as if she was some sort of doll. She was hoping he would just be quiet as his presence was already an uncomfortable reminder of the Magi’s screw up.
“Of course. That’s why I’m pulled off my case to babysit a fairy princess who’s being pimped out by two parents to be some vampire’s dinner.” Maddox walked down the hall following her.
She instantly halted and whipped around with a punch that was quickly blocked by Maddox’s hand. Met with a pair of irritated blues that seemed much darker as she glared at him.
With a side-grin, he shook his head. “You’re gonna have to hit harder than that if you want me to take you seriously, Tink.”
She tilted her head, anger rising within her. “Fine.” With precision, she pointed her other hand at his chest and blasted an orange energy of light onto him. The orb of power blasted him down the hall at least forty feet and through a wall. Leto’s jaw went slack at seeing Maddox there one moment then pummeled through a wall the next. She hadn’t anticipated the blast to be that strong. Just earlier with the demon it only blew a couple of feet. Leto looked at her hand and the glow still held on her hand. Looking down the hall, a pang of guilt hit her.
Shit, what if I killed him? Her inner voice asked. "Problem solved?,” she whispered to herself. Shaking it away, she ran towards the end of the hall as Maddox finally got up, kicking away the planks and drywall that were in pieces. Leto stopped just short of him and cautiously stood beside him to check him out.
Maddox’s grey eyes burned bright in annoyance. “I was kidding.” He looked at her hand still glowing and glared at her with warning. “If you strike me again, you won’t like how I tame you, Fae.”
Leto crossed her arms with an esteemed grin. “Don’t tempt me. That was just a taste. I didn’t even mean to blast you that hard. You don’t know anything about me or my people. Let’s be civil, all right? Don’t call me ‘Tink,’ and I won’t call you an arrogant, bastard blood-sucking asshole. Deal? Plus, I’ll keep my hands to myself.”
Maddox lifted his shirt past the giant hole where the blast engaged. The burn was black and still sizzled on his skin. He hissed a curse as he stood up. I don’t hit girls, I don’t hit girls, he chanted in this thoughts. Besides, he had to bring her back in one piece as his mission stood. He stretched his body and stared down at her. He’d drained fairies for a lot less in the past. If it wasn’t for a moment of regret that crossed on her face when she first approached him, his anger would’ve been much more palpable. Instead, his kinder idea kept him on the right side of the VHC and his fairy wanna-be in-laws. The reference in his head forced a twisted laugh out of him.
Leto frowned. “What’s amusing?”
His dark laugh sobered. “To wit, I think I do know something about your people.”
“What’s that?” she asked, waiting for him to say something else insulting. She’d forgotten how annoying vampires could be. Perhaps she was spoiled by Ethan. He was morose but wasn’t insulting at least.
Maddox raised an eyebrow. “You all have very human pressure points.”
Before she could say anything else, Maddox squeezed an area behind her neck and shoulder bone and with a grunt, she fell unconscious. Catching her, she crumpled into his arms. Leave it to the VHC to have him babysit the most uncooperative VIP ever. And that was saying something. Maddox paused a moment to look at her. Her heart-shaped lips were slightly parted and daringly invited a kiss, while her eyes were gently closed beneath long sandy lashes. He took a moment to admire how beguiling she was when she wasn’t balking at him. She felt like she belonged in his arms. There was a power to her. A strength that flirted with her beauty. And that heavenly scent of her royal Fae blood threatened to hypnotize him.
How did the hell I get a fairy bride?
She certainly was right about him. He didn’t know a whole lot about the Fae. He never cared to. The Fae and the vampires didn’t mix. They just didn’t. Truce or no truce, they hated each other. And he couldn’t think of any reason that would change. There would have to be a force greater than anything he’d ever known to change that, and such a force was beyond him. Hoisting her over his shoulder, he sighed. Her floral sweet smell was so close to him now. It forced him to breathe deeply, taking in the delectable scent of her blood. A weaker vampire would’ve taken a bite out of her---maybe in more ways than one---but luck was on her side. Shaking the feeling away, he pulled out his phone. He found Lavinia’s number.
“You got the package?,” Lavinia asked.
She grunted in suspicion. “There aren’t any new holes in it, is there?”
Maddox did a once over on his unconscious charge, starting with her ass that rested quite comfortably against his ear, then frowned. “Um, not right now. That almost changed a few minutes ago. Right now, I wouldn’t let a thing harm her.” Maddox grimaced at his last words. It was correct, however, not quite the wording he would’ve used in such context. He cleared his throat. “Anyway, tell the High Court the package is coming to the safe house. I’m fading there with her now.”
“You got it.” Lavinia replied before hanging up.
Unfortunately, hunting the Mormo would have to wait until he could get some cooperation from his ward. “Don’t know why you insist on doing things the hard way. But that’s fine. I’m known to appreciate a challenge.”