Lord of the Wolfyn and Twin Targets

Soft warmth against his lips. Silky heat on his tongue. Spice and flowers. Curves.
 

The sensations rocketed through Dayn. Gone was any hint of reserve or control. Growling low in his throat, he crowded Reda back against the tree until their bodies were aligned, touching from knee to chest. He kept his hands on her face, willing them to stay there with the last threads of his control, knowing that if he touched her—really
touched
her—he would be truly lost.

 

It had been two decades since he had held a woman out of anything other than necessity. But now, as their tongues touched and slid, as his body went tight, tense and hard, he wasn’t just kissing a woman. He was kissing a dream he hadn’t been aware of having.

 

 

 

“Added Bonus: Two Books in One! Don’t Miss Jessica Andersen’s Harlequin Intrigue
Twin Targets!”

Books by Jessica Andersen
 

Harlequin Nocturne

 

123—
Lord of the Wolfyn
**

Harlequin Intrigue

 

734—
Dr. Bodyguard

762—
Secret Witness

793—
Intensive Care

817—
Body Search

833—
Covert M.D.

850—
The Sheriff’s Daughter

868—
Bullseye

893—
Ricochet
*

911—
At Close Range
*

928—
Rapid Fire
*

945—
Red Alert

964—
Under the Microscope

982—
Prescription: Makeover

1005—
Classified Baby

1012—
Meet Me at Midnight

1036—
Doctor’s Orders

1061—
Twin Targets

1068—
With the M.D…. at the Altar?

1093—
Manhunt in the Wild West
*

1120—
Snowed in with the Boss

1147—
Mountain Investigation
*

1164—
Internal Affairs
*

1280—
Bear Claw Conspiracy
*

JESSICA ANDERSEN
 

has worked as a geneticist, scientific editor, animal trainer and landscaper…but she’s happiest when she’s combining all of her many interests into writing romantic adventures that always have a twist of the unusual to them. Born and raised in the Boston area (Go, Sox!), Jessica can usually be found somewhere in New England, hard at work on her next happily-ever-after. For more on Jessica and her books, please check out www.JessicaAndersen.com and www.JessicaAndersenIntrigues.com.

 
JESSICA ANDERSEN
 
LORD OF THE WOLFYN & TWIN TARGETS
 

ROYAL HOUSE
OF
SHADOWS

 

 

Dear Reader,

 

Blood drinkers, werewolves and warlocks, oh my! Welcome to the Royal House of Shadows…. Do you dare enter this dark, dangerous and sexy world?

 

I loved, loved, loved writing the story of a secretive magical prince and a redheaded cop with a penchant for archery and no luck with men. When sorcery plucks them from their rightful homes and prophecy throws them together, mayhem, adventure and a hot, sexy romance ensues…and asks the age-old question: Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

 

Lord of the Wolfyn
follows Gena Showalter’s
Lord of the Vampires
and Jill Monroe’s
Lord of Rage,
and next month comes Nalini Singh’s
Lord of the Abyss.
It was an absolute blast working with these talented ladies and imagining how these royal siblings would avenge their parents and save their kingdom.

 

Happy reading,

 

Jessica Andersen

 

To lone wolves and life mates.

 
 
LORD OF WOLFYN
 
PROLOGUE
 

O
NCE UPON A TIME
in a magical land, a dark sorcerer—the Blood Sorcerer—coveted the only power denied him: the right to rule. So he led his army in a vicious attack on the Royal Castle of Elden, vowing to wipe out the royal family and take the throne. But he hadn’t counted on the king and queen’s love for their children, particularly the rebellious, headstrong Prince Dayn….

 

 

B
RANCHES STUNG
D
AYN’S
face and lashed at the bloodred chestnut stallion he rode, but neither of them flinched. They were trained for this, had been born for it: Dayn was the king’s second son, Hart a royal warhorse descended from generations of beast-chasers. Together, they guarded Castle Island and the villages surrounding Blood Lake, and kept the foul monsters of sorcery trapped in the Dead Forest.

It was a noble role, a dangerous calling…and an incredible rush. At least, it usually was. Tonight, though, he rode in anger with his reins white-knuckled in one hand and his loaded crossbow in the other, his mind not on protecting his castle or the country folk, but on the kill itself.

Full of his master’s mood, Hart snorted, grabbed the bit in his teeth and leaped a thorny tangle they normally would have dodged around. Dayn shouted and grabbed the sturdy beast-chaser’s flowing mane, and the two landed together and pounded away, now with a clear view of the monster they pursued.

The bristling, pony-size gray creature could have been one of the giant wolves that hunted the high country beyond Elden, save for the saddle of reddish fur at its heavy nape and the golden stripe that ran along its spine. Those things marked it as something else entirely: a wolfyn.

The older hunters told of the wolfyn taking human form and seducing the most beautiful women they could find…and then killing and eating them. Those were just stories, though. And the legendary shape-shifting was a way to explain why, back when they first set out to exterminate the creatures, the ravenous beasts would retaliate by attacking at a village’s weakest point and go straight for the strongest warriors and then their beautiful wives, as if they were at war, not hunting.

