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Authors: Kelley Armstrong

Betrayals (Cainsville Book 4)

BOOK: Betrayals (Cainsville Book 4)
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Also by Kelley Armstrong

Women of the Otherworld

Bitten

Stolen

Dime Store Magic

Industrial Magic

Haunted

Broken

No Humans Involved

Personal Demon

Living with the Dead

Frostbitten

Waking the Witch

Spell Bound

13

The Masked Truth

City of the Lost

Short Stories

Men of the Otherworld

Tales of the Otherworld

Otherworld Nights

The Darkest Powers Trilogy

The Summoning

The Awakening

The Reckoning

The Darkness Rising Trilogy

The Gathering

The Calling

The Rising

The Nadia Stafford Adventures

Exit Strategy

Made To Be Broken

Wild Justice

Age of Legends Trilogy

Sea of Shadows

Empire of Night

Forest of Ruin

The Cainsville Series

Omens

Visions

Deceptions

Betrayals

Copyright

Published by Sphere

ISBN: 978-0-7515-6125-8

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2016 K.L.A. Fricke Inc.

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.

Sphere

Little, Brown Book Group

Carmelite House

50 Victoria Embankment

London EC4Y 0DZ

www.littlebrown.co.uk

www.hachette.co.uk

Contents

Also by Kelley Armstrong

Copyright

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Waiting Game

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Dangerous Game

Chapter Eight

Arawn’s Mistake

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Falling

Grace and Understanding

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

The Hounds of Hell

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Gift

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four

Spokes on a Wheel

Chapter Forty-Five

Chapter Forty-Six

Trouble Magnet

Chapter Forty-Seven

Déjà Vu

Chapter Forty-Eight

Chapter Forty-Nine

FOR JEFF

CHAPTER ONE

I
woke to the sound of horses. It took a moment for me to remember where I was—in the forest behind the Saints’ clubhouse. I’d gone for a walk with Ricky which had turned into a chase that turned into victory sex and an exhausted drop into sleep on the forest floor.

I reached for him. When my fingers thumped down on cold earth, I scrambled up. “Ricky?”

Don’t panic.

He wouldn’t have wandered off. That was our pact after the last time I woke up alone in these woods, when Ricky had been lured away and nearly killed.

As I yanked on my clothing, a hound’s baying cut through the night. I spun and caught a flicker of distant fire.

A scream sounded deep in the forest. A man’s scream. I yanked my switchblade from my pocket and—

“Liv?”

Ricky’s groggy voice. Then his hand on my calf, and I looked down to see him on the ground where we’d been sleeping.

“You weren’t there,” I said, and he knew exactly what I meant, rising with a curse as he reached for his jeans.

When a low growl reverberated through the air, I strained but saw nothing.

“Is that a hound?” I whispered. “A
cŵn
?”

One glance at Ricky’s face told me he hadn’t heard anything.

“I heard a man scream,” I said. “And now growling. There was baying earlier. It think it’s one of the—”

A snarl. Then another cry, and I turned fast, catching a glint of red eyes and the faint outline of a giant black dog.

“Over there,” I whispered. “It’s—”

Ricky had disappeared.

“Damn it,
no
.”

Something crashed through undergrowth, running away, but I blocked it out, squeezed my eyes shut, and focused. “Ricky.”

“Here.” Warm fingers clasped mine. “Hold hands for safety. Just like in kindergarten.”

I told him what I was seeing and hearing. Pinpointing the source was impossible—it would come from the north, then the southeast, then the west.

“I think someone’s been cornered by the hound,” I said.

Now the woods had gone silent. Eerily silent. I clutched Ricky’s hand.

“I’m still here,” he said. “Oh, and when we went out for lunch yesterday, you said your brownie tasted like it’d been dredged in sawdust, so I dropped off one from Uppercrust for your afternoon break.”

He was proving it was really him I was talking to. “Thanks.”

“Covering all the bases. Was the brownie good?”

“It was awesome.”

“And the dude being menaced by the giant hell-hound?”

“Apparently gone.”

“Huh. Do you want to go grab another brownie?”

“It’s after ten.”

“Is that a challenge? I can find—”

His voice faded, and his figure shimmered against a backdrop of rubble.

There was no rubble in this forest.

I could still feel his hand, though, so I gripped it tighter, and his figure came clear again.

“Did I go somewhere?” he asked.

“You started to.”

“Huh.” He peered out into the night. As I looked around, he said, “Still nothing?”

I shook my head.

“We know it’s not the actual Hunt. I’d hear it if it was.” Ricky had Cŵn Annwn blood himself and recognized the sound of them. “It’s a vision, which means you have a message pending. So do you want to get it? Or leave it on vision-mail for a while?”

