Earthbound, p.1
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       Earthbound, p.1

           Yasmine Galenorn
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Earthbound


  EARTHBOUND

  -An Otherworld Novella-

  Yasmine Galenorn

  A Nightqueen Enterprises LLC Publication

  Published by Yasmine Galenorn

  PO Box 2037, Kirkland WA 98083-2037

  EARTHBOUND

  An Otherworld Novella

  Copyright © 2016 by Yasmine Galenorn

  First Electronic Printing: 2016 Nightqueen Enterprises LLC

  Cover Art imagery licensed via Shutterstock.com

  Cover Design by Yasmine Galenorn

  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED No part of this book may be reproduced or distributed in any format, be it print or electronic or audio, without permission. Please prevent piracy by purchasing only authorized versions of this book.

  This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, or places is entirely coincidental and not to be construed as representative or an endorsement of any living/ existing group, person, place, or business.

  A Nightqueen Enterprises LLC Publication

  Published in the United States of America

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Introduction

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Biography and Complete Book List

  Introduction

  Ever wonder if the monsters under your bed are real...?

  Meet the D’Artigo Sisters-three half human, half-Fae wild and sexy members of the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. Camille, a witch, Delilah, a werecat, and Menolly, an acrobat extraordinaire turned vampire, are sent Earthside, where they end up in the middle of a demonic war. Together with friends and lovers, they must use put a stop to Shadow Wing, the Demon Lord, as they attempt to save two worlds, one monster at a time.

  For a long time, my readers have been asking me what happened when the D’Artigo Sisters first came over to Earthside from Otherworld. EARTHBOUND is that story. EARTHBOUND takes place around two years before Witchling, twelve years after Menolly was turned into a vampire.

  So here you have it—the story you’ve been asking for. I truly hope you enjoy it!

  I want to thank my usual team: Samwise, my husband, who is also my formatter and my support system. My assistants, Andria Holley and Jenn Price, neither of whom I could manage without. Thank you to my furry Galenorn Gang who make writing more fun and difficult, with their purrs, meows, hissy fits, and blankie-attacks. Most reverent devotion to Ukko—Lord of the Wind and Sky, Rauni—Queen of the Harvest, Tapio—the Hunter of the Forest, Mielikki—my bright Goddess of the Woodlands and Dark Fae Queen. And to Brighid, Goddess and Muse. And to the Fae, both dark and light, who walk this world beside us.

  Thank you to my Moon Stalkers—my fans and readers—for your support and enthusiasm. You can find me on the net at Galenorn En/Visions. To make certain you get all updates on new releases, please sign up for my monthly newsletter.

  Bright Blessings,

  ~The Painted Panther

  ~Yasmine Galenorn

  Chapter 1

  “What the hell are you talking about?” I stared at my supervisor, unable to believe what I was hearing. He had to be joking. I couldn’t have heard him right.

  “I told you exactly what you need to know, D’Artigo. I’m ordering you and your sisters to report to the Otherworld Intelligence Agency tomorrow morning, where you will be reassigned Earthside. From today until your new appointment begins, Kristal will be in charge of you and I can wash my hands of your Windwalker ass.”

  Lathe didn’t even blink, although I detected a smirk behind his steely cold eyes. He was enjoying this, all right, and he was going to do everything in his power to rub it in. “Perhaps on your new reassignment, you’ll have better luck with your new superior. Or, maybe he’ll have better luck with you. We’ll see how you like the boys over Earthside.”

  The sneer in his voice told me everything I needed to know. This was my punishment for refusing to give him a blow job or spread my legs for him. There was nothing I could do about his harassment unless I chose to resign my commission. And Lathe knew that I wouldn’t dream of leaving service. I was a soldier’s daughter and I never shirked my duty.

  But that didn’t mean I had to keep my mouth shut. Not now. Done with playing nice, I leaned across his desk. “So you didn’t get your rocks off. Boohoo for you. But you can’t exactly put that in our files, so what’s the official reason for our reassignment, if I might ask? You owe me that much.”

