Burned (Fever Series #7)

Burned (Fever Series #7)

by Karen Marie Moning

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “Mac is back and badder than ever!”—J. R. Ward

MacKayla Lane and Jericho Barrons return in the blockbuster Fever series from Karen Marie Moning.

It’s easy to walk away from lies. Power is another thing.

MacKayla Lane would do anything to save the home she loves. A gifted sidhe-seer, she’s already fought and defeated the deadly Sinsar Dubh—an ancient book of terrible evil—yet its hold on her has never been stronger.

When the wall that protected humans from the seductive, insatiable Fae was destroyed on Halloween, long-imprisoned immortals ravaged the planet. Now Dublin is a war zone with factions battling for control. As the city heats up and the ice left by the Hoar Frost King melts, tempers flare, passions run red-hot, and dangerous lines get crossed. Seelie and Unseelie vie for power against nine ancient immortals who have governed Dublin for millennia; a rival band of sidhe-seers invades the city, determined to claim it for their own; Mac’s former protégé and best friend, Dani “Mega” O’Malley, is now her fierce enemy; and even more urgent, Highland druid Christian MacKeltar has been captured by the Crimson Hag and is being driven deeper into Unseelie madness with each passing day. The only one Mac can depend on is the powerful, dangerous immortal Jericho Barrons, but even their fiery bond is tested by betrayal.

It’s a world where staying alive is a constant struggle, the line between good and evil is blurred, and every alliance comes at a price. In an epic battle against dark forces, Mac must decide who she can trust, and what her survival is ultimately worth.

Look for all of Karen Marie Moning’s sensational Fever novels:

Praise for Burned

“Karen Marie Moning is back, delivering the kind of spellbinding, addictive, twisted tale we love to devour. Magic and madness, intrigue and illusion, passion and power, sexual tension and more sexual tension. . . . Burned is a book that shouldn't be missed. Thrilling, suspenseful, sexy—it has all the right stuff to delight the most ardent of Fever fans.”USA Today

“Dark, delicious suspense! Karen Marie Moning is my author of choice and Fever is my series of choice for action-packed suspense with a spine-tingling paranormal twist.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner

“A masterwork by an incomparable writer. Burned is brilliant, sexy, and dangerous. I adore Moning! No one does it better.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Sylvia Day

“Prepare for a heart-stopping trip into the epic Fever world, filled with gasp-out-loud surprises and sweltering sensuality.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole

Burned gets the highest rating from me. I wanted to run through town shouting ‘Mac is back! Mac is back!’ Grab some snacks, something to drink, and settle down for a cover-to-cover read that will likely keep you up all night.”New York Times bestselling author Linda Howard

“One of the most anticipated books in romance . . . Burned is told through several viewpoints, but the dominating view is Mac’s, and it’s wonderful to have her back, as well as get to spend time with the two Alphas in her life.”Heroes and Heartbreakers

“Deeply complex, heady and action-packed.”RT Book Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440339816
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/20/2015
Series: Fever Series , #7
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 22,623
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Karen Marie Moning is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fever series, featuring MacKayla Lane, and the award-winning Highlander series. She has a bachelor’s degree in society and law from Purdue University.

Read an Excerpt

Dear Reader,
If this is the first book you’ve picked up in the Fever series, at the end of Burned, I’ve included a guide of People, Places, and Things to illuminate the backstory.
If you’re a seasoned reader of the series, the guide will reacquaint you with notable events and characters, when they were introduced, what they did, if they survived and, if not, how they died.
You can either read the guide first, getting acquainted with the world, or reference it as you go along to refresh your memory. You’ll find a few nuggets not mentioned in the books. The guide features characters by type, followed by places and then things.
To the new reader, welcome to the Fever world.
To the devoted readers who make it possible for me to do what I love every day, welcome back.

