If everyone keeps secrets, no
one will survive…
Six months after the
nightmare in Cross Keys, Kam Ryndel is enjoying her freedom in New Orleans and
doesn’t miss the constraints of Elven society. She’s immersed herself in
working missions for the CIA, even if it means less time to spend with her
boyfriend, Seth. Seth’s not so happy about that. Having shouldered the
responsibility of his family’s obligations, he’s losing patience with Kam’s
lack of commitment to her own—and to him.
Then a guild worker is
attacked by an invisible assailant, and everyone suspects another portal breach
by rogues from Elvenrude. As Kam and Seth look for answers, a gang-related CIA
mission interrupts the investigation, and Kam is taken to a place she never
knew existed—beyond the Louisiana bayou.
Angered by Kam’s new
mission, Seth enlists the help of his cousin Rhyden to solve the mysterious
guild-worker attack. Instead of an assailant, they discover reports of ghost
sightings all over town. Not that unusual for New Orleans, but these
seem…different. In a mission complicated by gangsters, feuds, failing magic,
and old enemies—and the uncertain loyalty of the Elven king—Seth learns
something even worse. Kam is missing. And he isn’t sure if she’s alive or dead…
Swamp water lapped against the small watercraft, rocking it
gently. Kam shifted on the hard seat of the airboat’s cramped quarters, pushed
a strand of dark hair away from her face, and studied the forty-something man
across from her.
Noah Crain, senior agent, CIA. Sweat beaded on his forehead
from the unrelenting humidity of the late July night. He wiped it away and
squinted at the bundle of American one-hundred-dollar bills in his hand. The
single dim lantern barely lit the enclosed cockpit—a rarity on swamp boats—but
Crain was a covert operative. He didn’t like doing business in the open.
He flipped through the bills and looked up at her.
“Counterfeit. As I expected. They flood our country with drugs to support their
terrorist activities and then add to the insult by paying their pipeline with
funny money.” With a soft plunk, he dropped the currency next to two identical
packets on the extra seat beside him. “Thanks for bringing this. We’ll take it
from here. Another great job, Kam. There’ll be the usual deposit to your
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She shrugged. The money was immaterial. Born into the
wealthy Ryndel family in Elvenrude, she’d never lacked for anything. The CIA
missions were merely small challenges for an Elite dark elf, amusing
adventures. “I need to go. I’m late.”
“About that…” Crain frowned at her. “Rescuing the girl
wasn’t part of your assignment. You could have been caught.”
“But I wasn’t. I either do these missions my way or not at
all.” How could he expect her to leave a fourteen-year-old girl in the hands of
the Mexican drug lords? Yes, she’d had to deactivate the invisibility magic and
reveal her presence in order to lead the girl out of that stinking hole. But it
had been worth it. Kam relaxed her shoulders and took the edge off her tone.
“I’ll be more careful in the future.”
He sighed and shook his head. “I wish I could believe that.”
Two minutes later, Kam leaped off the boat and sped across
the swamplands of southern Louisiana, headed for New Orleans. She was glad to be
going home and drew in a deep breath of the moist, earthy air. Her feet skimmed
the ground as she watched for alligators or vipers or unstable ground. Even at
her magically enhanced speed, a misstep into a watery hole or on the wrong head
or tail could lead to disaster.
Kam swung her head toward a dim flash of light, a blurry
movement on her left. Alligator hunters? She wound her fingers around the
invisibility amulet dangling from her neck and invoked the magic, then paused
on a patch of solid ground. Now that she couldn’t be seen, she took her time
peering around. Alert for any furtive movements out of sync with normal swamp
activity, she had almost given up when something whipped past a few feet away,
leaving only the faintest ripple in the marshy grasses.
A chill crept across her neck. A whiff of magical energy. A
ghost? A vampire? She’d heard stories of all kinds of strange sightings in and
around New Orleans but never seen anything supernatural except her own people.
She waited. A minute crawled by. And another. When nothing else occurred, she
continued toward the city.
Every sense was on edge, but she reached the outskirts
without a repetition of the puzzling magical trace. As the density of buildings
increased, Kam used the ancient magic in her silver wristband to leap onto the
rooftops and run across the cityscape.
grew up in the Midwest, taught school on the East Coast, has visited forty-two
of our states, and currently resides near Des Moines, Iowa, with her miniature
pinscher, Ranger. Writing has always been a part of her life, and in late 2008,
after a career in law and juvenile
justice, she turned to full-time fiction writing. Her first urban fantasy
novel, Awakening the Fire, was published in 2012, followed by six additional
books in the series. She loves to travel in the US and abroad and incorporates
many of those settings into her books. Ally enjoys talking with readers and is
active in social media.