Anarchy by JB Trepagnier

1

Ripley

Ihad been blissfully sleeping off an orgasm high, thinking we were going to save the world. That is, until I had three men crashing into my bedroom, waking me up like something had gone to shit. Felix was with them, so I knew it had. He knew better than to come charging into my bedroom when I was naked with a man. He didn’t do it when he was stuck as a house cat, and he wasn’t about to do it now. Felix would have stopped Balthazar and Gabriel unless something bad had happened.

They’d all seen my tits before, and I wasn’t remotely ashamed of them. I bolted to a sitting position to find out what the actual fuck was going on. Reyson didn’t strike me as a prude, and he’d always seemed totally fine with sharing me with all of them. He still yanked the blanket back up to cover me. What was that about?

“This is important, and your magnificent breasts are distracting,” Reyson said.

Felix threw a shirt at my face.

“You both might want to get dressed. Bram and Talvath are gone.”

“What the fuck? Did they say why?” I asked.

“No,” Gabriel said. “Talvath was still passed out, and Bram was resting when we went to see if Dorian hid any clues in his other fake painting. There wasn’t a map. The reason Bram was weak and Talvath never woke up was because there were more of those demon sigils hidden in the painting. Talvath probably woke up as soon as we destroyed them and took Bram home. He has a healthy reason to distrust people here. This is bad, Ripley. We have no way of contacting them to explain anything or wave a white flag.”

Maybe they didn’t. I wanted Bram to stay. We all did. I had a feeling something like this might happen, and I might have to wear Bram down, asking to come back. So the night we stayed up all night chatting, I stole his cell phone out of his pocket and programmed my number in. He asked for mine and put his number in as well. For some reason, I couldn’t get a cell phone reception in the library's basement, but he said I could contact him in Hell.

“I have his cell phone. Let me text him.”

I grabbed my phone off the nightstand and noticed I had a message from Ravyn. She sent me a selfie with Killian. Okay, I had to respond to this one.

Ripley:

Bitch, why is your hair red? I love it!

Ravyn:

Valentine has been doing a dig in Norway and Ireland. He found a secret burial chamber for the Cult of the Aether Sisters. He’s bringing me presents.

Ripley:

And what do we say when stupid wolf archaeologists show up bearing cursed objects?

Ravyn:

Add to cart?

Ripley:

Take what he’s bringing and send him on his way. He’s not worth it.

He wasn’t. Valentine was an idiot. He tried to cosplay Indiana Jones super hard. He didn’t even know how to use the fucking whip he wore on his waist. Ravyn fell hard when she first got hired at the museum. Valentine didn’t give me any reason to dislike him at first, but I still did.

He kept trying to get her to get me to stock his books at the Library of the Profane. So I tried reading one, and it was terrible. A first hand account of an archaeologist discovering ancient treasure or lost objects would have been something I would have loved to have stocked. Except that wasn’t what he wrote. His books were more about how he fucked his way through the local women and avoided fights with the men who were pissed off about it.

Ravyn thought it would be different with her and that they had something special. He left for a dig and barely called or texted. Valentine didn’t immediately come back to her either. He did, however, send her a signed advanced copy of the book he wrote about that dig detailing all the many ways he cheated on her while he was gone.

That was about the time Ravyn decided men had cooties and should be avoided. I’d long come to that conclusion but would use them to scratch an itch. That was, until my library sent me an amazing group of them. I had a feeling the same was going to happen to Ravyn if she didn’t get caught up with stupid wolfy archaeologists who happened to be deathly hot, bringing Ravyn her favorite things in this world but couldn’t stay faithful if his life depending on it.

Ravyn didn’t respond back. She didn’t really have a habit of listening to me when it came to men. I didn’t blame her because I did the exact same thing to her. I just hoped she didn’t get totally dick stupid around Valentine this time because Killian was right there and would treat her like a queen.

