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OF FLAMES AND CROWS (EBOOK)

OF FLAMES AND CROWS (EBOOK)

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*includes a digitally signed author note*

EBOOK. WITCH QUEEN BOOK #3 

Something dark is brewing in Europe…

Weeks after the events in Philadelphia that saw them come face to face with the Sorcerer King, Mae Jin resumes her job as a mortuary assistant at Grandview General and Nikolai Stanisic goes to Prague to train with the Council of the Moon. When Mae stumbles upon something strange during an autopsy and more dead bodies with similar findings turn up, she soon realizes their enemy is up to no good again.

Meanwhile, Vlad Vissarion is approached by an infamous Colombian cartel demanding an introduction to Budimir Volkov, one of his Bratva’s most senior generals. A man he knows harbors ill feelings toward him by virtue of their shared past.

When Budimir’s grandson Roman is ambushed and kidnapped by Oscar Beneventi, a chain of events ensues that results in Nikolai and his familiar Alastair absorbing a dangerous new power into their bodies.

New and deadly allies come to the fore as everyone converges on Prague to stop the Dark Council’s next scheme. Will Mae, Nikolai, and Vlad be able to save Roman from Oscar and Barquiel’s clutches and uncover their nefarious intentions? Or will the Sorcerer King succeed in moving one step closer to his goals?

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READING ORDER

WITCH QUEEN SERIES
The Darkest Night
Rites of Passage
Of Flames and Crows
Midnight Witch
A Fury of Shadows
Witch Queen

READ A SAMPLE

Vlad Vissarion studied the man sitting on the other side of his desk with a steady expression.

A faint smile curved the incubus’s mouth. “Are you threatening me?”

Enrique Cortes looked unfazed by his chilly tone.

The man sitting beside him was Vasco Gomez, whom Vlad had last encountered in the basement of a strip club, before all hell had broken loose. The Colombian’s gaze darted to Cortes. Though he was doing his best to hide his unease, Vlad could tell the mobster was somewhat nervous in the presence of the Bacatá Cartel’s second-in-command, the man destined to be his future leader.

“It is not so much a threat as it is a polite request for appropriate compensation for losses incurred.” Cortes arched an eyebrow. “After all, it’s the Black Devils’ fault that we lost our ship and its precious…cargo to the U.S. authorities.”

Gomez flinched. Vlad’s lips thinned.

For someone who’d come from one of the worst slums in Medellín, Cortes spoke with the suave eloquence of a Harvard alumnus. Vlad had heard tales of the mobster’s infamous ascent through the Bacatá Cartel echelons. It had been marked by a trail of carnage that made him one of the most feared men in the underworld today. Now that he was face to face with the guy, Vlad understood why Gomez and so many others were wary of him.

Cortes’s refined appearance could not hide what he truly was. A beast who would as soon kill you as look at you. Vlad frowned faintly.

It takes one to know one, after all.

Tarang raised his head where he lay by the fire. The tiger familiar was acutely attuned to Vlad’s mood and could sense his irritation. A low growl rumbled out of him.

Vlad sent out a reassuring thought across the bond that connected them. Tarang settled back down. The tiger’s hooded gaze focused unblinkingly on the men seated opposite him.

Since they were not magic users, they could not see or hear him.

Vlad drummed his fingers on the armrest of his chair as he scrutinized the Bacatá Cartel mobsters. He couldn’t exactly deny Cortes’s assertion. It was his actions that had hampered the human trafficking deal the Colombian cartel had set up with Oniks, the defunct Russian crime gang he had dismantled two months ago with the help of Mae Jin and their allies.

Vasco Gomez had come to New York to seal the agreement with Emil Sobol, the Oniks general who had been turned into a monstrous modified demon by the Dark Council. Unbeknown to Gomez, his cartel had in fact been about to sign a contract with the Devil himself.

Barquiel, the fallen angel and Archduke of Hell who had been helping the Sorcerer King and the Dark Council from the shadows, had needed a steady supply of subjects for Dietrich Farago, the Immortal scientist helping the demon and the Dark Council achieve their goals. The shipment of slaves the Bacatá Cartel had brought to New York had been intended for the inhuman experiments Farago had been carrying out over the years to create an ungodly army with which the Sorcerer King would eventually rule the world.

Vlad, Mae, and Nikolai Stanisic had crashed Gomez and Sobol’s meeting at a strip club and exposed the Oniks general’s true nature during the battle that had followed. Vlad narrowed his eyes slightly.

Not many in the criminal underworld knew of the Dark Council’s growing influence amidst their gangs or the unseen danger that threatened to see them become mere puppets acting under the will of the Sorcerer King. It had taken witnessing the incredible power Mae Jin wielded for the Bratva the Black Devils were affiliated with to finally pay heed to the threat Vlad had been telling them about for months.

Vlad was still annoyed with himself for not having anticipated his Bratva’s next move. After seeing Mae’s abilities, the syndicate had become fearful her affiliation with him would make the Black Devils the most powerful criminal organization in the world. They had commanded Vlad and Yuliy Vissarion, Vlad’s adoptive father and leader of the Black Devils, to convince Mae to work for them instead.