Eleven months ago, the Clarin House Hotel
Dublin, Ireland
August 6, BWC


“Who is it?”
Two a.m. Humans sleep. Her voice through the door is drowsy, sweet, southern, and young. So fucking young. Innocent. In my zoo, MacKayla Lane is an exotic.
“Jericho Barrons.”
“What do you want?” All trace of slumber is gone from her voice. She couldn’t sound more awake if she’d rolled over on a rattlesnake in her bed.
I laugh silently, mirthlessly. More than she can handle. “We have information to exchange. You want to know what it is. I want to know what you know about it.”
“Bright guy, aren’t you? I figured that out back at the store. What took you so long?”
Sarcasm fails to mask the fear in her voice. I choose my next words carefully. I want her to open the door of her own accord, invite me in. It means something, that courtesy. “I am unaccustomed to asking for what I want. Nor am I accustomed to bartering with a woman.”
She is silent a moment, liking my reply, that I placed her in a class of women with whom I am willing to barter. It makes her feel she has a modicum of control over the situation—-as if I am a “situation.” What stands on her doorstep is a fucking cataclysm. Words. Why do they always ask for words? Why do they ever believe them?
“Well, get used to it with me, bud, because I don’t take orders from anyone. And I don’t give up anything for free.”
She called me “bud.”
I might kill her for that alone before I’m done questioning her.
“Do you intend to open this door, Ms. Lane, or shall we converse where anyone might attend our business?” Formality makes her perceive me as older than I am, less dangerous. I will wear any skin to get in.
“Do you really intend to exchange information?”
“I do.”
“And you’ll go first?”
“I will.” So fucking gullible.
“We can trade through the door.”
In her dreams. My dick isn’t that long. I came here for two things. I’m not leaving without them. “No.”
“Why not?”
“I am a private person, Ms. Lane. This is not negotiable.”
“But I—-”
“How did you find me?”
Bedsprings squeak. The sound of jeans being pulled on.
“You procured a hired conveyance at my establishment.”
“We call them taxis where I come from. And bookstores.”
Is that a little spine? Does she have a backbone under all that fluff? “We call them manners where I come from, Ms. Lane.”
“You should talk,” she grumbles. “It’s not my fault. Being threatened brings out the worst in me.”
She opens the door. Peers out. Puny--ass chain across it. I could break it with a blink.
Fuck, I think. Just that. A multitude of various fucks all in one great big clusterfuck. As in: I am fucked if I want this . . . this . . . newborn imbecile. And she is so fucked if I take her. And fuck if I’m going to walk away. Letting her leave my store was bad enough. Should have killed the cabbie. Taken what I wanted then. Innocent. Soft. Smells good. Sleep--swollen. Hair a blond tangle of invitation for a fist. I see it spilling down her back, grazing the curves of her ass. Me under her, behind her. Driving up into her. What will she do? Say? How does she sound when she comes? Does she, like most women, lose a part of her soul in sex? Leave it lying there for the taking? Fuck. “May I come in?” I don’t smile. My smiles don’t make people relax.
“I wouldn’t have let you up this far.”
Her eyes are green, angry. Her nipples are hard. Lust is absurd. It strikes in the strangest places at the oddest times. She doesn’t even realize she’s feeling it. She’s erected a barricade of propriety and lies between us. I despise the type of woman she is. I loathe her soft pink innocence. My body doesn’t concur. I wonder why her? Why not, say, a streetlamp, for all we have in common? She’s chiffon and satin ribbons. I’m raw meat and razor blades. I have never been drawn to my opposite. I like what I am. “Your nipples are hard,” I murmur, allowing her the choice to hear it, or pretend she didn’t.
She blinks, shakes her head. “How did you get up here?”
Ah, the human ear has splendid filters. “I told them I was your brother.”
“Right. Because we look so much alike.”
The lace of her sleep--shirt flutters with each breath. She’s trembling, trying to conceal it. I glance beyond her, at the tiny room. It’s little better than a let--by--the--hour. It won’t take that long to get what I came for. Business first. “Well, Ms. Lane?”
“I’m thinking.”
“Don’t hurt yourself.”
“Don’t be a jackass.”
“You have till the count of three, then I leave. Two.”
“Oh, fine, come in,” she snaps.
I do smile then but permit it only because she has closed the door to unhook the chain and can’t see me. She opens it and steps back. I have found there to be little distance between the unlatching of a chain and the spreading of a woman’s legs. As if they can never unbar only a single entrance. It’s a disease called hope.
She pushes the door flat to the wall. She thinks it makes her safe. I enter. Don’t bother to close it. That will come later. She toes a rug and a lacy bra beneath the bed. I will see much more than that before I leave.
“So, what is it? No, wait—-how do you spell it?”
I pace a circle around her. She spins as I stalk her, unwilling to give me her back. I’m going to have it anyway. Every way. “S--i--n--s--a--r.”
“Shi--sa. Shi--sa--du.” I continue pacing. I like the way her body moves. If she glances down, she’ll see my coat is open and my suit fails to conceal how hard I am. She never takes her gaze from my face. Few keep it there.
“Oh, that makes great sense. And the du?”
I stop circling, facing the door. She stops, her back to it. Three feet separate us. I can feel her. Smell her.
“Dubh is ‘do’? Should I be calling pubs ‘poos’?”
“Dubh is Gaelic, Ms. Lane. Pub is not.”
“Don’t bust a gut laughing.”
“Nothing about the Sinsar Dubh is a laughing matter.”
“I stand corrected. So what is this gravest of graves?”
Flippant. She has no business being here. Fio was right.
It would be merciful, Jericho. Kill her quickly before one of the others tortures her for days then rips out her throat.
Does mercy look like my middle fucking name?
Do it for me, Jericho. I can’t bear the thought of what one of the others will do to her.
One of them? Or me, Fiona? Which thought can’t you bear?
I saw the look in your eyes. Jericho, how could you want that . . . that . . . that foolish, empty--headed child! What could she possibly offer you?
“Too long,” I say. Fiona has been with me too long.
“What?” she says blankly.
I’m suddenly furious that MacKayla Lane came to my city, thinks to play on the same field with me and mine, made herself my problem in any capacity. “Go home, Ms. Lane. Be young. Be pretty. Get married. Have pretty babies. Grow old with your pretty husband.”
“Oh, screw you, Jericho Barrons! Tell me what it is. You said you would.”
“If you insist. Don’t be a fool. Don’t insist.”
“I’m insisting. What is it?”
“Last chance.” For many things.
“Too bad. I don’t want a last chance. Tell me.”
I was lying anyway. Her last chance was her first one. She walked through my door. “The Sinsar Dubh is a book.”
“A book? That’s all? Just a book?”
“On the contrary, Ms. Lane, never make that mistake. Never think it just a book. It is an exceedingly rare and exceedingly ancient manuscript countless people would kill to possess.”
“Including you? Would you kill to possess it?”
“Absolutely. Anyone and anything that gets in my way. Always have. Always will. Reconsidering your stay, Ms. Lane?”
“Absolutely not.”
“You’ll be going home in a box, then.”
“Is that another of your threats?”
“It is not me who will put you there.”
“Who will?”
“I answered your question, now it’s your turn to answer mine. What do you know of the Sinsar Dubh, Ms. Lane? Tell me. And don’t lie. I’ll know.” I could Voice her, force her to tell me everything. Little fun there.
“My sister was studying here. She was killed a month ago. She left me a voice--mail message right before she died, telling me I had to find the Sinsar Dubh.”
“She didn’t say. She just said everything depended on it.”
“Where is this message? I must hear it myself.”
“I accidentally deleted it.” Her gaze darts to the side.
“Liar. You would make no such mistake with a sister you care enough about to die for. Where is it? If you are not with me, Ms. Lane, you are against me. I have no mercy for my enemies.”
“I already gave a copy of this recording to the Dublin Gardai. They’re working to track down the man she was involved with.” There goes her gaze again.
“Give me your phone.”
“Not a chance. But I’ll put it on speakerphone.”
She plays the message. Never takes her gaze from my face. The things I could teach her . . . if she could survive them.
“Did you know my sister?”
I slice my head once to the left in silent negation.
“You were both after this ‘exceedingly rare book’ yet never ran into each other?”
“Dublin is a city of a million--odd people inundated daily by countless commuters and besieged by a never--ending wave of tourists, Ms. Lane. The oddity would be if we had encountered each other. What did she mean by ‘you don’t even know what you are’?”
“I wondered that myself. I have no idea.”
“Hmm. This was all she left you? A message?”
She nods.
“Nothing more? No note or package or anything of the sort?”
She slices her head once to the left in silent negation. I scan her eyes. Deep but there, a hidden mirth. She just mocked me. My dick gets harder.
“And you had no idea what she meant by the Sinsar Dubh? Your sister didn’t confide in you?”
“I used to think she did. Apparently I was wrong.”
“Who did she mean by ‘them’?”
“I thought you might be able to tell me that.”
“I am not one of these ‘them,’ if that is what you’re inferring. Many seek the Sinsar Dubh, both individuals and factions. I want it as well, but I work alone.”
“Why do you want it?”
“It is priceless. I am a book collector.”
“And that makes you willing to kill for it? What do you plan to do with it? Sell it to the highest bidder?”
“If you don’t approve of my methods, stay out of my way.”
“Fine. What else have you to tell me, Ms. Lane?”
“Not a thing.” She jerks a frosty look from me to the door.
I laugh. “I do believe I’m being dismissed. I can’t recall the last time I was dismissed.” Let her think I’m leaving. It’s time to close the door.
