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The tattoo machine in my hand buzzed as I added just a bit more shading to a portrait of Lilith. Considering she was my grandmother—of sorts—I added a bit of realism to the tattoo and a bit of blessings as well. The woman in my chair was asleep, her headphones stuffed in her ears as I worked away, her need for protection enough that the spell I weaved in the ink would keep her safe for a good long while.


I knew I swore I wouldn’t be helping humans, but this was something I could do under the radar.


Plus, being back in my shop was a breath of fresh air. The normalcy, the other artists, the lack of drama. I would take this forever if I could.


Max,” Striker hissed, his presence at my back not a shock in the least. And yes, I was ignoring him.


After taking four months off—most of it on sandy beaches with very little clothing— Alistair went back to the council, I went back to the shop, and we started our life. Things were glorious…




Nope. Not answering.


Maybe if I ignored him until the end of time, he would realize I in no way wanted to do the thing he wanted me to do and would summarily leave me alone. I was busy doing things that mattered and I in no way wanted to—


“Maxima,” he growled, tossing in a dragon-y flavor to it that rattled the windows.


“What?” I snapped, not even looking up from my work. I knew damn well what, and I didn’t wanna.


“You’re really going to leave Alistair to all your guests by himself?”


That had me looking up. “I did not invite everyone and their brother to Aether for an after-the-fact reception. I did not make all these plans. If he wanted me to show up in a pretty dress, he probably should have asked me.”


Okay, so there had been a little drama.


In certain circles, our marriage wasn’t recognized yet because we hadn’t paraded around like a gods-be-damned show pony, and Alistair was getting flak from the demons. Since no one outside of our friend circle knew who I really was, he’d decided to throw a big party to shut everyone up.


Emphasis on he.


“Oh, come on. Just finish up before Bernadette comes waltzing in here. Or worse: Barrett.”


Grumbling, I put the finishing touches on Lilith’s—AKA Bernadette’s—portrait and settled up with my client. Granted, I had to wake her up first, but yeah. You can always tell who the most traumatized were in the chair by how relaxed they are. The tippy top of the spectrum?


The ones who sleep.


“Can I book my next appointment?” she asked, handing over her credit card.


My wait list was eighteen months out, so it made sense to book while the iron was hot. This one gave me pause, though.


“Sure thing, sugar. Striker, here, will get you booked up. Since you’re a repeat, he’ll get you in sooner. Three months?” I asked, knowing full well he was listening. Yeah, I had a feeling I’d be getting more involved later, but for now, the blessings in the tattoo should hold her for a while.


“You gonna go get ready?” he replied like it was a threat.


Rolling my eyes, I nodded. As if he wouldn’t help a human who needed it. But I also wouldn’t leave Alistair to the demons alone.


I bid my goodbyes, went to my office, and, just like any other day, I snapped my fingers. As much as I liked driving—and I sooooo did—I did not want to deal with Denver traffic. Maybe ever.


But I also didn’t want to go straight to Aether. Like many a time when I was half in a panic because I did not want to do something, I went to Barrett’s.


He was so used to me popping into his study he didn’t even look up from his book anymore.


“You’re not dressed,” he grumbled, turning the page, his suit and tie impeccable. “This party is kicking off in T-minus thirty minutes, and you look like a ragamuffin.”


I did not look like a ragamuffin. Dressed in skinny jeans, Chuck’s, and a T-shirt, I was the picture of casual cool, dammit. Sighing, I snapped my fingers.




Barrett looked up then. My blue hair was now in glam waves, my outfit replaced with a gathered mermaid-style dress that made both my boobs and hips the stars of the show. I also may have taken off my glamour—showing off my blue hair, gold eyes, pointed ears, and all.


I was a daughter of Chaos and a Fae that had given her life for me. I was also the daughter of Andras and Teresa Alcado. It was about time I honored them.


Pride welled in Barrett’s eyes. “That white dress is fooling exactly no one but darling girl, you are gorgeous.”


“Do you think he’ll like it?” Knowing Alistair, he’d prefer taking me out of it far more than having me in it.


Barrett snorted. “The Knight will have a hard time remembering his vows at this rate. I don’t even swing that way, and I—”


Vows? What vows, Barrett?”


I had been told this was a reception. There were no vows at a reception. No one said anything about vows.

Barrett’s face went white as he bit his lip.


“Way to let the cat out of the bag,” Marcus said from the door, followed by Hideyo and Aidan, the three men striding into the room wearing sleek suits.


Aidan let out a wolf whistle. “Going full-on fairy glowstick, huh? Nice job. That’ll get those demon assholes tucking their tail and running for sure.”


Flipping him off, I marched over to Barrett’s desk.


Aidan could be a grumpy dick all he wanted to.


I had some vows to write.



The pale blue marble floors clicked once again under my heels, but this time, I was perfectly content to traverse them. At the last second, right before the doors opened, Della thrust a bouquet in my hands, her popping in out of nowhere and slinking back to the shadows as only a vampire could.


As soon as those doors opened, a song by Bonhom started playing.


Our song.


The hall was filled with people—all of which I knew and not a single face I didn’t—but I saw none of it. All I saw was my husband waiting for me. The long trek took forever, the song’s slow pace making my walk take an age, but as I reached him, I knew it was worth it.


Alistair’s hand closed over mine, bringing me in.


“Surprise, love,” he breathed against my lips, sending shivers down my spine in the most delicious way. “The wedding you deserve without having to plan a single moment of it. A party just for us.”


And though we hadn’t said a single vow, he kissed me as if everything we’d ever need to say had already been said.


He loved me. I loved him. We’d be together forever.


Sure, we did things out of order, but that was us.


Unnatural till the end.

Want a new adventure?

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Start off with Dead to Me, and buckle in to see Darby Adler contend with the dead, the Arcane Bureau of Investigation, and a slippery agent ready and willing to get her into trouble.

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