“The leprechauns have gone off the reservation your majesty.” Chang was not smirking when he said it. In fact, his handsome features were completely devoid of any emotion. If this had been six months ago, he’d have been joking with me, smirking and supremely confident as only a dragon can be. After all, even in human form, a dragon is well nigh indestructible without the use of dragonsbane—not something you can come by easily on this side of the veil.
But that was then, this was now. Things had changed. I had changed. And the easy familiarity I’d once shared with him was suffering from a bit of a strain.
Life can be a real pain in the ass.
Apparently so can leprechauns.
“What happened?” I tried not to sound as tired and irritable as I felt. Tried, and failed miserably.
“Someone showed them how to get on the internet. They watched the first movie in a horror series where the villains were leprechauns.”
Oh hell. I hadn’t watched any of them, but I remembered they were supposed to meld comedy and horror. I couldn’t imagine the actual leprechauns would be impressed.
“They took offense. Apparently they’re on their way to Hollywood to take revenge on all of the parties involved.”
“How many of them went?”
Ten leprechauns may not sound like many—but they have enough magic individually to wreak serious havoc. Together? I managed not to shudder. I needed to handle this, and quickly. First, their leaving sanctuary was an insult to me if not direct disobedience of a royal command. It made me look bad and undercut my authority. All the other Fae would be watching to see how I would respond. On the other hand, overreacting would be just as bad.
I counted off the names in my head: Flaherty, O’Bryan, Murphy, Coughlin, Reagan, Mulligan, Harrity, Flanigan, O’Hara, Doyle. I knew them all. They’d been a part of my childhood, conspiring with Adam, the Diamond King, to reward me for catching rainbows he made when sunlight struck his skin. I liked them for the most part—at least I did when they weren’t complicating the hell out of my existence.
I tapped my index finger against my lip, thinking quickly. “All right, here’s what we’re going to do. Chan, rent me a warehouse in L.A. and hire me a film crew. Buy the rights to make the next sequel. Then get on the internet. Get the word out everywhere you can, make a big splash about it, get the crew to film a preview if you need to. I want word to get out that we’re filming a big new movie in the series and it’s going to be HUGE. Contact the agents of everyone involved in the first movie—say you’re ‘checking availability’. If the leprechauns are getting ready to move against them, we should hear about it if we’re courting them for the film, and it will give you a chance to get people talking in the industry.”
Chan nodded, but expressed concern. “How do you know they’ll see it?”
“It’s your job to make them see it.” I said sternly, then grinned in spite of myself. “Besides, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the internet—it’s that it’s addicting as hell. You get the word out, make sure it spreads. They’ll see it.”
I turned to address my personal assistant, an elderly man of Polynesian ancestry and many talents. “Teo, I want you to summon the single biggest clotheshorse among the Sidhe women to me and buy us a pair of tickets to Los Angeles. Tell her we’ll be hitting the shoe stores on and around Rodeo Drive. And I will need plenty of cash.”
Moash, the King of the doxies, tilted his head, his batlike features wearing an expression of pure puzzlement. “You’re going shopping for shoes?”
“We’re going shopping for bait.”
Shopping with Alala was an education. She stood six foot four inches in her flat and every inch of her skin was ebony perfection, from the tips of her manicured toes to the black curls she kept cropped close to her head. Her delicately pointed ears sparkled with no less than eleven piercings on one side, and a single two carat diamond on her left. She moved with the deadly grace of a lioness on the hunt, and when she walked into a store everyone stopped what they were doing to cater to her least whim. That she was deferring to me earned me a level of obsequity that was almost disturbing.
We hit the shoe stores for bait. We hit the others for fun, and by the time we were done I was glad I had the royal treasuries at my disposal. Damn but that woman knew how to spend money!
We kept in touch with Chan by cell phone, so I knew exactly what warehouse to drive to.
It was a dump. But it was a busy dump. There was construction going on everywhere, with sets being built, actors auditioning, and deities alone knew what all else going on. The racket was terrible. And it says something about the abundance of beautiful women in Hollywood that Alala and I were able to walk into the hubbub without causing a stir.
I stopped the nearest construction worker. “Chan?”
“Office, northwest corner of the building.” He gestured with the hammer in his hand. “But you’d watch out. He’s in a mood.”
I didn’t doubt it a bit. Dragons are notoriously moody, and Chan more than most. Besides, he was having to deal with people—lots of people, and computers. Neither of those were his favorite things. Oh, he’d do his job, and flawlessly. But he wouldn’t be happy about it. I would have to think of some suitable reward for him when this was over.
Alala followed me without protest, her expression a bit bemused. After the lavish attention that had been shown us in the shop, the attitude here was a bit of a cold shower. Then again, these people weren’t trying to get us to spend money.
Cynical? Perhaps. But I did start out as a shop keeper.
