Burn Bright - Patricia Briggs Page 0,1

one to live. It set a snare to catch one who was a hero—for heroes are delicious when they fall. It set a snare to trap a monster because even evil fears monsters, a little.

The one who sprang the trap was truly a monster. The one who triggered the snare was also a hero.

But this one was also an artist, and not just any artist. Such an artist, he was, as found beauty and joy in the world and shared it for all to see. An artist who, like the spring had, spread little magics around and left happiness where there was none before.

An artist such as that was a bigger mouthful than evil, even such an old and wicked evil as this, could swallow easily.

Much was lost in the battle, and it cost both sides dearly. As far as anyone knows, the fire of the battle burns still.

CHAPTER

1

This was bad. This was so very bad.

He ran full tilt, ghosting through the trees. The branches and brambles reached out and extracted their price in blood and flesh for running at such speed through their territory. He could feel the ground absorb his blood and his sweat—feel it stir at the taste. Dangerous. Feeding the earth with his blood when he was so upset was not wise.

He almost slowed his feet.

No one was chasing him.

No one had even known he was there. They’d seen the trees who’d obeyed his will, but they had not seen him. The trees … he might have to answer to her for the trees.

She’d told him to run, and he had paused to call the trees. That was not how their bargain was supposed to work. But he couldn’t just let them take her, not when it was within his power to stop it.

Think. Think. Think. The words were his, but he heard them in her voice. She’d worked so hard to give him rules. The first rule was think.

It was funny that everyone believed that she was the danger, that she was the crazy one. Very funny—and his lips stretched in a grin only the forest could see. It wasn’t amusement that caused his feral smile. He wasn’t sure exactly what the emotion was though it was fueled by an anger, a rage so deep that the earth, aroused by his blood, rose eagerly to do his bidding. The earth, out of all the elements, was the hardest to wake but the most eager for violence.

He could just go back. Go back and teach them what they got for touching someone he loved …

No.

Her voice again, ringing in his ears with power. She was his dominant, though he was so much older, so much stronger. As such, she wielded power over him—a power that he’d given her out of love, out of despair, out of desolation. And their bargain, their mating bond (her word, then his) had worked for a very long time.

Anyone who cared to look around would know how well her hold on him had worked—there were still trees on this mountain, and he could hear the birds’ startled flight as he ran past them. If that bargain had failed, there would be no birds, no trees. Nothing. His was an old power and hungry.

But their mating had given him balance, given him safety. His beautiful werewolf mate had brought love to his sterile existence. When that hadn’t been enough, she had brought order to his chaos as well.

Order … that word … No, orders was the word that sifted through his roiling thoughts. She had given him orders for this situation.

He vaulted