I’m nearly past her, nearly at the door, when I grab her and slam her back against my body. The back of her skull thuds into my chest. Her teeth clack together. She makes a wordless sound, protest, and another more guttural sound that is not protest at all. I band an arm beneath her breasts.
I can smell when a woman wants to fuck. I smelled it in my store. I smell it now. She can’t see herself yet, she certainly can’t see me, can’t admit what she wants. But her body knows. Lust is a thing of the blood. Doesn’t need head or heart. Her flesh is soft and pink. Her blood is red hot.
“What are you doing?”
“Need a fucking manual?” I press hard against her ass.
“You’ve got to be kidding! You’re totally not my type and you’re . . . you’re . . . how old are you anyway? Eeew!”
“Your scent says otherwise.” I inhale. So much sweeter this close.
“My scent? Like you think you can smell—-you think I—- Oh! Let me go! Now! Get off me! I’m going to scream.”
“You will most certainly scream. I promise you that.” Beneath my arm, her heart hammers, she breathes quick and shallow. Sexual excitement alters the lines of her body, fuses it into new lines against mine. A woman’s spine changes when she wants to fuck, a subtle, supple shifting at the base, a sharper curve at that hollow where back meets ass. Breasts tighten and lift, the slant of jaw changes as the mouth prepares and muscles draw tight. I have studied humans for a small eternity. Intent infuses their every movement. Road maps to their inner navigation, plastered all over their skin. Born to be slaves.
“You’re delusional. I don’t want you. Get out of my room.”
“So you can crawl back into bed, weep for the sister you lost and brood about your own ineptitude? Scribble down your silly plans and plot vengeance? You don’t even know what the word means.” But she could learn. “Are you in such a hurry to be alone with your grief? Is it such a grand bedmate? When’s the last time you lost yourself in a good, hard fuck, Ms. Lane? Have you ever? I think it’s always been gentle, nice and sanitary, and when it was over you lay there wondering what all the fuss was about.”
“You’re crazy! You know that, right? You’re abso--frigging--lutely crazy. How dare you come in here and threaten and bully and be shitty to me then try to sleep with me? Then make fun of perfectly good sex!”
“I have no desire to sleep with you. I want to fuck you. And there is no such thing as perfectly good sex. If it’s ‘perfectly good,’ ” I mock in falsetto, “he should be shot in the head and put out of everyone’s misery. Sex either blows your fucking mind or it’s not good enough. You want me to blow your fucking mind, Ms. Lane? Come on. Do it. Be a big girl.”
Her whole body jerks in my arms. “I don’t even like you.”
“I don’t like you either. But my dick is hard and you’re wet—-”
“You can’t know that!”
My hand slides to the top button of her fly. “Want me to prove it? If you persist in lying, you leave me no choice.” I pop the first button, then the second. Her spine changes against my back, yet more curve, more pliancy. The human body is remarkable.
“Are you wet, Ms. Lane? Yes or no?” When she makes no reply, I pop the third button. “Let’s make a deal. I’ll check, and if you’re dry I’ll leave.”
She hisses.
“Answer the question.”
“It’s none of your business.”
“Tell me to stop.” I pop the fourth button. There’s only one left.
“I hate you.”
“I can live with that. Have you fucked since your sister was murdered? Let go, Ms. Lane. For once in your circumscribed little life, let the fuck go.”
She is suddenly steel in my arms. She pushes back with her hips, twists and turns in my arms, slams her hands into my chest and knees me in the balls. Or tries. I block it with a knee at the last second.
“You don’t know anything about me!” Her chest heaves, a pulse beats wildly at her throat.
“I know you better than those you call your best friends. I see you.”
“Yeah?” Her jaw juts. Something flashes deep in her eyes. I go still. What was that? Something very different from what she shows on the surface. I didn’t expect it. Interesting. “Just what the fuck do you see?” she practically snarls.
“A woman who’s lived in a cage all her life. And hates it. Bored in there, aren’t you? Waiting for life to happen. And when it finally does, it steals from you what you loved most. So take back. Explode. Lash out. Blow up.”
She stares up at me, wets her lip.
“Scream. Curse. Rage. Take it out on me.” I step forward, cup her hard between her legs, rub with my palm. The heat she’s throwing off is amazing. “Tell me to stop.”
She is motionless a long moment. Finally she slices her head once to the left.
I laugh.
I shove my hand down her pants, the fifth button pops off and clatters across the floor, I push my finger inside her and her knees go out from under her as she clamps down on me, hard. She’s so fucking wet. We go down to the floor together.
“I’m sick of feeling like this,” she hisses. “I hate my life. I hate everything about it!” She strangles me with my tie, clumsy in her haste to get it off. Still living in the world where boys undress completely and girls lie back and wait. Only two things need to be naked.
“Fuck the tie. Unzip my pants.”
She yanks it open so hard she breaks the zipper of my ten-thousand-dollar suit. I pick her up by the waist of her jeans and dump her out of them. She pushes up from the floor to turn but I’m behind her. I shove her back to the floor. “Stay there. I want you this way.”
“But you said I could—-”
“Your turn next.”
“This is about me, remember? That’s what you said. I want what I want now.”
“Try, Ms. Lane, just try.”
To her credit, she does. But I’m stronger. I get my way first, not that she’s complaining from the noise she’s making. Fist in her hair, I spread her legs wide as they’ll go, crush her flat to the floor. Later I’ll take her on her hands and knees. Now I need her still as I can keep her. I grind between her legs and she makes a choking noise. Slick with all that wet she supposedly wasn’t, I drive into her. Air explodes from us both. She arches her neck and howls. I don’t move for a moment. Movement will fuck me royally right now.
She bucks beneath me. “Move, you bastard!”
“When I’m ready.”
I close my hands on her ribs. She fights. She’ll be bruised in the morning. I dredge up a few hated memories. My blood goes cold. I get harder. I begin to move, lose track of time. Four hours feel like four minutes. For something so soft, she takes her fucking hard, with a twist. I taste her. I could eat her alive. She closes her mouth on my dick. I close my hands on her head. I might not let her go. Slick with sweat, I defile her with reverence. Or revere her with defilement. Every. Inch. Of. Her. Motherfuckingfinebody. She likes it. No holds barred with this woman. I wouldn’t have believed it of her. And she does scream . . .
Later I roll over on my back and let her rock her world all over me. Fuck if she doesn’t.
She straddles me, ass to my face, reverse cowgirl, tangled hair swinging. And son of a bitch, the woman can ride. “Slow down.” I close my hands on her ass to keep her from jacking me off in seconds.
She pushes up, drops her head down into a wet dream of a naked crouch that doesn’t have one fucking ounce of inhibition, and shoots me a feral look between her legs, around my dick. “Stop holding me,” she snaps. “You’re a control freak. This turn is mine. Do what I tell you. If that means you come and get hard again, deal with it.” She arches a brow. “Unless I’m wearing you out.”
I smirk and say nothing. She knows by now that’s impossible.
“Don’t think this means I want to see you tomorrow.” She’s back at it and I’m about to explode.
“I suffer no such delusion. And ditto,” I say savagely. She knows exactly how to work me, sliding up to the point where I’m almost out of her, teasing the head of my cock with short, fast pops of her hips before slamming down and easing back out slow. Pretty, pink Barbie fucks hard and raw like an animal.
Her head is thrown back, spine arched, she’s oblivious to rules, to moral order, to all but inner imperatives.
And I wonder: could she live like she fucks?
My dick gets even harder.
I leave just before dawn.
At the door I turn back and look at her. And shake my head. Her back is to me. She’s wrapped a sheet around herself.
She turns slowly and I say Fuck beneath my breath. Already she’s changing. It began when I started putting my clothes on. Now it’s nearly complete. Her eyes are different. Wary, guarded, tinged with that human emotion I despise the most: regret. I was wrong. She wasn’t ready. Not yet.
By noon she’ll hate me. By tonight she’ll have convinced herself I raped her. By tomorrow she’ll hate herself.
I cross the room, clamp a hand over her mouth and crush my arm across her chest, compressing her lungs so she can’t draw a breath. She lives at my discretion. I can take her breath. I can give it back.
I wonder, pushed to the wall, stripped of all defenses, tested beyond endurance, just who might MacKayla Lane become?
I press my mouth to her ear. My words are soft. “Go home, Ms. Lane. You don’t belong here. Drop it with the Gardai. Stop asking questions. Do not seek the Sinsar Dubh or you will die in Dublin. I haven’t been hunting it this long and gotten this close to let anyone get in my way and fuck things up. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who survive no matter the cost, and those who are walking victims.” I lick the vein fluttering in the side of her neck. Her heart is beating like a frightened rabbit. Fear doesn’t arouse me. Yet my dick is so hard again that it hurts. I should end it here. Rip out her throat, leave her dead in her dingy, small flat. Perhaps I’ll kill her tomorrow. Perhaps I’ll chain her in my bookstore for a time. I’ll give her a single chance to run. If she stays, I am absolved of responsibility for anything that befalls her. “You, Ms. Lane, are a victim, a lamb in a city of wolves. I’ll give you until nine p.m. tomorrow to get the bloody hell out of this country and out of my way.”
I let her go, and she crumples to the floor.
Then I bend over her, touch her face, whisper the ancient words of a druid spell, and when I am done the only memories she retains of this night are of conversation and threat. She will never know that tonight she was mine.

