To figure out the present, they need to go back to the past.
Poppy is the only remaining necromancer in the world. She is the one in control of the dead and she has been sent to the Valentines. There is an evil force at work and she must help Adam Valentine to uncover it before it's too late.
Adam is intrigued by the young necromancer. Her scars do not affect him. He sees the strength inside her and he likes it. All he wants to do is protect her and claim her as his own.
They are on a mission to find out who the real alpha of the Beyer West pack is. But Poppy's world is about to turn on itself as she needs to make a choice. There is no room for love in the life of a necromancer, yet after centuries of being alone, Adam has filled her life with meaning.
People will die and secrets will be revealed as the balance that protects them is broken. Can their love survive as the world is about to be sent into chaos? This is no longer about the wolves but something much bigger that neither of them can fight.
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"Poppy, wake up." Someone was touching her arm. No one ever touched her skin. Most beings were repulsed by what she was. Each wound was a testament to the battles she'd fought and won over the centuries.
"Poppy. It's a bad dream."
She batted away the irritation that refused to let her sleep. She cried out in shock as firm lips pressed against hers. No one had kissed her before. The contact shocked her more than the touch of the hand on her naked flesh.
Screaming, Poppy lashed out, sending Adam Valentine flying through the air and landing on top of the wardrobe in the room she slept in at the Valentines' mansion. The wardrobe broke apart where Adam landed.
The man who'd been trying to wake her up groaned and pulled out of his side a chunk of wood that had managed to embed itself just below the ribs.
She cursed her own stupidity. Usually when she slept, she kept the door locked and surrounded by charms to keep the dead out. A true necromancer struggled to sleep at the best of times. Ghosts and damaged souls were everywhere the naked eye couldn't see, but she saw them.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. She wrapped her cloak, which must have opened during her sleep, back around her. Poppy hated more than anything for Adam to see her scars. He was the first male she had ever desired.
Her scars were gruesome and she did everything in her power to keep them covered when she was around him.
"Shit, Poppy. You were screaming in your fucking sleep." Blood seeped out of the wound. She saw it was already healing. The magical power of the vampire was a wonderful thing to witness.
"Well, you shouldn't interrupt a person when they're asleep." Her lips were still wet from his small kiss. She wanted to lick her lips to see if she'd taste him on her tongue.
Her heart mourned the loss of connection. The first kiss she'd experienced from a man she liked, and she'd gone and thrown him across the room. At this rate she would never know the true intimate touch of a man. When Adam was around, she found herself longing to know what it would feel like to have him touch her. Intimately touch her. Would his touch be gentle or rough?
"I banged on the door. It wouldn't open at first and then it was like it opened by itself."
She watched as he rubbed his head, clearly trying to focus. "I'm sorry."
"Yeah? Why are you wearing the cloak?"
Poppy held the fabric between her fingers. The cloak provided her with protection from the stares of others and made her feel secure. "It's my cloak."
"Is this about the scars again? It's a fucking ugly cloak. Couldn't you get one in a lighter colour?"
She tensed. Her scars may not repulse Adam, but he hadn't seen all of them yet. The cloak was the last thing she held from the time with her family. With how old she was, it would probably be deemed either vintage or scrap material.
"What did you want me for?"
He shook his head and turned towards the mirror. All he would be able to see was a black blur of a reflection. Whenever she entered a room, she made sure the mirrors couldn't show her true image. She found it freaky when the girl from the other side could be seen staring back at her.
"Did you have a bad dream?" he asked.
She liked the sound of his concern too much. "What did you want me for?"
Adam sighed, moving closer to her. "Poppy, you're an enigma. You show up all big and powerful, and you don't share your secrets well."
His hands rested on her shoulders and it took Poppy a lot of willpower not to react. She struggled between the desire to push him away and the desire to move his hands to cup her breasts. The conflicting emotions inside her were starting to wear her down.
"Just tell me what you want?"
He sighed, let her go and walked towards the door.
