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Wicked All Night, Page 1

Jeaniene Frost


  To Matt, again, because of all the reasons I’ve listed before, and too many new reasons to count.



  Title Page


  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Author’s Note


  About the Author

  By Jeaniene Frost


  About the Publisher

  Chapter 1

  A week ago, a demon teleporting into my room would’ve sent me running for the nearest weapon. Now, I barely looked up when the bedroom’s shadows suddenly formed into a tall, handsome man with midnight-brown eyes, closely cropped black curls, and skin the rich, dark brown of smoky quartz.

  “Did you bring more blood?” I asked him.

  Ashael slid a briefcase across the floor to me. I opened it, relieved to see several blood bags inside.

  “Thank you.” I hoisted the nearest bag onto the IV pole beside me. This was the last ingredient I needed for my spell. Everything else was in place.

  Then, I watched as a thin stream of crimson streaked down the IV line toward the unconscious vampire on the bed. Please, I thought, fighting to hold back tears. Please let this spell work!

  Magic flared the instant the blood hit Ian’s veins as the spell activated. My nails dug into my palms. Please, please, please . . .

  A choked sound escaped me when Ian’s half-shriveled arm began to change, transforming from a near-skeletal state into his normal, muscled limb. Very slowly, his body began to follow suit, losing the shocking gauntness he’d had for the past ten days to expand back to his healthy, brawny physique.

  “Yes!” I shouted, so relieved my knees felt weak.

  We’d finally defeated our worst enemy, but Dagon had had one last, evil trick in store for us. At first I thought everything was great. Dagon was dead, Ian had summoned me away from the vampire council, preventing them from executing me, and we were safe at Mencheres’s house in the Hamptons. Sure, Ian was badly injured from Dagon’s trap, but Ian was a vampire, and vampires healed from everything except decapitation or silver destroying their heart.

  Or so I’d thought.

  Turned out, there was one more injury that vampires couldn’t heal from: whatever dark magic Dagon had infused in his fucking trap. Ian had borne the worst of its effects since he’d been the one to break us out of it. Or my other nature had protected me from the trap’s lingering, deadly magic. Either way, I was fine, but Ian fell unconscious the same day that he rescued me.

  He hadn’t woken up since, and he hadn’t healed from his horrific injuries no matter what spell I used to try to counter the lethal magic. Instead, Ian had only grown worse.

  Until now.

  “It’s working.” My voice vibrated from the joy rocketing through me. “Thank all the gods, it’s working!”

  I’d put all my knowledge, every last one of my magic-infused gems, all my power, and more than a few stolen artifacts into this latest spell. Those last ingredients had netted me some new enemies, but I didn’t care. Ian’s magic-ravaged body was finally, finally healing. Oh, I couldn’t wait until he opened his eyes again! I also couldn’t wait to hear his voice, to see his smile, listen to his laugh . . . wait. What was happening?

  Ian’s body suddenly began to shrink back into itself.

  “No!” I grabbed his arm, as if I could physically prevent him from degenerating again.

  I felt as well as saw Ian’s formerly healed body reduce itself back to little more than tendon-covered bones. His pearlescent skin now also had a grayish undertone, and his thick auburn hair looked faded and brittle, like discarded straw. If anyone saw him, they’d think they were looking at a corpse.

  “No!” I screamed, dropping Ian’s arm. If I held it any longer, I would break it from how frail it was.

  And Ian wasn’t frail. He was the strongest, cleverest, bravest, sexiest, most stubborn man I’d ever met. He’d defeated every challenge anyone had thrown at him, every time. He’d even defeated death once, so he couldn’t end up destroyed by Dagon’s spell, after everything he’d overcome. He just couldn’t!

  Ashael let out a deep sigh. “I am so sorry, my sister.”

  Only then did I realize I was crying, the kind of deep, hiccupping sobs that no one wanted to cry, let alone with an audience. I couldn’t seem to stop, either. I, widely known as the vampire world’s coldest, most unfeeling Law Guardian, couldn’t even slow my heaving sobs.

  I’d put everything I had into this spell, and it hadn’t been enough. Even from the grave, Dagon would win. He’d already made me watch Ian die once. Now, Dagon would force me to watch him die again, unless I somehow found another way to stop the magic that was inexorably killing him.

  I would, I swore, swiping at my tears. I’d find another way, or I’d make another way.

  Ashael patted my back in a soothing way. As a demon, he probably wasn’t used to offering comfort, but despite his lack of practice, he was pretty good at it.

  “I’m okay,” I said once I’d shoved my pain down enough to speak instead of sob. Then, I changed the subject because if I focused anymore on how this spell had failed, I’d lose it again. “Have you had any luck finding our father?”

  It still felt strange to say “our” father. For thousands of years, I thought I had no siblings. Then, a month ago, I found out that Ashael was my half brother, though Ashael’s other half came from the demon race, while I was half vampire.

  “No. He hasn’t responded to any of my summonings.”

