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The Shattered Dark (AUDIOBOOK)

The Shattered Dark (AUDIOBOOK)

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McKenzie Lewis has a gift. It allows her access to a world few have seen and even fewer can comprehend. It's her secret. And it exists in the shadows...

McKenzie was a normal college student, save for one little twist: she's a shadow reader, someone who can both see the fae and track their movements between our world and the Realm. It's a gift for which she has been called insane, one for which she has risked family and friends--and one that has now plunged her into a brutal civil war among the fae.

With the reign of the king and his vicious general at an end, McKenzie hoped to live a more normal life while exploring her new relationship with Aren, the rebel fae who has captured her heart. But when her best friend, Paige, disappears, McKenzie knows her wish is for now, just a dream. McKenzie is the only one who can rescue her friend, but if she's not careful, her decisions could cost the lives of everyone she's tried so hard to save.

Narrated by Sierra Kline



Chapter One

You’re needed.

Those two words were officially my least favorite words in the English language, especially when voiced with Sullens’s British accent. That phrase had started this nightmare a little over a month ago, and it had preceded a hundred more mini catastrophes in the following weeks. I’d had a short respite since my parents’ funeral, but I’d known it wouldn’t last.

I stepped off The Rain’s antiquated elevator and scanned the lobby until my gaze locked on Sullens, the hotel’s front desk attendant and a witch who was just now beginning to accept me as his boss. Mouth set in a thin line, he nodded toward the closed front door. The thick wood prevented me from seeing who stood on the other side, but that didn’t matter. Tomorrow was Turnover. I knew who was there.

Putting on my best go-to-hell look, I strode across the lobby, gripped the curved iron handle, and pulled.

“Hello, Blake,” I said when the door swung open.

“Kennedy.” His expression was hard too, an indication that he was here in his official capacity as second-in-command to Octavian Lehr, North America’s most powerful alpha. Blake stood bathed in sunlight at the edge of the porch, right inside the invisible Null zone that extinguished his werewolf magic. Unfortunately, it did nothing to extinguish his good looks. He had a perfect five-o’clock shadow going, and his dark hair was mussed and just long enough to catch a bit of the breeze. Add in a fitted T-shirt that hugged the muscles in his shoulders and chest, and he would go viral if I snapped a picture of him.

I leaned my shoulder against the doorjamb, an echo of the cavalier postures he’d used on me in the past.

His glower deepened. Then he held out an envelope.

I kept my arms crossed.

“It’s important,” he said.

“So is finding my parents’ murderers.”

“I’m working on it.”

“Are you?” I tilted my head. “Because all I’ve heard are denials that the wolves are involved.”

“We aren’t.”

“Where’s the evidence?”

He lowered the envelope. “I can’t prove a negative.”

“You haven’t tried.”

“I am trying.” His voice lowered to something just above a growl. “More than I should.”

I shoved away from the doorjamb. “Because my parents aren’t worth it? Get off my property, Blake.”

I spun to go inside.

“Wait,” he said. “That came out wrong.”

I paused with my hand on the iron handle. My chest felt brittle, like any second it might shatter apart, unleashing all the pain and rage and malice I’d been holding inside.

The quiet brush of shoes on the stone porch indicated Blake had moved closer. I tightened my grip on the door handle.

“What I meant is that I have other responsibilities,” he said. “One of those includes supervising moonsick werewolves. They need The Rain, and Lehr has promised it.”

I took a moment to patch the cracks in my fragile self-control, then faced him again. “What do moonsick wolves do in other places?”

His dark brows dipped. “What do you mean?”

“The Rain is the only Null zone on the planet. I assume there are werewolves across the globe. What do they do if they’re moonsick?”

“They’re sent here,” he said. “Or they’re killed. Is that what you want to happen?”

He knew it wasn’t. He knew I still judged him for killing a moonsick wolf and her brother a month ago. The Rain could have settled her mind, but for whatever reason, Lehr wouldn’t allow her to enter the Null.

