Devils Don't Lie
Valkyrie Bestiary Series, Book 7
Critter wrangler rule #18: if wrangling isn’t messy, you’re doing it wrong.
The forest is whispering to Kyra that something’s coming. The creatures are restless. Smoke and ash fall on their homestead. And the shanty towns outside the ward are bursting with refugees.
But Kyra doesn’t need omens. She has a direct line to Terra, the god who put humankind in their place once before and won’t hesitate to do it again.
Unless Kyra finds a weapon called a “world killer.” Finds it and destroys it.
The only problem is, that weapon is now in the hands of Montreal’s oldest enemy, the vampires.
Kyra and Mason have fought vampires before, but with Mason’s demonic magic threatening to push him over the edge, this time, the risk might be too high.
Can Kyra appease an angry god, face off against the vampires and protect her growing family?
It turns out that being a working mom chosen to save the world is going to take practice, courage, and a whole crew of creature companions as backup.
We topped a ridge and Mason stopped to drink from his canteen. I bent to check my bandage. It held but was already soaked in blood. Until I could rest and put that leg up, there would be no stopping it.
“Does it hurt?” Mason asked.
“Not much,” I lied.
I heard the worry in his voice and keened the nervous magic buzzing around him. I decided to diffuse the situation. I couldn’t do anything about my leg, but I could keep Mason from wigging out and going dark again. Without turning, I scooped up a handful of mushy snow and packed it into a missile. I whirled around and launched it in the same motion. It smacked Mason right in the middle of his chest.
With the canteen halfway to his lips, he looked down at the wet splotch on his jacket and raised both eyebrows. A tiny smile quivered at the edge of his lips.
He carefully put the cap back on his canteen and stowed it in his pack. Then he bent, scooped and flung a wedge of snow as fast as old Thor could throw lightning.
A white soggy blanket hit me. I sputtered and cleared snow from my eyes. Mason was already armed with another ice missile. I laughed and ducked as he launched it. The snowball hit a tree behind me with a wet slap. I gathered up more snow, not bothering to pack it, and threw, aiming for his smug face. But my aim was off because he was suddenly right there, close enough to circle me with his arms and trap me against the tree.
Snow dripped in my eyes, but I couldn’t look away from the intensity in his gaze. He licked drops from his lips and gently wiped slush off my cheek. Then leaned in and kissed me. The tip of my cold nose butted against his warm cheek. Ice melted between us, dripping down my chin as his kiss deepened. His tongue lightly brushed mine, making me wish there weren’t so many layers of clothing between us.
My hands roved up his arms to the soft place where his hair curled at his nape, so I felt it when he suddenly stiffened.
He pulled away and cocked his head.
“Do you hear that?”
Still caught up in the heat of his kiss, I heard nothing but the rushing of my own blood.
Mason stood back. Something rumbled in the distance, too steady to be thunder.
“Avalanche?” I said.
Mason shook his head, not in denial, but in perplexity. We weren’t in the mountains, so an avalanche was absurd, but that’s what it sounded like, and this was the Inbetween. Anything was possible.
Then I keened the rush of magic coming our way like a flash flood barreling through a dry culvert. Hundreds, maybe thousands of souls on the run all at once.
I saw the moment realization hit Mason too.
“Stampede.” He was already dragging me up another small ridge. The noise grew until the forest trembled.