Night's Deep Hush Book four in the Reveler series

Dreaming turns dangerous...

Malcolm Rook and Jordan Lane are on the run from powerful forces that seek their deaths. But they are discovered by someone from Rook's dark past. Under no circumstances will Rook allow this criminal to learn how talented Jordan is in the world Darkside. Instead, Rook succumbs so that she has a chance to survive.

Rook has been abducted and Jordan assumes the worst. She's fallen for him and will do anything to get him back. Alone on the streets, she concocts a plan that will take her into the black market of dreams to find help. An unlikely ally comes to her aid, and together they search and fight...one for love, the other for vengeance.

Night's Deep Hush is the fourth installment in the Reveler serial, a hot paranormal romance set in a world where shared dreaming is a new pop culture phenomenon that allows people to indulge their wildest fantasies. But there are also unknown dangers Darkside, nightmares slowly infiltrating not only dreams, but the waking world as well.

Revel with me.

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Information

  • Night's Deep Hush is book four in the Reveler series
  • Release Date: 7/2014

Excerpt from Night's Deep Hush

CHAPTER ONE

Jordan skimmed her fingertips down Malcolm’s bare chest to his stomach, tickling his sensitive skin. The quick flash of his finely toned abdomen and his low, masculine chuckle was exactly what she’d craved. The man’s body was a perfect machine, just now idling between one show of force and the next. And there was always a “next,” which made this whole strange adventure an exercise of intense highs of fear and ecstasy, and these mellow lows replete with boneless bliss.

His fingers laced into her hair. “How are you holding up?”

She raised her face to him. He had such pretty brown eyes, so dark they were almost black. A two-day scruff grew on his face, making an already handsome man look ruggedly dangerous, too. She used the pad of her thumb to play with the stubble on his chin. “I’m worried about Maisie. She acts tough, but she is a softy inside.”

Malcolm tried to bite her thumb but missed. “Coll won’t let anything happen to her.”

Malcolm meant Steve Coll, the Chimera who’d been recruiting Maisie when everything went to hell. The same Steve who was not quite all the way human. Who was, in fact, of the same breed as the evil Didier Lambert. “He’s part nightmare. How can that be good?”

“It bothers me, too,” Malcolm said. “But I’ve known Coll a long time. And now that I know how he’s different, he makes more sense to me, not less.”

Jordan scoffed. Nothing made sense.

“As screwed up as this whole situation is,” Malcolm continued, “I’d rather have him on our side, at my back, than anyone else.”

Maisie was head over heels about the man, but Steve Coll was so quiet and composed by nature that Jordan couldn’t figure out what was going on inside his head. She didn’t like question marks where her sister was concerned. Why did Maisie attract the quiet, scary ones? “I’m still going to worry.”

“I know you are.” Malcolm lifted her up his body a few inches so they could talk nose to nose. “But I was asking how you were holding up.”

Jordan was restless. “I wish we had a plan already, but at least we’re trying to make one.” They were meeting later that night Darkside with everyone to confirm a few points, see if another Chimera marshal, Harlen Fawkes, was going to help them or not. “Otherwise, I’m good. Hanging in.”

Good was a gross understatement. She felt more alive than she ever had. She was terrified and exhilarated to the point of exhaustion. Not since her mother’s death had she cared about anything so much, had she felt like something mattered—this task, this man, this Rêve. This wasn’t the slow, daily work and rent of her life before. This was important.

“I’m sorry you don’t get to paint.” There was real regret in his voice.

“I’m sketching more now than I have in the past six years.” She couldn’t stop, and her favorite subject was the man pressed up against her. Hot, brooding, erotic Malcolm whose gaze was always following her, and when she dared to meet it, she found his own hungry hope in its depths.

She knew this was the infatuation period of a relationship—everything new, the sex mind-blowingly incredible. And she knew sooner or later the sparks would float up to the sky or fizzle, leaving just him and her. The question was whether or not, without this early brain-fog of constant attraction, they’d be even better together. For now, it was all dreams.

His hold on her tightened, albeit with one of his hands finding the curve of her ass. “I’ll get us another loft with good light when this is over.”

Us. He was looking ahead, too. The happiness was almost too much to keep the smile from her face. Her skin was smiling, though, every inch warm. “A fixer-upper,” she added. Like the last loft. She wanted to see him in the space, this rough and once-lost man putting up drywall. The fantasy was so sweet it was almost painful.

She hadn’t dreamed like this in so long. “Where will it be?”

“I don’t care.” His arms tightened around her again slightly, as if he already had what was important.

