Darkness raging, p.1
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       Darkness Raging, p.1

           Yasmine Galenorn
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Darkness Raging


  PRAISE FOR THE OTHERWORLD NOVELS

  “Yasmine Galenorn creates a world I never want to leave.”

  —Sherrilyn Kenyon, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  “Erotic and darkly bewitching . . . a mix of magic and passion.”

  —Jeaniene Frost, New York Times bestselling author

  “Yasmine Galenorn is a hot new star in the world of urban fantasy.”

  —Jayne Ann Krentz, New York Times bestselling author

  “Yasmine Galenorn is a powerhouse author; a master of the craft who is taking the industry by storm, and for good reason!”

  —Maggie Shayne, New York Times bestselling author

  “Spectacularly hot and supernaturally breathtaking.”

  —Alyssa Day, New York Times bestselling author

  “Simmers with fun and magic.”

  —Mary Jo Putney, New York Times bestselling author

  “Yasmine Galenorn’s imagination is a beautiful thing.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “Galenorn’s gallery of rogues is an imaginative delight.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “Pulls no punches . . . [and] leaves you begging for more.”

  —Bitten by Books

  “Her books are always enchanting, full of life and emotion as well as twists and turns that keep you reading long into the night.”

  —Romance Reviews Today

  “Explore this fascinating world.”

  —TwoLips Reviews

  “As always, [Galenorn] delivers intriguing characters, intricate plot layers, and kick-butt action.”

  —RT Book Reviews ()

  Berkley titles by Yasmine Galenorn

  The Otherworld Series

  WITCHLING

  CHANGELING

  DARKLING

  DRAGON WYTCH

  NIGHT HUNTRESS

  DEMON MISTRESS

  BONE MAGIC

  HARVEST HUNTING

  BLOOD WYNE

  COURTING DARKNESS

  SHADED VISION

  SHADOW RISING

  HAUNTED MOON

  AUTUMN WHISPERS

  CRIMSON VEIL

  PRIESTESS DREAMING

  PANTHER PROWLING

  DARKNESS RAGING

  The Indigo Court Series

  NIGHT MYST

  NIGHT VEIL

  NIGHT SEEKER

  NIGHT VISION

  NIGHT’S END

  The Fly by Night Series

  FLIGHT FROM DEATH

  The Whisper Hollow Series

  AUTUMN THORNS

  Anthologies

  INKED

  NEVER AFTER

  HEXED

  Specials

  ICE SHARDS

  ETCHED IN SILVER

  THE SHADOW OF MIST

  FLIGHT FROM HELL

  Berkley Prime Crime titles by Yasmine Galenorn

  GHOST OF A CHANCE

  LEGEND OF THE JADE DRAGON

  MURDER UNDER A MYSTIC MOON

  A HARVEST OF BONES

  ONE HEX OF A WEDDING

  Yasmine Galenorn writing as India Ink

  SCENT TO HER GRAVE

  A BLUSH WITH DEATH

  GLOSSED AND FOUND

  An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

  DARKNESS RAGING

  A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with the author

  Copyright © 2016 by Yasmine Galenorn.

  Excerpt from Flight from Mayhem by Yasmine Galenorn copyright © 2016

  by Yasmine Galenorn.

  Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices,

  promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

  BERKLEY® and the “B” design are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

  For more information, visit penguin.com.

  eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-14197-1

  PUBLISHING HISTORY

  Berkley mass-market edition / February 2016

  Cover art by Tony Mauro.

  Cover design by Danielle Abbiate.

  Map by Andrew Marshall, copyright © 2012 by Yasmine Galenorn.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Version_1

  Dedicated to

  Samantha Tennant, whose contribution to the

  Pixel Project in exchange for this dedication

  helped make the world safer for women.

  As a survivor of abuse, I thank you.

  Acknowledgments

  Thank you to everyone who has helped me get to this point:

  Samwise: My husband and consort.

  Meredith Bernstein: My agent.

  Kate Seaver: My editor.

  Tony Mauro: My cover artist.

  Andria Holley and Jenn Price: My assistants.

  My furry “Galenorn Gurlz”: My feline brigade.

  Ukko, Rauni, Mielikki, and Tapio: My spiritual guardians, and Brighid, my muse.

  To my readers: Your support by buying my books helps keep my work continuing on. You can find me on the net on my site: Galenorn.com. You can also find an Otherworld wiki on my website. If you write to me snail mail (see my website for the address or write via my publisher), please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope with your letter if you would like a reply.

  The Painted Panther

  Yasmine Galenorn

  CONTENTS

  Praise for the Otherworld novels

  Titles by Yasmine Galenorn

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Dedication

  Acknowledgments

  Epigraph

  Map

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Cast of Major Characters

  Glossary

  Playlist for Darkness Raging

  Letter to the Reader

  Special Excerpt from Flight from Mayhem

  About the Author

  Hell is empty and all the devils are here.

