Yet To Come
Red Velvet Christmas (multi-author series)
Fey Holidays, Book 4
Ebook ISBN: 06731-02166
[ Urban Fantasy Christmas Romance, MF ]
Rae is a ghost of Christmas future. Her track record for making people see and turn to the light is unblemished, except for one man. Zane has hit her list for the third and final time. The incentive he wants to be good is one she refuses to give him. Rae cannot be with a man who allies so easily with bad, but her desire demands she not be without him. At sunrise Christmas morning, her powers fade and with them any chance she has of seeing Zane again unless he can convince her the best is yet to come.
Note: This title has no chapter breaks. Please enjoy the first scene.
Rae wanted to slam her claws into her prey’s chest and rip out his still-beating heart. Her vision bled red as the urge intensified. It wouldn’t take much. She was fast and strong. She could do it and show the heart to her victim before he realized he was dead.
“Silence,” Spir barked.
His harsh tone snapped Rae out of her bloodlust and made the two men who stood beside her back up a step.
Spir threw the folder he held onto his desk. “Rae is the best for this job, which is why she has it.”
“Her continued failure with this human –”
“Continued? Two instances do not make a trend, Hauke. She has accomplished every assignment I’ve given her except this one. And I suspect” — Spir turned his gaze to her –”there is more to this one than I know.”
Rae held Spir’s gaze… barely. She hoped he didn’t see the way her cheeks heated. Did he suspect? Had she given herself away?
He broke eye contact first, looking down at the folder he’d discarded. “Rae, this is the last time. If you cannot convince him this year, I won’t send you again.”
“I understand, my lord.” Her voice shook with unshed tears. Of course Spir wouldn’t accept failure from her, not like the others. One misstep and she was cast out. That’s the way it should be.
Hauke said, “A wise decision, my lord. This human is pivotal, a strong power point for House Kringle and the Winter Clan. But he could be the same for House Hel and the Hades Clan. We don’t know where Rae’s loyalties lie. She could be failing with this human on purpose to –”
“Would you shut the hell up?” Spir yelled.
Beside him, Hauke and Tysie both gasped loud with shock and laid their ears back.
Rae couldn’t help her smile. Those of House Kringle weren’t used to coarse language. They were the house of purity and light. Such language was taboo to them. That hadn’t stopped Spir from using it. He used to wander the halls of the Winter Palace cursing up a blue cloud. The elves had run from him, screaming in dismay.
His dark nature was what had led him to allow a fey formerly of House Hel into his home and his employ. He’d welcomed Rae when all others had shunned her. She loved Christmas and had alienated herself from her family because of that love — too good for hell and too evil for heaven described her situation best.
To Hauke and the others, she was nothing but a dark elf sent to corrupt them. They avoided her and petitioned to Kris, head of House Kringle, to have her banished. Thankfully the lord of the house trusted his twin and wouldn’t act against Rae without Spir’s permission. Spir had refused to give it…until now.
But that was Rae’s fault. She had failed him and the trust he’d placed in her.
Spir said, “I’m not banishing Rae. This is the last time I’m sending her to this human. If he can endure her and still be unchanged, then he is destined for House Hel and there is nothing we can do about it. I won’t continue wasting her powers on him.”
Warmth spread through Rae’s chest. She wasn’t leaving. She could stay at House Kringle. The urge to hug Spir and thank him for his continued support rushed over her. She took a step forward.
“Spir?” Danette, Spir’s human wife, poked her head into the office. “Am I interrupting?”
Spir jumped to his feet and was halfway across the room before he said, “Never, my love. Did you need me?”
“Always.” The smile she gave him was coy and full of passionate promise. “But that aside, I wanted your input on your suit for the New Year’s festival.” She turned her gaze to Rae and the others. “But I can wait.”
“You won’t have to wait long. I’m almost finished. I’ll meet you in the bedroom.”
Danette bounced a finger off his nose. “No, you’ll meet me in the sewing room surrounded by elves who want very much to finish your suit.”
Spir made a thinking noise as he rubbed his chin. “I didn’t take you for the exhibitionist type, but if that’s what you want…” He trailed off and laughed as Danette swatted at him.
“That’s not what I meant. Finish your meeting and then come to the sewing room.” She turned to leave the room but Spir pulled her back for a kiss so hot Rae thought she saw tiny sparks crackling around them.
Rae envied Danette’s position as Spir’s wife. Before her arrival, Rae had hoped — an impossible hope no one would have allowed — to be the one at Spir’s side. He understood her best and didn’t fear her the way the others did.
