About The Book
Series: Dae Portals Book 2
Author: Trillian Anderson
Publisher: Bright Day Publishing
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Format: eBook / ePub / PDF - 305 pages
Genre: Urban Fantasy
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In order to restore peace after the Dawn of Dae, the United States has declared martial law. Enforcing the militant regime won't be easy, and a new policing force of dae and their bonded humans has been mustered to keep the populace under tight control.
Working for the police is no easier than dealing with Kenneth's work. During the day, she's a part of the law, but at night, she's a tool of crime and war. It's only a matter of time before she's caught--or fails her mission and is killed by her drug-dealing boss.
If she wants to live a free life, she'll need to take care of Kenneth once and for all. Since he won't listen to reason and let her go, she's determined to buy her freedom with his death.
Unfortunately, Kenneth isn't the only problem in her life, and unless she does something about Rob, she'll lose the independence she fought so hard for. Worse, unless she's careful, he'll make her like it...
Three months after Kenneth Smith had tried to kill me, I returned to his home with a katana and a gun. I wore the sword as a message and a promise I wouldn’t go quietly if Kenneth or one of his other hounds tried to kill me again.
The gun would be how I kept my lethal promise, and its weight in my shoulder holster reassured me. Despite the early winter chill, I left my leather coat open so I could reach my Beretta if I needed it.
I likely would.
Violence I understood, and I found the presence of both my weapons comforting. The day was ripe for bloodshed, and my sword and gun wouldn’t help me against many of the magical dae, but I did my best to ignore that fact. It hadn’t been so long ago the bonded had been regular humans without the strength and power the magical dae gave them.
Humans remembered the purpose of a sword, and the dae bled when cut. The problem was getting close enough to kill them before they killed me.
The sunrise painted the eastern sky in red and gold, and while I wanted to find somewhere quiet to watch it, I didn’t dare. I had a limited window of opportunity to act, and I couldn’t afford to waste it.
Before the Dawn of Dae, the early hour wouldn’t have been so peaceful, safe, or quiet. The emergence of the magical had turned sunrise into one of the serene parts of the day. Many of the dangerous dae were returning to their homes to sleep while the more cautious and mundane remained indoors.
In an hour, the city would awaken. I wanted to be done with Kenneth Smith so I could get on with my life, not that I was sure what sort of life waited for me. While I hadn’t been expelled from college, classes hadn’t resumed, and no one was really sure if they would.
For the moment, education came second to restructuring society. The police and military ruled in a state of martial law implemented at the government’s decree. Despite the chokehold on the population—or because of it—things were slowly returning to normal. Most businesses had reopened, and life went on. Most of the bonded and their dae had adapted to their new partnerships and circumstances, although there were still those like Arthur around, who wanted to use their newfound powers to control, destroy, or change the world.
Dae like Arthur, ready and willing to use their powers to get what they wanted, frightened me far more than I wanted to admit. With Rob’s help, I had no scars from my time in captivity—not visible ones, at least. Some of the wounds the fire breather had inflicted on me wouldn’t heal, not until I saw to Arthur’s death myself.
I’d let Rob and Colby help. They deserved satisfaction, too. Before I could hunt Arthur, however, I needed to deal with Kenneth Smith once and for all.
I reached his street, and it didn’t surprise me to find Kenneth’s favorite bitch, Lily, waiting on his doorstep. Unlike me, she held her gun out in the open, and the instant her gaze settled on me, I understood her silent message.
One of us would walk away alive. The other wouldn’t.
I smiled. Lily’s challenge changed nothing. Kenneth Smith would fall, and if I had to take out his favorite bitch first, so be it. Business was business.
We had never liked each other anyway.
Lily watched me approach, and her eyes caught my attention. Before the Dawn of Dae, they had been blue, accenting her porcelain skin. The emergence of the dae hadn’t been kind to her, graying her complexion and turning her irises a burning orange.
Passion, love, hatred, and anger gave fire breathers their strength; that much I had learned from Rob. Lily fidgeted, flexing her left hand. A thin coating of yellow fur sprouted over her skin.
I sighed, well aware of the lethal combination of werewolf and fire breather. In a way, I had hoped Lily hadn’t bonded with a dae, although the development didn’t surprise me very much. People like me, the unawakened, were few and far between, and most dae didn’t know what to make of us.
I didn’t know what to make of us, either, which didn’t help matters any. I’d yet to meet someone like me, someone who lacked a dae to teach them the new ways of the world.
“You shouldn’t have come back,” Lily said, and flames crackled in her voice.