  —SHAKESPEARE

  True love is selfless. It is prepared to sacrifice.

  —J. P. VASWANI

  Chapter 1

  “Any activity so far?” Nerissa hustled through the kitchen door and made for the table, where Camille, Delilah, and I were sitting. We were listlessly toying with whatever we could find to keep our minds occupied. All our phones were on the table, waiting. The minute one of them rang, we’d spring into action—and we knew there would be a call. Until
then, Camille was reading, Delilah was working a crossword puzzle, and I was trying to unknot a jumble of thin gold chains that had gotten tangled up when I tossed them in the jewelry box without thinking.

  Dropping into the chair next to me, Nerissa used the towel hanging around her neck to wipe the sweat off her brow. She had just returned from her workout with Jason Binds, a mechanic-cum-martial-arts-instructor. He was attempting to turn her into a lean, mean shredding machine. Her face was clear of makeup, her workout top was soaked through with perspiration, and her tawny mane of hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail, although a few wisps had escaped to straggle out. But to me, my wife was the most beautiful sight in the world.

  “No, but it’s only a matter of time. We haven’t had a quiet night in several weeks.” I pushed the chains aside. I had doused them in oil and was trying to use a straight pin to separate the tangle. I wiped my oily fingers on a napkin and reached for her hand.

  Camille and Delilah had been awake since around five P.M. I, of course, rose at sunset, which was—in early May—running closer to eight thirty. I longed for autumn and winter, when the nights were longer and I could rise earlier and stay up longer. Sometimes I thought I should move to Alaska for half the year, when the darkness held sway over the land. My sisters had switched over to a nocturnal schedule because, so far, all of the attacks had come during the night—usually around two or three A.M.

  Everything had snowballed so quickly that we gave up waiting around, and now—instead of simply responding to the danger, we had gone on the offensive. At the first sign of dusk, the guys headed out, hunting for any signs of trouble as they scoured the city. My sisters and I waited at home for their call.

  If they found a problem before someone reported a skirmish to the Faerie-Human Crime Scene Investigation Unit, the men called us and we headed out to put out the fire. If the FH-CSI got the call first, they transferred it over to us. Either way, we were front on the line. So far, we had managed to keep this nightmare under wraps, but we were barely holding on. All it would take would be one misstep or overlooked incursion and everything would blow sky high. Once news of what had been going on hit the papers, the ensuing panic would take over from there. We were trying to prevent that panic from happening in the first place.

  Earlier, the three of us had pored over a map of the city, trying to figure out if there was some pattern to the attacks. Never mind that we’d already gone over it a dozen times—the activity kept us busy, and right now, busy was good because waiting around like this was getting on all of our nerves.

  “I need to shower and change.” Nerissa pushed back her chair and stood.

  “Hurry up and I’ll have your dinner waiting.” Iris set a plate of grilled cheese sandwiches on the table in front of Camille and Delilah. She handed them mugs of hot tomato soup. “I’m not cooking anything extravagant because right now, fancy takes too much time. I want to make certain you all get good, solid food into you.”

  Nerissa nodded. “I won’t be long. I’m so sweaty from working out, and I need to rinse off, but I’ll be quick. Thank gods there’s been a lull tonight.”

  I glanced up at her. “So, how did it go at Jason’s?”

  “Good. He says that I’m learning extremely fast.” She shrugged. “I wish I could make more progress, but he seems satisfied so I guess I should take what I can get.” With a glance at the clock, she added, “I’d better get moving. We really don’t have the luxury of just hanging out anymore, I guess.” Sounding sad, she leaned down to meet my lips.

  The proximity to her body and her hot breath on my cheek made me ache. I wanted nothing more than to curl up with her in the living room. I wanted to cuddle with her and Maggie while we watched the Demon Twins play video games and listened to Iris and Hanna argue over who made the best pie. Basically, I wanted to just go about my daily routine and forget that all of this was happening. But reality was biting us on the ass, hard and fast and with sharp teeth. As Chase was fond of saying, If wishes were pennies, we’d all be rich.

  “Don’t be too long. We haven’t had a call yet tonight and you know it’s going to come.”

  As she headed toward the bath near the laundry room, a high-pitched note sounded from a ring of crystals sitting on an end table in the kitchen. Nerissa froze as Camille ran over to the wards. Delilah and I immediately shifted into prep-for-battle mode. Nobody had broken through to our land lately, but with everything going on, we didn’t dare ignore the rogue portal out in the backyard. Even though it had been tuned to the realm of the Elder Fae, the very fact that it was a portal still made our home a dangerous target. And not five miles away was Grandmother Coyote’s portal to Otherworld. Though, I thought with a silent grin, I would hate to see what she would do to anybody who tried to mess with her.

  Camille ran her hands over the crystals, which had calmed down. “Nothing to worry about. I think it’s just some ghost or something passing through. But, Delilah, can you run and ask the guards to make a sweep around the land? Just to be on the safe side.”