  Lathe leaned back, eyeing me carefully for a moment before answering. “You and your sisters aren’t exactly exemplary employees, you know. Your track records are pathetic.”

  “You never give us any cases worth bothering with.”

  “Well, we don’t want another slip like your sister Menolly had, do we?”

  I knew it. I knew there was more than my refusing him behind this. We were also being punished for making the YIA stand up to the mistake it made that ended up with my sister being turned into a vampire.

  “You know that was directly a result of the YIA refusing to assign her backup when she asked for it.”

  “All I know is that she failed to complete her mission and cost the YIA a great deal of time and money.” He closed the file and set it aside. “No, I’m positive a sabbatical over Earthside will give you time to think about your job performance. So there you go. Your answer.”

  And that was all she wrote. There wasn’t any more to be said. Arguing was useless. There was no way I could change his mind, except by giving him what he wanted, but I doubted that it would do any good, even if I was willing. The pervert would probably promise me anything and then laugh as he came.

  I came to attention, saluting him. “Will that be all, sir?” I wasn’t about to let him think he had won.

  Lathe studied me for a moment, his gaze slinking over my body. “Are you sure you don’t want to beg me to…rethink my decision? After all, this affects your sisters as well. Do you understand me? I’m a reasonable man. Down on your knees…a simple task…and you can stay. What’s your decision, Camille?”

  I held his gaze, refusing to even blink. Regardless of whether he relented, if I gave in and got on my knees in front of him, he’d own me for life. And I’d lose every scrap of dignity I ever had. But I knew Lathe. This was just one more head game in a long line of humiliation games.

  With a shake of the head, I stepped back and saluted again, as abruptly as I could.

  “Obviously, Sir, you think the reassignment is best, Sir. I can only agree. May I be dismissed, Sir?”

  His eyes narrowing, he nodded. “As you will, Agent D’Artigo.”

  I turned on my heel and headed toward the door, stopping to glance over my shoulder. “Does this officially end your role as my boss?”

  “It does.”

  “Then, since you are no longer my supervisor, I’m going to say this once and only once. If you ever try to force my hand—or mouth—again, you won’t have a dick to suck. Do you understand me? Sir.”

  Before he could answer, I sashayed out the door, slamming it behind me. After fifteen years of putting up with his harassment, I was finally free. That the price for that freedom came with leaving my home world along with everything I knew…Well, it was a price I was willing to pay.

  So, my name is Camille D’Artigo, and I live with my sisters and father in Y’Elestrial, a city to the southeast of the Tygerian Mountains. Located on the shores of Lake Y’Leveshan and west of the Erulizi Falls, our city-state can be a rough place to live, but it’s also beautiful. As with too many coun
tries, our government has fallen into corrupt hands. The Opium Eater was a good leader when she came to power, but now she’s ruining our home. There’s still hope that Lethesanar’s sister, Tanaquar, will come to the rescue, but until that happens, there’s nothing anybody can do. But corrupt leadership and sleazy bosses aside, we still love our home.

  We being my sisters Delilah and Menolly, and our father Sephreh. My sisters and I are half-Fae, half human. Our father is full blooded Fae and our mother Maria was human. Maria came over from Earthside at the tail end of World War II, when she met Sephreh and fell in love. She died a long time ago when we were very young. Our father has been in the Guard Des’Estar since he was young, like his father before him. Naturally, we followed in his footsteps, going into service because that’s the way things are done in Otherworld.

  Because of our mixed heritage we all have different abilities, but things get frazzled and boom, problems come out to play. I’m the oldest, and I’m a Moon Witch, in service to the Moon Mother. My magic fritzes out all too often, leading to both embarrassing and dangerous situations. But the Moon Mother holds my heart, and she holds my oath. I take care of my sisters as best as I can, but sometimes, I just want to chuck it all and run away. But I couldn’t leave them. I love them too much.