Why did she carry a gun? I considered her weapon; it was an antique, far older than my Beretta. Rust marred its surface. It was the type of weapon Kenneth liked, so old the government didn’t view it as too much of a threat. If the authorities found it, the deteriorating state of the pistol would convince most it wasn’t a real danger to anyone.
Kenneth, thanks to his rank, would probably get away with having it, as long as no one found any ammunition to go with it.
I knew better, though. Maybe the gun appeared damaged beyond repair, but if Lily cocked it and pulled the trigger, I’d die all the same. Kenneth didn’t keep useless things around, people included.
Lily’s gaze lowered to my katana, and the woman smiled. “That won’t save you.”
“Nice to see you, too. Is Kenneth around?”
“You won’t be seeing him.” Lily’s smile widened, and she fiddled with the hammer of the pistol. “I’d be happy to leave a message for you, though.”
I glanced in the direction of Kenneth’s house and smiled for the hidden cameras. “Yeah, I have a message you can give him.”
“Oh?” Lily adjusted the grip on her pistol, her thumb poised over the hammer, although she didn’t cock it.
In addition to the cameras, the front of Kenneth’s house was wired with microphones, so if my boss was watching, he’d get my message loud and clear. I matched the woman’s fake smile and crossed my arms over my chest. I slipped my right hand beneath the leather jacket Rob had given to me.
Lily’s posture remained relaxed, and her thumb slid away from her pistol’s hammer. “Well? What’s your message? Tell me and leave. You don’t belong here anymore.”
Escaping Kenneth Smith wasn’t so easy, and Rob had told me my boss wanted to speak with me. Rob hadn’t been happy about relaying the message, either.
The next day, he had disappeared.
If Kenneth Smith was behind Rob’s vanishing act, I’d do a hell of a lot more to him than kill his favorite bitch. I’d ruin his wealth and reputation before I murdered him and his dae.
In a way, the Dawn of Dae had been a blessing in disguise. I had Rob, and I had Colby. Maybe my future was uncertain at best, but I no longer needed Kenneth to survive. New paths had opened to me.
Lily glared at me when I remained silent. “I’m not letting you into the house.”
“Are those Kenneth’s orders?” I tilted my head to the side. “I was given a message he wanted to see me.”
“I’m not letting you into the house.”
Two could play the repetition game, and I had no intention of losing. “Are those Kenneth’s orders?”
“Are you deaf? I’m not letting you into the house. I’m giving you one chance to turn around and walk away. I’ll shoot you and throw your body in the river. No one will miss you.”
If I turned and walked away, she’d shoot me anyway; I saw her desire for my death in the way she smiled. We had been on neutral terms for a long time. When I made her job with Kenneth harder, I bribed her, but because of my stubbornness and my inability to sleep with our boss, she had many reasons to hate me. Just hearing my name was probably enough to anger Kenneth since Rob had stolen me from him.
I preferred to think I had stolen Rob with no intention of letting the dae escape me, but that was another matter entirely. My sometimes roommate, frequent lover, and partner-in-crime wouldn’t be happy when he found out I had gone to see Kenneth alone.
The remorse of killing the woman would hit me later, but such was life on the fringe while working for the elite. Kill or be killed, and I had no intention of dying quite yet.
After several months of waiting for my broken ribs to heal, my patience with Kenneth and his operations had grown thin. I pulled my gun out of its holster, took aim, and before she could do more than gasp and flinch, I fired.
Lily crumpled to the sidewalk, twitched, and fell still. I waited until her blood stained the ground around her before stepping to her body, gun ready in case she decided to get back up.
Even the weakest of the dae and their bonded had ceased decaying to ash last month. Rob had sounded both pleased and annoyed by the development. I touched my fingers to Lily’s neck in search of a pulse.
She was already cold, as though all of the heat had been sucked out of her body right along with the fires that had burned in her eyes. Her blood stained my hand. Some people loved to kill, but I wasn’t one of them. I couldn’t even force myself to look at her. I swallowed several times so I wouldn’t throw up, rose to my feet, and headed for Kenneth’s door.
It opened before I had a chance to knock. Kenneth scowled at Lily’s body before turning his attention to me. “Was shooting her necessary?”
“She would have shot me if I had turned around, and she wasn’t letting me in.”
“All I have to do to lock you away for a long time is make a single call and inform the police you shot someone,” my boss hissed through clenched teeth.