  “On it.” Kitten was up and out the door before Camille could say another word.

  “Okay, I’m getting my shower in.” Nerissa planted another kiss on my lips. I lingered in her embrace, wanting to stay there forever. I loved her more than I thought I ever could love anybody.

  I slapped her on the ass. “Get moving, wife.”

  As she darted into the bathroom, I thought about how close I had come to losing her. Only a few months back, we were having serious problems. But I had finally listened to my sisters, and I had quit being so pigheaded. Especially after Vanzir dragged me off to one side to inform me of what an ass I had become. When he wanted to be, he could be extremely blunt and unflattering. But I appreciated his warning because he was right.

  I finally started talking to Nerissa instead of talking over her. But mostly, I started listening to her worries and complaints, and taking them seriously. Turns out, shutting up and paying attention? Actually works. Now, though we weren’t perfect and never would be, it felt like we were finally on the same page. And honesty and clarity were a whole lot better than the illusion of perfection.

  As the sound of the shower started up, I went back to the chains, my thoughts still lingering over the dangers. We’d done our best to mitigate the hazards. Hanna and Maggie were sleeping in my lair during the night because we never knew when we’d be called out, and we didn’t want them in any sort of danger.

  Because of their proximity to the rogue portal out back, Iris’s husband Bruce had taken the babies—including Chase’s daughter, Astrid—and moved into Nerissa’s old condo. His mother had come to help out, along with a nanny and a guard. We needed Iris here with us, so she spent her days with her family and her nights with us. And Tanne Baum, the Woodland Fae from the Black Forest, was on twenty-four-hour call, only a speed dial away.

  The doorbell rang. I answered it, surprised to see Chase there, a tray of drinks in his hand.

  “I stopped at Starbucks before I came over. I thought it might make a buffer for what I have to say.” He forced a pale smile, looking as stretched thin as we all felt.

  “Uh-oh, that sounds bad.” I took the tray from him and led him into the kitchen.

  Camille put her marker in her book. Chase had brought a grande chai latte for Delilah. Camille got the iced venti quad shot mocha. And Chase, the venti black coffee with cream. I foraged in the refrigerator for a bottle of blood, enchanted to a chocolate flavor. Thanks to Morio, I had a wide variety of choices.

  Chase settled down at the table beside me, but before the detective could say a word, Camille’s phone rang. She stared at it, a dark wave steeling her gaze, then answered.

  “Yes? How many? Okay, we’re on the way. Text us the directions.” She punched the Off button and texted Delilah to get her ass around front ASAP, then yanked the top off her iced mocha to gulp down as much as she could. “We have to book. T
hat was Morio. A raiding party’s breaking through a rogue portal in Vanderson Park. At least a dozen goblins and twice that many bone-walkers. There may be more—they just started coming through the portal when Morio called me. He and Vanzir will hold them off as best as they can until everybody gets there.”

  “We’ll have to talk later, Chase. Wait here for us? When Nerissa gets out of the shower, tell her where we went, if you would.” I grabbed my keys, then jammed my wallet in the pocket of my jeans.

  He nodded. “I’ll call the Supe militia and put them on standby. One word from you and they’ll be on the way.” He pulled out his phone. “Text me directions the minute you get them. I’ll have Frank and the boys ready to roll if need be.”

  Without another word, we grabbed our jackets and headed into the cool, clear evening. I glanced up at the stars that hung over us like an icy canopy, wondering how long we could keep this up. But we couldn’t falter. If we did, Telazhar would win, and Earthside would turn into a vast battleground.

  * * *

  Vanderson Park was about fifteen minutes out from our house in the Belles-Faire district of Seattle. Thank the gods, traffic was scarce, so we made good time. I reached the parking lot first, but Camille and Delilah were close on my heels, and they swerved into the parking lot behind me. As we slipped out of our cars, we could hear shouts coming from beyond a nearby copse of trees.

  “Fuck, let’s hope that there aren’t any joggers out here braving the chill for a late-night run. And speaking of weather, the calendar says it’s May, but it feels like March tonight. Where are the temps in the seventies that the weather guys promised us?” Camille neatly slid her dagger into the sheath strapped to her thigh, over the leg of her catsuit. She started jogging toward the shouts.

  “News report said the warm front is stalled off the coast but should move in by tomorrow afternoon.” Delilah joined her.

  I caught up to them. We followed the curve of the sidewalk, twisting around the bend to see Morio and Vanzir in the middle of a copse of maple trees, caught in midbattle.

  A host of bone-walkers swarmed around them, magically animated skeletons that were dangerous and hard to kill. Hack them to pieces and the bones would still skitter until the spell wore itself out. The goblins hung back, shouting encouragement to the bone-walkers. They were using the skeletons as cannon fodder to take the brunt of the damage, which made total sense. Wearing out the enemy before you have to face them was never a losing proposition. Just then, a shout from the other direction told us Shade and Trillian had arrived. Smoky and Rozurial would be on the way.

 

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