Fantasy Ilona Andrews Gunmetal Magic

ISBN 13: 9780425256138

Gunmetal Magic

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9780425256138: Gunmetal Magic

Includes a free bonus: a Kate Daniels novella, "Magic Gifts"

The New York Times bestselling Kate Daniels novels have been hailed as “top-notch urban fantasy” (Monsters and Critics). Now, Ilona Andrews delves deeper into Kate’s world, and reveals its untold stories...
After being kicked out of the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea’s whole existence is in shambles. She tries to put herself back together by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend. When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano—the male alpha of the Clan Bouda, and Andrea’s former lover—die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate. Now she must work with Raphael as her search for the killer leads into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta. And dealing with her feelings for him might have to take a back seat to saving the world...

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About the Author:

Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Together, they are the coauthors of the #1 New York Times bestselling Kate Daniels urban-fantasy series, including Magic Rises, Magic Slays, and Magic Bleeds and the romantic urban-fantasy novels of the Edge, including Steel's Edge, Fate's Edge, and Bayou Moon. They currently reside in Texas with their two children and numerous pets.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

Thud!

My head hit the sidewalk. Candy jerked me up by my hair and slammed my face into the asphalt.

Thud!

“Hit her again!” Michelle squeaked, her teenage voice shrill.

I knew it was a dream, because it didn’t hurt. The fear was still there, that sharp, hot terror, mixed with helpless rage, the kind of fear that turns you from a human being into an animal. Things become distilled to simple concepts: I was small, they were big; I was weak, they were strong. They hurt me, and I endured.

Thud.

My skull bounced off the pavement. Blood stained my blond hair. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sarah take a running start like a kicker before a field goal. The flesh on her body boiled. Bones grew, muscles wound around them like cotton candy over a stick, hair sprouted, sheathing the new body, half human, half animal, in a coat of pale sandy fur dappled with telltale hyena spots. The bouda grinned at me, her malformed mouth full of fangs. I clenched up, curling my ten–year–old self into a ball. The clawed foot crashed into my ribs. The three–inch claws scraped bone and it crunched inside me like a snapped chopstick. She kept kicking me.

Thud, thud, thud!

This was a dream. A dream grown from my memories, but still just a dream. I knew this, because ten years after my mother took eleven–year–old me and fled halfway across the country, I came back and put two bullets through Sarah’s eyes. I had emptied a clip into Candy’s left ear. I still remembered the way her skull had blossomed with red when the bullets tore out the other side. I had killed the entire werehyena clan. I wiped those bouda bitches off the face of the planet, because the world was a better place with them gone. Michelle was the only one who had escaped.

I sat up and grinned at them. “I’m waking up, ladies. Go fuck yourselves.”

My eyes snapped open. I lay in my closet, wrapped in a blanket and holding a butcher knife. The door of the closet stood slightly ajar, and the gray light of early morning slipped through the narrow gap.

Fantastic. Andrea Nash, decorated veteran of the Order, hiding in her closet with her knife and a blankie. I should’ve held on to the dream long enough to beat them into bloody pulp. At least then I wouldn’t feel so completely pathetic.

I inhaled, sampling the air. The normal scents of my apartment floated to me, the hint of synthetic apple from the soap in the bathroom, the fragrance of vanilla from the candle by my bed, and strongest of all, the stench of dog fur, a leftover from when my friend Kate’s poodle Grendel had kept me company. That freak of nature had slept at the foot of my bed, and his distinctive reek had permanently imprinted my rug.

No intruders.

The scents were muted, which meant the magic was down.

Thud–thud–thud!

What in the world?

Thud!

Someone was pounding on my door.

I kicked off my blanket, rolled to my feet, and ran out of the closet. My bedroom greeted me: my big bed, intruder–free; the crumpled mess of the blanket on the rug; my jeans and bra, discarded last night by the bed, next to a Lorna Sterling paperback with a pirate in a poofy shirt on the cover; bookcase, stuffed to the brim; pale blue curtains on the barred window, undisturbed.

