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The Obsidian Order eBook Bundle (Books 1-4)

The Obsidian Order eBook Bundle (Books 1-4)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2,500+ 5-Star Reviews Series-Wide

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "Thrilling read - 6 star rating!!" ~ GOODREADS REVIEWER.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "I really love these authors. The mfc seline is hilarious and I love the hate love dynamic between her and the mmc." - AMAZON REVIEWER

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "I loved it from beginning to end & couldn't put it down until it was finished." - AMAZON REVIEWER

You won't find this offer anywhere else.

From USA TODAY Bestselling Author Katerina Martinez.

If you love a thrilling, action-packed, gritty urban fantasy that gets steamier and steamier as you read it, then this is your series! 

WHAT'S INCLUDED: 4 books, over 200,000 words of tense, steamy paranormal romance which forms part of a greater shared universe.

✔ Enemies-to-lovers
✔ Slow burn
✔ Shared universe
✔ Forced proximity
✔ Meaningful spice

Other series in the universe: the Devil of Harrowgate, the Wardbreaker


Reclaim my memories. Pass my trials. Stay Alive 

As long as I can keep my supernatural origins hidden, my life is simple. It’s just my best friend and me against the world, eating dried Ramen and peas, watching reality TV, and laying low in the city that never sleeps.

That is until Draven, a dangerously attractive hunter, tracks me down and kidnaps me. He’s with the Obsidian Order, and he gives me a choice: join their ranks or die. All I have to do is pass a series of deadly trials at their Academy, competing against a bunch of supernaturals who want me dead. Sounds easy, right?

There’s one problem with that; I have no memories of my past, which means I don’t have the skills to compete. Whatever magic I have inside of me better come out fast, because I’ve been promised my best friend will die if I fail, and if we both die, the secret we’re carrying could fall into the wrong hands.

Then it’s all over.


Chapter 1

The last thing I wanted to do tonight was fight a balding Naga in some dingy apartment in the middle of Brooklyn, but it looked like that was on the agenda. It was bad enough that I’d had to spend most of the last 10 years dodging Fiends, recruiters from different Orders, and hostile native supernaturals, but having to also fight creatures from my own world was a real pain in the balls.

I spun around in time to watch a ball of black magic curl toward me and strike me in the chest. The impact sucked the air out of my lungs, and the force of the explosion tossed me through a door and across someone’s living room like I was weightless, but I hit the floor like a rock. I was sure I’d heard something crack—I’d feel that in the morning, assuming I lived through this—but I was alive for now, at least. 

Debris and shattered glass crunched underneath me as I rolled onto my back and stared up at the cracked ceiling and moldy walls, wondering why in the hell it had to be tonight.  

“Sssssseline,” came a voice from the shifting dark, the in my name drawn out like a hiss. “Why do you always run from me?” 

I turned to my side and blinked hard, trying to stand. “New phone,” I called out, groaning the words as I hoisted myself upright, “Who ‘dis?” He’d gotten stronger since the last time we’d crossed paths, but I liked pissing him off by pretending I didn’t know who he was.

Dust and glittering motes of magic residue billowed, whirling around the figure advancing slowly toward me. “You think you’re really funny,” he said, his serpentine voice lingering in the air, “We’ll see how funny you are when I’ve ripped that tongue out of your pretty little mouth.” 

“Sheesh, take a girl to dinner, first.” 

“Enough talk,” he said, swiping his hand through the air, “We had a deal, and now it’s time for you to live up to your end.” 

I took a step back as a man emerged from the dust and shimmering magic. On earth we all looked like humans, the glamor made sure of that. But some of us outsiders couldn’t totally hide our otherness; like this poor bastard, for example. Short, bristly black hair desperately clung to his scalp. He was wearing cowboy boots, acid-wash jeans, and a white wife-beater underneath a New York Yankees letter jacket that looked like it was wearing him. To the casual observer, and assuming no one paid him much attention, he’d fit right in with the rest of humanity.

