The Wren in the Holly Library (The Oak and Holly Cycle #1) Read Online K.A. Linde

Categories Genre: Alpha Male, Fantasy/Sci-fi, Paranormal Tags Authors: Series: The Oak and Holly Cycle Series by K.A. Linde

Total pages in book: 154
Estimated words: 145721 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 729(@200wpm)___ 583(@250wpm)___ 486(@300wpm)

Loosely inspired by Beauty and the Beast, this dark, spicy romantasy will appeal to fans of V.E. Schwab and Leigh Bardugo.

"What are you?”

Street thief Kierse should have known something wasn’t right. Now she’s trapped in the library of an old Brownstone . . . with a monster. His powers aren’t supposed to exist. She can’t run. She can’t hide. And this man - this being, filled with terrible power and darkness — is well within his rights to kill her.

Thirteen years ago, the monsters came into the light and brutalized the world. The Monster Treaty invoked a kind of peace — one that isn’t always honoured. Now Kierse has broken the treaty. But instead of killing her, Graves does the he offers her a job . . . a glimpse into who she really is. Kierse has always known she’s different. That she can do things a little better, a little faster. And there’s that sense she has when danger is only a breath away. But if the old tales are true, there are worse things in the world than monsters.

Like a threat more ancient than legend. Like Graves. Or like Kierse herself . . .

*************FULL BOOK START HERE*************



Chapter One

It’s now or never.

Kierse crouched low, pressing her back against the stone in the shadows.

Across the street was the largest Upper West Side brownstone she had ever seen. Every detail looked original to the Victorian house, from the wrought iron banisters to the holly bushes lining the walk and clinging to upstairs balconies. Even the intricate door knocker and the bronze sconces looked original.

Kierse slowed her breathing and crossed through the slushy brown mess that was New York City after a snowfall. Fresh powder was coming down again, and she obscured her footprints before peering through the first-floor window into an enormous shadowed study. Nothing was out of place—as if it were staged. Only a sliver of light bloomed through the crack under the door.

Her job was simple: steal a diamond ring, get paid.

“Please try to be careful,” Ethan’s voice said into her earpiece, which attached to the radio at her hip. A cell phone would have been better, but she’d never been able to afford one.

A smile hit Kierse’s features. “I’m always careful.”

“Since when?”

Never. She glanced up to Ethan on the neighboring rooftop where her lookout had binoculars trained on her. She gave him a double-finger salute and got to work. She whipped out a set of tools, flicked the lock on the window, and slid it up soundlessly. She’d investigated the nonexistent security system on one of her first reconnaissance missions, and she still didn’t understand how no alarms were present and nothing tripped. She checked her surroundings, then slipped into the study, closing the window behind her.

This was the part she had programmed in her mind. After constructing a mock interior layout of the house, she’d run through her plan again and again. She was prepared, but she’d broken into enough places to know that nothing ever went exactly to plan. Her benefactor, Gregory Amberdash, had given her all the information he had, which admittedly wasn’t much. The ring was kept in a locked box in the library. A library seemed an unusual place to keep a ring with a diamond the size of a robin’s egg. But what did she know about rich people? This guy didn’t even have a security system. A library probably made perfect sense to him.

Kierse steeled herself for what could be the first sign of trouble, but everything was as it should be. She maneuvered around a mahogany desk with a gilded lamp and sleek black leather insert, between a pair of couches, and to the silent grandfather clock that showed the time was nearly midnight. With a breath, she eased the door open and peered down the hallway illuminated by soft, bracketed light. Her eyes darted everywhere at once—taking in the sitting room at the end of the hallway that she’d only ever seen through binoculars, the grand staircase to her right, the polished wood floors, the lush, filthy-rich interior. On silent feet, she crept down the smooth hardwood floors and flipped the front door lock.

The first rule of thieving: always have an exit strategy.

“So far, so good,” she whispered to Ethan as she stood in the empty house.

“Monster?” he asked.

She shook her head even knowing he couldn’t see her. “Not yet.”

Ethan’s investigation into the owner had been fruitless. John Smith was clearly a fake name, and it linked to a business that didn’t exist. The house was enormous and had two regular staff who showed up rain or shine. Yet not a single look at the owner. In her line of work, that meant one of two things: a wealthy human who was out of town or a monster.

A monster would be a big problem. If she was caught in a monster’s house, she’d be subject to the Monster Treaty just like anyone else. And the consequences of breaking the Treaty were typically life-threatening. Which meant she couldn’t get caught. She’d keep her fingers crossed for an out-of-town billionaire.

“Keep me updated,” Ethan said. “Gen would kill me if something happened to you.”

“Gen knows me better than that.”

Her heartbeat thudded in her ears and adrenaline fired through her veins as she snuck through the empty house. A smile lit her face. It was a wrong smile. She’d been told that too many times—because she wasn’t supposed to think that this was the fun part. Sneaking, thieving, and most of all, getting away with it.

Her devious smile grew as she hurried up the staircase and stopped before giant wooden doors. A bronze sign hung over the doorway that read THE HOLLY LIBRARY. Intricate whorls and swirls were carved into the frame. She could make out a string of holly vines and berries in the design, and then something almost shifted as she stared at it. It felt like a familiar language that tugged at the recesses of her memory, but she had never seen anything like it. She shook the cobwebs out of her mind and reached for the cold iron knob. She was prepared for it to be locked, but to her surprise, the handle turned.