“If you don’t let them in, they will have to be hunted and killed.”

I held his gaze. “Sounds like you’re going to have a busy week.”

“Kennedy.” His voice changed. Without saying more than my name, he let me know that this wasn’t me. I wasn’t cruel or apathetic about people’s lives.

He was right, but I wouldn’t let him exploit my humanity. I kept my tone hard. “My parents were murdered. My parents, who enforced your rules, who preserved your peace, who willingly gave up any chance of a normal life to make your lives better. They did everything right.”

“It shouldn’t have happened,” he said. “I’m sorry it did. I’ve promised that I will find out who killed them, and I will. Accepting this list doesn’t change that.”

I stared at the envelope he held out. It was a return to normalcy, a return to the way things had always been, with Lehr the gatekeeper for the werewolves and a vampire named Arcuro the gatekeeper for his people. No one made it to The Rain without their permission.

Well, mostly no one.

I took the envelope. Blake’s expression relaxed at what he saw as a submission. Keeping my eyes on his, I gripped it between my fingers. And ripped it in half.

His gaze locked on the torn envelope.

I ripped through it again.

His mouth dropped open.

The envelope and folded page inside were too thick to rip a third time, so I let all but one of the pieces fall and removed the torn letter from the last section. I unfolded the small square and proceeded to rip it into tiny pieces.

Then I threw them into the air and let the wind swirl them to Blake’s feet.

I expected clenched fists, a snarled threat, an aggressive step my way.

Instead, he blinked and said, in the most stunned voice I’d ever heard from him, “I can’t believe you just did that.”

“Come back when you find out who killed my parents.”

He still looked shocked, a fact that was pretty damn satisfying. I was just about to pivot back toward the door when he removed another envelope from his jacket.

I paused. Raised an eyebrow. “Is your paper shredder broken?”

The corner of his mouth tightened into something halfway between a smirk and a smile. “This is the envelope I should have handed you first.”

My gaze shifted between his wood-dark eyes and what he held. When I recognized the return address stamped onto the white paper, I reached for it.

Blake held it higher.

The satisfaction I’d felt seconds ago vanished, replaced by the rage Blake should have shown when I ripped the first envelope apart. “You’re the reason they haven’t given it to me!”

“No,” he said too damn calmly. “Bureaucracy is the reason they haven’t given it to you. I just cut through it.”

I lowered my hands to my hips. “Hand it over.”

He studied me. I didn’t bother to hide my anger. I’d been trying to get my parents’ cell phone records for weeks. The company had made me call the police station, which made me call the courthouse records, which sent me back to the cell phone company because they should have given me a form to fill out to begin with, only the company claimed a form didn’t exist. I spent more time on hold than I did talking to a human being, and the only progress I made was finally deciding I needed to hire a private investigator. I had a follow-up meeting with him in the morning.

“Blake,” I warned.

“Turnover is tomorrow,” he said. “Let the wolves in.”

“Give me the envelope.”

Those dark eyes took me in. He still wasn’t angry. He was something else, and I had to remind myself that he was there at his alpha’s bidding. He didn’t actually care about me or my parents; he cared about the pack and its strength and position in the paranormal world.

“They’ll be here tomorrow at dusk,” he said. A statement of fact.

“I will lock every damn door.” Also a statement of fact.

“They can sleep under the stars then.” He held out the envelope.

“I—” I shut my mouth. Werewolves didn’t need a roof over their heads to find peace in the Null. The magic-free zone stretched over a quarter of our hundred-acre property. The hotel occupied only a small corner of that. Lehr would probably take shut doors as an insult, which it absolutely would be, but the moonsick wolves would still get their tonic.

I eyed the envelope. I wanted it, but I didn’t want to make the compromise.

“You already called the numbers,” I said.

His gaze remained steady. “You wanted me to find the people responsible.”

“What have you learned?”

