NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER · “Mac is back and badder than ever!”—J. R. Ward
MacKayla Lane and Jericho Barrons return in the blockbuster Fever series from Karen Marie Moning.
It’s easy to walk away from lies. Power is another thing.
MacKayla Lane would do anything to save the home she loves. A gifted sidhe-seer, she’s already fought and defeated the deadly Sinsar Dubh—an ancient book of terrible evil—yet its hold on her has never been stronger.
When the wall that protected humans from the seductive, insatiable Fae was destroyed on Halloween, long-imprisoned immortals ravaged the planet. Now Dublin is a war zone with factions battling for control. As the city heats up and the ice left by the Hoar Frost King melts, tempers flare, passions run red-hot, and dangerous lines get crossed. Seelie and Unseelie vie for power against nine ancient immortals who have governed Dublin for millennia; a rival band of sidhe-seers invades the city, determined to claim it for their own; Mac’s former protégé and best friend, Dani “Mega” O’Malley, is now her fierce enemy; and even more urgent, Highland druid Christian MacKeltar has been captured by the Crimson Hag and is being driven deeper into Unseelie madness with each passing day. The only one Mac can depend on is the powerful, dangerous immortal Jericho Barrons, but even their fiery bond is tested by betrayal.
It’s a world where staying alive is a constant struggle, the line between good and evil is blurred, and every alliance comes at a price. In an epic battle against dark forces, Mac must decide who she can trust, and what her survival is ultimately worth.
Look for all of Karen Marie Moning’s sensational Fever novels:
DARKFEVER | BLOODFEVER | FAEFEVER | DREAMFEVER | SHADOWFEVER | ICED | BURNED | FEVERBORN | FEVERSONG
Praise for Burned
“Karen Marie Moning is back, delivering the kind of spellbinding, addictive, twisted tale we love to devour. Magic and madness, intrigue and illusion, passion and power, sexual tension and more sexual tension. . . . Burned is a book that shouldn't be missed. Thrilling, suspenseful, sexy—it has all the right stuff to delight the most ardent of Fever fans.”—USA Today
“Dark, delicious suspense! Karen Marie Moning is my author of choice and Fever is my series of choice for action-packed suspense with a spine-tingling paranormal twist.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner
“A masterwork by an incomparable writer. Burned is brilliant, sexy, and dangerous. I adore Moning! No one does it better.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Sylvia Day
“Prepare for a heart-stopping trip into the epic Fever world, filled with gasp-out-loud surprises and sweltering sensuality.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole
“Burned gets the highest rating from me. I wanted to run through town shouting ‘Mac is back! Mac is back!’ Grab some snacks, something to drink, and settle down for a cover-to-cover read that will likely keep you up all night.”—New York Times bestselling author Linda Howard
“One of the most anticipated books in romance . . . Burned is told through several viewpoints, but the dominating view is Mac’s, and it’s wonderful to have her back, as well as get to spend time with the two Alphas in her life.”—Heroes and Heartbreakers
“Deeply complex, heady and action-packed.”—RT Book Reviews
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Karen Marie Moning is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fever series, featuring MacKayla Lane, and the award-winning Highlander series. She has a bachelor’s degree in society and law from Purdue University.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
If this is the first book you’ve picked up in the Fever series, at the end of Burned, I’ve included a guide of People, Places, and Things to illuminate the backstory.
If you’re a seasoned reader of the series, the guide will reacquaint you with notable events and characters, when they were introduced, what they did, if they survived and, if not, how they died.
You can either read the guide first, getting acquainted with the world, or reference it as you go along to refresh your memory. You’ll find a few nuggets not mentioned in the books. The guide features characters by type, followed by places and then things.
To the new reader, welcome to the Fever world.
To the devoted readers who make it possible for me to do what I love every day, welcome back.
Eleven months ago, the Clarin House Hotel
August 6, BWC
“Who is it?”
Two a.m. Humans sleep. Her voice through the door is drowsy, sweet, southern, and young. So fucking young. Innocent. In my zoo, MacKayla Lane is an exotic.
“What do you want?” All trace of slumber is gone from her voice. She couldn’t sound more awake if she’d rolled over on a rattlesnake in her bed.
I laugh silently, mirthlessly. More than she can handle. “We have information to exchange. You want to know what it is. I want to know what you know about it.”
“Bright guy, aren’t you? I figured that out back at the store. What took you so long?”
Sarcasm fails to mask the fear in her voice. I choose my next words carefully. I want her to open the door of her own accord, invite me in. It means something, that courtesy. “I am unaccustomed to asking for what I want. Nor am I accustomed to bartering with a woman.”
She is silent a moment, liking my reply, that I placed her in a class of women with whom I am willing to barter. It makes her feel she has a modicum of control over the situation—-as if I am a “situation.” What stands on her doorstep is a fucking cataclysm. Words. Why do they always ask for words? Why do they ever believe them?
“Well, get used to it with me, bud, because I don’t take orders from anyone. And I don’t give up anything for free.”
She called me “bud.”
I might kill her for that alone before I’m done questioning her.
“Do you intend to open this door, Ms. Lane, or shall we converse where anyone might attend our business?” Formality makes her perceive me as older than I am, less dangerous. I will wear any skin to get in.
“Do you really intend to exchange information?”
“And you’ll go first?”
“I will.” So fucking gullible.
“We can trade through the door.”
In her dreams. My dick isn’t that long. I came here for two things. I’m not leaving without them. “No.”
“I am a private person, Ms. Lane. This is not negotiable.”
“How did you find me?”
Bedsprings squeak. The sound of jeans being pulled on.
“You procured a hired conveyance at my establishment.”
“We call them taxis where I come from. And bookstores.”
Is that a little spine? Does she have a backbone under all that fluff? “We call them manners where I come from, Ms. Lane.”
“You should talk,” she grumbles. “It’s not my fault. Being threatened brings out the worst in me.”
She opens the door. Peers out. Puny--ass chain across it. I could break it with a blink.
Fuck, I think. Just that. A multitude of various fucks all in one great big clusterfuck. As in: I am fucked if I want this . . . this . . . newborn imbecile. And she is so fucked if I take her. And fuck if I’m going to walk away. Letting her leave my store was bad enough. Should have killed the cabbie. Taken what I wanted then. Innocent. Soft. Smells good. Sleep--swollen. Hair a blond tangle of invitation for a fist. I see it spilling down her back, grazing the curves of her ass. Me under her, behind her. Driving up into her. What will she do? Say? How does she sound when she comes? Does she, like most women, lose a part of her soul in sex? Leave it lying there for the taking? Fuck. “May I come in?” I don’t smile. My smiles don’t make people relax.
“I wouldn’t have let you up this far.”
Her eyes are green, angry. Her nipples are hard. Lust is absurd. It strikes in the strangest places at the oddest times. She doesn’t even realize she’s feeling it. She’s erected a barricade of propriety and lies between us. I despise the type of woman she is. I loathe her soft pink innocence. My body doesn’t concur. I wonder why her? Why not, say, a streetlamp, for all we have in common? She’s chiffon and satin ribbons. I’m raw meat and razor blades. I have never been drawn to my opposite. I like what I am. “Your nipples are hard,” I murmur, allowing her the choice to hear it, or pretend she didn’t.
She blinks, shakes her head. “How did you get up here?”
Ah, the human ear has splendid filters. “I told them I was your brother.”
“Right. Because we look so much alike.”
The lace of her sleep--shirt flutters with each breath. She’s trembling, trying to conceal it. I glance beyond her, at the tiny room. It’s little better than a let--by--the--hour. It won’t take that long to get what I came for. Business first. “Well, Ms. Lane?”
“Don’t hurt yourself.”
“Don’t be a jackass.”
“You have till the count of three, then I leave. Two.”
“Oh, fine, come in,” she snaps.
I do smile then but permit it only because she has closed the door to unhook the chain and can’t see me. She opens it and steps back. I have found there to be little distance between the unlatching of a chain and the spreading of a woman’s legs. As if they can never unbar only a single entrance. It’s a disease called hope.
She pushes the door flat to the wall. She thinks it makes her safe. I enter. Don’t bother to close it. That will come later. She toes a rug and a lacy bra beneath the bed. I will see much more than that before I leave.
“So, what is it? No, wait—-how do you spell it?”
