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Spirit of the Fallen

Kill the ghost, save the host.

Shadow is an over-confident fey stranded in White Haven after the Wild Hunt is defeated on Samhain.

Gabe is a Nephilim, newly arrived from the spirit world along with six of his companions. He has a violent history that haunts him, and a father he wants answers from – if he ever finds him.

When they set up in business together with the Orphic Guild, they’re expecting adventure, intrigue and money.

But their first job is more complicated than they expected.

When they break fey magic that seals an old tomb, they find it contains more than they bargained for. Now they’re hunting for a rogue spirit, and he always seems one step ahead.

The fight leads them in a direction they never expected.

Gabe could leave his past behind, or he could delve into the darkest secrets of mankind. Shadow has no intention of being left out.

If you enjoy action, intrigue, humour, and dark secrets that won’t stay buried, you’ll love this first in series spin-off from the White Haven Witches.

Chapter One

Shadow watched Gabe roll his shoulders and square up, ready to attack again. He held the sword easily, like it weighed nothing, and she assessed his stance, deciding how he would attack this time.

If she was honest, it didn’t really matter; she was pretty confident she’d best him, despite his strength. She had agility on her side. She raised an eyebrow at him, and the corner of her mouth turned up as he narrowed his eyes at her.

“Feeling pleased with yourself, aren’t you?”

She shrugged. “Why wouldn’t I? I’ve beaten you twice this morning.”

“Just to remind you, I haven’t fought with a sword for a long time.”

“Well then, this is the perfect way for you to learn!”

He prowled around the perimeter of the barn where they had set up their practice area, and she mirrored his actions. The barn was rustic and basic, but it was solid, giving them adequate protection from the rain and the winds that blew in across the moor above White Haven. The ground was made of beaten earth and it was covered in sawdust and straw, providing a reasonably soft landing when they tumbled and rolled.

Gabe struck quickly, covering the space between them in a split-second, and she parried, reminding herself that his lightning-quick reflexes were similar to her own.

“You know, I’m still recovering from my encounter with the Empusa,” she reminded him as she retaliated.

He continued to attack, and responded in between swings of his sword. “Well, if you involve yourself with the affairs of the White Haven witches, what do you expect?”

“They needed my help!”

He laughed. “And you saw a way to help yourself!”

“That is not true!” She glared at him, furious, and rolled under his legs, swinging aggressively at his calf, and he dived over her, on the attack immediately.

She regained her footing and circled him again. The Nephilim’s size still impressed her. He was a good deal taller than she was, and muscular. Over the last couple of months since she had first met him, his dark brown, almost black hair had grown a few inches, and he wore it swept back, showing his hard-edged jaw. He smirked at her. He’d caught her off balance and they both knew it.

“I hit a nerve,” he told her. “It distracted you.”

“I like the witches. You make me sound like a mercenary.”

“I thought that’s exactly what you are.”

“Sometimes I’ve had to be, but not always by choice.”

She struck at him, whirling across the room like a dervish, and they traded blow for blow, up close and personal. She tried to press her advantage, pinning him against the wall in a dusty corner of the barn. He let her draw closer, watching her with a gleam in his eye.

“And now?” he asked.

“Now I need to make a life. I’m about to make a lot of money.”

“You think. If Beckett doesn’t short-change you.” He was referring to Harlan Beckett, the American man who worked for the Orphic Guild, the mysterious organisation that obtained occult and arcane objects for private buyers.

“If he does, I won’t sell!”

They were inches apart, her sword under his chin, the cold blade against his neck.

“You’re good, Shadow, but you need to be careful. Your overconfidence may cost you one day.”

She smirked and dropped her blade, backing away from him. “It hasn’t yet.”

“Hasn’t it? You’re stuck here, aren’t you? If you hadn’t forced your way past the Coven’s perimeter circle on Samhain, you’d be back in the Otherworld by now.” He held his sword loosely, stepping close to her again, his dark eyes holding her gaze. “I’m serious. You should be more careful.”

