As Reign, the final book in the Shadow Sentinels Paranormal Urban Romance, releases in a week (ahh!) I’m putting Wrecked, book one, on a limited-time FREE download deal.
Connor and Ember’s story starts in the full-length prequel: Beginnings, but you can dive into this series at Wrecked, too.
If you love hot shifter paranormal romance with a kick-ass heroine, a team of hot wolf shifters, demons, action, and a sizzling storyline, then this is for you.
Here’s an excerpt from chapter one.
My strike wasn’t hard. I had no stomach for hurting this spindly, strange-looking fae who cowered against the wall. This clearly wasn’t the first time he’d been beaten. The male trembled like a leaf and tried to protect himself with his long thin upper arms.
With my wolf’s strength to draw on, I could break him into pieces without thinking twice, but that wasn’t my goal. My eyes narrowed on the tiny barbs my weapon had left in his skin. The spiked metal glinted in the dull light of the twin fae moons before they burrowed further into his turquoise skin.
I sighed and stood to my full height. Placing my hands on my hips, I stared down at him. This fae was just doing what his master had ordered. Like many of the lower castes in the Summer Kingdom, he had no power and was repeatedly beaten into submission. I could see the old bruises on his arms and neck. Whatever bastard owned this blue-skinned, yellow-eyed servant did not treat him well.
I narrowed my eyes on him. “Who’s your master?”
He peered up at me. His throat bobbed. “I-I can’t tell you, Yellow. He’ll kill me and sell my family to the traders.”
I flicked my dyed-blonde hair off my shoulder. Normally I plaited it so it was out of my way, but I didn’t bother today. My lead on Walker, the fae who betrayed my family and me, had come to nothing again. I curled my fists and took a deep breath. The disappointment meant mundane things like my hair were easily forgotten. My target watched me with wide eyes as I quickly braided the stuff out of my way. I had to agree, it did seem a weird thing to do when I was supposed to be threatening him. I shrugged. My work involved a lot of fighting, and these days we often had to run from the fae authorities. It would just get in the way. I suppose I could cut it off, but Connor, the guy I grew up with and the only person whose opinion mattered to me, had loved it, so I wanted to keep it even if I did have to disguise its normally bright red colour.
“Fine. Get lost. But if I catch you sniffing around this place again, your boss won’t get a chance to end you. I’ll do it myself.” I infused my voice with enough venom to make the threat believable. I hated the hierarchical system in Faerie. It was like going back to the middle ages on Earth.
“Whoa, Yell, you can’t just let him go. He knows where our stash is, and if he knows, so does his master.” Blue, who was my friend, and the most awesome, bad-assed bitch I could have as my partner, looked at me like I was crazy.
I yanked the tall, ridiculously thin fae up from the ground. He swayed a bit, a sickly sheen covering his skin as I straightened his clothes. I made a show of smoothing down his silk waistcoat. He obviously worked for one of the disgustingly rich high fae families.
“What’s your name?” I asked, knowing full well he wouldn’t give it to me. Names held too much power in this land. But Blue was right; we couldn’t afford for him to go spreading word of where we hid our stash of digitalis. The petals, leaves and roots of the plant we knew as Foxglove were worth a fortune here in Faerie. Blue and I dealt in the sale and distribution of the plant. It was deadly to humans, but to the fae, it had opiate-like effects that they paid for handsomely.
We’d been dealing here for four years now, but rather than the authorities managing to catch us and shut us down, we just got more creative and always evaded them. It was a dangerous career choice, but definitely worth the risk to our lives. Though it was more than the riches, which I never really spent, that made me continue with this unlawful existence—it was the challenge and the fact I got to search for Walker. I loved evading the cunning and powerful fae royal families. We’d been dealing within the borders of the summer realm for about a year now. Rumour had it that it wasn’t just the Summer King who was out for our blood but the High King of Faerie: the Winter King.
Fortunately, the threat of capture didn’t matter to me. I had nothing beyond this life. No, I’d lost everyone I’d loved years ago, so there was nothing to hold me on Earth. I went back because we had to go there to resupply, but other than a good Chinese takeaway and perhaps an occasional McDonalds, there was nothing there I wanted. I did, however, have a reason to be in Faerie. I was still searching for Walker, and I always would, until either I caught him and ripped out his heart, or I reached the end of my days; which, courtesy of my mother’s gift, would not be for a very very long time. My nostrils flared, my anger still as raw as it was the day Walker left me and the man I loved to the mercy of our enemy. Except they didn’t have any mercy.
I tilted my head and contemplated the spindly fae. The last thing I needed was to free someone who could ruin our business here. When I was eighteen, I’d struck a deal with Somnelaire, the Bogwart fae who was our boss. I got thirty percent of the profits from our Faerie drug deals. But it was the chance to hunt for Walker that drove my success and gave me purpose. Our illegal portal between Earth and Faerie was nearby, and if that were found, we’d all be in deep shit. Som had no loyalty to anyone but himself. I didn’t take offense; it was just the way fae like him were made. Nothing personal. If necessary, he would run to save himself and hang us out to dry. Both Blue and I knew it.
