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Chapter One


Liri lay there with her eyes closed, taking a moment to recall where she was. At Home or Nova’s? She had put in an appearance at home in Solrelm, so her mother didn’t harass Aunt Ama too much. Of course, that had been a mistake because as always she had words with her mother. It was unheard of that a female from her realm reaches eighty celebrations and not have chosen a partner. She knew she was lucky with the privilege of being connected to the royal family and allowed more freedom to choose than others, but she still hated it. She had tried, again, to explain to her mother that she just felt there was a reason she hadn’t committed to anyone yet. Her mother did not see it that way, and Liri knew she never would.


Rolling to her back, she stretched and then groaned. This was not her comfortable bed in Solrelm. The next time she saw Queen Alona, they needed to discuss getting a more comfortable mattress for the upstairs bedroom at Nova’s. This one felt like it was from the turn of the century and poked into her each time she moved.


Why was her brain so foggy today? What time was it? She flung her arm toward the side of the bed to reach for her phone and check it. There was no table. Opening her eyes, she turned to look. This was not the bedroom at Nova’s or her own in Solrelm. Bolting upright, she immediately regretted it when a pain sliced through her head. She was in a small dingy room on a narrow cot. It smelled musty and stale. There was a lamp in the corner that barely emitted enough light to look around, but it was lit enough to see that she was nowhere she recognized. Where the hell was she?


Her heart was racing as she tried to remember how she’d gotten here. She’d gone back to Nova’s. No one had been there. Bas and Nova were in Alterealm meeting with the royals about—something. She couldn’t keep the drama straight anymore with all of the evil plots and subplots and other plots. Sedric wasn’t there either, he’d gone with a guard from Alterealm to meet other mixed breeds at the safe houses—or somewhere. Being left on her own without anyone looking over her shoulder gave her the opportunity to go exploring. She nodded, and then grasped the sides of her head and pushed against her temples, hoping to ease the throbbing in her skull. Yes, she went out into the dirty, noisy city to look in the shops. It was wonderful, she loved it. Walking among the humans who didn’t bow to her or give her expectant looks because she was eighty and still without an other, and offspring.


If her cousins knew she went out without accompaniment, they would have fits. She loved them, but their constant worry that harm would befall her was a little tiring. They didn’t know it, but she could also see souls, just like they could. She may not be as practiced at it as they were, but in her defense, she had been in one realm with the same souled people for eight decades. She could even see the dark ones, so she was perfectly safe walking around with freedom she had never had before. Liri had never told anyone she could see because it would have been brushed off like any other thing in her life that wasn’t aimed toward procreation. All she wanted to do was be a watcher, but that would never happen. She envied her cousins that they were allowed to contribute to their realm’s purpose while she spent her every day avoiding her parents and protocol.


She rubbed the side of her head, trying to recall how she’d ended up—she looked around—it looked like she was in a cave with a bed and a door. That couldn’t be right.

Sound on the other side of the door had her jump off the narrow bed. She didn’t care how, or even where here was, she was not staying to find out. Shoving up her sleeve, she flipped open the porter Princess Crissy had given her. Taking a deep breath, she braced for the feeling of her insides cramping and objecting as they did when she landed in the Alterealm acclimation chamber. Blowing it out, she pushed the button.


Nothing happened.


She glared at the face of the porter. Just her luck to get one that was broken. With a sigh, she closed it and then pushed to open the cover on her link bracelet. Even home was better than some creepy cave. She tapped the face of it.


Again nothing happened.


Turning in a circle, she looked all around. Now what?


There were voices outside the door. Stepping quietly, she went over beside it so she would hear and hopefully figure out where she was and what in the name of the gods was going on.


“You did what?” Definitely a male voice and he wasn’t happy.


“I didn’t have a choice. They were following her.” Another male.


“You should have called someone or…”


“There was no time. I scanned her when she walked by, well, because she’s gorgeous and I wanted to know what she was—”


Liri scowled at the door. What she was? Whoever he was, he’d bought himself small favor by thinking she was gorgeous, so for that, she’d leave some of his face intact.


“She’s from Solrelm. One hundred percent pure.”


“You kidnapped a female from another realm?”


“Boss, the ones tailing her were from Solrelm too and they sure as hell weren’t her friends.”


Her breath caught in her throat, she was being followed by others from home? She’d kept checking and she hadn’t seen them. If Bastian and Tor has someone following her—


“They hid every time she paused.”


Her heart beat hard—the lawless had been following her and she hadn’t seen them.


“Okay. I get it, but using the phaser on her? Not the right call, Spencer. Now we have a kidnapped resident from another realm and will have to wait two days before we can send her back.”


She had to stay here for two days? What was a phaser? She glanced down and confirmed her body seemed intact and except her head, nothing hurt. She looked around the room. It was dank and dark and the last guest had probably been some sort of rodent. Staying here wasn’t happening.


“I didn’t know that.”


Her kidnapper sounded remorseful. Great, she’d been abducted by a moron.


“Obviously. Go get one of the women so we can talk to her.”


“Sorry, Bohdi.”




Liri was done listening, done visiting this not-so-charming getaway destination. She grabbed the door handle and then squeaked and jumped back when it turned in her hand. Her back hit the wall as a man stepped in, darkened the doorway, and stood there with his hands on his hips looking at her. He took up the entire opening and looked like he was leaning his head down because he was too tall to stand in it. He blocked all light from whatever was outside the door. His arms were bigger than the Alterealm men and covered in tattoos all the way down to his wrists. He had a trimmed beard and was wearing a black ball cap backward. She’d been snatched up by giants. Bastian was going to be annoyed and Trendan—he was going to lecture her, continuously for the next millennium.

Chapter Two

He ran and ducked behind the next tree in his path. There was no time to pause and rest. Blowing out two deep breaths, he lurched back around the tree and stabbed the spear through the man’s midsection. Using his foot, he braced it against his body and pulled the wooden weapon free. If he didn’t die soon, it would at least slow him down. Turning, he ran in the other direction, not caring about the pain in his bare feet or the branches scratching his uncovered legs.


The phone going off jolted him awake. He rolled over and answered it.




It was his dad, the one that had ‘died’ when he was fifteen and came back to reintroduce himself when Abe was in his thirties. “Dad.”


“Where are you?”


He opened his eyes and looked around. Checking your location was a habit he’d never break. “My bedroom in the underground chambers.”


“Oh, good. Your brother said you were off checking on our properties. You know your uncles have people who will do that, right?”


Abe sat up and winced as his muscles disagreed with moving. His uncles Rafael and Michael had not been easy on him with training. “I know, but unlike Rena and Ellis, I like going back over. There’s something oddly comforting being back there.”


“I understand that. It’s hard to simply forget about something that was our lives for so long.”


“Something like that.” It wasn’t that at all, but he still, after almost two hundred years couldn’t figure out how to tell him that he searched for the reasons for the pictures in his head. They weren’t memories, Abe wasn’t old enough for them to be, but they were still there and he needed to know why. “Why were you looking for me?” He hoped it wasn’t related to the wall of screens and monitoring all the cameras they had set up everywhere. He’d worked his magic and set up the controls and computers to make it simple enough for a monkey to operate. He was not a furry primate, and he was bored out of his mind sitting there. The pictures in his head drove him crazy when he was idle too long.


“The prince from Veiltide is coming over and I thought you’d want to be in on that meeting.”


Abe stood up and looked around. Meet someone from another realm? Hell yeah. He’d seen some of them, but hadn’t actually met them. “Yeah, I’d like that. Does this have to do with what Uncle Arius found out from the prisoner, about the talking water?” Family meals were always a highlight with his many aunts and uncles, a regular episode of the bizarre and strange facts that were now his life.


“Yes. I don’t understand about Veiltide, but as we may be working with them, so I thought we should be there.”


Abe nodded and looked around for his clothes. A telling sign that the things inside his head were getting to him was the mess of his room. Normally everything would be tidy and in its rightful place. “Where are we meeting?”


“The summit room.”




“The meeting room at the palace.”


Abe smirked, as he did any time the word palace was mentioned. “When? I need to grab a coffee.”


“There will be refreshments there, as always.”


“Perfect. I’ll see you there shortly.” Tossing the phone on the bed, he surveyed his room. Clothes on the floor, empty dishes on the dresser and he was afraid to look in the bathroom. Haunting visions or not, he was fixing this disaster after the meeting. At least he didn’t have to worry about the cleaning staff being stuck with it. Abe preferred to do all his own cleaning. He might be part of a royal family, but he had a particular way he liked things done.