Get a little closer to him, though, and you’d notice that not only were his eyes spaced a little too far apart, they had an almost reflective, amber sheen to them which made them look entirely wrong. He also couldn’t help but flick the air with his ridiculously long, forked tongue from time to time, which made me feel things I probably shouldn’t be feeling at a time like this and in his presence, especially considering he looked every bit like the wiry, gaunt reptile that he was. 

His name was Abvat, he was one of the Naga—serpent-kin—and judging by the look on his face, he’d very much like to kill me and wear my skin. Nothing new there. Abvat and I went back a bit.

“Are those my only options?” I asked. “Give you what you want or die?”

Abvat’s scowl twisted into a confused frown. He angled his head to the side. “Yes,” he said, slowly shaking his head like I’d just asked the world’s stupidest question. “They are. I thought I made it pretty clear when I said—just shut up and give it to me.”

I patted my leather jacket down and shook the dust out of my white-blond hair, then I sighed. “C’mon, man, can’t we do this another time? I’m in a hurry and in a really good mood tonight.” 

His expression hardened again, and he reached into his jacket. “No!” he snapped, “The time for… waiting… is over. You will give me what I want, or I will end your life.” 

It was at this point that the person who lived in the apartment we’d mostly destroyed started to scream. She was wrapped in a pink towel, her hair was soaking wet, and she was holding a lead pipe in her hand—the kind you keep in every room in the house when you live in a shithole apartment like this one. I hadn’t realized there was someone in here until now, and neither had Abvat. 

With the same rapid motion, he drew a revolver from his pocket and aimed it at the woman. I, meanwhile, grabbed a skull-shaped ash tray filled with cigarette butts and hurled it at him. The skull sailed through the air, collided with his arm, and the gun went off, but the bullet sailed wide of the screaming woman, taking a bite out of the plasterboard wall instead. 

I took the opening and hurled myself at him, wrestling him for control of the gun which went off again, and again, and again, making my ears ring. A swift elbow to the stomach made him keel over and allowed me to rip the gun from his hand, which I aimed at him, victoriously. 

“Aha!” I yelled, backing up a few paces, but Abvat didn’t seem fazed by the fact that I was holding the gun. 

He lunged at me, his eyes gleaming, his hands bristling with magic—the very same magic he’d used to propel me through the front door of this apartment which wasn’t there anymore. I pulled the trigger, but the gun only clicked. Empty. “Oh, come on!” I said, despairing.

Abvat charged into me with all the power of a line-backer, picking me up and carrying me across the room, then shoving me through the window on the other side. The glass smashed behind me, but I was able to hold my hands out against the frame to keep from falling to the cold, Brooklyn streets below me. 

In my mind I begged myself not to turn my head, but I couldn’t keep my own advice and as soon as I turned my eyes down, vertigo set in and made the entire world start spinning. On the street below there were the tops of yellow cabs, black umbrellas, and the lights from many storefronts. On the gantry next to me I noticed a cat, a silver tabby, curiously staring at me, not really fazed by what was going on.

Abvat wrapped one of his hands around the collar of my leather jacket and pulled me closer to him. The other hand he wound back behind his head like he was about to toss one hell of a curve-ball, only the ball cupped in his hand was made of shifting blackness filled with crackling, crimson lightning—that was some dark, Naga magic right there, and I didn’t want to be anywhere near it.

“Where is it, Seline!” Abvat hissed, “No more games!” 

“I don’t know where it is!” I yelled, “Don’t you think I’d give it to you if I had it?” 

“No, I don’t, obviously.” 

“Fair point… I probably wouldn’t. But I really don’t have it, I swear.”

“What is your word worth?” he snarled, “What is your life worth? You have no kin in this world, no memories of your own world, and no power. You are trash. Tell me why I shouldn’t kill you anyway and be done with you.” 

For an instant the entire world came to a standstill. I watched him, saw the weathered—almost scaly—lines on his gaunt, olive-skinned face, then I saw myself reflected in his eyes. This pale, skinny woman with hair so white it almost glittered on sunny days like it was made of ice, eyes the color of the sky on a clear, bright, winter’s day, and a look on her face that couldn’t hide the truth in everything she’d just heard. I wasn’t from this world, and while I knew about the world I came from, I didn’t know anything about who I was, who my family was, or even what I was. I’d reach for my memories, only to find them gone.

