Available now as a part of The Fates Trilogy.
Child psychologist Megan Kinneally answers an urgent message from her brother Travers: Come to Las Vegas immediately. On the drive through the desert, she sees a handsome man with a falcon and dismisses him as a dream.
Rob Chapeau, aka Robin Hood (yes, the Robin Hood), made a mistake. He let one of the most beautiful women in the world see him hunting fake rabbits in the desert with his very real falcon. Rob still mourns the death of his true love eight centuries before. But Megan Kinneally brings him out of mourning. Her magic the strongest magic of all—and she enchants him.
Megan and Rob must save her family and rescue the Fates. And maybe find true love on a journey into the depths of Las Vegas, where the Faerie Kings rule and emotions vanish.
“Rounding out her Fates trilogy, the spellbinding Grayson again gives readers their money’s worth by taking the familiar and turning it on its ear, with humor and charm.”—RT Book Reviews
Copyright © 2019 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
First published in 2005 by Zebra Books
Published by WMG Publishing
MEGAN KINNEALLY USUALLY liked driving at night. The silence, the empty roads, the darkness surrounding her car made her feel like she was the only person on the planet. Driving in darkness calmed her—usually.
But she wasn’t calm tonight.
She blamed the road. Interstate 15 between San Bernadino and Las Vegas had become a superhighway. Well-lit, congested, a gazillion lanes wide, it ruined the effect of night driving. Trucks zoomed by her Mini Cooper, shaking it. By the time she reached Barstow, her hands had formed new grooves in the steering wheel. Another hour later, she wished she had taken the back roads and risked breakdowns, desert heat, and the occasional wild-eyed loner.
Her best friend Conchita had tried to convince her to rent an SUV. You’re gonna be driving your nephew around Vegas. The last thing you want is a teeny tiny car.
Rated best in its class for safety, Megan said.
In its class, Conchita said. The class of David, not the class of Goliath. Not even David would survive getting smushed by really big tires.
Megan was beginning to agree. Half the trucks that passed her—all of them doing at least twenty over the speed limit—could’ve crushed her tiny car with little more than a thought. Some careless trucker, dozing at the wheel, could drive over her and not even notice.
She blew an errant strand of red hair out of her face and shrugged her shoulders, trying to loosen them. She’d been unsettled ever since she had spoken to her brother a few hours ago. Travers The Unflappable had sounded flapped. She’d teased him about being in Sin City—Vegas, a place he hated—and he hadn’t risen to the bait.
Instead, he swore and confessed that he was in trouble.
Travers the neat freak, Travers the accountant, Travers the exceptionally cautious was never, ever in trouble. The trouble role in the family had gone to their oldest sister, Vivian, who had blackouts and strange psychic moments and crazy friends.
When Vivian had gotten married in Oregon a few weeks ago, the entire family had breathed a sigh of relief.
Then Travers, who had vowed he was heading straight home to L.A., had somehow ended up in Las Vegas, and now he needed his baby sister—not to help him out of whatever crisis he was in, but to baby-sit his precocious son, Kyle.
Megan loved Kyle more than anyone else in the world. They were both misfits—Kyle because of his big brain and his strange interests, and Megan because—well, because she was Megan.
She sighed, straightened her spine, and heard her back crack. She flicked on the radio for company, spun through the dial, and heard talk, oldies, talk, rap, talk, hip-hop, talk, talk, and more talk. Finally she shut the thing off, preferring the sound of her own worries to the constant nattering of people who thought they were in great trouble.
She had enough of that at her job, which was why she was shutting down her practice. She was a child psychologist with a boatload of rich clients who all thought Little Johnny or Little Suzy needed a little talking-to to go with their Prozac.
She had become a psychologist to help people. Instead, she couldn’t convince Johnny and Suzy’s parents that when the kids had trouble, the troubles ran through the entire family. Usually, all Johnny and Suzy needed were some time and attention (and love would be nice too), but nothing Megan did could get that message through to the parents. So she tried to patch the holes where she could.
And she was getting tired of patching.