He lowered the envelope, again analyzing me with those dark eyes that seemed to see more than I wanted him to. “May I come in?”

That was different, Blake asking permission for something.

“No,” I said.

Annoyance flickered across his face before he smoothed it away. He opened the envelope and slid out the stapled pages inside.

“These are incoming and outgoing calls for the past year.” He watched me and waited. The only way I could see what he was talking about was if I moved to stand beside him. I wanted to remain where I was, to be stubborn, but I wasn’t that juvenile. I moved closer.

He could have smirked or commented on the capitulation. Instead, he held the phone records so I could see them. “Almost all the calls were to you or area businesses. Then, about six months ago, the pattern changed.”

He flipped the page. He’d taken surprisingly meticulous notes. His neat handwriting trailed down the left side, noting the dates he called, if he made contact with someone, and what the outcome of the call was.

“A lot of people don’t answer unknown numbers,” he said. “Those are highlighted yellow. These”—he pointed to almost a dozen numbers with circled area codes—“are all from the same place.”


“Cincinnati.” He looked at me. “Do you know anyone there?”

He was only a few inches taller than me, and we were standing close. If I looked up, the small distance that separated us would become even smaller. More noticeable. So, I didn’t look up. I deliberately kept my gaze locked on the paper and said, “No.”

Now he smirked. I could practically feel it on my skin. He knew exactly why I wouldn’t make eye contact. My body didn’t always listen to my head when I was around him. He was attractive in a rough-around-the-edges way, the kind of guy who rolled up his sleeves and made things happen. Strong, dominant, and one rank away from being an alpha. Exactly the type of guy my brain knew I didn’t want.

“I didn’t think so.” He handed me the papers. “You should call the highlighted numbers. If someone sees The Rain listed on caller ID, they might pick up.”

I nodded, half listening as I continued to scan the records.

“I want to know who you talk to,” he said.

I stopped my agreeable nod and looked up. He’d inched farther away, and his expression was serious again. I didn’t like this side of Blake. It made him dangerous in more ways than one.

“Sure,” I said, no inflection in my voice.

“I mean it, Kennedy. Someone found a way around the treaty when they killed your parents. They can find a way around it again.”

“They kill me, they kill the Null.”

“That’s what we think would happen,” he said. “I’m not willing to risk your life based on an assumption.”

One side of my mouth lifted into a humorless smile. “My life isn’t yours to risk.”

I stiffened when he stepped closer. “It’s mine to protect.” His voice turned rough, and a foolish flutter ran through my stomach.

I breathed through the sensation and rolled my eyes. “Thank you for the phone records. You can get lost now.”

“There’s something else,” he growled when I turned toward the door.

I waited a beat, then glanced over my shoulder.

“I went to the site where your parents’ bodies were found,” he said. “I couldn’t pick up a scent.”

“They were found three weeks ago.”

He nodded. “But I went straight there after I saw you at the hospital. Their deaths were violent and bloody. I should have smelled the excitement of the paranorms who did it.”

My stomach churned. I didn’t want to think about their deaths. I couldn’t. Every time I did, I broke down.

“It was deliberately camouflaged,” Blake said. His dark eyes held mine, waiting for me to make a connection.

I frowned. “You’re not talking about dirt and branches.”

“It was like walking into an electronics store with static on all the screens and the volumes maxed out. Chaotic. Loud. Impossible to identify a single scent.”

Goose bumps darted up my arms. They were more from the discomfort in Blake’s posture than from his words. Few things unsettled Blake, but the camouflage had him agitated.

“That’s convenient,” I made myself say.

His eyes closed in a slow blink. When he opened them again, there was no sympathy in them. “You’re so determined for us to be the villains.”

“You haven’t shown me any evidence that you aren’t.”

“We’ve circled back to this. Fine.” He crumpled the empty envelope in his fist. “I’ll be your enemy, but Turnover will happen at midnight tomorrow.”

He spun, then paced down the porch steps.

