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(How to Enchant an Enemy) 

Sneak Peek...Trey (featuring Alvin and Kira)

“Trey, don’t do it!” Alvin begs. “You’re not strong enough.”

Kira pats me on the arm. “He’s right, big brother. Stop torturing yourself.”

Guiltily, I tear my eyes from my phone and flip it face down on the table. “Alvin’s coffee isn’t that bad. I’m sure I’ll be fine.” With studied nonchalance, I pick up the milk jug.

“You’re adding milk to a flat white.” Kira gives me a pitying look. “And you know very well what we’re talking about.” 

Alvin comes from behind the counter, balancing our breakfasts haphazardly on one arm. “You had that sad little look on your face again. The one you get when you’re reading your one star reviews.”

I feign surprise. “Reading my…? No, no, I just had a date cancel on me. That’s why I looked upset.” 

Kira snatches my phone up and inspects it. “Oh yes, he messaged you on that well-known hook-up site… Trip Advisor.” She brandishes the screen accusingly at me. “Are you offering guided tours of your body now?” 

“That’s not the worst idea.” Alvin plonks the plates unceremoniously in front of us. “At least he wouldn’t have to talk.” 

My cheeks burning, I grab for my phone but my evil sister whips it away with her lightning reflexes.

“You two are ganging up on me again,” I grumble.  

“It’s called an intervention,” Kira replies. “You need to protect yourself. You don’t have Alvin’s relentless positivity when it comes to customer feedback.” 

“What do you mean?” Alvin flicks back his platinum quiff. “I’m very sensitive to criticism.”

“Let’s see.” After some quick tapping, Kira begins to read. “‘Our waiter ruined my plans for a romantic meal by turning the music up to a deafening volume—’”

Alvin sniffs. “That was their first mistake. Romantic? Here, with this decor?” He waves at the hundreds of old black and white portraits lining the walls, judging us with their unnerving vintage stares. 

“‘—and danced around singing at the top of his voice.’”

“You don’t know for sure that was me,” Alvin argues. 

I smile fondly at him. “It certainly sounds like you.” 

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Kira reads on. “‘As he twirled, his kilt flew up so high we could see the word Monday printed on his boxers. To make things worse, it was Wednesday.’”

“You see? Totally false.” He points a triumphant finger at her. “Do I look Scottish? Kilt, indeed. That was my vintage Vivienne Westwood skirt. And those boxers were clean, I swear. I lost Wednesday ages ago, so I wear my Monday undies on that day instead.”

“And what do you wear on Mondays?” I wonder. 

He grins. “My speedos. So they were lucky. It could have been worse.” He beats his chest with a closed fist. “I shall display that one star as a badge of honour.” 

“‘If I could rate the service less than zero, I would’,” Kira finishes.

“Minus zero?” Looking chuffed, Alvin strikes a pose. “Then call me the Ice Man, baby.” 

Kira shakes her head in mock despair. “What did I say? The hide of Godzilla.” She turns her attention to me, her face softening. “But they don’t have a problem getting under your skin.” 

“I told you the whole tour guiding thing might be a mistake.” Pulling out a chair, Alvin flips it around and sits on it backward, resting his chin along the top. “You’re the biggest introvert to ever invert… or whatever introverts do,” he adds, sensing an incoming correction from my pedantic sister. “You have to be bubbly and outgoing for that business. Or at least appreciate the basics of social interaction.”

I bristle a trifle defensively. “So I struggle a little with small talk…”

He raises a dramatic eyebrow. “You’re as blunt as that cutlery they make for toddlers.”  

“That’s because talking to strangers about nothing is hard.” I drop my eyes, fidgeting with a blueberry. “It makes me feel awkward.” 

Alvin helps himself to my fruit platter. “And that’s how you come across. No one meeting you would ever guess at your true personality.” 

“Which is?”

“You’re a cinnamon roll.” 

“A two-day-old cinnamon roll,” Kira offers. “A bit stiff on the outside.” 

“Remind me to put that one on the flyers.” I wave my arm around the cafe and bar. “And you’re both exaggerating. Look at me now, interacting socially.”

Alvin pauses in the act of eating one of my strawberries to point it at me. “With one person who shares the same bloodline and another you’ve known your whole life.” 

“I like meeting new people too,” I protest. “In carefully controlled situations.”

“Is that right?” Wiping his sticky fingers on his apron, he holds out an open palm to Kira. “Give me Trey’s phone.” 

Despite my frown of disapproval, Kira passes it to him, and I squirm as he opens one of the many dating apps he’s set up for me. 

“Wait. Did you edit this bio?” He narrows his eyes. “‘Favourite steamy time? Reading in the bath.’” 

“Absolute bliss,” I say with a happy sigh.

Making a tut-tutting sound, he scrolls through my inbox with a glittery nail. “There are dozens of messages here, and you’ve ignored them all.” 

“That’s different. They’re random strangers who only want me for my body.” 

Kira gives my lanky frame the once-over. “Honey, that is extremely doubtful.” 

I ignore her. “My tour is for less random strangers who are interested in my mind.  Or at least, my encyclopedic knowledge of their favourite series. And don’t forget I’m fluent in five languages.” 

“That just means you can avoid conversations with millions more people,” Alvin says, making Kira snicker. 

