feel even worse upon waking.
An e-mail came in. He squinted stupidly at his new salary, a number that would’ve had anyone else whooping but made his stomach hurt on top of everything else. From the little he knew about some of Segue’s most classified endeavors, every cent would be earned. He could only say, “Fuck, that bad?” and click back to his briefing on magekind and their “Houses.” How had these people managed to hide for thousands of years? And what kinds of scary shit could they pull?
A wavering reflection on his laptop screen alerted him that someone was behind him. His heart stopped, but he didn’t turn. Had to be the mage, come back to finish his job. Cam dropped his hand to the gun on his lap. The figure moved forward—wait, he knew that body ….
Cam put the gun aside on the table and turned.
Ellie’s shadow was smiling at him, eyes big and happy. “Cam.”
She should be out of it by now. Maybe she hadn’t taken anything to help her sleep.
“Ellie?” he called.
He stood and made to enter the side room, but her shadow blocked him.
“I’m just going to check on you,” he said. Every darkened plane, every eyelash was the same as Ellie’s corporeal self. Beautiful. Sexy. Powerful.
“I’m right here,” the shadow said.
He reached for the knob, opened the door. Ellie was lying on her side on the cot, expression peaceful, an extra pillow in her arms. She breathed deeply and soundly. Asleep.
Cam turned, wary. When Ellie slept, her shadow disappeared. When Ellie was sedated, her shadow was a weak haze.
So was this the fae, impersonating the shadow?
“Cam,” she said again. She seemed to be bursting with happiness.
He smiled back, a little sadly. He’d love for her to be this happy, to be truly joyful after the lonely and frightening life she’d led. He’d try to give her that, if she’d let him get close enough.
Cam unhooked a walkie from his belt, raised it, pressed the comm button. “Kalamos checking in on the fae.”
A slight crackle. “Fae in custody, no disruptions.”
“My Cam,” the shadow said.
He brought the walkie up again. “Anything unusual?”
Cam needed a way to discern whether this was the shadow, or something else. Cam met her happy gaze and asked point blank, “Did I shoot you?”
The fae wouldn’t know about that. It had happened four months ago and was still a sliver of distrust between him and the shadow. The rational Ellie had understood the situation and had even said she was grateful that he’d intervened, rather than let her (shadow) kill someone.
The shadow’s happiness wavered, a hand lifting to the spot on her shoulder where the other Ellie was scarred. “Why did you shoot me?”
Cam concluded that this was indeed Ellie’s shadow.
Deep down, Ellie obviously hadn’t fully accepted his good intentions. Not that he blamed her.
“I was trying to help you,” Cam said, approaching the bed. “I’d never want to hurt you.”
This was a problem: Ellie’s shadow could not walk around unmanaged by her flesh and blood self. The shadow was too dangerous, too unpredictable. He had no idea what circumstances—the proximity to the waterfall?—had permitted the shadow to roam while Ellie slept, but he was not going to allow it.
He had no choice but to wake Ellie. He shook her, and her lids fluttered. She lifted her head, but the words that came out were slurred, unrecognizable.
“Cam,” her shadow said.
He shook Ellie harder. She had to wake. At least the shadow’s interest seemed fixated on him … for the moment. Then again, her shadow’s skin was fully opaque, and not a transparent gradient of grey. Opaque was the sign of very strong feeling. Overwhelming feeling. A feeling strong enough to break away from the flesh?
Cam shook Ellie again, sharply.
“I’m up-up,” Ellie said more clearly, but her eyes were closed, expression plastered. This was not a woman capable of controlling anything but her