Don’t hide your mistakes,
’Cause they’ll find you, burn you
—“Get Out Alive” by Three Days Grace

Part I
Some of us are born more than once.
Some of us re-create ourselves many times.
Ryodan says adaptability is survivability.
Ryodan says a lot of stuff.
Sometimes I listen.
All I know is every time I open my eyes,
My brain kicks on, something wakes up deep in my belly
And I know I’ll do anything it takes.
To. Just. Keep. Breathing.
—From the journals of Danielle O’Malley

Fire to his ice, frost to her flame.
The Unseelie King stared down at the unconscious woman in his wings. She was his soul mate. He knew it the moment he found her. He’d been tortured by it every moment since he’d lost her.
In the brief time they’d shared together, he’d experienced the only true joy of his existence. Before that, darkness had ebbed and flowed in him as incessant as a stormy sea. He’d thought perhaps it was because he was young and in a quarter of a million years, give or take a few, the disquiet might ease.
To pass the restless eons, he’d made things, scraping together matter and reshaping it into mountains and trees, oceans and deserts, planets and stars, galaxies and black holes. All but one power was his: the Song of Making, which legend said had begun it all and could call forth the very fundamentals of existence. That magic belonged to the queen of his race alone.
The Seelie Queen rarely used any portion of the cataclysmic melody. As with all great power, it demanded great price. Legend held their race had stolen the sacred song in times more ancient than any of them recalled, as humans had stolen fire from their gods. If this seemed to imply the Fae had gods, the king knew better. There was nothing out there but him. He’d been looking for a long time.
Epochs passed. Civilizations rose and fell. Bored, dissatisfied, the king built and wrecked worlds and built again. He made a halfhearted attempt to live for a time at court with the Seelie Queen and count the centuries by her petty intrigues. The ancient tapestries claimed she had been sung into existence just for him. But her views were cold and limited, her court too gaudy and bright for eyes that had stared for eons at black velvet and stars, and theirs was a discordant melody with no fire.
Again, he wandered. Edgy. Alone. Seeking something he couldn’t name.
On a tiny world in a tiny corner of a tiny and utterly unimpressive universe he wasn’t even certain why he’d visited, he found her. Unpredictable, high--tempered, happy on her own, and nearly untamable, she was a challenge to seduce. It hadn’t helped that he was broody, arrogant, selfish, and a god.
She didn’t want a soul mate, she told him. And she certainly didn’t want one with wings and an attitude problem.
Yet she’d not run. She stood her ground and watched him circle around her looking for a way into her heart. They fought, tested each other, challenged and demanded.
She knew what she wanted: the best.
He knew what he was: the best.
They enhanced each other’s finest qualities, as true love will. He opened her provincial mind to galaxies of opportunity. She reminded him what it was to feel wonder and brought freshness to creations gone dull and stagnant. Together they spun universes more beautiful and imaginative than anything he’d created before.
Yet his happiness was tainted by something he’d never felt. He loved. He could lose. Human, she possessed a mere fifty more years at best, and with the passage of time would wither and die.
Unable to bear her mortality, the king constructed an opulent cage beyond time where death could never touch her.
Wild at heart, she’d despised his cage, but loved him more and agreed to dwell within it until that day came she could no longer bear it. They met in a shared boudoir of shadows and light and their love knew no bounds.
Still the king could not rest. He knew his woman’s high temper, her need for freedom, and wanted her to have no limits. He sought the Seelie Queen’s aid, but jealously she refused to use her magic to make his lover immortal.
On that day, he vowed to re-create the Song of Making himself, if it took him half of forever and cost him all that he held dear.
Vows, like wishes, are dangerous things.
Precision matters.
In time, the king came to understand part of the song’s essence, glimpsed the fundamental building blocks. The fragments he melded into the partial song that birthed his dark, imperfect Unseelie were composed of exacting frequencies that interlocked seamlessly and made of their parts a far richer melody than their individual notes, chords, and vibrations.
Eons passed while he worked, until the day came he rushed to his lover’s chamber with the results of his latest experiment, so certain of his success that he’d brought a vial of the new elixir to her himself—-only to find her dead by her own hand.
Or so a treacherous enemy had made him believe.
They are replaceable, one and all, the Fear Dorcha, dark traveling companion through the king’s subsequent madness, had insisted. You will forget her.
But he never had.
Grief will pass, lisped the Crimson Hag, one of his more exquisitely terrible creations.
But it never did.
Even the grotesque Sweeper, who fancied himself a god, collector of broken, powerful things with which he liked to tinker, had lumbered beside him for a time, offering solace or perhaps merely studying him to see if he, too, could be collected, fixed.
He, who had once been whole, was halved, without hope of ever being complete again. And when you’ve known that kind of love, to endure the creeping passage of time without it is to live a half--life where nothing ever feels real.
He fabricated their reunion in countless illusions, slipping in and out of insanity, talking to her as if she were beside him, answering.
He’d lived lie after lie to escape the unbearable truth: she’d left him by choice, killed herself to escape him.
She’d left him a poisoned barb of a note that to this day infected him still: You have become a monster. There is nothing left of the man I love.
He carried it still, a small scroll tied with a lock of her hair. Despite Cruce’s confession, he would carry it until the day she told him she was not its author.
The king stirred from his reverie and stared down at the unconscious female in his wings. It had been half a million years since he’d found her lying, lifeless, in their chamber. Since he’d dumped all the forbidden, arcane magic he’d used for his experiments into an ensorcelled tome, thinking to be free of that which she’d so despised.
Since he’d last held her. Touched her.
It was no illusion. She was here. She was real. Joy, that elusive, priceless commodity, was once again his.
He inhaled. She smelled the same as she had on the day he’d met her, of sunshine on bare skin, moonlight on silver oceans and enormous, sky--no--limit dreams. He closed his eyes and opened them.
She was still there.
After an eternity of grief and regret, he held the only thing he’d ever wanted as much as he wanted to be God.
A second chance.
Gazing down at her now, he found it simple to pardon Cruce for stealing her, forcing her to drink from the cauldron and erasing all memory of their time together, because somehow his soul mate was at long last the very thing he’d struggled to make her: Fae, immortal unless killed in one of a very small number of ways. He would eradicate those ways in short order.
He was whole again.
The Unseelie King bent his head and brushed his lips to hers. Lightly. Reverently. He’d sliced open his being and bled it out over memories of the woman he would never kiss again.
If there was anything divine in the Cosmos besides him, it was this moment, occupying space with her, the frequency of the vibration of her fundamental essence and his combined. Deep in his chest thunder rolled.
Lashes fluttered. She opened her eyes.
He drew back and stared down at her, unable to speak. Creator of worlds, God, Devil, he who toyed with the very matter of galaxies, words failed him now. His black wings shuddered with the intensity of his emotion. He shifted and resettled them.
There was wonder in her gaze as she stared up at him: a moment of precious, preconscious dawn where all is dew and promise and anything at all might bloom.
Beginnings are fragile things.
Was it as he hoped? Was the power of true love greater than the power of the Cauldron of Forgetting? Did the body recall, despite the damage done to the mind—-memory, carved into gray matter, never obliterated? What would she say? What would her first words to him be?
Time ground to a halt and, as a human might hold his breath, the Unseelie King held his existence in silence, occupying the frozen moment with the study of tiny miracles: the silver--blond waterfall of her hair, the blush of her lips, the elegance of her bones.
Was that a flicker of confusion? Of duality preceding recognition? He knew her face intimately, had never forsaken a nuance, yet these were expressions he’d had no cause to learn.
After all she’d been through—-eternities about which he knew nothing and might have contained any number of atrocities spent as they were at the Seelie Court with Cruce -but more recently kidnapped, interred in a tomb of ice, and nearly killed by the power--hungry prince—he sought to reassure her by simplifying himself, reducing his essence again and again until it was small enough to string word to word and form sentences: alien to the stuff of which he was made but so necessary for finite beings.
“My love, you are safe. I have you now.” He paused, to lend emphasis to his next words, a pledge he would keep until the end of time, which he was fairly certain he was in some fashion or another. “And I will never let you go again.”
Envisioning their joyous future together as immortals, he waited for the first sound of her voice in half a million years.
She screamed.

