Authors: Yasmine Galenorn
“Yasmine Galenorn creates a world I never want to leave.”
âSherrilyn Kenyon, #1
New York Times
“Erotic and darkly bewitchingÂ .Â .Â . a mix of magic and passion.”
New York Times
“Yasmine Galenorn is a hot new star in the world of urban fantasy.”
âJayne Ann Krentz,
New York Times
“Yasmine Galenorn is a powerhouse author; a master of the craft who is taking the industry by storm, and for good reason!”
New York Times
“Spectacularly hot and supernaturally breathtaking.”
New York Times
“Simmers with fun and magic.”
âMary Jo Putney,
New York Times
“Yasmine Galenorn's imagination is a beautiful thing.”
“Galenorn's gallery of rogues is an imaginative delight.”
“Pulls no punchesÂ .Â .Â . [and] leaves you begging for more.”
âBitten by Books
“[Galenorn's] books are always enchanting, full of life and emotion as well as twists and turns that keep you reading long into the night.”
âRomance Reviews Today
“Explore this fascinating world.”
“As always, [Galenorn] delivers intriguing characters, intricate plot layers, and kick-butt action.”
RT Book Reviews
The Otherworld Series
The Indigo Court Series
The Fly by Night Series
FLIGHT FROM DEATH
FLIGHT FROM MAYHEM
The Whisper Hollow Series
ETCHED IN SILVER
THE SHADOW OF MIST
FLIGHT FROM HELL
Berkley Prime Crime titles by Yasmine Galenorn
GHOST OF A CHANCE
LEGEND OF THE JADE DRAGON
MURDER UNDER A MYSTIC MOON
A HARVEST OF BONES
ONE HEX OF A WEDDING
Yasmine Galenorn writing as India Ink
SCENT TO HER GRAVE
A BLUSH WITH DEATH
An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
FLIGHT FROM MAYHEM
A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright Â© 2016 by Yasmine Galenorn.
by Yasmine Galenorn copyright Â© 2016 by Yasmine Galenorn.
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eBook ISBN: 9780698141926
Berkley mass-market edition / August 2016
Cover art by Tony Mauro.
Cover design by Danielle Mazzella di Bosco.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Jo Yantz, a great friend, and a great workout
Greed is so destructive. It destroys everything.
Violent predators are not like the rest of us.
I always say the same thing during acknowledgments, but truthfully, these people keep me going each book. I owe thank-yous to a great many people. My editor at Berkley, Kate Seaver. My agent, Meredith Bernstein. My husbandâSamwise Galenornâand our four cats. My assistants, Jennifer Price and Andria Holley. Friends who listen to me ventâJo and Maura, Carol and Vicki. All so very helpful in a business that just as easily eats you up and spits you out as offers you the chance to do what you love.
To my spiritual guardiansâMielikki, Tapio, Ukko, and RauniâI give my thanks and devotion.
To all my loyal readers who buy my books to support my habit of writingâthank you. I hope you continue to love the stories, and I hope to continue to write them!
You can find out information about all my books and work on my website,
he wind blew
through my hair, streaming it back under the helmet as the massive engine purred between my legs, vibrating through my entire body. I gripped Alex's waist with my hands, my breasts pressing against his back as we leaned into the turn. His body was icy even through his butt-hugging jeans and snug leather jacket. He smelled like bay rum, and by now, I knew that scent all too well. I knew every curve of his bodyâsix weeks of steady sex had ensured that.
We were headed toward the new 520 Bridge. As we neared the floating bridge that stretched out for over a mile, crossing the lake that separated Seattle from the Greater Eastside, I could feel the call of the waterâa deep, sensual recognition that washed through my core, making me ache for its depths. The water and I had a special connection, seeing that I was a blue dragon and my very nature was connected to the life-affirming liquid. But tonight we weren't headed to the beach so I could swim. No, it was party time.
I wasn't sure exactly where we were going, but apparently Bette was in charge of it, and that was all Alex would tell me. “Unless you've been to one of Bette's parties, you've never been to a party.”
With that less-than-comforting thought ringing in my head, I had swung onto the back of his Suzuki Hayabusa and held on as we roared out into the April night, under a heavy cloud cover. As we wove through the silent city streets, Alex deftly maneuvered the rumbling machine through the labyrinth of roads. It occurred to me that Seattle must have been planned out by some drug-crazed cartographer who randomly decided to have one-way streets change direction at major intersections.
As we gobbled up the miles, the streets grinding beneath the bike's wheels, I glanced up at the pale shadow of the moon. She was gleaming from behind the cloud cover, two days past full. By the time we crossed the bridge, the wind was churning the water to splash up and over the edge. To our left, the specter of the old bridge was awaiting deconstruction. It had been decommissioned only a month ago, a dark silhouette that had become outdated and dangerous. There was a one-in-twenty chance the 520 would go down, floundering to the bottom, if the area had another major earthquake. And the chances of a major earthquake in Seattle were
, not if.