Three more trucks zoomed by, their horns blaring in the night. She squinted, but couldn’t see anything ahead.
In fact, the long stretch of interstate had cleared. Either everyone had vanished, or her speedometer was screwed up. She’d been keeping pace with the traffic before (not the trucks—she didn’t want the ticket), but now there was no one ahead of her.
She glanced in her rearview mirror. No one behind her, either.
The road was empty, and even though it was what she’d wanted, she was a little freaked out.
Ahead, the streetlights (unnatural looking things on a desert highway) winked out.
Darkness surrounded her. Darkness and silence and long, empty stretches of road.
The hair rose on the back of her neck.
She rolled down her window, hoping a little fresh air would calm her. Cool and dry, the air smelled of sagebrush and sand.
Maybe she should pull over. Maybe she was asleep and dreaming. Maybe—
A creature ran into the road, so fast she couldn’t see what it was, only she knew it was in front of her. She slammed on the brakes, and the car skidded for a moment on the empty pavement before coming to a stop.
Ahead of her, the creature—a rabbit?—had frozen in her headlights, its round eyes staring at her as if she were the very image of death.
Then, out of nowhere, a falcon swooped down, caught—the rabbit??—in its talons and carried the thing, screaming, into the air, disappearing in the darkness.
Now Megan knew she was dreaming. There weren’t rabbits in the Nevada desert. Nor were there falcons. And creatures being carted off to certain death didn’t scream like that, did they? Not unless they were human creatures.
She glanced in her rearview mirror. Still no cars. She took a deep breath, and limped her vehicle to the shoulder. Then she got out, and slapped herself hard across the face.
Didn’t work. Nothing had changed.
Except now her face hurt.
A man stepped onto the shoulder from the side of the road. He had a leather glove on his wrist, and held a tiny hood in his hand. In the swirling dust illuminated by her headlights, he looked like a ghost.
“Did you see a bird?” he asked.
He was tall but slightly built. His hair was long and brown, tied into a ponytail with a leather cord. He seemed to like leather—not the shiny black leather that bikers wore, but soft brown leather, maybe even some kind of suede. If she had to label his shirt, she’d call it a jerkin—it even looked handmade—and his tan pants seemed just as crude. Even his boots looked medieval—all fabric with soles too soft for the desert on a cold summer night.
He was looking at her like he expected something from her. Then she realized that he did—an answer. To his question. About a bird.
“Um, yeah,” she said. “I think it ate a rabbit.”
“Nonsense,” he said.
“That’s what I thought,” she said. “But it took the rabbit in its talons and flew off—”
“You didn’t see it eat the rabbit then, did you?”
“No.” She couldn’t believe she was having this conversation. “I saw it capture the poor rabbit and cart it away. I think the rabbit was screaming.”
He nodded. “They do that.”
As if it were the most normal thing in the world.
“Which way did they go?”
He stepped out of the headlights and into the darkness of the road. By reflex, she looked over her shoulder. Still no trucks or cars or SUVs. No sign of anything but her, the mighty hunter, and his bird.
Only she hadn’t seen the bird for nearly five minutes now, and the screaming had ended long ago (except in her memory) and even though she squinted, she no longer saw the man on the road.
The streetlights flicked on one by one, and then a truck whizzed past, the wind in its wake so strong that she nearly toppled into her car.
Standing on the shoulder was not the brightest thing she could do.
She got back into her car as more trucks and SUVs and sedans went by—all the things she had thought she missed. Her breathing was hard, and she wasn’t quite sure what had happened.
She’d have said she had fallen asleep at the wheel, but she had felt the wind and smelled the truck exhaust. She knew she hadn’t taken any drugs, so she wasn’t hallucinating. And she wasn’t prone to wild flights of fancy—those were reserved for Vivian and their late Great-Aunt Eugenia.
And Kyle, of course.
Kyle, who saw superheroes and monsters behind every tree. Kyle, who kept saying that Vivian’s new husband looked just like Superman.
