Genre: Urban Fantasy
Heat Level (sweet to erotic): sensual
Author: Hailey Edwards
Pages or Word Count: 213
Publish Date: 30 January, 2015
When the wrong fae answers her summons, Thierry finds herself saddled with a royal pain bent on making her life difficult. Well, more difficult. Her ex is back in town, her best friend is heartbroken and to top it all off, the Faerie High Court has issued her a summons.
Black Dog is missing, and the only hope of negotiating a truce between the light and dark fae vanished with him. Eager to avoid another Thousand Years War, the High Court reached out to the one person they believe can track him down–the daughter who shares his curse.
The staccato rap of knuckles on wood brought my head up in time to spot Jackson Shaw lean against the doorjamb in my office. A flannel shirt hung from his shoulders in tatters with the sleeves rolled up past his elbows, exposing vivid crimson slashes across his forearms. More gashes bisected his torso, leaving his abs peeking out at me from under his T-shirt. Dried mud caked his boots, and he smelled of...
I coughed into my fist and reached for a bottle of water. “Is that sauerkraut?”
He shrugged while shutting the door then crossed the room and perched on the edge of my desk. “Don’t ask.”
“Fine. I won’t.” I swigged tepid water to wet my parched throat. “What brings you here?”
His gaze jerked from my lips to my eyes. “Mable said you had a proposition for me.”
“Um, no.” Heat blistered my cheeks. “Well, not exactly.”
Fabric tore as he removed his flannel shirt and used it to wipe his face clean. He glanced up and caught me staring. A heartbeat later, the scent of bergamot and patchouli stung my nose, the heady fragrance sinking heavily into my lungs, tingling in my limbs with every inhale until my tender nerves sizzled.
Shaw’s voice dipped into a husky register. “It’s been a long time, Thierry.”
Twelve months. Twelve. Too long. Not nearly long enough.
“Don’t.” My voice sounded as small and pained as a wounded animal. “Just don’t.”
I dug through my satchel for the vial of smelling salts I kept there. I inhaled until my sinuses burned and my eyes watered. Thank God, the pungent scent still cut through his sultry lure. As to why I kept the vial on me, call me sentimental.
His jaw tightened. “The conclave—”
“—had nothing to do with you rolling out of my bed and right into someone else’s.” Bitter laughter stung my throat. “Five someone elses.”
“Give me some credit.” He fisted his ruined shirt in his lap. “I tried.”
“Not hard enough.”
Being faithful to me had almost killed him. Learning he had been unfaithful? Well, that almost killed me.
Shoving from the desk, Shaw began pacing the room. “Did you want something or not?”
I leaned back in my chair. “Mable wants us to work the Morrigan’s poaching case together.”
A moment passed between us then, and I knew he was remembering the first case we had worked as partners. We had gone after poachers then too.
He planted his feet and gave me his full attention. “I’m listening.”
Leaving nothing out, I filled him in on my visit from “Raven”.
“Dealing with a death-touched fae means hazard pay.” He considered me. “If we split the bounty, we’ll both come out with a nice check.”
One niggling doubt kept pecking at my brain. The first rule of investigative work was to rule out the obvious, even if the obvious was impossible. “Mable says Raven can’t physically be here.”
“Black Dog bound him.” He shook his head. “Only he can unbind him.”
That was news to me. Mable was right. Shaw was leaps ahead of me in the research department.
I wondered, “What about a spell?”
Incubus or not, Shaw was the best spellworker the Southwestern Conclave had.
“Not likely.” He scratched his jaw. “Most spells perform a single function. If Raven projected his likeness, he could converse intelligently with you. If he tapped into the invocation circuit the marshals use to summon the Morrigan, he would hear the calls and could send his magic to consume the tithe. The odds of him crafting a spell complex enough to accomplish both tasks are slim.”
I nodded in deference of his expertise. “So poacher it is.”
Fragrant spice burst in the air between us, twining through my senses until my body softened.
“I missed this,” he said. “Us working together.”
I made a noncommittal sound and planted my palms on the desktop.
He seemed to take my grunt as agreement. “I’ll email you what I have so far.”
“I’d appreciate it.” Eager for a breath of fresh air, I rose and crossed the room to open the door. “I’ll send you a copy of the incident report Mable filed on my behalf.”
He boxed me in, the knob cutting into my hip as he stood there, soaking me up like sunshine. A zap of connection jolted a gasp out of me when his fingers slid along my jaw until his palm cupped my cheek.
Thick lashes rimmed his burnished copper eyes, a snare that stole my breath. His sun-kissed skin burned where it touched mine, and I struggled against the urge to lean into that heat, to tuck a mahogany curl behind his ear. The absence of his usual smile left stark white creases in the corners of his eyes and faint bracket lines on either side of his full lips.
Damn him and his stupid lure. Damn me too for being stupid enough to be alone with him.
“We’ll make this work.” His whiskey-rich voice poured warmly through my ears. “Partners?”
I swallowed hard, tasting him on each swallow. “I should— Mai is expecting me.”
His finger traced the line of my jaw, sliding down my throat and across my collarbone until he spread a wide palm over my frenzied heart. Fire lanced from his hand to my soul, searing my chest where we touched. With a blistering sigh, Shaw licked his lips, his voice gone hoarse. “You should go then.”
My head bobbled. “I should.”
But I didn’t.
His head lowered, his lips hovering a breath above mine.
Our almost-kiss was interrupted by a fat pink purse bouncing off the side of his head.
“Boy, you better get back.” Mable cocked her arm. “No feeding on conclave property.”
“Feeding?” I slurred as Mable swam in and out of focus.
“Out.” Mable elbowed Shaw into the hall then hooked an arm around my waist. “Are you all right?”
“Yeah.” I let her guide me back to my chair. “Fine.”
The lure must have hit me harder than I thought.
She cupped my face and tilted my head back. “I never should have let that sweet talker up here.”
My eyes drifted closed. “He’s fine.”
“No.” She shook my shoulders. “He was wounded and hungry, and you were an easy mark.”
That jolted me awake. “What?”
If my coworkers started thinking I was easy pickings, I wouldn’t last the week. If I wanted to keep running with the big dogs, I had to show them my bite was worse than my bark.
Heir of the Dog: Copyright © 2015 by Hailey Edwards used with permission.
A cupcake enthusiast and funky sock lover possessed of an overactive imagination, Hailey lives in Alabama with her handcuff-carrying hubby, her fluty-tooting daughter and their herd of dachshunds.
Her desire to explore without leaving the comforts of home fueled her love of reading and writing. Whenever the itch for adventure strikes, Hailey can be found with her nose glued to her Kindle’s screen or squinting at her monitor as she writes her next happily-ever-after.
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Newsletter | Goodreads