Nothing lasts forever…if you’re lucky.
Life has never been smoother for Tarot-reading artifact hunter Sara Wilde. With a worldwide criminal organization at her beck and call, she can finally secure the safety of the youngest and most vulnerable members of the psychic community. Sure, she’s been banged up a little, and the Magician’s most recent attempts to heal her turned her temporarily immortal. But otherwise…things are coming up roses.
Then Sara discovers an enclave of psychic children whose DNA has been dangerously altered, making them the hottest targets on the planet for traffickers. A new strain of technoceutical drugs is flooding the arcane black market, and powerful Connecteds, the Arcana Council, and even Interpol are intent on discovering its source. To protect the children and her House, Sara joins the hunt. What she discovers, however, causes her to question everything she knows about the war on magic and her own deeply-buried motivations.
Still reeling from those revelations, Sara reluctantly partners with the Magician to find and retrieve the most elusive member of the Council, the Hanged Man. Working together far too closely for comfort, Sara learns a series of startling truths about the mercurial, exasperating, and manipulative Magician–including one secret that could finally give her the answers she most craves…if it doesn’t destroy her first.
The hits just keep on coming when you’re Forever Wilde.
Read an Excerpt
I could have been on my first date in two years tonight.
Or hanging out in the Palazzo spa back in Vegas, wrapped in warm strips of seaweed with cucumber slices on my eyes. Or, hey, maybe even attending my first-ever board meeting of the criminal syndicate I now headed. I could’ve had a social engagement. An important social engagement. The Arcana Council didn’t know every little thing about my life, didn’t know without asking that I’d be free to do another job. They didn’t—
“They did,” Death shouted over her shoulder, banking the motorcycle hard as we bounced over a boulder the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. When the most enigmatic member of the Council had texted she’d be picking me up for a job this afternoon, I’d agreed without asking any questions. I’d been too surprised that Death wanted company.
“Hang on,” she barked as distinct whooping yells echoed up ahead. I locked my arms tight and hunkered down against Death’s back—as close as I could get with my enormous helmet anyway.
A second later, my stomach tanked.
We soared through the night sky, the bike finally crunching down on what seemed to be the aftereffects of an avalanche. A few fishtailing turns later, we bounced and shimmied into a small clearing, behind the wild-eyed trio of riders we’d met an hour earlier. A small contingent of the “Montana Maniacs” trail riding motorcycle club had been waiting for us when we’d landed in Phillipsburg, Montana, on an airstrip that looked like someone had spilled some asphalt in the middle of a field by mistake, then run away before anyone could make them clean it up.
Two more riders crowded in behind us.
Death pulled off her helmet; I kept mine on. The cards I’d read on the plane had been an absolute mess. You couldn’t be too careful when that happened.
“This it?” Death asked skeptically, squinting up at the slope.
“This is it.” A man I knew only as Tom strode out from the dust-coated motorcyclists, all of them grinning like loons, as if riding into uncharted mountains at dusk was something they did every Thursday. Death had told me the guy was a land surveyor and mine aficionado, but where she’d found him, I had no idea. He’d been the one who’d given me a helmet when he’d ushered us over to Death’s borrowed bike at the airstrip, and he pointed up the mountain now. “Granite Mine. The upper one, not the main pit. Didn’t even know it was here, but we were trail riding the other day, and Chuck saw it.” He gestured to a wiry-looking man a few feet away. “He’s good at finding that kind of thing.”
Death regarded Tom coolly. “You go in?”
“That would be negative.” His lips quirked into an easy smile. “Old mine shafts like this one are mostly good at falling in on your head. And look at all these tailings.” He pointed to the gritty yellow mound we were standing on. “That’s everything they pulled out of the hole that wasn’t silver, back when the mine was active. Which it hasn’t been since the late 1800s, best we can tell.”
I squinted around us. The sandy mound was easily twenty feet high, and sported no weeds, bugs, or animal burrows. Nothing that would hint at any sign of life—a beach that had lost its way to the ocean.
“Problem is,” Tom continued, “this mound wasn’t here the last time we hit this trail. Place was all rock, dirt, and trees, typical for this elevation. Which means these tailings came out of the mine with the recent landslide. Which means someone backfilled ’em into the mine at some point, rather than let ’em sit on the side of the mountain. On purpose.”
“Definitely not the forest service,” another voice called out, and good-natured ribbing followed, along with a few other wry suggestions. Apparently, no one in their right mind shoveled sand back into a mountain.
“So who did it?” I asked, kicking up a spray of the fine scree. The confusion here fit the odd assortment of cards I’d pulled back on the Council’s jet: Tower, Three of Pentacles, and Knight of Swords. Tower might be the rockslide, but the other two? No idea.
“Who is a good question. So is why and how,” Tom said. “That’s a lot of work for no reason. You see tailings at pretty much every mine ever blasted out. Why refill this one? And how’d they get the equipment up here? When prospectors came back to reopen Granite Mine in the fifties, they tapped the vein farther down, not this one. The road up here hasn’t been maintained in over a century.”
I turned and peered back toward the half-fallen mountain we’d just navigated. “That’s a road?”
Tom kept going. “The second excavation didn’t last long anyway. Fire wiped out the entire operation.”
Okay, that I couldn’t let pass. The Tower card showed fire, so it might be important. Everyone else had their helmets off, so I reluctantly removed mine too. A Montana Maniacs sticker on its visor was barely visible under a coating of dust. “What started the fire?” I asked.
“Nobody knew. Swept through the whole camp, out of the blue.” Tom shrugged, settling back on the heels of his heavy motorcycle boots. “Either way, the prospectors didn’t stick around to figure it out. They split, never came back.”
“Haunted,” another voice offered up in the group.
“Could be.” Tom nodded, as if this was totally reasonable. “You don’t have to look real hard to find ghost mines in Montana. State’s filled with ’em.” He scuffed the ground, sending another mini torrent of fine yellow gravel skittering down the slope. “Still, ghosts don’t backfill their own mines.” He squinted at Death. “You’re with Bertrand Holdings?”
Bertrand was the surname of Armaeus Bertrand, Magician of the Arcana Council, a group of zillionaire immortals with a significant demigod complex who were charged with maintaining the balance of magic on earth. Armaeus was my sometimes client for the acquisition of magical artifacts, occasional mentor, and always problematic thorn in my side. Not to mention he was apparently the guy who’d instigated this particular off-road adventure.
Death nodded. “We want to ensure the safety of the mine, get it closed up again. We’ll go in, take a look around, then be back out in about twenty minutes. If you don’t mind waiting.”
“Better make it quicker than that.” Tom’s face telegraphed his opinion of the idea. “It’s an unstable mine.”
“He’s not kidding,” Chuck interrupted. He was slender but broad-shouldered, and his weathered face and buzz-cut hair made it impossible to guess his age. “I know my way around this type of mine. That hole goes pretty deep, and it looks steady enough, but if you get more than a foot or two down and there’s another rockslide, you ain’t coming back out.”
Death flashed them both a cold smile, the perfect complement to her shock of platinum-blonde hair and icy-white skin. One side of Death’s head was shaved, revealing the dozen or so silver hoops and bars she’d laced through her ear, and the very top of an intricate tattoo was visible above the collar of her black leather jacket. Her pants were leather too, and heavy leather boots completed the ensemble. She looked way more thug than corporate errand runner, but the Maniacs seemed perfectly comfortable with her. Probably another indication they were not entirely sane.
“Stay on your bikes, then,” she said. “We’ll probably be leaving in a hurry.”