But being half-human, half-Fae short-circuits our talents at all the wrong times. As for me? The past is catching up to our friends, Iris and Chase. Smoky--the dragon of my dreams--is forced to choose between his family and me.

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But our mixed-blood heritage short-circuits our talents at all the wrong times. And me? Except my magic is as unpredictable as the weather, which my enemies are about to find out the hard way Every clue points to Shadow Wing, the soul-munching, bad-ass leader of the Subterranean Realms. Our assignment: keep Shadow Wing and his minions from creeping into Earth via the Wayfarer. The rain pounded down from silver skies, slashing sideways against the windows to form rivulets that trickled down the glass.

The water pooled at the bottom in puddles, collecting in the depressions where the weeds had thrust through the cracked pavement. Luckily, the door to the Indigo Crescent was elevated by a slight ramp, just enough to keep customers dry as they entered the shop. I shook off the rain as I entered my shop and punched in the security code. Thanks to my sister Delilah, it not only kept an eye out for thieves, it picked up on spies too.

And we needed that peace of mind, considering just who we were and where we were from. As I wiped off the designer shoe, it crossed my mind that being half-Faerie had its perks. I examined the sandal, deciding that it had suffered no permanent damage. After drying my feet, and reuniting them with their favorite heels, I took out my notebook and looked over my to-do list. Delilah would be out on a case the greater part of the day, and of course my other sister Menolly was asleep.

Might as well get to work. I switched on the stereo and "Man in the Box" by Alice in Chains echoed through the store. Longing for something interesting to happen, I grabbed a box of new paperbacks and began to shelve them when the bell over the door jingled and Chase Johnson dashed in. Not the kind of interesting I was hoping for. He folded his umbrella, then dropped it into the elephant-shaped stand by the door.

As he slid out of his long trench and hung it on the coat rack, I studiously kept my eyes on the book I was sliding onto the shelf. Great, just what I needed to make the day brighter.

The letch of the year dogging my tail again. Appreciation was nice. Glomming, not so much. Maybe not. But fun?

Now, Camille. I fluttered my eyelashes at him. You could at least say please. Heavy metal crap. Has more life than a lot of the music I grew up on. I reluctantly set Grisham down on the table next to Crichton so they could have a nice little chat, and slipped behind the counter, turning the stereo down but not off. The Indigo Crescent was my bookstore as far as anybody on the outside was concerned, but in reality, it was a front for the OIA-the Otherworld Intelligence Agency-and I was one of their Earthside operatives.

Lackey, if I wanted to be honest. I glanced around. Still early. No customers. Lucky me. We had leeway to talk in private. At first I thought he must have just come from the gym. Smell something you like? And then I realized that the odor coming off of him was fear. This was not a good sign. He barely cleared seven-three, but there was nothing wrong with his biceps. What happened? A bus hit him? My stomach lurched.

Some jealous guy find out Jocko was fooling around with his wife and shoot him? Chase shook his head. For one thing, he was obnoxious as hell. For another, he was an FBH-a full-blooded human. Dressed to the hilt in black Armani, Chase stood six-one, with wavy brown hair, and a smooth Roman nose. A thorough background check had quashed that idea. He was human to the core. Good detective. Just lousy with women, including his mother who was constantly calling him on his cell phone, asking him when he was going to be a good son and pay her a visit.

I grinned. I knew just what he thought of my sisters, although Delilah startled rather than frightened him. Menolly just creeped the poor guy out, and she usually did it on purpose.

Why do you want to know? He rolled his eyes. So have you contacted the OIA about Jocko yet? When headquarters had assigned Delilah, Menolly, and me to live Earthside, we figured out that we were one step away from being fired. While we were hard workers, our track record left a lot to be desired. One thing was for sure: none of us would ever make employee of the month.

At least we were having fun getting used to Earthside customs. His lip twisted into a frown. No lengthy bureaucratic regulations that we have to observe in our investigation?

I glanced at the empty aisles. Still no customers, but in a little while the place would be jumping when the Faerie Watcher book mavens arrived. And the women were nice, if a little giddy. All Earthside Faerie live in tabloid-land, you know. I could have Guardian Watchdogs breathing down my neck. The Watchdogs took it upon themselves to keep track of any incidents involving the Sidhe and their kin and then exploited them for their own ends.

They were a whole lot scarier than the Faerie Watchers Club, who just popped a dozen flashbulbs in our face every time we turned around and asked for an endless string of autographs.

The Guardian Watchdogs, that is? And how did he die? About Jocko? And he was garroted. My feet hit the floor as I straightened my shoulders. And they blew you off? Just a hunch. Sometimes the dregs from Otherworld slip through the portals.

And not all of my kin in OW play by human rules. Or maybe somebody was just in a bad mood and decided to pound on the bartender? Chase was right. I knew I was howling at the wrong moon. Nobody Earthside has the strength to garrote Jocko. Did you find any sign that one of the Sidhe might have a hand in this? Of course, I might not know what to look for.

I did, however, find the cord used to strangle him. It was spattered with blood. I thought you might be able to ferret something out. Picking up the braid, I closed my eyes. The faint scent of sulfur hit my nose as a dark miasma slowly began seeping out of the woven strands, oozing over my fingers like burnt oil. I jerked away, dropping the rope back on the table as I drew a sharp breath. Big bad news. What is it?


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