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Authors: Kelley Armstrong

Otherworld Nights

BOOK: Otherworld Nights
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A
LSO BY
K
ELLEY
A
RMSTRONG

The Otherworld Series

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

Collections

Men of the Otherworld

Tales of the Otherworld

Otherworld Omnibuses

Werewolves

Spellcasters

The Cainsville Series

Omens

Visions

The Nadia Stafford Series

Exit Strategy

Made to Be Broken

Wild Justice

E-Originals

The Hunter and the Hunted

PUBLISHED BY RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Copyright © 2014 K.L.A. Fricke Inc.

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Published in 2014 by Random House Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited, a Penguin Random House Company, and simultaneously in the United States of America by Dutton Books, a division of Penguin Random House, and in the United Kingdom by Orbit, a division of the Little, Brown Book Group, an Hachette UK Company, London. Distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.

www.randomhouse.ca

Random House Canada and colophon are registered trademarks.

LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA CATALOGUING IN PUBLICATION

Armstrong, Kelley, author
Otherworld nights : more otherworld tales / Kelley Armstrong.

(Women of the otherworld)
Short stories.

ISBN
978-0-307-36043-4
eBook
ISBN
978-0-307-36045-8

I. Title. II. Series: Armstrong, Kelley. Women of the otherworld.

PS
8551.
R
7637
O
84 2014       
C
813′.6       
C
2014-902474-6

Cover design by Terri Nimmo
Cover image: © GoodLifeStudio / Getty Images

v3.1

I
NTRODUCTION

T
he Otherworld series may contain only thirteen novels, but the fictional world is much vaster than that, with dozens of short stories and novellas that I’ve written over the years—and continue to write now that the books are complete.

The short stories are scattered wide and far. Over the years, I’ve been asked to contribute stories to many anthologies, and I often wrote ones set in the Otherworld. Even the most devoted readers will have missed some.

My favorite form, though, is the novella—it allows more room for character work than a short story, but also allows for a more straightforward plot than a novel. There isn’t much of a market for novellas, but I’ve been blessed to find Subterranean Press, which publishes limited-edition, illustrated novellas. The only disadvantage to that format? Not every reader wants to buy a limited-edition hardcover novella, as gorgeous as it may be!

For readers who’ve been clamoring for these shorts and novellas all in one place, I give you the first of three volumes of Otherworld short fiction. Yes, three—did I mention there were a lot of stories? Three won’t even cover everything I’ve written for this world, and I also wanted to add a new novella to each volume.

For this first anthology, the focus is love, in its various forms—between lovers, between friends, between parents and children.

We start with “Demonology,” where Adam’s mother discovers what he is. This was originally an online story. Next is “Twilight,” my unfortunately titled Cassandra story from
Many Bloody
Returns
. Then comes “Stalked,” Clay’s tale of his honeymoon with Elena. It’s from
My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon
and was reprinted in the e-book
The Hunter and the Hunted
. “Chivalrous” is Reese’s backstory from the long sold-out
Tales of Dark Fantasy 2
. “Lucifer’s Daughter” is a Hope and Karl story originally printed in
Blood Lite 2
. Then we get the long novella
Hidden
, which was my Elena and Clay tale from Subterranean Press, published in 2012. “From Russia, with Love” was the Elena bonus story included with some versions of
Thirteen
. And finally, the new novella,
Vanishing Act
, is a Savannah and Adam story set after
Thirteen
.

If there are stories you’re dying to see in the next two anthologies, let me know! In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy your stay in these corners of the Otherworld.

D
EMONOLOGY
 

T
alia stared at the painting. A tiny fishing boat caught in a raging storm, swirling in an eddy, the crew members barely managing to keep it afloat … while a giant wave swelled behind them.
That’s my life
, she thought.
I fight the storm and I keep fighting, but somehow, I never shake the feeling that a huge wave is gathering behind my back, waiting to make a mockery of my efforts
.

Her eight-year-old son, Adam, was sprawled across the office floor doing his homework with his blond head bent over the math workbook, pencil in his mouth, scowling at the numbers as if that could make them surrender their secrets. He’d been quiet for fifteen minutes now, a sure sign that he was dreading this appointment.

