Midnight Lies Page 3

My vision blurred as red-hot jealousy burned through me.

“Name your price, witch, and let’s be done,” I snarled. “Don’t play with us.”

While calling her a witch was crass and disrespectful, if she didn’t get her hands off my man, I’d tear them off, and then where would we be? We needed her.

She pulled her finger from Rage and stared into his eyes, her gaze hungry. “I want your blood, first prince,”—she crossed her arms—“or I won’t do the deal.”

“Oh, you’ll make a deal with me”—Rage chuckled, a sound filled with darkness, and his lip curled—“or I’ll rip your damn head off.” Then, he smiled, his canines elongating in a look of anticipated violence. “And the only way you’re getting my blood is if I’m dead.”

Whoa. So, yeah, that was one way to negotiate. Both my wolf and I stared at Rage with appreciation, loving that he had enough confidence to tell a dark mage he was about to behead her.

Surlama sharpened her gaze at Rage, but I could see the respect in her eyes. “What do you propose?”

“I’m the future king of every wolf in existence. If you do this, I’ll owe you a favor.”

Her eyes brightened, and a slow smile spread across her beautiful face. A favor from the future alpha king was quite a carrot.

“A favor of my choosing?” she asked, cocking her head to the side.

Rage nodded. “As long as it’s reasonable. I won’t kill or bring harm to anyone in your name.”

“Done.” She grinned, a wicked gleam in her eye.

Wow. That was fast and relatively pain-free—at least for me. I was 74.9% sure Rage wasn’t going to like Surlama’s favor, but we’d deal with that trouble later. Now, we could get to Honor. “So how do we—?”

A deep howl rose into the night, cutting off my question, followed by another and another.

Rage flinched. “My uncle and our pack. They’ve come…”

“Your price just doubled,” Surlama muttered, rubbing her hands together vigorously until a sickly green light began to emanate from her palms.

“Two favors?” Rage growled, and his attention jumped to Justice, then Noble.

I followed his gaze and noticed both brothers paled, and Noble grimaced.

The evil mage nodded. “And I’m cashing in now. For my first favor, I want my sister, Kalama, released from her lifelong servitude to the crown.”

I nearly choked on my own spit. “Kalama is your sister?”

Rage sucked in a deep breath but stayed silent.

Surlama slowed the rubbing of her hands, and the green light started to fade. Another howl rose into the air, this one closer. Leaning forward, Surlama asked, “Do we have a deal?”

Ah, hello, rock. Meet hard place. It sucked to be Rage right now.

“Fine,” he growled. “Just get us to the Realm of the Dead!”

Dark shadows danced under the skin of Surlama’s face, and she shook her head. “I told you. Only the girl can go.”

Rage flicked his gaze to Noble and Justice, and they each nodded at him. Could they speak into each others’ minds? Had Rage just spoken to them?

“Nai?” Rage ducked down to look me in the eye.

I swallowed hard but nodded. “I’ll be fine. I can do this.”

I think. Hopefully. I was 50/50 on it really, but a glass-half-full had to be good enough right now.

“Fine,” he said to Surlama. “We have a deal.”

Huh. I figured he’d put up more of a fight about going with me, but I shook the thought from my head and faced Surlama. Honor was dead; every minute mattered.

The light flared green in her palms once again and then she raised her gaze to the entrance as a ghostly apparition of an old man walked into the garden. I yelped and jumped backward, knocking into Rage.

“Right on time,” Surlama purred.

At the same time, I muttered an apology to my mate, who was staring at me like I was crazy.

Rage grasped my arms to steady me. “What’s wrong?”

“Uh … there’s a … ghost.” I pointed at the spirit, my hand shaking. Pretty sure the boys didn’t know what my new “gifts” entailed.

“Over here.” Surlama waved to the ghostly man, and he floated toward her.

“You can see him too?” I asked the dark mage. “Do you have spirit magic?”

“I see all manner of things between worlds,” she replied cryptically. She produced her knife again and held out her hand to me. “Now, I need your blood. Just a drop.”

“No,” Rage growled.

I waved my hand toward the tent rooms. “You have a ton of it here already, use some of that.”

She shook her head. “It’s more powerful fresh and freely given.”

The ghost started to shake, his whole body quaking.

“We’re going to lose the chance to open a portal if you delay,” she shouted. “Give me your hand!”


I gave her my pointer finger. “Fine. Just get me to Honor.”

She grabbed my finger and pricked it, squeezing a single drop of blood onto the tip of her knife, and then released my hand.

I pressed my finger into the folds of my filthy shirt to keep any blood from dripping onto her ground. No way was I giving her any more that she might use later.

Another howl filled the air, this one seemingly right inside her tent home.

“Hurry up,” I snapped.

She narrowed her eyes. “Ready?”

“We’ll get Honor a body,” Justice told me. “Don’t worry.”

I nodded, my throat clogged with emotion.

“Be safe.” Rage stepped closer, and I felt the heat of his body at my back. Surlama plunged her sword into the ghost’s chest and his high-pitched shriek rocked the garden area, causing me to cover my ears. What the hell? I opened my mouth to ask what was going on, then the vined trellis behind Surlama began to shimmer with a golden light.

“Get ready,” Surlama told me.

I flinched. What was I doing? What would the Realm of the Dead be like? How would I find Honor there? And—crap! Turning to Surlama, I asked, “How do I get back, once I find Honor?”

A portal opened into another world: vibrant green trees with turquoise flowers, blossoms in vivid colors blanketed the ground, and dazzling birds flew in a pale lavender sky. I stared, my jaw agape, and stepped toward the beautiful space.

“I’ll send for you,” Surlama said.

Her voice drew me back, and I glanced over my shoulder just as something crossed her face, a wild expression I didn’t trust. Before I could demand more answers, the ghost stepped through the portal, and I felt a sharp tug at my navel …as if I was tied to the apparition.

What the…?

My blood. She’d bound me to the spirit?

Cursed mage council!

“Better hurry, it’s closing,” she hissed as the edges of the portal began to shrink.

I spun to get one last look at Rage, to tell him I’d find Honor and be back soon, but he leapt across the distance, slammed into me and, wrapping me in his arms, pushed us both through the opening and into the Realm of the Dead.

Surlama shouted, but the sound cut off when the portal snapped shut.

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