He blamed his siblings, having spent a few hundred years cleaning up after them. Now he had to have organization. That had been his part in their strange little family, erasing them from existence as they moved around and rotated locations. He was part of a race from another realm. He smirked and then shook his head because that wasn’t odd at all. Later while he cleaned, he needed to assess this latest dream. Why was he basically naked and fighting with a handmade wooden spear? The bare feet and nakedness bothered him far more than a sharp stick and someday he needed to know why his head did this to him. His life was finally making sense, well, maybe that wasn’t the right word, but he knew what he was and the mystery of why he had to bite people to live was solved.


Abe settled in the chair with a large mug of coffee and a handful of the little biscuits Mitz never seemed to run out of. He loved the stupid things, may even had a box or two of them stashed in his room—because it was still hard to accept he wasn’t going to have to pack up and move on fast at any given moment.


The room was buzzing with the usual chatter, taunts, and razzing of his uncles and their mates. It was better than any sitcom could ever be. His sister, Rena, came into the room with papers in her hand. She had that look on her face, the one that said someone was going to get a good scolding. Abe was glad it wasn’t him. Anything he did for the family was electronic and involved no paper.


Sipping his coffee, he watched Rena aim her displeasure at their father. Standing beside Dad was his mate, Kinsley, who didn’t hide her amusement from the child giving the parent what for. He liked Kinsley, a lot. Liked that his father was finally happy. He’d watched him wander endlessly for too many years.


Whatever had been wrong, was resolved quickly because Rena was now smiling. She rubbed her hand over her swollen abdomen, reminding Abe that he was going to be an uncle soon. Everyone else might think she was settled with things, but he knew differently. That haunted look was always present in her eyes. It still irked him that they’d been forbidden to go near the man responsible for the child. Even his Uncle Arius didn’t go near him, and he was the warden of the cells the prisoner was in. As far as Abe was concerned, the man’s life should have been forfeited.


Aunt Autumn came in and immediately went over to his sister and spoke to her. It was both odd and amazing that the best fighter he’d ever seen was going to parent that baby. He couldn’t picture her coddling an infant. One thing was certain though, that child would be the safest one ever born. He grinned at the thought of some other kid harassing it on the playground.


“Hard to see isn’t it?”


He turned to see Uncle Leone sitting down beside him. “Sorry?”


His uncle jerked his head in his sister’s direction. “Autumn as a mom.”


Abe shrugged, “I was thinking more like if anyone ever did that child wrong…”


“I don’t think that would end well for the offender.” His Aunt Bethany sat beside her mate.


Leone cringed. “No, any child born into this family will never have to worry about bullying at school.”


Statements like that made Abe wish he’d known his uncles when he was younger, it had been a trying time learning to navigate the world alone.


Rena nodded and then came over toward him. She smiled and pointed to her chin, “that looks good on you, Ace,” she smirked at the name he’d once used and regretted daily, since.


Abe smiled and touched his new facial hair, “it’s just weird seeing my face when I look at my uncle.” They all glanced at Michael, “thought a little facial hair would clear that up.”


His uncle, King Chase happened by at that second, he paused and perused Abe’s face for a moment and then touched his own goatee. “I’ve been told they make us irresistible,” he winked and then veered toward the coffee pot.


Abe rubbed his hand over his face, it wasn’t long enough to be called anything other than organized scruff at this point.


Aunt Crissy came over and knelt on the chair beside him. There were no words he could think of that described her, she was so unique that none fit. “I’m excited.” She set her notebook on the table and looked at him, “I’ve read about Veiltide and what they can do,” she paused, her expression blanking for a moment, then nodded and gave him a big-eyed look, “do you think he’ll show us?”


“I don’t think he’s coming for show and tell, Crissy.” Leone said quietly.


Crissy looked at the floor beside the chair, “a well, that’s strange.” She looked at Leone, “I know, but it’s fascinating, so I hope he does.” She opened her notebook and leaned over it, pencil in her hand. She was still kneeling on the chair.


Abe had wondered if the pictures in his head were visions like his aunt, but when he’d asked her about them, she told him you couldn’t have visions in the past, only the future. The problem was they couldn’t be memories either, he wasn’t that old.


She stopped and looked at him like she’d just hadn’t a moment before. “Your face is very handsome that way.” She smiled, “there’s no water,” she nodded, “but the well is for you.” Grabbing her notebook, she hurried over to her mate, his Uncle Victor, the scariest man Abe had ever seen.


“A waterless well?” Bethany asked.


“I don’t know what that means.” Abraham looked from her back at Crissy.


“We’ll catch her later and see if we can sort it out,” Leone said and motioned to the door as some of the others came in.

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