  Delilah’s second born and a werecat. She turns into a gorgeous golden tabby, but not always by choice. When she’s upset she’ll spontaneously change. Delilah may be second born but in so many ways she’s the innocent of the family. She reminds me of our mother, in both her fair looks and her heart. She’s a golden child, happy and kind, and gentle to a fault. And the rest of us do our best to protect her.

  And my sister Menolly? The youngest, she’s a jian-tu—an acrobat/spy. She can climb the walls like a spider. But some ten years back, her abilities hit a glitch and she slipped and fell into a nest of vampires. The Y’Elestrial Intelligence Agency was to blame—they assigned her to spy on Dredge and then failed to deliver backup. What the Scourge did to her was unthinkable. Even now, we don’t discuss it. Long story short, he tortured and killed her, turning her into a vampire. Then, he sent her home to destroy all of us, but I managed to trap her in the safe room. The YIA put her in rehab. A year later, she regained her sanity, as much as any vamp ever can. She returned to work, but she carries a dark shadow in her heart and I fear one day it may prove too much for her.

  Together with our father and the housekeeper and the cook, we live in a snug house on the edge of the city. The only thing missing from our lives is our mother. Some days, I think I’ll never get over missing her, even though she left us when we were all so very young.

  I wasn’t sure how to approach Menolly and Delilah about this new development but when we met for our midnight lunch, I realized they already knew. They were staring at me like it was all my fault which, in a way, it was.

  “I guess you’ve heard.” I set my tray of food on the table and swung my leg over the long bench. The cafeteria was bustling, but we always managed to find a place together when we were eating lunch in the building. Nobody bothered us, or wanted to sit near us. We weren’t exactly the poster girls for the A-List.

  Delilah rolled her eyes. “Oh, we’ve heard all right. What the hell happened?”

  I stared at my tray, not wanting to admit what Lathe had said to me. They’d be furious, Menolly would want to kill him, and that wouldn’t change the fact that we were headed Earthside, no matter what. I was still irked that I hadn’t been able to put a stop to his sleaziness early on.

  “We’re not performing up to expectations. Lathe’s labeling it a sabbatical.”

  “Right, and I’ll walk into the sun if you believe that.” Menolly reached across the table to take my hand. “We know what he wants from you. Don’t give in.”

  “This is horrible. I don’t want to leave Otherworld,” Delilah said. She stopped, glancing over at me. “I didn’t mean you should…I’m sorry. It’s just that the thought of leaving home scares the hell out of me.”

  If I were honest with myself, I’d admit that it scared me, too. But Delilah counted on me to be the strong one, and I wasn’t going to let her down. I reached out and bopped her nose.

  “Well, I’m looking forward to it. Haven’t you ever wondered what Mother’s home world is like? Remember all the stories she used to tell us? Think of it—we get to see cars and electricity and all sorts of wonders. It’ll be one big adventure. And the time will pass before you even know it. We’ll be coming back soon enough.”

  Menolly leaned in from the other side, though she was careful not to touch Delilah. Even though it had been over ten years, Delilah was still squeamish about the fact that our sister was a vampire.

  “I think it’s going to be a blast. I’ll be able to go out at night easier—the city lights and all. And really, if things get too bad, we can come back home, quit our jobs, and strike out for somewhere else. I’ve always wanted to see more of Dahnsburg. And we’ve never been to Ceredream.” Menolly flashed Delilah a toothy grin. She was still, on occasion, unable to control the way her fangs worked but she had almost mastered the techniques.

  Delilah thought it over, then gave a little shrug. “I guess it does sound like fun. Maybe over there, our half-blood heritage won’t matter so much. I get so tired of being called a Windwalker, though it hurt a lot more when I was a little girl.”

  I dug into my lunch, spreading my bread with sweet butter and dipping it in the stew. “Who knows what else we’ll find? It’s a whole new world. Maybe we’ll luck out and meet the loves of our lives!”

  Menolly laughed at that. “Right, and I’ll find a cure for my vampirism. No, I doubt if any of us are destined to find romance among a rough and tumble new world.”

