The Flame Game
(Magical Romantic Comedies, #12)
Publication date: November 24th 2020
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Bailey and Quinn are back for one last action-filled adventure!
A corrupt police chief is on the loose, and it falls to Bailey and Quinn to put an end to him before he finds some way to weaponize the spreading rabies virus, create yet another batch of potent gorgon dust, and otherwise wreck Bailey’s happily ever after.
With a pair of orphaned gorgon whelps to care for, more animals she can shake a stick at, and her husband’s determination to make the world a perfect place for her, Bailey has her hands full. To protect everyone she loves, she must embrace her dubious role as the Calamity Queen and rain hell down on those who stand in her way.
The Flame Game is on.
Warning: this novel contains two fire-breathing unicorns on a napalm bender, action, adventure, chaos, mayhem, humor, and bodies. Proceed with caution.
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The father I hadn’t met until this morning walked me down the aisle, but Quinn’s hands holding mine kept me from running in terror at so many people witnessing me marrying someone like him. I questioned everything about my odd life. Me, the Calamity Queen, marry him? It took a few moments to remember I’d already married him once. I’d asked that same question then, too. He’d laughed, and then he’d goaded me until I’d done what he wanted, which involved me marrying him.
There’d been a bunch of witnesses to that courthouse madness, too, and I’d survived through it mostly unscathed. Most of the witnesses to our first wedding had been too busy brawling with each other to pay any attention to me signing the papers that gave Samuel Leviticus Quinn certain rights to me, but that didn’t matter.
Reminding myself his signature on the same papers meant I got rights to him did a good job of steadying my rattled nerves.
No matter how many times I failed to tell him properly, I loved him.
To endure so many people staring at me, all I needed to do was remember a few key things. After the vows came the food, after the food came a show of gorgons petrifying each other during a brawl, and after the brawling came the pampering in our suite, which would be devoid of children for at least twenty-four hours, courtesy of an assortment of parents and grandparents.
I needed a lot longer than twenty-four hours to come to terms with having two pairs of parents.
One set hated me.
The other, who I’d learned about just yesterday, loved me.
I needed a lot longer than twenty-four hours to adjust to my life’s new circumstances.
First, I needed to survive through my second wedding. Tomorrow, I would resume my quest to be the best mother possible for our pair of orphaned gorgon children, who would spend the rest of the day and most of tomorrow socializing with the other gorgons in attendance, most of whom were related to my husband in one way or another.
Staring at Quinn and refusing to acknowledge anyone else in the Venetian’s canals would help with that, at least until we made it to the food portion of our wedding day. Once the food came around, I didn’t care who watched me devour steak, steak, and even more steak.
The fire-breathing, meat-eating unicorn in me loved steak almost as much as I loved the man who’d turned my life upside down on me.
My husband made no effort to hide his amusement, and he squeezed my hands while we both ignored the minister, who did a pretty damned good job of impersonating Elvis while reading the scripted sermon. He went on and on about the responsibilities of married couples, husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers, along with the death-do-we-part stuff I doubted applied to us at all thanks to our mishmash of crazy relatives, most of whom were in attendance.
A few too many gods and goddesses for my comfort joined almost every damned cop in our precinct to witness us confess our love to each other. Or, at a minimum, blurt ‘I do ’in some horrifically embarrassing fashion.
I had trouble with the basics, and nothing had changed since I’d married my gorgon-incubus doohickey the first time.
“You can look somewhere other than me if you want,” Quinn whispered, leaning closer to me.
I debated stealing a kiss before the official kissing portion of the ceremony, although the dumb veil kept getting in my way. Quinn had already shunted the damned thing back, but it kept falling wherever it wanted, to the point I wanted to light it on fire.
Nobody had warned me how much of a pain in the ass wedding dresses could be. And the heels? The heels might do me in. What had I done to deserve the damned heels, especially with the asshole pair of parents uninvited from the ceremony? While inserting my heels into their asses would have made my day, having a pair of parents who actually wanted me trumped my petty desire for revenge.
Huh. Somehow, I’d grown up since meeting Quinn, although only a little.
I forced my attention back on my husband. “If I look anywhere other than at you, I will see them staring at me. You’re prettier than they are, and I absolutely refuse to be ashamed of this.”
A few months ago, I would have gone and cried in the bathroom had I said that where anyone might hear me.
The Elvis impersonator grinned. “He really is prettier than everyone else here. You’re a very lucky woman.”
Oops. I shrugged, but I also smiled. “It’s true. I can’t help it. He’s in a suit. He can’t wear dress uniforms at home. I get ideas. I am enjoying this while it lasts. Someone is going to take a picture of him in his suit, and I will end up being bribed for copies of the pictures. I’ll have to ration the pictures out. I make him late for work if he wears anything other than his normal uniform. He has to change at work.”
Well, maybe I couldn’t keep my blabbering mouth under control, but I could make people laugh. The entire audience had a field day with my runaway commentary, but beyond blushing over my nervous tendencies, I resisted the urge to dash for the door. If I bolted, Quinn would catch me, drag me back, and laugh about it for the rest of eternity.
It amazed me how much could change in such a short period of time. Six months ago, I’d been bitter, alone, tired, and hungry more often than not. I no longer worried about what I’d eat; if I skipped a meal, Quinn chased me down and hovered until I did what he wanted, which involved eating whatever offering he had brought for me.
Greasy fries and burgers showed up almost as often as healthier fare. He even tolerated me trying to shove fries down his throat, as he deserved to enjoy greasy goodness, too.
I had issues.
I had a lot fewer issues than six months ago.
I deserved a gold star and an entire bucket of napalm for how much progress I’d made.
Quinn chuckled, which captured my attention, and he stole a gentle kiss. “Don’t worry. I’m going to have as much trouble as you when I get you into a dress uniform.”
I loved my gorgon-incubus doohickey. “Serves you right, you freak.” Aw, damn it. There I went, calling my husband a freak on our second wedding day. “I’m blaming the absurd number of cops in this building for my inability to behave like a normal adult.”
The cops snickered, which helped mitigate most of my urge to run away and hide from my ability to thoroughly embarrass myself. Then again, if I did run away and hide, Quinn would cheat and use his body to lure me to our room. Running so he’d chase me tempted me, but I stood my ground for a rare change.
Sometime within a few hours, he would lure me to our room, and I would be rewarded for handling our second wedding with a little more grace than our first. Mostly. Maybe with less grace but properly dressed. I could work with properly dressed for our second wedding.
RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until satisfied.