WRAITH agent Will Donovan should have known better than to fall in love with a treacherous and beautiful Fairy, but he simply hadn’t been able to help himself. Now Commander Levi has teamed him with the gorgeous Ash again, this time to travel into the Vargr Realm to stop a dangerous and deadly drug called Candy Hearts from being sold and distributed to humans.
Once Donovan arrives, he has to deal with a broken-hearted little wraith, a treacherous brownie, amorous Nymphs and a growing attraction to his partner. When he’s kidnapped by Cupids, he’s taken to their capital city and has to face the biggest threat to his safety yet—his love for a being who can never stay with him.
Ash, along with a Paladin witch he picked up along the way, has to save Donovan, the love of his life and talk himself out of a relationship that will one day prove to be deadly. To do it he has to be willing to sacrifice his own life and break an ancient curse, but if he can pull it off, he might just get everything his heart desires.
My alarm went off, blasting the Bon Jovi song that had become my anthem, and I turned on my side in bed and reached for Ash, like I did every morning. And like every other morning that had rolled around for the past year, it hit me like a shot to the heart that Ash was gone, and he wasn’t coming back. I groaned and sat up on the side of the bed, wondering for the millionth time how I had ever been so fucking stupid as to fall in love with a Fairy.
It was Monday morning after a long, boring weekend. A weekend when I should have been out with my friends, going to some clubs, drinking Margaritas and having fun. Not moping around my apartment, thinking endlessly about the bastard who’d left me. Instead I’d spent the weekend doing laundry—admittedly, it was desperately needed—and watching Netflix. Now it was Monday and I had to be at WRAITH headquarters in … I leaned up and looked at the clock by the bed and cursed softly. Hell, my meeting was scheduled in less than an hour. Even though I lived only a couple of blocks away, I’d be lucky to make it on time.
I went in to take a quick shower, determined to get my ass in gear and not dwell on past mistakes and old loves. Stepping under the hot spray, I grabbed for my body wash and my hand landed on the kind he used to use—I hadn’t had the heart to throw it away after he left. I opened it up and lathered myself up with it, touching the memories like a sore tooth.
I had left him so many messages on his old number—which still worked, even though I’d heard Ash had returned to the Vargr Realm. In the off chance he might still be able to get his messages, I’d kept trying. All my messages had been ignored and all my calls had been unreturned. He had ghosted me, plain and simple, a practice used by heartless bastards to break up with somebody, or in this case, me. It was simple enough to do—just make yourself unavailable until the other person takes the hint. No nasty little break-up scenes with recriminations and hurt feelings all round. No muss, no fuss, just walk away and don’t look back in case they might be gaining on you.
I suppose it could have been worse. After all, in the old stories and legends and even poetry about Fairies, they most often lured unsuspecting humans into their fairy circles, using trickery and their extraordinary beauty to trap them forever. The gorgeous Fairies then gave the poor saps “honey wild, and manna dew” to eat and drink, according to the poems, and lulled them to sleep with sweet, sweet loving. Then they sang songs of unearthly beauty to them until their eyes closed forever. At least they were never seen alive in the human realm again, anyway. Who knew if the Fairies kept them as some kind of love slaves, which come to think of it, might not be all that bad, if Ash were the one doing it. I could get on board with that.
It was said that where Fairies danced, the rules of social conduct, physics, and even human fate changed. Those so-called Fairy-Rings marked a definite boundary between our world and theirs, and crossing them was a violation that came with severe and maybe even deadly consequences.
But I hadn’t believed the old myths and tales about Fairies, or at least I’d paid them little attention. I’d first met Ash on an FBI assignment in Texas, tracking drug runners, who came across the border trafficking cannabis, Cocaine, heroin, and ever-increasing amounts of methamphetamine. I’d known right away Ash was from the Vargr Realm—how could I not? No human could ever be so gorgeous. He was almost as tall as I was, and built like a young Greek god. And that face—those oddly colored amber-gold eyes, exotically tilted in his perfect face, glowing like topaz beneath long, thick eyelashes, high cheek bones and perfectly shaped lips. Then there were his ears, ending in delicate points that he tried to hide underneath red-blond curls streaked with silver.
He was so exquisitely beautiful. Ash’s coloring always reminded me of a song my mother used to sing sometimes, softly, under her breath, so my dad wouldn’t hear her. Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, give I to thee. The song was from an old hymn and was harmless enough, but my dad hated religion of any kind and said he wouldn’t have any of it in his house. If he caught her singing hymns, he’d shut her up with his fists. At least, he did until I was old enough to put a stop to it.
I hadn’t understood at first, what a Fairy was doing on our team, but the SAIC had explained that Ash was on loan from WRAITH, a sister agency to ours, because Fairies were great at finding people and things that didn’t want to be found. “He can be invaluable as an undercover agent. Fairies have the power of invisibility, you know.”
“Invisibility, sir?” I’d asked, trying to keep my tone carefully neutral.
“More like misdirection and a blending with the things around them, but I’ve witnessed it and it’s real. They have the ability to take on the coloring of objects close to them, like chameleons, and if the light is right, they can fade into these objects and not be discerned by any but the closest inspection.”
“But the drug traffickers aren’t Vargr, sir. They’re common, human criminals.”
“True. But traffickers move both their product and their profits in secret, and constantly maneuver to avoid death or arrest. They’ve learned to become as close to invisible as anything can be in our world. Still that’s not how he’ll be of help to us. He’ll use his powers to eavesdrop—to fade into the background and listen. To insinuate himself into private conversations and overhear valuable information and even observe deals going down. Give him a chance, Donovan. You’ll find him invaluable.”
And that was the beginning, of course. Ash had been assigned to partner with me, and we’d worked closely together. We’d often stayed in the same hotel room and had each other’s backs for over five months while we worked the assignment. I’d found him to be great company—passionate, fearless, brave and totally irresistible. Within the first week, we were sleeping together and by the end of the first month, I’d fallen in love. Too soon, all my friend said. You’ll wind up with a broken heart.
They didn’t know the half of it.
We had shared everything, risked everything, and when the assignment finally ended, I actually thought we’d go back to D.C. and move in together, because I couldn’t imagine a life without him in it. I had wanted to marry Ash and keep him forever. We’d be separated, of course, once our agencies found out, and one of us would no doubt be transferred, but other agents had made similar situations work. Surely, we could too. Back then I thought there was nothing we couldn’t handle together.
I had been in love, immersed in it, drowning in it, and completely entranced. Lured into Ash’s fairy ring of lies. I had drunk the damn honey dew all right. Eaten the manna and crossed the line with Ash, and in the end, that violation had cost me…everything. I had come home one afternoon—the very next day after we’d had our final debriefing, and found Ash packed up and gone. His clothing, all his personal effects, everything—just vanished. He didn’t answer his cellphone or any of the increasingly frantic texts and emails I sent him over the next few days. And when I threw aside my pride and begged the bureau chief for information about him, he had looked at me with pity on his face.
“Didn’t he tell you? He caught another assignment back in the Vargr Realm. Took off a few days ago. He won’t be back in this realm for at least a year. Maybe more.”
He must have seen the look on my face and become concerned, because he’d put a hand on my shoulder and shook his head. “It’s never a good idea to get too friendly with a Fairy, son. They’re all sociopaths, you know.”
I had known. I had. But I’d thought Ash was different. I’d thought he was just as much in love as I was, and I’d thought we’d always be together. It only went to show how much of a fool I was.