Read an Excerpt
Dark Alpha's Claim
A Reaper Novel
By Donna Grant
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Donna Grant
All rights reserved.
Edinburgh. Baylon surveyed the city from the shadows of an alley. For hundreds of years it had been a mecca in Scotland, bringing in tourists from all over the world.
But the city was no longer just ancient architecture and legends. An evil had taken up residence — Dark Fae. The city burned while the Dark killed hundreds of humans in a single night.
All the while, the mortals were ignorant of what was going on. They were helplessly drawn to the Dark Fae, completely unaware there was a supernatural war going on in Edinburgh and every major city in the UK between the Dark and the Dragon Kings. It was a war where the Reapers weren't involved, but that didn't mean Baylon wasn't rooting for the Kings.
Baylon had only been in Edinburgh a few hours, but during that time he happily exacted his justice on any Dark Fae he ran across.
And there were many.
The Fae were a race of magical beings that had a fondness for the humans who lived upon Earth. The mortals are what brought the Fae. The Light, for the most part, kept their dalliances with the humans to a single time.
The Dark, however, were addicted to the mortals. For every time they had sex with a human, the Dark fed off their souls. The Dark didn't stop until nothing was left of the individuals but a dead shell.
Being the first to arrive at the announced destination, Baylon studied the pub before he walked inside.
He didn't use any glamour to hide his features even though every human in the pub looked his way. Baylon was a Light Fae, but more than that, he was a Reaper — and damn proud of it.
Death recruited him two thousand years earlier after a betrayal that took his life. Even now, Baylon could feel that cold knot of treachery. He'd trusted implicitly, and what had it gained him? Weeks in the Dark palace where he was tortured by his best friends between them taking human females as they willingly turned Dark.
He was his friends' first Fae kill. But Death held onto his soul, allowing him to live — and gave him the opportunity to become a Reaper. His first order from Death had been to execute his friends.
Baylon hadn't hesitated. The surprise and fear in their red eyes did little to ease his soul. But if Baylon thought he'd never trust again, he was never more wrong once he met the other Reapers.
There were seven of them. Though the Reapers weren't created for the humans. No, the Reapers were a group specifically formed to be judge, jury, and executioner to the Fae — Dark and Light.
For the past several centuries, they'd been on the Fae realm trying to straighten out the mess left by their race. It was so bad the queen of the Light, Usaeil, abandoned the Realm, preferring to live exclusively in Ireland.
The king of the Dark, Taraeth, however, found the Fae realm just to his liking. The Dark numbers continued to grow, as did Taraeth's power.
Which worried Baylon.
The two Fae factions were always at war with each other in some form or another. The few times it had become an all-out civil war, the Reapers had stayed out of it. Though they watched from the sidelines.
Baylon took a seat toward the back of the pub and ordered a pint from a pretty young waitress. As she walked away, he leaned back in his chair and let his eyes slowly wander from table to table picking up on conversations. What was it with their leader, Cael, always wanting to meet in a pub?
There was a reason, though Baylon had yet to discern what it was. Perhaps he'd ask today. It would be better if they gathered in secret, but Cael continually chose somewhere very public. At least for the start of their meetings. Cael said it was to get everyone relaxed and remind them this wasn't the Fae realm.
As if Baylon could forget. He was surrounded by mortals. They were oblivious to the fact the Fae were on their realm. Oddly enough, they were also clueless that the Dragon Kings called Earth home.
"Here you go," the waitress said as she set down his ale.
Baylon shot her a smile of thanks. Most of the time the Reapers gathered after one or more of them had to exact justice. So having a drink or two with the group did help get everyone focused before Cael gave them a new assignment.
Baylon sighed. Another assignment so quickly after their last. It's not that he minded removing evil from a realm. It's just that he felt there was a heaviness to his soul from all the people he had killed.
"Always first, aye, Baylon," said a voice with a thick Irish accent.
Baylon looked up to find Kyran. He nodded to the Dark Fae. Kyran's black and silver hair fell to his shoulders while he used glamour to hide his red eyes.
The Reapers were made up of both Dark and Light Fae. Baylon didn't know how any of them were chosen to be Reapers, since none of them spoke of the time before they were Reapers.
Nor did he know what it was the two Dark of their group had done to be asked by Death to join the Reapers, but he trusted Fintan and Kyran with his life.
"I was thirsty," Baylon said and took a drink of ale.
Kyran pulled out the chair across the table from Baylon. He waved away the waitress when she walked over. Baylon had yet to get the reason why Kyran never drank. Perhaps one day.
Kyran leaned his forearms on the table. "The Dark wreaked havoc on this city."
"All over England and Scotland. The Dragon Kings are putting things back in order quickly, though."
"What was the Darks' purpose?"
"I know," Cael said as he approached with Fintan, Talin, and Eoghan.
