Home > How to Kiss an Undead Bride (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy #7)(14)

How to Kiss an Undead Bride (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy #7)(14)
Author: Hailey Edwards

“Lethe,” I whispered, unable to find my voice.

“We haven’t told anyone. Not even Eva. Especially not Eva. We don’t want her to think she’s responsible.” Lethe stopped in front of the fridge and slumped against the door. “I may not be able to get pregnant without your help, which sounds all sorts of kinky.”

The sultry wink she attempted was ruined by the sheen of tears in her eyes.

Lifting my pocketknife, I flashed the blade. “I’m ready whenever you are.”

“As much as I appreciate your readiness to knock me up, I want to do it the old-fashioned way. Eva has grown faster than we ever dreamed. Thanks to Hood, she’s got a classroom full of peers to help her past each milestone. As far as we’re concerned, there’s no pressure to produce a spare.” She thinned her lips. “I hate that word. Spare. As if second-born children are just placeholders and not contributing members of a family, of a pack.”

“Even with the drama, it sounds like you still want more kids.”

“Truthfully? I would have fifty if I could afford to feed them.”

“Stress could be a factor,” Linus said softly. “It’s clear you’re worried about the pack accepting Eva as your heir. You might unconsciously not want to conceive a child the pack might view as a worthier successor. It’s not unheard of for siblings to fight for the title.”

Ambition could ruin any hope of the siblings bonding, and that would be a misery for their parents.

“I can’t say I haven’t considered that very thing.” Lethe ground the heels of her palms into her eyes. “I don’t want Eva to have to fight for every scrap of respect she’s given. We all do, when the time comes, but she’s a kid. Other kids—older kids—are already picking on her when there are no adults around, and I can’t do a damn thing about it without exacerbating the issue. I don’t want her brother or sister to become an enemy.”

“You’re doing the best you can for Eva.” I had no doubt of that. “You’ve had her in self-defense classes since she was a toddler.”

Eva took ballet and Brazilian jiu-jitsu twice a week. Half the time, she was the pinkest, frilliest, girliest girl in the world, and the other half she was in a black gi with blood in her eye. Her parents chose the style for its emphasis on ground fighting, a necessary skill to avoid being penned beneath an attacker, and Eva was a natural. Even at her age, I pitied anyone who took her on and thought it would be an easy win.

“Please don’t let it drag you down this close to your wedding. I didn’t intend to mention it at all since Hood and I decided to let nature take its course. I don’t want you to feel bad or guilty or sad.” Shoving off the fridge, she let a growl rev up her throat. “Gwyllgi are such freaking gossips. Always speculating. Always looking for a weakness to exploit. Always begging me to kick their asses. Ugh.”

A text caught Linus’s attention, and he checked his phone before putting it away. “We should go if we’re going to catch Boaz after we patrol.”

Lethe made gagging noises. “Why on earth are you trying to catch up with Bo-ass?”

“He interrogated a couple of vamps for us.” I skimmed over the details since she hadn’t been interested in them earlier, not that I could blame her with worry for Eva preying on her mind. “We need to pick up our results. That’s all.”

Gawking at us, she pegged me with a stare. “You didn’t handle it personally?”

“Hello?” I lifted the empty bag and shook it. “Churros? They were hot and fresh.” I crumpled the paper into a ball. “They would have been cold and sad if I’d interrogated the vamps first.”

“Oh, well, that’s totally understandable. Churros just don’t reheat well, you know? I thought about picking up an air fryer to see if that helps. Then I could buy in bulk from Esteban and keep them in the fridge. The one in my room, not the one in the kitchen, obviously.”

“If you do, report back. I’ve been curious about those too.”

Linus cleared his throat.

“I’ll let you know what we find out,” I promised her, taking the hint. “See you at dawn.”

Twenty minutes later, the vast presence that was Savannah’s consciousness tickled my senses when I stepped out of Moby and onto the street. She had decided it was great fun to shadow me while I worked, and I enjoyed the company. I think she did too.

Patrol was my favorite part of any given night. Not only did it feel good to keep the city and her citizens safe, but it gave me an excuse to scout locations for my Haints. As it happened, Linus wasn’t the only one who went the franchise route. Cricket just had no idea Haint Behavin’ operated in Savannah, catering to supernaturals rather than her human clientele. How Cruz managed the legal jargon for that one, I had no clue, but I had loved being a Haint, and it made me smile to know I still was one.

