Authors: Kym Grosso
Immortals of New Orleans, Book 7
Copyright © 2015 Kym Grosso
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
MT Carvin Publishing
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Editor: Julie Roberts
Cover Design: Louisa Maggio, LM CREATIONS ©2015
Photographer: Golden Czermak, FuriousPhotog
Cover Models: Jase Dean and Tamara Summers
Formatting: Jason Anderson, Polgarus Studio
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, locations and events portrayed in this book are a work of fiction or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual events, locales, or real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
This is an adult erotic paranormal romance book with love scenes and mature situations. It is only intended for adult readers over the age of 18.
~My husband and kids, for supporting my writing and books. To Keith, you are the inspiration for my sexy stories and I look forward to more adventures with you. From preparing for signings to listening to my audiobooks, I simply could not do this without you. You guys are my world and I love you so much!
~To my readers, who encourage me every day to write. Thank you so much for being supportive and patient with me while I wrote Jax’s book. You are the reason I continue the series and as long as there are characters whose books need to be written and you would like to read them, I will write their stories. You all are the best readers ever!
~Julie Roberts, editor, who spent hours reading, editing and proofreading Jax. You’ve done so much to help, teach and encourage me over the past three years. You are a great editor and friend. Although the sparkly unicorn you suggested did not make it onto the cover, I promise I will consider it for my next book. I can’t wait to come visit you in your new log cabin…just like the one I wrote into Jax’s book.
~My Alpha readers, Maria DeSouza and Rochelle McGrath. I really appreciate your insightful critique of the storyline and unique perspectives, caring about my characters and books. You both are awesome!
~My dedicated beta readers, Leah Barbush, Denise Vance Fluhr, Janet Rodman, Jessica Leonard, Jerri Mooring, Karen Mikhael, Kelley Langlois, Laurie Johnson, Maria DeSouza, Stephanie Worne, Rose Holub and Tanner Logan, for beta reading. Thank you so much for your dedication to beta reading my books and all the valuable feedback you provided.
~Maria DeSouza, thank you for assisting me and also for proofreading Jax. You have been a great friend and reader, and I appreciate all your help…more than you know.
~Shannon Hunt, Once Upon An Alpha, for promotion and assisting. I cannot thank you enough for all your help during this release. It has been a pleasure working with you, and I’m so grateful for your help.
~Golden Czermak, FuriousFotog, for images and photography. Thank you so much for custom shooting all the images for my Jax release. It was an amazing experience to watch you work, and I am honored to have had you shoot the cover. You take spectacular photos and I love the ones you shot for Jax. The cover and teaser images fit my book perfectly. Looking forward to working together again soon.
~Jase Dean & Tamara Summers, cover models. I am fortunate to have such talented models representing my Jax and Katrina
~To Jase, for being my Jax. I really appreciate how you studied and portrayed my character for the shoot. In every single image, I see Jax Chandler. It was a terrific experience watching you work with Golden and great getting to know you. I will never forget how brave you were wading into the water for the river shots, which turned out amazing. Despite those gators and snakes! Okay, maybe no gators but a few snakes.
~To Tamara, you look beautiful in all the images, and it was awesome having you on another one of my covers. It’s been great working with you this year. I love that you’ve read my books, and I really appreciate your support of the release!
~Louisa Maggio, LM Creations, for cover design. You are incredibly talented and thank you so much for designing another unique and gorgeous cover. I appreciate all the work you did helping me to create the stepback cover as well. I love it.
~Jason Anderson, Polgarus Studio, for formatting my books in both e-book and print. Thank you for doing such great work on another one of my books.
~Ellie Folden, Love N. Books, for model/image acquisition. Thank you so much for all your help with arrangements around the shoot and for recommending Jase as a cover model.
~Nicole Blanchard, Indie Sage PR, for helping to create all the terrific teaser images. You are so talented, and I really appreciate your help with my website and all you do.
~Rose Holub, Read by Rose, for proofreading. Thank you so much!
~Gayle Latreille, my admin, who is one of my biggest supporters and helps to run my street team.
~My awesome street team, for helping spread the word about the Immortals of New Orleans and Club Altura series. It has been a great experience getting to know all of you and meeting some of you in person at signings. I appreciate your support more than you could know! You guys are the best! You rock!
Shackled to the dungeon wall, Jax had never for a second lost focus.
The Alpha would have his revenge. The beast stirred, calculating its escape. Its blood boiled, raging at the monster that had captured him.
Thoughts of the night he’d been kidnapped flashed through his mind. He’d been sitting in his friend, Finn’s, nightclub drowning his troubles in a bottle of scotch, mourning the death of his beta, Nick. Getting drunk hadn’t dulled his senses enough to curtail his heroic tendencies. When he’d spied a woman falling unconscious on the dance floor, he’d rushed to her side. Stunned, he’d thought he recognized the injured beauty.