I dropped the butcher knife onto my side table, pulled on my pajamas pants, grabbed my Sig–Sauer P226 from under the pillow, and ran to the door. Waking up with a gun in my hand would’ve made a lot more sense, but no, I woke up clutching a knife. That meant I must’ve gotten up in the middle of the night, ran into the kitchen, took a knife from the butcher block, ran back into the bedroom, grabbed a blanket, and hid in the closet. All without realizing where I was or what I was doing. If that wasn’t crazy, I didn’t know what was.

I hadn’t slept with a knife since I was a teenager. This blast from the past wasn’t welcome and it needed to go away real fast.

Thud–thud!

I reached the door and stood on my toes to look through the peephole. A tall black woman in her fifties stood on the other side. Her gray hair stuck out from her head in a mess, she was wearing a nightgown, and her face was so twisted by worry, I barely recognized her. Mrs. Haffey. She and her husband lived in an apartment right below me.

Normally Mrs. Haffey viewed her appearance as serious business. In terms of battle readiness, she was my hero—I’ve never seen her without her makeup and hair perfectly done. Something was really wrong.

I unlocked the door.

“Andrea!” Mrs. Haffey gasped. Behind her long white strands covered the landing and the stairwell. I was one hundred percent sure they hadn’t been there when I’d dragged myself into my apartment last night.

“What’s wrong?”

“Darin’s missing!”

I pulled her into my apartment and shut the door. “I need you to tell me from the beginning, slowly and clearly: what happened?”

Mrs. Haffey took a deep breath. She had been a cop’s wife for twenty–five years and her experience from dealing with a lifetime of emergencies kicked in. Her voice was almost steady. “I woke up and made coffee. Darin got up to take Chief outside. I took a shower. When I came out, Darin wasn’t back. I went out on the balcony, but he wasn’t in his usual spot.”

I knew exactly where the usual spot was, two stories under my bedroom window, where the Haffeys’ bulldog, Chief, preferred to mark his territory. I smelled it on my way to work every morning. Of course, Chief smelled my scent and it only made him more determined to pee his way to territorial supremacy.

“I called and called Darin, and nothing. I tried to go downstairs. There’s blood all over the landing and a white substance on the stairs and it’s blocking the way.”

“Did Mr. Haffey take his gun with him?”

Mr. Haffey had retired from the Paranormal Activity Division of the Atlanta Police Department. PAD cops took their guns seriously. As far as I knew, Darin Haffey never left the house without his Smith & Wesson M&P340 snub–nosed revolver.

“He always takes his gun with him,” Mrs. Haffey said.

And he hadn’t fired it, because his revolver ate .357 Magnum cartridges. When he pulled the trigger, the shot sounded like a small cannon going off. I would’ve heard the gunshot and recognized it even through the dream. Whatever happened, happened fast.

The mysterious “white substance” must’ve appeared as a result of the magic wave last night. Kate, my best friend, had warded my apartment months ago. Invisible spells shielded my place in a protective barrier. She’d covered the perimeter walls, the ceiling, and floor. Anything magic would have a hard time breaking in, which probably explained why I’d slept safe and secure through the night.

“You know Darin’s blind as a bat.” Mrs. Haffey twisted her hands. “He can’t even see what he’s shooting at. The other day he comes running out of the bathroom, screaming and foaming at the mouth. He’d brushed his teeth with Aspercreme instead of toothpaste . . .”

A note of hysteria slipped into her voice. At five ten, she had eight inches of height on me and she was leaning over. “I called down to the station, but they say it will be twenty minutes or longer. I thought since you were with the Order . . .”

I used to be with the Order. When I was a Knight of Merciful Aid, it was my job to help people when the cops wouldn’t or couldn’t assist them with the magic hazmat. I had decorations and a stellar service record, but none of it mattered when the Order found out that I was a shapeshifter. They branded me mentally disturbed and unfit for duty and “retired” me.

But they didn’t take away my training or my skills.

I pressed a latch in my wall. A panel slid aside, revealing a small niche that used to be a hallway closet and which I had converted into my own personal armory. A row of gun barrels gleamed in the morning light.

Mrs. Haffey clicked her mouth shut.

