“If you knew it was rogues killing the fae, why didn’t you say so? Why hide it?”

“Because …” Odette gulped audibly. “Because the rogues down there are from Red Rum.”

Ominous silence hung over our small group, but I had no idea why. It sucked being out of the loop all the time. “Red Rum?”

“The nastiest rogue guild you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting,” Aaron told me grimly. “They specialize in everything from extortion to assassination. Think ‘mob boss’ and add in the worst of the dark arts.”

“If they bind the fae lord, they’ll command his power.” Olivia grasped my elbow. “Do you understand? Red Rum in control of a sea lord? It would be catastrophic.”

Tugging my arm free, I brushed two fingers across my inner wrist where an almost invisible rune marked my skin. I’d met a wyldfae before, and the thought of Echo under the power of a rogue guild terrified me.

Faint heat kindled in my wrist, tingling under my skin.

“Hold up,” Aaron cut in. “Sea lord? How do you know what type of wyldfae they’re after?”

Olivia’s eyes darted around as though she were searching for an escape. “Only one fae of any note comes here … There are legends about him—a sea spirit that once lived beneath the cliffs at Prospect Point.”

“Anything else you’d like to share?” I asked nastily.

Her shoulders wilted. “The ritual will succeed or fail within the next hour. They must complete it before the tide comes back in. They can’t be allowed to succeed …”

I pointed at the sisters. “You two wait there. We need to have a huddle.”

“A huddle?” Aaron repeated bemusedly.

Taking his and Ezra’s arms, I steered them twenty feet away. Kai followed with one eyebrow arched. Grabbing him too, I pulled them into a literal huddle, my arms around Aaron’s and Kai’s broad shoulders. Across from me, Ezra grinned in amusement.

“What’s the game plan?” I whispered.

“Is the huddle necessary?” Kai asked grumpily.

“Absolutely. I’ve always wanted to be part of a superhero huddle.”

“Which we’re not,” Aaron snorted.

“Shut up and let me have my moment.” I looked between them. “We can’t let Red Rum get control of an uber-fae, can we?”

“Assuming the ritual works, which I doubt it will.” Kai considered our options. “We can stay and observe, but we shouldn’t get involved. Red Rum isn’t a guild we can afford to provoke. I’m betting they are the reason all the other guilds turned down this job. No one wants to end up with a target on their back.”

“But what do we do if it looks like they might succeed?” I asked. “Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want you guys going up against any Red Rum rogues, let alone twelve, but …”

Aaron nodded like I’d shared a complete thought instead of trailing into awkward silence. “She’s got a point.”

“Agreed.” Kai pulled out of the huddle and withdrew his phone. “I’ll text Darius.”

As he sent off a quick message, I massaged my wrist and frowned toward the beach. Rhythmic sound rumbled through the trees—male voices chanting.

“They’ve started,” Odette gasped. “They’re summoning the fae lord!”

Aaron gestured for us to follow and stepped off the path. I got behind him as we crept through the trees, the sound of our movements covered by the chanting men.

Just before the hillside dropped off, I parted the branches of a shrub and peered out. Twenty-five feet below, a paved footpath hugged the coastline, and beyond that was a rocky beach. Shining puddles covered the mud exposed by the retreating tide.

Positioned on the foreshore was a cluster of men in dark clothes. Big work lights on stands surrounded them, shining bright beams on the circle they had carved deep into the mud—which must have been fifty feet across. Precise shapes had been drawn through it, and various tools and materials had been placed at specific points inside and around the outer ring.

Seven people stood back from the ritual, while four were stationed at the compass points of the circle, hands raised toward it as they chanted. The last man stood in the center, his back to the coast as he faced the ocean.

“Sorcerers,” Olivia hissed. “The one in the middle is a witch. This is a foul blend of Arcana and Spiritalis.”

I chewed my lip as the sorcerers continued their measured chant. The unfamiliar words vibrated through me even from this distance, making my skin itch.

“Anything from Darius?” Aaron whispered to Kai.

“Not yet. I just sent a message to Tabitha as well.”

