Midnight Lies Page 1

Author: Leia Stone

Series: Shifter Island #2

Genres: Fantasy

Chapter 1

The moon hung bloated and heavy in the night sky, its light casting everything in a deathly pallor as if even the heavens mourned the Midnight prince’s passing. Noble pulled the boat alongside the dock, and Justice and Rage worked together to tie us off. Unlike my last trip to Dark Row, no one approached as we disembarked and made our way toward the busy market. Heavy incense, yeasty breads, cardamom, cinnamon, and seared steak perfumed the air.

At least, I hoped that was steak. Given the illegal nature of the activities here, the smell could be any kind of meat. The thought made my stomach roil, and I shivered as the wind picked up. Nothing like an icy wind to add to the creepiness factor.

“You do not leave my side,” Rage growled, tucking me closer into his body with possessive force.

I wiped away a stray tear, letting him guide me as we walked down the torchlit path. Shadows danced in tandem with the flames as a cloud lumbered over the moon, blocking its light.

The vision of Honor howling and writhing in pain … the sensation of holding his burned wolf in my arms … I couldn’t stop the scene from replaying in my mind.

Honor is dead.

“I can’t believe you want to deal with the dark witch again,” Rage grumbled. “She and this place are not safe.”

I straightened and pulled away from him. “I don’t see how it could be worse than Alpha Academy right now. Besides, this is the only way to bring Honor back.”

His brow furrowed, and I knew my harsh tone had struck home. Was I mad at Rage? Or the world? Too tired and overwhelmed to analyze those emotions, I gritted my teeth and slogged forward. With zero doubt, I was 100.9% pissed with the alpha king.

Mostly, I just wanted Honor back.

“I just want to make sure you’re safe,” Rage replied, his tone softer. “It’s my role as your mate and shield to provide and protect.”

I blushed at his casual use of the M-word. Total 180 from two days ago. Or was that yesterday? Either way, I shook my head and held out my hand to stop him. “I’m your equal, Rage. If you can’t respect that … our bond is going to suffer.”

His jaw hardened, and he narrowed his eyes. I didn’t need our mate bond to know he was upset, so I scooted nearer to Noble to make conversation when Rage snaked out and grabbed me gently. When I looked back, orange fire danced in his eyes.

“Nai, you are my equal and, in case I wasn’t clear before, I’m madly in love with you. The last thing I want is to hurt you.”

The breath whooshed out of me in a rush as my cheeks flushed. Justice gave Noble a knowing grin, but Rage didn’t even look up at his brothers.

My mate moved closer, capturing my attention. “Everything I do is because I love you. You know that, right?”

Love. Madly in love.


His words pinged around my head until I felt dizzy.

We stopped in the market, clogging the main thoroughfare. People grumbled as they passed, their gazes boring into us, but I didn’t care. After months of uncertainty and strain, I needed things between Rage and me to be semi-okay before venturing into more unknown peril.

Maybe I’d heard him wrong. “Say it again.”

A grin pulled at the corner of his lips. “I love you, Nai Crescent.”

I took a breath and grinned, my body suddenly light, free, and filled with joy, even if only for a second. He captured my hand and then coaxed me closer until I was flush against his body. Tingles of … energy … danced over my skin as he reached up and cupped my face. Slowly, giving me plenty of time to pull away, he lowered his head and captured my mouth in a kiss.

Gentle and soft, his kiss was more reassurance than passion, the perfect way to punctuate his statement.

“Focus,” Justice growled, and Rage swayed from his brother’s shoulder check, which broke us apart. My eyes popped open, but my sharp reprimand died in my throat at the pain etched on Justice’s face. Rage offered me a small smile that seemed more of an apology for his brother’s actions.

Rage and I still had stuff to figure out, like how to build trust, share feelings, and not be deceitful, but those conversations would have to wait. Getting Honor back was more pressing.

My gaze jumped to Noble, his head hung low, and I pulled away from Rage to go to my first ally among the Virtues.

“How are you holding up?” I asked, threading my arm through Noble’s.

He offered me a sad smile and then gently patted my hand in the crook of his arm. “I can’t believe Honor”—his voice cracked—“is gone.”

Noble’s words punched me in the stomach, and I nodded. “I know. We’re going to get him back though.”

“I hope so,” he said, but his voice lacked conviction.

Ugh. What else could I do?

I gave him a curt nod and then strode forward, putting a little distance between me and the Midnight princes. The weight of the task pressed on my shoulders. It was my idea to get Honor back; I was the one who’d led them here…

Mother Mage, please let me be able to do this.

I couldn’t bear their disappointment if I’d led them astray.

Not even two steps later, Justice strode past me, leading the way. I sighed and followed his brother into the bowels of Dark Row.

Despite the late hour, people thronged the paths, openly conducting their illicit trades. The closer we drew to Madame Surlama’s tent, the more my stomach churned. Despite my impulsive declaration as we’d fled Alpha Island, I didn’t know if this would work.

“So, what’s the plan?” Rage asked, appearing at my side. “You believe this dark mage can get us into the realm of the dead?”

“When we were here last month, Madame Surlama bragged about her connection to the Keeper of Souls. If anyone can get us there—”

“Madame Surlama is evil,” Rage snarled, his voice filled with vitriol. His gaze darted to Justice’s back where pelts of onyx fur ran down his arms, the younger brother obviously beyond pissed. “You want us to go to Surlama for this? Who knows what her price might be…”

“Hey, wolf-boy,” a scantily-clothed female mage taunted from the crowd. She shimmied, wiggling her breasts in invitation. “Come with me, and I’ll wipe that scowl from your—”

Justice hurled a ball of fire at the woman and growled as she dodged the fireball, laughing.

He dropped his voice, but his next words crawled back to me. “Dark Row mages are liars and thieves.” Fur crawled up his neck as his bones started to snap. Two men nearest Justice pushed away from the crowd, apparently fleeing from him and his changing wolf.

Noble hissed a warning from behind. “If you shift and cause a scene, Declan will hear of our location and send guards to fetch us. Rein it in, Justice.”

Justice snapped his jaws shut, his body heaving with the effort to control his wolf. Whatever frustration and guilt I felt for Honor’s death, his brothers also wrestled with their own torment.

Noble bit out another warning to his brother.

“Do you have another idea?” I asked Rage, ignoring the other brothers’ bickering.

Justice slowed as he approached the white silk tent, and we pulled to a stop just outside. When he pivoted, facing us, his skin was pale and his eyes were saucer-wide. Noble blanched but said nothing as he joined our group.

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