When I didn’t respond, he said, “I’d rather you got it. I know the fevers are easing off, but I still don’t like you having visions when you’re alone.”

“In other words, just get it over with.”

“Take it slow. Keep hold of my hand. If you can’t hear my voice, come back. And if you can talk, tell me what’s going on so I know everything’s okay.”

I nodded. Then I stared out into the forest, picturing what I’d seen a few minutes ago—rubble amidst the trees, nature reclaiming a human encroachment. Like the abandoned psych hospital. Like Villa Tuscana. Two other places where I’d seen fae visions. Ruined places, rich with fae energy, stolen by humans then falling to rubble, Nature slowly reclaiming what was hers, restoring balance.

When I heard a childish giggle, I turned, expecting to see the little girl who was so often my guide in the visions.

“Are you here?” I asked.

A laugh answered. Still girlish, but different from the first. I looked around. Piles of brick and stone and crushed mortar littered ground already blanketed in moss and vines. When I turned toward Ricky, I could see him faintly and feel the pressure of his hand. I told him what I saw as I led him toward that girlish laughter.

“Pou eísai?” a girl said, and though I didn’t recognize the words, I knew they meant
Where are you?

The other girl answered in the same language, telling her companion that the point of the game was to
find
her. The first girl let out a victory laugh, hearing her target, who shrieked as she realized she’d given herself away.

I stepped around a half-crumbled wall and saw a campsite—sleeping bags and backpacks—tucked into what remained of a room, the roof mostly intact. When I came closer, I saw more bags. Not a camp but a squat for the homeless.

The girls laughed again. One darted past. She was in her late teens, older than I expected, given the games and the giggling. Another girl zoomed from a hiding place. She launched herself at the first, and they fell, tumbling together and laughing.

Then they went still. Absolutely, unnaturally still. That youthful joy vanished in a blink, and when I looked into their faces, I saw two other girls—prostitutes—sitting on a bench. I’d spotted them six months ago while searching for an apartment. When they’d looked at me, I’d seen that emptiness in their gaze.

These were the same girls, recognizable now only as they presented that soulless gaze to the world. Then that disappeared, and the girls looked normal, though still solemn, their eyes dark with worry and concern.

“He’s found us,” the second one said in that foreign tongue.

The first girl made a noise in her throat, an odd rattle, as her sharp gaze darted about. “Go warn the others,” she whispered.

The second one shook her head vehemently. “I won’t leave—”

The first girl spun and grabbed her by the throat, and when she spoke, her words came carried on a hiss. “I said go.” She gave the second one a shove.

Still the girl hesitated, but her companion stomped in her direction with an urgent “Go!” and she took off through the trees. The first one watched her and whispered, “Be safe, little sister.” Then she turned and, once again, her gaze emptied. She took a step toward the forest.

“I know you’re there,” she said, speaking English now. “I have what you want.” Her voice took on a coy lilt. “I have everything you want. You need only come and take it.”

She stepped toward the forest, her hips swaying, and when my gaze lowered to those hips, I saw her belt. Snakeskin, like she’d been wearing the last time.

The girl walked into the forest, still calling to whomever she sensed there. I hurried after her, but when I stepped into the forest, all that was left was her voice, and even that was growing faint.

I stopped to listen and—

A scream. A horrible scream.

Like those of the fae. The dying fae on the grounds of Villa Tuscana.

Dragging Ricky, I ran toward the sound. I heard a hiss. I caught a glint of scale and of fang. A man howled. Then he cursed. That scream came again from all around me, and I spun, but there was nothing to see, nothing more to hear, just that terrible scream.

A thump, like a body hitting the ground. An odd rasp, like a death rattle. Silence.

I kept walking, kept listening. Breathing. A soft scrape. A grunt. The whisper of fabric. The smell of blood.

My hand tightened on Ricky’s. A single moonbeam swept the clearing, like a peephole into another world, and I spotted
a foot. The girl’s foot. Bare. Her toenails painted red. The beam moved over her supine body. Her leg. Her snakeskin belt. Then her torso, her shirt pushed up, stomach painted as red as her nails, a slash of crimson that split her belly in two. A hand reached into her stomach, and I fell back as the moonbeam moved up a man’s bloodstained arm. I could see the girl, dead on the ground, but I focused on him, as that light passed over his shoulder, to his head, fixed on the girl. Then he turned, and I saw the face of a man maybe thirty, fair-haired and bearded.

BOOK: Betrayals (Cainsville Book 4)
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