Megan could not see the resemblance. But then, she rarely read comic books. Relaxation wasn’t her forte.
Maybe it should be. Maybe this was some kind of psychotic episode.
Because it certainly hadn’t felt like a dream. Her cheek still stung from her self-administered blow, she was a little chilled from the night air, and her eyes had taken a minute to adjust to the increased light.
And somehow, she had gotten to the side of the road.
She couldn’t quite believe she had driven there in her sleep, without hitting anyone, without being hit.
That was as much a miracle as seeing a medieval hunter in the darkness, following the trail of his falcon into the desert.
She glanced at her watch. Somehow, she’d lost about fifteen minutes.
If she were being logical and practical, she would find a place to turn off and get some sleep before going any farther. But she only had an hour to drive, less if she kept up with the trucks, and the way her heart was pounding, she wouldn’t get any sleep anyway.
She’d known the stress was getting bad, but she’d had no idea it was this bad.
Maybe she should call Travers and flake out on Vegas. She wasn’t in the best shape to deal with trouble.
But Kyle needed her. And just as a baby-sitter, Travers had said.
She could baby-sit her only nephew. That couldn’t be stressful, not compared to life in L.A.
She’d be all right.
At least for the time being.
HOW HAD SHE gotten into his bubble?
Rob Chapeau stood beside the interstate for a good minute, watching the Mini Cooper slam on its brakes and then limp to the side of the road. When the pretty woman had gotten out of the driver’s side and slapped herself, he knew that she saw his magical little world.
And she wasn’t supposed to.
No one was supposed to.
He brought Felix out to hunt at least five times a week—a falcon got restless in the big city—and he did it as far away from anything as he could get. Of course, he didn’t go too far because there were sorcerers nearby, ones who would take advantage of regularly scheduled magic.
He tried to vary his locations, using the interstate only when he felt he had no other choice.
Like tonight. He’d gone to his favorite spot only to find that someone was holding a rave there. He probably could have created a bubble in that spot—bubbles warped time just enough so that most normal folks felt a shiver as they passed through or saw a heat shimmer—and no one would have noticed.
But he hadn’t wanted to risk it.
And then this: no one had ever driven into one of his bubbles before, skidded to a stop, and slapped herself.
He knew he had to do something—and quickly—but he wasn’t sure what. He couldn’t just dissolve the bubble: there was Felix to think about, first of all, and he didn’t want the falcon to know that his night’s catch wasn’t real. Besides, the woman might get into trouble if she stepped into the road at the wrong moment.
So he walked out onto the road, pretended a nonchalance he didn’t feel, and said, “Have you seen a bird?”
Which he had been kicking himself about ever since. Have you seen a bird? Of course, she had seen a bird. She had slammed on her brakes (nice woman, that) and she had pulled over to the side of the road. She’d probably seen the rabbit, too, and then she saw him, in his hunting garb.
He liked to wear the clothes he’d grown up in on these nights, even though they were more suited to an English forest than to a Nevada desert. Just a little touch of his past.
But he saw her lovely green eyes assess his clothing as if he were dressed like Bozo the Clown, and he noted something like weary resignation on her face. Either this woman expected strange things to happen to her, or something had been going wrong in her life long before he’d asked his inane question.
She’d answered him, of course. She had a deep, throaty voice that sent a tingle through him. He hadn’t heard a voice that beautiful in centuries.
But he tried to ignore it. He didn’t even smile at her, he did nothing to put her at ease, and then he hurried off the road, only to crouch on the other side of the interstate and watch her gather herself and get back into the car.
He felt bad; he really did. He had added to her difficulties without intending to, and she looked like she hadn’t needed that. So he decided to be especially gentle in easing her out of the bubble.
Instead of simply dissolving the bubble over the interstate, he dismantled it piece by piece, sending her little warnings such as the lights coming back on, a few trucks going by, a whole host of small things before he let her out of the magical protection and back into her ordinary life.
If, indeed, she had an ordinary life. Not many people could see magic if the mage didn’t want them to. Unless, of course, those people had magic themselves. And she was too young. No one had skin that creamy in middle-age, not even women who had fortunes to spend on reinventing themselves with plastic surgeries and too many cold creams.
He remained crouched by the side of the road long after she had driven away. He restored the bubble over the interstate, and no one else entered it, so he knew that his magic hadn’t gone awry.
Just that woman—that young, pretty woman—had managed to get through his defenses.
No one had been able to do that for more than eight centuries. He felt a pang of loss, mixed with a sharp thread of loneliness.
And he had let her drive away.
MEGAN ARRIVED IN Las Vegas at one in the morning. The streets were filled with cars, the neon stabbed her eyes, and she had never felt so relieved in her life.
She was beginning to think she had seen a mirage in the desert—and it wasn’t a hotel designed by Steve Wynn. That hunter got handsomer and handsomer the more she thought about him, a dream lover appearing in the foggy mist of her lonely headlights.
Lonely. That probably was the cause of her mirage, her hallucination, her dream-vision. She hadn’t spent quality time with anyone—her family, her friends, let alone a man—in a very, very long time.
The hotel that Travers had picked was a no-name thing off the Strip. That didn’t surprise her. What surprised her was how nice the hotel was. Travers, once the poorest of the siblings, had become the richest (at least, Megan thought so, although Vivian inherited all of Great-Aunt Eugenia’s estate). Travers claimed he had made his fortune by staying at the lowest priced hotels, refusing to splurge on the latest fad, paying cash for his house.
He called it “being frugal.” Megan called it “unnecessarily cheap.”
This place looked like a splurge from Travers’ perspective. From Megan’s, it seemed like a godsend. It actually had a front lobby instead of some dweeb living on-site, and rooms inside the main building instead of cabins down a long sidewalk. Elevators, a fitness room, and a restaurant inside—all the necessary amenities, from Megan’s point of view.
It took only a few minutes to check in (competent desk clerks! What a concept!) and take the elevator up to Travers’ floor. A bellman, on duty in the middle of the night (such luxury!), hefted her single bag all the way to her room for her.
According to the numbers that greeted her when she got off the elevator, her room was at the end of the hall. She walked past door after door, wondering how Travers had found this place. The farther she got into it, the more unlike him it seemed.
Then she used her keycard to open the door to her room and stopped in amazement. He hadn’t gotten her a room. He had gotten her a suite, complete with living room, small kitchen, and a single bedroom.
Three large rooms behind one locked door, and quite obviously hers, because that bellman had placed her overweight bag on the luggage rack inside the nearest coat closet.
Nearest coat closet. There were others.
A shiver ran through her. This was confirmation that Travers was in trouble. He would never voluntarily take a place like this—and he would never pay for one like it for her.
Maybe she should check to see if hell had frozen over.
Instead, she pocketed her keycard, spun on one toe, and walked out of the room. She stopped at the only room beside it, the one with the same number she’d been using when she called him back, and knocked. (There actually was a doorbell beside the door, but she was too scared to use it.)
For a moment, she was afraid that she had the wrong room or that no one had heard her. She raised her fist to knock again when the door swept open.
A tall, willowy blonde answered. She was stunningly beautiful, with delicate little features that formed the most perfect face. She wore a pink negligee and a matching robe with feathers trimming the sleeves and hem.
She was everything that Megan was not—slender, gorgeous, perfect, tall—the kind of woman guaranteed to make Megan even more nervous than she already was.
“I must have the wrong room,” Megan said.
“Nonsense.” Even the woman’s voice was feminine—light and floaty with just a hint of dumb blond. “You’re Travers’ sister, aren’t you? Come on in.”
The woman stepped aside. Her negligee flowed around her as if she were on stage. Megan walked in, peering around the corner for Kyle.
She didn’t see him, but she did see a pristine comic book on one of the end tables. He was here somewhere.
This room was a suite, too, only it was filthy. Two other women sat on the couch—a brunette with a petite skinniness that made her look athletic and breakable at the same time, and a redhead who was as heavy as Megan. Only that redhead—whose hair really was flaming Vegas red, not the auburn that Megan was blessed with—had her curves in all the right places.