“And I’ll tell them she’s a fire breather who was armed with an illegal gun. She threatened me.” I stowed my Beretta, pulled out my wallet, and flipped it open so Kenneth could see my concealed carry license. “Unlike her, I’m allowed to shoot people who threaten me, Mr. Smith. Rob told me you wanted to speak with me?”
“Come in, Collie.” Backing out of the way to give me space to slip in, he shut the door behind me and gestured to the basement stairwell. “I’m surprised you came.”
“Rob approved of our meeting.” Rob hadn’t been happy about it, but if he thought it was important enough to involve me in Kenneth Smith’s dealings once again, I’d listen—and look for a way out of working with him permanently.
“He has you eating out of his hand,” Kenneth snarled, stalking me down the stairs to his basement lounge. I flopped on the couch, propping my booted feet up on the antique coffee table. If Kenneth noticed the fine leather, I hoped he would wonder if I had purchased them for myself or if Rob had acquired them for me.
While Rob had made the purchase, I had paid the dae back for the boots by doing tedious paperwork for him—one of the few activities I could manage while my concussion and ribs healed.
Working with Rob had a lot more perks and a lot better pay than dealing with Kenneth. Whatever he wanted had to be important if Rob wanted me to deal with him again.
“So what? Business, Mr. Smith. You need me for something, else you wouldn’t have talked with Rob. I just killed your favorite, and you’re ignoring it. What do you need me for, what’s my pay, and when do you need it done?”
“As astute as ever. Very well. I’ve gone over the documents you provided, and I want you to sniff out Terry Moore’s associates, including the dean of your college. I also have a second job for you, if you’re up for the challenge.”
Dean Lewis had been paying Terry Moore to murder women while they were under the influence of Kenneth’s drugs. Not only had Terry murdered them, he had raped them, and the drugs had ensured they enjoyed it right up until he had killed them.
The thought of killing again didn’t enthuse me, but I was prepared to make an exception for the dean of my college. I still had the video evidence, hidden away where no one would find it without my help. I still had a copy of them on my personal laptop, too, waiting for me to delve into their horrors in search of answers. I didn’t need them anymore, though. The videos’ content was seared into my memories, and I woke too often from nightmares where I was one of Terry’s victims.
Sometimes, Terry became Arthur in my nightmares, and those were the nights I woke up drenched in a cold sweat. The dreams had gotten worse since Rob had vanished, as though his presence in my bed somehow kept them away. A few times when I had woken up from nightmares and Rob had been there, he chased them away and replaced my fear with more pleasant things.
“You’re asking a lot,” I grumbled.
“You’re the only one I have in a position to get what I need from him.”
I frowned, leaning back and stretching my arms along the back of the couch, positioning myself so Kenneth got a good look at my Beretta. “Likely true. What do you need me to find out?”
“First, I want you to find out what he was having Terry Moore do with my drugs. The earliest invoices were dated a week after I supplied him. Seems like too much of a coincidence to me.”
“I see. I guess I need to know what the drugs do. You gave me a brief summary of the effects. They can’t be detected on the current tests. They’re mild. But what do they actually do?”
Kenneth smiled, but there was nothing friendly about his expression.
I tensed, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw something dark coming towards me. I whipped my hand to my gun, but Kenneth’s dae was faster. He caught my wrist, yanked my arm back, and before I could even scream, he jabbed a needle into my arm.
Kenneth had moved while I was distracted by his dae. He clamped his hand over my mouth to keep me quiet. I thrashed, but the two didn’t release me until Kenneth’s dae pulled the needle out and tossed the syringe on the coffee table.
A few smears of red lingered in the barrel, and I trembled, remembering what the drugs had done to Terry Moore’s victims.
“I don’t know exactly what they do. That’s not my problem, Miss Daegberht. It is, however, now yours. I expect a full report when it wears off. Don’t worry. Jacob will take you home so you don’t have any unfortunate mishaps on the way. I’ve been told by reputable sources it takes about twenty minutes to kick in, no matter how it’s taken.”
Kenneth pulled his hand away from my mouth, and I realized he was wearing gloves. I shuddered.
Had Rob told them about my allergy? To cover my growing fear, I snapped my teeth together and sat straighter. “You son of a bitch.” I rubbed where I had been stabbed with the needle. Kenneth’s dae had also been wearing gloves.
At least I wouldn’t have to deal with an allergic reaction in addition to being drugged.
“You should be happy, Miss Daegberht. This is the good stuff, the stuff you couldn’t afford even if you wanted it. You’ll finally have the perfect high you’ve been searching for all this time. Don’t think I hadn’t noticed you wanting another hit, no matter how good a job you did fighting it.”