Let’s see. I’d be bringing my Sigs, but I needed something with more power. The AA–12, an Automatic Assault 12–gauge shotgun with a 32–round clip was always a good choice. It fired 300 rounds per minute with minimal recoil. I filled mine with steel slugs. Squeeze the trigger once, and get a single shot that would punch through a car door. Hold the trigger, and anything on the other end, no matter how much hard body armor it wore, would become a smoking pile of meat in six and a half seconds. I’d paid a fortune for it and it was worth every dollar.

I grabbed the AA–12 and put on a hip holster, into which I stuck my Sig and its twin. “Mrs. Haffey, I need you to stay here.” I gave her a nice big smile. “Lock the door behind me and don’t open it until I come back. Do you understand?”

Mrs. Haffey nodded.

“Thank you, ma’am.”

I stepped onto the landing and heard the deadbolt slide shut behind me.

The “white substance” stretched in long pale strands over the walls. It resembled a spiderweb if the spider was the size of a bowling ball and instead of working in a spiral had decided to weave only in a vertical direction. I crossed the landing and inhaled. Usually there was an up–draft here, the air rising from the front entrance to the top of the building. Today no movement troubled the stairway, but I smelled the sharp metallic odor of fresh blood all the same. Tiny hairs on the back of my neck stood up. The predator in me, the other me sleeping deep inside, opened her eyes.

I padded down the stairs, moving silently on the concrete steps, my shotgun ready. Even though magic made my existence possible, it didn’t mean that magic and I played nice. Give me guns over spells any day.

The web grew thicker. At the Haffeys’ landing, it swallowed the walls and the wooden stair rail. I turned, heading down. The stench of blood assaulted my nostrils and I tasted it on my tongue. All of my senses went into overdrive. My heart beat faster. My pupils dilated, improving my vision. My breathing sped up. My hearing sharpened and I caught a distant noise, muffled, but unmistakable: the deep, throaty bark of a bulldog.

I took a few more steps down. Blood stained the stairs. A large amount, at least a couple of pints, possibly more, all in big round drops. Either someone bled and walked, or someone bled and was carried. Please don’t be Darin. I liked Darin and I liked his wife. Mrs. Haffey was always kind to me.

The first floor landing was a narrow tunnel within the web. The door to apartment 1A was intact, but buried in white strands. The same solid wall of white sealed the way downstairs, and none of it was torn. No sign of Darin going that way. The door to 1B lay in a splintered wreck. Bloody marks stretched across the threshold, pointing into the apartment. Someone had been dragged inside.

I stepped into the hallway. A new scent tugged at me, a slightly sour, prickly odor that set off instinctual alarms in my head. Not good.

The apartment had the exact same layout as mine: a narrow hallway, opening into the kitchen on the right, the living room on the left, then the first bedroom, and then a short perpendicular hallway leading to the utility room and guest bathroom, and finally to the master bedroom with a bathroom en suite.

I moved in, nice and easy, slicing the pie around the corner: starting at the wall and moving at a ninety degree angle away from it, leaning slightly away from the wall to see the threat around the corner before it saw me. Jumping around the corners was very dramatic but would get your head blown off.

Kitchen—clear.

I moved into the living room.

On the left, by a coffee table, sat a large wicker basket full of yarn. Two long wooden needles stuck out of it at an angle. Next to the basket lay a severed human arm. The blood had pooled from it, soaking the beige wall–to–wall carpet in a dark red stain.

Pale skin. Not Darin Haffey. No, this was likely Mrs. Truman who lived in this apartment with her two cats. She liked to play bridge with her knitting club and collected yarn for “special” projects, with which she never did anything. Now her torn–off arm lay next to the basket with her knitting stash. No time to absorb and deal with it. I still had Darin to find.

I moved on. The sour prickly scent grew stronger.

Bedroom—clear. Bathroom—clear.

A huge hole gaped in the floor of the utility room. Something had smashed through the floor and tile from below.

I circled the hole, shotgun pointing down.

No movement. The floor below me looked clear.

A muffled noise cut through the quiet.

My ears twitched.

Woof! Woof!

