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Read the prologue of 13, the explosive finale of Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series!

PROLOGUE

Typical guy. You fight through hell—literally, hacking through legions of beasts and zombies and demon-spawn—to sneak home and spend a few stolen minutes with him . . . and he’s not there.

Eve grumbled as she paced around the tiny houseboat, multi-hued blood dripping from her sword. “Where the hell are you, Kris?”

Her angel partner, Trsiel, couldn’t cover for her much longer, and she’d really wanted to check in with Kristof. He’d been keeping an eye on the living world for her, watching as his sons and their daughter got caught up in this mess. There really wasn’t much a ghostly father could do to help, but the check-ins made them both feel better.

He wasn’t at the houseboat, though. Nor was he at the courthouse. Eve had gone there to find the justice building shut down. The guard on duty had muttered something about magical wards needing repair, just regular maintenance. Which was bullshit. Afterlife court was closed because the higher powers were racing around commandeering forces to put out fires both on earth and in the afterlife. But they weren’t telling the shades that their world was on the brink of war. No, that wouldn’t do at all. Just pretend everything is fine. And if you see a monstrous beast racing down Main Street, it most certainly is not a hellhound that  escaped its dimension. Er, but you should probably notify demon control anyway.

Eve walked into the bedroom and looked around. Their bed was made, the sheets drawn drum tight. Kristof had grown up with  maids and cooks and housekeepers, and though he’d happily shed all those trappings after his death, he kept his world here just as neat and orderly as if he still had staff.

Eve wiped her sword on the gazillion-count Egyptian cotton sheets. For a moment, they were smeared with a satisfying rainbow of blood. Then it evaporated into the white cotton. She sighed and sheathed her sword.

“Fine, I’ll leave a proper note.”

She conjured paper and a pen.

Dear Kris,

Heaven and hell are being torn asunder as angels and demons battle themselves and each other. In the living world, supernaturals continue to barrel toward a war between those who want to reveal themselves to humans and those who know such a revelation will destroy all we hold dear. The veil between the realms grows thinner with each passing moment as we plummet toward catastrophe.

Hope all is well with you.

Hugs and kisses,

Eve

She’d just finished when she heard a patter behind her and wheeled to see . . . nothing.

Another patter sounded on the polished hardwood floor and she looked down to see a white rabbit. It rose on its hind legs.

“Eve Levine,” the rabbit squeaked. “Mighty daughter of Balaam, lord of darkness and chaos. I prostrate myself before you.”

The rabbit attempted to bow gracefully, but its body wouldn’t quite complete the maneuver and it flopped onto its belly. When it looked up at her, its pink eyes glowed with an unearthly light. Eve concentrated hard and a second shape superimposed itself on the rabbit, that of a toadlike lump with jutting fangs and eyes on quivering stalks. She blinked and the bunny reappeared.

“Nice choice of form, imp,” she said.

“I considered a kitten, but that seemed unwise when meeting a dark witch.”

“Witches don’t kill cats. Especially not witches who’ve been recruited to angelhood.” She grasped her sword and lifted it. “Rabbits, however? Rodents. Vermin. Nothing in the manual against that.”

The rabbit backed up. “Please, my lady. Balaam has a legion of imps scouring every dimension for you. He is most eager to speak to you.”

“Is he? And what could my lord demon father want from me?” She gasped in feigned surprise. “Wait . . . Does it have something to do with this big reveal I’ve been hearing about?”

“Yes, yes!” The rabbit thumped a back leg with excitement. “You have heard of the glorious plan, then? After centuries of hiding, supernaturals have finally found the willpower to reveal themselves and take their rightful place as rulers of the human world.”

“About time.”

The rabbit leaped up. “I knew you would agree. You will help your father, yes? You will join the fight here and you will persuade your earthbound daughter to do the same.”

“Savannah?” Eve tried to keep her voice calm.

“Of course. She is a mighty spellcaster. Mighty indeed. And very well connected in the supernatural world. Lord Balaam has approached her himself, but she has refused his generous offer.”

“Balaam went near my—” Eve stopped short as her sword glowed blue, infused with her fury. But the rabbit-imp didn’t seem to notice. She took a deep, steadying breath. “Foolish girl. Of course I’ll speak to her. She listens to her mother. First, though, you’ll need to tell me everything you know about my father’s plans, so I can properly explain them to her.”

The rabbit told her everything and she thanked it most graciously . . . then lopped off its head, which flew into the hall at the very moment the houseboat door opened. A tall, broad-shouldered figure filled the doorway. As Kristof Nast stepped in, the rabbit’s head bounced off his polished Italian loafers.

“Eve?” he said, peering at his feet as she walked into the main cabin. Then he saw her and smiled. “If there are decapitated rabbit heads flying, there’s only one explanation. Eve is back.” He stopped as he saw her expression. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s Savannah,” she said. “She’s in trouble. Well, bigger trouble. We need to—”

Light flashed. Kristof disappeared. The houseboat evaporated and Eve found herself in another dimension, surrounded by misshapen beasts, Trsiel at her side, her sword still in hand.

“Oh, hell,” she muttered as the beasts charged.