Fletcher Lane wants to protect people. It was why he became a deputy. A month ago, it was why he killed a vampire who kidnapped one of his friends. Now, that death has started a cascade effect that’s tearing his life apart, leaving him possessed by magic that whispers to him in ancient Gothic.
While he’s already fighting for control of his own mind, he has to hold it together when strangers come into town looking for the dead vampire. They say they’re bounty hunters, but Fletcher knows that’s a lie. They’re the same kind of murderers who killed Fletcher’s mother. When one of them puts up a kind front, Fletcher knows that people who hunt the supernatural can’t be trusted. However nice Conner Mason seems, the worst thing Fletcher could do is fall for his act.
This is the third of nine books in The Rowan Harbor Cycle, not a standalone. It continues where the second book left off. Fletcher and Conner will return in book six to continue their story, so this book contains a HFN, not their HEA.
The book was whispering again.
It wasn’t exactly a book anymore, since its pages and binding had been consumed in the fire and the only remnant of it was in his head. But Fletcher didn’t have another word for it than “book,” so that was what he was calling it to himself. Out loud, he tried to talk about it as little as possible.
He hadn’t learned Gothic, and he wasn’t going to, especially not in order to understand the things whispered in his brain by an evil, magic book. Tristan Hunter had assured him that the book hadn’t been evil, just the grimoire of a power-hungry witch who had died hundreds of years ago. Fletcher was hard pressed to see the difference.
The pursuit of power rarely ended well. To see that, a person only had to look at what had happened with the book in the last twenty-five years. They didn’t know how many people Hector MacKenzie had killed in his desperation, but it was at least two, with another planned.
And Fletcher had killed a man over it too, which was how he’d ended up in the position of being driven crazy by a dead witch whispering Gothic straight into his brain.
“Shut up,” he mumbled to it, as though that ever had any effect. The damned thing just kept rambling, like it didn’t understand him any better than he understood it. It probably didn’t. When it whispered to him at the station, it was all he could do to refrain from banging his head against the nearest filing cabinet.
He was sitting at his desk, trying to catch up with the massive backlog of paperwork he’d accumulated over the previous month. With his partner on medical leave for more than half of December, he’d fallen so far behind on everything he wasn’t sure it was possible to catch up. Every time he had a chance, the voice would start again, like a monologuing movie villain.
He had only told Devon, Jesse, and Isla about the whispering, but even to them, he’d downplayed how bad it was. How sometimes it drowned out actual conversations he was trying to have. How sometimes it chanted in a way that sounded like magic to him, and he felt things in his body shifting unnaturally. He shuddered.
Sam wrote her first fantasy epic with her best friend when she was ten. Like almost any epic fiction written by a ten year old, it was awful. She likes to think she’s improved since then, if only because she has better handwriting now.
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