Not certain what is up with the bird wings but….here it is.
And just to tease you, here’s another excerpt:
Dipping the quill into ink, Remy stared at the blank parchment in front of him on the desk and gave a weary sigh. Night after night with the same outcome was beyond frustrating; that Raym, the traitorous bastard, was still managing to elude them had him on edge.
And he was not alone. Bale was a mess. Living with the constant fear that Raym would once again kidnap his mate made him a bear to be around — not that Remy could blame him. He was just tired of receiving the brunt of Bale’s bad temper.
Setting the quill down before rubbing a hand over his face, Remy snorted. Faith had been another kick in the ass. No one had believed himself more unworthy of a mate than Bale, and then along came Faith. Before the Grigori’s grand fall from grace, little had been known of the preciousness of heart mates. It had been a hard lesson to learn, and it made protecting Faith even more important. It also gave Remy hope that his wait was almost over. That Dara, the mate he’d lost so long ago with the sinking of Atlantis, would be reborn soon.
Remy shuddered. Though he could only pray she wouldn’t return as a vampire. Bale and Faith not only shared a heart mate bond, they were also linked by blood. For a reason unknown to the Grigori, Faith could not ingest the blood of any but Bale’s, leaving the pair irrevocably tied to each other, so that the death of one would guarantee the death of the other. Though Remy was intrigued by this unusual development, he wasn’t about to risk tying himself to a vampire to discover the cause. The thought of providing his blood as nourishment to anyone — even his mate — quite frankly freaked him out.
Anyway, he had enough problems controlling his warriors. And then there was the encroachment of the outside world in the form of Faith’s twin, Hope, who many of the brethren felt very protective of, especially Bale and Kash. The little human was constantly underfoot, she and Kash having formed a kinship over the designing and making of weapons.
Then there was Zeke and his werewolf. Charity Darinn had been instrumental in helping track down Faith when Raym had kidnapped her, and it wasn’t unusual to see Zeke leading the wolf around the dark streets of Seattle. Like Kash and Hope, the pair had bonded too, but over their love of hunting demons. Apparently Charity had one mission in life: to eradicate as many of the aberrations as possible.
Remy glanced up at the knock at the door, and after bidding the individual to enter, he cursed under his breath as Levi crossed the threshold. Remy didn’t even have to ask. One look into Levi’s wild gaze spoke volumes. The visions were taking their toll on his friend.
Of them all, Levi’s “gift” was the hardest to endure. While Bale could affect the weather and Remy could manipulate the mind, Levi was forced to helplessly witness events like the night Raym had proven himself a traitor. He’d attacked Zeke, almost causing the other male’s death, and had murdered his own twin, Caym.
But recently Levi had been plagued by the recurring vision of a young girl fighting for her life. If this vision persisted much longer, Remy feared for Levi’s sanity. He shut the journal and pushed it to the side as he beckoned Levi forward. It wasn’t like he had anything to really add, anyway.
And daylight was waning. Soon he would send his warriors out into the night, because Raym had to be stopped.
“Yes, Kash is my mate.”
Zeke woke with a start, covered in sweat. “Christ,” he mumbled as he sat up and ran a hand over his bald head. He kept reliving that night six months ago, when Hope had uttered those words. The same night the brothers had rescued Hope after she’d been kidnapped and Kash left for dead by her father’s vampires. And he didn’t always wake there. Some nights the dream turned more nightmarish, ending when he attacked Kash with his double-edged ax.
Something about Faith’s twin set Zeke on edge, and what he needed to do was eradicate the emotion before it drove him insane. At one time he might have considered fucking her, if for nothing more than to purge her from his system. But since their brother Raym had turned traitor and kidnapped Faith only days after they had gotten Hope back, Zeke would not place the female in a position to draw Raym’s attention. Especially while she was still completely human and totally vulnerable.
Maybe if she were already a vampire…
Zeke shook his head. Not a chance in hell. What he really needed to do was find someone else to make him forget about the little blonde. Frowning, he considered that thought, then contemplated a certain red-haired werewolf. Charity.
She was one of the first females in centuries whose very presence didn’t turn his stomach. There was Faith, but in truth, Zeke merely tolerated the vampire because she was Bale’s mate and had brought Bale back from the edge. Charity, on the other hand, Zeke found he actually liked to spend time with. There was a hardness to the werewolf that matched his own cynical nature. While the notion would probably send his brothers into apoplectic shock, Zeke considered the female his friend.
Yes, Charity might work.
After a quick shower, Zeke went to the library, where the brothers met each night before heading out to patrol the streets of Seattle. This was the time they discussed what had occurred the previous evening and received their assignments. By dawn, most were usually dead on their feet, so only events that were truly important were disclosed to Remy, their leader, before going to bed. And recent occurrences — what appeared to be wild animal attacks — weren’t exactly in the scope of the Grigori. It seemed to be more a problem for the human authorities. That wasn’t to say the brothers weren’t keeping an eye on the situation, but their priorities were to hunt down Raym and rid the world of Lucifer’s demon spawn.