Shadow fell silent for a moment, knowing he was right. She had been reckless that night. The energy of the Wild Hunt had heated her blood and made her act rashly, but in her defence, she really hadn’t thought anyone would stop Herne. The Cornwall Coven witches may not have fey magic, but their magic was strong, and they commanded it well. She refused to let Gabe intimidate her. “I’m fey. I’m faster than any human. And you.”

He grinned. “You might be faster, but you’re not stronger, and one day I’ll beat you at sword fighting, too.” He headed to the hook on the wall and pulled a towel free, wiping the sweat from his face. It may have been cold out, but they had both become hot while they were fighting. “Have you heard from Beckett?”

He always called Harlan by his surname, and Shadow detected a brooding resentment behind his words. “I’m expecting his call any minute. The last time I spoke to him, he said he’d found a buyer and was negotiating a price.” She grabbed her own towel, putting her sword in her scabbard while she dried off.

“Where are you keeping the Empusa’s sword?”

“Somewhere safe, don’t you worry.”

“I’m not about to steal it! Are you sure you wouldn’t be better off keeping it?”

She shook her head. “I’ve examined it carefully, on my own and with El, and we can’t find any special qualities or hidden powers, other than its age and skilled forging and design. It’s unique, and the pair of them together would sell for a small fortune, but El is refusing to sell hers.” She was referring to Elspeth, one of the White Haven witches who owned The Silver Bough jewellery shop, and who was particularly skilled with metalwork. She continued, “We’ve even tested the two of them together, and can’t detect anything unusually magical—you know, enhanced powers when used at the same time.”

It had been over two weeks since Shadow and the White Haven witches had fought and defeated Caitlin, and retrieved The Callanish Ring. Caitlin had turned into the Empusa in the campgrounds of the Crossroads Circus, and fortunately they had been helped by the Raven King and the Green Man. Shadow was sure they wouldn’t have defeated her without them. The Raven King had taken her and her relatives to the Underworld to face justice. The Empusa had carried two swords that had made the fight particularly difficult, and Shadow had to reluctantly admit that she had met her match.

That night, when she had escorted Harlan away from the wild forest that had sprung up under the command of the Green Man, they had talked for quite a while about how they could help each other. He had promised to discuss their meeting with the director of the London branch, and said he knew of several potential customers for the sword.

Gabe flung his towel on a long bench that ran across one side of the barn and pulled on a sweatshirt. “I can’t believe El won’t sell it.”

“She loves weaponry, and besides, I think she’s still testing it. She’ll never sell it.” Shadow was pulling on her jacket when the phone in her pocket rang, and she pulled it out and answered it, aware that Gabe was watching her. “Harlan, we were just discussing you.”

His voice was low. “Only good things, I hope! You’ll be pleased to know that one of my clients wishes to make you an offer.” He named an impressive sum. “Obviously we’ll be taking a commission, but be assured this is the best possible price—for both of us.” He paused, and then added, as if he sensed some reluctance from her, “I haggled hard, and I’m good at it.”

Shadow grinned. She and Gabe had discussed how much to accept, and although they had never negotiated arcane objects before in this world, Shadow had done it plenty of times in the Otherworld. She’d learnt to quadruple any price offered, and knew collectors would pay. But, if Harlan was taking a commission, it was in his best interest to get the highest price, too.

“You know what, Harlan, I bet I could get it to go higher, but as this is the start of our beautiful friendship, I’ll accept that. Just tell him that I won’t be so generous next time. And that’s in both our interests.”

Harlan’s tone hardened. “You know that he’ll pay much more for the pair.”

“But the other is not for sale, and he’ll never find it. And neither will you, so let it drop,” she said sharply. Of all the witches, El was her favourite. She called her ‘sister’ for a reason. She was similar in height to her, and her love of gems, weapons, metalwork, and forging made her interests similar to her own. In a world where she was trying to find her feet, her friendship with El had been unexpected. There was an edge to her that she liked, and Shadow was not about to betray her.

He sighed. “Fine. I have your account, so I’ll organise the deposit straight away, but I need to get the sword before we complete the transaction. How do you fancy a trip to our headquarters?”

