Flight from mayhem fly b.., p.32
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       Flight from Mayhem (Fly by Night #2), p.32

           Yasmine Galenorn
 

  Peggin laughed. “Don’t think I’m unaware of that. But I promise you, I won’t hang out at the lake. I’m not the sunbathing type, which is probably why I live here and haven’t moved away.” She sobered. “To be honest, I don’t know what it is about this house, but I feel . . . it needs me. And I need a place to call my own.”

  “You can always move in with me till you find a safer home.”

  I blinked. That was a quick offer, considering how short of a time they had been together. But then again, if it were me, given the option of having Bryan move into a house next to a monster’s lair and letting him come live with me, I’d pick the latter, too. And Bryan and I had only been together about five to six weeks, though it felt like so much longer.

  But Peggin was having none of that. “Thanks, but I need my space. I learned the hard way that I have to make my own way in this world.” She ducked her head. “I know you’re trying to help, but I . . .” She paused, looking over at me for support. “You understand.”

  I let out a slow breath. “Yeah, I do.”

  And I did. Peggin’s childhood had mostly consisted of ridicule for her choice of clothes, for her weight, for her lack of interest in getting married. Her older sister, Lisha, had become a family icon. The “normal” one, she was blond, trophy-wife thin, had gone to college, and—after earning a bachelor’s degree in art history—had married into a family filled with lawyers and doctors. Peggin, on the other hand, was a size twelve, had no interest in joining the upwardly mobile society set, and so her parents told her she could either study law or business in college. Anything else and she’d have to pay for it herself. She had turned them down and found herself a job, saving enough to take an online medical transcription course.

  A year after Peggin graduated from high school, Lisha got pregnant, and her parents moved to Seattle so they could see the baby more often. Peggin had stayed behind.

  After she earned her certification, she had gone to work for the hospital. Now, she worked for Corbin Wallace, one of Whisper Hollow’s best doctors. She had managed everything on her own. Peggin was used to taking care of herself and she was wary of anybody offering help, since it had always come with strings attached.

  Deev seemed to sense her resistance because he gave her a little squeeze and backed off. “Well, if you need a place, you know you’ve got one. Just keep it in mind in case you don’t like the house and can’t find something suitable by the end of the month.”

  I decided to change the subject. Peggin was looking far too tense.

  “Agent-H caught a mouse today and decided to drop it on my bed for when I woke up.” Agent-H was one of my Maine coons. I had three. The other two were girls—Gabrielle, better known as Gabby, and Daphne, named after Daphne du Maurier, one of my favorite authors. They were all huge, basically walking Tribbles on legs.

  Peggin snorted. “Sounds like Frith. He likes to bring me garter snakes that get in the house. Folly’s too lazy.”

  “I love your ferrets.” Dr. Divine grinned, then. He didn’t smile often, but when he did, it was a trickster grin, a heady, sensual smile.

  Bryan let out a laugh. “Have you ever let your ferrets visit Kerris’s cats?” He slid an arm around me as the conversation eased into a comfortable chat and we wound down from the day.

  * * *

  I was standing in the field near the lake. I recognized that I was dreaming—or rather, that I was out on the astral in my dreams. The field was open with no shrubs or trees except for the knee-length grass that whistled in the wind. As I stood there, my arms stretched to the moon that rode high in the night, the faint cawing of birds echoed through the air.

  A murder of crows came winging in, landing around me. The vast flock settled, their blue-black feathers shimmering under the silver moonlight. They formed a circle, with me at the center. And then, I heard it. A slow processional filled the night, accompanied by violins and panpipes and the ever-present bodhrans beating the steady rhythm.

  The Crow Man is coming.

  I shivered, exposed and vulnerable in the Dream-Time. The ground around me quaked with his footsteps as the giant approached, clouds of blue fire swirling at his feet. An indigo cloak flared around him, the stars reflecting in its folds as he walked. A fur shawl encircled his shoulders, and atop his head rested a headdress—a giant crow’s head with eyes that glowed red and a piercing beak. His hair was long and black, falling to his shoulders, and his eyes were slits of white fire. In one hand, he carried a wand of silver, with a glowing crystal on top.

  I slowly settled to the ground, overwhelmed as I always was by his presence. Each time, his power seemed to have grown stronger, perhaps because I was far more attuned to his Mistress than I had been the first time we had met. Or perhaps he was just opening himself to me. Whatever the case, I just wanted to curl by his feet and stare at his beauty.

  He did not speak, but held out his hands. As I looked into his palms, a mist began to rise, coiling like a serpent. It bade me to follow it, and I was flying through the night, the Crow Man by my side. He winked at me, but his smile vanished as we spun through the stars. Then, without a word, we landed again, by the shores of the lake. The Crow Man pointed to the waves and I gazed out over the dark surface of the water.

  The winds rose as the flock of crows thundered overhead, shrieking their anger. I glanced back at the water and there she was. Rising from below the surface, a figure cloaked in pale white, dripping with water. She reminded me of a skeleton, clad in a layer of waxen skin. Her hair draped around her shoulders, long strands of seaweed and vines, and her skin was the color of gray mud. Out of hollow sockets, dark as the raging depths of the waters, she looked straight at us and began to laugh as she held out her arms.

  “Come to me. I promise you peace of mind. You will find joy in my embrace, and all that you’ve ever longed for will be yours. Let me give you a taste of my magic.” Her voice was as silken as smooth brandy, and my first instinct was to answer her call.

  But the Crow Man clasped a hand on my shoulder. “Listen to her song, so you will recognize it when you hear it again. The words may not be there, but the call is always the same.”

  At that moment, a scream echoed through the clearing.

  Peggin!

  I whirled, looking for her, but all I could see was the Lady, standing on the water, laughing as she held Peggin in her arms, unconscious. The water churned as the Lady began to slowly sink below the surface, dragging Peggin with her. I began to scream as I wrenched myself out of the Crow Man’s grasp and raced forward. Overhead, the crows went winging by, screeching so loud their cries filled the night air, as the Lady and Peggin vanished from sight.

  New York Times bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn writes urban fantasy, mystery, and metaphysical nonfiction. A graduate of Evergreen State College, she majored in theater and creative writing. Yasmine has been in the Craft for more than thirty-four years and is a shamanic witch. She describes her life as a blend of teacups and tattoos, and she lives in the Seattle area with her husband, Samwise, and their cats. Yasmine can be reached at her website at galenorn.com, via Twitter at twitter.com/yasminegalenorn, and via her publisher. If you send her snail mail, please enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope if you want a reply.

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  Yasmine Galenorn, Flight from Mayhem (Fly by Night #2)

 


 

 
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