Bloodfever

This one’s for Jessi for, among other things, tromping all over Ireland in the rain, taking such beautiful photographs. I’m so proud of you!

And for Leiha, who keeps the machine oiled and the wheels turning with a smile that makes the Cheshire cat look grumpy. Thanks for crossing the country for me.

And for Neil, who understands the soul of an artist because he has one. Thanks for the music and the months in Key West. It was heaven.

Dear Reader:

At the back of Bloodfever you will find a detailed glossary of names, items, and pronunciations.

Some entries contain small spoilers. Read at your own risk.

For additional information about the Fever series and the world of the Fae, visit www.sidhe-seersinc.com or www.karenmoning.com.

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,

And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,

And in short, I was afraid.

—T. S. Eliot/The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Prologue

A ll of us have our little problems and insecurities. I’m no different. Back in high school when I used to feel insecure about something, I would console myself with two thoughts: I’m pretty, and my parents love me. Between those two, I could survive anything.

Since then I’ve come to understand how little the former matters, and how bitterly the latter can be tested. What’s left then? Nothing about our appearance or who loves or hates us. Nothing about our brainpower—which, like beauty, is an unearned gift of genetics—nor even anything about what we say.

It’s our actions that define us. What we choose. What we resist. What we’re willing to die for.

My name is MacKayla Lane. I think. Some say my last name is really O’Connor. That’s another of my insecurities right now: who I am. Although, at the moment, I’m in no hurry to find out. What I am is disturbing enough.

I’m from Ashford, Georgia. I think. Lately I’ve realized I have some tricky memories I can’t quite sort through.

I’m in Ireland. When my sister, Alina, was found dead in a trash-filled alley on Dublin’s north side, the local police closed her case in record time, so I flew over to see what I could do about getting justice.

Okay, so maybe I’m not that pure.

What I really came over for was revenge. And now, after everything I’ve seen, I want it twice as bad.

I used to think my sister and I were just two nice southern girls who would get married in a few years, have babies, and settle down to a life of sipping sweet tea on a porch swing under the shade of waxy-blossomed magnolias, raising our children together near Mom and Dad and each other.

Then I discovered Alina and I descend not from good, wholesome southern stock but from an ancient Celtic bloodline of powerful sidhe-seers, people who can see the Fae, a terrifying race of otherworldly beings that have lived secretly among us for thousands of years, cloaked in illusions and lies. Governed loosely by a queen, and even more loosely by a Compact few support and many ignore, they have preyed on humans for millennia.

Supposedly I’m one of the most powerful sidhe-seers ever born. Not only can I see the Fae, I can sense their sacred relics that hold the deadliest and most powerful of their magic.

I can find them.

I can use them.

I’ve already found the mythic Spear of Luin, one of only two weapons capable of killing an immortal Fae. I’m also a Null—a person who can temporarily freeze a Fae and cancel out its power with the mere touch of my hands. It helps me kick butt when I need to, and lately,