Flight from mayhem, p.1
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       Flight from Mayhem, p.1

           Yasmine Galenorn
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Flight from Mayhem


  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

  “[Galenorn’s] 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

  FLIGHT FROM MAYHEM

  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

  FLIGHT FROM MAYHEM

  A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with the author

  Copyright © 2016 by Yasmine Galenorn.

  Excerpt from Shadow Silence 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: 9780698141926

  PUBLISHING HISTORY

  Berkley mass-market edition / August 2016

  Cover art by Tony Mauro.

  Cover design by Danielle Mazzella di Bosco.

  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

  Jo Yantz, a great friend, and a great workout partner.

  Greed is so destructive. It destroys everything.

  —EARTHA KITT

  Violent predators are not like the rest of us.

  —SUSAN ESTRICH

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  I always say the same thing during acknowledgments, but truthfully, these people keep me going each book. I owe thank-yous to a great many people. My editor at Berkley, Kate Seaver. My agent, Meredith Bernstein. My husband—Samwise Galenorn—and our four cats. My assistants, Jennifer Price and Andria Holley. Friends who listen to me vent—Jo and Maura, Carol and Vicki. All so very helpful in a business that just as easily eats you up and spits you out as offers you the chance to do what you love.

  To my spiritual guardians—Mielikki, Tapio, Ukko, and Rauni—I give my thanks and devotion.

  To all my loyal readers who buy my books to support my habit of writing—thank you. I hope you continue to love the stories, and I hope to continue to write them!

  You can find out information about all my books and work on my website, galenorn.com.

  CONTENTS

  PRAISE FOR THE OTHERWORLD NOVELS

  TITLES BY YASMINE GALENORN

  TITLE PAGE

  COPYRIGHT

  DEDICATION

  EPIGRAPHS

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  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

  THE PLAYLIST

  AUTHOR’S NOTE

  SPECIAL EXCERPT FROM SHADOW SILENCE

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  CHAPTER 1

  The wind blew through my hair, streaming it back under the helmet as the massive engine purred between my legs, vibrating through my entire body. I gripped Alex’s waist with my hands, my breasts pressing against his back as we leaned into the turn. His body was icy even through his butt-hugging jeans and snug leather jacket. He smelled like bay rum, and by now, I knew that scent all too well. I knew every curve of his body—six weeks of steady sex had ensured that.

  We were headed toward the new 520 Bridge. As we neared the floating bridge that stretched out for over a mile, crossing the lake that separated Seattle from the Greater Eastside, I could feel the call of the water—a deep, sensual recognition that washed through my core, making me a
che for its depths. The water and I had a special connection, seeing that I was a blue dragon and my very nature was connected to the life-affirming liquid. But tonight we weren’t headed to the beach so I could swim. No, it was party time.

  I wasn’t sure exactly where we were going, but apparently Bette was in charge of it, and that was all Alex would tell me. “Unless you’ve been to one of Bette’s parties, you’ve never been to a party.”

  With that less-than-comforting thought ringing in my head, I had swung onto the back of his Suzuki Hayabusa and held on as we roared out into the April night, under a heavy cloud cover. As we wove through the silent city streets, Alex deftly maneuvered the rumbling machine through the labyrinth of roads. It occurred to me that Seattle must have been planned out by some drug-crazed cartographer who randomly decided to have one-way streets change direction at major intersections.

  As we gobbled up the miles, the streets grinding beneath the bike’s wheels, I glanced up at the pale shadow of the moon. She was gleaming from behind the cloud cover, two days past full. By the time we crossed the bridge, the wind was churning the water to splash up and over the edge. To our left, the specter of the old bridge was awaiting deconstruction. It had been decommissioned only a month ago, a dark silhouette that had become outdated and dangerous. There was a one-in-twenty chance the 520 would go down, floundering to the bottom, if the area had another major earthquake. And the chances of a major earthquake in Seattle were when, not if.

