Authors: M.R. Polish
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Fantasy & Futuristic, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #New Adult & College, #Paranormal, #Paranormal & Urban, #Teen & Young Adult
Copyright © 2013 M.R. Polish
Cover created by Jenny Laatsch
Edited by Kristina Circelli
All rights reserved.
Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Any names, places, characters, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination and are purely fictitious. Any resemblances to any persons, living or dead, are completely coincidental.
A New Beginning
An Old Flame Returns
Spain, Here We Go Again
Dreaming With The Enemy
Hiding Bodies at Thirty-Thousand Feet
Leaving a Friend Behind
A Corrupted Bureau
Meeting The Death Keeper
A Hunting We Will Go
An Enemy’s Death
A Promise Kept
The Truth Behind The Reaping
Training With The Devil
A Last Goodbye
About the Author
Ageless Sea Preview
Mark of the Dragon Preview
First, foremost, and always, I thank my Heavenly Father. I thank my husband for encouraging, supporting, and loving me through every word that I write… even the ones I write at 2 AM. He is my biggest fan and even after a day of kiddos, housework, writing/editing, he still manages to make me smile. I am so blessed to have four amazing kids.
Mickale, Gabriella, Dristen, and Valis; you all are my everything.
Thanks to my dad who stands by me and helps me no matter what crazy questions or ideas I come up with. Honestly, this book was formatted because of him teaching me. He critiques, reads, betas, edits, as many times as I ask to help. Thank you for all your time and help!
My mom, she is awesome and loves to read anything and everything I write, even at horrible stages.
Mowray, you are an amazing proofreader and the polish on it shines because of you too. Thank you!
Circelli, I can’t imagine doing a book without you as my editor. Thank you for all the time and effort you put into each of my books, you are amazing! I can’t wait to party at UtopYa 2014 with you ;)
Laatsch, with every new book you surprise me and go above and above all my wants, hopes, and expectations. I love my covers! You are incredibly talented. Thank you for making my covers the most beautiful ever.
Hunsaker, you are so beautiful. Thank you for being the perfect cover model for Esmerelda. You really help bring her to life.
Janet Wallace, from
UtopYa, thank you for believing in me and everyone else, and creating a life changing event.
There are so many people I want to thank but I am afraid of forgetting someone so I am going to give a huge shout out to all my awesome, amazing critique partners, beta readers and ALL my readers. YOU make me smile and every book I write an incredible journey. THANK YOU!
A few extra shout outs (in no particular order lol); Sarah A. J., Lisa G., Lisa M., Merisha A., my Story 4 Story peeps, Indie-Licious, Ashley L., Carol K., and InDivas.
A New Beginning
I could smell rotting flesh from the
crossbreeds we buried a little over three months ago, as though they emerged from the ground, seeking revenge. The smell was so strong that I gagged, gasping for air as I ran through the darkened woods. I could feel Nicholas all around, as if he haunted the very air I breathed. The moon waxed over me, giving a vague light to the path I followed.
Off in the distance a wolf
howled. It sounded like Luna, but I couldn’t feel her. I should be able to hear her in my mind, but nothing came to me. A hollow pit of despair rushed over me as I struggled to understand why I couldn't feel her.
I ran faster, needing
to escape the woods before he found me. Limbs stretched out, grabbing me, tearing my clothes and scratching my skin. I cried out as I desperately pushed branches away, fighting my way through the brush. I climbed higher up the side of the mountain and my legs grew weak, wanting to give out. I glanced over my shoulder to see if he followed me. Nothing moved except shadows from the towering pine trees swaying in the breeze. The low-hanging limbs and thick brush surrounded me, making me feel trapped.
Turning back around, I stopped cold in my tracks.
Nicholas was there, standing directly in front of me. A smug grin spread across his face. His muddy brown eyes looked hollower than before with deep, dark circles surrounding them.
“I told you I’d be watching
,” he growled, his voice sending a shiver up my spine. “I’m always here, waiting for you. Even in your sleep.”
I sat up in bed
, grasping my chest. My breath came in short gasps as I tried to regain my focus. Looking around, I could see the sunlight shining through the massive front window, warming the cabin.
Slowly, I released a steady breath.
