THE SWORD OF SOULS
Forgotten Relics #2
Second chance at life? Check.
Ultra-rare magic powers? Check.
Badass new job? Check.
Saved world from evil goddess? Not so check.
Cora Riley assumed when she joined the FBI’s Supernatural Cases Division that she’d be dismantling Otherworld treachery alongside Jack Alexander, the storied Agent 97 who guided her through the underworld. Instead, she’s filing reports for Sofi Strella, a smart-mouthed agent ten years her junior
When Jack finally does make contact, it’s not for sidestepper training, a quiet drink, or even an apology; it’s to investigate a magical narcotic that’s boosting supernatural belief to dangerous levels.
The case leads to the realm of Faerie, where Jack encounters an old flame and an even older enemy, both demanding his allegiance. As he battles the entanglements of his past, Cora continues the mission, ultimately facing the eerily-familiar Queen Mab, who wields a legendary blade in the name of Eris, the mad goddess of chaos.
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…all manner of creatures are to be found within these pages, each more loveable or hateable than the next.
J.A. Castelli, author of Sciath
Excerpt: Cora and Jack Reunited
“Do you understand the implications of the report?”
Jack raises an eyebrow. “You do?”
“Yes, sir. Aside from kidnapping and narcotic violations, evidence seems to point to Queen Mab throwing in her lot with Eris. It’s highly likely that the drug’s intended to strategically increase belief levels so that members of the Otherworld conspiracy can gain the strength they need to enact Eris’ plan.” Cora lowers her gaze from the wall to look him full in the face. “But when I tried to explain that to the other agents, no one believed me because you didn’t tell them.”
The accusation lands heavily on the office carpet. It takes a moment for the shock to pass, then the stoic mask slips from Jack’s face. He inhales deeply through flared nostrils, flexing his jaw. He stands slowly and leans on the desk with both hands. A measured, patient anger. The shift in his manner is so dramatic that Cora immediately wonders if calling him out was a good idea.
“You think I kept it to myself?” he says. “You don’t think I tried to convince someone of the truth?” His voice is low with an urgency that makes Cora’s scalp prickle, his dark eyes locking her in place. “That I didn’t make every effort to get through to Agent 99? That I haven’t been practically begging at his doorstep for weeks for approval to investigate what could be the biggest supernatural disaster since the Gauntlet was created?” He cranes forward to drive his point home, his voice rising with intensity. “I’ve done nothing but tell people. So don’t come in here and accuse me of failing because you haven’t seen the fruit of my efforts.”
Panic grips Cora’s throat as she tries to speak. There’s a rush to apologize for not trusting him, but nothing comes out. The office’s recirculated air is crushing her, his outrage putting a vice around her lungs. Then she realizes she’s been holding her breath. It comes out in a rush, along with the words it held hostage.
“I didn’t know,” she stammers. “When I mentioned Eris to the team, they looked at me like I’d grown a third arm. All I could think was that you’d lied to me or given up or didn’t believe it yourself. After months without talking, with you avoiding me…,” she says, then stops, embarrassed at her girlish vulnerability, and drops her gaze to the floor. But a voice inside urges her to speak the rest. “I thought you’d abandoned me,” she finishes in a whisper.
The sound of expensive shoes brushing over cheap carpeting. The heady scent of cinnamon and sage. The strong hand resting lightly on her shoulder.
It’s the closest they’ve been since he brought her to Washington; to be touching him now disrupts her careful cool. Unshed tears blur her vision as she raises her chin to see he’s smiling softly under perplexed eyebrows.
“Never,” he says solemnly.
There’s no kiss. No tearful reconciliation. A short second of tenderness to reassure her that all is not, in fact, lost.
Then the moment’s over. He lifts his hand from her shoulder and steps back, putting precious inches between them. To Cora, it may as well be a mile. But her practical side reminds her of why she came here in the first place. That whole Otherworld invasion thing.
She takes a clearing breath, then asks, “So, what do we do now?”
Jack picks up the New York dossier from his desk.“Now,” he says with grim satisfaction, “we force Agent 99’s hand.”