We passed a car that had stalled out, and then we were over Lake Washington and coming up on Bellevue. We were headed to a private residence on Lake Sammamish in Redmond. Not Bette's houseâshe lived in a houseboat at the Gasworks Marinaâbut her current beau's home. Apparently he was some genius software engineer at a startup that had put down roots in the area. High tech was king here, and this was the land of Microsoft, Starbucks, and money.
I inhaled another breath of Alex's cologne. It was comfortingâfamiliar in a world that was still so alien to me. In my realm, I had nothing like this. In my world, I was
an outcaste, pariah. Here, I mattered. At least in some small way, Iâand what I could doâmade a difference to people.
We leaned into the gentle curve of the exit as we swung off the 520 freeway and onto West Lake Sammamish Parkway NE. As we passed through the suburbs and then past Marymoor Park, we came to a fork in the road, where the parkway split off into Bel-Red Road. We veered left, keeping on the parkway, as we curved toward Lake Sammamish. A few minutes later we swung onto NE 38th Street and down to the end, to the neighborhood next to Idylwood Park.
To the left sat a row of houses, and we pulled into the driveway of the last one before reaching the lakeshore. A string of cars filled the drive. I gazed up at the house. It was hugeâone of what were commonly called McMansions, or starter castles, around these partsâand it had its own private beach access.
As Alex idled the motor, then switched it off, I removed my helmet, shaking my hair free. I swung off the bike, hopping aside, as Alex put down the kickstand and then joined me. We hung the helmets over the handles of the bike andâas I ordered my hair to straighten itself and smooth out the frizzâwe headed for the private beach.
Alex wrapped his arm around my waist. One thing I'd say for himâhe made an attentive boyfriend. I wondered for the umpteenth time why Glenda had let him get away. He was a handful when it came to stubbornness, but in the six weeks we had been going out, I had never once felt neglected. In fact, in some ways, the attention was overwhelming. Togetherness was fun, but too much togetherness left me chafing.
At six one, Alex had me beat by an inch. His wheat-colored hair was tousled and shoulder length, and his eyes were paleâfrosty as an autumn morning. Handsome in a scruffy, rugged way, he also happened to be a vampire. He also happened to be my boss and parole officer, so to speak.
“Where is everybody?” I glanced around, looking for the party site.
“Down at the water's edge. Bette said they had a bonfire going.” His arm still encircling my waist, we headed down the sloped road leading to the shore. There was a gateâof course. Around here, it seemed like everything fun was gated away from the public, for private amusement only. But the gate was open and the sound of laughter filtered up from behind the foliage-thick hedges barring our view.
Within a couple of minutes we found ourselves on the lakeshore. Sure enough, Bette was there, manning the massive grill covered with dogs and burgers. The smells set my stomach to grumbling. Because I couldn't shift form unless I was underwater, and therefore couldn't just fly off to catch and eat a cow every now and then, I found that I had to eat every day, several times a day, just like humans. If I let more than a few hours go by, I was hungry again. That had been one of the most surprising discoveries when I came Earthside.
“I'm going to find Ralph. Go say hello to Bette for us.” Alex gave me a slap on the ass and meandered off into the crowd.
I was slowly getting used to being around crowds. I'd been a loner most of my life, and in the Dragon Reaches, where the population was sparse and I could go for days without seeing anybody, being a loner meant truly being alone. I glanced around, finally steeling myself to wander through the crowd of strangers over to Bette. But the next moment, a familiar voice intruded into my thoughts.
I turned to find Ralph standing there, his Flying Horse energy drink in his hand. The man consumed caffeine like a crazed jackrabbit. He smiled, but I could tell something was unsettling him. The longer I was around others, the more I realized that I was somewhat of an emotional barometer. It was a blue dragon thing, though I hadn't realized it extended beyond my fellow dragons. I wasn't entirely comfortable with the fact that I could walk into a room and sense
that Ralph was irritated at his family, or that Bette was hungering to jump her current boy toy of the month.
Ralph nodded me off to the side. He was around five eight and lanky, with brownish black hair and John Lennon glasses, tinted dark. Good-looking in a geek-chic way, Ralph was also a certified computer genius and a werewolf. Over the past few weeks, his crush on me had abated, especially since Alex and I had gotten together, and now the awkwardness had passed.
“Shimmer, I'm worried about Bette. Where's Alex?” He craned his neck. “I thought I saw you come in together.”
“We did, but he took off towardÂ .Â .Â . hell, I don't know where he went. Is Chai here yet?”
Chai was my best friend. A djinn, he had followed me when I got exiled from the Dragon Reaches. He said it was to see the sights, but I knew he wanted to keep an eye on me. He was a good sort, thoughâlike all djinnsâhe was unpredictable, and he had settled in as my roommate. On the plus side, he did a great job of keeping the place spotless. He also significantly cut down on the heating bill by radiating enough heat when it got chilly to create an ambient temperature. On the downsideÂ .Â .Â . well, there
Ralph shook his head. “Not that I know of. Anyway, Bette's putting on a good show for the public, but I caught her crying earlier, and you know how often
happens. When I asked her what was wrong, she pretended she had an eyelash in her eye, but those were real tears.”