Her eyes prickled with tears, so she buried her face in his neck to hide them. Her body knew him in the waking world, and her soul kept tangling with his Darkside. Yes, she’d give up everything to feel like this. To try to make him happy, to find the keys to all the locks that kept him guarded, and piece by piece open him up to let the light in.

They only needed time, and on the run, they had plenty of it.

***

Malcolm Rook was just putting on his boots when a pop in his awareness blackened his vision for a second. He double—no, triple—blinked and shook his head to clear the residual fuzz that followed it. Then a cold sweat broke out on his skin. The pop was familiar, though it had been years. It was a signal—not quite a mental push but more like a flick to the skull.

Chuck had found him. Of all people, it would be Chuck.

“You okay?” Jordan adjusted the knit beanie on her head. She’d already put on her jacket to go out in the cold. Her brown hair was back in a ponytail. Face clear. Eyes narrow, reading him.

Rook had known that someone would find him eventually, tapping as he was into the old network. Staying under the radar—no credit, moving invisibly, leaving no trail—cost something, but it wasn’t a currency recognized by any bank.

“I’m good.” But his mind raced. He preferred if Jordan wasn’t present for the first meeting with Chuck, not until he’d had a chance to gauge the tone, the welcome. See what Chuck would demand for the protection of his silence. “But, um…” How to get her to go without her being suspicious? Never mind. She was too damn smart. She’d be suspicious regardless. “Do you mind going to pick up the food on your own?”

He’d kept her close since they’d fled Las Vegas and what they’d discovered there, always looking over their shoulders for the long reach of Chimera and the corruption associated within it.

Jordan lifted a brow. “You feeling all right?”

“Dizzy.” He was fine now, but that had been the truth thirty seconds ago.

She smiled sly and sexy. “Tired you out, did I?”

Screw Chuck and the food. “Come here and we’ll see.”

“Nope.” She laughed. “I just got dressed, and I want lo mein.” She peeled a twenty from their dwindling wad of cash. “You rest up. I’ll get the grub, and then maybe”—her voice went mock husky—“after I’ve taken your temperature…” She waggled her eyebrows.

She had to be just as fatigued from keeping out of sight as he was, but she was putting on a good face, keeping her sense of humor. She’d gone from a respectable life with a steady job to the reckless life of a reveler, someone who came alive Darkside, in the dreamwaters of sleep. Her aptitude for crossing dreamscapes made her rare; in fact, he’d been the one to recruit her into Chimera, the legal entity in the US responsible for policing shared dreaming. ’Course that was before he’d known Chimera was corrupt.

They’d had to run, and the trouble behind them wouldn’t relent until they were dead, or worse. Yes, there was worse than dead. Jordan’s sister Maisie had barely escaped it.

“Grub and an after? We’ll be late meeting Coll and your sister.” Coll had recruited troublesome Maisie, and the two of them had fled, as well, also hunted by Chimera. But every night the four of them met Darkside.

“A few minutes won’t kill them.” Jordan’s voice dropped down to a purr. “And it might just save your life.”

If he had to be running again after all these years, it was damn easy with her around. “Be careful. Don’t talk to strangers.”

She opened the door to the studio apartment where they were staying. “I’m a big girl, Mal. I can handle takeout.”

Yes, she could. She seemed a calm and contained person, but he was learning—at his peril—that she was a force to be reckoned with. Soon he’d have to keep up with her. She didn’t like to wait when she could do. She stirred him up, rocked him deep. The darkness couldn’t reach him when she was nearby.

The door shut behind her, and Rook glanced around the ten-by-ten space. Jordan was a tidy person, so their few belongings were folded or tucked out of sight, and the dishes next to the hot plate were on their shelf. Rook put his tablet on hibernate and slipped it in its sleeve then shoved it under the pillow. He grabbed the wad of cash and stuck it in one of Jordan’s gloves.

They were borrowing the apartment from a friend of a friend of a friend. But someone in that chain must have told Chuck where he could find them. Rook glanced out the window. Chuck knew how to hide himself, too, but Jordan’s leaving would be signal enough that Rook wanted him in and out before she got back.

Sure enough, not a minute later, there was a tap at the door.

“It’s open,” Rook said as he took one of the only two chairs in the place.

Chuck entered. He was leaner than he used to be, his black hair had receded some, but otherwise he had that same quiet, disarming presence that made people overlook him almost anywhere.

Someone else might’ve stood, said welcome, held out a hand, but Rook remained seated. They had history, and he knew better than to play games, even polite ones, with Charles Langer.

Chuck’s eyeballs swiveled to take in the place—mattress on the floor, backpacks neatly lined beside it, ready to go at a moment’s notice.

“When I heard you were back, I had to come see it for myself.”