“But my tours aren’t for any old people,” I declare. “These ones love Dragon Falls as much as I do. They’re my people.”  

Well, a lot of them are. There also seem to be quite a few who book my guided tour of the Dragon Falls set looking to spend an exciting afternoon complaining, ignoring basic instructions and talking over the top of me. 

Sneak Peek... Olek (featuring Gertrud and Ryszard)

“Today’s the day,” a voice mutters in my ear. 

I open one eye to find my advisor Gertrud staring back at me, her face carefully blank. Displays of emotion are frowned upon in Dragon Lands, but I can tell she’s doing cartwheels on the inside.

“It’s early. Be gone.” Turning my back on her, I pretend to sleep again.

There’s a loud rattling as she opens the shutters, sending sunshine flooding into my bed chamber. Recoiling with a hiss, I dive under the covers.

“Time to get up, Olek,” she says. “I want that dreadful demonic creature gone from this stronghold before one more person throws themselves off the mountain to get away from him.” 

There are quite a few dreadful creatures in this capital they call Ciemne Serce, or Dark Heart. Lots of demonic ones too. It’s sort of implied in the name. But I know very well which one she means. 

Peeking out from the blankets, I shudder. “Ryszard? I’ll take him back. Later.”

“I swear if he’s not gone in an hour, I will be.” 

I flutter my fingers at her. “Byyyyeee.” She doesn’t move, and I frown. “Here’s a thought. If you’re leaving anyway, I don’t suppose you could take him with you?” 

“Oleksander!” She presses her lips in a thin line, and I hide my grin. 

“So that’s a no,” I say with a lazy stretch. “Seeing as you don’t want to help your warlord, maybe you could go away before I cut your head off.” 

“And who would advise you then, I wonder?”

“Hmmm.” I pretend to consider the matter. “I could put your skull on a stick and talk to it. It’d only be slightly less animated.” 

“You. Are. Hilarious,” she declares in a tone that suggests the opposite. “If your dear departed mother hadn’t been my most intimate friend…”

“It’s okay, Gertrud, you can say lover. We’re not in the Dark Ages anymore. Maybe that’s why I’m so bored.” I give a little sigh. “Do you ever wish you could be somewhere else? Like, anywhere but here?”

“Yes. Quite often. But especially now.” 

With a flick of her wrist, she strips the covers off me, completely unbothered by my lack of sleep attire.

“Gertrud! I’m naked!” I protest as we play tug of war with a sheet. I’m reluctant to use too much force because she’s kind of ancient, but eventually I wrestle it back.

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“I wasn’t looking at you,” she says with an impatient eye roll. “I’m trying to locate your latest plaything. The cook. He’s not in the kitchen, and Ryszard is whining for tea.” 

She examines the vast expanse of my bed, which is not designed for solo sleeping, but this time I’m the only one in it. 

“Are you satisfied?” I ask a little shortly. “Clearly Zybert’s not with me. It didn’t work out. For one thing, he reeked of garlic.” 

“So? Contrary to peasant gossip, you’re not a vampire.” 

I manage a half-hearted wink. “But I do bite. And also, I may have overheard him plotting to poison me.”  

“Oh. I’m sorry, Olly.” Using the pet name she gave me as a boy is as soft as Gertrud gets. “I know you sort of liked this one.” 

I give a shrug that’s not totally convincing. “He did have a wonderfully firm grip from kneading all that dough.” 

“I meant you liked his cooking.” 

“That too.” 

She sighs. “I suppose it’s back to cold suppers then. Where’s the body?” 

She bends to check under the bed for a corpse, and I sniff. “That’s right, straight away you assume I did away with him. He’s still very much alive, actually. And you don’t have to look so shocked about it,” I add. 

“Pleasantly surprised,” she corrects me. “I’ll find him and have him escorted to the dungeons.” 

“No need, I’ve got it in hand.” Rolling out of bed, I hold the sheet to my chest.  “And he can still cook with only one.” 

“Don’t tell me you’re going to maim the help,” she complains. “You’re incorrigible.”

“Insulting me with your big makey-uppy words will only make me maimier,” I warn her. “And I think you’re forgetting the part where he wanted to murder me.” 

“Well, his poached eggs are to die for,” she teases. “And incorrigible is an actual word. Maimier however, is not.” 

“Are you sure?”

“Quite sure.” She points an accusing finger at me. “You know what I’m going to say next…”

“‘Violence isn’t always the answer’,” I recite, mimicking her lecturing tone. “But when you say not always, what exactly are we talking about here? Because that still leaves lots of times when it could be.” I flinch under her beady-eyed stare. “Fine. Have it your way. I won’t lay a finger on him. At least, not until after he’s cooked me breakfast.” 

“Which I’ll be tasting first.”

“Maybe,” I concede. “And I was joking about the maiming. I’m only going to banish him to a snow cave to cool his hot stinky head. I could never bring myself to harm him.” 

Our morning banter is rudely interrupted by a querulous shout. 


I grimace. “Ryszard, on the other hand…”

“You’ve managed not to murder him for this long. You can hold off for a couple more hours. You’d better go see what he wants.” She glances down. “I would suggest, with clothes on.” 

“Can you not deal with him?” I plead. 

“It was your idea to make him your puppet,” she points out. 

“Yeah, but now I know what he’s actually like, the last thing I want to do is stick my hand up his ass.” 

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