It usually wouldn’t have mattered what time of night it was. If my sister sent me a selfie of new hair because that asshole was back in the picture, I would have walked over to her cottage and beaten her with something from her dildo collection until she saw sense. The dildo beating was going to have to wait because we might all die.

“Ravyn dyed her hair red because Valentine is back,” I said to Felix.

“Should we get a curse ready?”

Balthazar cupped his crotch.

“If you’re going for the dick, make sure he deserves it.”

“This one does,” Felix said. “He’s written several books about his inability to stay faithful. Ravyn thought they were in a relationship, and he sent her a signed copy of his latest with all the times he cheated on her when he was out of the country.”

“Oh, yeah, then I’m all about cursing his dick.”

Reyson put his hand on my shoulder.

“I can see several possibilities for your twin, and none of them involve being cheated on.”

“We need to contact Bram and make sure Talvath isn’t coming back here with an army to kill us all.”

“Yeah, not dying is right up there with keeping my twin away from that asshole wolf. Give me two minutes.”

I scrolled to Bram’s name on my phone. What was I supposed to say? Sorry, we brought a painting into the library that hurt you? How were we even supposed to know that? Dorian Gray shouldn’t know that kind of shit. Yeah, we could say all of this was Silvaria since she was a witch with magic, but not every witch knew how to put magic into a painting.

Gabriel was the only one I knew. There were classes for that at the Academy of the Profane, but I didn’t really know anyone who took them. Most people who went to the academy were uber ambitious. They didn’t focus on hobbies or things that brought them joy. They didn’t think there was a career in the arts, either.

Personally, I would have loved to have taken a few classes and learned how to do what Gabriel did, but I could barely piece together a stick man, and I didn’t want to take a hit to my GPA when I was utterly miserable at it.

Silvaria was big on owning expensive art, but she didn’t appreciate it. She just wanted people at her mansion commenting on it. She had no reason to own a landscape like the one we stole from the shipping container. It wasn’t old and was done by someone famous. Gabriel thought it looked like one of Hitler’s landscapes.

Silvaria wasn’t around then, but Dorian was. Silvaria was a lot of things. She was pretty fucking evil when it came to getting what she wanted. She was also this massive snob. Silvaria looked her nose down at everyone. I was sure she viewed what she was doing as the greater good.

Silvaria wouldn’t be caught dead owning a painting that someone would say looked like Hitler did it. Not even if it was in a secret shipping container and hid demon sigils. No, if Silvaria wanted a magical painting commissioned with demonic sigils, she wouldn’t have commissioned this.

This was all Dorian, which raised a lot of questions. And I still hadn’t figured out what to say to Bram. When we stayed up all night talking, it was easy.

“Guys, what do I say to him?”

Gabriel put his hand on my knee.

“Bram knows the truth. He knows we took that painting because it was our best shot at taking down Dorian. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the supplies to decode the painting in the shipping container, and even if I had, they would have been in more trouble if we stayed there than getting them and the painting back to the library.”

“We don’t know about demon magic, Ripley,” Felix said. “The only reason you could help Gabriel after the fight at the shipping container was that Old Scratch had to do community service at the academy. Talvath could have brought them both home to heal. It could be nothing, and they’ll be back ready to help when they are ready.”

We were in deep shit. Felix didn’t care about anyone’s feelings. He certainly didn’t care about mine when it came to certain things. If Felix was trying to make me feel better, it meant things were way too dire to be mean about it.

“Shit. It’s that bad,” I grumped, staring at the blank message on my phone.

“It can be,” Reyson said. “The possibilities are dire unless you get a message to Bram.”

Shit. No pressure. I’d better get this right.

Ripley:

Bram, I swear we didn’t know about the painting until Gabriel used magic on it. Are you okay?

We stayed up and waited for him to answer. I swear I’d been ghosted by guys plenty of times before, and it didn’t bother me anymore. This was different. I liked Bram. I wanted him here where he wasn’t property. I needed to know he was safe.

We all needed to know Talvath wasn’t coming back with an army of demons to kill us all.