  “How can he ignore both of us?” I asked. “No, really, how? If you draw the right symbols in my blood and called me using my true name, I have to come, and I inherited that from dear old Dad. So, how can he ignore both of us repeatedly blood-ritual summoning him?”

  Ashael shrugged. “He is the epitome of the river separating life and death. Who knows what he is capable of?”

  “Exactly, which is why we need to find him. Our father might be the only person strong enough to heal Ian.”

  Everything Ashael and I had tried might have failed, but our father was a netherworld god. He’d raised Ian from the dead before, so healing him should be well within his purview.

  “I will find him,” Ashael said. Then his dark eyes grew more sympathetic. “But I have no idea how long it will take. If Ian does not survive until then—”

  “He will,” I interrupted, fighting back a new surge of tears.

  Crying didn’t help Ian. It only took away the energy I’d need to save him. Ian had never let impossible odds stop him from saving me. I wouldn’t fail him now.

; Ashael didn’t argue. He only inclined his head. “As you say. However, Ian’s condition puts you at a disadvantage, since many enemies are after you. The vampire council wants you dead now that they know what you are, and you refused my offer to slaughter them—”

  “I still do,” I said, though I patted his hand.

  A human brother might bring me a bouquet of flowers to brighten my day. My demon brother wanted to bring me a bouquet of my enemies’ body parts. Gruesome, yes, but his motivation was sweet, even if his method of showing affection was . . . less so.

  “Very well, no slaughtering the council,” Ashael said, sounding disappointed. “Their death sentence on you aside, you also have Dagon’s allies seeking revenge against you, and you have that other concern.”

  Other concern. That was one way to describe an unwanted celestial fiancé. But that was also the topic I least wanted to talk about.

  “I’ll deal with that after Ian is well.”

  Ashael frowned. “Then you cannot attract Phanes’s notice by piercing a hole into the underworld again.”

  Really? There went my after-dinner plans.

  I didn’t say it out loud. Ashael didn’t deserve my sarcasm.

  “Thank you,” I said. That, Ashael deserved.

  A small smile curved his mouth. “Anything for my sister.”

  It still felt odd hearing it. But also, it felt a little wonderful, and that was the emotion I’d try to dwell on.

  “Are you off again?”

  Ashael never stayed long. The salt water in the air from the nearby surf burned him. If Ashael wasn’t only half demon, he wouldn’t be able to stand it at all. That’s why we were still at Ian’s sire’s house in the Hamptons. Its beachside location made it demon-proof, and none of the Law Guardians looking for me would assume I’d choose a ritzy vacation home for my hideout.

  Ashael nodded. “I’m meeting an acquaintance that might have information on our father. I should be back before dawn.”

  I nodded. Ashael hesitated, and then touched my shoulder.

  “I’m worried about you, Veritas. You’re so busy caring for him, you’re neglecting yourself, and Ian wouldn’t want you hovering over him until you wasted away. He’d tell you to sleep, to feed, to take a walk, take a drive, or do something other than stare at him every moment as he sleeps. You know I’m right.”

  He probably was. But when I slept, I woke up screaming from nightmares where Ian degenerated into dust right before my eyes. Plus, every drop of blood I consumed was one less drop that might help Ian regain his strength to fight Dagon’s spell. I knew that, even unconscious, Ian was still fighting. I could feel it in his power, simmering beneath the dark magic that was trying to destroy him. Some days, feeling the faint pulse of his power was the only thing that kept me from going insane.

  I couldn’t say any of that to Ashael without worrying him more, so I said, “I’ll walk on the beach for a bit after you leave. I did that the other night, too, so I’m not only spending my time hovering over Ian.”

  He smiled. “Good. I’ll see you when I return.”

  I forced a smile in return. “Be safe, and I’ll see you then.”

  He teleported away. My false smile dissolved the next instant.

  Still, a few hours later, I went outside to fulfill my promise to him. The nearby ocean called to my celestial-born nature anyway. Waves grabbed at my ankles like frigid fingers when I reached the surf. I didn’t mind. The cold combined with the late hour meant that I was alone on the beach. The Hamptons’ other residents were either gone for the winter or safely inside their expensive beachfront homes.

  When the next wave rushed over my ankles, I used my power to break it into spirals that twirled around me like mini waterspouts. Then, when the waves departed back into the ocean, I sent the spirals chasing after them. My ability to control water was more second nature than a learned skill. Very second nature, considering that it came from my other half.

  When I was in my mid-twenties, Tenoch, my beloved sire, had turned me into a vampire, but I wasn’t human before that. I hadn’t known, of course. I’d been enslaved by Dagon since I was too young to remember anything except my first death. Dagon told me he raised me from that death, and from the hundreds—thousands?—of deaths after it. I believed him because Dagon was a powerful demon who could do many incredible things. I only found out decades later that Dagon had nothing to do with my resurrections. My biological father, the Warden of the Gateway to the Netherworld, was the one who’d repeatedly brought me back from the dead. The Warden was also the source of my powers, some of which had scared my sire, Tenoch, so much, I’d suppressed them to the point of forming an entirely separate identity.

