“Full of action, excitement, and sexy fun.” —Bitten by Books
“Smart, dangerous, and sexy as hell…Always an exhilarating read.” —Fresh Fiction
A quest for freedom may be derailed by their intense attraction…
Niall Quinn, mage and the finest thief in the Black Tower, is the fae’s best hope for freedom. Only he stands a chance of tracking down and retrieving the missing bosca fadbh pieces from the Summer Queen. But he meets his match in Elizabeth Cely Saintjohn, who has taken control of the pieces on the Summer Queen’s behalf—and has refused to give them up.
Elizabeth is an asrai, a rare English water fae, and she may be the only fae in Piefferburg stealthier than Niall. She has her own reasons for guarding the two pieces and wanting the walls of Piefferburg to remain intact—even if it means denying her fae sisters and brothers their freedom. Her mother’s life depends on it.
Torn between his duty to obtain the pieces at any cost—and the shocking lust Elizabeth has stirred in him—Niall must convince Elizabeth to surrender the pieces, or else he may have no choice but to destroy her and all she holds dear…
Find her. Trap her. Compel her to reveal the location of the two stolen pieces of the bosca fadbh and get the fuck home. Those were his objectives.
Of course, Elizabeth Cely Saintjohn’s objectives directly opposed his.
Right now he was blind, pissed off, and holding a rope embedded with cold iron. The only way this night could get worse was if she escaped him again. Niall’s ear twitched and the hair on his nape rose as something scraped along the boulder to his left. He went still, his eyes searching the endless black for some sign of his quarry.
Footsteps sounded on the path behind him. He turned, cursing the lack of moonlight and Elizabeth’s habit for only traveling at night. To his right, movement caught his attention and he stilled, growling in frustration. Light, ringing laughter echoed all around him. She moved fast and completely silent when she wished.
Rage clenched his gut. She was playing with him. Again.
“Must be nice to be able to see in the dark and move like the wind, huh?” he snarled into the empty air. Not to mention dissolve into water and move anywhere she wanted within the bounds of Piefferburg. Neat trick.
His hand tightened on the rope that was especially designed to trap a fae like her. He wore thick black leather gloves to prevent the charmed iron from touching his skin and leaching his magick away. It was meant to bind Elizabeth, an asrai, before she escaped him. It would only work if the rope touched her bare skin. Normally that would be a problem, but not with Elizabeth. Reverting to her water self and traveling through the earth left her naked every time she regained form. Unfortunately, roping this woman was harder than catching a weasel in vat of olive oil. He’d never so much as caught a glimpse of her yet since it was always dark.
Usually, it went this way—she toyed with him for a while, making him think he might have her…then she escaped. He was usually the one doing the toying where women were concerned.
“Come on, Elizabeth. Don’t play hard to get. Just give me the pieces and I’ll stop hunting you.”
“I kind of like it when you hunt me,” came her lilting voice from somewhere farther up the path he walked. She had a sexy voice, whiskey rough and sweet.
He ground his teeth together and readied a spell in his head that would give him a little light. It wouldn’t last long, so he needed to draw her closer before he released it. He was a mage, capable of versatile magick not unlike that of the Phaendir. Except his magick wasn’t born of the creepy hive mind that the Phaendir used—his power was all inside him. Independent. Powerful.
And that’s why he’d been sent after the asrai. He was the best qualified to capture and compel a fae like her. Best at thieving—or thieving back, in this case. Best at weaving illusion. Best at tracking, capture, and torture. Best for this job. Or, at least, that’s what everyone at the Black Tower thought. That had been a week ago. A week filled with failure. Who knew what they thought now.
The Shadow Queen had sent him out the moment the Black Tower had learned the Summer Queen had passed off her pieces of the bosca fadbh—parts of a key that would unlock magick that could free the fae from Piefferburg—to Elizabeth. He was no closer to trapping her now than he’d been on the first day.
“Why are you doing this?” he called. “Why keep your people from freedom? The Phaendir are at our gates right now. We don’t have time to lose.” His voice grew a degree lower and a lot more hostile. “Why work for the Summer Queen, a nice nature fae like you?”
“Who said I was nice?” The words breezed past his ear and were gone.
He lunged toward the direction of her fading voice with his rope and got nothing but air, a cool breeze, and the light floral fragrance of the soap she used. Staggering and swearing a blue streak, he barely caught himself before falling on his face. Straightening, he laughed mirthlessly. “Come on now, don’t go away so fast, baby. At least give me a kiss before you fuck me.”
And she was there, warmth of her presence at his elbow, taunting him with her proximity. The brush of her silky hair against his skin. That soapy, light flowery scent of hers teasing his nose.
Ah, good. He’d been gambling her arrogance might be her end.
“Arendriac,” he murmured. The charm burst from him with a little pop, lighting their immediate area with a golden glow. He reached out to pull her close in the same moment, rope in one hand ready to trap.
His fingers brushed the smooth bare skin of her waist as she backed away. For a moment she stood motionless. Her lush lips were parted, ruby red hair lofting around a pale, beautiful heart-shaped face, green eyes flecked with gold and wide with surprise.
He stared back at her, sharing an equal measure of astonishment. She was the most stunning woman he’d ever seen. He hadn’t been expecting that.
Niall took a step forward, rope in hand. She dissolved as soon as he moved. A vision of beauty one moment, gone the next in a soft burst of spray. He looked down at his feet and saw the puddle of water she’d become. Then even the water disappeared, soaking into the earth, every single molecule of it, traveling through the ground to find a river, a stream, whatever flow that would take her away.
Swearing under his breath, he knelt and touched the dry soil where she’d been standing only a moment ago.
Gone yet again.
“Damn it,” he cursed under his breath. The pretty lady with the pieces was out of his reach for another night. He wasn’t sure which he mourned more—the loss of the pieces or the woman. The witch enticed him. She’d done that even before he’d caught a glimpse of her. Why couldn’t she be some unalluring hag without the clever wit she displayed in the woods every time he chased her, without that constantly teasing scent? It was fucking distracting.
Especially since he sort of liked the woman.
Too bad he was probably going to have to kill her.