I was a nobody in a Ramone’s t-shirt. Trash.

“I…” I didn’t have a comeback for that. No witty retort, no repartee. I just stared at him, doe-eyed.

Then something hit him across the back of the head so hard his eyes widened and crossed each other before tilting into his skull. His grip on my collar loosened, then slackened entirely. The ball of magic in his hand faded to flecks of black ash that dissipated into the wind, and Abvat collapsed to the floor, unconscious. 

Behind him stood the woman, the owner of the apartment, tightly clasping the towel around her chest with one hand, and the lead pipe with which she’d felled Abvat with the other. She was shaking, probably form the cold, probably from adrenaline—likely from both. I pulled my upper half through the window, then gave myself a moment to relax once my feet were firmly on solid ground.

“Asshole almost tossed me out,” I muttered to myself, shaking the vertigo off. 

She brought the lead pipe up again, ready to swing it at me. “Stay back!” she warned, “I’m calling the cops!” 

I glanced around her at the destruction mine and Abvat’s visit had caused in her apartment. I regretted having ducked into an apartment building to begin with, but I’d thought it was the best way to be rid of the little snake. He was skinny and not very smart, but I had a tendency to underestimate him, and he’d gotten the better of me. Now this woman’s apartment was… unlivable.

I sighed and put my hands up. “I’m sorry about your place,” I said.

The woman stared at me, her pipe-arm shaking from the weight of it. “Who are you?” she asked, stammering her words. 

“My name is Seline,” I said, “And this… thing… isn’t my friend. He’s been chasing me.” 

“Why—why’d you come here?” 

I shook my head. “Just the luck of the draw, lady. Could’ve been anyone’s apartment.” I went to reach into my jacket, but she looked like she was about to hit me with the pipe, so I stopped. “I’m just gonna get something from my pocket,” I said, “It was meant to be for me… I was gonna surprise my roommate with it. Mind if I…?” 

Her eyes moved from mine, to my hand, to the unconscious Naga on the floor of her place, then back to my eyes. By the time her stare had locked onto me again, I’d retrieved what I’d wanted to get. 

“Wh—what is that?” she asked.

I looked at the little strip held between my fingers. “It’s a lottery ticket,” I said, “My roommate and I play it every week, same two numbers. Tonight, ours came up, I was hurrying home to tell her.” 

Her expression hardened into something uncertain, distrustful.

I shut my eyes and extended my hand with the ticket in it. “Take it,” I said, “It’s good for three grand… go someplace else tonight, tell your landlord your place got broken into.” 

Fate and I could’ve used the money we’d just won. It wasn’t much, but when you were being paid under the table like I was, and you had to pay rent, bills, and eat on that income, three thousand dollars could make a world of difference. Fate and I, at least, had a working front door and windows we could close to keep the cold out. This woman didn’t.

A few moments passed, and the ticket hadn’t been plucked from my hand. “Please take it,” I insisted, “This guy’s gonna wake up soon, and we want to be out of here before he does.” 

The woman tentatively took the slip, and while my chest filled with warmth at having done the right thing, I couldn’t help but feel the acid reflux of disappointment burn my throat. Lucky for me, I had Abvat I could take that disappointment out on. I opened my eyes, took a deep breath, and exhaled. 

“You should get changed,” I said, “Take all your valuables with you.” 

The woman scoffed. “I’m a thirty-six-year-old single woman renting a shitty apartment in Brooklyn. What valuables?” 

I nodded and started edging across the room. “Yep, true… well, I’m gonna take off…” 

“Hey, wait a second—what about him?” 

“Don’t worry about him. Just grab your stuff and go, by the time he wakes up we’ll be gone.” 

She looked at me, puzzled, then winced like she’d just been hit with a migraine. That’s Abvat’s magic at work—even unconscious he can still hurt people. “But he’ll… he’s gonna… won’t he…?” she asked, confusion already clouding her speech.

“Just go!” I yelled.