  We passed a car that had stalled out, and then we were over Lake Washington and coming up on Bellevue. We were headed to a private residence on Lake Sammamish in Redmond. Not Bette’s house—she lived in a houseboat at the Gasworks Marina—but her current beau’s home. Apparently he was some genius software engineer at a startup that had put down roots in the area. High tech was king here, and this was the land of Microsoft, Starbucks, and money.

  I inhaled another breath of Alex’s cologne. It was comforting—familiar in a world that was still so alien to me. In my realm, I had nothing like this. In my world, I was an outcaste, pariah. Here, I mattered. At least in some small way, I—and what I could do—made a difference to people.

  We leaned into the gentle curve of the exit as we swung off the 520 freeway and onto West Lake Sammamish Parkway NE. As we passed through the suburbs and then past Marymoor Park, we came to a fork in the road, where the parkway split off into Bel-Red Road. We veered left, keeping on the parkway, as we curved toward Lake Sammamish. A few minutes later we swung onto NE 38th Street and down to the end, to the neighborhood next to Idylwood Park.

  To the left sat a row of houses, and we pulled into the driveway of the last one before reaching the lakeshore. A string of cars filled the drive. I gazed up at the house. It was huge—one of what were commonly called McMansions, or starter castles, around these parts—and it had its own private beach access.

  As Alex idled the motor, then switched it off, I removed my helmet, shaking my hair free. I swung off the bike, hopping aside, as Alex put down the kickstand and then joined me. We hung the helmets over the handles of the bike and—as I ordered my hair to straighten itself and smooth out the frizz—we headed for the private beach.

  Alex wrapped his arm around my waist. One thing I’d say for him—he made an attentive boyfriend. I wondered for the umpteenth time why Glenda had let him get away. He was a handful when it came to stubbornness, but in the six weeks we had been going out, I had never once felt neglected. In fact, in some ways, the attention was overwhelming. Togetherness was fun, but too much togetherness left me chafing.

  At six one, Alex had me beat by an inch. His wheat-colored hair was tousled and shoulder length, and his eyes were pale—frosty as an autumn morning. Handsome in a scruffy, rugged way, he also happened to be a vampire. He also happened to be my boss and parole officer, so to speak.

  “Where is everybody?” I glanced around, looking for the party site.

  “Down at the water’s edge. Bette said they had a bonfire going.” His arm still encircling my waist, we headed down the sloped road leading to the shore. There was a gate—of course. Around here, it seemed like everything fun was gated away from the public, for private amusement only. But the gate was open and the sound of laughter filtered up from behind the foliage-thick hedges barring our view.

  Within a couple of minutes we found ourselves on the lakeshore. Sure enough, Bette was there, manning the massive grill covered with dogs and burgers. The smells set my stomach to grumbling. Because I couldn’t shift form unless I was underwater, and therefore couldn’t just fly off to catch and eat a cow every now and then, I found that I had to eat every day, several times a day, just like humans. If I let more than a few hours go by, I was hungry again. That had been one of the most surprising discoveries when I came Earthside.

  “I’m going to find Ralph. Go say hello to Bette for us.” Alex gave me a slap on the ass and meandered off into the crowd.

  I was slowly getting used to being around crowds. I’d been a loner most of my life, and in the Dragon Reaches, where the population was sparse and I could go for days without seeing anybody, being a loner meant truly being alone. I glanced around, finally steeling myself to wander through the crowd of strangers over to Bette. But the next moment, a familiar voice intruded into my thoughts.

  “Hey, Shimmer!”

  I turned to find Ralph standing there, his Flying Horse energy drink in his hand. The man consumed caffeine like a crazed jackrabbit. He smiled, but I could tell something was unsettling him. The longer I was around others, the more I realized that I was somewhat of an emotional barometer. It was a blue dragon thing, though I hadn’t realized it extended beyond my fellow dragons. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the fact that I could walk into a room and sense that Ralph was irritated at his family, or that Bette was hungering to jump her current boy toy of the month.

