Open-ended debts were the worst thing someone could agree to, but she had no choice.
Consequences of every action are coming home to roost. When one darkness falls, another rises to take its place. Sometimes, the new darkness is worse than the first.
Reginald, the recognized Master of the City, controls the supernatural society of Kendrick with Karen Wilson as his mouthpiece. In Caller Unknown, Karen and Reginald went through a traumatic event that almost left Karen dead and Reginald a slave to the Order of the Sacred Eye.
The cost of the attempted ritual and the war between the supernatural factions will have lasting effects for years to come. Friendships are broken. Alliances are formed. A deal with the devil has become all too common. Old debts must be paid—sometimes in blood.
Worst of all, Karen, and all of Kendrick, must now face the Children of Anu.
PRAISE FOR CHILREN OF ANU
CHILDREN OF ANU
01 BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS
“Thanks for meeting with me,” Corelli sipped her tea, looking around at the interior of Kalihi’s Coffeehouse. “This is an interesting place. I like it.”
Karen nodded. She drank her coffee without tasting it, wondering what Corelli was going to ask of her. It had been a promise to save Sebastian—the little gargoyle who had tried to save her and failed. Help him! Get him away from me. Please! I’ll do anything! She’d meant those words when she’d said them. Now, she was wondering if she was going to regret it. Karen watched Corelli, a pretty, plump blond. She hoped the soft looking woman wouldn’t try to take Sebastian away from her.
“Are you all right now?” Corelli asked.
Karen looked at her, not understanding. “All right?”
Corelli gestured at Karen’s throat. “Uh. That.”
“Oh. That.” That referred to the fact that one of the elder members of the Order of the Sacred Eye had almost strangled Karen to death in a ritual designed to take all of the magical energy in the city and redirect it to the Order. “Yes. I’m healing.”
“This isn’t going as I planned. I’m sorry.” Corelli stuck out her hand. “Hi. My real name is Mary. I’m pleased to meet you.”
“Karen. Nice to meet you.” They shook hands.
“You have to understand that what my Order was doing—it wasn’t what we were told. The purpose of the Order is to protect and help the people of Kendrick. That’s what I was told. That’s why I was recruited.”
“Yet, you were going to just watch them murder me.” The flat tone in Karen’s voice expressed her anger better than shouting would have.
Mary grimaced. “I wish I could say no. But, I was scared. I didn’t know what to do. The people I looked up to wouldn’t look at me. They wouldn’t look at you. They were just as scared and confused as I was. I wish I had spoken up, but...”
“You were afraid you’d end up in my position.”
Mary looked away and nodded. “Yes.”
“You saved Sebastian. I owe you for that. But, I’m not going to forget or forgive what your Order did to me.” Karen kept her voice calm, despite the nervousness that mixed with her lingering anger and fear over the incident.
“I…I know. I don’t blame you. I don’t expect you to.”
“What do you expect? What do you want of me?”
“I want you to help me make the Order into what it’s supposed to be.”
That surprised Karen. “You want me to fix—lead—the Order that just tried to kill me? How am I supposed to do that?”
“Help us mend the fences and broken alliances. Help us to be the good Order I know we were created to be. Most of the old leadership is dead. The rest are confused and don’t know what to do. This is the time to take charge and set the Order’s path. Most of the members are looking for a leader. A lot of them are looking at me because I keep speaking up. I can’t do it alone. It’s better that we do it before someone with a less altruistic motive comes along and does it for us. When one bad guy falls, there’s always another one to take his place, and sometimes the new bad guy is worse than the old one. I believe in the Order. I don’t want that to happen.”
“I might be able to help you, Mary. But I’m not going to lead. I’m not going to be part of your Order. I already have my obligations to the Master of the City. The Order of the Sacred Eye is yours. You’re going to have to set its path. You’re going have to lead. I just hope you do a better job than your predecessors.”
Mary frowned, looking down at her cup.
Karen knew it wasn’t the answer the other girl had wanted, but it was better than a flat out ‘no.’
Mary mirrored the thought as she murmured, “Hope for the best, expect the worst, and you’ll land somewhere in-between.
The two of them sat in that uncomfortable silence, drinking coffee, searching for something to say. Karen watched Mary’s hands, noticing a tattoo on the back of the right one; an eye inside a triangle. Her next question was almost a surprise to her. Almost, but not quite. It had been bubbling in the back of her mind. “So, what happened that night?”
“What?” Mary looked up at Karen again.
“The night of the ritual. What happened?”
“You don’t know?” Mary frowned, a skeptical look hardening the woman’s eyes.
Karen knew Mary wondered if she was being sarcastic. “No. Not really. One moment, you were all chanting while I was being strangled. The next, Armageddon had erupted in the middle of Colonel’s Park. What happened in-between?”
“Oh.” Mary thought about it. “It’s a little weird. I know some of our people had put up wards so we wouldn’t be interrupted. And some of our allies had been contracted to protect them. We were told that our enemies would try to stop us. I guess, in a way, they didn’t lie to us. We were chanting in the silence, then there was this ripping sound and suddenly there was noise everywhere. It sounded like people fighting and screams and all of it was headed our way. Then, I saw the statue moving. It ripped itself out of its foundation and went after Todesengel. I panicked and climbed a tree.”
“Climbed a tree?” Karen did not laugh at the absurdity of the statement, despite the urge to do so. Part of her wondered how Mary had managed the feat. She didn’t look nimble. Then Karen banished the thought as cruel and unworthy.
“Yeah. Well. I didn’t know what else to do, and trees have always been safe havens for me. They were that night. All the bloodshed and fighting. I did a spell to make me an innocent, unnoticed. But you saw me and I saw you. That’s how I was able to help you and Sebastian. Is he all right now?”
Karen shook her head.
“I’m sorry. I really am.”
“So am I.”
Again, they paused to drink their drinks, think their own thoughts, and avoid each other’s eyes in the awkward silence.
“Tell me about the Children of Anu,” Karen said when she could stand it no longer.
“The Children? What do you want to know?”
“What do you know of them?”
Mary shook her head. “I don’t know much. I know the Order owes them. I know we’re going to have to pay…because the consequences of not living up to what’s owed to the Children is death and worse. I know their territory is in the Camden District, off the docks, and that we were not allowed to go there unless specifically invited by the Children or ordered to go there by the First Circle. Why do you want to know?”
Karen shrugged. “Mostly because I’ve recently heard of them and know nothing about them.”
“Some things are better left unknown. The Children of Anu is not a group to mess around with. They’re small, secretive, and vicious about keeping their secrets. They can make great allies, but their alliance costs. They make even worse enemies.” Mary leaned toward Karen. “They’re better left alone. Seriously. They scare the crap out of me, and they’re on my side. For now.”