The Rebel Queen (Outlaw #1) - Lexi Blake

Chapter One

“Zoey, are you all right, sweetheart?”

I was aware of my husband moving in behind me, knew he was touching my shoulders and that his voice had gone soft. But I couldn’t feel Devinshea. All I could feel was a numbness descend because this couldn’t be happening. Not to us.

I stared at the poster in my hand and the ones in neat stacks on the desk in front of me.

“Of course she’s not all right.” Kelsey Owens stood by the door as though she was waiting for it all to go wrong.

The day had already gone firmly to hell.

This was supposed to be our homecoming. We’d been away from the Earth plane for days, trying hard to find our way back. We hadn’t meant to leave. Devinshea had been missing, along with our long-time friend Marcus Vorenus. We’d sent the Nex Apparatus to find them. It had been the day after Kelsey’s wedding, and she’d had to put her honeymoon on hold.

She’d gone missing, too.

In our search for them, Daniel and I had gotten sucked into a magical painting and sent to a far-off plane with no means to get home to our children and the supernatural kingdom Daniel reigned over. Yeah, it’s that kind of life, but it’s ours. And as so often happens, getting sent to another plane had ended in something wonderful.

Daniel and I had found our daughter Summer. Our first child. She was happily married to Marcus now, and it turned out she’d been born to balance the outer planes. She was a powerful source of energy, and with her king at her side, she would ensure the outer planes stayed powered with her unique magic.

As we’d left that incredible place, I had mourned the fact that it could be years before we saw our daughter again, but I was eager to see our other children. Rhys and Lee are our twins, and Evangeline is our sweet daughter. They’re eleven and five.

At least they had been when we left. The posters in my hand—the wanted posters—showed my children all grown up.

Wanted for crimes against our good King Myrddin

Lee Donovan-Quinn, outlaw, traitor and thief

Dead or alive

My baby boy. My human child. He was staring at me from the poster with his one good eye. His left eye was covered in a patch, a jagged scar crossing his face. He wasn’t a boy anymore. He was a man. A grown man.

Twelve years. Somehow we’d lost twelve years. Only four days had passed for us, but twelve years had gone by on the Earth plane, and it seemed Daniel’s old mentor, the wizard Myrddin Emrys, had decided to use that time to take his crown.

The wizard, who was also known as Merlin, had been the power behind all the kings who wielded the sword most famously known as Excalibur. Now he’d taken the crown himself, and it was obvious he had a problem with what was left of the royal family.

“I think we should move out as carefully and quietly as we can.” Kelsey put down the poster that proclaimed Trent Wilcox was wanted for sheltering enemies of the king. “We need to get out of this building and try to find our people.”

Our people. Our families. Our children, who’d been on their own for twelve fucking years. Who’d apparently been on the run for a while.

“We need to figure out what’s happened here,” Daniel was saying. “We know we’re in the Council building. In what used to be the armory. We’ve apparently been gone for twelve years, and something’s happened with our kids. Could it be a misunderstanding?”

“Do you mean could Myrddin have tripped over your crown and oops, it’s on his head and he can’t get it off and wouldn’t it be fun to play a prank and put a bounty on the royal kids and their friends?” Kelsey kept her voice down but every word dripped with sarcasm. “I thought we got the thrall stone out of your head. How about you, Quinn? You want to march up to Myrddin and ask him if he wouldn’t mind giving you back your kingdom?”

One of the good things that had come from our journey had been figuring out how Myrddin had easily manipulated my husbands for years. He’d planted thrall stones in their brains, and they had allowed him to influence both Danny and Dev.

“I know exactly how dangerous Myrddin is,” Daniel growled back. “I’m merely saying maybe we shouldn’t overreact. Maybe we should figure out what happened. Twelve