Sometimes survival means surrendering everything . . .
Lord Navarre Casteel wakes from a long sleep to find the vampire city he rules forever changed and his future in the hands of a mysterious beauty who offers her life for his. Fiery-haired Cat survives his feeding, fueling Navarre’s body and mind—as well as his suspicion that she is one of the Forbidden—a lethal mix of vampire and human blood. Yet that doesn’t stop the throb of Navarre’s desire, the feeling that she is destined to be his mate, to hell with consequences. . . .
A solitary fighter sworn to protect the children in her charge, Cat never expects to feel so much for Navarre in the face of his savage feeding. Which is why his offer of protection is nearly her undoing. For how can she let down her guard when she has always walked alone? But Cat has never faced an enemy like the one she faces now, never felt such a powerful need to surrender to the force of love . . .
Peace. He didn’t care for the word, didn’t believe in its existence. The concept seemed possible, and certainly desired, but he’d yet to witness it in his own life. Even when Balinese had been under Lord Navarre’s rule, the city prospering and harmonious, Devlin Savard had not been at peace. Savard glanced over his shoulder for the second time tonight. Something had him on edge. He scanned the tree line at his back. Nothing.
From where he stood, high on a hillside, the impressive château below him seemed somehow benign. Yet it concealed the entrance to Balinese, a vast underground city of vampires. The forest surrounding the château took it a step further, cloaking the stone structure from any who might wander near.
Winter was well on the way, and though snow had yet to fall, it would come soon enough. The château had been sealed and prepped months ago, and only in the last few weeks had the chill of the night permeated the ground and seeped into the city below.
Savard cocked his head slightly. A low ripple of energy in the air sent his senses on high alert, rousing survival instincts that had refused to fade over time. Someone, or something, approached.
He curled his fingers around the hilt of his sword, but then the shift in energy became substantial and settled at his right side. Heavy, like waves on the ocean. Then, though the air around him was already cold, a chilled patch of air pushed toward him.
“Report,” Savard commanded. Keir dropped out of his invisible Spirit form and appeared at Savard’s right.
“You’re damn hard to sneak up on,” Keir said, and then suddenly thinking better of his words, he raised his hands in mock surrender. “Not that I was sneaking.”
Savard nodded, but said nothing. It was best others didn’t know how Savard’s talents worked, especially when he knew of no other who possessed a similar gift. In Spirit, Keir moved with a certain high-energy fluidity, something Savard had yet to encounter in another vampire, and was easily recognizable.
Finally glancing at the man who had joined him, Savard asked, “What did you find?”
“Nothing,” Keir said, supremely confident in his own abilities.
Savard simply nodded.
“I give you the same answer every night. Seven years of nothing. You’re not paying me to say ‘nothing’ to you every night.” Keir scratched his chin, the goatee darkening his already sinister look. “You bought my loyalty.”
Keir cracked a grin. “Yeah, you have.”
“Perhaps.” Savard looked over his shoulder, once again peering deep into the forest, but still finding nothing amiss. “One day your answer will change.”
“And when it does?”
“Then everything will change,” Savard said, his tone even, expectant.
Savard would have been a fool to not at least attempt to buy Keir’s loyalty, and so far it had paid off. The man was an ace in his pocket. While Savard’s own ability to travel in Spirit was extensive, Keir’s was unsurpassed.
Since the phenomenon of traveling in Spirit only seemed to surface when a vampire was caught in a fight-or-flight situation, Guardians tended to be the most likely to possess the ability. The species had lived in peace for centuries, and few had experienced even a small taste of taking Spirit.
Once the trick of walking in Spirit was learned, it was simple to duplicate, though most couldn’t advance beyond several feet in this invisible form.
Some grew physically ill should they pass through an object. The process also seemed to deplete the body so extensively that most vampires needed to feed soon after traveling in Spirit.
Not only could Keir travel great distances and pass through multiple structures with ease, he could linger in Spirit for nearly an hour. Invisible and undetectable, he was the perfect spy. Having Keir on his side had been useful, and on occasion, life-saving.
“Same time again tomorrow?” Savard asked.
Keir shook his head, smiling just a little. “And again and again.”
The radio at Savard’s hip popped with static and Steffen’s voice came through, sounding hollow as it floated away on the chilled night breeze.
“Several animals were just spooked.”
Savard searched the edge of the forest surrounding the château and saw nothing. Whatever movement Steffen noted had settled back into the safety of the trees. He gripped the radio in his hand, brought it to his lips. “Where?”
“North forest. Deer.”
The north forest was at his left, the château his right. A call concerning the north forest made him nervous. The entrance to the château, the gate, faced north. In the recent past, his Gatekeepers had occasionally reported the night going silent, or animals fleeing the woods. They’d come to associate these signs with the presence of demons.
“Damn it. If the deer are moving at this hour, then something deep in the forest disturbed them,” Savard said as he switched radio channels.
“Briona! I have Keir. I need two more Guardians at the gate. Now!”
“Already on their way!” the cheeky little half-Irish dispatcher yelled.
“Move your arse, m’lord.”
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Jen Colly is the rare case of an author who rebelled against reading assignments throughout her school years. Now she prefers reading books in a series, which has led her to writing her first paranormal romance series: The Cities Below. She will write about anything that catches her fancy, though truth be told, her weaknesses are pirates and vampires. She lives in Ohio with her supportive husband, two kids, one big fluffy dog, and four rescued cats.
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