Hunter's Moon by Yasmine Galenorn

Chapter One





I searched my desk frantically. “Where the hell are they? I’m going to kick Herne’s ass for this.” I couldn’t find a file we needed for a meeting, and it was all Herne’s fault.

My desk was one massive pile of papers and folders, and to top things off, I had spilled my latte all over everything, making even more of a mess. The wastepaper basket was full of wadded-up paper towels saturated with the stains of coffee and milk and sugar, and the half-used roll was on the floor, next to my boot. I kicked it out of the way as I scooped up an armful of the files and dumped them on the seat of my chair.

The next moment, I let out a long sigh when I finally saw the file with the name “Cleandra” on the label. I fished it out from the stack of folders it was sitting in, managing to knock over another pile in the process. Ignoring the mess for now, I hurried out the door. I jogged back to Herne’s office, pausing by the door to collect myself. Then, and only then, did I turn the knob and let myself in.

“Welcome back,” Herne said, smiling pleasantly from behind the desk. But his gaze fastened on me and I knew that—inside—he was cringing. He knew exactly what kind of a mood I was in. I said nothing as I held up the file. “You found it, thank you,” he said. “Let’s get back to business then.”

I slid into the chair next to his desk. Our client—a very wealthy dwarf named Keri Cleandra—gave me a long look, then smiled. I had the feeling she knew that I was about to smack Herne, because she gave me a secret smile that women have when it comes to dealing with men. Dwarf or Fae, human or god, we all had those times when the men in our lives were this close to sleeping on the sofa.

“Yes, I found it,” I said, gritting my teeth. But I was a professional, so I shook off my mood for the moment and turned to Herne. “So, what’s our next step?”

“The next step,” Herne said, “would be to visit Keri’s property. We need to figure out how the thief is getting into her house.”

“I don’t understand why my alarm system isn’t working,” Keri said. “I had it checked out.”

Herne nodded. “Given you have an alarm system and a guard dog, and neither one reacted to the break-in, yet you keep losing property is pushing me to think you might have a poltergeist or something of the sort. But we can’t make that determination until we’ve actually examined the house.” He held out his hand for the file.

I slapped it into his hand, harder than necessary. As I did so, I noticed the blueberry stain on the cover from my blueberry jam and peanut butter sandwich. I tried to ignore it, but Herne caught sight of the mess and gave me a long, meaningful look. I glared back at him and he hastily turned back to the file, opening it and placing it on his desk.

“When would be good for you, Keri? We can come out either tomorrow or Wednesday morning.” Herne pulled out his tablet and brought up his schedule.

Keri, who was around four-two—she was tall for a dwarf—and golden blond, smiled. Like almost all dwarves, she was sturdy, and muscled, but she was also stunning. She ran a mechanic’s garage, specializing in foreign engines. Even though she had a thorough grasp of domestic models, she preferred working on Porsches and Jags.

“Tomorrow morning would be best. Around ten?”

Herne nodded and tapped away with his stylus. A moment later, the appointment came through to my phone and tablet as well. “Ember and Yutani will look around and ascertain what we need to do next.” He stood, and I took my cue from him, also standing.

Keri Cleandra slid out of the chair and gave us a formal nod, then turned. “Thank you,” she said over her shoulder. “I’ll see you then.”

As soon as Herne closed the door behind her, he turned back to me. “What the hell? The file folder is covered in peanut butter and jam?”

“You’re lucky I even found it! And it’s not covered in jam, so chill out. I’ll have Angel make up a new folder. But Herne, if you ever dump a mess like that on my desk again without asking, I’m going to kick your ass. And I know Yutani and Talia feel the same way. What the hell were you thinking, having Rafé stack all those files on my desk? I have an office full of papers that have to be sorted out now. You think I can go through them easier when they’re one big jumble?”

Herne and I didn’t fight often, but the past few days had been one nightmare after another and we were all on edge.

Herne paused, closing his eyes for a moment. He smiled, looking for all the world like a cute but lovable naughty little boy. “Okay, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”

“No, it’s not that simple. You can’t just mutter ‘I’m sorry’ and expect it all to be okay. First, if we had lost the file, we have all the information in the computer and Angel could just print it out for us again. And second, panic will do you no good. We can find the mistakes easier if we go through the files one by one. You don’t need to dump everything on our desks at once. That’s not helping matters any.” I dropped into the chair next to his desk, leaning back as I stretched my legs out in front of me.

We were facing a war with the dragons, the dead were flooding the graveyards, and worst of all, the United Coalition was considering letting the dragons have a seat in government. And on top of all of that, we had discovered a big mistake in the firm. Or rather, Charlie, our vampire accountant-in-training, had. That mistake meant that the Wild Hunt had overcharged at least eighty clients over the past few years.