Wuthering Frights, p.1H. P. Mallory
Book 4 of the Dulcie O’Neil series
Also by HP Mallory:
THE JOLIE WILKINS SERIES:
Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble
Toil and Trouble
Be Witched (Novella)
The Witch Is Back
Something Witchy This Way Comes
THE DULCIE O’NEIL SERIES:
To Kill A Warlock
A Tale Of Two Goblins
Copyright © 2012 by H.P. Mallory
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
I dedicate this book to myself seventeen years ago when I decided I wanted to become a writer and then wondered if I actually had enough talent to make it happen...
You did it.
To my fabulous mother: Thank you for all your help.
To my editor, Teri, at www.editingfairy.com: Thank you for the clean up!
To my husband: Thank you for all your love and support.
To my son, Finn: I love you.
To the winner of my "become a character in my next book" contest,
Christina Sabbiondo: I hope you enjoy seeing yourself in print!
And to my past contest winners: Dia Robinson, Caressa Brandenburg and Alexandra Fields Garrity, I hope you enjoy your return in this book!
It is said that during times of immense fear, shock or heartache, your body does weird things. And I'm here to say it's true. Why? Because I endured all three of those emotions as I stood in front of the Head of the Netherworld, a double-dealing bastard who'd been importing illegal potions from the Netherworld to Earth for Hades-only-knew-how-long. And in dealing with the feelings of fear, shock and heartache, my knees went wobbly and I had to stabilize myself against the bookshelf standing next to me. Afraid I might accidentally blow a hole into the floor, I rested my Op 7 handgun, similar to a Glock 31, on the shelf. Why had my knees suddenly become the consistency of jelly? And why was I now finding it difficult to breathe? Because the bastard standing before me had just informed me that he was my father.
It was almost as if the doors to my brain had blown open in a hurricane because I was bombarded with thoughts and memories—memories of a time long ago, nine years long ago, when my mother was still alive.
My mother ...
In general, I tried to shield myself from thoughts of my mother because those thoughts invariably led to feelings of darkness and depression that would clutch my insides until I could barely breathe. My mother had been killed by a goblin nine years ago, which is why I'd decided to become a Regulator (think, law enforcement agent) for the Association of Netherworld Creatures (ANC) in Splendor, California.
I felt my eyes narrow as I glanced up at the man who called himself my father. It wasn't that I doubted him—I couldn't. If our last names weren't illustrative enough of our shared lineage, the similarity of our faces was—I had my father's emerald green eyes, both in shape and color as well as his high cheekbones. And my mane of honey blond hair seemed borrowed from the man standing just before me, although his hair was now generously sprinkled with grey. But while I was a fairy, my father was an elf. 'Course, he'd failed to mention his elfin ancestry when he'd introduced himself to me as "Melchior O'Neil, your father." But, as a fairy, I possess the ability to detect bloodlines of everyone I meet, his included.
Family likeness aside, it was time I asked a few questions of my own and got some closure on some subjects I'd always wondered about. I’d practically abandoned my search for the answers seeing as how my mother was dead and prior to this moment, I'd never met my father.
"My mother said you left us, that she came to California because she was pregnant with me and you ran off," I managed to say in a constricted, sore voice.
My father nodded but that small smile he'd been wearing since he'd admitted to our familial connections was still in place and still just as infuriating. "Yes, I imagined your mother would say something of the sort." He shook his head like he was amused, like I'd just told him some funny little anecdote about when I was a kid. "That Marjorie ..."
"Then it isn't true?" I demanded, hating the sound of her name on his tongue. And that was when it was pretty clear that I hated him. I felt my hands fist at my sides and glanced down at the floor as I forced myself to count to five. An outburst would do me no good at this point. No, I had to maintain my cool while I figured out how to get myself out of this mess. Glancing down, I suddenly remembered I was wearing nothing but my bra and jeans. In the process of breaking into the Head of the Netherworld's office, I'd lost my shirt.
Lost a shirt but gained a father ...
"No, it isn't true," my father announced and then turned to face the third person in the room who I could honestly say I'd completely forgotten about since I'd realized Melchior was my father. Quillan, who I'd mistaken for the Head of the Netherworld when I'd broken in and found him occupying my father's chair, was really Melchior's henchman, his right-hand man. And Quillan was also my ex-boss and ex–close friend. But that was a long and convoluted story.
Quillan remained silent and I found it strange that Melchior bothered to glance at him. Did he think Quill might have something to say about the mess known as my family? Instead, my old man looked at me and shook his head slowly.
"I never left your mother. She left me."
I nodded as everything suddenly became crystal clear. My mother hadn't wanted to raise her child in the Netherworld, which was basically a combat zone and completely unsafe. More than that, though, I'm sure she didn't want to raise a child with this asshole, Melchior—someone who was, for all intents and purposes, a crime boss. He was making a killing off the black market in the illegal potions trade and was so high up the proverbial ladder, he was untouchable.
"Smart woman," I said in the same tight voice.
Melchior said nothing but eyed me with no expression of sadness in his eyes at all—like it was no skin off his teeth that my mother had left him to raise me all by herself, like he could have given a rat's ass that he'd never had a connection with his daughter. As soon as that thought entered my mind, his demeanor changed, as if he'd clued into my feelings and wanted to prove me wrong.
"You look just like her," he said in a haunted tone, something that sounded barren and void. It was as though he was suddenly sad that he'd missed out on all those years, like he was bummed he hadn't been there to potty train me, teach me to ride a bike, or tell me how beautiful I looked on prom night.
"Lucky for me," I answered, my lips tight.
He chuckled then and shook his head, eyeing Quillan again almost as if he were embarrassed that Quillan was still sitting there. Then my father faced me and seemed to study me as if he were about to draw a detailed portrait of me. "Your mother was a beautiful woman and you are just as lovely." He paused, as if wa
That was when I realized the entire time I was making small talk with this jerk, Knight was still imprisoned, subjected to the beatings of the ruthless guards and probably worried that any minute could be his last. The main prison of the Netherworld was no vacation, not by a long shot.
I turned to face Quillan, no longer interested in playing the game of family charades with Melchior. "Get Caressa on the phone," I said in a voice that warned him not to argue with me. "And put her on speaker."
Quillan started to shake his head at the same time that he looked at my father. "Dulce, Caressa can't know you're here."
I nodded. "She won't know I'm here—I won't say a word. I just want to make sure you're really going to call her and that you aren't trying to pull a fast one over on me." I took a deep breath. "And don't call me Dulce. My name is Dulcie," I finished with as much bravado as I could muster.
"Have you always been so suspicious?" Melchior asked me, his eyebrow raised in an amused sort of way.
I glared at him. "Yes, which is why I've survived this long."
My father said nothing more but turned and nodded at Quillan as if to say putting Caressa on speakerphone was okay. Caressa Brandenburg was the only respectable, high-ranking ANC employee I'd encountered so far in the Netherworld. I knew she'd make damn sure Knight was out of High Prison and on his way back to Earth as soon as Quillan gave her the go ahead. Yep, Caressa was an angel of mercy, as far as I was concerned.
I watched as Quillan faced the rotary phone which looked like it was straight out of the sixties and any hopes I had of getting Caressa on speaker phone flew out the window. That was the weird part about the Netherworld—it was almost like a third world country, no modern conveniences. When I'd first met Knight, he'd described the Netherworld as existing in the same spatial plane as Earth. He'd said it was like a cake with layers, the Netherworld being one layer and Earth the layer just above. So even though I was currently in the Netherworld, I was also in the twenty-first century, yet you'd never know it by looking around.
"No speakerphone?" I asked, irritated.
Quillan frowned. "Not everything is as it appears, Dulcie."
He started dialing when my father interrupted him. "Before you dial Caressa," Melchior started as he gave me a nonchalant smile. My heartbeat pounded inside me as if it were still trying to deal with the bewilderment I'd been experiencing for the last ten minutes.
"Yeah?" Quillan asked. He paused with his index finger pointing aimlessly in the air as he faced my father.
"Then you agree to everything I've laid out for you, Dulcie?" Melchior asked me. His lips were tight and his expression stern.
I swallowed hard as I remembered the bargain I'd made—that I would resume my place as a Regulator for the ANC located in Splendor, California, and Knight would again be my boss. Only this time, I'd also be working for Melchior to make sure his illegal potions made it to Splendor so they could hit the streets and be sold on the black market to thugs, addicts and ... kids. I felt bile climbing up my throat and had to swallow it back down. The only reason I'd agreed to such terms was to save Knightley Vander's life. At the moment, that was all that mattered to me. I promised myself to think of a long-term solution later; but for now, I just had to save Knight.
Knight headed the ANC Splendor branch and he was a good, honest and loyal guy. For reasons unknown to me, he'd been kicked out of the Netherworld and forced to Earth. But when he'd taken the rap for me by pleading guilty to a mistake I'd made, he'd found himself back in the Netherworld. And back in the Netherworld, Knight had been exactly where Melchior wanted him. It was becoming increasingly clear that my father had always wanted Knight Vander dead.
"Yes, as I told you before," I started and faced my father. "If working for you means saving Knight's life, I'll agree to it." I paused. "But that's the only reason I'm agreeing to it. Otherwise I would have told you to go fu ..."
Melchior nodded and interrupted me with a chuckle as he faced Quillan. "Very well," he said and I watched Quillan start dialing the rotary phone again.