And, since I could see ghosts and sense spiritual energies, business was booming. I wished I had more time to be directly involved in the day-to-day running of the business, but Marit had things well in hand. So well, in fact, she had banned me from the Haints until Linus and I returned from our honeymoon.

Our secret honeymoon, the one detail of this whole wedding Linus refused to surrender.

“You’re brooding.”

Yanked out of my thoughts, I glanced over at the shadowy presence by my side. “Maybe a little.”

“Lethe?”

“Nope.”

“Eva?”

“Also nope.”

“Boaz?”

“Definitely not.” I scuffed the soles of my shoes against the pavement. “I was thinking I miss leading tours every night, talking up Savannah’s history—the spooky side of it, anyway—that kind of thing. I wish there were more hours in the night, so I could do both.”

“I didn’t have a life in Atlanta until after I assembled my team.”

“You think I should organize one here?”

“It helps to spread the work across several shoulders. The potentate is always the official, but having deputies, for lack of a better word, makes the city safer and your life easier.”

I tapped a finger on my bottom lip. “If only there was someone who could help me with the logistics...”

“If only,” he agreed dryly.

A scraping noise kept me from flirting back, the rattle and clang of metal on asphalt too loud to ignore.

“We’ve got company.” A distinct thrill zinged down my spine that whispered vampire. “Cletus, if you don’t mind?”

The wraith peeled away from the shadows overhead and circled around behind his target. Through our bond, I watched the vampire drag a steel baseball bat behind him in an invitation to get physical.

Without saying a word to Linus, I led the vampire off the beaten path to avoid being seen by humans.

The vampire followed, his bat making an ear-splitting racket that would wake anyone nearby if we didn’t get him silenced quickly. After checking to make sure I had room to maneuver, I turned to wait on him.

“You’re prettier than he said you would be.” He lifted the bat, rested it on his shoulder. “For now.”

“Aww. Thanks.” Using my pocketknife, I sliced across my palm. “You’re not so bad looking yourself.” The coppery scent of my blood hitting the air dilated his eyes. “Now that we’ve gotten the compliments out of the way, what do you want?”

“You.”

“I’m spoken for. Sorry about that.”

“You’ve got a mouth on you.” He bared his fully extended fangs. “I like that.”

Goons must study from the same How to Insult Women for Total Morons handbook. “Who hired you?”

Done playing with me, he charged. I didn’t move except to draw a sigil on my forearm that solidified the air around me into an impenetrable barrier. He hit it, bounced off, and landed on his butt. Hissing, he leapt to his feet and tried again. I probably shouldn’t have yawned to show my boredom, or faked buffing my nails on my shirt, but I was high on sugar and feeling no pain.

The vampire couldn’t say the same as Linus materialized from the darkness, his moonlit scythe gleaming, and hooked the curved edge around the vampire’s throat. “She asked you a question.”

After spitting at me, the vampire stilled. “You can take your questions and shove them up your—”

Linus kept his tone light. “Finish that thought, and it will be your last.”

“I’m going to live forever.”

“No.” I hated to break it to him. “You’re really not.” I reopened the wound on my palm then dipped my index finger in blood. Careful of Linus’s blade, I swiped a paralytic sigil on the vampire’s throat to freeze him from that point down. Potentates definitely got all the cool toys. “You might have made it a few more centuries if you hadn’t been a total idiot, but now we’ll never know.”

“Bitch,” he howled. “What did you do to me?”

“Nothing yet.” I drew a sigil on his forehead to force the truth out of him. “Cooperate, and I’ll walk away.” Behind him, Linus lowered his weapon but kept it in his hand at the ready while I activated the magic. “How does that feel?”

“The smell of your blood makes me hungry,” he said dazedly. “I want to drain you.”

“Yeah, I have that effect on vampires.” I tried again. “What is the nickname your mother called you?”

“Tiddlywinks.” He blinked, almost in slow motion. “I was a bedwetter, and she thought it was funny.”

Mommy issues, ahoy!

No grown man would admit that, so I felt good about the sigil’s effectiveness.

“Now that we’re all best friends, tell me who sent you.”

“Danill Volkov.”

“Why did he send you?”

“To break your legs.”

“Ouch.” Sympathy pangs radiated through my kneecaps. “That would have hurt.”

   
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