Authors: Jordana Barber
BOOK ONE of the ALIIS MUNDI SERIES
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For all the people who told me I could.
I couldn’t have done this without my friends and family to remind me constantly
was my dream. To my husband, Rob, you are the only man to ever put up with my attitude. Thank you for the support when I needed it, and the kick in the ass when I needed it even more.
To my mom! This wouldn’t have been possible without your endless support and patience. I love you. You have always been and will always remain my best friend and hero.
To my good friend, Rory, you made an awesome sounding board. I hope that someday you are able to fulfill all of your dreams, crazy or not. WAR BANANA (See I didn’t forget).
To Mr. Mark Sherman, I’ve never forgotten all those time you told me to get my ass in gear and write. Thank you for pushing me all those time and making me a better writer. I’ve never forgotten you.
To Dalvin and his remarkable speed editing and confidence made this possible. I don’t think editors are supposed to make you laugh while your obliterating mistakes. You’re truly a wonderful soul and your enthusiasm helped make this possible.
To Greg, we’ve been friends for so long, I couldn’t possibly come up with all of the thanks needed here. Much love to you!
To all my friends at Elk Creek Sand & Gravel and the contractors in Bailey, Pine, Conifer, Evergreen and Indian Hills for the good times and great laughs while suffering through the grind. You guys know who you are.
To James, for the support the confidence and the use of your middle name. You’re a honey! For the record, the character wouldn’t have worked with any other name.
To my party girls and guys, SISSCORS! Crystal, Chris, Kim, Jackie and the rest of the crew, you guys rock!
to: Michael, Hunter, Austin, Jayden, Auntie Sherri, Auntie
Drue, Terry, Tiffany, Ally, Grandma Wini
, Grandma Rene, LaShon, and everyone else who supported this labor of love. I salute you!
When I got up this morning I had no idea today was going to be the day everything began to fall apart. An impressive turn of events, most of which I should’ve seen coming, managed to creep up and surprise me. It was my job to know such things, and it became completely apparent someone was slacking. Yeah, that someone would’ve been me.
If I’d had the foresight to see that not paying attention would’ve caused this mess, I might have reconsidered leaving the house on my day off, and avoided the forty-five minute drive on one of the most dangerous highways in the state of Colorado. I could’ve stayed in bed with the covers over my head. Needless to say, this isn’t what happened.
In truth, I didn’t have anything better to do besides hang out at my usual haunt in downtown Denver. The hubby appeared to be busy doing whatever it was that he did, and I wasn’t prepared for dealing with his hovering. Too bad I had no idea what was in store for me when I arrived downtown, the overshadowing might not have seemed so terrible.
I could’ve passed on dressing up in leather and heels. I certainly wouldn’t have left the house without my trusty bodyguard. The only good thing about today, I would later find out, the sun was shining. Yeah, that’s right, the weather. Not an exceptionally high quality consolation prize.
I walked into Club Payne, which was nothing more than a bar by day and BDSM showcase club by night. I should fib and say that I never stuck around for the after hours show, but well, that would be a lie.
I got freaky, I wasn’t embarrassed in the slightest to admit it. Lord knew I always seemed to look the part. I wasn’t interested in black leather and whips at the moment, well at least not the whips anyway. Leather was a habit I couldn’t seem to shake.
Ah, but let me introduce myself, how rude of me. This will be far less confusing later if I lay everything out in the open for you right now. I, Ilana Rose Purcell, am not your ordinary person. In fact, this is not my real name, nor do I currently reside in the body I was born in.
I am Azriella Carnadine, Demon-Djinn Premier Princess of the Deep Desert. I did ask for only the last name, rather than the lengthy title, but they would have none of the whining. My lineage allowed for my mother’s family name, since my father never had a surname. Demons and last names don’t mix, go figure.
You’re thinking right now that you have never heard of me, or of the kingdom my father rules. I didn’t expect you to, the royal family isn’t well known in this part of the world and it’s got nothing to do with the assumed name. We can safely say, I’m not from around here. If you are aware of me, then you’ve got a serious problem on your hands. Not to mention the chances are you’re not from this locale either. I should clear some things up about myself, I’ve been told I don’t explain things well, usually by my second husband.
There are two distinct worlds, taking up the same space and time, directly under your noses. Similar but different dimensions, one overlaying the other like a transparency. The first domain, the mortal state of existence, is the sphere that you’re in at the present. I plan on introducing you to a world interchangeable in climate and topography, but different from everything you’ve ever encountered.
I doubt this book is going to make it as an inter-dimensional bestseller, this life’s too complicated for that, and everyone in Aliis already well aware of the story. You, however, don’t have a clue about me and mine. Dear reader, and you are in for quite a treat.
Overlapping this world you reside in, right next door in the next dimension over, is Aliis Mundi Idem. That isn’t the actual name for this different land, so we refer to it as the old Grecian’s used to, ‘Others of the Same or, Aliis Mundi Idem. This is the home of fairie tales, where anything imaginable resides. A place where long forgotten Gods and Goddesses, mystical creatures, and the things of legend took up residence at the beginning of time. Even Angels and Demons made the journey over from the mortal world seeking refuge in Aliis from God and the Devil’s abuse.