I narrowed my eyes at my father, wanting some answers of my own. "What did Knight ever do to you that made you so intent on getting rid of him?"
My father seemed surprised by the question, and his eyebrows lifted. "If the Loki hasn't informed you, then neither shall I."
By Loki, he was referring to Knight—Knight was a Loki, a soldier of the Netherworld forged by the fires of Hades, the god of the Netherworld. As to whether Hades had ever existed was anyone's guess. It wasn't like anyone I knew had ever met him—it was just one of those stories that some people believed and others didn't. Sort of like Santa Claus ... well, if you're seven years old.
But back to the fact that my father wasn't going to enlighten me about the issues between my Loki and him ... I guessed I was just SOL.
"Brandenburg, please," Quillan said into the mouthpiece as he faced me and waited for Caressa to pick up. He glanced at my current state of undress and frowned. Then he started unbuttoning his long-sleeved shirt, pulling it down his arms and placing it on the desk. He yanked his white undershirt over his head and the sight of Quillan's beautiful upper body made me look away.
As an elf, Quillan is tall and regal looking with wavy blond hair and hazel eyes. He's definitely a looker and as I mentioned earlier, he was my former boss. Throughout our time together at the ANC in Splendor, I had a crush on him and we even shared a kiss or two. Once I learned he was working for the bad guys, however, I completely clipped him. Sometime after that, I came very close to arresting him. I even had him in the sights of my Op 7 but was unable to pull the trigger, and Quillan escaped. It was all my fault, but Knight took the rap.
Quillan glanced at me and balling up his T-shirt, tossed it over. I caught it midair and nodded my head quickly to say thanks. Pulling the shirt over my head, I smoothed it down around my lithe, five-foot-one frame and found it fit me like a dress. Well, T-shirt dress or not, it was better than standing there with my boobs hanging out of my bra.
"What do you want, Beaurigard?" Caressa's voice rang out and I could only wonder how they managed to rig up the rotary phone into a speakerphone. Must have been magic.
Quillan cleared his throat, apparently ill at ease with the fact that Caressa obviously didn't think much of him. But Caressa must have known he was Melchior's wingman, right? Hmm, the more I thought about it, the more I wondered exactly how much Caressa did know about all the ins and outs of the Netherworld and the illegal potions industry. I mean, how could she be such a highly ranked official and not know?
"I'm calling about Knightley Vander," Quillan answered.
There was a moment or two of silence on the other end. "Why?" Caressa asked and her voice held much less boldness this time. She was obviously worried about Knight.
"He is to be released immediately," Quillan ordered.
I heard Caressa exhale deeply. "I will see to it personally," she answered and I felt tears well in my eyes, knowing Knight was now safe. Well, as soon as he was in Caressa's custody, he would be safe. Caressa and Knight had worked together when Knight still lived in the Netherworld and they'd become good friends. Really, Caressa had been the only friend Knight had in this godforsaken place.
"You are to accompany him to the portal on Albany Street and he is never to return to the Netherworld," Quillan continued. "If he asks you any questions, Caressa, don't answer. As far as you're concerned, all you were ordered to do was release him. End of story."
"So why the sudden change?" Caressa asked.
Quillan eyed Melchior and my father shook his head as Quillan wrapped the phone cord around his fingers. When he spoke, his voice was hard. "Not something you need to know."
"Okay," Caressa said impatiently. "I gotta go." Before Quillan could respond, she hung up and the blaring of the dial tone rang out through the room.
"How long have you been working for him?" I asked Quillan as he escorted me from ANC headquarters to his company car. It was an old Ford something or other that looked circa 1970."What is this?" I asked, glancing down at the car, suddenly irritated that it felt like I was stuck in a rerun of Grease.
"A 1961 Ford Galaxy Town Victoria," he answered almost sadly. Then he rolled his eyes in an indifferent sort of way, adding, "I fucking hate it." It wasn't lost on me that he really wasn't talking about the car.
"How long have you been working for my father?" I asked again, immediately regretting the brief change of topic. I needed to focus on the facts from here on out, not sideline myself with frivolity. The time for small talk was long gone. Quill opened my door and I seated myself as I watched him close it and then walk around to the driver's side. He opened the door and settled himself before looking over at me.
"The whole time I've known you."
That would be nine years now, since my mother had died. My stomach dropped all the way to my feet. Quillan had been double dealing from the first time I'd stepped foot through the double doors of the ANC headquarters and asked how one became a Regulator. Throughout our entire acquaintance, he'd been pretending to be something he wasn't. But I couldn't focus on that anymore. What I needed to concentrate on was what the hell I was going to do about the mess I was now in. Because staying in this mess wasn't an option.
Wuthering Frights by H. P. Mallory / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes