The heat from the heavenly flames seared my flesh before the fire consumed my soul.
The jeeps pulled up fast, with one leading the path. Each vehicle carried many muscle-bound shifters. The one in the passenger seat of the lead vehicle hopped off before the wheels came to complete stop.
He approached her, his gait long, his expression austere and solid. His powerful physique was padded in navy blue fatigues.
She’d never seen a shifter strapped so bloody tight, and with the latest artillery.
A large barreled pistol was harnessed to his muscled thigh. His right thigh carried a holster filled with sheathed daggers. Other pistols were holstered to various places on his body—chest, waist, and hips. Protruding at an angle from over his right shoulder was the ivory clad grip of a spear. From the glimpse of the handle alone, she could tell it wasn’t a design created in this realm.
Right away, she noticed his spot-on resemblance to that sexy demon vampire—Demetri. Only features to set him apart was his dusty light brown hair and eye color, which was a deep cerulean hue. Bright blue vapors, lighter than a normal shifter’s, sailed around his commanding form, trailing sterling streamers as they went. “Are you Sergeant Fiona ‘Copper’ Delany from Sector twelve?” His voice was surprisingly soft.
“Depends on who’s asking, Spear Master?”
“Commander Ronan Bithanos of the Chalvaiz Death Squad is asking,” he responded without missing a beat, his probing gaze unwavering.
“In that case, I guess I’m your solider.”
“Our grand alpha instructed me to pair you with a fellow soldier to drive the medical transport to the rendezvous point.”
Coming out of his mouth, it sounded more like she needed to be babysat. She clucked her tongue and scoffed, “Yes, per orders. However…” Her gaze roamed up and down his impressive frame. “When my captain informed me I’ll be riding with a fellow soldier, I didn’t expect some beefed up shifter.”
He cocked a single brow. “And I didn’t expect to be greeted by a mouthy redhead. So, I suppose we’ll both have to adjust to the unexpected.”
The downpour had let up some, but it continued to drizzle. Lazy clouds drifted across the sky, covering and uncovering the sun. They would be forced to rely on the leaves, along with the cloak she’d borrowed from the priestess for shade.
The mysterious magic weaver’s unexpected visit this morning invaded her thoughts. Like a divine dream, the sorceress appeared in her bedroom. She’d broken through the spiritual barrier cast around headquarters, without alerting any of her teammates. Even Cain, who slept soundly next to her, was unaware of the woman’s presence.
Havoc vividly remembered her appearance.
Dark amber dreads dangled past her waist and stormy brown eyes peered into her soul. “You’re going to need this if you expect to bring him back alive.” As the priestess stared down the barrel of Havoc’s double gauge pistol, she tossed the cloak onto her bed and bowed. “May the Gods be with you, young huntress.”
A moment after the priestess vanished, a penetrating pain brutally assaulted her. Her throat-searing scream followed. Havoc ran a hand over her chest, remembering the feeling of something alien being shoved into it. She’d never felt anything like it before.
Her teammates bombarded her with questions after the incident. How did you tell a pack of supernatural hunters that you had a blood connection to a vampire—namely the worse vampire of all—and that you had to bail out in the darkness of the morning to go to that particular vampire because he was in danger?
She couldn’t, so she didn’t.
Lost in a sea of pleasure, Imrie cried out, never wanting the sensation to end. Whatever he desires of me, I will do it. She turned her head, allowing him to drink freely.
Ukemi appeared in the doorway.
Imrie went rigid.
Thankfully, the vision and blood lust had Lord Lucius distracted, or for lack of a better word, occupied. Had he seen Ukemi, he would’ve reacted.
“Ukemi, you shouldn’t be here! If he sees you…”
With her sweet face bunched in disappointment, she shook her head. “You’re no better than your husband. You sold your soul and body to the devil just to trap the dragon queen, and now he owns you.”
“No my dear girl, I sold my soul and body to the devil so you wouldn’t have to. Now please, return to your quarters before he senses you.”
The erratic pounding beneath her chest had her pulse racing. Her body felt strange. A static charge started at her head and worked its way down to her toes. In waves, it rolled back up her body and left the center of her back pulsating. “What the hell…?”
Bewildered, Rayne reached back under her shirt, and brushed her fingers over her dragon tattoo. She vividly remembered when she got it. It was years ago in Hong Kong. On that day, she was a little tipsy, and feeling mighty damn adventurous.
As she stroked her tatted flesh, it thumped against her fingers like a heartbeat. Weird!
In the thick of her confusion, something really freaky happened. Time slowed down. Rayne turned in a circle watching everything in motion drag to a sluggish pace. After that, everything went mute. She couldn’t hear the sounds of cars driving by, or the chatter of the people walking along the strip, who literally moved in slow motion as they sauntered by.
It was like being caught up in some bizarre dream.
A presence… She felt a presence that made her insides flutter. She’d felt this presence before, in her mind. Could it be him? Demetri? Had he actually found her?
Nervously, she clutched the end of her shirt and scanned the area for just a glimpse of him. No one stood out. No one even looked her way. Was he teasing her, or was her mind truly playing tricks on her? “That’s it, make me even crazier than I already am,” she muttered.
Along the side of the street, a cab pulled up next to her. The driver, a middle aged man with a cropped haircut and a broad smile, stepped out of the car. He trotted around the vehicle to where she stood and opened the back door. Sweeping his hand through the air, he gestured for her to enter.
Without asking any questions, she slid into the cab.
It was a quiet ten minute ride to the beach. Still smiling, the driver helped her out, and then waved for her to follow him.
Her Adidas’ rubber soles dug into the sand as they trudged along the deserted beach.
Off in the horizon, a pale pink tint from the moon beamed over the small waves in the ocean and highlighted the grains of sand. They sparkled under her appraisal like a trillion tiny diamonds in the spotlight.
The driver led her to a small gazebo near the shore. Sheer red curtains covered the openings. Through the transparent fabric a chaise lounge sat in the center of it. On the side, was a tall bucket filled with ice, chilling a large bottle. Probably wine. Long metal torches on either side of the shelter added to the glow already cast from the moon above.
“This is lovely, but why’d you bring me out…?” She turned to find the driver gone. “Ohh-kay, Houdini, where’d ya’ go?”
A gentle breeze blew ripples over the water and pushed the curtains back, as if to welcome her into the cozy enclosure.
Swallowing hard, she moved toward it.
A deep croon brushed the side of her neck. “Do you approve?”
Startled, she whirled around and tumbled backwards. The heel of her shoe dipped into a patch of soft sand and she lost her balance.
A pair of hands caught her by the arms. She was jerked upright and drawn against a hard masculine body. Her breath came out in shorts spurts as his arms circled her waist. “Oh God,” was all she could whimper.
Deathly afraid to look up into his face, she clutched the lapels of his jacket and squeezed her eyes shut. Panic picked at her nerves. Suddenly, she realized she was holding her breath.
Breathe, Rayne, breathe.
This was no dream, or vision. This was actually happening. He’s here! He’s really here!
The enticing scent that made her horny as all hell swirled around her in teasing ribbons of ecstasy. She couldn’t help but breathe him in with every inhale.
His long fingers slipped beneath her chin and tilted her face up to his. “At your request, I am here.”
She opened her eyes and her next breath got caught in her throat. Whoa!
Jet black, wavy hair draped his broad shoulders, and framed his porcelain face. Mid-high cheekbones and a narrow-bridged nose added to the perfection of his features. Accented by a fan of thick black lashes, bright, exotic eyes that shimmered like the ocean were fixed on her.
Plainly put, this man was crazy hawt, a real stunner. Never in her life had she seen a man, or woman, so incredibly beautiful. He was unreal. Just looking at him made every muscle in her body tingle, every nerve quiver and her lady needs increase. “Demetri?” she whispered, giving into the shudders darting up and down her spine.
His plush lips curved up into a sexy smirk, enhancing his beauty as he slowly removed her shades. “Hello, Angel.”
A Kiss of Ashen Twilight Excerpt
At the sound of her name, she immediately turned to Jace. The look in his eyes and the subtle tremor of his hungry voice alerted her of what he really needed. Blood.
Right away she pulled her curly hair away to bare her neck to him.
“No, Ariya,” he said weakly. “I can’t take your life. I’ve never—”
I’ve never fed before without killing in the process.
She silenced him, leaning down to press her lips against his in a kiss. “I trust you,” she whispered into his mouth in a kiss.
I can’t chance it, Ariya, his words echoed in her mind.
Ariya remembered his words about the feed.
With the right person, it is highly pleasurable, but potentially deadly. It’s hard to put into words the heights of bliss one rises to as they are pushed to the edge of death. Unless they share the experience with me, apparently. Then they don’t survive at all.
She sensed him tense with her remembrance and a wash of fear fell over him at the risk. Despite it all, she couldn’t let him die here. She refused to stand by and lose another person. This was the only option, even if she had to force her blood in his mouth to help him stay alive.
His understanding was confirmed as she felt his cold, yet gentle, touch. His hand caressed her skin in reluctant movement as he reached out to cradle her head. Pulling her down to him, he entangled his fingers with her tight, curly locks and sharply sucked in a gulp of air before speaking.
“Ariya, please forgive me.” Jace gripped a handful of locks in a tight fist and opened his mouth to reveal his white, shiny fangs.
With a soft growl from deep within his throat, he sunk his teeth into the soft skin of her neck.
Pain shot throughout her body, mixing with waves of pleasure. Jace held onto her as he fed, taking with her blood not only energy to revive him, but her very essence that mixed with his own. It drained into him as he took more and more.
Ariya’s blood was on fire with a passion she had never felt before. Sensual pleasure shot straight to her core. She wanted more. She needed to have more of him.
Just when she thought her body was ready to explode, he released her and she fell back on the sandy ground with shallow breaths.
Jace’s hands curled into claws and his back arched as he released a loud thunderous roar. His body regenerated itself right before her eyes from a scalded, damaged figure to his youthful, pale handsome form. His breath slowed until he calmed as the night stilled around them. He didn’t waste another moment before rushing over to Ariya.
“Ariya—” He grabbed her arms and helped her sit up. Gently, he caressed the two puncture wounds he had made on her neck.
The pain dissipated under his touch and when Ariya brushed her finger over the tender area, she found it smooth, as if he had never fed. How did he do that?
“Jace?” she said, her voice weak even to her own ears.
“Yes, baby. It’s me.” He brushed his fingers against her hair, smiling as he gave a gentle laugh.
Sirens loomed in the distance and the spell between them had been broken.
“Looks like that’s our cue,” Rich said with a gruff edge to his tone.
Jace looked up at his Uncle watching them in silence. “Uncle, I know you don’t condone–”
Julian held up his hand, silencing Jace. “We’ll discuss this later. Come, you can rest at the Ashen Twilight House.”
Rich tapped Gael’s chest before gesturing to their waiting vehicles.
Gael nodded in response. “We need to clear out before the Mortal law enforcers show up with tons of questions.”
Car engines started up like a musical symphony followed by a succession of doors opening and closing. Jace scooped Ariya up into his arms and rushed over to a nearby limo where Rich held the back door open.
Jace froze as something dawned on him. “Your bike.”
Rich waved him away. “Uncle’s got it taken care of. Come on.”
Jace climbed in the back, settling across from Gael while he set Ariya down in the seat next to him. Rich tapped the top of the limo in short succession before climbing in to join them. As soon as he closed his door, the limo started on its way.
Ariya shifted position to rest on Jace’s chest as he embraced her. Wrapping her arms around his torso, she exhaled softly, finally feeling the weight of the night’s events slip away.
“She lived,” Rich said, smiling proudly.
Jace nodded. “That she did.”
“You know what this could mean?” Gael leaned forward, folding his hands while resting his elbows on his knees.
Jace didn’t respond and Ariya wondered what he was thinking after hearing Gael’s question. As he looked down to meet her gaze, realization struck him like the heat of the sun’s rays on his cold skin.
After tonight and the act they shared, Jace knew his immortal days had been changed forever.