The spindly fae pressed his wide thin lips together, his eyes glowing eerily.
I contemplated the little device I held between my finger and thumb. My leather jacket creaked as I shrugged. “Fine.” And I pressed the button.
The fae squealed, his body going rigid and jerking. His eyes rolled back in his head and spit dribbled down his chin. I kept my finger on the button long enough that when I released him, he fell to the ground, still twitching when I squatted next to him. I inhaled the sweet smell of summer grass and sunshine that surrounded us, and grinned, though I didn’t really relish this side of my job.
Carefully, I brushed strands of silken hair from his sweating face and kept my voice hard. “I can keep doing this, you know. But if you give me your name, and your master’s, oh, and definitely the name of the person who told you about our store, I won’t press this itty bitty button anymore.”
He pressed his mouth together and shook his head, looking so scared I felt sorry for him. The poor bugger was stuck between a rock and a hard place; me or his vicious master. I pressed the button again, I had to make a point; we had lingered here too long.
The stink of urine hit my sensitive nose and my wolf grumbled, her dislike of my harsh treatment of this creature a feeling I didn’t relish—at all. She had been mistreated by her past host and I had promised never to disrespect her like that. I hadn’t, but she still hated when I had to get violent. Hush. This is necessary if you don’t want me dead again. I might get reborn, but you would end up on your way back to the Mother Wolf. She huffed her disapproval but settled, leaving me to do my job.
I took a breath but kept up my cool, drug dealer facade. “Just so you know, those little barbs in your skin can’t be removed. They just burrow right on in, and if you try to dig them out or disturb them, they will release an overdose of digitalis serum and you’ll die. Understand?”
He nodded, his eyes wide enough that black surrounded their solid yellow center.
“Good. Now what’s your name? Come on, don’t be shy. I promise I have no idea how to turn a name into any kind of faery magic.”
He studied me, his wide eyes staring into mine. “Waib.”
I smiled, but not necessarily in a friendly way. “Hi, Waib. Now, who’s your master? And I know you can’t lie, so let’s make this less painful for us both. Just tell me and we can save a lot of time.”
I looked at the egg sized device again while Waib turned an ugly shade of purple. Having spent the last four years of my life breaking the law in the land of Faerie, I knew this was his version of going pale. I made a show of lifting the device and pressing my thumb on the button that would bring those barbs to life again.
I tilted my head, sending my plait swinging over my shoulder. “Damn!” The Voltair caste were closely related to the Winter King, I was sure of it. It figured high fae like them would abuse their staff and force them to do their dirty work. And they were so extremely vocal about condemning drug use, even for good reasons like pain relief. It really shouldn’t surprise me that they’d be so hypocritical as to send their staff out to buy those same drugs for their own use.
I held back a snarl. “Thank you, Waib. Now, who told you about this place? Your master is clearly very well off; a high fae of the royal bloodline. And seeing as our store and dealings are under the radar of the fae guard, even the Summer King, how did your master find out? We’re miles from the Winter Kingdom.”
Waib blinked and sat up. “My master told me about this place. He bid me to spy on you and try to steal a sample, but I don’t know how he found out about your…er..store.”
“Really? Well.” I shoved a little packet in his pocket. “Tell him this is on the house, but if he or you, ever breathe a word of this location to anyone, I will take great pleasure in ripping your throats out. Do I make myself clear?” My voice was as cold as my glare, as I let my wolf show in my eyes.
Waib nodded, his fear a bitter scent up my nose.
“It’s true, this servant knows nothing, it was an anonymous tip to my father. So you can stop torturing him now because you won’t discover the answer,” said a deep, commanding voice.
Blue and I both cursed together.
I flicked the switch on the barbs and poor Waib started to fit and thrash on the floor. It was not a pretty sight. I swallowed hard, knowing I had just made him our distraction. Looking down at him I mouthed, “I’m sorry.”
“Let him go, drop your weapons and surrender to us. Do that, and I will let you live.” The voice came from the shadows of the forest, colder this time. In fact, I could swear the temperature had dropped a few degrees. I shuddered.
Blue slapped her hand against the stone of the cliff. “No fucking chance.” Instantly, a shield of energy slammed down in front of us, stretching from the mouth of the cave, which was our store, to a thicket of thorn bushes on the other side. “That’ll only hold them for a few minutes, I’m afraid. Whoever that is, might let us live, but it won’t be a pleasant existence.” She pulled her weapon. “And I am not getting stuck in Faerie as a human slave.”
