It’s been an interesting few months.
It all started when I cut out during my lunch break and took a nap in my car. I had a dream—the best dream of my life—starring a sexy man with silver hair. That man turned out to be Micah Silverstrand, an elf from the Otherworld. Even though I’d hidden who and what I was for most of my life, Micah had instantly known that I was an Elemental like him. When I was a kid, Elementals and Mundane humans, of Mundanes, existed side by side; not quite in harmony, but we got along well enough. Then, there was a war, and the Mundane army won—ironically, they called themselves Peacekeepers. No matter what they called themselves, the Elementals still lost, and magic was declared illegal.
For me, the wars were much more personal since my father, Baudoin Corbeau, went missing and was presumed dead. A few years later, my older brother, Max, was arrested for using magic and shipped off to a detention facility. Micah helped me rescue him, and along the way we learned that my younger sister, Sadie, was the Inheritor of Metal, the most powerful metal Elemental in existence. That was a shocker. We also discovered that the Elemental ruler, the Iron Queen, was in with the Peacekeepers. Together, Micah, my family, and I defeated the Iron Queen and put a serious dent in the Peacekeepers’ operation, so that was good.
I also learned that my best friend, Juliana, was a Peacekeeper. That was not so good.
After the Iron Queen’s defeat, the Gold Queen was restored to power. Since the Corbeaus were fugitives, my family and I moved into Micah’s home in the Otherworld full time, which meant that poor Micah went from living by himself to having a house full of in-laws in the blink of an eye. Meanwhile, Max was hell bent on finding out what had happened to Dad. While he traipsed all over the Otherworld causing trouble, the Gold Queen held a grand event where everyone pledged a blood oath to her… everyone except Sadie. It wasn’t her fault, really—she just thought the blood was gross.
While Micah tried convincing the Gold Queen that the Inheritor wasn’t plotting against her, Max’s schemes to find Dad led us to the Goblin Market. We didn’t find Dad, but we did have a near fatal runin with one of the Gold Queen’s henchmen. Micah almost died. I have never been so scared in my entire life as when I thought I’d lose him.
But Micah lived, and after a few weeks, he fully recovered. We celebrated by getting married, and instead of Dad, Max walked me down the aisle. Then, in the strangest turn of events yet, Dad walked right up to our front door.
And here’s what happened next.
I couldn’t believe it.
He’d been gone for sixteen long, frustrating years. We’d searched everywhere for him, from the Mundane realm to the Otherworld’s Goblin Market. And after all of that, my father, Baudoin Corbeau, just walked up to the front door of the Silverstrand manor and swept me into his arms. It was a tad anticlimactic, but you know what? I decided I’d take it.
“You’re here. You’re really here,” I said, my voice muffled by his shoulder. He haden’t shaved, and his grown-in whiskers scraped my ear, just like they had the day he’d left for war.
“Of course I’m here,” Dad murmured. “I promised I’d come back to you, just as soon as it was safe. I’m sorry it took me so long.” We hugged for another moment, then he added, “I heard tell that you were all here, at the Silverstrand manor, but I hardly believed it was true. I never thought I’d be reunited with my family, in the Otherworld.”
I drew back at that, since he had a point. Dad probably thought that we’d abandoned the Raven Compound and a thousand-odd years of family history to live an easy life here in the Otherworld. Before I could explain that the old cellar—along with all the Corbeau artifacts it housed—was now firmly attached to the manor, Dad’s eyes alighted on his eldest child.
“Maximilien,” Dad said with a nod. “Do you remember what I said to you before I left?”
“Keep them safe,” Max whispered, his face bloodless. “Do whatever needs to be done, but keep your mother and sisters safe until I return.”
Dad nodded again and reached out to shake Max’s hand. “Well done, son,” Dad said, pulling Max into his arms. “Well done.”
While Max and Dad embraced, I looked toward Sadie and Mom. Sadie was staring at Dad, wide-eyed and trembling—she’d been so young when Dad had left, I wondered if she had any real memories of him. Mom, on the other hand, was wide-eyed with a different emotion.
“Can’t be,” she said, shaking her head. “It just can’t be.”
Dad heard Mom’s voice and abruptly released Max. “Maeve,” he murmured, taking her hands. “Maeve.” Then they were in each other’s arms, the rest of the world promptly forgotten. I should have turned away and let them have their own, private moment, but I couldn’t. I’d wanted this for so long.