A thin layer of fabric separates the two worlds, called the Veil. This sparse stratum of invisible mesh is made of space and time woven together in a complex fashion, with small holes and voids in the cloth. Creatures made a habit of sneaking in and out, traveling from one world to the other. The humans with the second sight, people who could see the microscopic openings in the shroud, wandered their way through to Aliis, finding it more appealing.
Critters from Aliis, either sent by a governmental entity or received Visas to inhabit the mortal world, had been seeking sanctuary from oppressive political structures for ages. Others are banished to Aliis as punishment for crimes committed in this world. Both planes of existence have their issues, and decent leadership seemed to be the most common between the realms.
Now that you have some background, you’ll have a better understanding of why I’m here. I’m sure you’re asking yourself, why in the world would a Princess be in this realm rather than ruling her own kingdom? She must have better things to do. Truth be told, I’ve got more advantageous things to do, but this is my job. I’m a Princess by birth, not by choice.
The King has little need for me right now, as he is alive and well, and will be for as long he can avoid being murdered. There wasn’t a living soul who would come after him while my mother was still free to roam about, so the kingdom would remain safe. The Queen of the Assassins, like everyone else in the family, wasn’t someone you want to piss off.
I’m heir to the throne of the Deep Desert, a large country in the middle of the continent you would call Africa, I’m the proud owner of a different occupation. The Council, a governmental agency that controls several colonies around the world, is the current holder of the damn contract I can’t seem to get out from under.
The High Council found me when I was still young and recruited me. I should’ve said no thanks, being as the Council are mortal enemies of the royal family. I was in a bad way when they approached, emotionally unstable, and my judgment could’ve been considered compromised.
Around a hundred years of testing and trials as a means to prove I was capable of what was required, kicked off my career. Those bastards were informed of my capabilities, and I’ve never been able to discern why they believed such long and ridiculous evaluations were necessary.
The Council could’ve cut the period down quite a bit, just shy of a century seemed a little excessive. I suppose they needed to make sure their investment lived up to the expectations of what the government of the Colonies planned on paying for, not that the pay was anything to write home about.
I’m called the Timekeeper, one of the Fates, although I don’t weave the strands of life, nor do I cut them. In a nutshell, I’m one of the few who can read the threads at all. I’m the sole person responsible for ensuring the pesky piece of textile stays in its place, keeping the two dimensions separate.
I monitor activities on both sides, making sure everyone is playing nice and no one is sneaking around trying to tear the Veil apart faster than it’s been scheduled for according to the Fates. Yeah, I hold the schedule. I’m the only one with access, and hold the only position in existence to keep the Council informed. Well, sort of.
The Veil will fall in the future, causing anarchy in both dimensions. I’m trying to prevent as much as I can, despite my feelings for the pompous jackasses in charge. We don’t always agree on things. I might be lying if I said I didn’t have my own agenda. The Veil is coming down and I hold the deck of cards that Fate has dealt, the events that cause the fall. If I so desired, I could set everything in motion, and no one would be the wiser.
I’m waiting for the perfect moment, to exercise my control of the situation. In the event those arrogant buffoons try to screw me again on anything, they will to find themselves in a more trouble than they can handle. They are the poster children for idiocy, and they are clueless about the events I control. We should keep this between the two of us, I trust you.
Since you are aware of my situation’s surrounding circumstances, I will continue with the tale of the beginning of the end. Like I said before, had I known this day was going to foul me up in ways I couldn’t imagine, I would’ve stayed in bed. Let’s fast forward to the interesting part. I can’t think of a reason to bore you with the mundane details of my existence. I get up, I shower, I dress, I leave, the activities that are obvious necessities in everyday life and need no explanation. Where were we, ah yes, Club Payne.
I sat myself at the bar, a plush establishment catering to the off-beat, adorned in black, deep red and silver. The walls were the color of coal, the counters and table tops were a shiny ebony lacquer, fixtures in brushed nickel and furniture upholstered in carmine. I took my place in the middle of the long midnight bar and struck up a conversation with the bartender, Drake.
There are three interesting things about Drake many aren’t aware of. Well, two lesser recognized tidbits and one item was quite obvious. One, he never seems to take anytime off and seemed to live in the bar. The second minor item, he’s a Demon, one who owed me his freedom. Not that I ever held his carte blanche over his head. The third thing, he was absolutely gorgeous.
Drake was a darkly beautiful man. Skin as black as midnight, his broad shoulders only added to his massive six and a half foot height. No one had ever seen his eyes. He wore mirrored sunglasses all of the time and the lights glared on his smooth, polished baldhead. The man was built like a tank. Typically adorned in a long blood-red duster and a raven black turtleneck, Drake was the ideal example of a creature of the damned.