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She's no' coming. Damn it, why? He'd shown her passion - and patience. But she'd been skittish toward the end. Wild-eyed and spooked. Perhaps she feared the intensity of her own reaction? Or of his?

He recalled what Bowen had once told him. "We doona understand our own ferocity." His cousin's deadened eyes had been filled with loss. "What's normal to us is no' to others." Bowen's own mate had loved him, until she'd seen him turned. Then she'd fled.

Lucia too had fled - yet she hadn't even seen a glimpse of the beast.

The Lykae called their transformation letting the beast out of its cage. Garreth would grow taller, his muscles extending, his fangs and black claws lengthening. The brutal and menacing shadow of his beast would flicker over him.

No, Lucia dinna see me like that. He scowled at the waxing moon. But she soon will.

She would run far, if he wasn't careful. Another glance at the moon, and he knew what he would have to do on that night. "Ah, Lousha, my lass. It's going to hurt. But there's no getting around it."

For now, she wasn't coming to him, so again he'd go to her. He stood and turned for the Valkyrie's home of Val Hall. Since he'd met her, he'd staked out the bizarre place. Lightning bombarded the property, flashing constantly above the antebellum manor. All over the grounds, lightning rods jutted up. Smoking moss dangled from burned oaks. From within, Valkyrie shrieks sounded.

None of that mattered but for the fact that Lucia would be within. He strides took him closer and closer to her.


"Lykae in our backyards. Horde vampires seeking out Valkyries all over the world. Happy Accession!" Regin cried from her "command center," also known as the dining room table, which now stood covered with maps and papers - all lit by her glowing face.

The more excited Regin became, the more she glowed. Yet that wasn't the only reason she was called the Radiant One....

Lucia made a noncommittal sound, only half listening. She'd thought she'd spotted something outside the manor. She was curled up in a window seat, bow in her lap, peering out at the night. The gaslights flickered outside Val Hall, like tentative steps into the blackness.

On this day, she was supposed to have met the werewolf. All week she'd been in a daze, knowing she couldn't meet him, yet tempted to so badly. She wanted to know if she'd imagined the addictive taste of his lips. She wanted to discover why she hadn't been able to shoot him between the eyes. Why had everything in her rebelled against the idea?

And why had he taken her underwear?

That had confused her as much as anything from that night. Unlike her sisters, who were all obsessed with lingerie, Lucia wore athletic underwear - seamless, utilitarian. She didn't buy sexy silks like Agent Provocateur, instead favoring brands like Under Armour - the kind sold in a pack. She'd never expected anyone to see them, yet he'd stolen them. Why?

She sighed. Surely MacRieve would leave her alone now that he'd been stood up. Even as she thought this, she half expected to see him advancing on the manor, pissed off, his gorgeous face creased in a scowl.

But nothing was out there now. She relaxed a touch.

Ultimately, the choice of whether to meet MacRieve or not had been taken out of Lucia's hands. Her day planner had gotten filled to the gills when their coven had learned that Horde vampires were hunting for a particular Valkyrie, though they didn't know who.

Vampires were the Valkyrie's most hated enemies. They could trace - or teleport - from one location to another, disappearing and reappearing at will, making them difficult to slay. When the Valkyrie's mighty queen Furie had gone to face the Horde leader Demestriu, she'd never returned....

Worse, Ivo the Cruel, second in command to Demestriu, and his men were searching here. Rumor held that Ivo was up to something even more nefarious than usual - and that he'd teamed up with the vampire Lothaire, the Enemy of Old, an ancient foe of theirs as well.

"If I had to guess," Regin said, "I'd bet the leeches are looking for me. Because I glow and I'm wicked smart. They probably want to breed with me."

Lucia sighed, hoping Regin was kidding. "Doubtless."

"And what the hell is Lothaire doing here? He was always creepy. It boggles the mind that some women think he's hot." She shook her head, sending blond locks bouncing over her glowing shoulders.

Another secret from Regin. Lucia was one of those women. She'd always found the powerful vampire - with his blond hair and light red irises - compelling, attractive in an is-he-going-to-kill-me-or-kiss-me type of way. And Lucia was far from alone.

"You think Annika's really going to find any leeches in NOLA?" Regin asked.

"Dunno." In the wake of this news, Annika, their fierce coven leader, and other Valkyrie had set out to find them in the city. "They've always stayed away from the States before." Which was why the Valkyrie coven had moved here. Lucia had heard that was the reason many Lykae had come here from Scotland as well.

"I hope they're in town. I want to face them!" Regin stood and brandished one of the two swords that she usually wore in sheaths crisscrossed over her back - in addition to the dagger sheath she customarily wore on her forearm. "I'll lunch on their balls!"

That was Regin's new threat: to lunch on enemies' balls. "Reege, when you threaten males with that, I don't think it has the result you intend. They think less Lunchables, more tea bag."

"Huh? Whatever!"

Before Annika had left, she'd ordered Regin and Lucia to contact traveling coven members and get them home at once. But above all else, they were to make sure Emma, Annika's halfling foster daughter, returned to Val Hall from Paris.

Unfortunately, once they'd gotten in touch with Emma at last, the normally meek half vampire/half Valkyrie had declined to return. There was talk of a man she'd met - a hot man.

Annika was going to go berserk. Regin secretly called their coven leader Annika the Aneurismal for good reason.

"Dude, you've been antsy all day," Regin said, sheathing her sword. "What's wrong with you?"

I stood up a Lykae with delicious lips and intense golden eyes who, for a time, looked at me like I was the best thing in the entire world.

"Is it because of the new neighbors you saw?" Regin asked.

Lucia had reported back to the coven that Lykae were encroaching on Valkyrie territory.

"Ah-oooooo, werewolves in NOLA." Regin gave a snort. "If they're going to be sneaking out of the kennel, then I guess 'out of sight, out of mind' no longer applies, huh?" Regin had nicknamed their compound the kennel. To her delight, it'd caught on.

"Sneaking?" Lucia said. "They acted as if they owned this place."

Tags: Kresley Cole Immortals After Dark Vampires