It was the same dream every night for the past three months. Shaking my head slightly, I slipped the warm comforter off my legs and slid out of bed.
folded blankets for Ian’s makeshift bed were stacked on the floor next to the loft railing. I couldn’t help but smile. Since Tennessee, he never strayed too far from me. He didn’t want to leave me alone at night, but said he was man enough to respect me.
I took a deep breath.
I wouldn’t mind sharing the bed with him. Maybe I could dream of that instead. The thought of sleeping next to him brought a rush of heat to my cheeks. I was sure that I was falling for him, but I also wasn’t sure how far I was ready to go. I felt ready to move faster in our relationship, but what if I was wrong? What if I was just a fling to him? My stomach
rolled with the thought. I definitely wanted something more with him—something more than just a fling.
It’s not like Ian had to compete with his brother. Jarak could
n’t compare to Ian in my eyes. Not anymore. But things with Jarak were harder to digest. His constant separation from me made me feel like I had the plague or something. Julie wasn’t helping the matter either.
I sighed. I missed his friendship. Even with everything that happened, Jarak let us all stay with him—and Julie. I couldn’t
swallow the last thought, and shuddered. I understood that he loved her, but something was seriously off with her. Ian and Jarak both thought it was best that we all stay together for the time being; otherwise I would’ve gladly found another place to stay.
I stood up and slipped on my cozy fleece slippers. Even with the sunlight and fireplace, the wooden floors were
still too cold for my feet. I glanced at the piles of blankets one more time and resisted the urge to pick them up and inhale his spicy scent that I knew would linger there. The only thing that really stopped me was the fear of being caught. I knew he would be back from his run with Dregan any time. He worked like clockwork every morning. I also knew he wouldn’t be so far away that he couldn’t hear me if I needed him.
I sauntered downstairs. It was toasty
, with the fireplace omitting the best warmth—second being Ian’s body heat. I heard the pitter-patter of paws with claws on the wood floor. Without a glance, I knew Luna came to greet me. I could feel the instantaneous comfort that covered my soul in a peaceful blanket that her presence always made me feel, but it faded as an emptiness began to take over. A shudder filled my insides, and a sudden urge to cry made me wonder what upset her. I pretended not to notice. Feeling her thoughts was much harder than hearing them, but having a spirit wolf I knew that sometimes a feeling was all I would get. Maybe I should ask her about it later.
, Luna.” I yawned, still not fully awake.
“Did you dream it again
I could hear her voice in my head, just like all guardians could hear their spirit wolves.
I walked to the kitchen
, grabbed a cup of water, and stuck it in the microwave to heat up. I wasn’t in the mood to wait for it to boil on the stove. “Yeah,” I said roughly. I also wasn’t in the mood to talk about the haunting dream that seemed to leave me on edge almost every morning.
can of hot cocoa from the cupboard, I turned to face her. Her coat was beautiful. She was a timber wolf with thick gray and white fur. She sat down by the fireplace in the corner of the living room near the kitchen.
“What is it
, Luna? You’re too quiet this morning. Usually you bug me to tell you about that stupid dream.”
“You don’t have to tell me,
she whined, standing back up and pacing the floor. The sounds that came from her paws were like nails on a chalkboard to my ears this morning.
“Okay, Luna, seriously—you’re gonna make me grumpy. Just sit down and tell me what’s wrong.” The microwave beeped and I took out my hot cup of water
, placing heaping spoonfuls of cocoa in it.
I saw it last night too,”
Luna said in a humph, finally sitting back down.
sound of a wolf howling in my head startled me. That’s what was different last night. I heard Luna, and that never happened before. Although, I couldn’t tell it was her; I remembered not being able to feel her at all.
I walked to the couch
carrying my hot cup and settled in. “I heard you, at least I think it was you, but I couldn’t see you, or feel you.” I tried to sound as if there was nothing wrong with that, but honestly, it bugged me—a lot. I glanced down at the cup in my hands, not wanting to look at her.
walked over and sat in front of me on the floor. I ran my fingers through her soft fur. We needed to be comforted and this was the best way for both of us. Just being together for a bit was enough to assure ourselves that the other was okay. I knew how the dream made me feel, so I could relate to what she must be thinking.
Luna let out a whine and
rested her head on my lap.
“It was horrible. I could see everything, but I could never break through to help you.”