“It’s easier to run.
Replacing this pain with something numb”


So I’m blowing through the streets of Dublin—-after ditching Ryodan’s Humvee, giving him one less excuse to come looking for me, not that he seems to need any, other than because he likes to piss all over my day—-trying to prioritize my plans for the future.
At the top of my list is figuring out how to save Christian from the Crimson Hag, publishing a much--needed Dani Daily to let folks know the latest scoop, rescuing folks stranded by the killer ice storm, while simultaneously devising stellar new ways to irritate the owner of Chester’s.
After that are a few dozen subgoals I’m having a hard time putting in the right order, like getting in the know with the new Haven at the abbey, testing Dancer’s Papa Roach weapon, figuring out who’s stockpiling supplies and where so I can raid them, setting up new hidey--holes no one can find, and putting the big kibosh on Jo and Ryodan.
Problem is, I want to make breaking up Jo and Ryodan number one on my list, which is stupid because there’s nothing but personal satisfaction I’d gain from it, and while I’m all about personal satisfaction, I’m beginning to see a pattern: jumping on the short--term--gratification train always seems to wreck me off the rails somehow. But criminy, he doesn’t deserve her! And they’re not even in the same league, and seeing them do that campfire--cuddle thing tonight about made the top of my head pop off!
Second problem is I keep bumping into snowdrifts, which knocks me out of fast--mo and butchers my concentration. Since I’m getting nowhere fast with my sublist and it’s more important than me actually getting to any particular place fast, I drop out of freeze--frame and start trudging around ice--crusted snowdrifts.
Bugger it, I forgot how cold it was down here!
In hyperspeed I vibrate too fast to feel. Slow--mo, my breath frosts the air and my eyeballs chill like little shrimp cocktails on ice.
I scowl when I realize where I am—-Temple Bar, not too far from Barrons Books & Baubles.
I don’t walk these blocks often. I may have defeated one of the worst Unseelie of all time tonight at the abbey but the silence and desolation of what once was the heart of the boisterous, craic--filled Temple Bar District dampens my exuberance every time I encounter it.
I can’t forget how this part of the city used to be, crammed with people laughing and partying, musicians playing on the streets for tips, lamps glowing, neon colors splashed everywhere, the smell of flowers and grass and oh, feck me, the glorious scent of bangers and mash and thick Irish stew and all kinds of food I haven’t had in ages! I’d been quick enough to zip in and snatch anything I wanted from any plate. It was the most exciting, wondrous place I ever been, with adventures around every corner.
Knowing Mac was just a few blocks down and over, and if I blew in the door we’d go kill things and hang, made life pretty much perfect. Barrons Books & Baubles was my mecca, Mac and Barrons epic fellow crusaders, and the city a thrill--a--second battlefield.
I want my Dublin back.
I want this bloody ice gone.
I want the pubs open and the streets shiny with gaslights smudging the cobblestones and people living and laughing everywhere I turn. I want to whiz around on my bike, investigating stuff, and be fourteen and crack up with Dancer and idolize the girl that treated me like a sister.
People in Hell want ice water.
As I stand there a sec, getting broody--like, I feel the tip of something sharp and pointy in my back.
“Drop your sword, Dani,” Mac says behind me.
My stomach cramps and I’m instantly sick to it. What the feck, did I conjure her with the mere power of my thoughts? Do I have another sidhe--seer talent I didn’t know about, latent until now? Cripes, I hope not! I’ll never get away from Ryodan! I’m always pissed at him, which means I’m always thinking about him. As soon as I think that, I realize I got concrete proof I don’t have a new superpower, because, hey, if I did, he’d be here with me right now. I decide I’m hallucinating from lack of sleep and being forced to listen to too much Jimi Hendrix and Black Sabbath tonight. Which is, like, half a song of either.
There’s no way Mac’s behind me. I’d have heard her. I have superhearing. I’d have seen the lights of her MacHalo, brightening the glow cast by mine.
“Yeah, right, like I’m actually falling for this,” I mutter. Sometimes I have an overactive imagination.
The tip digs harder into my back. I go still and draw a slow inhale. I know Mac’s scent and that’s it. A dry chittering starts on the rooftops, swelling into thousands of rattlesnake tails shaking, making me even more nauseated. I don’t need to look to know what’s up there. Oh, yeah, Mac is really behind me, bizarre entourage in tow. The few times I’ve seen her lately, she’s had a flock of Unseelie ZEWs—-Zombie Eating Wraiths is what I christened the gaunt, black--robed caste that glides on air and likes roosting on top of the bookstore—-following her around like enormous, carrion crow waiting for a juicy corpse to pick clean.
Ain’t gonna be mine.
I dig out a protein bar, rip it open, and cram it in my mouth for an instant rush of energy. I never avoid battle. Tuck tail and run isn’t in my blood. Problem is, I only know two ways to fight: kill clean or kill messy—-both of which involve killing unless I’m up against that feck Ryodan who can pluck me from hyperspeed and kick my ass ten ways to Tuesday.
There’s no way I’m killing Mac. I’ll take Door Number Two, a thing I never do, and run. Only for her.
I slap up a hasty mental map of the street and get my grid locked down as perfect as I can with all this snow and ice. I slit my eyes half closed in intense concentration and freeze--frame.
Nothing happens. My feet are rooted in the exact same spot, and I’m still feeling the tip of Mac’s spear in my back.
My superpowers just disappeared in a moment of need for the third time. Un--fecking--real! What’s the commonality? Why does it keep happening?
“I said drop your fucking sword.”
I exhale gustily. Not because I feel sorry for myself. Self--pity is wasted emotion. It merely prolongs whatever trauma you suffered by keeping it alive in your head. Dude, you survived it. Move on.
But there are some things I wish had been different like, say, Ro had never taken me to the abbey after Mom died, made me her personal assassin and taught me to kill before I got around to figuring out what I thought was right and wrong, because when you do figure out what you think is right and wrong—-if it’s foursquare against the things you been doing—-you got some tricky minefields in your head to dodge. Guilt, regret—-things I almost don’t even know how to spell they’re so alien to me—-I about drown in them every time I look at Mac.
Fortunately she’s behind me at the moment, so I don’t have to think about how she looks so much like her sister, don’t get smashed upside the head by visuals of the last night I saw Alina, on her hands and knees in an alley, begging me not to let her die.
“Seriously, kid, drop it. I won’t say it again.”
“Not a kid. Dude.”
Gah! She knows I hate that wussy girl name! I test my freeze--framing abilities. They’re still absent. There’s no telling how long it’ll be until they come back. Five seconds. Five minutes. Maybe five hours. I got no clue why it’s happening and it’s beginning to worry the crap out of me. I turn to face her, coat back, hand on the hilt of my sword, steeling myself for a whole--body flinch, and still I jerk.
She’s different from the Mac I met a year ago. Glam girl turned sleek warrior woman. She was pretty when she came to Dublin; now she’s lean, strong, and beautiful. Once, she said I was pretty and that I’d grow up to be beautiful, too, one day. As if I give a rat’s arse about that kind of thing.
What is she thinking, pulling her spear on me, ordering me around? There’s no way she knows I’m stuck in slow--mo. No one knows it happens to me. Cripes, if word of that got out!
She stares at me, green eyes narrowed with fury. She has every right to try to kill me. A better person might even cooperate a little out of guilt and remorse. I’m not a better person. I wake up every day with a single imperative: live. By any means necessary. The only way Death will ever get his slimy bastard hands on me is over my dead body.
I wonder if she has some new sidhe--seer skill I haven’t heard about that makes her willing to hit me up like this, so cool and confident. My superspeed guarantees my victory in any battle against another sidhe--seer unless I make a mistake, and I don’t. She isn’t wearing a MacHalo, which perplexes the feck out of me. Nobody walks Dublin, dark. Not even me. Maybe the ZEWs on the rooftops are her private army now, defending her against the Shades and assorted nasties.
I frown when another thought occurs to me. Did she set me up for quid pro quo down to the dirty details?
Dark alley nearby—-check.
Hungry Unseelie—-check.
I get a mental snapshot of me dying just like Alina. It’s practically glowing on Mac’s pupils.
I want to tell her revenge is a devil you don’t want to worship. In destroying your enemy you become it.
You will take the girl to an alley on the south side of the River Liffey. Unseelie will meet you there. Sometimes I still hear Ro’s voice in my head even though we burned her body and dumped the ashes in the sea. Not like a true haunt, just ghosts of memories still swimming down deep in my subconscious where I keep most of what I did for her when I lived at the abbey.
Why? I want to ask her, but she touches my forehead with something that’s wet and smells bad, and mutters words I don’t know, then I can’t talk.
I know you’re in there, I hear Ro saying, as if from a great distance. Remember the hell you endured. You’re the one I want.
I don’t know what she’s talking about. I’m right there. Looking at her. Even though it feels like from a million miles away.
Och, child, she says, I couldn’t have raised you better myself to fragment you into usable pieces. When I found you when you were five I knew God had forged the beginning of a very special weapon. Just for me.
Old bat couldn’t even keep track of my age. I was eight when she found me almost dead in a cage. Only time in my life I ever waited to die. Counting my breaths. Wondering which would be the last. There was a whole week back there I couldn’t remember, just gone. From the day Ro took me in, I began losing hours and then I’d be somewhere else and wouldn’t know how I’d gotten there. And there was usually something I didn’t like seeing. Other times I was seeing it all happen except not in control, stuck in the sidecar of the motorcycle, where I couldn’t steer or hit the gas. There was never a brake when things got weird like that. I was always just along for the ride, glued to the seat. Like the night I killed Mac’s sister. Second worst thing I ever did and I relive it in nightmares, down to the last excruciating detail. Sometimes I wondered if the crazy old bat had been able to choose to let me see the things she sent me to do, or shield me from them.
If I dwelled on that thought I’d go nuts. Hate eats the hater. Ro messed with me enough while she was alive. She’s dead now, and if I let her keep fecking with me, it’ll be my own fault and she’ll win. Even from her watery grave, she could steal hours, days, weeks of my life. Sometimes when really bad things happen, you put them in a box and never look at them again because they’ll cost you the rest of your life. Some wounds never heal. You excise the savaged flesh and become the next thing.
“Drop your sword and I’ll put down my spear,” Mac says.
“Yeah, right. Then what? You order your creepy little army of Unseelie to drag me down that alley and eat me? No, let me guess: We head back to BB&B, make hot chocolate, hang out and talk?”
“That’s the general idea. Minus the bookstore and hot chocolate. And they’re not my creepy little army.”
“Like, talk about what? Me killing your sister? And they sure look like your creepy little army to me. Go everywhere you do.” Feck, it’s good to see her. I missed seeing her. I was always scanning every room, every street, hoping to see her. Dreading it.