“In London?” Shadow asked, staring wide-eyed at Gabe.

“Yes. I’ll introduce you to the director, too. You’ve intrigued him.”

“Hold on.” Shadow thought quickly. She was sure she could handle this on her own, but she’d like backup, just in case. She’d be on their ground, not hers, and that would put her at a disadvantage with an organisation she knew nothing about. She covered the phone and said to Gabe, “I need to take the sword to London. Will you come?”

He nodded straight away. “Sure, I’ll get Nahum to take over at Caspian’s warehouse.”

Harlan hadn’t met Gabe, and Shadow wasn’t sure if this would be an issue, but she pressed the phone back to her ear. “No problem, but I’m bringing Gabe. He’s my partner, after all.”

There was a slight pause before he answered. “Okay, I’m sure I can make the director agree.”

A wave of suspicion washed over her. “Why wouldn’t he agree?”

“He’s just wary about people he doesn’t know coming into our branch,” Harlan answered smoothly. “We tend to restrict visitors, and he knows about you, but not Gabe.”

“Tell him we work together, and if you want the sword, he’d better agree.”

“I’m sure he will. Shall we say Friday at one? That should give you time to get here.”

“Sure, send me your address.”

“I’ll text it. See you soon,” he said, and rang off.

Shadow realised she’d been holding herself tensely, and she took a deep breath of relief. She raised an eyebrow at Gabe, who was still leaning against the wall, watching her. “We’re on.”

He nodded. “Good. We’ll take the train in—it will easier than driving.”

Shadow had never used the train before, and had only just got used to cars and bikes. There was nothing like them in the Otherworld, but they made getting around much easier. She couldn’t decide whether that was a good thing or not. “London is big. Do you where we’re going?”

“No, but that what maps and taxis are for. We’ll be fine.” He pushed away from the wall and headed to the door. “I’ll go and speak to Nahum, and then I’m heading to the shower. What are you up to?”

Shadow still had a lot of nervous energy, especially after the phone call, and she needed peace and quiet. “I need to ride. I think I’ll head to Ravens’ Wood.” The ancient forest that had grown in a matter of minutes was the place she felt most at home now, and she spent a lot of time there.

Gabe held the barn door open for her and then headed to the house, calling over his shoulder, “Sure, I’ll see you later.”

Within ten minutes, Shadow had saddled her horse, Kailen, and was riding across the moors towards the wood that bordered White Haven Castle. It was early March, and spring flowers were starting to appear. Hedgerows were buzzing with life, and the birds were busy making nests and preparing for their small broods. Shadow paused on a rise along the downs and inhaled deeply, smiling at the scent of spring. She could feel new life all around her and it settled in her blood, making her even more restless. At the foot of the hills she could see White Haven nestling in the folds of the valley, the jumble of buildings heading down to the harbour. She couldn’t see it all from here, but her mind filled in what was obstructed, and she thought of her friends in their shops and businesses. It was mid-afternoon, and the sea was a brittle blue, the waves choppy with the brisk wind that cut through her jacket.

This was home now, and she considered herself lucky. Despite her less than auspicious arrival, she had been welcomed, albeit cautiously, and she had to admit that she liked it here. White Haven’s charm was infectious, more so if you embraced magic. The land rustled with it, especially since Imbolc and the arrival of the Green Man. It made her feel closer to the Otherworld, the place she’d most likely never see again. And she could see beings here that she knew no one else could.

She was distracted by one of them now, and she turned to see the small, wizened figure that popped up out of nowhere. It was a pixie. It was tiny, with brown and green skin, skinny limbs, and an angular face. Her heart swelled, and she laughed and waved, but it didn’t reciprocate. They were grumpy creatures, and it scowled at her and then disappeared with a pop. She had been surprised when she had first seen them; she hadn’t thought that any creature from the Otherworld would be here, and they gave her hope that she’d find others. Admittedly, they weren’t like the pixies in the Otherworld, which were taller, brawnier, and vicious fighters. These were their smaller cousins, and their size helped them remain unseen. And they were also stuck here, like she was.