Those days were gone now, the wolfyn nearly wiped from the kingdoms. The few that remained, though, were deadly and had to be killed for the safety of all.

At the moment, though, all Dayn cared about was riding hard enough to leave everything else behind—his father’s anger, his mother’s disappointment…and the look on Twilla’s face when he’d broken it off with her after hinting at marriage.

His father’s words echoed in his mind.
You must wed a proper princess. You are the protector of the royal forest and your brother’s right hand.
And the gods knew that dark, seductive Nicolai wasn’t settling down anytime soon, so the king and queen—and their advisers—had pinned their hopes for profitable alliances on Dayn and his sister, Breena. The very thought of it—and the argument he’d had just now with his parents—had Dayn riding hard away from the castle and its politics. He was twenty and six, and his kind lived for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years. Yet his parents wanted to sell his life to whichever royal house bid highest. Gods and the Abyss, he wished he had been common-born.

But he hadn’t been, so he kicked on until the wind stung his face and the ground blurred beneath Hart’s hooves.

His man-at-arms, Malachai, who was riding well behind them on his sturdy gray gelding, whipped around the thorny brake Dayn and Hart had just sailed over, bellowing, “Damn it, wait!”

Dayn’s former-tutor-turned-companion said something more, but it was lost beneath Hart’s loud snort as the trees thinned and they caught another glimpse of the wolfyn. The stallion accelerated after the beast, which looked back at them with too-intelligent amber eyes, and Dayn gripped with his knees and raised his crossbow as the gap narrowed. The trees opened up around him, but he focused on the reddish saddle mark, which outlined the target for a kill shot.

The wolfyn gathered itself for a last burst of speed, and—

Mindspeak screamed suddenly in Dayn’s skull, filling him with pounding emotions that weren’t his own:
rage, defiance, fear, betrayal.
Before he could do more than jerk with surprise, wind whipped up around him, squeezing him in a giant’s fist of spell-power, and then yanking him clear out of the saddle and up into a rapidly forming whirlwind that suddenly spun overhead.

“Ambush!” Malachai shouted, his voice wind-distorted and quickly growing faint as the tornado sucked Dayn inward and air screamed past him.

He fought the magic that held him, but it was too powerful, too all-encompassing, a physical force that roared and keened, and then flattened, reverberating in his soul as he reached the calm at the center of the whirlwind. There, he hung suspended—seeing nothing but the moving wall of gray-brown surrounding him, feeling nothing but the magic. His pulse hammered and his muscles screamed for him to fight or run. But there was nothing to fight, nowhere to escape. Gods. What was happening? Mindspeaking was usually nothing more than shared thoughts between blood-drinking kinsmen. He and his father shared the bond most strongly, though he also had it with Nicolai. But this was something different entirely. “Hello?” he shouted. “Father? Are you doing this?” Maybe his sire sought to punish him for refusing to—

The chaos of battle sounds suddenly rang clear in his head: terrible screams, bloodcurdling roars he couldn’t place, the clash of steel on steel, bow-twangs and bellowed battle commands. And his blood ran cold at the realization that this was no punishment. It was a warning.

“Alvina!” he heard his father shout to his mother, “Go back, damn it!” Then there was a wrenching jolt of magic and Dayn was suddenly
inside
his father’s head, seeing what he was seeing, feeling what he was feeling.

Horror and grim determination thudded in Aelfric’s veins as he slashed at the creature confronting him on the narrow open staircase. He didn’t know how the Blood Sorcerer had gotten his army onto the island undetected, but the castle was overrun.

Monstrous scorpion creatures filled the great hall below the curving staircase, knocking aside elite guard-soldiers with their poison-tipped tails, then slicing through their armor with razor-sharp claws. As blood splashed and men screamed and died, the king slammed a bolt of magic down the stairs, driving back the ettins that were trying to win their way up the steps to the upper level. The huge three-headed ogres stumbled back, dazed, but not for long.

Aelfric spun to charge up the stairs and found himself on his wife’s heels. Which didn’t surprise him, because his lovely Alvina was a fighter, fierce and powerful in both love and war. What surprised him was the panicked ache he felt at the sight of her rushing up the stone steps ahead of him, the inner whisper of,
Please, gods, no. I’m not ready for this.

Worse, he saw the same emotions reflected in her eyes when she ducked into an alcove just short of their chambers and turned to him, holding out her hands for his. “We must act quickly,” she whispered as the stones trembled beneath their feet with the force of the battle. “We can still save the children.”

He wanted to argue, but knew in his heart that it would only waste time.

Folding his hands around hers, he moved in close and laid his cheek on her brow. “Ah, my queen. My love. I am sorry.” Sorry that he had waited too long to go after the Blood Sorcerer. Sorry that he had no hope to offer. Sorry that they had so quickly gone from talking about little Micah’s fifth birthday to this.

Her next breath was a sob, but she said only, “We must hurry.”

He eased away, keeping hold of her hands, which trembled in his. “Tell me what to do.”