The woman stared at me as clarity regained control of her mind, then she did as I asked, disappearing into the bedroom and reappearing less than five minutes later, fully clothed and with a bag of stuff, ready to go. I’d decided to wait at the other end of the hall and watch her leave, making sure she got away without any trouble, and she did. Nobody had called the cops yet, no landlord had shown up, not even the neighbors were getting involved, despite the ruckus.

That’s Brooklyn for you.

I walked across the apartment’s front door and looked inside. There was Abvat, still unconscious. The thought of killing him had crossed my mind, but I wasn’t a murderer, and killing him while he couldn’t defend himself would’ve been murder. There was nothing in my code of ethics, though, that kept me from taking the contents of his wallet. 

I’d buy Chinese takeout for Fate and I with the money I found inside, for my trouble. That’d just be another thing for him to be pissed about the next time we meet, but whatever, he could tack it onto the mountain of other things he already didn’t like me for. I straightened up, breathed deep, and took a curious glance through the broken window next to me. 

That’s when I saw it. It was little more than a shadow, though in the city that never sleeps, shadows that didn’t belong were dark and deep, and this one had caught my eye even when I hadn’t been looking directly at it. I moved to the window and stared across the street, at the roof of the building directly opposite. There was nothing there, now; only clothes lines with sheets fluttering in the wind.  But a moment ago, I was as sure as I could possibly be, there had been a man there, and he’d been watching me.

Chapter 2

I hadn’t been living in this city, or even in this world, for very long, but I knew well the kind of bad reputation these streets had at night and how dangerous they could be. Especially if you happened to be a skinny woman with hair so white it almost had a glow of its own. Lucky for me, no one ever seemed to pay me any attention provided I wasn’t doing anything to attract it. Human eyes just… skimmed past me like I wasn’t even there.

But there were more dangers than humans that stalked this world, and those creatures—I called them the natives—well, hiding from them was right up there on the list of survival rules for one of my kind. Vampires, witches, shifters, they’d always been hostile to me before getting to know me. Dealing with them was an uphill battle, which was why I walked quietly where I could, keeping my hair tucked underneath my hoody, though always curling a few strands around my fingertips. 

If there was one thing I didn’t like it was the dark, and in a city with so many lights, there were many shadows in which predators could, and did, hide; and tonight didn’t feel right. I hurried home, sticking to the well-lit parts of the street and zipping quickly in and out of subway stations. By the time I reached my apartment building, a fine mist had drifted in from the harbor, transforming every single light around me into luminescent orbs and all but swallowing the sounds of life outside of my immediate surroundings. 

This only made the feeling worse, but I pushed on.

Fate was waiting for me upstairs; that is to say, she was exactly where I’d left her, sitting on the couch watching cooking shows. As I walked through the door, I caught the tail end of a conversation between two would-be chefs admiring the work of a third. I wasn’t sure what in the hell they were cooking, but it had way too many eyes for my liking. 

“I know, I know,” I said, shutting the door, “You’re hungry. I’m sorry. I got held up.” 

Fate didn’t reply. I could only see her feet hanging off the side of the couch. She was wearing odd knee-high socks and laying on the floor beneath them were a pair of black, studded, combat boots. I set the food down on the kitchen counter—our apartment wasn’t fancy enough to have a living room and a separate kitchen, or even two bedrooms—and walked around the couch to find Fate as pale as a ghost, eyes closed, her chest still.

“Oh, shit, no!” My heart leapt into my throat. I threw myself to my knees beside her, took her hand—cold, too cold—and then started tapping her face. Too pale, too cold, too still. “Shit. Fate, wake up, Fate… Fate!” 

She opened her eyes and took a deep breath all at once, startling me so hard I fell flat on my ass beside the couch. Fate blinked, then turned her wide, silver eyes on me. “What?” she asked, like I’d just rudely woken her up from a blissful nap. 

I ran my fingers through my hair and let my hood fall. “I—I thought you were dead…” 

More blinking, then she coughed to clear her throat. “Doesn’t look like it.” 

“Are you… alright?” 

Fate tried to sit upright, but winced almost immediately—pain, or tiredness, or both shooting through her the way I knew it did. “Shit!” she yelled, her voice filling the tiny apartment.

