Carnival of Darkness (FaeTAL Series Book 1) (9 page)

“You knew what would happen. I’m not a man you want to fuck with or disappoint.”

With that, I close my claw around his throat, squeezing until his head rolls free from his body. Blood pools around my knees, tempting me to drink. To eat and enjoy my kill.

The growl that erupts from me is as far from human as possible. It’s pure evil. Filled with the absolute intent to make the traitor pay.


Still no luck in finding me? I left a big ass HEY LOOKIE HERE for ya. I’d say you need a better IT guy in your ranks, my man.

What in all of Danu is an
guy? The men behind me, my warriors, snicker under their breath like a bunch of little girls. Men that are usually so good about showing me the respect my station demands, even if I am not so happy about it. Oh bloody hell... did I say that out loud? Turning to face them, my jaw rigged in frustration and anger, I raise my eyebrow and wait. If I spoke aloud, then they will damn well answer me.

A throat clears roughly. “Uh well, sire. It’s, uh, IT.”

“I bloody well know how to spell it, Kace. Get to the point.” My growl has him stepping back, hands raised in surrender. I have to get control over my emotions, going off on my brothers for no reason is unacceptable.

“I know you know how to spell, King.” Brad chuckles, leave it to him to be the one to step up and face my ire.

I grunt and wait on him to continue.

“It’s IT, not it. IT as in Information Technology. You know: computers, cell phones, security systems… anything electronic. This dickweed is mocking us, saying that our resources suck and we need to upgrade our shit as well as hire on a specialist.”

“Ah, I see.” Well, mainly, not that I am going to allow them the knowledge that I am confused by the terminology. “He may be a, as you say, dickweed, however, he does have a point. Why have we been unable to find one measly man? He states that he has left us a
hey lookie here
-” I pause when the big oafs chuckle again. “As I was saying, if he has left such a thing, should we not know who he is and how to contact him by now?”

Grabbing the keyboard, I respond to the man’s message.

Apparently that is so. We have yet to find even one trace of you, which is unsettling to say the least. Why do you not just call us, explain yourself, and ask for whatever it is that you require?

The response is almost instantaneous. My cell phone, the brand new one that I was guaranteed would be secure, rings in my pocket. You must be joking. Clicking the speakerphone button, I place the phone on the round table in our war-room.

“Well, excuse the hell outta me. I didn’t realize you wanted to talk instead of text, my man. I would have called long before now.”

Clearing my throat, I make eye contact with each of my men seated around the conference table. My unspoken question is written clear as day on my face; how do they want to proceed and are they with me? Each man nods in agreement, we will find this man one way or another. Brad cracks his knuckles and grins. Kace’s fingers bang on the keys of his laptop as he attempts to trace the call.

“And you can tell your boy over there to stop trying to trace my call. Only way you’re gonna find me is if I let you. And I’m not ready for that just yet. Need to have a quick little talk first, make sure we’re all on the same page.”

Kace looks up, shaking his head and shrugs his shoulders. “He’s right, I’ve got nothing, boss.”

“Then I suppose I am listening. Get to your point quickly before I lose what little patience I have left at this point.”

“Alrighty then. At least you’re honest. Those freaky ass creatures I sent you to before, the Fallen you called them, I know where more are. I don’t have all the information I’d like to have before I contacted you, but things have escalated, and my man on the inside isn’t safe there anymore. He took down two of these fucking things earlier tonight. Once I got off the phone with him I pulled up my surveillance on the place and found a whole damn nest of the fucking things! I didn’t get a full count, but I saw at least three possibly four more holed up in an abandoned building near the back of the carnival. He’s been undercover for six month working on a kidnapping case. While some seriously fucked up shit happens at this place, these damn things take it to a new level and are killing off people. I don’t like the thought of my man in there dealing with them on his own. That’s where you come in. Get in, get rid of the group of these things I’ve tracked there, and get the fuck out. No one can know I sent you or everything we have worked for these last few months is blown to hell and back.”

My jaw hardens as he finishes his explanation. I do not take orders well. Even before I was the fucking King of the Fae, I was the leader of the FaeTAL warriors. I have been the one giving the orders for as long as I care to remember.

“Why do you think that we will do as you request?” I am honestly intrigued. Ready to see what his answer will be. What could this human possibly have that would make us do his bidding?

“Why do I- oh you have got to be fucking kidding me! For fucks sake, I just told you that these things are killing people off at the local goddamn carnival and you are worried about why I want you to take them out? Do I need a fucking reason? Do I need a goal? Because I don’t fucking have one! All I have is a whole hell of a lot of anger and frustration over a situation that I can’t do a damn thing about. I’m not even in the damn state. I’m hours away and my man is on his own. I’ve seen you hunt these damn things. Why is it so hard to believe that I just want you to do your fucking job and keep these people safe? I don’t gain a fucking thing from this, other than my man happens to be one of the people you’d be keeping safe.”

“Why all the secrecy, the cloak and dagger shit?” Brad speaks up.

