To celebrate the release of Gunmetal Magic, a brand new story set in the world of Kate Daniels, the husband–and–wife writing team of Ilona Andrews (aka Ilona and Gordon) have selected their top five moments of the series. By turns hilarious, exciting, emotional, and deeply romantic, we hope you will enjoy reading some of the authors’ favorite moments from past books—and get excited for discovering more of them in Gunmetal Magic. Top Five Moments of the Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews The world has suffered a magic apocalypse. We pushed the technological progress too far, and now magic returned with a vengeance. It comes in waves, without warning, and vanishes as suddenly as it appears. When magic is up, planes drop out of the sky, cars stall, electricity dies. When magic is down, guns work and spells fail. It’s a volatile, screwed–up world. Magic feeds on technology, gnawing down on skyscrappers until most of them topple and fall, leaving only skeletal husks behind. Monsters prowl the ruined streets, werebears and werehyenas stalk their prey; and the Masters of the Dead, necromancers driven by their thirst of knowledge and wealth, pilot blood–crazed vampires with their minds. In this world lives Kate Daniels. Kate likes her sword a little too much and has a hard time controlling her mouth. The magic in her blood makes her a target, and she spent most of her life hiding in plain sight. But sometimes even trained killers make friends and fall in love, and when the universe tries to kick them in the face, they kick back. Every author has favorite moments in their series. Gordon and I have many. We’re easily bored, so we try to make each other laugh or go “Oooooh” at least once per scene. The idea is to cram as much gratuitous coolness into every chapter as humanly possible. Sometimes we come up with awesome moments, and sometimes it’s kind of wince–inducing. We both had times when we’d ask each other, “Hey, this is what I’ve got. I need something funny here.” Sometimes the response is great and sometimes we just end up rolling our eyes and scrapping the dialogue. With that in mind, here are some of our top favorite moments and how we came up with them. Moment #1: Here kitty, kitty (from Magic Bites) We both count this moment as our favorite. As Kate tries to untangle the murder of her guardian, her investigation puts her on a collision course with Curran, the Beastlord of Atlanta and the head of a giant Pack of shapeshifters. Curran is a secretive figure, and he wants to meet in Unicorn Lane, a particularly nasty area in the middle of the night. It’s a tactic designed to test and intimidate. Unfortunately Kate doesn’t do well with intimidation. A low, warning growl froze me in mid–move. It came from the dark gaping hole in the building across the street and rolled through the ruins, awakening ancient memories of a time when humans were pathetic, hairless creatures cowering by the weak flame of the first fire and scanning the night with frightened eyes, for it held monstrous hungry killers. My subconscious screamed in panic. I held it in check and cracked my neck, slowly, one side then another. My saber firmly in hand, I marched across the street and stepped through the opening. The darkness swallowed me whole. The lingering musky scent of a cat hit me. So, not a bear after all. Where was he? I scanned the building, peering into the gloom. Moonlight filtered through the gaps in the walls, creating a mirage of twilight and complete darkness. I knew he was watching me. Enjoying himself. I gripped the saber. A shadow darker than the rest shifted at the opposite wall. It was low, around the level of my waist. It made no move in response to my glare. Diplomacy was never my strong suit and my patience had run dry. I crouched and looking at the shadow, called out, “Here, kitty, kitty, kitty.” Two golden eyes ignited in the shadow. The darkness shifted and the eyes went up and up and up, towering above me. A single enormous paw moved into the moonlight, disturbing the dust on the filthy floor. Wicked claws shot forth and withdrew. A massive shoulder followed, its grey fur marked by faint smoky stripes. The huge body shifted forward, coming at me, and I lost my balance and fell on my ass into the dirt. Dear God, this wasn’t just a lion. This thing had to be at least five feet at the shoulder. And why was it striped? The colossal cat circled me, half in the light, half in the shadow, the dark mane trembling as he moved. I scrambled to my feet and almost bumped into the grey muzzle. We looked at each other, the lion and I, our gazes level. Then I twisted around and began