She wore a green negligee, while the brunette wore a white one. They were eating popcorn and staring at the big screen TV, their mule-covered feet resting on the coffee table.
At that moment, Megan realized she had seen them before. The three women had been at Vivian’s wedding less than a month ago. Megan hadn’t had a chance to talk to them, though, because every time she glanced at them, they seemed to be talking to one another.
The blonde walked over and shut the television off. The redhead looked up grumpily. “It’s the best part.”
“We have to know if the nassty shadowy creaturesss are going to get the hobbitsses,” the brunette said.
“We’ve seen it already.” The blond sounded grumpy. “Besides, Travers’ sister is here.”
The redhead stood and extended her hand. She was tall, too. No wonder her curves worked. “You’re Megan? I’m Lachesis.”
“I’m Atropos,” said the brunette.
“And I’m Clotho,” said the blonde.
“Sure you are,” Megan said. “It’s late, but it’s not that late. And if you ladies are the Fates of Greek Mythology, I’m going to eat my shorts.”
“Please don’t,” said the redhead.
“You’re not wearing shorts, are you?” asked the brunette.
“I think she means underwear,” the blonde said.
Megan wanted to slap herself again. This was worse than a falconer in the desert.
“And we are the Fates, I’m afraid,” the redhead said. “Or at least—”
“We used to be,” the brunette said.
“We’re trying to get our job back,” said the blonde.
At the mention of a job, Megan felt a little calmer. They were some kind of Las Vegas lounge act, and they’d hired Travers to help them.
“Travers is good with money and accounting,” Megan said. “I’m sure with his business savvy, he’ll get the casino to rehire you.”
“We’re not looking for a casino hire,” the redhead—Lachesis?—said.
“But close enough for the moment.” The brunette—Atropos?—glanced at the other two. “Right?”
The blonde, Clotho, nodded. “Because that’s where he is right now. Getting our—ahem—job back.”
Megan’s head ached. She rubbed her nose with her thumb and forefinger, getting a sense she wouldn’t understand what was going on if she tried.
“Where’s Kyle?” she asked.
All three women smiled. Lachesis nodded toward the nearest bedroom, Atropos pointed, and Clotho indicated it with her hand.
“In there,” they said in unison.
This day was getting stranger by the minute. Megan excused herself and walked to the door. She put her hand on the knob, then held a finger to her lips, indicating that the three strange women remain quiet.
She opened the door. The familiar scents of Gatorade, peanut butter, and little boy reached her. She smiled in spite of herself and closed the door behind her.
A night-light gave the room a faint illumination. Bottles, a Spider-Man thermos, and some wrappers littered a bedside table. Kyle was sprawled on the bed, his bare feet sticking out of the covers, his round little face looking naked without his glasses.
Kyle looked just like Travers had at that age, or like Travers would have if he had preferred computers to basketball and comic books to track. They shared a heart-shaped face and blond hair with the same cowlick right in the center of the forehead.
Travers had gotten the classic good looks in the family—not that the family had been doling out looks. All three children had been adopted. Vivian was slight and dark with the curliest hair any woman had ever had; Travers was tall and blond—the male equivalent of Clotho, if the truth be told; and Megan was small and round, “round” being the operative word.
Her parents had never said anything about it, preferring to love their children as they were. If Megan commented on her weight, her mother would smile and say that Megan would grow out of it.
At twenty-five, she was still waiting for that miracle to happen.
She approached the bed. Her nephew looked so vulnerable there, his hand curled beneath his chin. She reached for the sheet to pull it over his shoulders when something growled at her.
She leapt backward in complete fright, her heart pounding. She hadn’t seen anything, but she had heard it. She knew she had.
Or maybe it was some weird noise that Kyle had made in his sleep.
She walked back to the bed and heard it again. A huge growl. She was shaking. She had been attacked by a dog when she was little—a German Shepherd that had knocked her to the ground and bit her and growled when her father pulled it off, wrestled it off, really—and she hadn’t liked dogs ever since.