“Give me a reason I shouldn’t kill you right now.”
“You’ll die, for starters. You’d probably be dead before you could pull the trigger. Don’t kid yourself. You won’t do it. You only killed Lily because she always had what you wanted. Take her home, Jacob. No side trips. However appealing she might be to you, she’s off limits—for now.”
I spat curses at him and reached for my gun. Kenneth’s dae grabbed my arm and hauled me to my feet. In spite of Kenneth’s estimate of twenty minutes, the drugs were doing something to me—something that made it difficult to resist the dae.
“Oh, and another thing, Miss Daegberht. It should wear off in about twelve hours. If my understanding of the drug is correct, I recommend you stay home. Do try not to forget to write notes on the drug’s effects. It may be important for your research later. We can talk more about your job after you’ve recovered. Perhaps I’ll come visit you a little later tonight, once you’ve gotten accustomed to the drug.”
There was so much I wanted to tell him, but my tongue refused to obey me. My arms and legs were no better. Kenneth’s dae dragged me towards the stairwell, and I stumbled along with him. By the time Jacob got me into Kenneth’s car, I could barely stay on my feet, let alone fight him. Had Rob set me up? If so, why?
When the first tingling wave of the high hit, everything narrowed to the sensation of my clothes caressing my skin, the leather rubbing against me, and the pleasure of even the lightest touch.
The initial surge of the drug’s influence subsided by the time Jacob dropped me off in front of my apartment, although my skin’s hypersensitivity to touch remained. The dae leered at me, leaving me with zero doubt of what he had in mind for me.
I liked when Rob looked me over head to toe, but Jacob doing it sent chills through me. I scrambled out of the car, backed out of the dae’s reach, and slipped my hand into my coat for my Beretta.
“You don’t want to do that, Miss Daegberht.”
“Oh, I do,” I replied, although I didn’t pull out the weapon. “If he even thinks of backstabbing me again, I’ll start sending his hounds back to him in pieces, and I’ll take out his most useful ones first. Lily was just the start. No more tricks. If he really wants my help, he better get his head out of his ass, because right now, I’m not feeling very benevolent. I may decide Dean Lewis might be interested in knowing Kenneth Smith is gunning for him.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“I wouldn’t? Are you so sure about that? I would, Jacob. I would, and I wouldn’t even hesitate. He broke his trust with me. If he’s stupid enough to think I’m going to just accept his attempt to kill me was a part of the work, he’s mistaken. He can also expect a hefty bill for this… stunt.”
Maybe the drug made all of my nerves sing, but once the initial surge of pleasure had faded, it hadn’t affected my ability to think. It didn’t smother my anger, either. I closed my fingers around my Beretta’s grip, wondering if I could get away with leaving another body lying around for someone to find.
With the emergence of the dae, bodies were plentiful and few seemed to miss the dead. Given time, once friendships and lives were rebuilt, people would miss those who were gone, but the world was currently inhabited by the strange who were also strangers. For all the dae often took on monstrous forms, they were still a lot like humans.
They only cared for those with close ties to them, ties most hadn’t had time to form.
“I’ll make certain he is aware of your opinion.”
“My opinion is non-negotiable, Mr. Jacob. Perhaps this will wake him up to reality: I’m tired of being stepped on. If he even thinks of trying to ruin my schooling, remind him if I can go behind his back and get admittance into Bach studies, there’s a lot more I can do, too.” While some of my speech was bluffing, one important fact remained: I had leverage on Dean Lewis and Kenneth Smith, if I could figure out the best way to use it. “Ask him if he wants me on his side, or should I have a talk with Dean Lewis?”
“Are you threatening him, Miss Daegberht?” the dae growled.
“I don’t make threats, dae. I make promises. Remember, he backstabbed me first. If he hadn’t sabotaged my gear, he wouldn’t be in this position right now. Get the fuck out of my sight. You and your pathetic master sicken me.”
I turned and stormed to my apartment building. If Jacob said anything, I didn’t hear him over the bang of me slamming the front door.
About The Author
Opener of Portals. Urban Fantasy Author. Mistress of Giggles. Warped Sense of Humor.
Trillian Anderson is, like so many of us, a figment of someone's imagination. She was born somewhere in the United States, loves to travel, and has no scruples about moving to new and interesting places around the world. She loves fantasy fiction of all types, but holds a special fondness for urban fantasies, epic fantasies, and stories capable of capturing her imagine.
Most of all, she enjoys grabbing a flashlight, hiding under the blankets, and pretending she's asleep when she's, in actuality, reading a beloved book.
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