Paintball Guy swore, blood shining on his arm from Justin’s shot. Teeth bared, the rogue pointed his weapon at me and pulled the trigger.

Wind gusted wildly, blowing the yellow potion-ball off course. It missed me, and for an instant I thought Ezra was here, protecting me with his wind magic.

With a pale flash, a sinuous shape appeared above the three men. Glowing faintly in shades of bluish silver, aquamarine, and pink, the creature swooped down and plucked the gun from the man’s hand. The weapon somersaulted through the air and clattered in the middle of the road. The creature shimmered out of sight again.

The pause gave me time to launch up, Sin and Justin following a second behind—but the sorcerer was faster.

“Ori amethystino mergere ponto!”

Purple light ballooned out from his wand’s tip. Rippling violently, the distortion of air shot toward me, expanding as it came.


Sin shoved me out of the way and the weird purple orb hit her. It whooshed outward, engulfing her entire body, and she flailed helplessly from within it—suspended inside a magical bubble.

My mouth hung open. What the hell was that?

I wasn’t the only one stunned speechless. Gun clutched in his hands like he’d forgotten about it, Justin stared at the rippling bubble that held Sin like a science-lab specimen suspended in goo.

Paintball Guy was gripping his arm, which was leaking an alarming amount of blood, but the sorcerer was aiming his wand at me again. This time I was ready.

I whipped my Queen of Spades card out and pointed it at the sorcerer. “Ori—”

“Ori percunctari!”

I’d gotten used to the Queen saving my butt, and until now, I’d managed to get its mouthful of an incantation out fast enough to repel attacks. But as the green flash of the sorcerer’s spell hit me in the face, it occurred to me that maybe, all those times before, I’d just gotten lucky. That, or I’d been fighting shitty sorcerers.

Cold magic washed over me in a bone-chilling wave, and I stepped back sharply.

Or I tried to.

My limbs felt like they were moving through thick sludge. In ultra-slow-motion, my left leg started to bend. My brain flew ahead of the movement, trying to jerk my body forward, to raise my arms, to finish my incantation as the sorcerer flipped a new wand into his hand.

But nope, my foot continued to travel in its backward trajectory at the speed of about an inch per minute. The sorcerer pointed his new wand—thicker and carved with runes—at me and opened his mouth.

Gunshots shattered my eardrums for a second time.

Pistol held in a textbook cop grip, Justin fired at the sorcerer. The man lurched backward, shock splashing across his face before he toppled over. Paintball Guy stumbled and fell too, his skin white.

The third mythic raised her hands in surrender—and the air behind her rippled. A shadowy form materialized out of the darkness and rain. The beastly creature towered over her, ten feet tall and covered in thick black fur, with lantern-orange eyes that glowed in a skull-like face framed by curling ram horns.

A fae. A nasty fae.

Bigfoot loosed a horrific roar. Oh shiiiit. Even if I could use it—which I couldn’t, since I was stuck in magical slo-mo—my little Queen of Spades card was no match against this thing.

Justin went rigid at the sight of the monster, but no brother of mine was coward enough to flee, even when facing a giant, shaggy, skull-faced beast with monstrous yellow teeth. He swung his gun toward it and emptied his magazine into the creature’s chest.

The fae didn’t even notice. It lumbered forward, snarling.

All at once, my movements snapped back to normal—and my body tried to complete every order my brain had sent, all at once. I flailed like a wacky inflatable tube man and fell backward, landing on my butt—but at least the spell had worn off.

Just in time for Bigfoot to charge us.

“Llyrlethiad!” I screamed.

Justin’s final shot drowned out my voice, and for a second, I feared the fae lord might not have heard me.

Alien power rushed through my body—and the drizzling rain morphed into a torrential downpour. As the world turned into a silver blur of plunging water, a shape coalesced out of the liquid.

Gargantuan serpent coils twisted through the sheeting rain, looping around me, Justin, and Sin—still trapped in the purple bubble. The leviathan’s horned head, fifteen feet above the sidewalk, glistened as it looked down on the puny witch and her Bigfoot familiar.

I stayed parked on my butt in the rapidly deepening puddles. What was the point in moving? First off, Llyrlethiad’s power was flooding through me in dizzying waves, and my soul felt like it was being pushed out of my body by the magical force buzzing under my skin.