I pace a circle around her. She spins as I stalk her, unwilling to give me her back. I’m going to have it anyway. Every way. “S--i--n--s--a--r.”
“Shi--sa. Shi--sa--du.” I continue pacing. I like the way her body moves. If she glances down, she’ll see my coat is open and my suit fails to conceal how hard I am. She never takes her gaze from my face. Few keep it there.
“Oh, that makes great sense. And the du?”
I stop circling, facing the door. She stops, her back to it. Three feet separate us. I can feel her. Smell her.
“Dubh is ‘do’? Should I be calling pubs ‘poos’?”
“Dubh is Gaelic, Ms. Lane. Pub is not.”
“Don’t bust a gut laughing.”
“Nothing about the Sinsar Dubh is a laughing matter.”
“I stand corrected. So what is this gravest of graves?”
Flippant. She has no business being here. Fio was right.
It would be merciful, Jericho. Kill her quickly before one of the others tortures her for days then rips out her throat.
Does mercy look like my middle fucking name?
Do it for me, Jericho. I can’t bear the thought of what one of the others will do to her.
One of them? Or me, Fiona? Which thought can’t you bear?
I saw the look in your eyes. Jericho, how could you want that . . . that . . . that foolish, empty--headed child! What could she possibly offer you?
“Too long,” I say. Fiona has been with me too long.
“What?” she says blankly.
I’m suddenly furious that MacKayla Lane came to my city, thinks to play on the same field with me and mine, made herself my problem in any capacity. “Go home, Ms. Lane. Be young. Be pretty. Get married. Have pretty babies. Grow old with your pretty husband.”
“Oh, screw you, Jericho Barrons! Tell me what it is. You said you would.”
“If you insist. Don’t be a fool. Don’t insist.”
“I’m insisting. What is it?”
“Last chance.” For many things.
“Too bad. I don’t want a last chance. Tell me.”
I was lying anyway. Her last chance was her first one. She walked through my door. “The Sinsar Dubh is a book.”
“A book? That’s all? Just a book?”
“On the contrary, Ms. Lane, never make that mistake. Never think it just a book. It is an exceedingly rare and exceedingly ancient manuscript countless people would kill to possess.”
“Including you? Would you kill to possess it?”
“Absolutely. Anyone and anything that gets in my way. Always have. Always will. Reconsidering your stay, Ms. Lane?”
“You’ll be going home in a box, then.”
“Is that another of your threats?”
“It is not me who will put you there.”
“I answered your question, now it’s your turn to answer mine. What do you know of the Sinsar Dubh, Ms. Lane? Tell me. And don’t lie. I’ll know.” I could Voice her, force her to tell me everything. Little fun there.
“My sister was studying here. She was killed a month ago. She left me a voice--mail message right before she died, telling me I had to find the Sinsar Dubh.”
“She didn’t say. She just said everything depended on it.”
“Where is this message? I must hear it myself.”
“I accidentally deleted it.” Her gaze darts to the side.
“Liar. You would make no such mistake with a sister you care enough about to die for. Where is it? If you are not with me, Ms. Lane, you are against me. I have no mercy for my enemies.”
“I already gave a copy of this recording to the Dublin Gardai. They’re working to track down the man she was involved with.” There goes her gaze again.
“Give me your phone.”
“Not a chance. But I’ll put it on speakerphone.”
She plays the message. Never takes her gaze from my face. The things I could teach her . . . if she could survive them.
“Did you know my sister?”
I slice my head once to the left in silent negation.
“You were both after this ‘exceedingly rare book’ yet never ran into each other?”
“Dublin is a city of a million--odd people inundated daily by countless commuters and besieged by a never--ending wave of tourists, Ms. Lane. The oddity would be if we had encountered each other. What did she mean by ‘you don’t even know what you are’?”
“I wondered that myself. I have no idea.”
“Hmm. This was all she left you? A message?”
“Nothing more? No note or package or anything of the sort?”
She slices her head once to the left in silent negation. I scan her eyes. Deep but there, a hidden mirth. She just mocked me. My dick gets harder.
“And you had no idea what she meant by the Sinsar Dubh? Your sister didn’t confide in you?”
“I used to think she did. Apparently I was wrong.”
“Who did she mean by ‘them’?”
“I thought you might be able to tell me that.”