“You forgot the or else,” I called after him.

He glared over his shoulder but didn’t say anything. He continued to the small parking lot and climbed into an old Ford truck that was more battered than the cracked and potholed cement beneath it. It creaked when he opened the door, shuddered when he closed it. The engine squealed twice before it rumbled alive. I watched him drive out of the lot, sides of the cargo bed swaying, just in case I got to see the damn thing fall apart.

No luck.

Sullens was waiting when I walked inside The Rain. I’d known he was there, known other staff members would be nearby too. They acted like they happened to be walking past or, in the case of one paranorm, a Valkyrie named either Phedre or Thordis—I could never tell them apart—were just there rearranging fake flowers. Ever since my parents were murdered, they’d been discreetly keeping tabs on me.

And I’d been keeping tabs on them, studying them, because I didn’t one hundred percent trust the staff. Someone had called in an anonymous tip to the police, claiming I had a body in the trunk of my car. It could have been one of our guests. Or it could have been someone who worked at The Rain.

“He’s right,” Sullens said.

“About what?” I stared down at the phone records as I walked toward my parents’ office. My office now.

“You being so sure the werewolves are responsible,” he said.

“You don’t think they are.” I faced him when we reached the door. His gray eyes had lost the contempt they’d held when we first met, but he still viewed me as a foreign thing, a stranger to be treated with caution. That might be due more to the fact that he was a witch than anything else though. I’d read his file—I’d read all the staff’s files—and witches were notorious for carrying chips on their shoulders. Individually, they were dismissed as being inferior to other paranormal species. They had human strengths, human weaknesses, and for the most part, human life spans. Unless they formed covens, their magic was mediocre at best outside their residences, but due to their oh-so-pleasant personalities, covens rarely stayed together. There were less than twenty scattered across the United States.

“Lehr had no reason to want your parents dead,” Sullens said.

I just hmmed and reached for the doorknob. Before my fingers touched it, something shattered in the kitchen. Probably something expensive. I didn’t want to know what it was—I couldn’t afford to replace a paper plate—so I ignored it and pushed open the office door.

Another shattering sound, this one followed by a thunderous boom.

“Damn it.” I tossed the phone records onto the desk, then strode to the hallway that cut between the office and the kitchen. By the time I reached the swinging door, another boom rattled the air.

Since The Rain hadn’t had guests in three weeks, the restaurant hadn’t been serving food. The paranorms cooked for themselves in the Barn, a literal barn that had been converted into a surprisingly nice residence for the staff. Only two people occupied the kitchen now—Jared, the vampire who stood unruffled near the center island, and Joash, a fire elemental who’d crashed against a now-dented metal cabinet. The former was another reason I couldn’t let the werewolves in. They were pissed Jared had planned to marry Nora, the daughter of their alpha. They would provoke Jared into a fight that would justify their killing him in self-defense. Anyone the master vampire, Arcuro, approved to stay here would do the same.

Joash snarled something unintelligible before he leaped back to his feet. He reached to the counter behind him and grabbed the fire extinguisher.

I would have commented on the irony of the fire elemental’s choice of weapon if he hadn’t charged at Jared, swinging the extinguisher like a baseball bat.

Jared didn’t budge other than to casually lift his arm to block the blow.

A loud crack echoed through the kitchen.

Jared looked down at his dangling arm. He blinked. Then his nostrils flared.

Joash readied for another hit.

“Don’t!” I darted forward and grabbed the extinguisher just as he started his swing.

Joash glared at me. “He changed the order.”

“Let go of the fire extinguisher.”

“This is my kitchen.”

“Actually, it’s mine. Let. Go.”

Fury flared across his face, but he released the extinguisher. I set it back on the counter.

“Jared,” I said. He still stood there staring at his grotesquely broken arm as if he were offended by it.

When I repeated his name, he looked at me. Then he looked at Joash.

Three quick steps and Jared grabbed the fire elemental by the throat.

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