Maid of ice, p.1

Maid of Ice, page 1

 

Maid of Ice
 


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Maid of Ice


  Stalkers and death threats . . .

  For Finlay Ryder, danger means playing a racecar driver on a daytime soap. That is, until he’s forced to reckon with his true identity as an Albah, a magical ancient race, by one of his own kind. Someone wants him dead. And worse, an ancient vampire is on the prowl, drawing blood left and right. Now, Finlay has no choice but to hunt enemies with unspeakable powers—or risk being hunted himself . . .

  . . . and that’s just the first date

  Ice skater Alina Nyx is using her broken wrist as an excuse for a career change. And when she falls for handsome Finlay, Albah drama feels like her new full-time job. Learning about magic and vampires is exciting, until her life is threatened. Now, as she begins to uncover her own mysterious powers, she must combine forces with Finlay to eradicate their foes for good, or all Albah will suffer . . .

  Visit us at www.kensingtonbooks.com

  Books by Shona Husk

  Blood and Silver

  Lady of Silver

  Warrior of Fire

  Maid of Ice

  Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation

  Maid of Ice

  Blood and Silver

  Shona Husk

  LYRICAL PRESS

  Kensington Publishing Corp.

  www.kensingtonbooks.com

  Lyrical Press books are published by

  Kensington Publishing Corp. 119 West 40th Street New York, NY 10018

  Copyright © 2017 by Shona Husk

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

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  Kensington and the K logo Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.

  LYRICAL PRESS Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.

  Lyrical Press and the L logo are trademarks of Kensington Publishing Corp.

  First Electronic Edition: November 2017

  eISBN-13: 978-1-5161-0040-8

  eISBN-10: 1-5161-0040-9

  First Print Edition: November 2017

  ISBN-13: 978-1-5161-0042-2

  ISBN-10: 1-5161-0042-5

  Printed in the United States of America

  Chapter 1

  The steering was heavy, which wasn’t a good thing at racetrack speeds. Finley Ryder didn’t know enough about cars to determine what was wrong and keep the race car on the track while it hurtled around the corner at over one hundred miles an hour. He eased off the accelerator and tried to remember all the lessons he’d had before being allowed to drive the car himself.

  Nothing came to mind that would save his life. The steering was getting harder. He wasn’t going to make the next corner and it was coming up way too fast.

  “Car’s not responding.” Finley said into the microphone in his helmet. The microphone wasn’t there for his team to call out tips. It was there for the film crew to give him instructions and for him to spout any lines they needed said.

  “What do you mean?”

  What he meant was he was jelly in under ten seconds. “No steering.” He pressed the brake, to slow the car so he didn’t hit the wall as fast. He swore. It wasn’t going to stop in time, that much was clear. “Make sure you get the accident. You might need it for a later episode.”

  When they’d have to kill off his character.

  Finley didn’t like his chances of walking out of this. Panicked voices filled his headset. They were never going to let him do his own stunts again after this, no matter how qualified he was.

  His heart beat fast, pumping fear into his body. This was not how he’d planned on dying—he hadn’t made those plans yet. He didn’t give a shit how expensive the gearbox was. He tore his way down through the gears trying to slow the race car. There were sirens, emergency vehicles were already on the track. He didn’t take his eyes off the concrete wall to find out where they were. He knew what they were doing.

  They were coming for him.

  The car slowed, but not enough.

  He drew in a breath to calm the rising panic. This counted as dire situation, and he didn’t care who saw or what questions they asked. He drew the air around him into a shield. He’d tested his magical abilities before, but not like this. He wasn’t sure any Albah had.

  He was making history.

  With an exhale, he pushed every bit of will he had into cushioning himself, and the car, from the impact. If he’d been able to access some skin under all the safety gear, he’d have added blood into the mix.

  His eyes closed as everything collapsed around him.

  “Finley?” Someone was shining a light into his eyes. Fuck, it was annoying.

  He tried to move, and his body didn’t respond. Panic flooded him. He struggled, trying to fight his way free. Pain flared through his body. It took several seconds, someone telling him to be still and someone holding his hand before he settled. His breathing was still too fast and his heart was jumping all over the place. He was still in the car, or more correctly what was left of the car.

  He was alive. He blinked and focused on what he was being told. He was alive…but how alive?

  “We have to cut you out of the car. How are you feeling? Do you know what day it is?” the man said.

  He squinted at the man who was holding his hand. “Wednesday.” He wasn’t sure the word came out right. It was Wednesday, wasn’t it? Yeah, it was. It was Wednesday and he was awake. That had to be a good thing. The medic was still holding his hand. “If you don’t let go, you’re going to have to give me your number so I can call you in the morning.”

  Finley smiled through gritted teeth. The adrenaline was fading, and he was sure the pain was really going to start kicking in before they got him out of the car.