It was awkward, what with all the packages I was carrying, but I managed to I tap on the door before opening it. It was only polite, and I wouldn’t want to get roasted by accident.
“Now what?” Chan’s growl stopped abruptly when he saw who it was. “My apologies your majesty.”
“No problem.” I let Alana pass through the door then closed it.
We stood in a claustrophobically small office. Chan sat in a battered office chair behind an ancient metal desk which was in only marginally better shape than the battle scarred filing cabinets—each of them a different color from the other, and from the desk. “I see you’ve been busy. Any sign of the leprechauns yet?”
“Not here—but there have been rumors about one or two of the people involved with the first movie. Not the stars, but the producer, the director. They’ve both had accidents in the last couple of days. Not deadly, but nasty. It’ll take them a while to recover. I’ve heard rumblings about more, enough that people around town are starting to talk about the ‘Leprechaun curse.’ I don’t like it. Frankly, I’d like to break their little necks for causing all this trouble.”
“Break these instead.” I dropped bags with shoeboxes on his desk. Don’t destroy them—but damage them enough that they’ll need serious repair.”
He nodded in understanding and set to work.” He knew as well or better than I did that leprechauns a cobblers—they mend shoes by trade and take even more pride in their work than in the gold that they guard.
“Then we’d better get to work. Where’s my gear?”
All fae are magic. But I’m half human, and a witch like my mother. I work primarily with stones, but I do have a few other tricks up my sleeve. Between one thing and another, I should have everything I needed. I hoped. With Alala tagging along as assistant and pack horse we left the office carrying my magical gear and the bait.
Here’s hoping it worked, before someone got killed.
I was exhausted, but the traps were good. Now all we needed was for the prey to show their little pointy noses.
I was just starting to really worry when I felt the little shiver of familiar magic. I looked up from my hiding place on a comfortable couch stashed between a large armoire and several painted canvases on wheels that were basically movable walls. There they were, all ten of them, sitting all in a row, their legs dangling from the metal rafters overhead. Their suit jackets and top hats were emerald green. Their pants vermilion. Black patent leather boots and belts provided contrast, and vests in red, green and black plaid pulled the outfits together. They were older than the Irish hills, all of them, but those without beards looked almost like children, wicked children, their eyes alight with mischief.
Coughlin let out a small cry, his hand pointing to a corner not far from me. In the blink of an eye he, and four of the others vanished. I felt a surge of power as the trap was sprung, and a second surge as the cloaking spell I’d worked into it made their capture invisible and inaudible.
“Paddy? Timothy, Joseph,” a piping voice cried. “Where be ye?” I recognized Colin Flanagin’s voice. With a little pop he appeared just a few feet from my hiding spot, the remaining leprechauns crowding behind him.
Moving with great care, more silent than a mouse, I took the enchanted net and pulled it open wide. With a single swift movement I flung it over the group of them and felt a surge of satisfaction as the spells within it trapped and disabled them neatly.
“Very nice work your majesty.” Alala’s disembodied voice came from her hiding place not far away. “But now what will you do with them.”
“Aye, my queen you caught us all good and proper.” Reagan admitted with a sigh. “What will become of me and mine now?”
“Now you will pay for your misdeeds.” I said sternly. “First, you will use your gold to reimburse Chang and the crown for everything we spent to take care of this.
He groaned. Leprechauns hoard their gold almost as much as dragons, and he would hate desperately to lose his to one.
“Second, you will repair those shoes for Alala.”
That they would do anyway. They couldn’t help themselves. “Of course.”
Third, you will, at your own cost, create three pairs of new boots for each member of the royal guard. Two work pair and one dress pair.
He scowled, but didn’t argue.
“And lastly. I’m thirsty. Magic us all up some green beer—and mind you, no enchantments. This has been thirsty work.”
“For us too?”
“So long as you all swear not to go wandering off again without my leave.”
“Done then.” He agreed on behalf of them all, but they nodded their approval in unison.
So we raised a glass, me and those of my subjects, and it was good.
So was the movie.
The Exile by C.T Adams
Brianna Hai runs an occult shop that sells useless trinkets to tourists—and real magic supplies to witches and warlocks. The magical painting that hangs in Brianna’s apartment is the last portal between the fae and human worlds.
A shocking magical assault on her home reveals to Brianna that her father, High King Liu of the Fae, is under attack. With the help of her gargoyle, Pug, her friend David, and Angelo, a police detective who doesn’t believe in magic, Brianna recovers what was stolen from her and becomes an unwilling potential heir to the throne.
A suspenseful urban fantasy with a hint of romance, The Exile is the first solo novel by C. T. Adams, who is half of USA Today bestselling author Cat Adams. Like the Cat Adams Blood Singer novels, The Exile is set in a world where magic is real and contains Adams’s trademark blend of suspense, action, humor, and strongly emotional writing.