Chief was still alive somewhere in there. I jumped into the hole, landed on the concrete floor of the basement, and moved away from the light streaming through the hole. No need to present a clear target.

Gloom filled the basement, dripping from the web into dark corners. The walls no longer existed. There was only web, white and endless.

My eyes adjusted to the darkness. Shapeshifter vision guaranteed that as long as there was some light, I wouldn’t bump into things.

Wet dark smears marred the concrete. Blood. I followed it.

Ahead the concrete split. A long fissure ran through the floor, at least three feet wide. The apartment building was already none too sturdy. The magic hated tall buildings and gnawed on them, pulverizing brick and mortar until the structure crashed down. The bigger the building, the faster it fell. Ours was too short and too small and so far we had escaped unscathed, but giant holes in the basement didn’t exactly inspire confidence.

A snorting noise came from inside the gap. I leaned over it. A whiff of dog fur stink washed over me. Chief, you silly knucklehead.

I crouched by the hole. The bulldog squirmed below, snorting up a storm. He must’ve fallen into the fissure and the drop was too sheer for him to jump out.

I put my shotgun on the ground and leaned in, grabbing Chief by the scruff of his neck. The bulldog weighed eighty pounds at least. What in the world were the Haffeys feeding him, small elephants? I yanked him out and jumped to my feet, shotgun in my hands. The whole thing took half a second.

Chief pressed against my leg. He was an Olde English Bulldogge, a throwback to the times when the English Bulldog was used for bull–baiting. A powerful, agile dog, Chief feared neither garbage trucks, nor stray dogs or horses. Yet here he was, rubbing against my calf, freaked out.

I took a second to bend down and pet his big head. It will be okay, boy. You’re with me now.

We started forward, moving slowly out of the first narrow room into a wider chamber. The web spanned the walls, creating hiding spots in the corners. Creepy as hell.

I carefully rounded the corner. At the far wall to my right two furnaces sat side by side: the electric for the times when technology had the upper hand and the old–fashioned coal–burning monstrosity for use during the waves, when the magic robbed us of electric current. To the right of the coal furnace stood a large coal bin, a four–foot–high wooden enclosure filled with coal. On the coal, half–buried, lay Mr. Haffey.

Two creatures crawled on the concrete in ...

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2012. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Includes a free bonus: a Kate Daniels novella, Magic Gifts The New York Times bestselling Kate Daniels novels have been hailed as top-notch urban fantasy (Monsters and Critics). Now, Ilona Andrews delves deeper into Kate s world, and reveals its untold stories. After being kicked out of the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea s whole existence is in shambles. She tries to put herself back together by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend. When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano--the male alpha of the Clan Bouda, and Andrea s former lover--die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate. Now she must work with Raphael as her search for the killer leads into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta. And dealing with her feelings for him might have to take a back seat to saving the world. Codice libro della libreria LIB9780425256138

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Descrizione libro Softcover. Condizione libro: New. Includes a free bonus: a Kate Daniels novella, "Magic Gifts"The New York Times bestselling Kate Daniels novels have been hailed as "top-notch urban fantasy" (Monsters and Critics). Now, Ilona Andrews delves deeper into Kate’s world, and reveals its untold stories After being kicked out of the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea’s whole existence is in shambles. She tries to put herself back together by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend. When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano—the male alpha of the Clan Bouda, and Andrea’s former lover—die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate. Now she must work with Raphael as her search for the killer leads into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta. And dealing with her feelings for him might have to take a back seat to saving the world. Codice libro della libreria BAA-B-3747775

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2012. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Includes a free bonus: a Kate Daniels novella, Magic Gifts The New York Times bestselling Kate Daniels novels have been hailed as top-notch urban fantasy (Monsters and Critics). Now, Ilona Andrews delves deeper into Kate s world, and reveals its untold stories. After being kicked out of the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea s whole existence is in shambles. She tries to put herself back together by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend. When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano--the male alpha of the Clan Bouda, and Andrea s former lover--die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate. Now she must work with Raphael as her search for the killer leads into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta. And dealing with her feelings for him might have to take a back seat to saving the world. Codice libro della libreria LIB9780425256138

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