ebook

Storm Born

Richelle Mead

ISBN 9781420106381
Publish Date 8/1/2008
Format ePub
Categories Fiction Urban Fantasy

Just typical. No love life to speak of for months, then all at once, every horny creature in the Otherworld wants to get in your pants…

Eugenie Markham is a powerful shaman who does a brisk trade banishing spirits and fey who cross into the mortal world. Mercenary, yes, but a girl’s got to eat. Her most recent case, however, is enough to ruin her appetite. Hired to find a teenager who has been taken to the Otherworld, Eugenie comes face to face with a startling prophecy—one that uncovers dark secrets about her past and claims that Eugenie’s first-born will threaten the future of the world as she knows it.

Now Eugenie is a hot target for every ambitious demon and Otherworldy ne’er-do-well, and the ones who don’t want to knock her up want her dead. Eugenie handles a Glock as smoothly as she wields a wand, but she needs some formidable allies for a job like this. She finds them in Dorian, a seductive fairy king with a taste for bondage, and Kiyo, a gorgeous shape-shifter who redefines animal attraction. But with enemies growing bolder and time running out, Eugenie realizes that the greatest danger is yet to come, and it lies in the dark powers that are stirring to life within her…

Praise for Richelle Mead and Succubus Blues…


“This is one of those series I’m going to keep following.” --Jim Butcher, New York Times bestselling author

“The mix of supernatural mystery, romance, and reluctant succubus is great fun.” --Locus

“Exciting, witty, sexy, intriguing and had me captivated from the first page.” --Cheyenne McCray

“Storm Born is my kind of book -- great characters, dark worlds, and just the right touch of humor. A great read.” --Patricia Briggs

Chapter One

I’d seen weirder things than a haunted shoe, but not many.

The Nike Pegasus sat on the office’s desk, inoffensive, colored in shades of gray, white, and orange. Some of the laces were loosened, and a bit of dirt clung around the soles. It was the left shoe.

As for me, well . . . underneath my knee-length coat, I had a Glock .22 loaded with bullets carrying a higherthan- legal steel content. A cartridge of silver ones rested in the coat’s pocket. Two athames lay sheathed on my other hip, one silver-bladed and one iron. Stuck into my belt near them was a wand, hand-carved oak and loaded with enough charmed gems to probably blow up the desk in the corner if I wanted to.

To say I felt overdressed was something of an understatement.

“So,” I said, keeping my voice as neutral as possible, “what makes you think your shoe is . . . uh, possessed?”

Brian Montgomery, late thirties with a receding hairline in serious denial, eyed the shoe nervously and moistened his lips. “It always trips me up when I’m out running. Every time. And it’s always moving around. I mean, I never actually see it, but . . . like, I’ll take them off near the door, then I come back and find this one under the bed or something. And sometimes . . . sometimes I touch it, and it feels cold . . . really cold . . . like . . .” He groped for similes and finally picked the tritest one. “Like ice.”

I nodded and glanced back at the shoe, not saying anything.

“Look, Miss . . . Odile . . . or whatever. I’m not crazy. That shoe is haunted. It’s evil. You’ve gotta do something, okay? I’ve got a marathon coming up, and until this started happening, these were my lucky shoes. And they’re not cheap, you know. They’re an investment.”

It sounded crazy to me—which was saying something— but there was no harm in checking, seeing as I was already out here. I reached into my coat pocket, the one without ammunition, and pulled out my pendulum. It was a simple one, a thin silver chain with a small quartz crystal hanging from it.

I laced the chain’s end through my fingers and held my flattened hand over the shoe, clearing my mind and letting the crystal hang freely. A moment later, it began to slowly rotate of its own accord.

“Well, I’ll be damned,” I muttered, stuffing the pendulum back in my pocket. There was something there. I turned to Montgomery, attempting some sort of badass face, because that was what customers always expected. “It might be best if you stepped out of the room, sir. For your own safety.”

That was only half-true. Mostly I just found lingering clients annoying. They asked stupid questions and could do stupider things, which actually put me at more risk than them.

He had no qualms about getting out of there. As soon as the door closed, I found a jar of salt in my satchel and poured a large ring on the office’s floor. I tossed the shoe into the middle of it and invoked the four cardinal directions with the silver athame. Ostensibly the circle didn’t change, but I felt a slight flaring of power, indicating it had sealed us in.

Trying not to yawn, I pulled out my wand and kept holding the silver athame. It had taken four hours to drive to Las Cruces, and doing that on so little sleep had made the distance seem twice as long. Sending some of my will into the wand, I tapped it against the shoe and spoke in a sing-song voice.

