Evermine:Daughters of Askara, Book 2

By: Hailey Edwards


“When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching—they are your family.” —Jim Butcher

To my family. Michael and Brown Bear, Mrs. Batchelor and Mrs. King, Dawn and Jennifer, Ella and Annie, Sasha “Legs” Devlin and her kraken, Laniebug and Victoria, Mom and Dad—who compared Evermine to rocky road ice cream.

Chapter One

Earthen Realm, Dempsey Colony

Country music warbled through a battered radio on the shelf behind me. I glanced through the cutout between my kitchen and the dining area, but none of my customers seemed to mind hearing about heartaches and hound dogs, so I let it lie.

“Maddie,” I yelled. “Order up.”

My sister finished marking her notepad, then made a beeline for me.

“You’re still coming over tonight, right?” She plucked napkins from a leaning stack and took the plates from my hands. “I’ve got popcorn, movies galore and China King on speed dial.”

“Sounds like heaven.” And I meant every word. Our girls’ nights came less often these days. Maddie wouldn’t be free if her mate, Clayton Delaney, hadn’t gone off realm, to Askara.

Clayton worked with the freeborn legion, the demon equivalent to the Red Cross. Before Maddie, he’d traveled between this realm and the next often, bringing supplies and medical care to those in need. Now he was content to let others go in his stead, which suited her just fine.

I wasn’t sure what had tempted him off realm this time, and Maddie’s lips were sealed. Huffing bangs from my eyes, I ignored the envious twinge in my chest. Even Clayton’s brother, Harper, wouldn’t spill any of the details. I frowned. Actually, I couldn’t find him to ask.

“Good deal,” she said. “I was hoping we could—”

A metallic screech sliced open my ears as the diner trembled.

I braced on the counter. “What the hell was that?”

“Madelyn,” a masculine voice, raw with pain, roared down the short hall.

“Oh God.” Maddie’s eyes rounded at whatever she saw. The plates she held wobbled, sliding down her arm to shatter as they hit the floor. She ran for all she was worth, past me.

“Marci,” I called for my managing waitress. My apron tangled. I gave up, ripping the neck strap while tugging it over my head. I tossed it to her and made eye contact. “Cover for me.”

“Is something wrong?” She touched my shoulder, but I shrugged her off.

“Don’t know yet.” I sprinted down the hall and out the rear exit, skittering through gravel. Sunlight cost me my vision long enough I heard my sister’s pained cry before I saw her.

Maddie knelt beside Clayton, who sagged against the brick wall opposite the door he’d torn from its hinges to reach my sister. Her pale hands were stained red, and his right wing hung from his shoulder in tatters. Blood pooled at his hip. His black eyes shone with feral intensity, but each stroke of her hand down his cheek lulled his heaving chest into a more even rhythm.

The glamour he wore to appear human had failed. He was operating in full demon mode.

Lucky for us, the gateway between realms stood nearby, and our small colony touched its border. Otherwise, we’d be in for trouble. Evanti demons weren’t what I’d call inconspicuous. They were black-skinned, with matching hair and eyes. The only touches of color on them were their massive carmine-colored wings. Unless aroused, then their dark eyes rimmed with silver.

The way Clayton’s eyes shined for Maddie left few of his intentions to my imagination.

I turned before I saw the stuff of nightmares—my sister and demon-in-law making out.

“He needs Doc River,” a harsh voice grated to my right. “Not sexual healing.”

Dillon, another Evanti demon, stood at my elbow. A wide gash split open his face, made the cheek beneath his bicolored eyes swell. His glamour was intact, as always. I sometimes wondered if even he knew how his natural form looked. Sometimes I forgot he wasn’t human.

That was the point. All Evanti used glamour here. They had to.

Earth might be our salvation, but none of us were fool enough to think humans, en masse, would welcome the knowledge that escaped slaves, winged demons from another realm, had set up colony in this sleepy town at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Not that all of us had wings. Askaran demons, even half breeds like Maddie and me, looked human for the most part.

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