  For over four thousand years, no one except Tenoch had known what I really was, since being a mixed-species vampire was so illegal that it was punishable by death. No one even knew what I really looked like. I’d concealed my celestial side beneath my rigid, vampire Law Guardian persona, and I’d hidden my true, god-resembling appearance beneath glamour that showed a thin, blonde, young woman to anyone who looked at me. Both disguises had allowed me to lead a safe, solitary life . . . until Ian.

  Somehow, Ian had sensed the real me even before we spoke a single word. Later, when circumstances forced me to show Ian what I was, he hadn’t been frightened or appalled like everyone else. He’d been intrigued, aroused, and then unstoppable in his pursuit of me. I’d done everything to guard my heart, but I’d failed. By then, I hadn’t cared. Falling for Ian might have ripped me in two—literally, considering the emergence of my other side—but it had also been the highlight of my very long life. I’d never known it was possible to be so happy, and now I couldn’t bear to lose him. Not again, and . . . what was wrong with the sand?

  Seconds ago, it had been grayish. Now, it was every shade of gold. The air filled with golden beams, too, as if the brightest sun were shining instead of the wan streaks from the crescent moon. In the next instant, lights were suspended in the air like multitudes of tiny stars.

  It was stunning, but I all I could think was Oh, shit!

  I’d seen this before, and it had heralded the arrival of the very last person I wanted to see.

  I flew toward the cottage, only to smack into a muscled chest before I’d made it two meters. Suddenly, I was held aloft by two burly arms framed by huge golden wings.

  “My bride!” said my unwanted celestial fiancé.

  Chapter 2

  I looked down at Phanes. Black hair fell over his gold-colored eyes, his skin looked like gold-dusted bronze, and his features were so ridiculously beautiful, most people who saw him would be tempted to stop, drop, and worship.

  That’s what the ancient Greeks had done, presumably. Phanes didn’t just mean “to shine.” It was also the name of a primordial Greek god, according to the Orphic cosmogony.

  A smug half smile curled Phanes’s mouth as I continued to stare at him. Big ego, I added to the list of things I knew about him, such as his ability to teleport and how when we’d first met, he had plucked a restraint spell off me as if it were mere lint. But Phanes was wrong if he thought I was admiring him. I was assessing his dangerousness.

  Eight out of ten, I decided. Jaw-dropping looks aside, Phanes’s wings were a dead giveaway that he wasn’t human, yet he did nothing to hide them. Instead, he flaunted them.

  If there was one thing my four-thousand-years-plus had taught me, it was that when a creature was this at ease while unarmed and alone in a foreign environment, then that creature was powerful. Worse, my magic bounced right off Phanes, as did my blood-ripping abilities. Whatever ran through his veins—assuming he had veins—wasn’t blood or any other liquid I could manipulate.

  “Put me down,” I finally said.

  To his credit, he did. Gently, too.

  Potentially not a sadist, I added to my list.

  As soon as I touched the sand, it swirled into golden flowers of every variety, until the beach looked like a magical garden. The air was also now so th
ick with that non-corporeal form of gold dust that I could no longer see the cottage.

  Good gods, if any neighbors happened to be up at this hour and looked outside, they’d call the police! Or assume someone had slipped them LSD. Or both.

  “Could you please stop making everything look like gold?”

  Phanes waved, and the beach, sand, and air returned to normal. “Why did you flee from me before, my bride?”

  He crossed his arms over his bare chest as he waited for my reply. He’d been bare chested the first time I’d seen him, too, though thankfully, his aversion to clothes didn’t extend to pants. I would have bet they’d be gold, too, but his pants were as black as his hair and made of a material I didn’t recognize.

  I ignored his question because I had one of my own. “How did you find me?”

  Ten days ago, he’d tracked me down because he felt it when I’d used my darkest power to kill Dagon. But I hadn’t used that power since I’d killed Dagon, and it’s not as if I’d left Phanes a forwarding address.

  “Indus told me where you were,” he replied.

  Indus? Who . . . ? Oh, right, Indus was the ruler of Leviathan—scary, psychic creatures that formed from seawater and could drown anyone they touched. But how did the Leviathan ruler know where I was?

  “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said, putting it together. “Indus tracked me just from my splashing around in the surf these past few nights?”

  A sly smile curved Phanes’s mouth.

  “If you had only splashed? No, Indus could not have felt that. But you used your power on the water. That, he felt.”

  Great. Now, every time I used my power over water, it sent a metaphysical GPS notification to the Leviathan’s ruler? That was a complication I didn’t need.

  “How impressive,” I said in a cold voice. “Especially since the last time I saw Indus, he was halfway around the world. Or is he closer now?”

  Phanes cocked his head. “I answered two of your questions, yet you haven’t answered mine. Why did you flee from me before?”

  It took all my willpower not to glance at the cottage behind us. According to my brother, if Phanes found out that his “fiancée” was married, he’d kill Ian. I’d seen Ian defeat powerful enemies before, but never while unconscious.