Knell by Olivia R. Burton

Heat Level 2
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SKU 978-1-77339-765-8
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Preternatural PNW, 5

It starts with a trail of bodies, and things get so much worse.

The Prince of Hell’s come asking Veruca to help him track down and protect a banshee from the queen of all Fairy. She’s the best suited for the task, both because she’s a badass Reaper with friends in low places, and because of her deep connection to a certain special necromancer. Knowing Belial wouldn’t give her an impossible task, she agrees.

One by one, things go sideways, putting those she loves in peril, stripping away her support structures, and leaving her out in the cold.

Cruelly separated from Belial by powerful Fairies, the danger of the hunt, and a newfound knowledge that threatens her very sanity, Veruca must rely on only her wits and her friends to survive. In the end, it all comes down to hard choices she never thought she’d have to make—and asking herself if loving Finn is really worth the world itself.

 

Excerpt:

“Finn,” she called, draping her hand up and over the edge of the tub, waiting for him to peek in, before quirking her fingers and beckoning him close. “Darling, sit with me, would you?”

“O’course, my love. Want me to wash your hair? I’ve got magic fingers,” he said with a wink. She smiled, glad despite her overall mood.

“Perhaps later you can join me in here instead,” she said when he pulled up the bath stool and sat to lean over the edge of the tub. “I want to talk to you first, though.”

“That’s always the way with women. And men. I don’t understand it, quite frankly.”

“Talking?” Veruca asked, going with his bit.

“Ah, not having sex in general. There are so many times when people could be having sex but aren’t. Makes no sense. Like the other morning when you made breakfast? We could have been making love.”

“You mean when I made pancakes right after we’d finished making love?”

“Exactly. Wasted time, that.”

“They were good pancakes.”

“That’s a point,” Finn said, making a face like she’d managed to convince him. Veruca chuckled, petting her hand over his hair gently before broaching the subject she’d been considering for over an hour.

“If I asked you to go somewhere, would you? Somewhere safe? Perhaps with Donald?”

“Is this place not safe?” Finn asked, giving the bathroom the once-over. “Did you read a bad review or something that’s got you worried? Did the floor creak once you filled the tub and you’re worried you’ll fall through to the floor below and startle a family of four? I don’t think they’ll mind, honestly. You look lovely.”

“I mean,” Veruca said, chuckling. “Without me, for a little while. There might be some things I have to sort out and I’m worried about you.”

“I’ll be fine,” Finn assured her, bringing her palm to his mouth to kiss it gently. “I’ve got you. We’ve both got good Sir Donald. We’re perfectly safe. He’s got a gun and always knows when someone’s about to hit me. It’ll be fine.”

“There’s just … this is different. This is bigger.”

“The banshee?” Finn asked, squinting. “Did you get a lead? You’re worried I’ll get my head screamed off? I can wear ear plugs.”

“Something like that.”

“Well, then, something like that. I’ll wear ear plugs, you’ll wear earmuffs, and Donald can wear some of those fancy noise-cancelling headphones and listen to Cindi Lauper. We’ll all be set, and maybe Donny’ll treat us to some sweet dance moves. It’s settled,” Finn said, his expression going serious. “I’m staying with you.”

“You’re staying with me,” Veruca said, loving his devotion, even as a little current of electric worry for him made its way up her spine. “Even if it’s dangerous?”

“There’s nothing we can’t handle, nothing you can’t handle. But, just to be safe, we should stick close to each other.” Lust quirked his lips as he leaned farther over the edge of the tub, closing in for a kiss. “Right up close, in fact.”

Wanting to settle the worry in her chest, to warm away the nerves in a way that hot water and scented baking soda couldn’t manage, Veruca met Finn’s kiss easily, cupping his face with wet hands. He was eager, matching her actions and keeping his own hands dry, staying out of the tub, giving her a chance to send him away if she wasn’t in the mood to go farther.

Appreciating his concern, his devotion, she wrapped her arms around him, tugging him into the tub above her, knowing it would send water crashing to the tiled floor and soaking through his expensive clothes. There were more important things to worry on, though, and she barely gave it a thought.

She could feel Finn’s smile in his kiss, knew he was pleased she wanted him. Not just because of the physical intimacy that was to follow, but because he loved her. He loved being wanted by anyone, but especially by her, especially since they were so connected.

Needing that connection more than usual, Veruca slid her hands down to the waistband of his sleep pants, shoving at them. Finn shifted easily, Veruca thought to allow her to undress him. Then, his hand was beneath her legs, cupping her gently, his fingers tender and skilled, and she was gasping. Distracted from the work of getting him naked, she moaned, bowing in the water, splashing the walls.

Finn dipped to kiss her wet chest as it peaked above the water, mumbling against her skin. “My love,” he said, as if she were a precious gift. “My Veruca.”