"They're meeting in the study again. I swear I'm starting to live in that fucking room. Join us when you're ready."
Poppy nodded and watched him go. They should have left the day after the attack on Katie — over a week ago — but Robert hadn't allowed it. Robert had decided it was too close after losing Katie and learning the true curse of the wolves. He'd ended up calling off the initial search for the original alpha of the Beyer West pack. In doing so, Poppy had taken up residence — much to the younger brother's disgust — in the Valentines' home.
Placing a hand to her chest, Poppy winced. She opened the cloak and the top buttons of the black dress she wore. She waved her arm across the mirror so that her true reflection appeared. Poppy turned away from the image when she first saw herself. Her primary response was revulsion at the vision before her, but she forced herself to turn and look.
The single raised scar from forehead to her chin had come from a dead nymph who had refused to believe she wouldn't be young and sexy forever. Several small scars that had come from nails dotted her cheeks — some of the people didn't like the fact that they were dead and would fight the transition from Earth to the realm of death. The scar on her neck had been the result of claw marks from a mightily pissed off werewolf. The ones over her heart — the vulgar criss-cross lines — were the result of her own forced transition. Closing her eyes, she opened a few more buttons of her dress until the whole top part of her breast was visible. The scar looked like a chessboard decorating the skin above her heart. The criss-cross was in the middle of a circle that outlined her heart, followed by a deeper line where they had cut her heart in two.
She placed a finger over the smooth lines and winced. When she pulled it back, a smear of blood was on her finger.
Gasping, she looked in the mirror. Blood was seeping from the wound. Her hand covered the marks and she fought for breath. Poppy wanted to scream, but she could do nothing. She gazed into the mirror and saw the blood rush from her eyes, mouth and nose before, in one swift, harsh move, she was flung to the floor on a roar of absolute agony.
* * *
Adam stared at the door hesitating for a split second. He wanted to go and talk to her some more. Their time spent together always seemed so rushed. Was it a bad thing to want to sit and talk? Poppy intrigued him and he liked hearing the sound of her voice. He turned away, disgusted with his own weakness when it came to the necromancer. He walked down the stairs into the study where everyone else was seated.
"Is she coming?" Jason, his younger brother and all around pain in the ass, asked.
Adam nodded, not trusting himself to give any fresh or clear reports on Poppy. She affected him too deeply. Robert sat in the seat behind his desk with Sophie perched on his lap. They were looking through a baby magazine. Even with all the chaos around him, his older brother had found the time to start a family. Fisting his hands at his sides as a wave of jealousy overcame him, Adam turned away from the happy couple. He hated watching them. Especially when he was having feelings for a little scarred necromancer and she wouldn't even let him touch her. He hated seeing Katie and his brother William smooching and whispering to each other like lovesick puppies. Since Poppy had been in his life, the people he'd seen always seemed to be in one stage of love or lust. It was like Poppy had become a magnet for everything he now wanted in life.
Couldn't his other siblings save the happy family routine for a more appropriate place, like their bedroom?
At least his mother and his sisters, Dawn and Rose, were not tonguing other people. He shuddered at the horrid thought. It was bad enough watching his brothers do it.
"Where is Poppy?" Robert asked.
"She said she'd be down in a minute." The rest of his family were nervous about having a necromancer in the house. Everything had changed since finding out that James was not the true alpha of the Beyer West pack, along with the revelation of Emma — an old, dead witch — who had, until Katie sacrificed herself to kill the evil one, been alive. The past few weeks had been exhausting from both a mental and physical standpoint. All the thoughts of what had happened in the last few weeks were running round his mind. It didn't matter how many times he thought about it, it did nothing but confuse him. Every day he woke up, it was with a new set of questions and no answers to help.
Poppy was a delightful distraction, even if she was covered in scars. Unlike other men, he didn't view the scars as some kind of drawback. He knew every smooth and rough scar told a story — a story of bravery and magic and everything she should be commended for. Each battle fought and won. The others didn't see that. Superficial bastards.