Back meant, back in the life of an illegal Rêve trafficker. And Rook wasn’t, not really, though the thought had occurred to him that if he and Jordan were to survive this, some compromises would have to be made, especially if they did one day hope to get a permanent place of their own. With their skills Darkside, they should begin thinking about how they could monetize them without Chimera knowing. Not so long ago, Rook had been a marshal within Chimera. His job had been to track down lawbreakers and identify them for prosecution in the waking world.

The alternative was black market work, where he’d gotten his start. Jordan would have opinions about the black market, though.

“More like passing through,” Rook said. “Getting the lay, so to speak.”

Chuck took the seat opposite him without invitation. “Things have changed since you left.”

“Seems to me things are exactly the same. What do you want, Chuck?”

Chuck sat back, crossed a leg, and heaved a sigh. For a second, he seemed older and world-weary. “The dreamwaters have gotten more dangerous lately. I’ve lost a few people. Don’t know what happened to them. They just never woke up. I had to put the last one—kid imported from the Ukraine—out of his misery in the waking world myself. And you know how I hate mess.”

Chuck had specialized in messes back in the day. But Rook wasn’t surprised; he had a pretty good idea what was in the dreamwaters, and it wasn’t for the faint of heart. No “imported kids” could survive it. Chuck had never cared about dangers Darkside before. A mere hint of aptitude for lucid dreaming, and he’d throw a person in the deep end. What did he expect? A few were always going to drown. Add monsters to the waters, sharks scenting blood, and their chances were even slimmer.

“How inconvenient for you.” Rook wished he’d hunted down Chuck and had him put in jail as soon as he’d made marshal in Chimera, but he hadn’t wanted to look back. The past had always had its hands on him, grasping, pulling. When Rook had walked off the streets with Steve Coll, he didn’t so much as dare look over his shoulder. He’d been little more than a kid himself then. Not so, anymore.

“My point is,” Chuck said, “I’m looking for talent.”

“Everyone’s looking for talent.” With the popularity of the Rêves, the corporate shared dreams designed for the masses, anyone who was attempting to do business in the waters wanted the few pitiful souls who could navigate them. “A piece of unsolicited advice: transfer your operation to the waking world. It’s only going to get worse Darkside.”

“I have a feeling you know about worse.”

“I do. It will literally eat you alive.”

You seem fine.” Chuck gave him a considering look. “You seem good, in fact.”

Rook put ankle to knee and leveled with him. Jordan would be back soon, and he really didn’t want them to meet. “I’m not taking work right now. I’ve got too much heat on me, and it’s of a nature that would doom whatever I tried to do. My last two jobs both went bad.” Vince Blackman had been lost in the Scrape, and Jordan had been dragged out there by a nightmare creature and almost died. “Which is why I’m in this shithole.” And would be in a different one tomorrow.

“If I recall, you can navigate Darkside as well as if you’d never left the womb.”

Rook shook his head. “I said no.” Not for Chuck, who was so careless with talent. He could not, under any circumstances, learn about Jordan’s ability. Chuck could only know that Jordan was a woman Rook had been sleeping with. No connections. Everything temporary, like the old days.

“Of course, the increased risk would warrant extra compensation.”

Chuck wasn’t listening, so Rook refused to say more. He needed to check with some other contacts, get a feel for the business these days. Find someone who didn’t burn through his people like matches.

Rook was contemplating how to get Chuck to leave when he noticed the subtle flicker of light over the man’s shoulder—a vertical glow. His attention rested there. The more he looked, the more the light took on subtle dimension, human proportions. It reminded him of those ghostly online clips caught by security cameras or amateur videographers, “proof” of life after death.

This was no ghost, however.

Where he’d simply gone cold at Chuck’s arrival, now ice flowed through Rook’s system.

He knew what this was. Steve Coll, his friend and partner, could do it. And so could Didier Lambert, the international “hero” who’d introduced shared dreaming to the world and who sought some kind of dominion over it through violent and reprehensible means.

Rook’s throat went dry. He willed Jordan to stay away: Danger! Don’t come back! Run!

“You are good,” Chuck said.

“Not my first waking dream.” A waking dream was an illusion that fooled the mind into thinking it was real. It was a daydream, easy to slip into, hard to recognize for what it was. Only those nightmare people could create them. And whoever was in the shaft of light brought the number of nightmare people Rook knew about up to three.

Chuck grinned. “So you do know just how strange things have become underwater.”

