Home > Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (Immortals After Dark #4)

Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (Immortals After Dark #4)
Author: Kresley Cole

Prologue


The Forest of Three Bridges

Winter 1827

It wants to mark my flesh... The full moon beat light down on a canvas of snow and barren

trees, making Mariah’s hunter green dress glow as distinctly as a beacon for the beast

pursuing her.

Mark me with its teeth, she thought wildly as she leapt across an icy rivulet. When the

beast’s frenzied roar echoed through the forest, she stumbled at the embankment.

Frantically scrambling up, she continued her flight for home.

Birch branches clawed at her hair and raked her cold-numbed face. As she twisted from

their grasp, snow began to fall once more, blurring her vision. Another bellow in the dark

silenced night creatures; the sound of her ragged breaths became deafening.

Bowen, the man she’d loved since she was a girl, had warned her of the full moon,

preparing her: “I will change, Mariah. I canna control it. And you are vulnerable to harm

still... ”

She’d insisted on meeting him this night, because she’d known how critical this time was

 

Create PDF files without this message by purchasing novaPDF printer (novapdf) for him—and because she was anxious to make up for denying his desires again and again.

But then, at this last hour, her courage failed her. She’d looked upon the face of her

beloved, and the moon had revealed a monster in his place.

It had known she was horrified. Its eyes, glowing ice blue, had been filled with an animal-

like yearning until they narrowed with comprehension. “Run... Mariah,” it had grated in an

unfamiliar rasp. “Get to the... castle. Lock yourself away... from me.”

She could hear him crashing toward her, ever nearer, but she was almost there. Reaching

the edge of the forest, she saw her home in the snowy plain below her—a castle towering

amidst the confluence of their kingdom’s three great rivers. So close.

Mariah raced for the familiar winding path that would lead her down. As soon as she

alighted upon it, movement exploded before her eyes. Suddenly the air teemed with

ravens, shooting up all around her, wings batting her numbed face. Swinging at them

blindly, she stumbled and lost her footing on the icy, root-strewn path.

Weightlessness... falling... tumbling down the side of the ravine... The impact wrenched

the breath from her lungs and made her sight darken. Falling still...

When she landed at the bottom, it was to a sickening wet sound as some force punched

through her stomach. Unimaginable pain erupted through her. She gaped in

incomprehension at the sharp stump jutting up from her body. No... No... cannot be.

As the pain dimmed to only a chilling sensation of pressure within her, she weakly grasped

the remains of an axed-down birch, felled by one of her kingdom’s woodsmen.

With each breath, blood bubbled from her mouth. It dripped from her face into the snow,

as softly as tears.

Mariah of the Three Bridges would die in the moon’s shadow of her own home.

In a daze, staring at the sky, she listened while the beast crashed toward her impossibly

faster, as if scenting the blood. Before it could reach Mariah, she recognized she was no

longer alone.

Just after she spied more ravens circling overhead, icy lips met hers. Emptiness and chaos

seeped through her like a disease. As she writhed futilely, a voice inside Mariah’s head

spoke of this night, a wintry eve brimming with purpose.

“Die, ” the voice whispered against Mariah’s bloody mouth. Immediately, she perceived

the stillness of her heart. Her lungs ceased their labors and the mask of pain on her face

slackened.

The presence faded, replaced by another. Mariah’s last sight was the beast, roaring in

agony to the moon, clawing at its chest with wild sorrow.

 

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1

 

Present day

Tomb of the Incubi, the jungles of Guatemala

Day 3 of the Talisman’s Hie

Prize: Four Mayan sacrificial headdresses, each worth seven points

“Stalking me, Mr. MacRieve?” Mariketa the Awaited asked the Lykae behind her without

turning around. In the dark of a corridor leading to a burial chamber, Bowen MacRieve

had been following her silently. But she’d felt him staring at her—just as she had at the

Talisman’s Hie assembly three nights ago.

“No’ likely, witch.” How could such a rumbling Scots’ burr sound so menacing? “I only

stalk what I want to catch.”

Mari did turn to slant him a glance at that, even knowing he couldn’t see her face under

the hood of the scarlet cloak she always wore. But by the light of her lantern hanging over

her shoulder, she could see his, and used the cover to disguise her long, appreciative look.

She inwardly sighed. Lykae males were notoriously good-looking, and the few she’d seen

had lived up to their reputation, but this one was heart-poundingly sexy.

He had black hair, stick straight and thick, reaching to the collar of his obviously

expensive shirt. His body—which she’d found herself thinking about frequently over the

past few days—was sublime. He stood a good bit over six feet tall, and though the

corridor was wide enough for two normal-size people to pass, his broad shoulders and

big, rangy build filled the space.

But even with all his many attractions, his eyes were what made him so unique. They were

the color of rich, warm amber, and yet there was a kind of sinister light to them, which she

liked.

She was a little sinister, too.

“Look your fill?” he asked, his tone scathing. Yes, he was sexy, but unfortunately, his

dislike of witches was well known.

“I’m done with you,” she answered, and meant it. She didn’t have time to pine after

brusque werewolf warriors if she planned to be the first of her kind ever to win the Hie, an

immortal scavenger hunt à la The Amazing Race.

With an inward shrug, she continued on toward yet another burial chamber. This was the

tenth she’d investigated over the hours she and several other competitors had been down

deep inside this never-ending Mayan tomb.

She might have surprised him with her curt dismissal because a moment passed before he

followed her. The only sounds in the echoing space were his heavy footfalls, which he no

longer bothered to muffle. The silence between them was grueling.

“Who opened the stone slab to the tomb?” he finally asked, trailing far too closely behind

her.

“The three elven archers and a couple of demons.” The archers, two males and a female,

were deadly shooters with lightning-quick speed, and the male rage demons were

incredibly powerful—second in physical strength only to the Lykae. Yet even for them,

the stone portcullis sealing the tomb’s entrance had been nearly impossible to budge.

 

Create PDF files without this message by purchasing novaPDF printer (novapdf) They’d realized the entire pyramidal structure had shifted from time and earthquakes and

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