Shadow silence, p.1
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       Shadow Silence, p.1

           Yasmine Galenorn
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Shadow Silence


  PRAISE FOR YASMINE GALENORN’S NOVELS

  “A fantastic, perfect blend of myth and modern, nightmare and dream, love and loss.”

  —Rachel Caine, New York Times bestselling author

  “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

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

  —RT Book Reviews (four stars)

  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

  SHADOW SILENCE

  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

  A JOVE BOOK

  Published by Berkley

  An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

  Copyright © 2016 by Yasmine Galenorn.

  Penguin Random House 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 Random House to continue to publish books for every reader.

  A JOVE BOOK and BERKLEY are registered trademarks and the B colophon is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

  eBook ISBN: 9780698406506

  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

  To my agent, Meredith Bernstein,

  who has had my back for many a year.

  Thank you.

  CONTENTS

  PRAISE FOR YASMINE GALENORN’S NOVELS

  TITLES BY YASMINE GALENORN

  TITLE PAGE

  COPYRIGHT

  DEDICATION

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  AUTHOR’S NOTE

  EPIGRAPHS

  ADVICE FOR VISITORS TO WHISPER HOLLOW

  THE MORRÍGAN

  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

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  I have a usual list of suspects to whom I owe a great deal when I’m writing a book. To my editor and agent, for encouraging my vision and supporting it. To my husband, Samwise, who is one of the most supportive men I’ve ever met. To Andria and Jenn, my assistants who help make it possible for me to write three books a year and stay sane. To my readers, who buy the books and support my fan base—without enough readers buying the books, authors wouldn’t be getting contracts. And lastly, to Ukko, Rauni, Mielikki, and Tapio—my spiritual foundation.

  You can find me on the web at Galenorn.com, and all the links to my newsletter and my social networks can be found there. If you want to contact me, please e-mail me through the contact page on my website.

  Dear Reader:

  And so, we come to the second Whisper Hollow book, Shadow Silence. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did writing it—the world of Whisper Hollow is very near and dear to me, and it haunts my dreams and thoughts.

  I hope to be writing far more Whisper Hollow stories in the future, though it will be through another venue. Be assured, I have new books and new series coming out, but you will need to check my website to find out what publisher/venue through which they will be available. If you sign up for my newsletter on my website, you will be assured of finding out about all my future releases. I do promise—no matter what—I will have more books to share with you.

  Brightest Blessings,

  The Painted Panther

  Yasmine Galenorn

  Under the water it rumbled on,

  Still louder and more dread:

  It reached the ship, it split the bay;

  The ship went down like lead.

  SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE,

  “THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER”

  Some places speak distinctly. Certain dark gardens cry aloud
for a murder; certain old houses demand to be haunted; certain coasts are set apart for shipwreck.

  ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

  Advice for Visitors to Whisper Hollow

  1. If you hear someone call your name from the forest, don’t answer.

  2. Never interrupt Ellia when she’s playing to the dead.

  3. If you see the Girl in the Window, set your affairs in order.

  4. Try not to end up in the hospital.

  5. If the Crow Man summons you, follow him.

  6. Remember: Sometimes the foul are actually fair.

  7. And most important: Don’t drive down by the lake at night.

  Whisper Hollow:

  Where spirits walk among the living,

  and the lake never gives up her dead.

  THE MORRÍGAN

  The Morrígan, Night Mare Queen and Goddess of Sovereignty, Queen of Shapeshifters and Mother of the Fae, culls the dead from the battlefield and gathers them to her, under the embrace of her feathered cloak. She is mother to the Bean Nighe and the Bean Sidhe, the sirens of the spirit world, who warn of death to come by vision and by song. She is mother to the Crow Man, who haunts the woodlands of the world, surrounded by a murder of crows, carrying her messages to those to whom she would speak. The Crow Man walks before the goddess, announcing her appearance. He speaks through the raven and the crow, and to ignore his summons is to ignore the gods. Do so at your own risk.