He couldn’t help the wry smirk that stretched his mouth as he recalled the meeting that had taken place at Yuliy’s mansion five weeks ago. The syndicate representative who’d come to New York to enlist Mae into their ranks hadn’t quite counted on the fact that no one could tell a Witch Queen what to do. She had managed to put him off, though Vlad knew the Bratva hadn’t given up on making her their pawn.

Brimstone and Hellreaver will undoubtedly have something to say about that.

“Does this situation amuse you?”

Cortes’s cool words brought Vlad back to the present.

He’d been expecting some kind of payback for messing with the Colombian cartel. When Gomez had requested this meeting to discuss the ramifications of what had gone down at the strip club, Vlad hadn’t expected Cortes would turn up too. Judging from Gomez’s skittishness, neither had he.

Vlad swallowed a frustrated sigh as he met Cortes’s dark gaze. He wished he could just ignore the guy or use his incubus powers to bring him to heel. But it was in the Black Devils’ interest not to stir up shit with any crime gangs unless there was just cause to intervene, like in Oniks’s case. After all, there was a good chance he and Mae would need their help one day if their fight with the Dark Council spilled over into the seedy underworld he inhabited.

Whatever his demands are, I have no option but to fulfill them unless they’re utterly outrageous.

Vlad steeled himself before leaning his elbows on the desk and steepling his hands under his chin. “What kind of compensation is the Bacatá Cartel after?”

Gomez’s shoulders visibly sagged. He took a handkerchief out of his pocket and dabbed at the sweat beading his forehead before glancing at the fire crackling merrily in the hearth. Vlad knew it wasn’t just the flames making him hot. The mobster’s life was literally on the line and Vlad held the final thread that would determine his fate.

“We would like an introduction to Budimir Volkov,” Cortes said quietly.

Vlad stilled. Ilya, his bodyguard, shifted ever so slightly where he framed the door alongside one of Cortes’s men.

Budimir Volkov was one of the key generals working for the main syndicate the Black Devils were affiliated with. Since he mostly acted in the shadows, not many people knew he was the man in charge of keeping the European human trafficking rings their Bratva was famed for under strict control. Vlad clenched his jaw.

Both Ilya and Yuliy still bore scars from the one time they had fought Volkov, back when they were still in St. Petersburg and working alongside the man. Despite having entered his sixties and becoming a grandfather twice over, Volkov remained as ruthless as he had been thirty years ago.

As far as the world was aware, the man was the benevolent CEO of a humanitarian organization dedicated to ending famine in Africa.

The irony was not lost on Vlad.

Something else connected him to Volkov. Something dark and twisted. Vlad’s gaze bore into Cortes’s face.

Does he know? Is that why he’s requesting this introduction?

“I won’t insult your intelligence by asking you how you found out about Volkov,” he told Cortes coldly. “Still, you must know that what you’re demanding is quite the tall ask.”

Cortes smiled thinly. “But not impossible it seems, from your words.”

Vlad resisted the urge to wipe Cortes’s slightly superior look off his face with a blast of magic. He knew the reason the guy vexed him so was because they were very much alike. Had he been in Cortes’s shoes, he would have demanded something similarly ridiculous in recompense for the cartel’s failed deal with Oniks.

“I hear Volkov will be in Prague this weekend.” Cortes uncrossed his legs and rose. “That should give you plenty of time to make the necessary arrangements.”

Vlad ground his teeth at Cortes’s confident expression. This asshole is seriously starting to piss me off.

Tarang snarled when he picked up on his anger.

“See you in two days.” Cortes headed for the door and waved a lazy hand over his shoulder. “We’ll pick you up on the way to the airport.”

Gomez jumped to his feet and accompanied him. The mobster flashed a grateful look at Vlad. He almost walked into Cortes when the latter stopped abruptly on the threshold of the office.

Cortes turned and eyed Vlad with a calculating expression. “I was debating whether to reveal this information to you or not. Seeing as how we may soon become business partners, let’s just call this one a favor that need not be returned.”

Vlad didn’t bother to hide his bitterness. “How generous of you.”

“You might not think so once you hear what I have to say,” Cortes said drily. “The person Volkov is going to visit in Prague is his grandson. I believe that boy is a distant…relative of yours?”

Gomez startled. Ilya’s face tightened.

Vlad’s fingers curled into fists. Fuck. This bastard knows!

If Cortes picked up on his ire, he evidently decided to ignore it. “Volkov’s grandson goes to the same international school as my nephew, believe it or not. I’ve heard some strange rumors concerning the crowd his best friend has been hanging out with lately.” The Colombian grimaced. “It seems some of them may have become involved with a cult.”

Vlad straightened. Wait. Does he mean—?!

Cortes’s next words confirmed his worst fears.

“It might be wise to inform Volkov of this ahead of our meeting. Because this cult? It’s the kind whose members can transform into demons, just like Sobol did.” Cortes glanced toward the fireplace. “I better leave before your familiar decides to eat me.”

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