“Yeah, I do.” Rook kept his gaze on Chuck, pretending to ignore the light, but he concentrated on his peripheral vision to disassemble the shimmer, working his mind past the trick to the see the reveler as he was in the waking world. She, he corrected himself. Straight white-blond hair with blunt bangs. Heart-shaped face drawn into a pout. And, yeah, she had the freaky creepy eyes, too. “So is it you or the lady who I should be talking to?”

Chuck’s eyebrows went way up. “Where have you seen others like her?”

He hadn’t answered the question, so the lady was probably in charge.

“I was Chimera,” Rook said. “I’ve bumped into her kind once or twice in the past.” Actually, he’d only seen one in his personal experience, Steve Coll. He’d heard about Lambert from Coll and Maisie. “She’s a walking nightmare.”

“Careful,” Chuck said.

“Why should I be careful? The Scrape is full of monsters like her.”

Rook had to know what kind of person he was dealing with, and he wouldn’t find anything out by ingratiating himself.

“I need you to do a job,” Chuck said.

“Have her do it.”

“Please, Rook, don’t make this messy. I don’t like mess.”

The threat. Rook had known it was coming. If it had just been Chuck—and hell, even some of his better revelers—Rook could’ve drowned him in the waters, collected Jordan, and been well on their way before Chuck made it back to the waking world.

He hadn’t anticipated another freak. Three of them. What was the world coming to?

There’d be no Chinese food tonight. No Jordan taking his temperature. Just that old life, reaching out from behind him to drag him back in.

Rook looked beyond the light to the blond lady’s face. He could just make out a small mole on her cheek. She was young, dressed in leather, but with a bare midriff. Red scraggly lines on her skin peeked out of her pants. Stretch marks? “What makes you think I’d do anything for you?”

“You don’t have a choice,” she answered, her words drawn out like a lullaby.

Darkness rushed him as if the waking world was made of dreamwater, too. Instinctively, he attempted to surge upward to gulp for air, but his reach wasn’t long enough, not nearly, and a whirlpool sucked him down and around, whipping him senseless like a rag doll.

***

Dizzy? Yeah, right. Jordan knew Malcolm was hiding something from her. She just wasn’t the type to demand answers—or worse, whine—when he clearly wanted privacy. Either she trusted him or she didn’t. So she was going with it.

With a brown paper bag full of hot Chinese food under her arm, Jordan turned the corner down the dark street where she and Malcolm were staying for the time being. No idea how long or even whose place it was. Malcolm had some contacts who were obliged to help him, past favors coming due, future favors promised, that kind of thing. Made her nervous for him, as if he were taking loans out on his soul. They needed to find their own way and soon.

The creepy street grew quiet as she walked away from Tenth Ave, where restaurants of every ethnicity lined the street. She passed redbrick buildings with green awnings, an industrial row with only fire escapes, and a graffiti-tagged garage. The New York street could’ve been found in her sister Maisie’s dream city, a place they called Maze City—pitch-black pools of energy mixing with an ominous pall, a combo that put Jordan on guard.

So when a man stepped out of the shadows and grabbed her arm, she was ready. The Chinese food dropped to the pavement, and leveraging his weight, she kneed him in the balls.

He folded like a chair, gasping. “I’m trying to help you.”

She knew his voice. “Vince?”

Vince Blackman had once tried to hand her over to Didier Lambert’s organization. She’d drowned him for it—though he had no idea that in so doing, she’d sent him into the great dust storm beyond the dreamscapes. He’d met with the nightmare creatures there, but he’d survived.

“You can’t go back,” Vince said. “They took him.”

“What do you mean they took him?” The hunger that had pulled her out the door to pick up dinner now added an edge to her mood. “No one knows where we are.” Wait… “How did you find us?”

Inside, her heart was breaking. She hadn’t wanted this to end so soon. Why so soon?

“I found you, Jordan.” Vince was attempting to drag her back down the street the other way, but she wasn’t having it. “I didn’t even have to look. I was pulled right here. We have a connection.”

Connection. Ridiculous. They’d been found.

Malcolm had taught her how to use darksight, to see revelers among those in the waking world. But when she forced her vision down the street—let the darkness and the dim ambient light blur together—she couldn’t make out a damn thing that would tell her where Malcolm was or who’d taken him. She should’ve been able to see Malcolm from here. Why couldn’t she see him?

Somewhere on the walk back from the restaurant her dream had shattered.

“You can’t go back there,” Vince said. “He’s been taken. They came ten minutes ago, and if you go any farther, they’ll have you, too.”

“Why should I believe you?” She didn’t want to believe him. She wanted to sink back into the heat and pleasure of Malcolm’s arms. She should’ve never left without him. Her first instinct was to hurry back and see for herself with her regular sight. But she couldn’t. If Vince had found her, then the place had been compromised. She should turn and run. It was the smart thing to do, but she didn’t want to be smart. She was wailing inside.