  But not all dead wish to stay in their shadowed realm, and not all dead understand the reality of their situation. And in some lands, the energy of the Veil is so strong that the dead can walk freely between the worlds. So it was that the Goddess of Crows engendered nine great families—the bloodline passing through the maternal side—of women born to drive the wandering dead back into their graves, to stand between the dead and the living as protectors. The Morrígan’s daughters, known as the spirit shamans, are charged with these duties.

  To each spirit shaman, a match is born—a shapeshifter by birth. He will be her protector and guardian. They will be forever bound. And to each spirit shaman, a lament singer will arise—a daughter of the Bean Sidhe—who will work with her to complete the triad. Together, they will protect the portals of the world that lead into the realm of Spirit, and keep the dead from flooding the land of the living.

  CHAPTER 1

  The Cold Moon brought the winds, rushing in off the Strait of Juan de Fuca to whistle through tall fir and cedar and snake through the thick undergrowth, rattling the windows as they surrounded Whisper Hollow. Catching the town up in their icy embrace, they danced through the long December night. Up on Hurricane Ridge, the snow was clouding the Olympics, blanketing the peaks with a thick layer of powder. Down in the shadow of the mountains, the storms were bringing rain and sleet, and perpetual gray clouds that swept through on the atmospheric river.

  I adjusted my coat and blew on my fingers, trying to warm them as I inscribed a band of runes in charcoal paste on the headstone. I was sitting on the grave, straddling the freshly mounded earth that covered the pine casket bearing Hudson Jacks’s mortal remains. Saturday, he had left this world, dragged down into the lake by the Lady. She was ravenous lately, it seemed, and Hudson had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  As I inscribed the runes, Ellia played in the background, her violin keening through the night as the wind picked up her notes and tossed them willy-nilly, almost as if the song and storm were doing battle. Her music strengthened my magic, as we bound the dead man to the deep dark of the graveyard. Penelope was waiting in her tomb to take his spirit with her into the Veil, my gruesome Gatekeeper who was terrifying and beautiful. Death’s maiden.

  To the side, Bryan stood watch. My protector and guardian shifter, he kept on guard for those who sought to disrupt me when I was too far into the magic to protect myself. He was also my lover. Fiercely protective, he crossed his arms as he surveyed the graveyard.

  Behind me, the sound of the tomb opening told me Penelope was ready.

  I stood and pointed my dagger at the headstone. Twin serpents coiled around the hilt in silver, and a crow was engraved on the pommel. The sigils on the blade began to glow as I whispered the chant of summoning I had found in my grandmother’s journal.

  “From the depths of your grave, I summon thee.

  From the dark night of your death, I call thee.

  From the icy grips of the Lady, I wrest thee.

  Hudson Jacks, I command thee, stand forth in my presence.”

  I shuddered, wondering if I’d ever get used to the weight of the dead pressing in on my shoulders. I could feel them watching through the Veil. Those who still walked this world watched silently from their graves, waiting for their own chance to wander.

  A moment later, there was a rush of energy as Hudson shimmered into sight. His form was translucent, and he looked as he had in death. Coiling vines draped around his neck where the Lady had taken him into her arms and dragged him below her icy surface. Hudson had been wandering since his body washed up on the shore, and twice now he had appeared outside his brother’s window. The Lady’s spirits often turned into Haunts, dangerous and hungry. Ellia and I needed to put him to rest before he became trouble.

  I held out my hand to him. I had only been doing this for a little over six weeks, but I was learning fast. He gazed at my fingers, then at me, cocking his head to the side.

  “You cannot refuse me. I am Kerris Fellwater, the spirit shaman of Whisper Hollow. I’m a daughter of the Morrígan and you are bound to obey me. Let me lead you to the Veil, where the Gatekeeper awaits.” The words themselves were a charm, strengthened by the strains of Ellia’s song and the power of the Morrígan.

  Hudson paused. If he bolted, we’d have our work cut out for us. But a glimmer of relief appeared in his eyes and he held out his hand, placing it in my own. His fingers were like bees stinging my palm; the energy crackled and snapped, sparking against my skin.

