Never get between a dragon and his gold…
When an antique gold show comes to Vegas, Tarot-reading artifact hunter Sara Wilde’s job is simple: to steal a set of relics rumored to give their bearers access to an ancient, incredible power. With rumors of a war on magic rustling in the wind, every psychic, mystic, warlock, and witch is being drawn to Sin City…until even a dragon can’t stay away.
Gods, monsters and fabulous beasts may covet the infamous relics, but no one wants them more than Sara’s client–the insufferably arrogant, criminally sensual, and endlessly evasive Magician.
And what the Magician wants…
Read an Excerpt
I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t even blink. Six foot two of hard-bodied ex–Special Forces operative was snugged up against my backside, and I was totally falling for him.
For about eight thousand more feet.
My helmet crackled. “You’re doing great.”
“Unghflun.” Worse, we were still spinning. They’d told me the spinning would stop, but it didn’t feel like it was stopping. It felt like we were dying. And of all the ways to die, French-kissing a cliff at a hundred miles per hour had not made my short list. It gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “terminal” velocity.
“Right on target.”
Something shuddered above us, and I shifted from sprawl to nearly vertical in a sudden blur. I squinted up past the man carabinered to me in not nearly enough places, to see that our parachute had deployed.
That would be the “Low Opening” portion of this joyride into the Siberian mountain range surrounding Lake Baikal. The “High Altitude” section had been covered by our plunging six-mile drop from a souped-up jet now well on its way to Beijing.
Getting off this rock without alerting the local military would be its own special kind of crazy, but I was down for that. Pretty much any kind of crazy that got me away from Vegas and the Arcana Council for a few days worked for me.
“Drop point,” echoed in my ear.
Beside us, two other barely discernible shadows rocketed through the predawn gloom. We were aiming for a strip of gravel tucked between two sheer cliffs where, according to my client, X marked the spot for the ultimate Mongolian treasure: the crown of Genghis Khan. Rumored to give its wearer the Khan’s magical mojo for protection, abundance, and crazy long life.
Then again, said crown was apparently resting on the head of a dead guy right now. So there was that.
Another crackle in my helmet. “Bend your knees.”
“If I had a dollar…”
My guide’s laughter carried through our final several hundred feet of descent, and suddenly we were on the ground, a tumble of arms, legs, and high-tech padding. With impressive military precision, mission leader Zander “Call me Zee” James broke up with me without remorse, thrusting me aside. I lurched drunkenly to my knees as he slowed his run then turned to his parachute and punched it into submission.
The other men landed beside us, neatly outrunning their chutes, and I ducked to avoid a fine spray of rocks stirred up by the movement. Zee stripped off his HALO suit, oxygen mask and gear like he was shimmying out of swim trunks, and shoved them into a we-were-never-here-sized nylon bagel for easy transport out. He flapped his hand at me for mine and I shoved them at him in a big ball. “Report?” he snapped.
Zee’s right-hand man squinted down at a device attached to his wrist. “No heat signatures,” he said, aiming the thing at the rock wall. “Wall” was being kind. The cliff face surged up as if an angry god had punched through the earth’s crust, all crags and fissures and sharp edges. “Seismic activity currently stable.”
As if to counter his words, another crackle of falling rocks sounded high above us. “Right.” Zee squinted up. “At dawn, this place’ll light up like the surface of the sun. We don’t want to be here for that. We get in, we get out, we get gone.” His gaze shifted to me. “Ready?”
I nodded, then tugged down the zipper of my tech suit to fetch my own tools of the trade, my trusty pack of Tarot cards.
With the deck as my compass, I could find about anything—for a price. As it happened, a hundred G was a heck of a price. That kind of money translated to at least three more Connecteds hidden away from the dark practitioners who wanted to use them for spare parts. Not enough to save them all, no. But enough to count. I had to believe that.
“Sometime today, princess.”
Double-tasking one set of fingers to offer Zee my opinion of his people management skills, I used the other to pull a scatter of cards out of the deck.
Here we go.
Four of Cups, the Magician, Eight of Swords, King of Cups. Two that made sense, one that didn’t, and one that might make me kill someone. But first things, first.
“Whaddya got?” Zee prompted. I shoved the cards back in place, rezipping my suit.
“We go up.” I squinted at the fissure-ridden rock wall. The Four of Cups typically showed a grumpy young man sitting at the base of a tree, focusing on three cups on the ground, totally missing the cup that floated above him. It could mean lots of things in lots of different scenarios, but in a game of hide and seek…
I peered high. The problem with the client’s choice of Mount Swiss Cheese here was there probably were a half-dozen holes that legitimately tunneled all the way into the mountain, along with a million and one false starts. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to waste. The place was heavily patrolled, with the next choppers due at dawn.
Fortunately, the cards were pointing the way. I looked yet higher. “Give me a boost?”
Zee moved into position beside me, cupping his hands. He braced me easily as I scrabbled up the side of the wall. I usually preferred to avoid climbing anything more challenging than a mound of pillows, but the tech gloves helped. So did the fact that Zee’s arms were solid, even fully outstretched. “You got something?” he asked.
“We got those down here.”
“Mine’s better.” I glanced toward him. “But it’s going to be tight. You and Atlas Shrugged will need to suck it in. Boost me the rest of the way.”