Baylon looked up at the four of them. They each took a seat and placed their drink order while Cael held out a mobile phone to Baylon.
He took it from Cael and watched the video with a mixture of shock and disgust at seeing the Dragon Kings fighting the Dark on Dreagan — in dragon form. "Talaeth's plan?"
Cael shook his head and waited until the waitress set their drinks down. She openly flirted with them, but they paid her no heed.
It was a curse — or a blessing, depending on what Fae you talked to — that humans were attracted to them. It wasn't a minor attraction, but one so vast and irresistible that the mortals couldn't ignore it.
"Taraeth might've used his men to shoot the video of the Dragon Kings, but we think its Ulrik behind it all," Cael said.
Kyran's lips twisted ruefully. "Not good news for the Dragon Kings."
"The Kings will have their hands full going forward. By the way, Daire won't be joining us," Cael said as his silver eyes looked around the table.
Talin frowned and turned his gaze to their leader. "Surely he's not still following Rhi."
"He is," Cael said with a nod of his head, his long black hair pulled back in a queue. "He'll be with her for as long as it takes."
Baylon, like the rest of the Reapers, was curious as to why Death was so interested in a Light Fae. Granted, Rhi was one of the best warriors the Light ever had. She was even the lone female Queen's Guard.
Rhi's skills with a sword could've caught Death's attention, but Baylon had a feeling it could have something to do with Rhi once having a Dragon King lover.
Fintan set down his glass of whisky and raised his silver eyes rimmed in red to Cael. "We just got the assignment to bring the Dark to a halt here, yet you're talking as if we have another."
"We do." Cael released a breath.
Baylon noticed that Cael wasn't pleased with whatever he was about to impart. In fact, if Baylon had to guess, Cael was debating on whether to pass on the assignment.
A first for sure. Cael always did whatever Death wanted — they all did. It was one of the rules. Death was the judge. The Reapers were the executioners. Death was the one who decided who the Reapers would visit and exact their justice.
The Reapers answered to just one entity — Death.
Baylon glanced at Eoghan who had yet to speak. Then again, Eoghan never said anything. Eoghan's brow was furrowed as deeply, his gaze on the table.
"Isn't this the time we leave?" Talin asked. "We're drawing enough attention as Faes, not to mention our Irish accents."
Cael tossed back his whisky. As he did, he used his magic so that the others in the pub wouldn't be able to make out what they were saying.
Baylon sat up straighter. What was so important that Cael wouldn't take them out of the pub to discuss their assignment at length as he always did?
"In case none of you noticed, the city was overrun with Dark just a few hours ago. They've begun another war with the Dragon Kings," Cael said. "I saw many of the Dark using glamour to hide themselves."
Baylon nodded, turning the pint glass in a circle with his fingers. "You worried the Dark will see us?"
"Of course not," Cael said with a flat look. "We're to keep with our first orders of removing any Dark in the city."
"Are we to help the Kings as well?" Kyran asked.
Cael gave a quick shake of his head. "We'll be staying out of their way. The Kings don't need our help."
"After the video you just showed us?" Talin asked skeptically.
"We have our directives." Cael set the empty whisky glass on the table with finality. "Although as a race the Fae are supposed to stay away from humans, we all know that isn't possible. The Dark take their victims, but the Light give in to desire and have a night with mortals."
Baylon had a sick feeling in his gut at where this was going.
"Many times the Light leaves having no idea they've left their lover behind with a child growing in the womb."
Eoghan's silver eyes turned hard as he glared at Cael. "No."
No one had a chance to even register that Eoghan spoke because Cael continued talking. "We're to find the humans with Fae blood and remove them from this realm."
Talin face scrunched up as he looked at Cael in disgust. "You mean kill the humans?" "Yes."
Fintan shook his head. "They're human."
"They're part Fae," Cael stated.
"And human," Kyran argued. "We've never touched a human before. Only Fae. That's what we do."
Baylon pushed away his pint glass. "Our job is to go after Fae. I'm not going to kill a mortal."
"Look, I'm not thrilled with this either." Cael ran a hand down his face. "We don't get to choose what orders we accept or decline. We all knew when we accepted our roles what it entailed."
"We understand that," Baylon said. "But this is so ... sudden. Why is Death wanting to target the humans now?"
Cael shrugged, his gaze dropping to the table. "I don't know."
"We don't always know why Death sends us after anyone," Fintan said. "I've always followed orders without question."
"Thank you," Cael said.
Fintan raised a white brow. "But this time I'm questioning them."
Cael blew out a breath and looked at each of them. "If you disobey Death's order, you'll be permanently removed from existence."
Eoghan rose and walked out of the pub.
Cael watched him, then sighed as he turned back to the group. "We're to begin hunting these half-Fae mortals immediately. If you encounter more Dark roaming the streets, kill them. Understood?"