In her support group for parents of hyperactive children, the other mothers always rejoiced over their children’s “quiet times,” those rare occasions when their kids stopped bouncing and chattering and sat for more than a few minutes at a stretch. Talia never joined in. When Adam went quiet, it was a sure sign that something was bothering him. These days, he sank into those spells several times a week, more often if that week included appointments.

In the last three months, they’d been to at least a dozen doctors. General practitioners, specialists, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers … a never-ending parade of professionals all claiming they could figure out what was wrong with Adam. Talia hated that phrase: “what was wrong with Adam.”

There was nothing wrong with her son, and she told him that every day. But the fact that she needed to give constant reassurances
proved that even Adam knew something
was
wrong. How many blood samples could a little boy give, how many questions could he answer, how many X-rays and tests could he undergo, before he stopped trusting his mother’s reassurances?

“Mom?”

Talia looked over and met his brown eyes, the mirror image of her own.

“I’m thirsty.”

She lifted her purse. “I brought juice boxes and animal crackers—”

“I’m
more
thirsty than that.” He wrinkled his nose, freckles forming new constellations. Then he slanted a sly look her way. “I saw a pop machine down the hall.”

“Did you, now? And let me guess.
That’s
how thirsty you are: full-can-of-pop thirsty.”

“Please?”

With a dramatic sigh, she opened her change purse and counted out enough for a soda and a candy bar. Yes, she was apologizing for the appointment with junk food, but sometimes you’d do just about anything to make the medicine go down easier. His grin as she handed over the money said she’d done the right thing, whatever the parenting books might tell her.

“Thanks, Mom.”

He bounded for the door and nearly knocked over a student walking in. A blurted apology and a sheepish glance at Talia. Then, as he turned backward to the door, he froze, his gaze snagged on a photo. An aerial view of a forest fire. Adam had noticed it the moment he’d walked in. Yet now he stared as if seeing it for the first time.

“That’s a neat photo, isn’t it?” Talia said. “I wonder how they took it. From an airplane, I bet.”

“Cool,” Adam said, then tore his gaze away and took off, back on target.

Talia moved to the doorway. He shot her a look that said he was too old to have his mother watching out for him, but she stuck out her tongue and stood her ground.

As he ran down the hall, weaving through groups of students, her gaze slid back to the forest-fire photograph. Should she have commented on it like that? Most of the doctors she’d talked to would have said no, that she should either ignore his fascination or distract him from it. Maybe Talia was naive, but that didn’t seem right to her. Treat it as normal—that’s what she thought she should do. Act as if Adam’s fixation with fire was neither positive nor negative, just a fact of his life, like another child’s obsession with cars or trains.

Budding pyromania. That’s what the experts called it.
Pyromania
. Talia could barely even think the word, as if that gave it a validity it didn’t deserve. Yes, her son was fascinated by fire, but there was a huge difference between staring at a candle flame and lighting your bed on fire. Adam didn’t start fires; he just liked to watch them. And yes, maybe that was a warning sign, but pyromania seemed a simplistic explanation that ignored so many other things.

When Adam struck out in anger, which was luckily very rare, his hands were hot enough to give a physical jolt, like touching fire itself. The last time he’d done that—three months ago, with a bully at school—he’d left a mark on the kid’s skin. That’s when the parade of experts had started.

Now, after months of searching, she’d ended up here. At the office of a different kind of doctor. A college professor. She looked at the nameplate again. Robert Vasic, PhD. Nothing to indicate his area of expertise or even his department. She could have looked that up. She should have. No one could accuse Talia of being anything less than thorough, especially when it came to her son’s care.

But this time … When the nurse at the last specialist’s office had taken her aside and slipped her Vasic’s number, she’d made an appointment without even looking him up. She was that desperate.

“Do you think he forgot about us?”

Talia jumped and looked at the student Adam had nearly bowled over.

The young woman smiled. “Sorry, I was just wondering whether Dr. Vasic was going to show up. He can be a bit absentminded.”

“Oh?” Talia said, trying to sound interested as she leaned to look for Adam.

BOOK: Otherworld Nights
2.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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