  Finally laughing, Delilah focused on her food while Menolly drank a goblet of blood. After lunch, we gathered our courage and headed over to the OIA for official reassignment.

  One month later, on a blustery autumn day, we stood by one of the portals in Elqaneve, the elfin city. The city was beautiful, and the serenity beckoned to me. Elqaneve had stood for thousands of years, unchanging and unmarred by petty wars. Queen Asteria was working with the OIA, and she had briefly met us. The ancient Elfin Queen scared the hell out of me, but she had been kind and gentle.

  Now, all that remained was for us to cross over. The Earthside division of the OIA would be there to greet us, along with the delegate from Earth who had thought up the joint task force between the two worlds.

  Our father stood by our side. He looked like me—medium height with long black hair blended with blue highlights. His eyes were violet, like mine, and we both had extremely pale skin. He was dressed in his Guard Des’Estar uniform, and he remained stiffly at attention as we took our place in front of the portal. Trenyth, the advisor to Queen Asteria, quietly withdrew, giving us a few minutes.

  “Even though I won’t be there to watch over your shoulders, I expect you to behave as though I am. You’ve never been on your own, but now, you will be responsible for your own behavior, and you are representing both your mother and me, as well as the OIA. Make me proud.” His voice held only the faintest quiver, the only sign that this wasn’t just any ordinary morning, and that we weren’t just headed across town to work. But that one quiver was enough to tell me that this was as hard on him as it was on us.

  “We’ll make you proud. We won’t slack off.” I met his gaze, conflicted. Even though I was scared, facing the longest trip of my life, I also realized this would be the first time that he wasn’t running the show, constantly barking commands at me. While I wanted to make him proud, I could never do anything good enough. Maybe now I’d have a chance to prove myself. Maybe I’d be able to do something that would make him admit that I measured up.

  “I trust you won’t.” He paused, looking uncomfortable as if he couldn’t figure out what to say next. Finally, he settled for, “Humans are peculiar. Your mother was an exceptional woman, but just as in Otherworld, there are many over
Earthside who would rather inflict pain than do what is right. Be careful. I want you all back here, alive and in one piece.”

  At that, Menolly looked uncomfortable, but Father seemed oblivious. I gave her an empathic smile, wishing that the bridge between them could be repaired. But our father hated vampires, and though he did his best to hide it, we all knew that, at some level, he blamed her for what had happened. Unfair? Absolutely. Unexpected? Sadly, not so much.

  Trenyth returned. “A house sprite named Iris will be your guide while you get settled. She’s going to help you find a house. She’s picked out several based on your description of what you’re looking for, and she’ll show them to you. The money your mother left you, plus your relocation allowance, has already been transferred to your bank accounts in Earthside currency. That Maria thought to file birth certificates and get you social security cards—government issued documents that you’ll need—is a blessing. That made things much easier. Here are your OIA papers—don’t lose these. They’re important.” He handed us each a sheaf of documents. Each bundle was in a clear envelope that had a weird, shiny feel to it. We knew what plastic was, but had very little contact with it.

  “Once you are there, you’ll learn to drive. You’ll be working with the FH-CSI…that would be the Faerie-Human Crime Scene Investigation unit. The man who runs it is named Chase Johnson. He’s a detective, be aware that’s his proper title. Detective Johnson.”

  “Where will we meet Iris?”

  “She, along with Chase will meet you on the other end of the portal. You’ll be transporting to the basement of the pub that Menolly will be working in. The portal there is a common destination for visitors from Y’Eírialiastar. I think that’s about it. Best of luck, girls. I’ll be in touch. We’ll be bringing a Whispering Mirror over to install once you have a house so you can contact me, and your father, without a problem. Please, be careful and try to have fun while you’re there.” He paused. “Camille, I know Lathe. I think I understand why you’re being reassigned. Trust me, Queen Asteria and I have the utmost faith in you and your sisters.”

 
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