Her voice was despondent. I understood how this disturbed her. It disturbed me. She was supposed to protect me, so not being able to help me frustrated her. I just hoped it wasn’t a foreboding of the future. No, that wouldn’t happen; would it? A spirit wolf could never be separated from their guardian. At least not that I knew of.
My heart hit the wall of my chest with a thud.
“It’s okay. It was only a dream.” I wanted to believe that myself. I encircled the hot cup with my hands, holding it close to my mouth, and just sat there, feeling the steam rise and warm my lips.
on the porch caused me to look up from my daze. I heard a deep voice, one that I knew. Ian was home. He said something to Dregan that I couldn’t make out, and then he laughed. My heart skipped a beat and I felt the butterflies in my stomach start to flap their wings. I couldn’t believe he had that effect on me. It didn’t seem that long ago when I was disgusted by his pompous attitude and scared about the attraction I felt toward him. Life was so confusing and adding him to my problems didn’t help make it any clearer, but he also filled me with something I never had before: love and a sense of being wanted.
The front door
swung open and they came in. Sweat trickled from Ian’s black hair, sliding down his exquisitely chiseled face. His blue eyes sparkled as soon as he saw me. He may not wear shiny armor but he was my knight, and impressive in his own right.
A playful grin widened across his face as he strolled over to where I sat.
I could see the mischievous look swimming in the azure pool of his eyes. I sat my cup on the coffee table and backed up, trying to get off the couch before he could get anywhere near me.
Holding out my arms, I squirmed and laughed. “Don’t you dare
, Ian Thorne!”
Before I escaped, he wrapped his arms around me
, enveloping me in a sweaty hug. I pretended to hate it, but I loved every minute of it. Even at his worst, he still smelled heavenly. I breathed in deeply the mixture of spiced apples and sandalwood that emitted from every pore on his body.
He continued to hold me tight. “Good morning
.” His voice was husky. It brought an ache to the deepest part of my being, something no other guy has ever done.
I decided to play along with my façade of disgust. “
Eww, you smell like a wet dog.” I did my best to hide the giggle, but it escaped and he held me tighter.
“Maybe you should help me into the shower then.” He leaned down and brushed his lips across mine. Even after three months, my heart still pounded fiercely when he kissed me.
“I think I’m gonna find food while you shower,” I said as I reluctantly pulled away.
, but you don’t know what you’re missing.” He smirked as he winked at me. “Just make sure you’re ready when I’m done.”
Oh no. I’m not training with him. He’s being a jerk lately. You know that.” I folded my arms in protest. “Besides, Julie will want to correct every move I make.”
“Es, you have to be as one with
Luna. If you can’t move in harmony, then you could seriously be hurt, or worse. That fight with the all the crossbreeds was too easy. Next time will be harder. Nicholas won’t take it easy on you, or us, forever.”
Luna rumbled deep in her throat and pawed at the floor. I knew she hated when anyone spoke about us as if we were still two separate entities. Every
day our bond grew stronger. We could both feel it.
I watched as Dregan sat next to her and nudged her with his
black muzzle. I pictured what Ian would do if the roles were reversed; not that I would be a wolf, but the same thing crossed my mind. He would also try to comfort me. It was weird to see how alike Ian and his wolf were. Scary almost. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something more to being bonded than they told me.
“I don’t care,” I barely whispered. “
Luna and I are just fine and don’t need his help.”
“You’re not talking about me
, are you?” Jarak strode into the house with Maztic, his white spirit wolf. Jarak’s almost black hair was longer than when I first met him; he said Julie liked it better that way, but I couldn’t care less. His blue eyes gazed over me slowly before he clenched his jaw tight and his recently found hardness took over.
His whole demeanor changed as soon as Julie came back from the dead. I hated the fact that it was me who brought her back. I couldn’t help but wonder if I truly needed her witchy butt anyway, and if it was worth it.
I rolled my eyes at him. “I’m sorry. Did I mention an egotistical jerk?”
“Es. Not now.” Jarak looked at me as if I was a child
in need of scolding. He turned his attention to his brother and nodded.
Ian released a long breath
. I knew he just wanted me to feel comfortable and at ease, but since we all came back things changed. Drastically. I could feel the tension build just by standing in the same room with both of them.
Okay. Look. I need a shower. Can I trust you two to play together nicely while I’m not looking?”
“If you mean nicely as in not
maiming him—maybe, but you better hurry.” I folded my arms in front of me.