Page 57 of Court of Nightmares

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I find myself choosing some black trousers, which are similar to cargo pants but made from soft fabric that seems to tighten to my body, then a chainmail shirt. It’s lightweight and has a white and silver glow—definitely fey magic. I slip the halter over my head. It ends at my navel with a cowled neckline and feels like butter as I move.

Grinning, I spin before stumbling as a stabbing pain makes me double over with a gasp. It takes a moment for the familiar pang to register, and my eyes widen as I rush to the toilet and pull down my underwear.

Oh shit. I stare down at my underwear in shock.

I haven’t had a period since just after I changed. They aren’t common. In fact, unless we choose to, we don’t get them. When I was sick from drinking human blood, I never worried about it because my body was dying, but it seems my body is currently deciding for me.


The door slams open, and seven kings with weapons and bared fangs crowd around the threshold as I crouch above the toilet, my knickers down.

My mouth opens and closes before I squeak, “Period. I guess dying messed up my body.”

They all relax, and Reve wiggles his eyebrows. “I’ll be happy to help you clean up,” he purrs, making me laugh. Period blood is a rarity, and if I were to let another drink it, it would give them an insane amount of power. However, it’s an intimate act that’s usually shared between mates. I’ve never done it myself, but at his comment, an idea comes to mind.

I’m just about to suggest we do just that when Azul freezes, and his eyes turn completely white before rolling back into his head.

“Shit.” Lycus, who is the closest, catches him as if he’s worried Azul might fall, and I drag my knickers up as I send my power through my body to stop the blood for now.

Suddenly, he’s back, and his eyes are wide. “We have to go now!”

“What’s wrong?” Nathair asks as the others prepare, their masks appearing at their sides and then on their faces.

“An attack, a huge one. So much death, so many bodies . . .” He shivers.

“I can feel it,” Osis says sadly. “The souls are crying out. Azul is right.”

“Then let’s go,” Nathair commands, and then they look at me. “Are you coming or staying,draya?” He leaves the decision up to me, but I’m a judge now, and it’s time I act like it.

I straighten with a smile. “Coming.”

* * *

I thought the mask would feel oppressive, but it actually feels warm, almost like a second skin that moulds to my face, and when I put it on, the others just stare before Conall barks, “We do not have time to show you how beautiful you look right now, but we will later.”

He seems sad as he takes all of our hands, and then we fade into the shadows before reappearing outside of a four-story house. The lights are all off despite the fact that the moon is high in the sky, and when I sniff the air, the scent of blood hits me, as do waves of terror and death.

I shiver. “There was a lot of death here.”

“I feel it too,” Osis murmurs.

Lifting my hand, I blink when blood rises off the stone steps. “Vampyr blood,” I confirm. “Young, almost . . . almost like a child’s, as if they have not fully matured into the change yet. It feels wrong, different.”

“That’s because this is a place for those without families, those who have been orphaned and left without a court,” Lycus explains sadly, nodding his head to a sign on the wall that proudly displays the words Halfway Home with a vampyr symbol.

He’s right.

None of us move for a moment, knowing what we will find inside.

“It is our duty,” Nathair reminds us and then strides to the house.

We follow him inside, but as soon as we step through the door, my eyes close in agony. I can sense so much death here, I almost choke on it, and the pain staggers me. I know they can feel it too, but it must be worse for Osis, who is hanging back, and Azul, who is doubled over, panting.

“Are you okay?” I whisper.

He nods and straightens. “The ghosts all came to me at once. I am okay, but they are all dead.” There is no inflection in his voice, but I can feel the pure agony in his mind, so I take his shaking hand in mine.

“Spread out. Take a floor each, and check every single body,” Nathair orders grimly.

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