I reached for her hand and took it, soothing her skin with my thumb. She was still too cold, but her heartbeat was there, at least. “Keep still,” I said, “Take a sec, breathe…” 

She scoffed but didn’t say anything, instead choosing to take my advice and breathe. This wasn’t the first time I’d found Fate for all intents and purposes dead. She was sick. Let me rephrase that, Fate was always sick. I didn’t know why, and neither did she, the best we could come up with was this was some side effect of our transition from the other place we came from, to Earth. 

We both knew that we weren’t human, and yet we had human bodies. We looked, sounded, and even behaved like humans. There was some magic at work that made it so humans couldn’t tell us from any other person on the street, even if they were to get close to us. Something about us made them nervous and distrustful. It was a blessing and a curse, really. On the one hand I didn’t have any human friends. Not one. On the other hand, I never had to wait in line for anything—people seemed to just get out of my way and let me get ahead of them, like I gave off serial-killer vibes.

When Fate found her strength again, she sat upright and shook the stiffness out of her joints. “Ooh, that smells good,” she said, sniffing the air, “What’d you get us?” 

I smiled at her, then walked over to the kitchen counter and started unpacking. “Chinese,” I said.

“Double ooh. Whose fortune did we inherit tonight that we can afford Chinese food?” 

I considered telling her what had happened with the three grand we’d won, but then thought better of it. She was already sick, I didn’t want to upset her, too. “Just came into some money.” 

“Did you, now? And did this happen before or after we spoke on the phone earlier today?” 

“You ask too many questions, you know that?” 

“If I didn’t ask so many questions, neither of us would be living the life of luxury we live now.” 

“Pft. You call this luxury?” 

“Hey, we’re eating take-out instead of dried noodles and peas again. It’s pretty luxurious.” 

I brought the food over to the coffee table in front of the couch, then settled down next to Fate. She was a tiny, wiry little thing, barely an inch over five foot, and even paler than I was, if you could believe it. Ghost grey hair, poker straight and streaked through with strands of color, fell in a neat bob to frame her elfin face, but the most striking thing about her was her eyes. They were almond shaped and silver; like two black dots swimming in pools of shifting mercury.

“You’re staring again,” she said. 

I snapped out of it and blinked rapidly. “Sorry… I did it again, didn’t I?” 

“Yep. Not that I don’t appreciate you longingly staring into my eyes, but I’m hungry.” 

“I wasn’t staring longingly.” 

“Sure, you weren’t.” She tapped the side of her nose, grinning, then picked one of the foam containers up and started tucking in with a pair of chopsticks. “So, how’d it go?” she asked between stuffed mouthfuls. For a small thing, she ate like a wildebeest. 

“How’d what go?” I asked. 

“Did we win?” 

“Oh… no. We didn’t.” I’d forgotten she knew about the ticket—today was lottery day.

“Dammit. We never win. To think of all the money we spend on tickets, money we could probably spend on…” 

“Real fruits and vegetables?” 

“Until I can think of something better, sure, let’s go with that. Crap. You’d think with my name I’d have a little more luck with stuff like this.” 

I gave her a sidelong glance. “Do you really know for sure Fate is your real name?” 

She shrugged. “Is Seline yours?” 

“Feels like it could be.” 

“We have this discussion at least once a week, and we’ve been on this world for ten years. Are we getting boring?” 

“I hate to break it to you, but people who live under the radar like us have to live boring lives.” 

Fate’s eyes narrowed. She swallowed what she’d been chewing, then reached for my hair, and plucked a tiny shard of glass out. “And yet, this suggests something exciting happened to you.” 

Ah crap. “It’s nothing.” 

“Are you hurt?” 

“What? No. I’m fine.”

“What happened to you?” 

“Fate… nothing happened.” 

She examined me more closely. “You’ve got a tiny cut on your head.” 

My hand went up to the spot she was looking at, fingers brushing against what could’ve been a cut, but one that had already started to scab over. “We don’t need to talk about it, okay?”  

“It was him, wasn’t it? He found you?” 

“Fate, please. I’ve handled it.” 