  People laughed.

  “Finley’s fine,” someone said.

  Was he? He’d been going damn fast when he’d hit the wall. The wall didn’t look the best. Chunks of concrete had been torn out, cracks radiated out and he could see the rebar beneath it in places. He didn’t feel good and the harness was cutting into him in all the wrong places.

  “You can have my number.” The medic smiled. “Let’s cut you out of here first.”

  Finley grimaced. Even though his left nut was getting squashed, there was no room to move and they couldn’t unclip him. He was trapped and he had to be calm and wait.

  Then the cutting started. If he hadn’t had a headache before, he did after the first five seconds of that racket.

  Eventually he was eased out of the car and straight onto a stretcher. “I’m fine,” he said even though he wasn’t. They hadn’t even taken his helmet off in case he had a neck injury, but at least he had someone to talk to on the other end. “What the hell was wrong with the car?”

  “We don’t know. What did you do to it?”

  “Nothing. She was fine until I got up to speed.” They liked him to do a few
slow laps first, get a few shots and the lines done. Then they’d throw on a few other cars to get the race feel. He was glad the other cars hadn’t gotten onto the track yet or the mess could’ve been much bigger.

  As soap operas went Out of Control was fun to work on, mostly because it was about race cars and the rivalry between teams. This season he was supposed to be stealing the girlfriend of another driver. The woman in question was the ex public-relations rep for his team, and she was also his ex-girlfriend from two seasons ago and the reason his on-screen wife had just left him. It was all very dramatic.

  And as he was pushed into the ambulance it all seemed rather petty.

  The adrenaline had left in a rush that made him feel ill.

  His new buddy the medic checked his pulse. “How are you doing?”

  “Been better. You?”

  “Not every day I get to rescue Finley Ryder.”

  Finley laughed. “Let’s not make it a habit. You can have the suit when they cut me out of it.” Was he jelly inside? Is that why they hadn’t unzipped him? Why wasn’t he in more pain? He could feel the bruises from the harness forming, but there should be more. Shouldn’t there? “How bad is it?”

  “Well, you’re awake and talking.”

  “My legs?”

  “They don’t appear to be broken.”

  So why was he feeling kind of numb? He tried to move his legs but nothing seemed to happen. He wasn’t going to panic, not yet. Maybe he was strapped down. “My back?”

  “We’re taking you in for scans.”

  He squeezed the medic’s hand hard enough that the man’s eyes widened. “Is my back fucking broken?”

  Something jabbed him in the ankle. “Ow.”

  “You felt that. It’s a good sign.” The ambulance lurched off, sirens going. “Relax and let me do my job. Next time let the stunt guys drive?”

  “I am a qualified stunt driver.” And if a human had been in that car, they’d have died. He’d only survived because he’d been able to soften the impact with magic. He might have walked away from the Albah community and his family, but he hadn’t sworn off magic.

  The medic was right. He did need to relax. He knew a little about healing—not as much as his half brother, but enough that he might be able to give himself a head start before the doctors got hold of him.

  Finley closed his eyes and sunk his thoughts into his body. Most of him was bruised and hurt in some way, but nothing felt wrong or broken. He wasn’t jelly and his organs all seemed to be okay. But there was pressure on his back that he didn’t like the feel of and wasn’t quite sure what to do with. Broken bones he knew how to fix. Spinal injuries? Maybe he should wait to see what the scans and doctors said before attempting anything. There was no chance of him getting hold of any silver in hospital to help his body out. He’d have to wait until he got home.

  How long that would be was anyone’s guess.

  The tabloids would have exaggerated tales of his injury—or even death—before he got home. Would they write nice things about him?

  Probably not. The headline would probably read: Out of Control playboy’s final joyride.

  He’d survived the un-survivable. Screw them all. He’d have fun proving them wrong once again. The ambulance stopped and he sighed. He hated hospitals.

  * * * *

  After three days in hospital Finley was bored. The bruising to his back and spine was going. According to the doctors he was healing very well. He’d slowed the amount of magic he was using so his recovery didn’t appear miraculous. He was up and walking and ever so glad that the car was a real race car complete with all the safety bits. A street car would’ve never survived.

  His brush with death had all been caught on camera, of course. However, it was unsettling to watch the car disintegrate around him on impact. While it was all over in seconds on the TV, the accident had felt slower when it was happening. When he examined the footage on the news, or the Web as it was everywhere, he could make out his air shield. A ripple had formed just before impact—he’d cut it close—and anyone who knew what they were searching for would see the disturbance.

  He should’ve done a better job with the magic. If he’d started sooner, or been more experienced, the car would’ve survived and he wouldn’t be injured. Although him walking away without a scratch would’ve raised some eyebrows. He stretched as he got of the bed. Every part of him was either aching or stiff, and the bed was partly responsible for that. Why they made hospital beds so uncomfortable he didn’t know, but if he stayed in one position too long his back throbbed.