The tone of his voice told me enough that he wasn't exaggerating. I glanced over at the Melusine, wondering how to approach her. Bette was friendly as all get-out, but she was closemouthed when it came to her own vulnerabilities, and she knew how to ward off anybody who got too close to touchy subjects.
Right now, she was flipping burgers onto a plate that Dent, her current boy toy, was holding. Ralph had told me
in private that Dent was a poserâthat he really wasn't all that good at his job but was able to fake his way through. But poser or not, he and Bette had fun, and that was all that mattered.
“I'll corner her and see if I can find out what's going on.” But at that moment, my attention was violently yanked away when Alex's voice thundered over the murmuring of the crowd.
“I swear if you don't get your ass away from me, woman, I'm going to put the fang to you!”
What the hell? I glanced at Ralph, who shook his head. We jogged in the direction of the outburst and as we threaded our way through the crowd and out into the open, I froze.
“Oh crap.” I face-palmed, shaking my head. “I don't want to deal with this right now.”
“You and every other sane person on this planet,” Ralph muttered.
There, standing in front of Alex, one hand on her hip, shaking a finger in Alex's face, was the pleather-clad, red-haired succubus who I had hoped might have fallen off the face of the earth. Alex's ex-girlfriend, Glenda. And Glenda was no Glinda. She was a harpy-tongued bitch, rather than a saccharine-sweet witch, all right.
“You're pond scum, Alex Radcliffe. You're a bottom-feeder. Cocksucker! Motherfucker!”
Alex stared at her, his look flashing between amusement and irritation. “To think I used to kiss that mouth. Glenda, what did you expect? It was a mutual breakup, in my opinion, but it was far too long in coming. Face it, we're done. We were done
ago, but neither one of us had the courage to let go. It was time we said good-bye. You weren't happy, and neither was I.”
He shifted, darting away from her shaking finger. But his casual tone seemed to just fuel her fire.
“I should have drained youâI should have sucked your chi
down to the core.” Her voice had risen higher than I thought possible. Now, everybody was staring at them.
I sidled away, not wanting to draw her attention, but that was a hope gone to hell in a handbasket as I accidentally bumped against one of the guests. In trying to both keep my footing and steady the man I had knocked off balance, I overcompensated in the other direction and wavered, teetering on one foot. In slow motion, like in the movies, I went careening into the pool, gasping as I sank deep beneath the chlorinated brine that masqueraded as water. As I kicked my way to the surface, sputtering, I saw that every head had turned to stare at me.
Alex had an incredulous look on his face. Then, before I could make a move to get out of the pool, he began to laugh, slapping his thigh. “Oh, Shimmer, bless you for breaking up this little farce of a tÃªte-Ã -tÃªte. I needed that laugh. Get out of there, woman, and dry yourself off.”
Glenda gave him a seething look. “How dare you ignore me?” Her hand met his cheek, the slap echoing through the air.
Alex stopped laughing. His eyes turned a dangerous shade of crimson and he let out a low hiss. “Don't you
strike me again, Glenda. Not if you value your breath. I put up with your tantrums for too long, but no more. Hit me again at risk of your life.
Do you understand?
Ten seconds flat turned the easygoing expat Aussie into a deadly predator.
took a step back at his words.
Glenda's eyes widened. “This isn't over, Radcliffe,” she said, but now her voice was shaking, the anger turning to fear. As she swung around, I pulled myself out of the pool and began to wring out my hair, the scent and taste of chlorine making me queasy. “And
Â .Â .Â . you'd better hope we never cross paths in a dark alley. I blame you! You encouraged him. I knew from the start that's what you were out to do.”
I stared at her, my own temper flaring. A cold breeze
rushed through me. “You need to rethink your words, Glenda. You may be a succubus, but let me remind youÂ .Â .Â . you know what I am.” I wasn't in the habit of revealing my nature in front of humansâit wasn't good common sense.
A cruel smile crossed Glenda's face. Apparently, she realized the same thing because very deliberately, she locked my gaze, then snorted. “You're just a neutered dragon.”
As whispers began to race through the crowd, I took a step toward her. I had to defuse the potential damage she had just caused.
“Call me a dragon lady, will you? You're the bitch here.”
She stiffened, but before I could drag her skinny-ass self over to the pool and throw her in, Chai appeared. Over seven feet of gorgeous, muscled golden body, with a jet black high ponytail and sea foamâcolored eyes, the djinn cut a formidable figure. He was wearing a form-fitting V-neck tee and jeans. I envied him his ability to create wardrobe out of wishesâhe could wear anything he wanted without worrying about the cost. But right now, clothes were the last thing on his mind.