Bale, Faith, and Arak were the only three present when Zeke entered the room. With the dream still at the edge of his consciousness, seeing Faith made him edgy. And he knew from past experience the unease would only grow worse with Kash’s arrival.
“Are you planning to go to the club tonight?” While Arak could be asking any of the three, his attention was centered on Zeke.
A grunt was Zeke’s only response as he sat on a desk that was shoved in the corner. With the way Faith was curled into Bale’s side, there was plenty of room to sit on the couch beside her, but Zeke wasn’t about to get any closer to Bale’s mate than he had to.
“Yeah.” Bale barely lifted his gaze, focusing completely on his hand as he gently massaged his mate’s neck.
“You’ve been spending an awful lot of time there.”
That comment brought Bale’s head up in surprise, until he realized Arak wasn’t speaking to him.
“And?” Zeke drawled as he braced his hands behind him and leaned back, the motion causing his black leather vest to part, revealing small silver hoops protruding from each nipple. As Faith eyed his chest, he could almost see the question lurking in her mind. She wondered if any other part of his body was pierced, but he wasn’t about to appease her. Though Bale’s reaction to his describing in vivid detail where each and every piercing was would be rather amusing.
Arak shrugged, examining his nails in a failed attempt at nonchalance. “Just curious as to whom you’ve been getting your funky on with.”
Zeke released a snicker of amusement. “Don’t go confusing why I go to Club Dominus and why you do, my brother.”
That brought a smile to Arak’s lips. “I could only hope you’d make better use of that huge cock of yours.”
“Watch your language in front of my mate.” Bale frowned at Arak.
Faith rolled her eyes. “Oh yeah, like I haven’t seen Arak fucking my waitresses outside my office. I’d rather hear about his big cock than be forced to see it in action.”
“I would prefer you see neither his cock nor his action,” Bale stated, casting a glare at Arak. But Arak’s unrepentant smirk said it all.
“I’m not the one who started the encounter. Calie jumped me as I was exiting the bathroom. What can I say? The ladies love me.”
Bale shook his head in disgust, and Zeke couldn’t blame him. Sometimes Arak reveled in playing the ass.
“Kill the dumb bastard later,” Zeke said, jumping in before Bale could come back with a stinging retort. He really didn’t have the energy to deal with the two bickering like old ladies. “When I’m not around. I don’t want to get into it with you, Bale. Not to save his worthless ass.”
Arak was nodding, merriment still plastered across his face. “Anyway, we were discussing Zeke’s attempts at getting laid, not mine.”
“I didn’t realize I was attempting any such thing,” he said drily. Who and when Zeke fucked was nobody’s business but his, and he strove to keep it that way. He didn’t feel the need to show his pumping ass to the world the way Arak did. Before he could add something about Arak being a man-whore, Jet entered the room.
“Can we discuss who you fuck later?” Jet scowled at the occupants, and Zeke wasn’t certain if it was due to the conversation or Faith’s presence. Jet had little use for females, his dislike of the fairer sex running deep. In recent weeks, even dealing with their sister, Penny, had sent Jet into fits of anger.
Having not really known Jet well before their final punishment, Zeke couldn’t be sure where Jet’s attitude stemmed from, but since that fateful day close to twelve thousand years ago, Jet had been this way.
Zeke recognized Faith’s unease as she moved impossibly closer to Bale. A look of warning entered her mate’s eyes, to which Jet gave Bale the middle finger salute and then stalked to the window, shoving past Zeke in the process.
“Are we ready to start?” Remy asked, entering the room with Levi on his heels.
Kash was the last to cross the threshold, trailing behind the other two. Zeke averted his eyes, determined not to get caught in his brother’s gaze. The internal war he waged was precarious at best. With the dream so fresh, the rage he’d felt when Hope had spoken those words threatened to resurface. He needed to get better control over his emotions before he did something suicidal, like turn the nightmare into reality and actually vent his anger on Kash.
Kash took the last seat available — the one next to Faith — as amusement trickled through him. Most of his brothers interacted with the female with the utmost care, as if she were a contaminant that could spread throughout the Grigori. But Kash wasn’t as cynical as his brothers. There were worse things than a mate.
He’d joined the elite faction of angels because he had yearned for such an earthly connection. He’d known even then, before the Grigori’s ultimate disgrace, that he was different. With the Grigori, he’d had the opportunity to actively seek a mate without standing out, and search he had — for centuries — until, he hated to admit, he’d begun to lose hope. But Faith’s arrival had renewed his belief that one day he’d find his other half, and for that, she would always have his undying gratitude.
“Aren’t we missing Penny?” Arak asked, glancing around the room.
Casting a sidelong glance at Jet, Kash caught the other male’s scowl. He couldn’t understand his brother’s reaction to Penny or Faith, but at least Jet was consistent. He disliked both females equally.
“I sent her on a mission to gain information on the latest attack before dusk.” Remy’s gaze fell on each of them briefly. “I want everyone to be cautious on patrol tonight. Something about these animal attacks just doesn’t feel right.”
“I could get Charity’s opinion on them. There might be talk within the shifter community that could be useful.”
Kash appeared not to be the only one surprised by Zeke’s suggestion. While they had used Charity’s services several times over the past six months, he had never met the werewolf. Talk among his brothers was that there was something going on between Zeke and the female, but Kash didn’t buy it. He noticed the way Zeke reacted whenever Hope’s name was mentioned. His brother got downright nasty, and that just wasn’t like Zeke. If he had ignored everything relating to the female, that would have been the Zeke he had known for the past six centuries. Zeke didn’t consider any female worth his time and only bothered to speak to those who were Grigori, like Penny. That Zeke seemed to consider Charity an exception made Kash all the more curious about Hope’s roommate.
Deep in thought, Kash missed the rest of the conversation. Not that he even needed to attend these meetings. Until Raym was found, he was stuck monitoring the fortress every night, being the only one who understood Raym’s complex system of computers. The lack of action was starting to wear on Kash, his nerves on edge from the tension. And he was still trying to come to terms with the fact Raym had betrayed them by attacking Zeke and killing Caym. The male who had been his best friend wouldn’t have been able to commit such atrocities. But Faith had been pretty damn convincing; her description of her kidnapper had been far too accurate.
He missed his best friend.
It was better now that Penny was back. She was someone with whom he could share his disbelief and commiserate his loss. While the others raged over Raym’s actions, he and Penny still fought to reconcile the male they thought they had known with the one who committed such foul acts. But it was eating away at them both.
Raym’s lover had hardened, a shadow of her former self, and it had been a difficult transformation to watch. Kash sometimes saw glimpses of the happy female Penny had once been, but they never lasted long. There was always a reminder of all she had lost and the knowledge that sometime in the future, Raym would have to pay for his crimes. Kash only prayed it would not be Penny who’d be forced to do the deed. Killing Raym would destroy her.
Bale, Faith, Arak, and Zeke remained in the room while the others filed out. Feeling the need to ruffle Zeke’s feathers a bit, Kash turned his attention to Faith.
“So where might your troublesome sister be this evening?” He watched in amusement as Zeke automatically frowned at the mention of Faith’s twin. “I called my mate, but she isn’t answering.” A faint snort that could only have come from Zeke caused Kash to turn his head and hide a smile. Referring to Hope as his mate had originally been a lie Faith had propagated to help ease her twin out from under their father’s control, but it soon became a running joke between Hope and him. The fact that it tweaked Zeke’s temper was a bonus. Call him sentimental, but Kash wanted Hope to be happy, and for some reason, she seemed to want Zeke. Though why, Kash couldn’t fathom.
Faith rolled her eyes. “Who knows what trouble she’s getting into now. I had hoped Charity would be a calming influence.”
“Speaking of the elusive werewolf, why do I get the feeling she’s avoiding me?”
Faith glanced away, but not before Kash thought he saw pity flash in her eyes.
“Shifter. She’s a shifter, not a werewolf,” Zeke cut in.
Zeke’s anger surprised Kash. Maybe there was more going on with the werewolf than he’d originally thought.
“Funny. I could have sworn I heard you call her ‘Wolfie’ and ‘Sasquatch’ just last night.” With a look, Bale dared Zeke to refute his statement. “And you two seem to have gotten awfully close.”
“What’s your point?”
Bale ignored the threat in Zeke’s green gaze and shrugged. “Just curious.”
“Bale, why don’t you concentrate on your female, and I’ll –”
“What? Concentrate on your own?” Arak’s eyes lit with surprise. “Are you implying what I think you are? Is Charity your mate?”
Everyone in the room seemed to still, avidly waiting for Zeke’s reply. Kash had his own reasons for being interested. Though Hope denied any attraction to Zeke, Kash recognized a lie when he heard one, even without Zeke’s ability to discern lies from truth.
“Jesus Christ, no. But while she might not be my mate, she is my friend. And I’ll rip any of you a new asshole if you mess with her.”
“Well, I’ll be damned,” Arak mumbled, and Kash silently agreed.
He wondered what it was about the werewolf — uh, shifter — that inspired such loyalty in others. Hope, Faith, Bale, and now Zeke, all seemed to protect Charity religiously. He strengthened his resolve to meet the female, to find out for himself just what it was about her that caused such a reaction from everyone who knew her.