She swallowed nervously. “What happened after I left?”

His eyes darkened and he refused to speak for a full three measures of music. “I became more powerful than anyone in the Fae world. More powerful than the Fates themselves. They were scared. They betrayed me and split my power, my very essence, in two.” He smiled wryly and raised an eyebrow. “I can’t blame them. They saw their opportunity with the Grimm brothers, and they took it. But I will make them pay for their betrayal.”

A guitar riff picked up and Teague looked up in interest. Naga played on, his head bobbing with each strum of the guitar. Teague turned his focus back to her and stared deep into her eyes. “Well, you know what happened next. They bound part of my soul to my journal on the Fae plane and the other half into the book the brothers carried. And wouldn’t you know it? It’s the same book I gave you. How do you think the brothers got that book, Mina?”

She didn’t say anything, just waited.

Eventually Teague continued his story. “The Fates sent them back to the human world, hoping the two books would never find each other again. But we know that’s not what happened. Thanks to you, my weaker side, Jared, is gone.” He pulled away from her and gestured to himself from head to toe. “I’ve never felt more alive and powerful. And now my Cinderella has finished her quest to the past and retrieved my knife. I’d like it back.”

“I don’t have it. I lost it,” It surprised her how quickly the lies formed on her tongue.

Teague gave an exaggerated sigh. “Why must you lie so? If you had only told me the truth from the beginning, you could have been part of my reign of destruction. Instead, you will be crushed under my boot.”

“Everyone has an Achilles heel.”

“What’s that?” he asked. She had piqued his interest. “Another fairy tale?”

“Greek Mythology.” She held on as he spun her. Something he saw bothered him, because his face became ugly.

“Ah, I see that the human is coming back to whisk you away for the fireworks display. But I leave you with one warning. At midnight I have a surprise of my own for you.” He lifted her hand and placed a kiss on her knuckles. “I’ll let you wait until after you’ve seen my present. You may be more agreeable to my wishes in the morning. Until midnight, Mina. May the next few moments leave you in terror.” He bowed and disappeared into the crowd.


She tried to go after him, but she ran into a gray mist and knew that he was gone.

Brody appeared by her side and grabbed her hand, pulling her up the stairs to the second floor of the hall. She passed a grandfather clock and saw that it was only two minutes to midnight. Brody opened a door and led her into a secretarial office with a mahogany wood desk and matching bookcases. Behind the desk was a glass-paned double door that opened onto a balcony.

Mina stepped onto the cold balcony and shivered—from both the chill in the air and the worry creeping up her spine.

Something bad was going to happen. Even if Teague hadn’t threatened the impending doom, she’d have felt it coming.

Brody saw her shiver and wrapped his hands around her. He pointed out across the golf course. They could see the town and, to the right, the river. Down below, couples had gathered on the grass to watch the fireworks display. Even from the second floor she could recognize Daphne and Lara huddled together and pointing up at the sky. Mina craned her neck to look at the watch on Brody’s wrist and wished for the second hand to stop moving.

Thirty seconds left. She couldn’t take it anymore. She turned to pull away from him, just as he reached into his pocket and pulled something out.

“Mina, I know things have been kind of crazy. And this has moved very fast between us, but I want you to know that I’ll be there for you. Through all the crazy. Through whatever curse tries to hunt you down. I want to be your knight in shining armor. And although this tradition is a bit old fashioned, I find that’s the kind of guy I am.”

She had no idea what he was talking about. Her heart was pounding, and she felt like any moment she was going to fall down an elevator shaft.

She couldn’t focus on Brody. She was consumed with Teague. Why hadn’t she just given him the stupid knife?

At the stroke of midnight, the fireworks lit up the night sky. The first boom made Mina jump back in surprise. She gave a little cry of alarm before laughing it off.

Another one exploded in the sky, followed by a cascade of more colorful bursts. She watched for a full minute and then felt the tension release from her body. It was midnight. Everything was okay. She sighed and turned to look at Brody and the object he was holding in front of her. It was his gold class ring with a ruby red stone.

All thoughts fled her mind, and she stood there staring in shock. Around them, the sky was on fire with color, and right in front of her was a boy that seemed to care about her. He was offering her something she’d never thought to get. True, she hardly ever saw anyone wearing rings in school anymore. They just posted their relationship on the Internet. But here in this moment it felt so right. So perfect.

“Brody, I…I—”

“Booooom!” The explosion came from over two miles away, but Mina felt the quake beneath her. She stumbled and Brody caught her, dropping the class ring onto the balcony. She watched as it rolled off the ledge into the row of bushes two stories below. A second blast followed the first, and another ball of fire erupted over by the river. Down below, people started screaming and running. Others pulled out their cell phones and started taking pictures as the dark sky filled with orange fire.

Teague’s warning came back to her and she could barely speak. “Wh-what was that?” She had to ask, but deep down she already knew.

Brody squinted into the night and she could see that he was looking for landmarks and estimating distances. “It’s fine. Everything’s fine. There’s nothing to worry about. It’s just an abandoned building that’s nowhere near us.”

“Brody! What building is that?” She grabbed ahold of the lapels on his suit and stared at the burning orange sky.

“Mina, it’s fine. You’re safe. No one was hurt. It’s the Old Green Mill Recycling Center. It’s been abandoned for years.”

She cried out as her feet gave way beneath her and she crumpled to the ground in a desperate heap. She stared through the metal slates on the balcony railings and wanted to die.

“Noo!” She screamed into the night. Her cries mingled with and echoed those of the people below. Teague had finally gotten his revenge. He had tried before to take them out but was unsuccessful. This time, his blow struck home.

Mina couldn’t pull her eyes away as she watched the Fae Godmother’s Guild go up in flames.

Chapter 32

It took some convincing, but Brody finally drove her to the recycling plant. Firefighters were already on site, fighting back the blaze and dousing the building with water. Mina jumped out of the car and ran to the edge of the caution tape. She didn’t see anyone coming out of the building.

But there was no way the building was empty.

Maybe the fire hadn’t reached the Fae living below the recycling center. The firemen would have been evacuating the wreckage. Many of the Fae could mask themselves as human, but there were still quite a few that couldn’t. They’d have to be hiding somewhere.

Most Popular