“Because I’m sorry I tried to hurt you,” Vince said. “I lost my father because of it.”

She didn’t know whether to knee him again or pity him. His father was dead because of his involvement with Didier Lambert.

Vince was supposed to be in a hospital on the other side of the country. Or that’s where she thought he’d been yesterday. He looked hospital-worthy, gaunt and pale, his once-handsome features sharp.

“Jordan, you have no reason to believe me,” he said, “but I swear to you, Rook was taken. Don’t go back there now. Come with me. I’ll help you.”

But follow Vince? He’d been an agent of Didier Lambert’s. He probably still was, regardless of what had happened to his father. The coincidence of him showing up at the same time as Malcolm being “taken” was just too much.

She backed down the street a couple of steps, taking a deep, steeling breath. No going home. Honeymoon over. The best thing to do was to go Darkside and tell Steve Coll. Then work out a plan with him to find Malcolm. She hadn’t been a fan of Steve and his inhuman aspects, but she was more than willing to ask him for help now. Steve was great. She was all about Steve now.

Turning her back on the place she and Malcolm had shared for the past few days, she picked up her pace to head back toward light and noise. Long strides charged her blood as she thought through what she’d need to do.

A hand at her back told her that Vince was matching her pace. Lose him? Or use him?

Think. She had to assume he was working for them, a thought that made her slow for a second as she turned it over in her mind. In a way, she was just as caught as Malcolm, but the powers that be were just playing her differently. Therefore, she could do nothing that would lead Chimera or Lambert to Steve and Maisie. She had find an indirect way to contact Steve. How the hell was she supposed to do that? She didn’t even know where they were in the waking world.

“We’ll go right to Chimera,” Vince said. “They have a huge branch here. I know some people.”

Chimera. Ha. So that’s whom Vince was working for. Chimera was corrupt.

She came to a decision: Lose him.

Then run.

It’s what Malcolm had drilled into her. Never stay too long in the same place. Three days was now officially too long. They’d made a mistake somewhere.

Turning back onto Tenth Ave, she considered how difficult it would be to get away from Vince. She could drown him where he stood, and then she could cut inside the deli and right back out the rear exit. Would cops and Chimera appear and tase her? What if she screamed for help and used the ensuing commotion to make her escape?

Vince kept talking, but she wasn’t fully listening. “When they hear one of their own has been kidnapped…”

Panic tightened her lungs. Made her head buzz.

“Jordan!” She was jerked backward out of the street as a bus rushed by, inches from where she’d been about to step. Vince had his arm around her waist.

Jordan fought the hold he had on her, wrenched out of his grasp, and pushed him away. “Don’t you touch me!”

He staggered back, held his arms in the air, then looking a little peaked, he bent over, hands to knees. “You weren’t watching where you were going.”

He probably had instructions to take her alive. Chimera and Lambert would want Maisie’s waking world location—she who could do things Darkside that none of them could even dream of. If Maze City was an outrageous show of talent already, what would Maisie be able to do in the years to come? There was no way Jordan would lead him to her sister. “Don’t do me any favors.”

Vince’s face screwed up as if she were crazy. He was going gray, wheezing. His lips were turning kinda blue. Maybe Chimera should’ve given him an extra day in the hospital before sending him after her. Served them right. Him, too.

“Jordan. God, I’m…not…” He was gasping now, going down on his knees.

Passersby slowed, but Jordan waved them on. “He just needs a little space to catch his breath.” They kept walking, and Jordan surveyed the street around her.

But there was no sign of Chimera.

Vince collapsed the rest of the way onto the pavement, his stubbly cheek connecting with a pink piece of petrified and well-stomped chewing gum. His eyelids were still partially open, the whites showing.

“I’ve already called an ambulance,” she said to another interested stranger. “He’s going to be okay.”

And he would be, eventually. This was simple reveler exhaustion. He’d been in the dreamwaters for at least five full days. The body doesn’t like it, weakens, as if it’d been weightless in space for too long.

’Night ’night. And she hadn’t even needed to drown him. Took all of ten seconds.

When he was out cold, she left him. She checked for traffic at the curb—no deadly busses now—and crossed, leaving Vince behind her. She found a cloud of pedestrians a couple blocks over, moved with them, stayed in the middle of the sidewalk. She turned onto Forty-Ninth Street where the traffic moved in fits and starts, yellow cabs cutting each other off.

Keep moving. Don’t look back. Lose yourself. Run.

She had no money, knew no one, and had no place to go.

But someone had Malcolm, and she had to figure out a way to get him back.