  I held fast, ignoring the discomfort and turned, leading him toward the tomb, where the double doors were open. Ellia fell in behind, still playing as her cloak fluttered in the wind, and Bryan followed, silently guarding our backs.

  Penelope’s mausoleum glowed from within, the blood of her chalice lighting the night. As the wind keened like a Bean Sidhe, merging with Ellia’s violin to knife through the air, we approached the base of the knoll where Penelope had been laid to rest. Her crypt straddled the line dividing the modern graveyard from the Pest House Cemetery, where more dangerous shadows lurked. Built of cinder block buried deep into the shroud of grass and mounded dirt, the crypt was stained from time and weather.

  A plaque affixed to the side of the door glimmered in the light emanating from inside. I knew the words by heart. Here Lieth the Mortal Remains of Penelope Volkov, Guardian of the Veil, Gatekeeper of the Graveyard. Enter and Despair.

  As I entered the crypt, the crystal chalice stood on the dais, the crimson liquid within churning like a kaleidoscope. My own blood was in there, along with the blood of other spirit shamans, lament singers, and guardians who had held their posts during Whisper Hollow’s history. It was rumored that every Gatekeeper’s chalice contained a drop of the Morrígan’s blood, as well. This is what kept the glass intact and the liquid within in a perpetual motion, a glowing, whirling vortex. I dipped one knee in front of the chalice, acknowledging the Gatekeeper.

  And there she stood, to one side. Penelope in all her gruesome beauty. Dark veins of black blood trailed out from the raccoon mask that shrouded her eyes. She looked fragile as porcelain, fragile as a picture from long past, ready to dissolve at the first whisper that touched her. Her hair was upswept in a chignon, blond tendrils coiling down to her shoulders.

  Penelope towered over me, six feet tall and gaunt in a black dress that fell to her ankles. The dress shimmered with sequins, the sheer material revealing the bones that thrust against her alab
aster skin. But jutting out from her body from within, as if she were a voodoo doll turned inside out, were the tips of long nails, surrounded by glistening splotches of dried blood. She looked as though some crazed inner carpenter had gone mad with a nail gun.

  She glanced at Hudson’s spirit, a hungry look filling her eyes, then back at me. “He reeks of lake water and her scent. We will cleanse him and remove her binding.”

  “Yes, he was taken by the Lady a few days back. She gave up his body fairly quickly, though. I don’t know why.” Usually the Lady kept them longer, tying them to her while she fed on their spirits before she loosed them back into Whisper Hollow.

  “Perhaps he was not to her taste.” Penelope laughed, making me shiver. I had gotten used to her appearance by now, but she still scared the hell out of me. I had no clue as to how extensive her powers were and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. The fact that she was Ellia’s older sister didn’t help any, either.

  I let go of Hudson’s hand, and he glanced at me, a fearful light in his eyes.

  “Go on, it will be all right.” I gave him a gentle nod.

  Penelope held out her own hand, and he reached out to touch the nails jutting from her wrists. He glanced up at her—he was not a tall man—and she gave him a soft smile and took hold of his fingers.

  “Welcome to the Veil, Hudson Jacks. Take my hand, love, and join my dark kingdom.”

  It was the same greeting each time, and each time, the spirit would smile dreamily and follow her into the Veil. As I watched, she gave me another nod. I turned and walked out of the crypt to where Ellia and Bryan waited for me. The doors behind us swept shut with a thud, and that was the end of Hudson Jacks.

  We returned to his grave, Ellia still playing. I had one last spell to weave before we were done for the night.

  I pressed my hand against the charcoal rune stream, and sprinkled Rest Easy powder on his grave. As I stood and circled the grave, deosil—clockwise—with my dagger pointing out, I invoked the charm that would, with all luck, keep Hudson by Penelope’s side until he was ready to move on from the Veil to . . . wherever it was that spirits wandered after they left this world.

 

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