At one time, the Alpha had suspected she could have been his mate. They’d met at a holiday party. A simple handshake had pricked a sexual awareness that he’d never experienced with another female. The strange sensation had temporarily abated after he’d thought she’d left, and he’d reasoned it’d been a fluke. But later in the evening, he’d found her on the balcony, taking in the sight of winter’s first snowflakes, and they’d connected.
Sitting next to the outdoor fireplace, she’d accepted his jacket. Discussing everything from publishing to ice skating, their conversation had lasted nearly two hours. They’d laughed and discovered they both loved visiting New Orleans. An artist, she’d been born and raised in Louisiana, but had moved to Philadelphia with her brother. He’d asked her on a date, wishing to take her on a tour of his city, but she simply smiled, a sad expression washing over her face. When Jax had gone to the bar to get drinks, he’d returned to find that she’d disappeared.
It wasn’t as if he’d known for certain she was his future mate, but the nagging suspicion had driven him to track her down in Philadelphia. At first she’d merely refused to talk with him, not answering his calls. In his typical determined style, Jax had taken it further, contacting her brother, Tristan, Alpha of Lyceum Wolves. When he’d accused him of attempting to force a mating, Jax had been confused. While it was true that he’d aggressively pursued Katrina, he’d never in any way attempted to coerce her into his pack. The disagreement had escalated, nearly inciting a war between him and her brother.
He recalled the fateful night at the club. When he’d witnessed someone who looked like Katrina falling ill, he’d gone soft, rushing to her side. Despite everything that had happened, his protective instinct had driven him to remain with her, insisting he accompany her in the ambulance. The hazy memory lingered, and Jax still couldn’t be sure what had happened next. Katrina had transformed into something foreign, something evil. The creature wielded dark magick, injecting him with the poison and rendering him unconscious. During his captivity, it had appeared to him as different people, and he’d questioned his sanity.
Jax licked the crust from his lips; the iron-tanged blood only served to remind him of the pain they’d inflicted. All that had been lost. Nick, his beta, had died in battle, his essence soaking into the bayou mud. Despite the tragedy, his freedom robbed, dignity remained wrapped around the Alpha like a steel cloak. Nothing would change the inevitability of the moment or deter him from his task. Every lash of the whip had sharpened his resolve to exact vengeance upon the perpetrator. Deliberate and calm, he’d strategized his attack. Patience had superseded his urge for reprisal. However, today he’d be free. Dying wasn’t an option, but killing a necessity.
A faint cry in the distance heightened his senses. It was the first sign of life he’d heard in weeks. The intermittent whimper echoed throughout the stone walls. Jax drew a deep breath, resisting the distraction that called away his focus. The slice of his canines tearing through his gums honed his attention. He’d deliberately starved himself, forcing his feral beast to the surface. It’d be likely he’d lose control, he knew. A risk he’d take; there was no other choice.
His swollen lids opened, taking in the sight of the approaching guard. Adrenaline pumped through his veins; unable to move, he’d have to lure his prey to his side with a split second chance at the kill. The shuffled sound of footsteps resonated in his ears.
He slowed his heartbeat, eyes staring as if death had come for him. Every cell in his body feigned surrender, conserving energy.
“Wake up, asshole.”
Jax ignored the command and lay limp on the floor, his fangs pricking his own lips. The only thing that mattered was the blood he planned to spill. Tonight there’d be no struggle as the silver laced needle came at his skin. Like a lion stalking his prey in the Serengeti, he’d patiently wait for his prize.
Despite his weakened state, he detected the stench of stale cigarettes and whiskey on the human’s breath. The kick to his thigh jolted him into battle, and he launched to attack. Ripping into the guard’s neck, the Alpha went feral. The first rush of blood was like water to a dying plant. Jax tore at his flesh, swallowing the meat. Aside from a garbled cough, no sound resonated as life drained from the body. Exercising restraint, he ceased the attack to reach into his victim’s pockets and search for the key to his shackles. His forefinger scratched along the serrated edge of the tiny metal implement. Yanking it out of the tattered fabric, Jax freed himself within seconds.
Although the blood and flesh of his captor surged his energy, it wasn’t nearly enough to satiate his wolf, to force the shift he’d need to heal. Clawing his way up the jagged wall, Jax shoved to his feet. Dizziness threatened to topple him, but he closed his eyes, willing his balance to return.
His beast growled, urging him out of his cell. The musty scent of mold choked him as he made his way through the labyrinth of the tunnels. A pinprick in the distance blossomed into a streak of dusty light, and he stumbled toward the faint hope of freedom. Jax tensed in anticipation of the enemy as a shadow to his right stirred. His vision sharpened on the source, a crumpled feminine form tied to a pole.
Jax dug his claws into the doorjamb, a growl gritted through his teeth.
They’ll be here any second. Your priority is getting home to your pack, not her.
Jax had lost count of his days in captivity, but his mind had never stopped worrying about the state of his pack. Although he estimated he’d been missing for weeks, his mind remained clouded from the poison, and it could have been more than a month. With no beta to lead in his absence, battles for dominance would begin. Wolves would die in the process. Weakened and distracted, the pack would be susceptible to attack.