“I am not one of these ‘them,’ if that is what you’re inferring. Many seek the Sinsar Dubh, both individuals and factions. I want it as well, but I work alone.”
“Why do you want it?”
“It is priceless. I am a book collector.”
“And that makes you willing to kill for it? What do you plan to do with it? Sell it to the highest bidder?”
“If you don’t approve of my methods, stay out of my way.”
“Fine. What else have you to tell me, Ms. Lane?”
“Not a thing.” She jerks a frosty look from me to the door.
I laugh. “I do believe I’m being dismissed. I can’t recall the last time I was dismissed.” Let her think I’m leaving. It’s time to close the door.
I’m nearly past her, nearly at the door, when I grab her and slam her back against my body. The back of her skull thuds into my chest. Her teeth clack together. She makes a wordless sound, protest, and another more guttural sound that is not protest at all. I band an arm beneath her breasts.
I can smell when a woman wants to fuck. I smelled it in my store. I smell it now. She can’t see herself yet, she certainly can’t see me, can’t admit what she wants. But her body knows. Lust is a thing of the blood. Doesn’t need head or heart. Her flesh is soft and pink. Her blood is red hot.
“What are you doing?”
“Need a fucking manual?” I press hard against her ass.
“You’ve got to be kidding! You’re totally not my type and you’re . . . you’re . . . how old are you anyway? Eeew!”
“Your scent says otherwise.” I inhale. So much sweeter this close.
“My scent? Like you think you can smell—-you think I—- Oh! Let me go! Now! Get off me! I’m going to scream.”
“You will most certainly scream. I promise you that.” Beneath my arm, her heart hammers, she breathes quick and shallow. Sexual excitement alters the lines of her body, fuses it into new lines against mine. A woman’s spine changes when she wants to fuck, a subtle, supple shifting at the base, a sharper curve at that hollow where back meets ass. Breasts tighten and lift, the slant of jaw changes as the mouth prepares and muscles draw tight. I have studied humans for a small eternity. Intent infuses their every movement. Road maps to their inner navigation, plastered all over their skin. Born to be slaves.
“You’re delusional. I don’t want you. Get out of my room.”
“So you can crawl back into bed, weep for the sister you lost and brood about your own ineptitude? Scribble down your silly plans and plot vengeance? You don’t even know what the word means.” But she could learn. “Are you in such a hurry to be alone with your grief? Is it such a grand bedmate? When’s the last time you lost yourself in a good, hard fuck, Ms. Lane? Have you ever? I think it’s always been gentle, nice and sanitary, and when it was over you lay there wondering what all the fuss was about.”
“You’re crazy! You know that, right? You’re abso--frigging--lutely crazy. How dare you come in here and threaten and bully and be shitty to me then try to sleep with me? Then make fun of perfectly good sex!”
“I have no desire to sleep with you. I want to fuck you. And there is no such thing as perfectly good sex. If it’s ‘perfectly good,’ ” I mock in falsetto, “he should be shot in the head and put out of everyone’s misery. Sex either blows your fucking mind or it’s not good enough. You want me to blow your fucking mind, Ms. Lane? Come on. Do it. Be a big girl.”
Her whole body jerks in my arms. “I don’t even like you.”
“I don’t like you either. But my dick is hard and you’re wet—-”
“You can’t know that!”
My hand slides to the top button of her fly. “Want me to prove it? If you persist in lying, you leave me no choice.” I pop the first button, then the second. Her spine changes against my back, yet more curve, more pliancy. The human body is remarkable.
“Are you wet, Ms. Lane? Yes or no?” When she makes no reply, I pop the third button. “Let’s make a deal. I’ll check, and if you’re dry I’ll leave.”
“Answer the question.”
“It’s none of your business.”
“Tell me to stop.” I pop the fourth button. There’s only one left.
“I hate you.”
“I can live with that. Have you fucked since your sister was murdered? Let go, Ms. Lane. For once in your circumscribed little life, let the fuck go.”
She is suddenly steel in my arms. She pushes back with her hips, twists and turns in my arms, slams her hands into my chest and knees me in the balls. Or tries. I block it with a knee at the last second.
“You don’t know anything about me!” Her chest heaves, a pulse beats wildly at he...
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