“No!” Dayn shouted, pain searing through his chest as the vision dissolved. “Gods, no!” More, as the mindspeak faded he heard the distinctive buzz that said it was a memory, that what he saw had already happened. He struggled against the invisible force that held him at the center of the whirlwind, lashing at it, cursing it. “Malachai!” he shouted. “To the castle!” But there was no response, and the forest suddenly seemed very far away.

Dayn.
The word was spoken inside his head, in a familiar low, rumbling voice.

“Father?” Hope burst through him. “Thank the gods. Get me out of here. I can gather the villagers and—”

It is too late. The castle has fallen, and us with it.

“Don’t say that.” His voice went ragged, his breathing choppy. “Hang on. Just hang on. I’ll get Nicolai. If we work together—”

The spell is cast, our lifeblood gone. I don’t even know how much longer I’ll be able to reach you, so you must listen.

“No!”
Dayn shook his head wildly, denying both the statement and the whisper of echoes that said his father had passed on to the psychic space between dead and alive. “Father… Mother… Gods…” He felt no shame in the sobs that tore from his throat, jumbling his words with terrible, awful guilt. “I shouldn’t have lost my temper, shouldn’t have ridden out. If I had been there—”

Cease!
Aelfric snapped, much as he did to his men in battle.

Dayn came to attention, but his voice shook when he said, “I await your orders.” He had said the words many times before, though most often lately with resentment. Now it took on a new, sharper meaning, because he didn’t know what to do next. Find Nicolai? Muster an army? A magical attack? A retreat? Never in his wildest dreams had he imagined the castle taken, his parents gone. But he couldn’t waste whatever time his father had left in the in-between, so he whispered, “Speak, Father. I will do whatever you tell me.”

Good, then listen well. Because of our wounds and the sorcerer’s power, the spell turned warped as your mother and I cast it. The magic has sent you and your brothers and sister far away, as we intended, but it has also tied the four of you to the castle and begun a countdown. When this count enters its final four nights—and not before then—you must all return to the island, retake the castle and kill the Blood Sorcerer. If you do not, you will die and Elden will be lost. But you must wait until the time is right.

Dayn’s breath rasped in his lungs; his mind spun. “How will I know?” Gods, was this really happening?

A woman will come to guide you home. The countdown begins when she arrives and ends on the fourth night. You must let her guide you, but remember: stay true to yourself and know your priorities. Promise me that.

A sob backed up in his throat. “I promise. Gods, Father—” He was cut off as the tornado suddenly accelerated with a roar. Seconds later, he was flying away from the calm center and back out toward the whipping wall of air. “No!” he howled as the wind grabbed him, latched on and flung him forward into the spin. In an instant he was moving, tumbling over and over, leaving him to shout into the roaring wind, “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to help fight!”

Thunder cracked and energy detonated inside him, searing his flesh and driving the breath from his lungs. Pain consumed him, convulsed him, as his body suddenly sought to tear itself apart from the inside out. Flesh and muscle ripped; sinews snapped from one place to another and his bones
bent.
There was a sharp jolt, and agony javelined through him, so terrible that he screamed and his senses went dim for a few seconds.

Then, between one second and the next, the howling stopped and the tornado disappeared, blinking out of existence as if it had never been. He hung for a second facedown in midair, eight or ten feet above a grassy clearing surrounded by strange stone pillars. Then his weight returned and he fell.

“Son of a—” He hit hard, with a rushing
boom
of impact that made his eyes blur, his ears ring and his brain spin. Surely that explained why, as he struggled to his hands and knees, the world around him seemed too bright, the sky too pale, the trees too tall. But no head injury could explain the cold that cut through his tunic or the way he could see his breath on the air. Or why the sky was a strange color and the ringed stones and tall, thin trees didn’t look like anything he’d ever seen before.

Where was he? Had the spell sent him to the High Reaches? Even farther? Gods, what if he was all the way out by the Barrens? It would take him months to get home. His father had said he needed to wait for a woman guide and a four-night countdown that started when she arrived, but impatience stirred at the thought. What if he didn’t wait? What if he returned on his own? He was a hunter, a Forestal. If anyone could make it safely through the kingdoms alone, it was him. What if—

He jolted when movement blurred in his peripheral vision, and his pulse thudded thickly in his ears as he turned, hoping to see his guide.

Instead, men emerged from the trees. One was a gangly youth in his late teens, while the other appeared to be in his third or fourth decade. They shared long-nosed, forbidding features that suggested they were related, and they wore brightly colored clothing that wasn’t made of any hide or textile Dayn had ever seen before. The strange fabric crinkled like parchment when they moved, coming toward him.

Dayn dragged himself to his feet, belatedly realizing that the magic had stripped him of everything but his clothing, leaving him unarmed and wearing only the common laborer’s homespun he favored. But if he was in hostile territory, that was probably for the best. He needed to lay low and keep his true identity hidden until he knew whether it was safe for him to reveal himself as a prince of Elden.

“Ho, there,” the older man called. “Don’t be afraid. We’re here to help you.” Aside to the younger man, he said, “Okay, pop quiz. What do you make of him?”

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