Burn Bright - Patricia Briggs

Titles by Patricia Briggs

The Mercy Thompson Novels

MOON CALLED

BLOOD BOUND

IRON KISSED

BONE CROSSED

SILVER BORNE

RIVER MARKED

FROST BURNED

NIGHT BROKEN

FIRE TOUCHED

SILENCE FALLEN

The Alpha and Omega Novels

ON THE PROWL

(with Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, and Sunny)

CRY WOLF

HUNTING GROUND

FAIR GAME

MASQUES

WOLFSBANE

STEAL THE DRAGON

WHEN DEMONS WALK

THE HOB’S BARGAIN

DRAGON BONES

DRAGON BLOOD

RAVEN’S SHADOW

RAVEN’S STRIKE

Graphic Novels

ALPHA AND OMEGA: CRY WOLF: VOLUME ONE

ALPHA AND OMEGA: CRY WOLF: VOLUME TWO

Anthologies

SHIFTER’S WOLF

(Masques and Wolfsbane in one volume)

SHIFTER’S WOLF

ACE

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Briggs, Patricia, author.

Title: Burn bright / Patricia Briggs.

Description: New York : Ace, 2018. | Series: Alpha and Omega ; 5

Identifiers: LCCN 2017052720 | 9780425281314 (hardcover) | 9780698195837 (ebook)

Subjects: LCSH: Werewolves—Fiction. | Magic—Fiction. | Paranormal fiction. | BISAC: FICTION /

Fantasy / Urban Life. | GSAFD: Fantasy fiction. | Occult fiction.

Classification: LCC PS3602.R53165 B87 2018 | DDC 813/.6—dc23

LC record available at lccn.loc.gov/2017052720

First Edition: March 2018

Cover illustration by Daniel Dos Santos

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Version_1

For Michael, my heart, who taught me to follow my dreams.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

My thanks to those who helped me shape this story: Collin Briggs, Linda Campbell, Dave and Katharine Carson,

Michelle Kasper, Ann Peters, Kaye Roberson, Bob and Sara Schwager, and Anne Sowards. As always, any mistakes that remain are mine.

Table of Contents

Titles by Patricia Briggs

Title Page

Dedication

Acknowledgments

PROLOGUE: A TALE WITHOUT AN ENDING

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

About the Author

PROLOGUE

A Tale Without an Ending

Once upon a time, there was a small spring that, touched by the earth’s spirit, bore a scattering of magic sparkled in its cold, pure water. It was only a little magic, but it brought good things into the world—tiny bits of goodness born of the tiny bits of magic.

There is a certain sort of evil that cannot abide happiness, even such humble joys as lived in that spring.

Such an evil came to dwell at the spring, culling victims from those who came to seek the little surcease it offered. Eventually, even the earth’s magic could not cleanse the evil from the water, and the spring’s small magic was turned to darker uses.

Thus died a little joy in the world, and evil was satisfied for a time.

This evil held the now-polluted spring, one way and another, for a very long while. Time changed, and the evil changed with it, grew more clever about drawing prey to it. Sometimes it fed upon innocence, sometimes magic, sometimes beauty—but the evil always took satisfaction in robbing the world of any good it could find.

It became aware of one who sought, like the spring once had, to do a little good in a world now bleak and dark. On the evil one’s webs came whispers of a monster who fought other monsters. The evil deemed it no more of a meal than a thousand others like it. Still, it could not, by virtue of what it was, allow such a