“Come out, come out, whoever you are.”

There was a moment’s silence, then a high-pitched male voice snapped, “Go away, bitch.”

Great. A shoe with attitude. “Why? You got something better to do?”

“Better things to do than waste my time with a mortal.”

I smiled. “Better things to do in a shoe? Come on. I mean, I’ve heard of slumming it, but don’t you think you’re kind of pushing the envelope here? This shoe isn’t even new. You could have done so much better.”

The voice kept its annoyed tone, not threatening but simply irritated at the interruption. “I’m slumming it? Do you think I don’t know who you are, Eugenie Markham? Dark-Swan-Called-Odile. A blood traitor. A mongrel. An assassin. A murderer.” He practically spit out the last word. “You are alone among your kind and mine. A bloodthirsty shadow. You do anything for anyone who can pay you enough for it. That makes you more than a mercenary. That makes you a whore.”

I affected a bored stance. I’d been called most of those names before. Well, except for my own name. That was new—and a little disconcerting. Not that I’d let him know that.

“Are you done whining? Because I don’t have time to listen while you stall.”

“Aren’t you being paid by the hour?” he asked nastily.

“I charge a flat fee.”

“Oh.”

I rolled my eyes and touched the wand to the shoe again. This time, I thrust the full force of my will into it, drawing upon my own body’s physical stamina as well as some of the power of the world around me. “No more games. If you leave on your own, I won’t have to hurt you. Come out.”

He couldn’t stand against that command and the power within it. The shoe trembled, and smoke poured out of it. Oh, Jesus. I hoped the shoe didn’t get incinerated during this. Montgomery wouldn’t be able to handle that.

The smoke bellowed out, coalescing into a large, dark form about two feet taller than me. With all his wisecracks, I’d sort of expected a saucy version of one of Santa’s elves. Instead, the being before me had the upper body of a well-muscled man, while his lower portion resembled a small cyclone. The smoke solidified into leathery gray-black skin, and I had only a moment to act as I assessed this new development. I swapped the wand for the gun, ejecting the clip as I pulled it out. By then, he was lunging for me, and I had to roll out of his way, confined by the circle’s boundaries.

A keres. A male keres—most unusual. I’d anticipated something fey, which required silver bullets; or a spectre, which required no bullets. Keres were ancient death spirits originally confined to canopic jars. When the jars wore down over time, keres tended to seek out new homes. There weren’t too many of them left in this world, and soon there’d be one less.

He bore down on me, and I took a nice chunk out of him with the silver blade. I used my right hand, the one I wore an onyx and obsidian bracelet on. Those stones alone would take a toll on a death spirit like him without the blade’s help. Sure enough, he hissed in pain and hesitated a moment. I used that delay, scrambling to load the silver cartridge.

I didn’t quite make it, because soon he was on me again. He hit me with one of those massive arms, slamming me against the walls of the circle. They might be transparent, but they felt as solid as bricks. One of the downsides of trapping a spirit in a circle was that I got trapped too. My head and left shoulder took the brunt of that impact, and pain shot through me in small star- bursts. He seemed pretty pleased with himself over this, as overconfident villains so often are.

“You’re as strong as they say, but you were a fool to try to cast me out. You should have left me in peace.” His voice was deeper now, almost gravelly.

I shook my head, both to disagree and to get rid of the dizziness. “It isn’t your shoe.”

I still couldn’t swap that goddamned cartridge. Not with him ready to attack again, not with both hands full. Yet I couldn’t risk dropping either weapon.

He reached for me, and I cut him again. The wounds were small, but the athame was like poison. It would wear him down over time—if I could stay alive that long. I moved to strike at him once more, but he anticipated me and seized hold of my wrist. He squeezed it, bending it in an unnatural position and forcing me to drop the athame and cry out. I hoped he hadn’t broken any bones. Smug, he grabbed me by the shoulders with both hands and lifted me up so that I hung face to face with him. His eyes were yellow with slits for pupils, much like some sort of snake’s. His breath was hot and reeked of decay as he spoke.

“You are small, Eugenie Markham, but you are lovely and your flesh is warm. Perhaps I should beat the rush and take you myself. I’d enjoy hearing you scream beneath me.”

About Richelle Mead:

Richelle Mead has an M.A. in Comparative Religion and a passion for all things wacky and humorous. She currently lives in Seattle with her husband and four cats. Late-night musings and updates about the next succubus novel can be found at www.richellemead.com.


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