BOOK 1 OF RYDER SERIES
KATE DANIELS WORLD
AVAILABLE ON JANUARY 12, 2021
From award-winning author, Ilona Andrews, an all-new novel set in the New York Times #1 bestselling Kate Daniels World and featuring Julie Lennart-Olsen, Kate and Curran’s ward.
Atlanta was always a dangerous city. Now, as waves of magic and technology compete for supremacy, it’s a place caught in a slow apocalypse, where monsters spawn among the crumbling skyscrapers and supernatural factions struggle for power and survival.
Eight years ago, Julie Lennart left Atlanta to find out who she was. Now she’s back with a new face, a new magic, and a new name—Aurelia Ryder—drawn by the urgent need to protect the family she left behind. An ancient power is stalking her adopted mother, Kate Daniels, an enemy unlike any other, and a string of horrifying murders is its opening gambit.
If Aurelia’s true identity is discovered, those closest to her will die. So her plan is simple: get in, solve the murders, prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled, and get out without being recognized. She expected danger, but she never anticipated that the only man she’d ever loved could threaten everything.
One small misstep could lead to disaster. But for Aurelia, facing disaster is easy; it’s relationships that are hard.
BUY FROM ONE OF THESE FINE RETAILERS
The eagle took off. I tossed a handful of wolfsbane into the air, spun Tulip around, and urged her into a canter. She flew through night-soaked streets like a ghost. Wind tugged at my hair. Even if Desandra chased me, she’d have a hard time catching up, and the wolfsbane would leave her nose-blind for a couple of hours.
Ahead, Lucile Avenue dead-ended into Abernathy Boulevard. We made a right and headed north west.
An eerie howl floated on the night wind. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end, an instinctual reaction coded in my genes when humans were food and feared being eaten.
It came from the left. If Desandra had chased me and howled, it would’ve come from the right or behind us. Were there wolves guarding her? She could’ve brought a team with her. Had I blundered into a trap?
I sent my magic out in a pulse. It splayed out, searching, collided with bodies, and I felt wolves, running fast through the wrecked houses on my right. One, two…
A second group, on the left, gliding through the overgrown wood that used to be Westview Cemetery. Three more, all larger than a wild wolf had a right to be.
Another howl rose, a vicious song of hunt, a promise of sharp fangs and swift death. A second howl answered. The pack was closing in.
Tulip neighed, more outrage than fear, and broke into gallop. We thundered up the deserted street past the husks of abandoned homes. The wolves sang again. Ice rolled down my spine. This wasn’t a pretend chase. I was being hunted.
A new presence came in from the right, moving fast on the edge of my magic. It lashed my senses like a knife, emanating power. Not Desandra. Something else. Something savage, something more… Moving way too fast.
Tulip screamed in alarm.
We rounded the curve. Ahead, something blocked the road. The moon peeked through the clouds. An overturned semi, flanked by a bunch of smashed cars.
Wolves burst from the woods behind me.
Forest on the left, semi in front. Turning right, toward East I-20, was my only option. I swung Tulip onto MLK Drive.
The overpass in front of me had crumbled. A hill of debris blocked the road.
A dead end. They’d ran me to ground.
I let the reins go slack, so Tulip could stop on her own. She made a wide arc by the rubble, slowing, and I turned her toward the road and the cemetery on the other side, our backs to the overpass. I was done running.
No more howling. It was quiet now. The only sound was Tulip breathing hard.
Shadows congealed from the gloom between the trees on the other side. Slowly, paw over paw, the wolves padded out into the open. Three from the woods, two from the left, coming from Abernathy. Two grey Eurasians, one white Arctic, and the other two grey sprinkled with cinnamon – Timbers. Every single one was over two hundred pounds. Five pairs of glowing eyes stared at me.
Tulip bared her teeth.
The odds weren’t in my favor. With the magic up, I could take them, but then the Pack would come after me in force.
A huge shape leaped from the roof of a brick building on the left and landed in front of the pack. Magic screamed a warning in my head.
A massive grey monster, bigger than any lupine shapeshifter I had ever seen, raised his head. He was almost as big as Curran and Curran was a fucking prehistoric lion.
Two golden eyes focused on me, their gaze pinning me in place. Suddenly it was hard to breathe. My body locked up, convinced that I was prey. The Alpha stare.
I stared right back. Holding his gaze was like trying to lift a car.
The moon tore through the clouds, spilling pale light onto the intersection. It slid over the giant wolf’s fur, setting it aglow. He wasn’t grey. He was silver. Unnaturally silver.
I blinked, bringing my magic vision up. A faint mint green rippled over his coat. Fuck.
The wolf took a step forward, bathed in moonlight.
My hands went cold. A bitter metallic taste coated my tongue. I blinked the magic colors away and reached for my bow, attached to Tulip’s saddle.
I raised my bow. Everything came into crystal clear focus. My breathing was deep and even. The world shrank down to three things: the wolf, my bow, and the distance between us.
A third step.
I plucked an arrow from the quiver.
His black lips stretched, showing me a forest of fangs.
Keep smiling. You’ll look really funny with an arrow sticking out of your mouth.
His silver fur tore. In an instant, bone melted like wax, reshaping itself, muscles stretched, snapping over the new frame, and human skin sheathed the new form. A man with golden eyes stared at me, tall, broad shouldered, corded with muscle. The moonlight played over his face, highlighting the network of thin scars.
My heart stopped. It couldn’t have, because I would’ve died, but it felt like it had.
His eyes were ice-cold. He looked at me as if this was his land and I trespassed.
Derek opened his mouth.
I had to run. Now. Before I heard his voice.
I sent a mental scream to Tulip. Go!
The magic command whipped Tulip into motion. She reared, pawing the air. A faint outline of a horn shimmered on her forehead. Tulip spun, surged toward the rubble, leaped, landing on the broken concrete like a gazelle and dashed over the fallen overpass. For a moment we went airborne and then we were galloping down the road at a breakneck speed into the night.