The One and Only Crystal Druid by Annette Marie || Excerpt
Lounging on my passenger seat in the form of a white cat, Ríkr yawned, showing off his teeth. You’re in a fine mood this afternoon, dove.
“I was thinking about how long I should wait before tormenting Harvey Whitby some more. I didn’t do much damage to him last night.”
He will not forget you while limping like a lame heifer. It’s a shame you did not remove any of his teeth.
I can fix that next time.”
Ríkr swished his tail in a pleased way. I adore your viciousness. It reminds me of my
Vengeance is the sweetest wine, he went on in a wistful tone. Are you sure you wouldn’t
enjoy a charming blood ritual with the farmer’s corpse bent backward over your altar?
don’t have an altar.”
His ears perked up. We can remedy that easily.
Ahead, a gravel driveway diverged from the road. I slowed my truck and turned onto the drive. “Try to tone it down, Ríkr. It’s awkward when the other familiars hide from you.”
He gave me a cat’s smile. If only you would teach the other witches to fear you the same, dove.
That was the opposite of what I wanted. My whole strategy for my life—my adult life, at least—hinged on making people like me, not fear me. The exceptions being human trash like Farmer Whitby, but he didn’t know me and never would.
A tall hedge hid the property at the end of the driveway. I steered between the open gates and up to a West-Coast-style cabin with exposed wood beams and grand windows. Though not overly large, it was luxurious and nestled among the surrounding woods like it belonged there.
Half a dozen vehicles were parked in front, and I maneuvered my truck into the line and cut the engine. Climbing out, I inhaled the rich aroma of fir, cedar, pine, and fresh green flora. Ríkr hopped to the ground beside me, back arching in a stretch.
I do not sense the others, he remarked lazily.
They never waited for me. I’d no-showed too many times for them to bother. “Let’s go.”
We circled the house, crossed the grassy backyard, and started along the dirt path that wound up the mountain slope. The early afternoon sun peeked through the branches, casting dappled light across the path.
Ríkr trotted ahead of me, the shadows casting a bluish tinge over his white fur. He would’ve preferred to fly, but he always used the same feline form around my coven. I suspected he was waiting for the optimal moment to shock them with his shapeshifting ability. A seven- years-in-the-making surprise. It was so Ríkr.
My thoughts wandered to the surprises of last night. The dark rider and his blue-roan fae stallion. My upper lip curled in distaste. “Ríkr, do you know anything about that druid?”
Of course, dove. He is the Crystal Druid, after all. “The Crystal Druid?”
The one and only. Ríkr hopped onto a fallen log and walked along it. Most kin in these parts know his name. He is feared by some, coveted by others, and respected by all for his cool head, knowledge of our ways, and uncompromising retribution against any who cross him.
“Are you a fan of his?” I asked, vaguely irritated. “You aren’t usually this complimentary.”
Ríkr’s tail flicked with amusement. I merely repeat the accounts of others. For instance, he is rumored to treat well with the Gardall’kin fae—a formidable medley of warriors and beasts who came to this land from across the sea many centuries ago. They won their place among the existing courts through bloodshed and cruel bargains.
Powerful, he corrected. Which is always unpleasant for the weak.
I’m not your average girl.
My best friend is my switchblade. My favorite hobby is using it on the cruel, the abusive, and anyone who gets on my bad side. I’m a convicted murderer with a chip on my shoulder and a dangerous lack of restraint.
And then there’s Zak.
His rap sheet makes mine look tame. The bounty on his head is worth more money than I’ll ever make, and the deadly fae that shadow his every step wield more power than I’ll ever know.
He’s the Crystal Druid, and his first mistake was setting foot on my turf.
His second was saving my life.
And his final mistake will be failing to realize that however dark, however ruthless, however broken he is…
From the author of the best-selling Guild Codex books comes a new series that delves into the dark, dangerous world of druids and fae alongside two ravaged souls who may be exactly what the other needs…if they don’t destroy each other first.
Unveiled can be read as a standalone series or in conjunction with other Guild Codex series. For the full reading order, visit Annette Marie’s website.
More series in the Guild Codex world:
The Guild Codex: Spellbound
The Guild Codex: Demonized
The Guild Codex: Warped