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Cursed: Out of Ash and Flame


E.C. Farrell

Published by E.C. Farrell, 2021.

Table of Contents

Title Page

Cursed: Out of Ash and Flame























A Note from E.C.

About the Author

Copyright © 2021 by E.C. Farrell

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. Contact authorecfarrell@gmail.com for more information. Cover art by Wynter Designs Book Covers.

Farrell, E.C. Cursed: Out of Ash and Flame. Kindle Edition.


NOTHING RUINS GOING after a bounty quite like dying.

Granted, I burst back to life after a few seconds, but it’s still super inconvenient, not to mention exhausting. I just barely miss ducking under the bullet that kills me today. Pain cracks through the top of my skull, triggering an explosion of fire from the center of my chest that engulfs my body in a wave of comforting heat.

The blankness of death lasts barely a minute before I gasp, emerging from a pile of ash, totally naked, and seriously put out. Growling, I shove the smoking gun out of my face with an outside block and drive a knee into the crotch of my query— a vampire whose pride has clearly gotten the better of him.

“That was one of my favorite shirts.” I nail him again. “Do you have any idea—” I hook a bare arm around his neck and slam his hand into the alley wall, “how hard it is to find a Hawaiian shirt that fits right?”

Twisting the gun free of his fingers, I nail him with an elbow to the back of the head and let him drop, dazed, to the damp, trash-matted concrete. Before his vampire magic can catch up and heal the damage done, I snatch a leather cuff out of my bag a few feet away from the ash I left behind and slap it around his wrist.

The second it snaps into place, it glows with dark magic that matches the red tattoo on my forearm, binding us together. Fae like me — of the phoenix variety — often scorn those who learn spells. But if it gives me an edge, I plan to learn as much as I possibly can.

I sigh heavily when the vampire springs to his feet. “Down boy. And do shut up, I always have a headache when I come back from the dead.”

His jaw locks shut, and the magic of the cuffs forces him into a seated position near the dumpster. Fury narrows his eyes. The vampire smolder is real even with those boy-next-door freckles. I give him an exaggerated pout as I pull a new set of clothes out of my bag, sliding into a pair of ratty jeans, a sports bra, and t-shirt before glaring at the pile of ash I left behind a few moments ago.

“Seriously, that shirt was awesome. But then I guess I should’ve ducked faster.” Hauling my bag over a shoulder, I tuck a strand of coppery red hair behind a pointed ear, then think better of it and let it fall back into place. “Oh well. No use crying over torched shirts. Come along. I have places to go, bounties to collect.”

I scoop up his discarded gun, clicking the safety and storing it in my bag as well, then snap my fingers. My tattoo warms as its spell drags the vampire to his feet. Together, we march out of the alley and into the brightly colored chaos of Bourbon Street. Young, old, and every kind of folk in between drift up and down the sidewalk beneath glowing neon signs. Crowds hang over balconies, gaping at street performers, or cat-calling random strangers.

Most drink, many stumble, some dance all to the sound of loud drums and a thousand other instruments clashing with each other for attention. Thanks to the magic cuffs, my silenced mark and I blend into the revelry easily. Even the horse-riding cops pay us no mind.

Not that they would anyway with half the women flashing them. That distracts even the most honorable of their law enforcement no matter how often they see it. Humans are strange, fascinating beings. Three years outside of the fae realm — a magical plane parallel to this one — and I still don’t fully understand them.

A block or so down from The Cat’s Meow, I steer the newbie vamp into Club Arzilla, a smaller brick building blaring zydeco music. When I first encountered this smooth creole sound, I didn’t quite know how to process it. Now, however, it’s taken over as a somewhat comforting score to my life on Bourbon Street.

Bouncer dude Brian — a shifter who uses his bull strength to bust heads — nods as I walk into the club. His hard stare softens into an almost smile when he sees me. “Evening, Fee. Tavia’s on the second floor.”

I click my tongue. “Thank you, sir.”

Weaving through groups of bachelorette woo-girls, hollering bros, and general sloppy drunks singing very off-key, I lead my mark up to the second floor and pause at the entrance to the private section in the north corner of the balcony. Tavia — the owner of the club and a fae like me — lounges on a rich teal couch surrounded by absurdly gorgeous paranormals.

Tavia’s bodyguard, Liz, stands in the space not marked off by red velvet rope. She tilts her head at me. “Die on the job again, phoenix?”

“Is there ash on my face?” I ask, brushing the tip of my nose with my fingers, then rubbing them together.

“It suits you.” Liz winks and steps aside. “Tavia won’t mind, especially since you come bearing gifts.”

Gripping the vamp’s collar, I step past her with a little swagger in my step. “I considered a big red bow, but thought that might be overkill, even for Bourbon Street.”

Tavia swivels her head in my direction when I waltz into the middle of her little couch circle, the flashing lights catching her beauty mark

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