A beautiful man stepped from the shadows. His blue, waist-length hair gleamed and his form-fitting armour moulded to his powerful, yet elegant body. My jaw dropped. He was gorgeous. He grinned like he’d heard Blue’s words, though his startling pale green eyes were as cold as ice. He drew back his hand. Ice green magic swirled around his fist before he released it. Power exploded across the shield, erupting like a thunder crack as the two forms of energy connected. He directed a snarl right at Blue, before bombarding the shield again and again.
My faith in Blue’s talents was normally unshakable; after all, my partner-in-crime was the cleverest person I had ever met. But right then, saying a prayer to the Mother Wolf to save our arses seemed like a good thing to do.
Blue’s bobbed blue hair swung as she turned to face me. Behind her, more fae guards stepped from the shadows, all dressed in battle armour, and all carrying beautifully crafted bows. Fae weapons were infused with magic, but they were made all the more powerful by their own brand of technology. And these had to be royal guards, their expensive and elaborately etched armour a huge calling card.
My heart slammed against my ribs.
“Damn it! They’re not summer fae. That armour isn’t like any I’ve seen before, and we’ve been to every kingdom except Winter and the dark fae in the Orth Kingdom.”
“Shit!” Blue’s face blanched.
“We need to get to the portal. Now! That fae’s magic is also far stronger than any other fae’s I’ve ever seen. Come on!”
Blue glanced over her shoulder at the small army now approaching.
The fae commander stopped on the other side of the shield and fixed his gaze on Blue. His lips stretched into a cold smile. “You’re mine, human.”
Blue rolled her eyes and gave him the finger. “In your dreams, motherfucker.”
Even in this dire situation, I had to laugh. She had the biggest balls of anyone I knew. “Yep! Let’s go. He’s got too much of a hard on for you to risk fighting it out.”
Blue nodded and winked at him. “He surely does.”
Keeping my weapon in my hand, I jumped over Waib’s twitching body, knowing Blue would follow. We sprinted into the dark forest towards the stinking bog that Som had used as a landmark to form his portal.
There was a huge explosion behind us.
“Damn! That guy’s already destroyed the shield. Jump!” Blue yelled.
Together we leapt into the swirling portal. My wolf growled as power tried to rip her spirit from me. Fire—my other spirit, the one that hibernated deep inside me, didn’t like my wolf’s distress, not one bit. My first wolf spirit had returned to the Mother Wolf when I was eighteen. Fire and I had sacrificed her to give me a chance to escape the people who had taken Connor. Now I housed a lovely white wolf, one I had taken from a murderer that very same day. Fire never liked travelling through the bridge between worlds. I sensed she couldn’t tell whether my human body was dying each time I did it. I had to admit, leaping from Faerie to Earth, and vice versa, was painful enough that I could believe my soul was being ripped from my flesh. My lungs squeezed so tight I couldn’t breathe, and an icy cold seeped into my bones, reaching so deep I was sure it was trying to freeze me from the inside out. With a yell, I battled the effects of the portal and fought to keep my wolf inside me. She whined and dug in her claws.
Blue watched me carefully. She was totally human and had no shifter power to control in the portal. The lack of duality made it as easy for humans as it was for fae to go through the portals.
The tarmac of Som’s lockup loomed ahead. My feet slammed into the ground, but I had done this hundreds of times, as had Blue. We hit the ground running, and I held my weapon out steady. It was programmed to stun, the setting that had taken Waib down. With my thumb, I flicked it to kill and ignored my ebbing discomfort from the leap as I turned to face the portal.
If that fae showed his face, he’d get a bullet between his teeth—no matter how gorgeous he was. I doubted even a fae like him could move fast enough with his magic to stop it.
“No, Em! You go and find Som! I don’t know where that slimy shit has gone, but something doesn’t feel right. He’s normally here by the time we get back, waiting to shut the gate down!”
Blue grabbed another gun from behind the storage crate where we hid extra weapons and stood with her feet apart, a weapon now in each hand, trained on the swirling vortex. Her stance was solid, and her expression fierce, ready to take down anything—or anyone who came through.
I didn’t want to leave her, but she was right; Som was never absent. My eyes drifted to the storage building across the yard. Underneath it was our escape route.
“Fine! But if that fae is the next one through, you shoot him between the eyes and then run! You hear me? He’s got an army at his back, and we don’t.” I grabbed another weapon.
Blue flicked her attention to me and nodded her agreement. “Go!”
I held one gun in each hand and ran up the rickety wooden steps of Som’s place. My stomach clenched, but I forced myself not to look back at my friend. I knew deep down she wouldn’t run; she was even more stubborn than me.
Not one for carelessness, I stopped and pressed my back against the wall. Slowly, I opened the door of Som’s warehouse office. My senses sharpened. He never left it unlocked.
The stench of blood and bowel contents hit me first. I wrinkled my nose as my guts fizzed and bile splurged my throat. Grimacing, I swallowed the vile stuff back down and made my way inside. Carefully, I missed the squeaky floorboards and crept down the poorly lit corridor.
The stench of death grew stronger.