“Well, okay. Yeah, you got me. That was just fun. I mean really, a security company whose server is so easy to hack that I have the owner's address, phone numbers and any other information I want in minutes. I’m a hacker man, how couldn’t I?”

Kace snorts and nods. “He’s got a point. I suck at this shit, and even I would have been tempted to mess with you, boss.”

Clearing my throat to try to hold in my chuckle and keep my face void of any emotion, I make my decision. “First, let me say that we will take care of the Fallen at this carnival. As you so plainly said, it is what we do and we do it well. However, I will require that you cease with the mystery and tell me who you are. If you are lucky, we may even come to an agreement. Apparently, I have a need for your services at my company.”

“Sounds fair. I guess I should apologize for having a little fun with ya, but seriously, your system was way too damn easy to get into. My name is Mac and if your boy over to your left…” My head shoots up and I glare around the room. “Oh, uh, did I forget to mention that I have access to your security cameras as well as that webcam on his laptop? Yeah, again, you need better security on your tech stuff man. As I was sayin’, if your boy looks at his screen I’m pulling up some info you might like to have on me. I’m a bounty hunter and I think we could really work well together. I promise, no more sneaky shit. I’ll even back out of your system if ya want.”

“It seems a bit late for that offer. However, I would like to bring you here. Have you update our systems and show Kace how to keep us where we need to be. This is unacceptable and I will not allow it to continue. How quickly can you be here? I can send my jet for you if you would like.”

A strangled cough comes through the phone and echoes through the room. “Uh, yeah. I can do that. Sure. If you send your jet out to Atlanta, Georgia I can leave as soon as it’s here. I don’t have any jobs that need my attention right now.”

“Then it is a plan. The jet should arrive in the next few hours. I will send Kace to accompany you. This way you may begin training him on the trip here. Once you are here we shall see about helping your undercover agent.”

I shut off the phone before he has the chance to answer. What the fuck have I gotten us into now?




I ease into the dream world, my mind still reeling from the day and all that I’ve been through in such a short amount of time. Where is my cowboy? Why didn’t he come to me today? I just knew he would. I had no doubt in my mind that he would help me today. I kept reaching out with my mind, sending silent messages begging him to make it stop. To get me out of here.

But he never came. No matter how hard I begged.

The dream world looks different this time. It’s darker. Almost as if a deep sadness permeates the surrounding air. I’m surrounded by the same rolling hills and flowers. The horses are still running rampant through the grass, without a care in the world. While things seem the same, there is definitely something off. The sun doesn’t seem as bright. The air is thicker, and the smell– it’s wrong. Instead of the sweet aroma of fresh grass and flowers, there is a hint of a storm in the air.

Looking around for my cowboy, I’ve given up on thinking of him as anything else. I let out a little sigh when I see him sprawled out on a hill a little ways away.

“Cowboy,” I let out on a hiccup of relief. I need to see this man, have him hold me, if only in a dream. His head pops up and his eyes lock onto me.

“Oh, my sweet Red.” He shakes his head, as if he were trying to shake me from the dream. “Why’d you have to come here again? Ain’t I been tortured enough for one damn night?”

He lies his head back down on the ground, his eyes going to the quickly darkening clouds above us. Slowly, careful of my left side and leg, I walk to where he rests.

“Sorry if me being here bothers you, cowboy. I didn’t have a choice in the matter if that helps. But, I’m glad I’m here. With you.”

Biting my lip to keep from crying out at the intense pain, I ease myself to the ground beside him. I make it about halfway down when a whimper breaks free. Before I know what hit me, I’m in his arms. My butt resting comfortably on his lap. His strong hands holding me surprisingly gentle and careful. As if he is afraid I’m going to break at any moment. Which, heck, I just might. I’m not sure how much more punishment my poor body can take.

“Oh sweetling, what have they done?”

“I-they...” I can’t say it. I can’t get out the god-awful things I went through that day. The tears I feel pressing against the backs of my eyes pour down my cheeks and my sobs wrack my body so hard that the pain in my ribs intensifies. When I finally get my sobs down to a small hiccup, the only words that come out are the ones I know that I shouldn’t say. The ones that are going to hurt him. Cut him the deepest. “Why didn’t you save me, cowboy?”

His head jerks back like a physical blow impacted him. His jaw hardens. His eyes go a deeper shade of green, almost glowing. The storm breaks and thunder echoes around us.

“I…” He coughs and looks away, no longer meeting my eyes with his intense gaze. “I couldn’t. I’m so damn sorry sweetling. I wish I could have. But I just fucking couldn’t.”

His hand on my hip bites into my side as his fist clenches. I cry out and pull away.

“Fuck!” His hands go in the air, no longer touching me at all. He’s acting like I’m scared of him. I may not fully understand why, but I trust him. At least here in the dream world. “What did they do, sweetling? I need to know. Fuck me sideways, I don’t want to know, but I need to hear it. I need to take the pain from you and hearing it will help with that. Promise.”

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