dusting off my jeans in a most undignified manner. The lion vanished into a dark corner. A whisper of power pulsed through the room, tugging at my senses. If I did not know better, I would say that he had just changed. “Kitty, kitty?” asked a level male voice. Ilona, Moment #2: Make that weight your bitch (from Magic Burns) This is one of my favorite Kate and Curran interactions. I just think it’s hilarious, because this is probably the first time Kate gets checked. The roof was filled with assorted free weights. Curran lay on a massive weight bench with reinforced steel frame. He was working the bench press, raising a bar loaded with weight above him and bringing it back to his chest in a slow controlled movement. He didn’t cheat by letting the bar “bounce” off his chest. I came closer. The bar was thicker than my wrist. Had to be custom made. I tried to count the weight disks on the bar. Normal bar weighed forty five pounds, normal disks up to forty five pounds also. But these didn’t look normal. I stood to the side and watched the bar rise and fall. Curran wore an old, torn T–shirt, and I could see his muscles pump under the fabric. “How much are you lifting?” “Seven hundred.” Allrighty then. I will just stand over here, out of your way, and hope you don’t remember my promise to kick your ass. He grinned. “Wanna spot me?” “No thanks. How about I just scream verbal encouragements at you?” I took a deep breath and barked. “No pain, no gain! That pain is just weakness leaving your body! Come on! Push! Push! Make that weight your bitch!” Gordon, Moment #2: Dancing Saiman (from Magic Burns) It’s a very rare moment for Saiman. The mask of careful civility drops, he loses his air of indifference. He’s happy in this scene. He’s enjoying life and embracing what he truly is. He’s drunk with joy dancing on top of a the only highrise remaining in Atlanta, while snow swirls around him in mid–June. …A man wrapped his arm around my waist pulling me to him. He was tall, perfectly proportioned, and muscled like a Roman statue. The same golden radiance that had illuminated the blonde lit his skin from within. His hair, a deep red streaked with gold, fell to his waist without a trace of a curl. His face was angular, yet masculine, and his grin had a mordant edge sharp enough to draw blood. He leaned to me and I got a good look at his eyes. They were orange. Radiant, brilliant orange, streaked with pale green that almost looked like the crystals of ice growing on a window during a freeze. They did not look human. “Kate,” he repeated, pulling me closer. He towered at least half a foot above me. Snowflakes swirled around us. His breath smelled like honey. “I’m so glad you came to visit. I was so dreadfully bored.” That’s it. The flare had driven him insane. I tried to pull away, but he held me tight. There was strength in those arms that I had never expected to be there. … Saiman touched my hair and I felt my braid unwinding on its own. In a moment, my hair framed my face. “What happened to you?” I asked. He grinned wider. “Deep magic. It sings in my bones. Don’t you feel it?” I felt it. It pulsed through me like a wild wine ever since this magic wave had hit. Power twisted and wound within me, wanting to break loose, but I had held it in check this long and I wasn’t about to let myself off the leash now. “Can you dance?” he asked. “Yes.” “Dance with me, Kate!” And we were off, spinning and twirling through the snow, raising glittering snowflakes with our feet. The snow refused to fall but chased us, following our movement like a light shroud. It was a wild dance, primitive and fast, and all I could do was follow his lead. Gordon, Moment #3: Cars (from Magic Slays) This is almost a male fantasy. It’s all about power. In fact, it’s the ultimate show of power. Saiman had insulted Curran, but more importantly, he put Kate in danger by his actions. Curran was deeply offended and so he hits Saiman where it hurt, in the secret warehouse full of luxury cars Saiman smuggled into the country and intended to sell. The Beast Lord surveyed the cars. His face was calm and cold, as if carved from a glacier. The amount of money tied up in those cars had to be enormous. The warehouse would have to have been well protected from the outside. I wondered how many guards he had chased off. A muscle in Curran’s cheek jerked. His eyes burst into gold. Curran grabbed the Porsche on his left, ripping the car door off as if it were tissue paper. He grasped the car from the bottom. Monstrous muscles bulged on his arms. The Porsche went airborne. It flew up, flipped over twice, and crashed atop the red Lamborghini. Glass snapped, steel