  Ralph nodded me off to the side. He was around five eight and lanky, with brownish black hair and John Lennon glasses, tinted dark. Good-looking in a geek-chic way, Ralph was also a certified computer genius and a werewolf. Over the past few weeks, his crush on me had abated, especially since Alex and I had gotten together, and now the awkwardness had passed.

  “Shimmer, I’m worried about Bette. Where’s Alex?” He craned his neck. “I thought I saw you come in together.”

  “We did, but he took off toward . . . hell, I don’t know where he went. Is Chai here yet?”

  Chai was my best friend. A djinn, he had followed me when I got exiled from the Dragon Reaches. He said it was to see the sights, but I knew he wanted to keep an eye on me. He was a good sort, though—like all djinns—he was unpredictable, and he had settled in as my roommate. On the plus side, he did a great job of keeping the place spotless. He also significantly cut down on the heating bill by radiating enough heat when it got chilly to create an ambient temperature. On the downside . . . well, there wasn’t a downside.

  Ralph shook his head. “Not that I know of. Anyway, Bette’s putting on a good show for the public, but I caught her crying earlier, and you know how often that happens. When I asked her what was wrong, she pretended she had an eyelash in her eye, but those were real tears.”

  The tone of his voice told me enough that he wasn’t exaggerating. I glanced over at the Melusine, wondering how to approach her. Bette was friendly as all get-out, but she was closemouthed when it came to her own vulnerabilities, and she knew how to ward off anybody who got too close to touchy subjects.

  Right now, she was flipping burgers onto a plate that Dent, her current boy toy, was holding. Ralph had told me in private that Dent was a poser—that he really wasn’t all that good at his job but was able to fake his way through. But poser or not, he and Bette had fun, and that was all that mattered.

  “I’ll corner her and see if I can find out what’s going on.” But at that moment, my attention was violently yanked away when Alex’s voice thundered over the mur
muring of the crowd.

  “I swear if you don’t get your ass away from me, woman, I’m going to put the fang to you!”

  What the hell? I glanced at Ralph, who shook his head. We jogged in the direction of the outburst and as we threaded our way through the crowd and out into the open, I froze.

  “Oh crap.” I face-palmed, shaking my head. “I don’t want to deal with this right now.”

  “You and every other sane person on this planet,” Ralph muttered.

  There, standing in front of Alex, one hand on her hip, shaking a finger in Alex’s face, was the pleather-clad, red-haired succubus who I had hoped might have fallen off the face of the earth. Alex’s ex-girlfriend, Glenda. And Glenda was no Glinda. She was a harpy-tongued bitch, rather than a saccharine-sweet witch, all right.

  “You’re pond scum, Alex Radcliffe. You’re a bottom-feeder. Cocksucker! Motherfucker!”

  Alex stared at her, his look flashing between amusement and irritation. “To think I used to kiss that mouth. Glenda, what did you expect? It was a mutual breakup, in my opinion, but it was far too long in coming. Face it, we’re done. We were done years ago, but neither one of us had the courage to let go. It was time we said good-bye. You weren’t happy, and neither was I.”

  He shifted, darting away from her shaking finger. But his casual tone seemed to just fuel her fire.

  “I should have drained you—I should have sucked your chi down to the core.” Her voice had risen higher than I thought possible. Now, everybody was staring at them.

  I sidled away, not wanting to draw her attention, but that was a hope gone to hell in a handbasket as I accidentally bumped against one of the guests. In trying to both keep my footing and steady the man I had knocked off balance, I overcompensated in the other direction and wavered, teetering on one foot. In slow motion, like in the movies, I went careening into the pool, gasping as I sank deep beneath the chlorinated brine that masqueraded as water. As I kicked my way to the surface, sputtering, I saw that every head had turned to stare at me.

  Alex had an incredulous look on his face. Then, before I could make a move to get out of the pool, he began to laugh, slapping his thigh. “Oh, Shimmer, bless you for breaking up this little farce of a tête-à-tête. I needed that laugh. Get out of there, woman, and dry yourself off.”

 

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