Home > Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5)

Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5)
Author: Ilona Andrews

Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5)


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

This book, like most books, took a lot more time and effort than first anticipated. Many people have helped us along the way. We’d like to thank the following people for their help, patience, and expertise:

Anne Sowards, our editor—thank you for having faith in us, despite all evidence to the contrary;

Nancy Yost, our agent, for unwavering support and vicious fighting on our behalf;

Michelle Kasper, the production editor, and Andromeda Macri, the assistant production editor—thank you for transforming our manuscript into a book and for not psychically destroying us with your great mind powers because we missed deadlines;

Judith Murello Lagerman, the art director; Annette Fiore DeFex, the cover designer; and Chad Michael Ward, the artist, for creating a spectacular cover;

Amy J. Schneider, the copy editor, for her mad copyediting skills;

thank you very much to Kat Sherbo, Anne’s editorial assistant—the e-mails do not lie, we actually are crazy;

and thank you to Rosanne Romanello, the publicist, for always promoting our work.

 

We are also grateful to Skye and Aubrey, the best legal team the Pack ever had, for help with the shapeshifter real estate laws, and to Noa Rubenstein for assistance with interpretation of Roland’s fable. As always, our thanks go to our intrepid beta readers for their generosity and great suggestions despite being repeatedly tortured with half-baked drafts. Thank you, Beatrix Kaser, Ying Chumnongsaksarp, Reece Notley, Hasna Saadani, Jeanine Rachau, Michael Finn, and Chrissy Peterson.

Thank you to Jeaniene Frost and Jill Myles. You are great friends.

Thank you to Peter Honingstock for saving us a great deal of frustration by always helping us find the right resource books in record time.

Finally, we would like to thank each other for not murdering ourselves along the way, and A&E programming—when we get really depressed about our skills in our chosen profession, you always show us something even more depressing.

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

THE RINGING OF THE PHONE JERKED ME FROM MY sleep. I clawed my eyes open and rolled off my bed. For some reason, someone had moved the floor several feet lower than I had expected, and I fell and crashed with a thud.

Ow.

A blond head popped over the side of the bed, and a familiar male voice asked, “Are you okay down there?”

Curran. The Beast Lord was in my bed. No, wait a minute. I didn’t have a bed, because my insane aunt had destroyed my apartment. I was mated to the Beast Lord, which meant I was in the Keep, in Curran’s rooms, and in his bed. Our bed. Which was four feet high. Right.

“Kate?”

“I’m fine.”

“Would you like me to install one of those child playground slides for you?”

I flipped him off and picked up the phone. “Yes?”

“Good morning, Consort,” a female voice said.

Consort? That was new. Usually the shapeshifters called me Alpha or Lady, and occasionally Mate. Being called Mate ranked somewhere between drinking sour milk and getting a root canal on my list of Things I Hated, so most people had learned to avoid that one.

“I have Assistant Principal Parker on the line. He says it’s urgent.”

Julie. “I’ll take it.”

Julie was my ward. Nine months ago she “hired” me to find her missing mother. We found her mother’s body instead, being eaten by Celtic sea demons who had decided to pop up in the middle of Atlanta and resurrect a wannabe god. It didn’t go well for the demons. It didn’t go well for Julie either, and I took her in, the way Greg, my now deceased guardian, had taken me in years ago, when my father passed away.

People around me died, usually in horrible and bloody ways, so I’d sent Julie to the best boarding school I could find. Trouble was, Julie hated the school with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. She’d run away three times in the past six months. The last time Assistant Principal Parker called, a girl in the school’s locker room had accused Julie of being a whore during the two years she’d spent on the street. My kid took exception to that and decided to communicate that by applying a chair to the offending party’s head. I’d told her to go for the gut next time—it left less evidence.

If Parker was calling, Julie was in trouble again, and since he was calling at six o’clock in the morning, that trouble had a capital T attached to it. Julie rarely did anything halfway.

Around me the room lay steeped in gloom. We were on the top floor of the Keep. To my left a window offered a view of the Pack land: an endless dark sky, still untouched by dawn, and below it dark woods rolling into the night. In the distance the half-ruined city stained the horizon. The magic was in full swing—we were lucky it hadn’t taken out the phone lines—and the distant industrial-strength feylanterns glowed like tiny blue stars among the crumbling buildings. A ward shielded the window, and when the moonlight hit it just right, the entire scene shimmered with pale silver, as if hidden behind a translucent gauzy curtain.

The female voice came back online. “Consort?”

“Yes?”

“He put me on hold.”

“So he calls because it’s urgent and puts you on hold?”

“Yes.”

Jackass.

“Should I hang up?” she asked.

“No, it’s okay. I’ll hold.”

The world’s pulse skipped a beat. The ward guarding the window vanished. Something buzzed in the wall and the electric floor lamp on the left blinked and snapped into life, illuminating the night table with a warm yellow glow. I reached over and turned it off.

In the distance, the blue feylantern stars winked out of existence. For a breath, the city was dark. A bright flash sparked with white among the ruins, blossoming into an explosion of light and fire. A moment later a thunderclap rolled through the night. Probably a transformer exploding after the magic wave receded. A weak red glow illuminated the horizon. You’d think it was the sunrise, but the last time I’d checked, the sun rose in the east, not the southwest. I squinted at the red light. Yep, Atlanta was burning. Again.

Magic had drained from the world and technology had once again gained the upper hand. People called it the post-Shift resonance. Magic came and went as it pleased, flooding the world like a tsunami, dragging bizarre monsters into our reality, stalling engines, jamming guns, eating tall buildings, and vanishing again without warning. Nobody knew when it would assault us or how long each wave would last. Eventually magic would win this war, but for now technology was putting up a hell of a fight, and we were stuck in the middle of the chaos, struggling to rebuild a half-ruined world according to new rules.

The phone clicked and Parker’s baritone filled my ear. “Good morning, Ms. Daniels. I’m calling to inform you that Julie has left our premises.”

Not again.

Curran’s arms closed around me and he hugged me to him. I leaned back against him. “How?”

“She mailed herself.”

“I’m sorry?”

Parker cleared his throat. “As you know, all of our students are required to perform two hours of school service a day. Julie worked in the mail room. We viewed it as the best location, because she was under near-constant supervision and had no opportunities to leave the building. Apparently, she obtained a large crate, falsified a shipping label, and mailed herself inside it.”

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