groaned, and a car alarm went off in a sharp–pitched wail. Holy shit. Curran lunged at a silver Bentley. The hood went flying. He thrust his hand into the car. Metal screamed, and Curran jerked a twisted clump out of the hood and smashed it into the nearest car like a club. “Did he just rip out the engine?” I asked. “Yes,” Saiman said. “And now he’s demolishing the Maserati with it.” Ten seconds later Curran hurled the twisted wreck of black and orange that used to be the Maserati into the wall. The first melodic notes of an old song came from the computer. I glanced at Saiman. He shrugged. “It begged for a soundtrack.” Curran ripped the remains of a car in two. He raged through the warehouse like a tornado, smashing, crushing, tearing into the metal and plastic, so primal in his fury that he was frightening and hypnotic at the same time. And while we watched him rage, some long–gone man sang about being kissed by a rose at someone’s grave. Ilona, Moment #3: Jim and Clipboard (from Magic Strikes) This one pretty much speaks for itself. Poor Jim had this plan where the team of Pack gladiators, consisting of Curran, Kate and Dali would go into the ring of Midnight Games and try to conceal their true strength by pretending to be weaker than they are. Jim waited for us at the Golden Gates. His teeth were bared. “What happened to barely winning?” “You said sloppy! Look, I didn’t even use my sword; I hit him with my head, like a moron.” “A man with a sword attacked you and you disarmed him and knocked him out cold in under two seconds.” He turned to Curran. The Beast Lord shrugged. “It’s not my fault that the werebuffalo didn’t know how to fall.” Jim’s gaze slid from Curran to Dali. “What the hell was that?” “Crimson Jaws of Death.” “And were you planning on letting me know that you can turn people’s elbows backward?” “I told you I did curses.” “You said they don’t work!” “I said they don’t always work. This one worked apparently.” Dali wrinkled her forehead. “It’s not like I ever get to use them against live opponents anyway. It was an accident.” Jim looked at us. The clipboard snapped in his hands. He turned around and very deliberately walked away. “I think we hurt his feelings.” Dali looked at his retreating back, sighed, and went after him. Curran looked at me. “What the hell was I suppose to do, catch the werebison as he was falling?” Gordon, Moment #4: Curran in a cage (from Magic Strikes) Kate traps Curran in the cage and he must negotiate with Julie to get out. He can’t order Julie to release him, so he has to step outside himself. He is so used to telling people what to do and being obeyed and here is this child. Even if Curran could grab her through the bars of the cage, he wouldn’t. Violence or fear is out of the question – it would go against his code of ethics, so he must sit there and calmly reason with Julie, while seething inside. “Screw you, I am not a child and you are not the boss of me. Kate said you broke into her house and stole things.” I crossed my arms on my chest. The last thing I wanted to do is to explain the mating rituals to a human girl. “I am the Beast Lord, not a thief or burglar.” “You took a pie. Why would you do that? Don’t you have whatever, servants, who cook for you? Kate doesn’t have a lot of money, why would you steal her food?” “That is adult business; I will not explain myself to a child.” “It was an asshole thing to do.” I choked back a snarl. “Little girl, I am not going to warn you again, do not speak to me like that again…” “Or what?” She had me there. As pissed off as I was, there were lines I would not cross. I would not harm a child. Ever. I had to take a deep breath and step away from the ledge. Persuade her. Be reasonable. I could do reasonable. “Look, Julie, I am trying to be a nice guy. I’ve asked you nicely to release me. I could break out of here, but you would not like that, I promise you. That would be scary and loud, and nobody wants that sort of thing. This is the last time I am going to ask you. Please free me before I do get angry and do something we will both regret.” “You’re doing it right now. I’m not stupid. I know you are mad and I know that if I let you out you’ll hurt me and try to make me tell you where Kate is.” “No. I don’t hurt little human kittens. Never have and never will. I give you my word.” Ilona: Moment #4: Cat in a cage (from Magic Strikes) I remember writing this and laughing. Boudas might be my favorite shapeshifter tribe and their mating rituals are too funny. Of course, Raphael had to try to outdo his dad. Wait until you read about Andrea and Raphael in Gunmetal Magic. Stuff they do to each other would