Cora, who has newly discovered she is a powerful mage, and her boyfriend and most notorious antihero and soul-eating greed-demon Valerian, travel to China, where Cora is supposed to learn everything there is to learn about being a mage.
Yet they have barely set foot on the ground when they attract unwanted attention. Jirou, fleeing from family obligations, is reeled in by the looks of the pretty couple. Bastien has much darker intentions: a long-held grudge against Valerian makes him want to steal Cora and make her his.
Figuring out why they have suddenly become a target halfway around the world leaves Cora and Valerian to discover all the strangeness of Beijing in this fast-paced tale of creatures, mages, and magic.
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Copyright ©2020 Alexa Piper
Cora and Asc had been chatting almost constantly throughout the drive to the airport while Valerian lounged in the back seat of Asc’s Toyota, imagining the pleasure of holding Cora close and having her all to himself. Since Valerian’s imagination was deep and wide and wicked, he felt pleasantly entertained.
“I am surprised you didn’t charter a jet,” Asc said, meeting Valerian’s eyes in the rearview mirror.
“Oh, Asc,” Valerian said. “I have a girlfriend for the first time in my existence, and I wish to parade her around, even if she was her usual obstinate self and insisted on wearing that less than flattering cardigan.”
That got Cora wonderfully riled and glaring back at Valerian with her magic-tinged blue eyes. “What am I, some prize horse?”
Asc licked the air, stifling laughter.
“Well, I do get to ride you,” Valerian said, enjoying himself when she narrowed her eyes at him.
Then she sighed and turned to Asc. “I did walk into that one, didn’t I?”
“I’m afraid you did,” the ophion said, his tongue tasting the air again. He slowed the car, pulled over. “Here we are.”
Excellent, Valerian thought, realizing he was looking forward to having his girlfriend all to himself for the duration of the journey. After he had paraded her around.
An airline attendant was waiting to take their luggage, and Valerian waved the man over while Asc and Cora were saying their goodbyes. A second airline attendant greeted Valerian with the art of the practiced smile and demure helpfulness that might have put even a mellona to shame, though the bee demons’ demureness could hide a nasty sting. Cora, busy hugging Asc, didn’t notice. It is a natural bond between ophions and mages indeed. I should count myself lucky she just waved at his snakes and didn’t insist on cuddling them like that.
He walked over to carefully detach Cora from Asc. “Witchling, if you could leave Asc alone? He should get back home swiftly. You see, cold-blooded as he is, he does not enjoy the weather.”
Cora wiped a tear from her eyes and drifted out of Asc’s embrace slowly.
“Did you have to make her cry?” Valerian said, turning to Asc, who clearly wanted to flick out his serpent’s tongue but didn’t with the humans around.
“You had better take good care of Cora,” Asc said, his golden-green eyes misting over.
“Yes. Joker,” Asc said in lieu of a more formal goodbye.
“Serpent,” said Valerian, bending forward in a small bow.
He put his arm on the small of Cora’s back, following the two airline attendants who led the way to their private waiting area.
About the Author:
Alexa Piper writes steamy romance that ranges from light to dark, from straight to queer. She’s also a coffee addict. Her retelling of Dracula, A Tale of Honey and Garnet Wine, might be a cursed manuscript, and every writer should have at least one of those. She also loves writing series, and her Fairview Chronicles follow a ragtag gang of supernaturals who try to make their city safer. Mostly. Connect with Alexa on Facebook or Instagram, follow her on Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter!