Managing Expectations (Artemis University #9) by Erin R. Flynn

1




Thirty-three people died in the attack on Geoff’s pack. Thirty-three.

Twenty-two men.

Eight women.

And three under the age of eighteen.

They killed three kids.

I screamed when I learned that. I screamed and screamed in pain when Iolas informed me that a six-year-old boy, a nine-year-old girl, and a fifteen-year-old boy died in the attack.

And there was not a fucking thing they could do to go after Councilman Shurr or any of the other vampire elders who’d orchestrated it all. The evidence was all gone. There was no trail of payment. The load of magical items was always meant to be payment to the Underground for the job, so Shurr wasn’t going to care that they were gone.

But there was more to them than that. The crafty bastard was as smart as I’d been warned the councils could be.

“Could you repeat that?” I had asked Taeral as he filled me in on the situation.

“The goods that were meant for the Underground were trapped,” he repeated. “Our belief is that Shurr not only set up Geoff, but the Underground.”

“So the vampire council could have the win of taking out some Underground and raising their stock.”

“Yes, that’s our belief as well.”

“Well, we can’t have that.”

He had raised an eyebrow at me. “Taking out Underground?”

“Raising their stock. We’ll take out all the Underground we want. We’re not letting those assholes have anything but a big fat, fuck off sandwich.”

Which was the first fun planned for my spring break.

Laying the trap had been easy and fun. There were a few hiccups and speedbumps along the way but nothing big.

Containing my excitement until we got to catch the fuckers was the hard part. I was going to get justice for those who were senselessly killed and several pounds of flesh for the pack who had done a lot to help my people.

Darby and I walked along the night market in a small fishing village in the Caribbean as I ate some of the local food. We had finished midterms and immediately focused on what came next before I had a forced break everyone in my life demanded.

Even the fairies who were desperate to have their friends unfrozen. They had banded together and requested I actually take spring break off. I honestly couldn’t deny them when light and dark had teamed up just to get me to behave.

But this was first. This was my Friday night adventure and then I had a week of… I wasn’t really sure. I was so focused on this plan that I left the rest of the details to the others.

All the lead-up and worry, the anticipation and excitement still never prepared me for the actual moment and adrenaline rush of when the trap was sprung. No matter how many times I’d worked to catch bad guys, no matter how many situations I’d gone into as bait or traps set, I could never prepare fully for that moment.

Time seemed to slow down as six temp portals opened all around the market, their lookout sending the signal it was the right moment to catch me.

Man was he going to be in serious trouble later for that call.

And then everything sped up as vampires came pouring out of the portals, several tossing magical items at the stalls to freeze all the humans so they could handle supe business with less mess to clean up later.

Oh, were they going to be in for a shock.

“You got lax in your security, Ms. Vale,” Shurr’s top aide taunted me as he took center stage, a few other council aides standing with him. “You shouldn’t have pissed off the Rothchilds so they stopped protecting you.”

I glanced around and took in the situation, shaking my head when I saw at least two hundred council guards. “I think we both know I don’t need them to protect me if you brought this many guys to grab me.” I gave a dramatic sigh. “But none of the big guys, huh? Well damn. I lost the bet on that. I was sure one of the councilmen would come in person to gloat. Damn.”

“You can’t always be right, agra,” Darby chuckled. “Four top aides is still good.”

“Not enough,” I grumbled as I held out my hand and called the magic of the portals to me, shocking about half the people there. “You guys really need to study your opponents better if you didn’t know I could do that. I did it the last time someone set a trap for me that I knew about and had fun with.”

The aide did a double take. “Knew about? You knew nothing about this. You lie to save face and hope your emergency charms activate. They won’t. We made sure of that and have cell jammers. No portals will be opening to save you.”