But she didn’t see a dog.
Was she losing her mind? First the falconer on the highway (and the lights going out. What was that?), then the Fates (had they really said that? Or had she imagined it?), and now this imaginary dog.
She steeled herself and reached for the sheet again, only to hear a half-bark and feel the snap of teeth as they closed near her hand.
She yanked it back so quickly that she nearly hurt herself. The side of her palm was wet. Drool? Slobber? She couldn’t tell.
“Aunt Megan?” Kyle was looking up at her, his adorable face mashed together in a squint. “You’re here.”
“Indeed I am, boyo,” she said and went to ruffle his hair, then thought better of it. “Everything’s gonna be okay now.”
He smiled, snuggled deeper into the pillow, and sighed. Something moved across his shoulder. The something was black and long and never-ending.
Kyle raised his head. “It’s just Fang, Aunt Megan.”
He reached over and snapped on the light beside the bed. An obese dachshund guarded the space between Kyle’s chest and Megan, its black eyes glittery and fierce.
“Fang,” Kyle said. “He’s my dad’s familiar, but really, he’s my dog.”
She hadn’t heard that right. “He’s a what?”
“Oh, yeah.” Kyle rubbed his eyes. “Nobody told you.”
“Told me what?”
“About the magic.”
She’d wandered into a Twilight Zone episode, only life hadn’t become black and white. Maybe it was an episode of Punk’d, and Ashton Kutcher would reveal himself at any moment.
That wouldn’t be so bad, right?
The dog was still staring at her.
“Does it bite?” Megan asked, nodding toward the dog.
Kyle put his hand on the dog’s back and pressed it toward the sheets. “That’s my Aunt Megan,” he said as if the dog could understand him. “She’s one of the good guys.”
The dog lay down and then sighed, as if a huge burden had been lifted off it.
“You still didn’t answer me,” she said. “Does it bite?”
“No, he doesn’t,” Kyle said, “unless you’re like totally evil. Or incompetent.”
She blinked, trying to make sense out of all this. The women in the next room had been watching one of the Lord of the Rings movies. Maybe they’d let Kyle watch it before he went to sleep. Maybe he was still half asleep, which was why he was talking so oddly.
“If he doesn’t bite,” she said, being careful with the pronoun, “why did you name him Fang?”
“Because he told me that was his name. His previous owner called him Bartholomew, which Fang thinks is stupid, but he doesn’t mind it when Zoe calls him Bartholomew Fang.”
“Zoe? Is she one of the women outside?”
“Nope. She’s a detective. She thinks my dad doesn’t like her because she’s too old, but he doesn’t care. And she doesn’t look that old anyway.”
Megan had to be in a Twilight Zone episode. This conversation was too complicated for Punk’d.
“A detective?” Megan pushed her hair away from her face. “What’s going on? Is your dad in trouble?”
“No.” Kyle shoved his pillow against the back of the bed, picked up the obese dog, and moved it—him—to one side. Then he patted the space where the dog had been, like he thought Megan should sit in it, doggy smell and all.
She gave the blanket a sideways look, squared her shoulders, and then sat down. It was still warm from that dog body. The dog watched her, but didn’t growl any more.
“It’s okay, Fang, really,” Kyle said to the dog. “She’s just cautious because some big old dog tried to kill her once.”
That was as blunt as anyone had ever put it. She’d never told a soul about her fears. Even her father had said the dog wasn’t trying to hurt her—all the way to the hospital, where they’d given her rabies shots and five stitches in the bite on her shoulder.
“Fang says that other dog was stupid, and he’d only have hurt you if you’d have hurt me.” Kyle still had his hand on the dog’s neck.
The dog was looking at Megan as if indeed it—he—had said those words. In fact, it—he—had that expression people got when they expected an answer.
Kyle’s expression mirrored it.
“Thanks, Fang,” Megan said as sincerely as she could. “I’ll work on the trust issues.”