surely go into Bouda Clan’s legends. I couldn’t resist. “What do boudas do?” “We try to be funny.” His eyes sparkled. “My mom had to go out of town and while she was gone, my dad glued all of her furniture to the ceiling.” I pictured Aunt B walking into her house and finding all of her furniture upside down on the ceiling. Oh God. I couldn’t help from grinning. “What did you mom think about that?” “She was pissed about the cat.” I stared at him. “Your dad…?” “Oh no.” Raphael shook his head. “No, he didn’t glue the cat to the ceiling — that would be cruel. But she had this wire–cage cat carrier, and he glued that to the ceiling and stuffed the cat into it.” I saw where it was going and but it was too good to interrupt and I tried to hold the laughter in. “The cat got pissed off and peed all over the place, and because the carrier was upside down, it went straight through the bars. The ceiling fan was on at the time, and the draft made the pee into a sort of mist…” I lost it and doubled over. Raphael was grinning. “He tried to clean it up, but it got all over the carpet. It was a slight miscalculation on my dad’s part. He wasn’t a cat person, you see.” “That’s hard to beat,” I finally managed. Gordon: Moment #5: Curran wins (from Magic Strikes) He won the bet. Enough said. I unlocked the door, stepped inside and shut it behind me. I kicked my shoes off, wincing at the hint of ache in my stomach. It would take a long time before it healed completely. At least I no longer bled. Tension fled from me. Tomorrow I would worry about Hugh d’Ambray and Andrea and Roland, but now I was simply happy. Aaahh. Home. My place, my smells, my familiar rug under my feet, my kitchen, my Curran in the kitchen chair… Wait a damn minute. “You!” I looked at the lock, I looked at him. So much for the damn lock. He calmly finished writing something on a piece of paper, got up, and came toward me. My heart shot into overdrive. Little golden sparks laughed in his grey eyes. He handed me the piece of paper and smiled. “Can’t wait.” I just stared like an idiot. He inhaled my scent, opened the door, and left. I looked at the paper. I’ll be busy for the next eight weeks so let’s set this for November 15th. Menu I want lamb or venison steak. Baked potatoes with honey butter. Corn on the cob. Rolls. And the apple pie, like the one you’ve made. I really liked it. I want it with ice cream. You owe me one naked dinner, but I’m not a complete beast, so you can wear a bra and panties, if you so wish. The blue ones with the bow will do. Curran, Beast Lord of Atlanta Ilona, Moment #5: Do you miss me Kate? (from Magic Bleeds) So I am a sucker for love silliness. So sue me He crushed me against the wall, bracing me with his body. I strained, trying to break free. He might have been made of stone for all the good it did me. Except he was made of flesh and he was stark naked. I strained every muscle I had. Nothing. Outmuscling him was beyond me. “Feel better?” he inquired. “Lean over to the left, Your Majesty.” “Want a shot at my jugular with your teeth?” He leaned to the right, exposing his thick neck. “Carotid’s better.” “My teeth are too small. I wouldn’t cause enough damage for you to bleed out. Jugular is better—if I rip it a bit and get air bubbles into the bloodstream, they’ll be in your heart in two breaths. You would pass out at my feet.” A normal human would die, but it took more than an air embolism to bring a shapeshifter down permanently. “Here you go.” He leaned his head to me, his neck so close to my lips, I felt the heat coming off his skin. His breath was warm against my ear. His voice was a ragged snarl. “I miss you.” This wasn’t happening. “I worry about you.” He dipped his head and looked into my eyes. “I worry something stupid will happen and I won’t be there and you’ll be gone. I worry we won’t ever get a chance and it’s driving me out of my skull.” No, no, no, no . . . We stared at each other. The tiny space between us felt too hot. Muscles bulged on his naked frame. He looked feral. Mad gold eyes stared into mine. “Do you miss me, Kate?” I closed my eyes, trying to shut him out. I could lie and then we’d be back to square one. Nothing would be resolved. I’d still be alone, hating him and wanting him. He grabbed my shoulders and shook me once. “Do you miss me?” I took the plunge. “Yes.” We hope you enjoyed remembering these moments as much as we did. We also hope that Gunmetal Magic will give you a few more to add to your collection. There is Andrea and Aunt B. There is Andrea and Raphael and a home remodel. There is a god who shall remain nameless to avoid spoilers. Okay, we have to stop now. Happy reading!