Kailen stamped his feet, eager to be off, and she turned him towards Ravens’ Wood and let him race, crouching low against him. It was exhilarating, and it was with reluctance that she slowed down to cross the lane and enter the leafy shadows of the old forest.

Silence fell like a cloak, and she slipped from Kailen’s back, leading him along the ancient paths. It felt warmer in here, and bright green leaves were already unfurling around her. She meandered for a while before she spotted a familiar figure kneeling in the undergrowth. It was Briar, the Earth Witch, and she must have heard her, because she looked up and smiled.

“Shadow! I was just thinking about you. How are you?”

“I’m well, thank you. You look full of spring.” It was an odd thing to say, but it was true. Briar’s eyes gleamed with old magic, and her long, dark hair fell thick and wild down her back. She was wearing a heavy jumper and one of her long skirts, and her boots lay to the side, so her bare feet could wriggle into the earth.

Briar stood up, and brushed grass off her skirt. She’d been gathering roots and herbs, and an overflowing basket sat to the side. “This spring I feel more acutely than any other. My blood sings with it! And look at my hair!” She dragged her fingers through it. “It resists all attempts to comb it. It’s nuts.”

“That’s the Green Man for you. He’s wild, and he’s a part of you now.” Shadow frowned. “I must have lost my touch. Normally, no one can hear me coming, but you did.”

“The earth told me.” She gestured around her. “This place feels you, you must know that. It feels me, too. I can’t work out whether I feel wilder here, or more at peace. It’s so weird. Hunter likes it, too.”

“Your wolf-shifter? That doesn’t surprise me. I told you he had a sort of fey blood.”

For once, Briar didn’t deny their relationship, and she laughed. “I told him that, and I think he quite liked it. And what about you? Did you hear from Harlan?”

Shadow nodded as she stroked Kailen’s side. “Yes, he’s found a buyer for the sword and offered me a lot of money. We’re going to London on Friday to complete the deal.”

“That great,” Briar said, nodding. “It will help you establish yourself here.” A note of caution entered her voice. “But don’t go alone. London is big and confusing, and I know you’re not stupid, but it’s very different from here.”

“I’m going with Gabe. I thought it was important to have support.” She hesitated as she recalled their earlier conversation, and she wondered what Briar would think. “He tells me I’m too headstrong.”

Briar frowned. “You are, but you know that. And I know you’ve told Harlan that you’re fey, but you really shouldn’t tell anyone else. You need to be careful about who you trust with that knowledge. Gabe doesn’t tell anyone about what he is, and we don’t tell anyone that we’re witches, other than our close friends.”

Shadow felt a ripple of unease pass through her, but she shrugged it off. “I’m fey. Anyone with any sense should take that as a warning not to mess with me.”

“And it also makes you a target, Shadow. Some people are devious. You must have fey like that in your world.”

“Of course we do. I’m not a child, Briar. I’m years older than any of you, and have been in some interesting situations in my lifetime, and dealt with fey who are considerably more dangerous than most humans.”

Briar just regarded her quietly, her dark eyes solemn. “I know, but you’re new to our world, and it’s important that you understand its dangers. Many people hate things that are different. It scares them—or makes them greedy. Be careful.”

Shadow felt her annoyance rise, but as she looked at Briar and felt her magic roll off her, she sensed the wisdom in her words, which was strange from someone as young as Briar. In her race’s years, Briar was like a new-born, but she was uncanny. She drew her strength from the earth, and that in itself imparted wisdom beyond normal years. And besides, she meant well.

Shadow softened her stance and smiled. “Thanks, I’ll try. Anyway, you’re busy, so I’ll leave you to it.” She turned, ready to head deeper into the forests. “Say hi to the others,” she called over her shoulder.

Briar nodded. “I will.”

But as Shadow walked away, she felt Briar’s calm regard like a weight between her shoulder blades, and she shrugged, eager to dismiss her concerns.

Friday would be fine, and it would open her up a whole new world.