Home > House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)(3)

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)(3)
Author: Sarah J. Maas

Bryce had so far failed to inform Jesiba that Syrinx was more interested in eating, sleeping, and getting belly rubs than monitoring the precious books. No matter that her boss might see that at any point, should she bother to check the dozens of camera feeds in the library.

Danika drawled, the smirk audible in her voice, “What’s got your panties in a twist, Lehabah?”

The fire sprite grumbled, “I don’t wear panties. Or clothes. They don’t pair well when you’re made of flame, Danika.”

Danika snickered. Before Bryce could decide whether to go downstairs to referee the match between the fire sprite and the wolf, the phone on the desk began ringing. She had a good idea who it would be.

Heels sinking into the plush carpeting, Bryce reached the phone before it went to audiomail, sparing herself a five-minute lecture. “Hi, Jesiba.”

A beautiful, lilting female voice answered, “Please tell Danika Fendyr that if she continues to use the supply closet as her own personal locker, I will turn her into a lizard.”

 

 

2

By the time Danika emerged on the gallery’s showroom floor, Bryce had endured a mildly threatening reprimand from Jesiba about her ineptitude, one email from a fussy client demanding Bryce expedite the paperwork on the ancient urn she’d bought so she could show it off to her equally fussy friends at her cocktail party on Monday, and two messages from members of Danika’s pack inquiring about whether their Alpha was about to kill someone over Briggs’s release.

Nathalie, Danika’s Third, had gotten straight to the point: Has she lost her shit about Briggs yet?

Connor Holstrom, Danika’s Second, took a little more care with what he sent out into the ether. There was always a chance of a leak. Have you spoken to Danika? was all he’d asked.

Bryce was writing back to Connor—Yes. I’ve got it covered—when a gray wolf the size of a small horse pushed the iron archives door shut with a paw, claws clicking on the metal.

“You hated my clothes that much?” Bryce asked, rising from her seat. Only Danika’s caramel eyes remained the same in this form—and only those eyes softened the pure menace and grace the wolf radiated with each step toward the desk.

“I’ve got them on, don’t worry.” Long, sharp fangs flashed with each word. Danika cocked her fuzzy ears, taking in the computer that had been shut down, the purse Bryce had set on the desk. “You’re coming out with me?”

“I’ve got to do some sleuthing for Jesiba.” Bryce grabbed the ring of keys that opened doors into various parts of her life. “She’s been hounding me about finding Luna’s Horn again. As if I haven’t been trying to find it nonstop for the last week.”

Danika glanced to one of the visible cameras in the showroom, mounted behind a decapitated statue of a dancing faun dating back ten thousand years. Her bushy tail swished once. “Why does she even want it?”

Bryce shrugged. “I haven’t had the balls to ask.”

Danika stalked to the front door, careful not to let her claws snag a single thread in the carpet. “I doubt she’s going to return it to the temple out of the goodness of her heart.”

“I have a feeling Jesiba would leverage its return to her advantage,” Bryce said. They strode onto the quiet street a block off the Istros, the midday sun baking the cobblestones, Danika a solid wall of fur and muscle between Bryce and the curb.

The theft of the sacred horn during the power outage had been the biggest news story out of the disaster: looters had used the cover of darkness to break into Luna’s Temple and swipe the ancient Fae relic from its resting place atop the lap of the massive, enthroned deity.

The Archangel Micah himself had offered a hefty reward for any information regarding its return and promised that the sacrilegious bastard who’d stolen it would be brought to justice.

Also known as public crucifixion.

Bryce always made a point of not going near the square in the CBD, where they were usually held. On certain days, depending on the wind and heat, the smell of blood and rotting flesh could carry for blocks.

Bryce fell into step beside Danika as the massive wolf scanned the street, nostrils sniffing for any hint of a threat. Bryce, as half-Fae, could scent people in greater detail than the average human. She’d entertained her parents endlessly as a kid by describing the scents of everyone in their little mountain town, Nidaros—humans possessed no such way to interpret the world. But her abilities had nothing on her friend’s.

As Danika scented the street, her tail wagged once—and not from happiness.

“Chill,” Bryce said. “You’ll make your case to the Heads, then they’ll figure it out.”

Danika’s ears flattened. “It’s all fucked, B. All of it.”

Bryce frowned. “You really mean to tell me that any of the Heads want a rebel like Briggs at large? They’ll find some technicality and throw his ass right back in jail.” She added, because Danika still wouldn’t look at her, “There’s no way the 33rd’s not monitoring his every breath. Briggs so much as blinks wrong and he’ll see what kind of pain angels can rain down on us all. Hel, the Governor might even send the Umbra Mortis after him.” Micah’s personal assassin, with the rare gift of lightning in his veins, could eliminate almost any threat.

Danika snarled, teeth gleaming. “I can handle Briggs myself.”

“I know you can. Everyone knows you can, Danika.”

Danika surveyed the street ahead, glancing past a poster of the six enthroned Asteri tacked up on a wall—with an empty throne to honor their fallen sister—but loosed a breath.

She would always have burdens and expectations to shoulder that Bryce would never have to endure, and Bryce was thankful as Hel for that privilege. When Bryce fucked up, Jesiba usually griped for a few minutes and that was that. When Danika fucked up, it was blasted on news reports and across the interweb.

Sabine made sure of it.

Bryce and Sabine had hated each other from the moment the Alpha had sneered at her only child’s improper, half-breed roommate that first day at CCU. And Bryce had loved Danika from the moment her new roommate had offered her a hand in greeting anyway, and then said Sabine was just pissy because she’d been hoping for a muscle-bound vampyr to drool over.

Danika rarely let the opinions of others—especially Sabine—eat away at her swagger and joy, yet on rough days like this … Bryce lifted a hand and ran it down Danika’s muscled ribs, a comforting, sweeping stroke.

“Do you think Briggs will come after you or the pack?” Bryce asked, her stomach twisting. Danika hadn’t busted Briggs alone—he had a score to settle with all of them.

Danika’s snout wrinkled. “I don’t know.”

The words echoed between them. In hand-to-hand combat, Briggs would never survive against Danika. But one of those bombs would change everything. If Danika had made the Drop into immortality, she’d probably survive. But since she hadn’t—since she was the only one of the Pack of Devils who hadn’t yet done it … Bryce’s mouth turned dry.

“Be careful,” Bryce said quietly.

“I will,” Danika said, her warm eyes still full of shadows. But then she tossed her head, as if shaking it free of water—the movement purely canine. Bryce often marveled at this, that Danika could clear away her fears, or at least bury them, enough to move onward. Indeed, Danika changed the subject. “Your brother will be at the meeting today.”

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