She flinches. “Maybe you could try not to say it that way. And I said they’re not.”
“Why shouldn’t I? It’s what happened,” I say defiantly. Fecking pointless. She’s never going to see it any other way. My fingers tighten on my sword. “I killed your sister. There it is. Fact. Dude. Never gonna change. I. Killed. Alina. You came to Dublin hunting her murderer. Here I am.” I raise a hand and wave it around just in case she’s missing the point, overlooking me somehow.
“Dani, I know you’re—-”
“You don’t know nothing about me!” I cut her off hard and fast. I hate sentences that begin with my name followed by the claim—-indubitably erroneous—-that the speaker knows something about me. Those kinds of sentences rank right up there with the ones that begin with You know what your problem is? That’s always a doozy. Talk about a trick question. Nothing worth hearing ever follows that preface. I snarl, “You hear me? I said you don’t know nothing! Now get the feck out of my way and take your creepy little groupies with you!”
“No. This ends. Here. Tonight. And I said. They’re. Not. Mine.” She cuts a look up and mutters, “They stalk me. I haven’t figured out how to get rid of them. Yet.”
Instantly I want to be on the Dublin News--Channel--X investigative team, ask probing questions, get immersed in solving a thrilling mystery with Mac, but those days are gone and about as likely to come back as dinosaurs. I look at her, and she’s giving me this totally fake I’m--not--going--to--kill--you look that’s supposed to lure me close enough to get killed. But her fingers sure are tight on the hilt of her spear. And she’s balanced real light on the balls of her feet like I am. I know that stance. It’s preattack. Face says one thing. Body says another. I listen to the body. Keeps me alive.
She’s wearing boots with low heels, fashionable, stupid shoes for ice. It doesn’t matter how new and improved Mac-Kayla Lane is, part of her will always be as pink and girly as the nails on the hilt of her spear.
I’m wearing sneakers.
Even slow--mo I’m faster than she’ll ever be in those boots. There’s no way Mac’ll throw her spear at me. No more than she would put it down in a show of good faith. She’s like me with my sword. We don’t let them out of our hands. Not willingly. Well, I did it tonight for a Highlander who’s mostly Unseelie Prince but I got no fecking clue why. The only unknown are those ghastly Unseelie on the rooftops—-are they or aren’t they here to kill me?
One way to find out.
I try to freeze--frame but don’t even get a chug--a--chug of the engine, my battery’s deader than dead. Feels like it’s not even in the car anymore. Got cables leading nowhere.
I lunge for her and shove her off balance.
She grabs at me but I duck under her arm and push past her. When she snatches a handful of my coat from behind, I turn my head and bite her hand. Not swing my sword or blow something up. Bite. Like a child that doesn’t have any other weapons.
“Ow! You bit me!”
“Wow, gee. See Mac’s brilliant skills of observation,” I say irritably. What am I going to do next—-pull her hair? Then she might slap me and break a nail and we’ll call each other names. The sheer humiliating wussiness of this might goad me into drawing my sword and killing her. I can’t fathom how normal folks stand this. Above us, the wraithlike ZEWs chitter louder but stay put. “Get off me, stupid,” I hiss. I try to yank free, but she’s stronger than I remember.
The second I tug my coat from her fingers she grabs a fistful of my hair and pulls.
“Ow! You pulled my hair!” It hurt. Give me swords and spears and guns any day of the week.
“Wow, gee. See Dani’s brilliant skills—-”
“Stow it! Think up your own insults, unless it’s too much work for your—-”
“—-of observation. And I did not pull your hair. I’m just trying to hold you. You’re trying to get away. You’re the one pulling your hair.”
“—-puny little brain! And of course I’m trying to get away, you fecking twit! And I’m not biting you now so let go of my hair!” I reach up, grab my hair, and we do this idiotic tug of war, then she lets go so abruptly, I crash forward onto my hands and knees.
I surge up instantly but duck again and roll fast out of the way twice, three times, when I hear the whine of her spear behind me. The ZEWs explode upward, rustling and shrieking like a flock of startled buzzards. Guess the spear slicing air freaks them out, too.
For a stupid, vulnerable instant I crouch near the ground and can’t even move, trying to process that Mac really just swung her spear at me, made an undeniable attempt to kill me, as in remove me from this planet, as in end me forever. Seems I was holding on to a crippling hope of absolution, secret even from me. The air feels colder behind me, as if a murderous rage looms there. If you think emotions don’t throw off energy, you’re wrong.
I shoot to my feet, scrubbing at my cheeks with the balls of my fists. Ice chips must’ve flown up into my eyes when I rolled, making them sting and tear.
I break into a run.
My backpack drops like a stone from my shoulders. Bugger, she missed me but she caught the straps of my bag as I ducked, and all my food is in my pack! I don’t know a single store in a fifty--mile radius with stock on the shelves. My superspeed will come back, and when it does I’ll need food ASAP. I skid to a slippery stop on ice and turn to grab it.
Mac is standing, one boot planted on my backpack, spear raised, shining alabaster. The edges are razor sharp. I can see my name written all over them.
Message is clear.
“You can’t go anywhere without food, Dani. Stop running. I just want to talk to you.”
“You’re not tricking me!” I hate it that she keeps pretending. Full frontal attack I can deal with. This sneaky crap is lower than low.
“I’m not trying to.”
She sure as feck is. She just tried to slice off my head, for cripes sake.
The ZEWs resettle on the rooftops and resume that nerve--wracking racket again.
“So, what? I’m supposed to believe you came looking for me to tell me you, like, forgive me? Just how stupid do you think I am?”
Her eyes fill with shadows and she looks sad. “Life is complicated, Dani.”
“What the feck does that mean?” I could just pop out of my skin like an overpressured grape from sheer frustration. I hate it when people throw big sweeping generalizations at you that you can’t even begin to interpret. Life is complicated so I’m going to kill you quick? Life is complicated so I’m going to torture you to death slow and talk the whole time, driving you batshit crazy in the process? Life is complicated ergo I might forgive you if you perform Herculean tasks of redemption? The options are endless. Who doesn’t know life is complicated? What I want to know is how to apply that to the nuts and bolts of my existence. Folks never tell you that part.
“Sometimes the things we think will set us free . . . only make more chains. You either wear them or break them, and I . . . well, I don’t want to wear them.”
“Dude, ain’t no chains here. I don’t see nothing but you and me and weapons and death, if you don’t get off my pack and walk away. Besides, even if you did say you forgive me, I’d never believe you! I’ll always be waiting for the second you decide to try to kill me. You want me dead. Admit it. Just say it. Be honest, for feck’s sake! You know you want me dead! I see it in your eyes!”
She doesn’t say anything for a couple seconds, like she’s thinking hard about what she’s going to say next, and I don’t even know I’m holding my breath waiting until she begins talking and it kind of explodes from my lungs.
“I don’t want you dead, Dani. That’s not why I came looking for you.”
“Well, why the fuck not?” I yell. “I deserve to die!”
My hand goes to my mouth like maybe I can cover up what I just said or scrape the words back inside somehow. I’m horrified. I don’t even know where those words came from. There aren’t many sins in my bible. Giving up is the greatest one of all. I just broke my own cardinal rule. Life is a gift. You fight to keep it. You never quit. Never.
Nobody wants you. Your own mother locks you in a cage, leaves and forgets you. Just die. It’ll end everyone’s misery, including your own. Maybe then she can have a life. One of you should.
I can’t believe I just said I deserve to die. Maybe I’m possessed. Maybe I got one of those sneaky, diaphanous Unseelie Grippers inside me but it’s only fecking with me sometimes (’cause I’m so super it can’t possess me all the time!), making me say things I don’t really feel and shorting out my powers. And maybe that Gripper has some kind of bizarre obsession with Ryodan. Weirder things have been happening in Dublin lately.
Mac shakes her head, giving me a totally fake compassionate look. “Oh, Dani—-”
“I’m not falling for this so just shut up! Leave me alone or I’ll kill you like I killed your sister. I swear I will. I’ll kill you and then I’ll kill everybody you care about. That’s what I do. I kill people. I kill and kill and kill. That’s who I am. That’s who she made me.” I used to daydream Barrons found me in the cage that day, instead of Ro, and imagine what I’d have turned out to be then, but he didn’t. She did. It is what it is.
I run.
She follows faster than I would have thought possible. I wonder if Barrons did something to her, maybe that thing Ryodan said he would do for me. Is she as unkillable as them now? Is that where her balls are coming from? If so, I’m seriously pissed and even more jealous.
I leap snowbanks, dash down alleys, double back around, leading her on a merry chase through Temple Bar, and still she manages to stay hot on my arse. I keep testing every couple of seconds to see if I can freeze--frame but my superpowers have taken the same vacation my conscience went on years ago.
She’s yelling stuff but I don’t listen. I hum my favorite playlist to tune out her and the racket of her creepy army.
I don’t realize my feet have taken me to Barrons Books & Baubles until it looms up in front of me, only holy place I’ve ever known: amber lights and polished wood and diamond--paned windows and endless possibilities. Deep in a limestone arch, fancy columns and sidelights and brass sconces and a stained--glass transom frame the door I used to go banging through a million miles a minute, and just above it on a shiny brass pole hangs that colorful hand--painted shingle that might as well have once said Welcome Home but never would again for me.
I love this place more than any other. Gas fireplaces and big comfy couches you can really stretch out on and magazines and books you can read and dream about all the places in the world you’re gonna see one day, and wicked--cool antique weapons and kick-ass modern ones, and killer muscle cars and cakes and presents and friends you thought you had. The hours I spent there are filed away in my storage vaults in superhigh-gloss Technicolor, brighter than any other memories. Sometimes I pull one out and relive it real slow, savoring it down to the last morsel. I love Mac. I miss her so bad. I wish—-
Wishes aren’t horses and I don’t get to ride. ’Scool. I got feet that are usually superhero grade.
The bell on the door tinkles.
A man steps out.
Strong. Brilliant. Controlled.
Unbreakable. Feck, to be so unbreakable!
He’s everything I admire plus things I can’t even begin to put into words.
I crush on Jericho Barrons violently.
My brain almost shuts down every time I see him and that’s a lot of gray matter to stupefy.
Used to be, if I couldn’t fall asleep I’d fantasize all kinds of ways I’d impress Barrons by killing monsters or saying something really smart or saving the world, and he’d see me as a grown--up woman and I’d glow just from the expression on his face, like that time I killed the Unseelie Prince in Mac’s cell and he looked at me like he really saw who I was. Most folks don’t. They fence me in with teenage rules that don’t hold me for shit, seeing how I grew up. You can kill but don’t cuss. Break any rule necessary to save the world but don’t watch porn or even think about having sex. How do they come up with this stuff—-hold parental powwows for brainstorming diametrically opposed ethics? Then Ryodan began popping into my Barrons fantasies like he had some kind of business being there

