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There was one thing people never told you about vacation: the sun was glorious. It was the most magnificent thing in the universe, and no one could tell me any different. I might have been a walking, talking PTSD diagnosis, but damn if that sun wasn’t curing a whole mess of bullshit.


As soon as it came up this morning, I parked my ass on the beach with a cup of coffee and a plate piled high with snacks, and I didn’t move, other than to flip over every hour or so. If I got too hot, I dipped in the cool, pristine water before restarting the process of baking myself to an absolute crisp.


For years I had been almost nocturnal. Now I was absorbing a decade’s worth of vitamin D, and no one was going to stop me. Considering I was in the skimpiest bikini known to mankind, Aemon wasn’t exactly complaining, either.


Originally, we had planned on going to some remote island—or at least Aemon had—but I brought up a very good point that he hadn’t thought of. Salt water. How was I supposed to have fun in the water if he couldn’t get in it without burning to death?


What kind of honeymoon would that be?


So instead of an island off the coast of Thailand, Aemon got permission to use a secluded section in the Underworld that Hades and Persephone rarely loaned out. It had a sea filled with fresh water, gorgeous, green-faced cliffs, a beautiful cabin just yards from the beach, and all the snacks I could eat.


Added bonus: no sunburns. Ever.


But the lack of a burn risk didn’t stop Aemon from rubbing tanning oil all over me whenever he felt the urge. I got beach time and Aemon got to oil me up on the regular and read whatever paperback he desired.


It was glorious. No souls bugging me. No calls about arcaners doing dumb shit. It was the crash of waves and an exceptionally hot man trying to find ways to get me out of the red string bikini I’d conjured from thin air just for him. One of these days, he’d get the sexy dress and no underwear treatment, but I was waiting for something special.


“You know, I’m not sure you need this here,” Aemon murmured as he played with the string across my back holding my top together. “I’d bet you’d be more comfortable with it off. Plus, no tan lines.”


Raising my head from the beach blanket, I shot him a conspiratorial look. “And I believe you. I do. But if I take my top off out here, then how are you going to peel it off me when we get inside? Really, by leaving it on, I’m thinking of you.”


Plus, I had family in the Underworld. The absolute last thing I needed was Sloane—or worse, my dad—to roll up while I was topless on my honeymoon. Talk about awkward.



I never thought I’d ever be on one of those. Marriage hadn’t ever been on my dance card. I’d always thought being who I was and how I was, that having a partner just wasn’t in the cards for me. Now that I had a—gulp—husband, it was kind of nice. It also made me want to laugh at myself. When Aemon and I first got together, I’d figured he’d get bored with me at some point.

Now his ass was stuck with me. Stuck wasn’t the right word, but any way I sliced it, Aemon didn’t seem to mind.

“You’re worried your sister is going to show up, aren’t you?” Aemon asked, his smile wide and so mischievous, I wanted to make out with him on this beach, potential onlookers be damned.

“Private places are only truly private for people who can’t be located on a whim. If you’re going to ravage me, it’s going to have to be inside.”


Again, it was like I canceled his birthday, Christmas, and the Super Bowl all at once.


“But what if I wanted to bring you in the water and scare the fish? Or fuck you on the beach under the moonlight?”


My sex clenched. “Tempting. Very tempting.”


My tummy chose that moment to let out a whale call of a growl. Even with no souls sapping my energy, I was still Cookie Monster when it came to food. Aemon lifted off the blanket, peering over me to look at my snack stash. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d run out of food about an hour ago.


“Very well. Scaring fish later, food now. I have about twenty minutes until you become a completely different person.”


I wanted to argue with him, but the man was not wrong.


“I’ve been perfecting a dish I think you’ll like. I believe it’s called ‘nachos.’ Have you heard of it?”


Yep, this was it. I’d hit the lottery.


“With the liquid-y cheese that is definitely not cheese?” I asked, giving him big puppy-dog eyes over the rim of my sunglasses.


He dropped a kiss to my shoulder, raking the skin with his fangs. “Only the best for you, Flower.”


Was I hungry? Did I need those nachos?


My stomach let out another yowl.


“I’ll be back with food in a minute,” he said, getting up from his spot. “Your job is to think about what we’ll do to scare the fish.”


He leaned down and gently pressed his lips to mine before heading back to the cabin. Where he would get the ingredients for nachos, I had no idea, but I wasn’t going to question it. Aemon would find a way to get me nachos even if he had to make a trip to Earth to get them.


I was just settling back on the blanket when a presence disturbed the air to my right, the exact place where Aemon used to be. When I looked up, a pink-haired stiletto-wearing god was laying on my beach blanket, staring at me like the cat who ate the canary.




“Out of all the futures I saw for you, I honestly didn’t think you’d make it to this one. I’m so glad to be proven wrong for once.” She turned over onto her belly, propping her chin on her hands. “You’re welcome.”


It was tough to say thank you to a gal that didn’t seem all that invested in your future, but for the sake of politeness, I gave her a winsome smile.


“I appreciate the sentiment. And the kiss. I take it that helped give me a bit of a leg up?”


Fate had given me a very weird kiss on the forehead the last time we’d seen each other.


“Being kissed by Fate certainly didn’t hurt, but you did it mostly on your own.” She looked at the cabin and then back at the water. “You earned this, you know. You deserve this.”


I shrugged, looking at the cabin where Aemon disappeared. I’d try to deserve it, and maybe one day I’d believe it, too. That was healing, right? Knowing one day it would get better, that it was okay to be a little fucked up until the wound closed?


“Can I give you an insider tip?”


Rolling my eyes, I shook my head. Of all the people she would tell the future to, it was the one person that didn’t want to know. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to know that she was so eager to tell me.


“Why not? Go for it if it’ll make you happy.”


Fate’s smile was kind and a teensy bit devious. “It’s all downhill from here, you know. When it comes to you and yours? It’s time for you to coast, Darby, and enjoy some happiness for a good long while. I won’t say there won’t be bumps in the road, but…”


It was as if a boulder had been removed from my chest.




That was a bigger gift than she knew.


I looked up, a “thank you” on my lips, but she was gone. A moment later, Aemon snatched me up from the beach and blew a raspberry on my neck.


Squealing with laughter, I let Aemon carry me back to the cabin. We fed each other messy nachos and drank fruity island drinks and he got to peel off my bikini.


And Fate was right.


It was all downhill from here.

Want more in the Arcane Souls World?


If you loved Darby & Aemon and would like to see more from the Jacobs Coven, stay tuned for CURSES & CHAOS and all the crazy, witchy shenanigans that is to come. I hope you’re buckled in to see Fiona contend with the aftermath of an accidental Hell gate snafu, life as a witchy mob princess, and her sinfully hot, totally clueless shifter mate.

Want more from Sloane & the Night Watch?


If you loved Sloane and the crazy Night Watch gang, check out the Soul Reader Series!!

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