None of them said a word as they looked at Cael. Baylon remained seated as Cael got to his feet and followed Eoghan outside. Humans? Death didn't even care if a human knew they were Reapers. Why all of a sudden would she target a half-Fae?
"I can't do it," Talin said.
Fintan pushed back his chair and stood. He held his hand over the table as money appeared in a pile to pay for their drinks. "We've orders."
Baylon turned his gaze at Kyran who looked as if he were about to be sick.
Kyran raised his eyes to Baylon's before sliding them to Talin. "In all the time humans have been on this realm, we've never hunted half-Fae. The number of mortals with Fae blood could number in the millions by this time."
"I can't do it," Talin said again.
Baylon laid his hands flat on the table and pushed up as he got to his feet. "Something is going on. I, for one, am going to find out what it is."
"How?" Fintan asked. "Are you going to try and contact Death yourself?"
"If that's what it takes."
It was true only Cael spoke to Death as leader of the Reapers. The Reapers only saw Death once, when they were offered the position. None of them ever had need to speak to Death before or after.
But if that's what he had to do, then Baylon would see it done. Executioner or assassin, when Death sent them after a Fae, it was with good reason. Never had Baylon killed an innocent — that he knew of.
He walked from the pub and turned to the left. Baylon veiled himself and wandered the streets of the city as night began to fall.
There was no way he could kill a half-Fae. If he did, it would tear his soul in two, he was sure of it.
Once, long ago, he'd found a pretty female on a Greek isle. He'd intended to walk away, but the longer he admired her beauty, the more he wanted her.
Baylon experienced an incredible night in her arms. By the time the sun broke the horizon, he was gone. He didn't forget her after. Years later, Baylon checked in on her. To his shock, she had a young daughter. Thankfully, Baylon discovered the child wasn't his.
Though it left him ... empty somehow. He'd been terrified he might have impregnated the mortal. Then there came an instant of relief to know the child wasn't his.
Right on the heels of that emotion came the sorrow that he didn't have a child.
And as a Reaper, he never would.
Baylon gave up all thoughts of a wife and family when he accepted his role as a Reaper. They were solitary with no ties of any kind. It was just what they needed to be.
It had been centuries since Baylon thought of that female in Greece. Except for a chance of fate, that child could have been his. Then he would be hunting his own blood.
Baylon paused when he caught sight of the Dragon King Darius standing in the shadows outside a hospital. There was much the Reapers didn't know of the Kings, but Baylon didn't have to know Darius's story to know the King carried guilt around with him. It weighed Darius down as nothing else could.
He was curious as to what would keep the Dragon King waiting around a hospital. Then a tall redhead came out of the hospital, and Baylon had his answer.
Darius couldn't take his eyes from her. For a moment, he thought Darius would let her walk past without a word. But the female stopped and turned.
Baylon felt like an interloper watching the two stare at each other, the attraction and desire so blatant and palpable that it made him take a step back.
In two strides, Darius was in front of the woman. They didn't speak, but there was no need to. He brought her to him and kissed her.
In moments, Darius had her against a building with her skirts up. Baylon turned away when they began to make love. He'd already intruded on something private.
Baylon walked away feeling at odds with everything. Their new order made no sense. The humans with Fae blood didn't even know about their ancestry. They might have some special ability, but that's as far as it went.
There was no need to wipe them from the realm as if they were some dirty secret being swept under the rug.
And what if the Dragon Kings discovered what was being done?
That brought Baylon up short. The Kings protected the humans to such lengths that they had sent their own dragons away. There was nothing the Dragon Kings wouldn't do to protect the mortals.
Then again, with all the Kings had going on, their attention would be focused elsewhere. At least that's what Baylon hoped, because he really didn't want to get into a war with the Kings.
He rather liked them. It had raised all kinds of eyebrows within the Fae when Rhi had taken a King as her lover.
Baylon had seen them once. The Dragon King and the Light Fae. They made a striking pair. He didn't know what went wrong between the two, but the affair had ended suddenly.
That wasn't something Baylon ever needed to worry about. He was well and truly single from now until the end of time.
It was a price he willingly paid to be a Reaper.
It was one he would pay again in a heartbeat.CHAPTER 2
Jordyn Patterson stepped to the side to dodge a man hurrying down the narrow aisle with a cup of coffee. She rolled her eyes and made her way to her desk.
She'd barely sat down and rolled her chair into place when her boss, Detective Inspector Dougal MacDonald walked from his office to stand by her desk.
"It's been a few days since the American, Lexi Crawford, has been in. Did she make her way home?" he asked.
Jordyn gave a nod. "I made sure I'd get notified by the airline when she checked in. She's back in South Carolina now, sir."
Excerpted from Dark Alpha's Claim by Donna Grant. Copyright © 2015 Donna Grant. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.