The dog nodded—or it seemed to nod—then it (he, dang it!) circled three times and lay down beside Kyle.
“You’re cool, Aunt Megan,” Kyle said. “I didn’t know how much dogs scared you till just then.”
Uncanny. She always forgot how uncanny this kid was, how supernaturally intuitive. Just like Vivian when she was little. Everyone was convinced Viv was psychic. Megan had learned in all her psych courses and her subsequent work that there was no such thing as psychic. But there were amazingly in-tune people who could read signals better than most. Vivian had that skill, and somehow, Kyle had acquired it too.
Kyle’s cheeks were red, as if what he had just said had embarrassed him. He plucked at the blanket.
Megan tried to get the conversation back on track. “If your dad isn’t in trouble, what’s he doing with a detective?”
“Besides kissing her?” Kyle asked.
It was Megan’s turn to blush. She hadn’t seen Travers with a woman since Cheryl had left him and baby Kyle over nine years ago.
“Yeah, I guess,” Megan said.
“They’re trying to rescue some spinning wheel for the Fates,” Kyle said.
“Excuse me?” Megan asked.
Kyle hit his forehead with the heel of his hand. “I keep forgetting that you haven’t been here the whole time. You always know what’s going on and this time it’s been kinda weird.”
“Just tell me,” Megan said.
And so he did.
* * *
Even if Megan believed in magic and fate and all that mumbo jumbo, she still wasn’t sure if this story could be true. It sounded like Kyle had recounted a dream. Still, her profession had taught her the importance of dreams—in them lurked the subconscious, with its wants, desires, and knowledge—so she struggled to pay attention.
What she finally understood was this: the women in the living room of the suite truly believed they were the Greek Fates who had ruled over mankind for centuries. They had been all-powerful until Zeus had initiated a coup and instituted his daughters as new Fates.
This, however, was a problem as the Fates administered more than life and death. They kept alive all the rules that created true love.
Zeus, for grown-up reasons that Kyle didn’t really want to understand, wanted to destroy true love. In order to destroy true love, Zeus had had to get rid of the Fates, which he had done, even tricking them into giving up their magical powers.
The Fates needed to get their magic back. To do that, they needed their old spinning wheel. It could restore their powers ten thousand times over.
The problem was that the spinning wheel had been stolen by the Faerie Kings, who had needed the magic to start their rival magical kingdom. They had hidden the wheel, and now the Fates had to find it.
Which was why they needed a detective. That was Zoe.
So Travers was helping Zoe find a magic spinning wheel. And, oh, by the way, the reason Travers had always been so good with money was because he was magical, too. Just like Zoe, who was over a hundred years old.
Megan wasn’t sure she had gotten it all, but she clung to this: the Fates had magic once, but they didn’t any longer. Her stolid brother, who didn’t even like fiction about magic, was really a magician, and he had fallen in love with a woman who was at least seventy years older than he was—a woman who was both detective and magician.
It was, if Megan did say so herself, one of the most inventive stories a kid had ever told her. And she had heard some doozies over the years.
“And I should probably say one more thing.” Kyle was watching her as she absorbed the information.
“What’s that, hon?” she asked.
“The reason I’m so ‘intuitive’ all the time is that I can read minds.”
She stared at him. He actually believed that part of it. Was it a defense mechanism? Some way to cope with being off-the-charts brilliant and so incredibly precocious as a result? Not many eleven-year-olds had the vocabulary he did, the maturity he did, and the sensitivity he did.
His shoulders wilted in the face of her silence.
“It’s okay,” he said quietly. “You don’t have to believe me.”
She took his warm little hand in hers. “I do, Kyle,” she said, telling herself she wasn’t really lying. She believed that he believed all of this.
“You’ll see,” he said, slipping grumpily under his blankets. “This is all true. You won’t be able to explain it away, Aunt Meg. If Dad can come around, you can too.”
She bent over, kissed his forehead, and tucked the sheet around him. Then she shut off the light.
“I’m sure I can, kiddo,” she said quietly. “I’m sure I can.”