She and Danette were of the same complexion. For a human, that simply meant her ancestors had come from a hot climate. For the fey, that meant one thing — darkness, a fey of the Hades Clan. Humans had named her kind dark elves and allied them with evil. Except they weren’t. Her former clan mates simply dealt with death and afterlife. They held the keys to heaven as well as hell, but hell was the only place people remembered when thinking of them.
Spir broke apart from his wife and sent her from the room with a promise of more later. Hauke and Tysie cleared their throats and faced his desk, pretending they hadn’t been watching the couple with open fascination.
Rae asked, “Shall we go now, my lord?”
Christmas Eve night had fallen. Kris would be preparing to leave along with the ghosts. While Kris would hand out presents, the ghosts would visit those in need of a lesson in holiday cheer and goodwill toward man.
“Only you, Rae.” Spir returned to his desk and sat. “My uncle sent you three the first time. I sent you and Tysie last time.” He sighed and shook his head. “Tysie got drunk.”
Tysie said quickly, “Forgive me, my lord. I had never imbibed before that night and I didn’t realize –”
“Spare me. He got you drunk. End of story. At first we sent three, then two, now I send one. This is the third strike.”
Rae said, “I won’t fail you, my lord.”
“You’re still welcome here even if you do.” Spir held her gaze. “Understand that, Rae.”
“I do, my lord, and I thank you.”
“Good. Go to it then. I hope you succeed this time.” He held out the folder containing information on the source of contention.
She took it and wished she didn’t have to. “I do as well.”
Hauke said, “My lord, if I may –”
“No, you may not,” Spir snapped. “You two will be teamed with Huw tonight. Here’s your assignments.” He dropped a stack of folders on the desk.
Rae bit her lip to hold back her smug smile. There were other ghosts, but Spir would make sure to work Hauke and Tysie the hardest because of their continued bad attitude about being teamed with her.
She bowed to Spir before wrapping her black cloak around her shoulders and disappearing. She didn’t have to concentrate on her destination. It was never far from her thoughts. If she were still allied with House Hel, she could visit anytime she wished. Being part of House Kringle meant her powers were limited to Christmas Eve. She was thankful for that.
“I’ve been waiting for you.” Zane Grehawick stood across the wide room, leaning against his desk. He had his light blue dress shirt unbuttoned, and his slacks rode his hips because he’d removed his belt and unbuttoned them. The zipper was at the halfway point and kept his pants from sliding off him and baring his gorgeous legs.
Rae loved his legs. He was a cyclist. The sport kept his tall, slender form taut. Anyone who had seen him in something other than a suit knew his strength was of body as well as character.
A room separated them and yet Zane’s gray eyes held her motionless as he looked her over. They hadn’t seen each other in a year. The time hadn’t dulled Rae’s memory of how his short, dark blond hair felt with her fingers buried in it, trying to grasp it so she could pull him closer, or the way his five o’clock shadow rasping over her nipples had excited her.
He couldn’t have known she was coming, but he had a small table topped with two place settings and a single lit candle as the centerpiece. The candle hadn’t been lit long. The office lights were low and the soft melody of a violin filled the room. Had she come in the middle of Zane’s interlude with another woman? She didn’t want to bear witness to something like that, not when her feelings were on the surface and ready to make her do or say something stupid.
She had to do her job but she couldn’t find her voice to introduce herself, not that she needed to. Zane knew her as well as she knew him, which was why she hadn’t wanted to be assigned to him again.
Zane asked, “Where’s Present? I was looking forward to getting him drunk again. He was a riot last year.”
Rae heaved a breath and rolled her eyes. “Present won’t be coming. Just me. Just Future.”
“I’m not your future.”
“You could be if you stop fighting me.” Zane crossed the room. “This is the third time, Rae. I’ve waited for you for two long years.”
Her name on his lips made her shiver with need. She should have never given him her real name, not that she had in the first place. Humans were only supposed to know her by her title — Ghost of Christmas Future. But things with Zane had gone horribly wrong last year. Unbidden emotions had caused her to confess her real name and reveal her true visage when she should have kept both closely guarded.
She stepped back quickly when he got within reach of her. “Don’t.”
“Don’t what? Don’t make you want me the way I’ve wanted you for the last year? Don’t strip you bare and love your body until you’re lost in pleasure and screaming my name?”
“Stop,” she rasped. “Th-that isn’t why I’m here.”
“Yes, it is.” He grabbed handfuls of her cloak and hauled her in close. With his lips close to hers, he whispered, “You’re only here for that. I teetered on the edge to ensure your return. Now that you’re here, I’m not letting you go again.”
Rae’s reply was lost as Zane’s lips descended to hers. The need and longing she’d been denying all year long sucked her under. One thought made it through her fog of passion — she would fail again this year.