She set her food down on the table and crossed her arms in front of her chest. “I don’t understand why you’re always trying to leave me out of stuff, like you don’t think I can handle even knowing about the shit that happens to you.” 

“It’s not that.” 

“Then what is it?” 

I sighed deeply. “Look, you’re not always okay… I know how fragile you can be, and I don’t want you to have to worry about me, too.” 

Fragile?” she asked, her voice rising an octave. “Listen very closely. We may not remember much about what happened before we fell through a rift and into this world, but the one thing we do agree on is that saved your life. I’m not fragile, and the fact that you’d say that—”

A bout of coughing cut her sentence in half. The sound was terrible, like her chest was filling up with water. She started shaking, and without thinking about it, I wrapped her up in my arms, rubbed her back, and whispered soothing words into her ear, helping her fight through the worst of it. Slowly, after maybe a minute or two, the coughing died down, and Fate relaxed into my shoulder. 

“Are you okay?” I whispered, still rubbing her back. 

“I think so…” she said, her voice croaky and hoarse. 

I grabbed a bottle of water from the coffee table and handed it over to her. Fate drank, and as I watched her, I noted how the fight had completely left her. She was still shaking a little, still uncomfortable, probably still in some pain—pain the medicine of this world couldn’t hope to heal. When she finished drinking, she turned her shifting, silver eyes on me, then nodded at the food. 

“Eat,” she said. “We don’t want our one take-out in weeks to go to waste.” 

I had picked up one of the containers when the hair on the nape of my neck stood on end. My entire body went cold, the same way it had in the moments before Abvat had emerged from an alley and started chasing me half-way through Brooklyn. I perked up and scanned the room, ignoring non-essential details like what was on the TV or what time it was. I did notice the mist caressing the outside of our apartment’s windows, tendrils of it swishing along the glass panes, obscuring our view of New York beyond them—the only thing good about this apartment was the view of the Brooklyn Bridge, and I couldn’t even see that.

I set the container down again and slowly rose to my feet.

Fate looked up at me, slurping up a couple of stray noodles. “What’s wrong?” she asked.

“Something,” I said, “Get your jacket.”

“My jacket?”

Now, Fate!” 

Fate shot up like a dart, slipped into her combat boots, and plucked her jacket from the back of the sofa. She hadn’t finished sliding her hands into it when the front door to the apartment burst open, and a man built like a fortress stormed through. He was bald, he looked like he could rip a person’s arms off and beat them with them, and he was wearing a pair of sunglasses indoors and at night, which meant he was also a douchebag. 

I rushed him, taking strides across the room and throwing my foot into his gut before he could get his bearings. It was like hitting solid rock. I recoiled, stunned by how little I’d hurt him, if I’d even hurt him at all. I thought about punching him, but I didn’t want to break my own hand, so instead I reached for the only stool in our apartment and broke it across his shoulder—one of the benefits of living in such a small place was most things were in reach—but that didn’t look like it’d fazed him much either. 

“Is he made of iron or something?” Fate yelled. 

“Rock, in fact,” the man growled, his voice like a mountain, deep and powerful. 

He wound back his arm. Already I could feel magic curling off him in waves, pulsing around me, filling the room. It took all I had to avoid getting hit when his arm came down, big guys weren’t usually fast, but he was. He came at me again, this time with his hands extended looking to grab instead of hurt. I ducked under his arm and rolled across him, along my living room floor. The guy snarled and spun around, but he didn’t focus on me this time—he focused on Fate. 

She backed away from him as he advanced on her, but I knew she wouldn’t be able to get away from him. I dashed toward him and threw myself onto his back, wrapping my arms around his throat and locking them in place. He flailed, trying to grab me, but he was so big his arms couldn’t bend enough for him to get a grip. 

“Fate, run!” I yelled, and for a moment she looked dumbfounded, like she didn’t know what to do. I yelled at her again, and then she started running, but she didn’t get far. Another man had appeared in the room, and he’d caught her by the wrist as she’d tried to flee. Neither of us had seen him, it was like he’d just manifested out of thin air—or out of shadow

Unlike the first guy, this one didn’t look like a block of solid concrete with fists, and yet he felt a thousand times more dangerous. He was broad shouldered, he wore a long black coat, and a buttoned-down black shirt popped at the collar. On his fingers were several rings, many of them carrying precious gems, most of them red. I also spotted a necklace with a blood red stone peeking out from inside his shirt. While he looked like something out of a fashion magazine, I could tell he was probably all muscle underneath what he was wearing. 

