Sun Broken (The Wild Hunt #11) - Yasmine Galenorn
The new moon had just passed, and the only sign of her presence was a thin crescent as she moved into her waxing cycle. I gazed up at the sliver of light as I waited beside the massive maple tree in the park. The leaves were almost full size, and they whispered lightly in the April night. We were into a warm streak, with the days running in the high sixties and the nights in the upper fifties. Beltane was nearing—a little over two weeks away—and I could feel the energy build, especially when I was around Herne. It had been a year since he had come into my world and changed everything in my life.
I turned at a low huffing sound and there he stood, my magnificent god, in his alter shape. The silver stag glimmered, brilliant and luminous, his back as tall as me, antlers rising like silver tines against the shroud of darkness that surrounded us.
He slowly approached me and I bowed my head. I always felt his divinity more when he was in his stag form. He leaned down to breathe against my cheek and the scent of his musk swept over me. I threw my arms around his neck, gazing into those sloe eyes, and pressed my face against his throat.
“I love you,” I whispered. “I cannot believe how much I’ve come to love you.”
He gently stepped away from me, kneeling onto his front knees. I swung up onto his back and leaned forward, bracing myself with my hands on either side of his neck. He stood, waiting for me to give him the signal.
When I was properly situated, I said, “I’m ready,” and we were off, racing through the woods under the pale moonlight. Herne wove through the trees toward a ravine, and down we went, through the undergrowth, a blur of movement. In his silver stag form, Herne could move faster than any normal stag or elk. This was his domain. The forest was his world, and as Lord of the Hunt, he ruled over it with his father, Cernunnos, the Lord of the Forest. Together, they embodied the woodlands of the world, and their presence was within every leaf of every tree, every animal that called the forest home. They embodied the wild, and ran with the Wild Hunt.
And…Herne was my boyfriend.
That last thought made me laugh. It seemed so mortal, but the gods shared a number of traits with mortals, with the Fae, the humans, and shifters alike. And when I had gone to work for the Wild Hunt—the agency, not the actual Hunt—a year ago, I had quickly fallen for Herne, and he had, against all odds, fallen for me.
I wasn’t sure how long we had been running, it could have been five minutes or twenty, but Herne pulled to a stop next to a trickling stream. The greater Seattle area was rife with both ravines and streams, and the forest wild permeated the cities around the area with tenacious fingers, large swaths spreading between the condos and skyscrapers, shading the spacious streets of the city. The grass and weeds continuously broke through the concrete on sidewalks, jutting up through the cracks to prove that nothing manmade could keep the wild at bay for long.
Herne kneeled and I slid off his back, my thighs warm from pressing against his sides. I wandered over to the stream, kneeling beside the bank. The water played like music and I could sense there were several elementals nearby, dancing through the eddies and swirls that splashed over the stones at the bottom of the streambed.
Here in Western Washington, almost all creeks trickled over a bed of the rounded river rocks that had been left in the wake of the alluvial deposits. As I reached toward the whitecaps, a spray of water rose up, forming into a translucent being that was vaguely humanoid. It reached out and touched my fingers, and I closed my eyes as we met.
I know you. You are one of the water Fae.
The thought came unspoken, filling my mind. Only it wasn’t a thought in words, but in emotions—a sense of familiarity. I smiled at the gentle mind-touch.
Like recognizes like. I am part Leannan Sidhe, I answered. How are things here in the park? Is everything going as it should? I patterned the thoughts into emotions and images that the water elemental would understand.
Herne and I were reconnoitering. We had heard rumors that there were unnatural forces stirring in the park.