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The Night Realm (Spell Weaver #1)
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Clio is good at all sorts of things. As a nymph, she’s great at outdoorsy nature stuff. As a nymph living in exile, she’s got the “blending in with humans” thing down pat. As a nymph living in exile because she has the rare ability to mimic magic, she’s had to pick up some unique survival skills.
But stealing from the most dangerous spell weavers in the Underworld? Not so much.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what she has to do to earn a ticket back home. Conning her way into the night realm may have gone pretty well, but now she’s got a new problem. His name is Lyre and he’s a sinfully alluring incubus, a dangerously skilled spell weaver, and the only thing standing between her and stealing some damn magic.
Maneuvering around him without blowing her cover shouldn’t be that difficult, but chaos has been dogging her every step, monsters hide behind beautiful faces, and Lyre keeps saving her neck even though they’re enemies. Kind of enemies? Either way, her mission is getting complicated fast, and in the Underworld, even one mistake could prove fatal.
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Voices murmured nearby, the speakers hidden by haphazard shelves. Rain pattered against the shop’s small display window as Clio strolled along the outer aisle, her gaze passing over the merchandise.
A man, anonymous in a black sweater with the hood pulled up, stood in front of a cabinet, its glass doors locked to protect the valuable items within. She squeezed past him and stopped beside an array of dainty necklaces with colorful pendants.
A few steps away, the cramped aisle widened into an open space with a high counter, where the owner lounged in the spotlight of a buzzing fluorescent bulb. From beneath bushy gray eyebrows, he surveyed his domain with a glower, his beady stare shifting from patron to patron as though ready to bellow accusations of thievery.
She couldn’t blame the owner for being suspicious. The hooded guy to her right, staring intently into that cabinet of the shop’s most expensive wares, wasn’t even the shadiest customer present. The darkness and rain had brought in more business than usual for a Tuesday night.
She twitched the sleeve of her knitted maroon sweater up and glanced at her watch just as the second hand ticked onto the twelve, marking 10:00 p.m. exactly.
A bell jingled as the door swung open, and she smiled. Right on time.
Unlike the half-dozen other customers, the new arrival hadn’t bothered hiding his face. His dirty blond hair, pulled into a braid, was tucked under the neckline of his long black coat, the severe style accentuating his sharp cheekbones and yellow-green eyes, far brighter than any human possessed—but that was hardly a surprise when none of the shop’s patrons were human.
The newcomer strode directly to the counter and offered the owner a brief greeting, just as he had last week at this exact time. And the week before. And the week before that. She was running out of disguises, but it didn’t matter because this was her last chance to get what she needed.
Ostentatiously examining the necklaces, she picked up two cheap pendants with even cheaper chains and checked their price tags. The shopkeeper and his customer exchanged a few brisk sentences she couldn’t hear, then the owner disappeared through a curtained doorway into the back of the shop. The customer leaned against the counter and drummed his fingers on the surface with obvious impatience.
As his gaze drifted past her, she casually moved away and reached for another crappy necklace to add to her handful. She wasn’t too concerned about being noticed—her long maroon sweater, leggings, knee-high boots, and oversized cap were forgettable, and considering the strange visitors this place attracted, she hardly stood out. With its dim interior and shelves jammed into every nook and cranny, it was a haven for shoppers who couldn’t exactly buy spellcrafting tools or pre-made magic at the local human strip mall.
And then there were the customers who, like the buyer at the counter, came here to order something more special than a simple ward or illusion spell.
She took another step away from the counter. She would have to get close again once the owner returned, but no sense in risking them noticing her too soon.
Two steps away on her other side, that guy standing at the locked cabinet was tapping one finger thoughtfully against the glass. She shot him an irritated look. Black sweater, hood pulled low over his forehead to keep his face hidden, shoulders slouched, and one hand jammed into his jeans pocket. If he kept standing in one spot like that, especially right in front of the most expensive products in the store, he would draw attention—and she did not want any attention in their direction.
Putting a necklace back, she coughed quietly, hoping to spook him before he tried opening the cabinet. In a place like this, it was probably sealed tight with the kind of magic thieves would regret messing with. Only an idiot would attempt it … but the world was full of idiots.
At her fake throat clearing, he glanced at her. Light fell across his face and caught on gleaming amber eyes.
Her heart jammed itself into the vicinity of her tonsils. Choking, she whipped back to face the necklace display and took a deep, calming breath. Okay, she hadn’t expected that.
“That” being the most drop-dead gorgeous man she’d ever seen.
She gave her head a slight shake. So he was a serious hunk. Whatever. Didn’t change anything. At the counter, her mark was picking at a loose thread on his sleeve as he stared at other shoppers. Mr. Gorgeous had returned to his intense contemplation of the cabinet, still tapping it absently with a finger. His hood had shifted, revealing a sliver of his face—the smooth line of a cheekbone sweeping down to a strong jaw.
She pursed her lips. Amber eyes … amber was close to gold. And she knew what had gold eyes and the kind of looks that made women feverish.