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Burned (Fever Series #7) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 248 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't believe I waited 2 years for this book to come out and waited with such anticipation to be royally let down. The plot in this book is almost non-existent and the tiny bit that is there moves slower than molasses! If you want to hear Mac whine and moan about how hard her life is well then this is the book for you! For those of you who wanted an older Dani well you kinda get your wish with a dark twist. You get to learn a little more about the Nine, but the knowledge you get only spurns more questions. For those of you that want to read about Christian well then this is NOT the book for you- Christian is only in about 1% of this book. Like I stated earlier this book is comprised of Mac whining and then complaining and then moaning about how hard her life is. If you wanted some steamy scenes between Barrons and Mac well there pretty much is none with the exception of one tiny scene. I have noooo idea why this book is called Burned..because its main objective was to burn its readers? Or because the author was Burned out when she wrote it? There is no fire in this book. The book should have been titled Fizzle or Filler. KMM should have taken 3 years to write this book maybe then it would have been worth reading.
Sieblonde More than 1 year ago
Disappointing. There is no definable plot.   Mac's story-line is dull.  Barrons' is even more so.  Dani's story line is interesting, but as this happens outside the pages of the book, the transformation is sad and lacking.  Dani's continuing story will probably be the 2nd "Dani" book that will come out, before the next book in this series.   In "Burned", there are no new mysteries to eagerly unfold by turning the pages.   No new adventures or explorations.  No new and exciting talents acquired by Mac or Barrons that make us wonder who they really are or who they will become.       Basically the story plods along with Mac full of self analysis, rehashing recaps of past experiences.  Second tier characters have more to say and do but nothing of great importance.  A handful of small events progress the story, only to lead up to a dull ending, with an even duller cliffhanger. The time between the books is so long, I can't even remember why I should even care about Christian, so to have his rescue as the book's finale fell flat.   And having a secondary (or even less) character's death as a "cliff hanger" was yawn inspiring.   KMM is an amazing writer, capable of weaving magic onto the pages and taking readers into an amazing world we hate to leave.  But sadly enough, this time we were burned.   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Disappointed :( The first section of the book was pure filler.  I can't believe that I waited two years for this book.  It was great to have Mac and Barrons back agin but Dani's character was so flat and there was really no story line. I thought I remember reading an interview where KMM stated that Dani would have a relationship in this book, didn't happen.  There just seemed to be a lot of parts that were not needed, when the focus could have been on the building Dani and Mac's stories. The writing itself was great, just so disappointed with Dani's character.  Her story felt disjointed, flat and at times boring.  Compared to Iced, Burned  just fizzled.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sick of whiney, depressed Mac. She and Barrons didn't even have that good spark. The one hot scene was from the past. Little action and none of the fireworks that I've come to expect. Glad Dani grew up, but I mourn the loss of her character. Guess we'll have to wait 2 more years to get her back. Awesome. Hate to say it, but I'm disappointed. I loved the Fever series and ICED. Depressing book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finished the book in one sitting simply because I had hope that something, anything would redeem the story on the next page. Now I'm left feeling dissapointed and wishing I hadn't wasted most of the day. I will of course continue the series and hope I will find the excitment all the previous books had.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A whole book about Mac complaining?  Dani is barely in the book,waste of time and money. Mac had her books bring Dani back!
Under_The_Covers_BookBlog More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Annie and posted at Under The Covers Book Blog Two years and two months later, Karen Marie Moning releases the seventh book in the highly anticipated Fever series with BURNED. After the countless delays and near-tear devastation readers experienced since the last release, the Moning Maniacs are in a frenzy waiting for this bomb to drop. True to her signature style, KMM approaches this book with the same intensity of all her previous books –  combine that and you get BURNED. The questions that arise in the previous book get answered, but that’s not to say that there aren’t more twists and more questions along the way. Every time I read a KMM book, I try to speculate what is going to happen. Weeks after reading it, I come up with my own theories about who this person really is and what KMM plans to do next. I’m constantly trying to outmaneuver the creator. I should know better because every time, I am still blown away by her choices. To those of you who had a problem with Dani being too young, you have no reason to worry. As promised, KMM does age her, but it is HOW she does it that really changes the pace of the story. The strange tension between Dani and Ryo isn’t so taboo any longer. The question now is, does Ryodan prefer the sleek, calculated new Dani or prefer the old, fiery one? I’m still coming to grips with this myself because what KMM reveals about Dani was not something I expected. It completely blindsided me and yet….IT WORKS. Readers didn’t like Dani’s fire, her tenacity and her innocence? Well, she fixed that. And I’m dying to know how the audience will react to it. Personally, I think it’s genius. Not only does it give readers what they wanted, but she will also make them wonder if that’s what they really wanted. You have to be careful what you wish for because KMM delivers. But with a twist! Mac is back and better than ever! God, I missed this chick. It’s so easy to get back into her head. But whereas the previous Mac was parading around the city, killing things and creating havoc, this Mac is different. She’s slightly more passive but that’s because there’s more on her shoulders. Within her, she carries the Book and it speaks to her constantly, tempting her to give in and unleash it. Mac knows what’s at stake and if she loses her control, it’s death and destruction for all. Surprisingly Barrons and Mac are going steady. Or as steady as a man like Barrons can be. He isn’t exactly the easiest man to handle. Mac has discovered something that he did to her. Given what happened to her before, it’s a breech of trust and whatever little happy little bubble they are in gets popped. Barrons isn’t a man to apologize and Mac is furious out of her mind. It kills me, but no doubt makes for an amazing story. The rest of the gang are all present as well. Christian, Dancer, Kat, Jo and even the MacKelter twins all play key parts to make this story run smoothly. Most interesting is what transpires with Ryodan, Jo and Lor. KMM really enjoys toying with her characters and boy, she really messes with them here. I LOVE IT! She takes what she sets up between Jo and Ryodan in ICED and has a field day on their emotions. If you’re like me, by the end of it all, you’re dying to get more.utc-top-pick What I enjoy most about KMM’s writing is that she’s a fearless writer. There’s this innate confidence in her writing and I truly believe she can pull off anything. You just have to have faith in her. When the twists and turns hit you and the bombs drop left and right, it’s easy to just let your emotions control you. But if you’re patient enough to see how the events come together in the end, you get a visceral experience unlike anything before. I say this all the time but I’ll say it once again. If you haven’t read the Fever series, you simply must. There aren’t many authors out there who can still blow your mind like Karen Marie Moning can.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This review will be short, sweet and spoiler free.  I'm not going to get into the multiple POV's, Dani's age etc that everyone else is concerned with those issues are being discussed to death already here. What I will say is this: make up your own mind, don't let anyone's disappointment or agenda  prevent you from picking up a copy of Burned.      KMM has wrapped up the past and brought the reader up to date so well  you can actually jump into the Fever Series here if you want. Of course you're going to want to  go back and read the first book in the series Darkfever, and from there you won't be able to stop until you've read them all.  This series is pretty much like crack, one hit and you're hooked. Burned is a fantastic read and has no less than 5 plot twists that come at you like a freight train w/o warning. If you're a long time KMM fan leave whatever theories you have at the door b/c I am telling you now nothing that you and your friends came up with can compare  to what goes on in this book.  The gang's back and I promise what you  learn  about them this time around  will make your jaw drop.   There's plenty of action  to make it impossible for you to put down Burned.  PS: Make sure you check out the glossary,  you never know what you're going to learn back there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Completely disappointing. Almost no plot development at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an absolutely amazing series. You will not regret reading any of Monings books.
Chelsea_Rafferty More than 1 year ago
One of Karen's most brilliant storylines yet. The way Karen flawlessly blends worlds and words is like a fine sculpture would chisel and smooth out his clay figure....its amazing the way her mind works. A few days later and I'm still sitting here processing everything I read, to the point I'm going to need to re-read...(probably with a dictionary LOL) :) I didn't know a lot of the words and I was reading a hardcover so I couldn't use the kindle dictionary to cheat while reading ;) Still brilliant and it could have been just me being in a rush to get to the end. If you are new to Karen's books I'd recommend you start with the correct reading order for this series. Fever Series 1. Darkfever 2. Bloodfever 3. Faefever 4. Dreamfever 5. Shadowfever 6. Iced 7. Burned Personally I'd read the Highlander books in order before picking up the Fever series...only because you DO see some of the characters from the Highlander series show up later in a cross over with the Fever world and its really cool to be like Ohhh I know that character, I know his story already...it just adds depth to the Fever world for me personally. The difference is the Highlander books are more HEA (Happily Ever After) with a different couple every book, kind of a Highlander/Historical/Paranormal feel (time-traveling druids etc) whereas with the Fever series its more nitty, gritty, Urban Fantasy, action packed...Not all pretty happily ever afters...That's not to say there are not Happily Ever moments here and there but its definitely more raw, razor blades ;) I'm a fan of both series personally and love them both for different reasons. For Burned we have several different POV's throughout the story, though a majority of the timeline belongs to Mac's POV. We do get some insight to Dani, Lor, the Unseelie King, Kat, and an unfamiliar to us character named Jada. We also get some more in personal insight to the Nine, which is a nice twist because I don't know about the rest of you but I've been DYING to know about them a little bit more and I really appreciated being able to take a glimpse into parts of them that I've never gotten to see before. Mac isn't as large as life as she normally is in Burned, however from what Karen shows in the book, I understand WHY she's not....great power comes with great responsibility. She's still got those weird things following her (from the end of Iced) and though we find out some things about those things following her, we don't get "all" the details yet of what they are and why they are following Mac....little glimpses and enough to make you wonder about certain things that some of the other characters have to say about them...but not enough for me to make a definite conclusion in my mind about them. Overall its a Karen book...it kept my attention, made me think, and definitely made me ponder what might come out of the next Fever book. I do feel like this book was kind of like a build up book...where things are laid out that we didn't know about before....kind of like laying the foundation before diving into building the walls.... I feel we are going to learn a LOT in the next few books and I know Karen will get us there....I have faith in her crazy, amazing writing ability....Remember...words are just words...actions speak. I'm definitely going to be re-reading this book and re-reading my other Fever books before I do a 3rd re-read because its amazing how much you can miss the 1st time round in a book that you've been anxiously waiting for.... I do still LOVE all of Karen's books and Burned is no exception... I still have suspicions on who I think Mac might be, as well as Dani...which neither got proved or disproved in Burned but I'm still holding onto them and we'll see if I'm right when the series is over LOL! ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After the amazing dynamics of Iced, this book was such a huge letdown. It's basically chapter upon chapter of Mac's (BORING!!!) inner dialogue. Her relationship with Barrons is flat to non-existant in this book. Dani (at least the Dani we all know, love, and have been eagerly awaiting more of) has been literally shoved out of the picture. Ryodan has been relegated to being Barrons's mouthpiece--that beautifully messed up man I fell for is back to being a secondary player. Christian (poor guy) is left hanging until the end of the book and is only featured as background. There's rehashing of the Unseelie King/concubine story, which didn't even seem to really play into this book. The only redeeming characters for me were Kat, because I'm curious to see how her storyline is going to further develope, and Lor. Lor's straight up comic relief in this book, and man does this book need it with all the wah-wahing that we get from Mac. I wouldn't recommend this book to new readers, let alone followers of the series. In fact, I'll probably be returning my copy for a refund.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please KMM can the next book be at least a 1000pages• I am hanging here screaming NO that's it! So much great stuff packed into 400 but I want my #8 NOW • I'm rereading just to get all the deliciousness again • Woman you can write a story! Hell yes it's worth the money!! Give me#8 asap•I sure hope KMM's fingers are flying as we read!!! Please!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it was the best in the series. I don't understand why people are so sad. The hero from her other series is not dead per the last page of the book. There are at least 2 more books to get everything resolved. Be patient.
Kiki3151 More than 1 year ago
I cannot believe I waited over two years for this book. This was such a disappointment - so bad. We already know Dani had a problem and there was not much of her in this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
too many unanswered questions. it jumped from different stories on different characters with no closure. I'm really disappointed with this book with the way it ended. The previous books were great! i hope she does better with the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Readers can skip this one.  Numerous muddled plots, but no real movement in story line. Even Mac and Barron's seem to have dialed this one in.  KMM gave us Dani at 19, but took all her since of fun and effervescence. 
Rosemary_Pennington More than 1 year ago
The reward of a 2 year wait has never been sweeter! With Burned, I felt that KMM has a ton to deliver with promises made on her FB page.  I was upset that "Mac was back" and Dani would be M.I.A for any portion of the story. Being told she would age and all this would somehow happen directly after Iced.   IMPOSSIBLE is what I thought. God, I was wrong. And lets not forget the headline: "And then there were ten." I thought I had it all figured out, and I was gonna hate it all. As many loyal reader, I know the rules of the world KMM created. After finishing Burned, I sat in stunned silence for about an hour. The amount of information KMM has given in this book is staggering.  You will get a truck-load of answers that you never saw coming and an insight not only of the characters but the author herself.   I have seen many posts on various sites bemoaning some issues with this book. (Many I felt as well.) 1) The time it took this get this story was a little over 2 years - for good reason- KMM father was dealing with cancer. FAMILY comes first. - You will see evidence of that in this book. 2) Mac is back in a BIG way- Dani is... well, not so much - Again: for a good reason.- There would not be a story if we had more of Dani's POV. The only way that we could know the secrets revealed in Burned is by being a fly on the wall. KMM pulls this off flawlessly. It is HOW she does it that suprising. 3) Dani is older now, and,  Burned picks up right where Iced left off. - Remember it is Post Wall Dublin, there are no rules. We have been told time and time again by KMM's previous books that: Nothing is what it seems or works the way it is supposed to. - KMM again surprised me on how she was able to accomplish this. I think any reader will know that Silvers was the obvious way. When you find out where Dani went, I encourage you to re-read the time that Mac spent in that particular world..... You will understand why Dani is who she is today. Pure fecking genius, if you ask me! 4) And then there were ten:- OMG- the best part of it all!!! I found myself digging through older books saying all along: "It was so obvious." I do not know if it was KMM's intention to do this years ago, but, when it happened it seemed to me that she had been carefully sowing these seeds from the very beginning. -The VERY beginning. 5) Jo and Ryodan- I will admit that this was my biggest grievance from Iced that I had a hard time coming to grips with. I mean, Ryodan belongs to Dani.... right? I have believed that "Some things were worth waiting for." - so what was KMM thinking? - This is all sewn very nicely for a HUGE future feature that I cannot wait to see explored further.  6) As Dani said: "I could like Lor."-  Get yourself inside of Lor's head.... it is a fantastic trip every time.  With his POV, I found myself laughing out loud and finding out that he is probably the NICEST of all the Nine. But, I don't merely like him, I am loving him after Burned. In turn KMM fashion- cliff-hangers are a must, and you will be more questions that you get answers. That is both the beauty and the anguish of the Fever series. That is what keeps loyal readers coming back for more.  We may never find out what the Nine (now Ten) are. (And I have attempted research to try) This book will make you question that all over again, EVEN after coming to terms with it in Shadow Fever.  I can hear Barrons saying "None of you f'ing business."- every time. Like Mac, I can live with that.
Red67 More than 1 year ago
I have been a fan of Karen Marie Moning forever. I read her Highlander books when they were new. I liked Burned but didn't love it. I think I am still pissed it took so long for it to come out. It moves the story along which is great. Interesting things happen, but it ends on a cliff hanger so its going to be another wait... Heard the next one will be released this year but not holding my breath. Will I continue to read the series, absolutely, but the time between books has just sucked the love for it out of me. Karen stop stringing us along...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To say this book is incredible is an understatement. To say that this is one of Karen Marie Moning's best works ever is not. Technically, I've been waiting for this book for nearly three years. But really, it feels like I've been waiting for it my whole life. It is heart-wrenching, emotional, poetic, intriguing, and hilarious -- I mean, I laughed out loud at last twenty times. Mac is beyond freakin FUNNY -- especially when sniping with Ryodan, or Barrons, or random men in bars. [ Oh, and you know. Throwing rocks at see-you-in-faery chicks while invisible. ;) ] I'll admit, my expectations were high (even after reading the threads with spoilers of people saying it wasn't good because Dani wasn't in it a lot), but it still completely exceeded them. Mac may narrate most of the book -- but she's the most coherent and self-aware she's ever been. With that, there's a lot of freedom for her to just BE. She isn't wasting time denying who she is, or what she feels for Barrons, or how fecked-up the world has become. It's refreshing and incredibly, incredibly funny. [ SPOILER: Yes, she's still battling the Sinsar Dubh, but it only lasts for the first half of the book and every encounter is hilarious and interesting. ] I loved Ryodan in this book. A lot. I loved Barrons. I loved Barrons and Mac together. I loved Lor. (I mean seriously, how cute can this guy get? Easily the sweetest of the Nine - yup, I said it). I even liked Jo. This book was definitely one that caught us up on many of the different story lines going on, save for a few. [ SPOILER: We do miss a good chunk of Dani's, but wow, I know finding out what has gone down with her will be worth the wait. (hide spoiler)] I loved Ryodan's character development, and Lor's, and even Kat's. Dani's was surprising, but intriguing. I can't wait to see where that goes. All in all, this is one of the best books I've ever read. The only complaint I have is that there wasn't enough of Kat's POV. [ SPOILER: because I can't help but wonder [ what's going down in the underground level. ;) ] I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this book (as well of any of KMM's works). It may be very different than Iced, but it's JUST as good. (If not better). Don't let the cover fool you. This series isn't just romantic and sexy, but complex, well-written, mysterious, and addicting. ;) 5/5
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the Fever series originally, so I was thrilled to have Mac and Barrons back, especially since Iced felt like such a children's book.  That said, I waited forever after Shadowfever for Iced, then I waited forever for Burned, so when Burned ended with such a CLIFFHANGER, I was not happy!  Publishing a half book seems to be a favorite marketing plan for writers lately, and is irritating even when the conclusion comes out quickly, but waiting years for an ending is ridiculous!  Come on already KMM!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars I wanted to love this one. I really did.  I didn’t care if it was from Mac’s POV or Dani’s because they both have a way of beating a dead horse, or I guess I should say fae?,  that drives me just a tinsy bit batsh%tcrazy.  I just wanted the next installment.  I wanted more of Barrons.  Mac and Barrons.  Dani and Dancer.  Dani and Ryodan.  Find out what was going on with Christian.  I could go on and on, but you get the picture.  And in general I got all of that, but heaven help  me did it take for fecking ever to get things going.  It took until about 60% in for me to feel like I was finally getting to the meat of the story.  Yes, there were some great moments in the first 60% of the book.  Moments that had me thinking “Fck yeah now we’re getting somewhere and that things would pick up” but more often than not it would slow back down and had me feeling like it was filler.  Believe me I understand that there is a sh%tton going on in the world and it is KMM’s right to acknowledge as much, or as little, of it as she wants, but damn!   To be fair: There are questions answered, even questions you didn’t know you had, but as is the norm with this series there are still more things unresolved and new questions that need to be answered. But despite the fact that I didn’t fall deeply in love with this book, I still enjoyed it and will continue with the series, I am a serious glutton for punishment, Why you ask? Here’s the list 1) I do like Mac.  When she gets her sh*t together she’s fcking amazing 2) Lor. 3) When the characters actually get to interact with each other whether it's someone laying out an ultimate truth or a one liner that has you snickering, something amazing will come of it. 4) Barrons ~ No explanation needed 5) Ryodan ~ Still no explanation needed. 6) Lor 7) There are still questions that I NEED answered and am too invested to not continue 8) Dani ~ see #5 for the reason 9) Lor ~ Do we see a trend. I fecking love Lor. I can’t say that he has surpassed Barrons, but he’s edging Ryodan out of spot number 2 because if it weren't for him I would have tossed the ereader into a corner. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For the first time in this series I feel like a book was just a filler. Disappointed but can't wait for next.
brinnyboo More than 1 year ago
I really love the writing style. The story always pulls you in every direction with its well thought out drama. I love the series :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was ok for what it eas. A little disappointed i waited two years for a filler book. It wasnt bad just wished there was more to the story than Mac trying to figure herself out. Im still a fan and pray the next book is a thousand times better. Also i really wish there was more on Dani. I felt cheated but maybe the next book will make up for. Heres hoping we dont have to wait another two year :/