I almost froze at the sight of him, not because he was an intruder in my apartment, but because he was… just gorgeous to look at. Even having that thought at a time like this was awful, but I couldn’t help it. He looked across at me, then glanced at the light-switch nearby and flicked it off, throwing the room into darkness save for the glow from the TV. 

“Let me go, you creep!” Fate snarled. 

“It’ll be easier if you don’t resist,” the man holding her wrist had a strong voice, but there was almost something melodious to it, a delicate warmth hidden under layers of ice.

“Said every creep ever,” Fate snapped.

“We don’t mean to hurt you, but if you resist, you will not be given a fair chance.”

“Fair chance? At what?”

I’d been so engrossed in the exchange I hadn’t noticed the mountain I’d been holding onto had lost consciousness. He toppled over and I went with him, cursing as my shoulder hit the floor. Squirming and kicking, I moved out from under him and quickly sprang to my feet. Fate was still being held, but the man holding her had positioned himself so he was between us now, even if I could only see half of him against the glow of the TV.

“Let her go,” I snarled, even as my heart started to race. The darkness around me made my throat seize up, made my hands turn clammy and cold, brought out the fight or flight instinct in me, killing all logical process. I hated the dark almost as much as I distrusted guys with black hair, and both of those things were here in abundance. 

First a Naga chases me halfway through Brooklyn, and now this.

“Impressive,” the man said, “How did you know Crag’s throat was his weakness?” 

“His weak… what? Look, I don’t know who you are or what you want, but you need to let her go and get the hell out of our apartment right now.”

“I’m afraid that’s not going to happen. The easiest thing would be for you to comply, otherwise you’ll give me no choice.”

“No choice? What, you’re gonna kill us?” Maybe Abvat, sick of my dodging him, had finally splashed out for a hitman, and a good one at that. There I always thought he was a cheapskate.

He gave me a piercing stare, one that answered my question without the need for words. “Now, Seline, are you going to comply, or not?” 

He knows my name… how does he know my name? There was a shuffling behind me, then a hand clamped down on my shoulder like a vice, causing me to yelp. “Sorry about that, boss,” Crag, said, his voice like a rockfall against my ear. “Won’t happen again.” He pressed down harder against my collar, almost to the point where I thought it would snap, forcing me to my knees. 

“Seline!” Fate yelled. “You said you wouldn’t hurt us!” 

“We won’t,” the man holding her wrist said, “But, by decree of the Obsidian Order, you must come with us. Now.” 

“We’re… not… going anywhere,” I grunted. “Fuck the Order.” 

“You will come with us, or you will watch her die, and then you will die.”

Even in the dark it was impossible to miss Fate’s eyes, those glimmering, silver pools reflecting what little light there was. I didn’t have a choice. I bowed my head and surrendered.

Chapter 3

The Obsidian Order. Bullies and thugs at best, murderers at worst. They were the boogeymen, the thing supernaturals like us hid from if we could, even more so than the natives. Stories of other beings like me being scooped up and never seen again were whispered by the same lips that had ever spoken about the Order. They were merciless, they were assholes, and they were everywhere. 

Now they had us.

Ten long years, Fate and I had avoided being captured, and now they had us. If that little snake Abvat didn’t have anything to do with this, I’d let them shave off all my hair before they did whatever else they were going to be doing to me. Dammit. I should’ve killed him when I had the chance. 

“Seline,” Fate whispered. We were blindfolded and sitting in the back of a car. I had no idea where we were going.

“What?” I asked.

“Do you think they’re gonna kill us?”

I sighed. “Yep. Probably.” 

“Crap… I never got to find out who won.” 

“Who won what?” 

“Ready, Steady, Bake.” 

I frowned. “The cooking show?” 