And second, I’d summoned a giant-ass sea god into a downtown street, and that felt like a much bigger deal than when the fae had been crammed in my apartment, breaking my walls.

Witch lady took a good long look at said sea god, then did the only reasonable thing she could do—she turned tail and ran like her life depended on it.

Her familiar, however, didn’t flee. It bared its teeny yellow fangs at the leviathan—yes, I’d recently called those fangs humongous, but it’s all a matter of perspective.

Llyrlethiad pondered his opponent, then lunged. Whatever Bigfoot had been planning to do, it never got a chance. The serpent’s massive jaws engulfed the other fae’s head and shoulders, and the sea god lifted the struggling beast into the air. He chomped a few times, bones popping and crunching, then spat the mangled body onto the pavement.

My stomach crawled into my throat and I clapped a hand over my mouth to keep it down.

While the serpent had been chewing on his opponent, Paintball Guy had dragged the wounded sorcerer to his feet, and the two of them hobbled into an alley. I had zero desire to chase them down.

The torrential rain continued, flooding the street. Llyrlethiad’s pale eyes turned back to his fallen fae opponent, and the deepening water began to spin around Bigfoot. More water pulled into the spiral, and the fae’s body disappeared into the whirlpool.

With a splash, the maelstrom dispersed and the water settled. Bigfoot had vanished, gone without a trace.

Despite my dizziness, I pushed to my feet. My mental approximation of Llyrlethiad’s power readjusted from red-zone ultra-boss to … I didn’t even know, but it was scary as hell.

Over the sound of pouring rain, the wail of police sirens reached my ears. Oh hell. How was I supposed to explain a giant sea serpent to a bunch of coppers?

As though hearing my thoughts, Llyrlethiad’s ivory gaze moved across me, then fell on Sin in her spell bubble. Power surged through me, heating the hidden fae runes on my skin. The weird purple bubble popped, and Sin landed on her feet, wobbled, then fell on her knees.

A sudden increase in the deluge turned everything to sheeting water, then the rain lightened to a gentle shower. The serpent had vanished too.

My knees trembled but I stubbornly locked them. I was cool. I was good. Dizzy, but good. No fainting from this girl—not again.

The sirens were rapidly drawing closer. Justin holstered his gun, then extended a hand to Sin. She grasped it and lurched to her feet, her face bleached of color. Justin was even paler, his eyes huge and white all the way around.

“Are you two okay?” he asked, his voice only a little unsteady. My brother was tough as shit. My first magic experience had been way tamer. One little fireball. Nothing compared to all-out mythic warfare and a sea god.

Before he could say anything else, two cruisers skidded around the corner. They slid to a halt beside us, splashing water over my calves, and four officers leaped out.

“What happened?” one of them barked. “Dawson, are you injured?”

“I’m fine,” Justin answered. With a warning look I understood to mean, “Say nothing,” he hastened to the officers and spoke in a low, rushed voice. Two cops pulled their guns and started down the alley where the injured rogues had fled, while another got on his radio to call for backup.

I gulped down that sickly post-adrenaline feeling. “Are you all right, Sin?”

She heaved a deep breath. “Yeah. That spell wasn’t pleasant …” She glanced at Justin. “What should we tell him?”

“Nothing,” I muttered, watching my brother. He knew about magic from his police work, but he didn’t know I knew. Safer to keep it that way. “We were in the wrong place at the wrong time. We don’t know anything about what happened.”

Her eyebrows rose, and she lowered her voice. “Even though the rogues were obviously targeting you?”

I nodded. All the more reason not to involve Justin. I was already in over my head in mythic business, and I didn’t want to put his life—or his job—at risk.

As blaring sirens announced the approach of more cops, Justin returned to us. “I need to take your statements, then I’ll drive you home.”

My statement? Sure, no problem. I’d just make sure not to mention that I’d summoned the giant sea serpent, that those people had been targeting me, that they were rogue mythics … or that I suspected they were members of the notorious Red Rum guild.

Red Rum knew I had their fae lord—and they wanted him back.

Chapter Fourteen

I stirred out of a daze when the car door slammed. Blearily, I realized we were parked at the curb of a familiar street. Aaron’s house. Right. That was the address I’d given Justin after he’d loaded Sin and me into the back of his cruiser.