Crouched uncomfortably in the bushes, we watched for a few more minutes. The men chanted without pausing or stuttering, and I had to appreciate their perfectionism. How much had they practiced this?

“Maybe it won’t work,” Odette whispered hopefully. “Maybe the fae lord will resist the—”

An electronic buzz interrupted her. Kai raised his phone, the screen glowing with an incoming call. He swiped the screen and lifted it to his ear.


“Under no circumstances are you to engage Red Rum.” The guild master’s stern words were loud enough to hear, even without switching the phone to speaker. “Withdraw immediately.”

Kai’s expression flickered with surprise, then hardened. “Yes, sir.”

A protest bubbled up in my throat but I swallowed it back. Darius might hear me, and that would ruin the “secret” part of me joining the guys on this job.

“We’ll leave immediately,” Kai continued. “Should we—”

“Look!” Olivia gasped, pointing toward the ocean.

The water, which had been gently lapping against the muddy foreshore, frothed in agitation. The rogues continued chanting, and the others had spread out defensively. White-capped waves surged forward, almost reaching the ritual circle. The air shimmered and danced, and an even larger wave exploded upward like something invisible had slammed into it.

“Oh, blessings of the Mother Earth,” Olivia tremored. “They have him.”

Rippling like a mirage that wouldn’t take form, a shadowy shape slid in and out of reality—a glimmer of scales, a flash of fins. The chanting rose in volume. Another shimmer distorted the water, then the creature solidified in a spiral of glittering light.

A gargantuan serpent writhed on the mudflats. Its body glistened with shades of deep blue, its pale underbelly protected by plates of leathery scale. A line of pointed dorsal fins ran down its back, and a fringe of fins and horns surrounded its large head, the wide brow tapering to a pointed muzzle.

Bracing its huge front fins on the ground, the beast threw its head back and loosed a horrendous shriek of primordial rage.

“A leviathan?” Aaron breathed in disbelief. “Holy shit, it’s massive.”

I bobbed my head dumbly. Oh yeah. Big and beautiful, just like a dragon. I’d know, having met a few.

“Kai!” Darius’s voice cracked through the phone speaker, bringing the three guys to attention. “Withdraw.”

The phone pressed to his ear, Kai hesitated. The fae twisted violently, as though trying to retreat, but it inched closer instead—irresistibly drawn to the circle, even as it fought with all its strength to stop.


He sucked in a breath, then let it out. Catching Ezra’s and Aaron’s gazes, he said into the phone, “Yes, sir. We’re leaving.”

Backing away from the precarious drop-off, he got to his feet. Aaron sidled back as well, and Ezra rose into an awkward half-crouch, waiting for me to clear the way. Jaw tight, I minced backward.

“Cowards!” Olivia launched up, her hands clenched. “Get out there and stop them!”

“We’re not—” Kai began.

The witch sprang forward, hands thrusting out. She slammed both palms into Ezra’s chest—and shoved him backward off the bluff.

Chapter Eight

Ezra pitched down the steep slope in a wave of dislodged foliage and clumps of clay. A gust of wind blasted the falling debris away as he broke his fall with a cushion of air—but he still slammed into the ground with painful force.

I hung half off the bluff, my arm outstretched in a failed attempt to grab him. Aaron held the back of my coat to keep me from falling too, and he yanked me into the cover of the trees.

On the mudflats, the leviathan writhed against the magic relentlessly dragging it toward the circle, but that distraction wasn’t enough. The rogue mythics had noticed Ezra’s plummet. Three of them broke away from the group and started toward the seawall.

Even with his wind magic, Ezra would never make it back up the sheer bluff. The seawall path followed the coastline, leaving nowhere to flee and nowhere to hide.

Without a word, Aaron took two running steps and jumped off the bluff.

As he plunged out of sight, Kai swore furiously. He shoved his phone into my hand, spun on his heel, and sprang after his friends. The wind gusted as Ezra used his magic to slow Kai’s fall.

And that left me alone with the two witches.

“You!” I snarled, pivoting to face them. Fury twisted through me, and my fist was flying before I knew what I was doing.