  Must be time for another little walk. While he wasn’t supposed to be overdoing it, staying in his room twenty-four hours a day wasn’t an option.

  He shoved a cap on to hide his hair. He could do without being recognized and having to sign autographs. Smiling might be asking too much. All he wanted to do was get released so he could finish recovering at home, and get back to filming next week. They’d be doing all the bits they could without him. He’d put money down that he wouldn’t be allowed to drive on the show again.

  What no one had given him yet was an answer on what had gone wrong with the car, but then there wasn’t much car left to analyze.

  He shuffled toward the door of his room, trying to find the usual spring to his step, but his hamstrings were still hurting. What he needed was a swim, a stretch and a massage. He needed to be moving, not lying around.

  The cafeteria was three floors down, and while he could’ve ordered anything he wanted to his room the whole point was to get up and get out of that little bland box. There was only so much TV he could watch.

  A nurse smiled as he walked by. “Can I get you anything?”

  “Just taking my morning stroll like the doctor ordered.” The doc had actually told him to slow down, but the doctor didn’t know the difference between a human and an Albah so Finley wasn’t putting too much weight on his recommendation. He’d called his half brother for advice. Julian had asked to see his charts and scans and then told him he was lucky, he wasn’t sure any amount of magic could fix a severed spinal cord. Good thing it wasn’t severed, just bruised. He was an expert in reducing swelling and bruising and simple fractures, but that was about as far as his healing skills went. Julian could heal burns and bullet wounds too. He was a real doctor.

  Because he’d spoken to Julian he was sure that their father was now well aware of the details of his injuries. Finley hadn’t called his father yet. He wasn’t well enough for that. Some bruises he couldn’t heal.

  Shuffle. Shuffle. Shuffle. He felt a hundred. Not thirty-six.

  Hopefully the writers wouldn’t kill his character off, although if they ever decided to, he’d given them some excellent footage. The thought made him smile as he stabbed the elevator button.

  He wasn’t sure he could be bothered going all the way to the cafeteria.

  He glanced back toward his room and his skin crawled at the idea of going back so soon. He’d made the effort to get up and get dressed and he was going to buy himself a coffee. His hand slid to his pocket. He hadn’t forgotten his wallet.

  The doors opened and he got in. He leaned against the wall as the elevator made its way down to the next floor. A few of people got in. Two in scrubs, and a woman with bright red hair who was holding her arm across her body. Her gaze flicked over him, finishing on his face. He should look away, but couldn’t, so he smiled.

  Her lips turned up. “What are you in for?”

  Truth or lie? “Car accident.”

  She nodded. The elevator stopped and the two nurses got out. No one else got in. The elevator trundled its way toward the next floor and the cafeteria.

  “You?” he asked, mostly to be polite. She was pretty, but he was in no shape to be doing anything more than wash down painkillers. This walk to get coffee might’ve been ambitious.

  “Broken arm
waiting to see the doctor this afternoon and then I get a cast.”

  “So how come you’re escaping?”

  “I’m in need of cake,” she said, as if it were the most logical thing.

  He was in no position to judge. If they had his favorite, salted caramel, he’d be tempted. “Coffee.” He sighed as the doors opened up and he realized there was still a long walk to the cafeteria. “I should’ve ordered room service.”

  She offered him her good arm. “Come on.”

  He should go back to his room, but his pride wouldn’t let him now he had an audience. He gritted his teeth and smiled before accepting her arm.

  “I’m Alina.”

  “Finley.” Now she’d know him and he didn’t want to have to deal with people who wanted something from him right now.

  She didn’t break step. Maybe she didn’t know him.

  He relaxed a little and tried to enjoy the experience instead of being on guard. “So how did you break your arm?”

  “Ice-skating. Triple axel, missed the landing. Broke my arm to save my face.”

  “Good trade.”

  “I thought so until the doctor decided to fill my arm full of titanium plates and screws. Today’s the first day I felt like getting up, so I’m making the most of it. You don’t seem injured.”

  He gave a dark laugh. “Bruised my spine. Lucky to have walked away from it.” The weightlessness was with him for a moment. The spin. Now he could put sensation together with the TV footage. It made him ill. If he hadn’t realized, or he hadn’t have forced everything he had into the magic. He drew in a sharp breath.

  She glanced at him again. Her eyes were blue with that telltale ring of silver.

  How had he missed that? She was Albah. Had to be. While her hair was obviously dyed, it suited her, and she wouldn’t be the first Albah to hide their most obvious trait of pale blond hair. But her ears were uncurled, human in appearance. She couldn’t be Albah. Humans could have blue eyes, but the silver…

  Was she human or Albah? It shouldn’t bother him, but it did. He needed to know.

 
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