It isn’t easy being a sylph in the twenty-first century, especially one cursed by an ex-boyfriend and hunted by her undine brother, but Sylvie Forrest is ready to start over again in Las Vegas, the city that shimmers with neon colors that take her breath away. The ante gets upped when she rescues singer Xavi Cabrera, lead singer of Aces and Kings, from crazed fans, and he repays her by bringing her into his world.
What seems like the luck of the draw may just be chance, or maybe it’s magic. If she can save Xavi from himself, she just may have hit the jackpot this time.
“If you only knew what we’ve been up to—” Adam’s voice always reminded her of rocks in a baking pan.
“I don’t want to know what it is that you and Heidi are doing. No. Please. TMI.” Sylvie shuddered and almost hung up on her brother as she tried to push the image of two gnomes having sex out of her head. “Now I need Brain Bleach.”
“We’re just playing D and D.”
Gnomes and their role-playing games are so weird. “Somehow that’s worse.”
“You should come join us.”
“No, I’m good. Besides, you killed off my character, remember?” She looked both ways before crossing the street, even though everyone else had already stepped into the crosswalk. Walking felt weird after flying, and she didn’t trust humans.
“You really should stay away from the ‘shrooms, dude.” He didn’t sound high now, though. “Yes, you drowned her in a cask of amontillado, which is evil, considering.”
“Oh yeah.” He chuckled, then grew serious. She could sense it through the phone. “Stay away from the fountains, okay?”
The fountains. In Vegas, everything was over the top, but the fountains were the best and the worst of it. They were everywhere. She’d never expected so much water in the middle of a desert. “Mel can’t control three feet of water from thousands of miles away.”
“Probably not. Just be careful, Sylvie.”
“I plan to.” She side-eyed the dancing fountains of the Bellagio. Underneath their burble, she thought she could hear singing. Fucking Mel. She put a group of tourists between her and the spray. “You think he’d be over it by now. It's been a year.”
“Mel really liked Dirk.”
“Well, how was I to know Dirk was a mortal, and a fragile one at that? They don’t usually die from sex.” She still felt bad for her brother, nor could she get the sated, but gray-blue, expression of Dirk out of her mind. “At least he died happy.”
“Mel just wants you dead.” Adam’s voice held no animosity.
“Which is why I am moving in with you.” Mel had chased her from the cozy bungalow in Bora-Bora with relentless hurricanes, and Adam had offered her a room in his apartment. Sylvie could hear a voice in the background, not really high enough to be feminine, but it was hard to tell with gnomes.
“Just a minute, dear.” Adam’s voice faded, but then became stronger. “When will you get here?”
“I just want to explore a little. Get to know my new home.”
“Stay away from fountains. I know.”
“I’ll see you later. We can—”
“See you. Bye.” Sylvie hated drawn-out goodbyes. She also didn’t know how Adam and Heidi could play D and D with only two people, nor did she want to. Her curiosity had gotten her into more trouble than she could remember and had ever since she was young.
It had also gotten her cursed.
She hiked the bag that had been a gift—and almost as much of a curse—higher on her shoulder. Urien, her ex-boyfriend, had given her the bag and the curse. He’d never fully explained why he had done either, despite her asking. He simply claimed she’d figure it out and then magicked her to the middle of nowhere.
Her nature as a sylph made her protect the beautiful, male or female—Elementals had changed with the times—but now she also had to answer any genuine cry for help. Stupid curse. She’d rescued more cats from trees than she could count, and she always imagined Urien lurking somewhere nearby, invisible, chuckling at her climbing up to hoist a snarling tabby from its perch in a pine.
She shook her head. Wizards. Humans. Wizard-humans. She wasn’t sure which was the worst.
Thinking about Urien made her sad, so she focused on the beauty around her. Vegas had plenty to recommend it, other than being a safe place to hide from her undine brother. There were exciting people, interesting things to do, and color, lots and lots of colors. Everything was bright, vivid, and garish, everything she was not. Sylvie loved color, but she didn’t wear it herself.
Instead, she relished it in her surroundings, and Vegas gave in spades, from the vibrant facades of the casinos to the neon that bedecked everything. She couldn’t wait to see the Vegas lights at night.
She sauntered past the hotel that had a hot air balloon in front of it, past the one that reminded her of Italy, past the giant pyramid. She walked until her feet were tired in their broken-in boots and the sun had begun its descent towards night, cooling the air to the point that she could put her leather jacket back on.
I wonder if Adam is done with his game by now. Sylvie crossed the street to where a building made up of several architectural styles stood. The foot traffic here was busy. This must be a popular place. She found an out-of-the-way looking alley and stood near the entrance, then she dug her phone out of her pocket and searched for his number.
“Outta the way, freak.”