Wind slapped me. My feet slid a little and I pressed against the side of the building. I crouched and rubbed the snow with my hand. Under the snowflakes, the ledge was ice. Figured.
The entire city stretched below, so small, it looked almost tidy from this height. Between me and that tidy city lay a dizzying drop. I swallowed. I could do a lot of things but I was pretty sure I couldn't sprout wings and fly. Right after my father's death, when I was fifteen, Greg had taken me to his ex-wife's house in the Smoky Mountains. That was the last time I could remember being this high. It felt a lot different sitting on the edge of a mountain cliff. In fact, compared to crawling up a four-foot ledge made of ice, sitting on a mountain, dangling your feet over the edge, was downright comfy.
Another gust hit me. I gritted my teeth and peeled myself from the wall. Keep moving, wuss. One foot before the other. As long as I didn't think about falling. Or looking down there...Boy, that's high.
The ground beckoned me. I almost wanted to jump. How the hell did people ever live in high-rises?
Above me female laughter rang out, followed by a low warning growl. Oh crap. Derek. I tore my gaze from the drop and started up the ledge.
I can do this. I just need to keep moving.
The ledge brought me halfway around the building. A large picturesque iceberg blocked most of the view from this side. More laughter floated on the breeze. Something was going on up there. What possessed Saiman to prance around in the snow barefoot anyway? And why was there snow atop the high-rise? It was bloody June, for crying out loud.
I climbed the last few feet separating me from the top. My feet found the solid roof under the blanket of snow. Finally.
I skirted the iceberg and saw Derek. He stood rigid, hands spread wide, his upper lip wrinkled in a preemptive growl. He was trying his best not to touch a blonde whose hands rested on his shoulders.
She was nude. Short, with hair down to her butt, she was proportioned with an almost obscene generosity: round ass, solid thighs, big heavy breasts tipped by pink nipples. Considering the size of her waist, it was a wonder she didn't fold in half under the weight of her boobs. Her skin glowed, almost as if lit from within by sunshine, and so she stood there, naked, unashamed, golden. Sex in the snow. She looked at Derek with huge eyes and purred. "A puppy. Play with me!"
Derek's eyes had gone completely yellow.
Past him, Ghastek's vamp crouched on the edge, making no move to assist.
I swiped a chunk of crusty snow, clamped it into a ball, and hurled it at the blonde. The snowball hit her upside the head, bursting into powder.
"Saiman! Step away from him!"
The blonde whipped her head around. "Kate..."
Her body twisted with preternatural fluidity. Female flesh melted like wax and re-formed into a muscle-corded frame. She swept toward me through the snow, growing, twisting, molding, hardening, too fast to follow and then a man wrapped his arm around my waist pulling me to him.
He was tall, perfectly proportioned, and muscled like a Roman statue. The same golden radiance that had illuminated the blonde lit his skin from within. His hair, a deep red streaked with gold, fell to his waist without a trace of a curl. His face was angular, yet masculine, and his grin had a mordant edge sharp enough to draw blood. He leaned toward me and I got a good look at his eyes. They were orange. Radiant, brilliant orange, streaked with pale green that almost looked like the crystals of ice growing on a window during a freeze.
They did not look human.
"Kate," he repeated, pulling me closer. He towered at least half a foot above me. Snowflakes swirled around us. His breath smelled like honey. "I'm so glad you came to visit. I was so dreadfully bored."
That's it. The flare had driven him insane.
I tried to pull away, but Saiman held me tight. There was strength in those arms that I had never expected. If I struggled too much, Derek would go ballistic. A woman wrestling with a naked man who probably outweighed her by eighty pounds tended to trigger onlookers' protective instincts, even if they weren't bound by a blood oath.
"Derek, please go down to the apartment and wait for me at the window."
He just stood there.
"Jealous?" Saiman laughed.
I tore myself long enough from those eyes to stare at Derek. "Please go."
Slowly, as if waking up from a dream, he turned and left the roof.
"What about the vampire?" Saiman asked.
"Just ignore me," Ghastek said. "Think of me as a fly on the wall."
Saiman touched my hair and I felt my braid unwinding on its own. In a moment, my hair framed my face. "What happened to you?" I asked.
He grinned wider. "Deep magic. It sings in my bones. Don't you feel it?"
I felt it. It had pulsed through me like a wild wine ever since this magic wave had hit. Power twisted and wound within me, wanting to break loose, but I had held it in check this long and I wasn't about to let myself off the leash now.
"Can you dance?" he asked.
"Dance with me, Kate!"
And we were off, spinning and twirling through the snow, raising glittering snowflakes with our feet. The snow refused to fall but chased us, following our movement like a light shroud. It was a wild dance, primitive and fast, and all I could do was follow his lead.
"I need some information," I yelled at a strategic moment.
He clamped my waist, picked me up like I weighed nothing, and spun around. "Ask."
"Too complicated for a fast dance."
He set me into the snow and held me close in a classic stance, one hand on my waist, one cradling my fingers. "Then we'll dance slowly. Put your arms around me."
No! "I don't think that would be a good idea."
We moved gently through the snow. "Things are chasing me." Which wasn't strictly true, but considering the circumstances, brevity was a virtue. "They're called reeves. They are undead. Their hair can tangle you up and hold you like a lasso."
"I don't know what they are."
"They are piloted by a tall creature who wears a white habit like a monk. He has tentacles. His name is Bolgor the Shepherd. I was told he's a Fomorian."
"I don't know him, either."
Damn it, Saiman. "What would a sea-demon want in our world?"
"What we all want: life." Saiman leaned in close, his lips nearly brushing my cheek. His eyes drew me in, and I knew that if I looked too long into them, I would forget why I came here.
"This Shepherd's hunting a young girl. Can you research why?"
"I could, but there is too much magic. I can't concentrate. I would rather dance. It's a magic time, Kate! Time of the gods."