“Yeah. I was rooting for Marie, but Emily was the dark horse all season.”

“Wait, that was a baking show?” 

“What did you think it was?”

“They were cooking something with eyes on it.” 

“Oh, yeah, they’d make hyper-realistic cakes and stuff. This episode was a Halloween theme. You should pay more attention to the TV I watch.” 

I shook my head. “Y’know, we should probably be a little more focused on the situation at hand and, maybe, getting out of it?” 

“Fat chance of that. My hands are tied so tight I can’t even be turned on by it.” 

“You always say you’ve got a good sense of direction… do you know where they’re taking us?” 

A pause. “No, but I’d say we’ve been on the move for about an hour. On the highway for twenty minutes.” 

“Highway… so we’re out of the city.” 

I can hear you, you know,” came the booming voice from in front, filling the whole space of the car. It was Crag, the guy I’d knocked out. 

Every single one of my joints stiffened. I shut up, Fate did too. Neither of us said a word.

“I’d tell you where we’re going,” he said, “But that would defeat the whole object of the blind folds, wouldn’t it?” 

“Probably some kind of sex dungeon,” Fate said, “I mean, I’m into it, but you haven’t even asked if I have a safe word or anything.” 

“Look, we weren’t hurting anyone where we were,” I said, “Why the hell did you have to bust in on us like that?” 

“Rules are rules.” 

“Your rules are stupid. You just pick people up, pluck them out of their houses, and what, make them disappear?”

“If they’re weaklings, then the Caretaker will make sure to weed them out. Are you a weakling?” 

“Why don’t you stop the car and we’ll go another couple of rounds? I’ll show you.” 

“Nice try. The car will stop when we get to the Caretaker. Until then, I suggest you shut your mouths, or I’ll make sure the boss knows about your intention to escape. He won’t like that.”

Make sure the boss knows. So, the other guy isn’t in the car, too? “Where’s the boss?” 

“Alright, another word and I’ll have to gag you.” 

I bit my lip to stifle the comeback from spilling out of my mouth, then took a deep breath to calm myself down. 

“It was Emily who won,” Crag said, after a pause. “Marie’s been shit the last few episodes, and she deserved to lose with that Frankenstein cake. Pistachio flavored fondant? C’mon.” 

Fate heard but didn’t reply. I didn’t feel the need to speak, either. All I could do was rattle escape plans around in my brain like marbles in a tin can. My hands were bound, so were Fate’s. The car door was probably locked, and we were on the highway, so we were moving fast. There was also a high probability that magic had been used to make sure we either couldn’t easily escape, or that at the very least we would be tracked if we tried to leave. Getting out of this was going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, at least while the car was moving.

Maybe when we stopped, I’d have a small window of opportunity between being moved from the car to wherever this Caretaker was. I’d pulled my punches with Abvat, and this tough guy had caught me by surprise, but if I had another round with him, I’d make sure he’d regret the day he ever set foot in our apartment.

I felt Fate lean against my shoulder, then shudder as she tried her best to stifle the coughing fit about to start. She failed. Fate started hacking uncontrollably, a sound that was wet and painful, like it was ripping through her lungs. I tried to touch her, but my hands were tied behind my back and I’d been strapped in with a seatbelt.

“Hey,” Crag called out, “What’s happening to her?” 

“She’s singing, she’s just really bad at it,” I yelled, “She’s dying, you moron!” 

“Dying? What are you talking about?”

“She’s sick! And I’m the only one who can help her, so if you don’t want a dead girl in the back of your car, you’ll untie me!” 

“I’m not untying either of you.” 

“Great, then you’ve sentenced her to death yourself. Think your boss will like you making the call like that?”

“I don’t think he’d give a shit either way, if I’m ho—”

I kicked the back of the seat I was sitting behind, hoping it was his. The car wobbled, then the brakes screamed, and the car ground to a halt, gravel crunching underneath the tries. Grunting and cursing under his breath, Crag unbuckled himself, stepped out of the car, and opened my door. For an instant I thought he was going to hit me; instead he pulled the blindfold off, reached for the tie-wraps keeping my hands bound behind my back, and slit them free with a knife.

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