"Where are you going, Rose?" The sound of his mother's voice cut into his train of thought.
"You don't need me for the planning of this, Mother. I'd only get in the way and we need supplies. The sun is down and I can quickly run to the all night supermarket," Rose replied in a calm voice.
The men tensed up. Each of them was protective of their youngest sibling.
"I don't think that's a good idea. Send someone else out to get food," Robert ordered.
Her small hands went to her hips and Adam saw the fight within her.
"Ever since the wolves made their presence known, fear is running riot in the streets. Most people who used to work for us are gone and the few remaining are busy on guard watch."
"I don't like you being alone," Mary said.
"Look, what good will it do for us all to starve to death?" Rose glanced at each one in turn. Adam had an unsettled feeling in his stomach, but if it was him, he'd have gone for the food alone. They may be vampires, but they survived on a combined diet of natural food and blood.
"Let her go and get some food," Katie interjected. "The wolves are lying low. She'll come to no harm."
The witch had too much of an opinion for her own good.
Again, the men looked like they wanted to argue, but Rose wouldn't let them. Instead she turned to all the men and laid kisses on their cheeks. "I'll be back soon."
Rose left the room and the room went silent.
"Great, now she'll probably go and get herself killed," Jason finally said. His brother was starting to have a bad attitude about everything. "Where is the fucking death controller?"
"Don't call her names," Adam warned, going to Poppy's defence.
"Have you already got into her pants, big brother? She doesn't look like your sort."
In that moment, Adam didn't see his brother — he saw a vicious enemy. Pushing away from the wall, he stormed over to Jason. In one quick movement his hand was around the man's neck. "Who taught you to be disrespectful?"
"Stop it," their mother called.
"When you started taking one of the opposition," his brother spat.
Seeing red, Adam lashed out and slammed his fist against Jason's face. Screaming erupted around them as Jason hit back.
Adam welcomed the pain. It was a relief. He heard the calls and orders from his family, but he refused to listen. For too long he'd listened to his youngest brother's insults. It was about time he was shown how to respect the people around him.
"What's up, fuck face? Our women got too much of a nice face for you?" He didn't know what had got into his younger brother and right now he didn't care. The disrespect for Poppy — a woman far braver than this slippery weasel — was too much to bear. Baring his teeth, he lunged at his brother, taking him down.
He remembered each one of her scars as he fought with his fist, defending her honour and most of all defending the woman he cared about. At that thought, Adam stalled in his attack.
Woman you care for? How can that be possible? You don't even know her. Yeah, your body comes alive whenever you're around her and when you part you spend the time wishing you were together ...
Jason grabbed his throat and squeezed.
"Enough!" A flash of light erupted and Adam was thrown out of the double doors onto the marble floor before the stairwell. Jason was flung against the sharp-edged bookcase.
Katie stood in the centre of the room, her hands out, looking deadly. "You two are being unfair. I admire you for sticking up for Poppy, but it doesn't take away the fact that she is a necromancer and you don't know anything about her."
"We didn't know anything about you and we still took you in!" Adam shouted, getting to his knees.
"I'm not someone who can control the dead."
"From where I'm kneeling, I think you've got a much better shot at it than she does."
Katie shrugged. "Either way, caution is needed." Done with him, Katie turned to Jason. Since she'd been reborn, Katie had taken it upon herself to be the voice of reason. The witch's true role was to always find a balance in the magic. She was still learning, but if that outburst was anything to go by, she was one fast learner.
Jason was getting to his feet when suddenly his fingers clawed at an invisible force around his neck.
"You, on the other hand, are becoming unruly and a problem. One I don't like, and I've been ordered to deal with you."
"Stay out of my business!" Jason yelled.
"Wrong answer." Katie unleashed the full power within her and Adam watched dumbstruck as Jason began to wilt before his eyes.
William, seeing the change in his woman, charged to her side and broke the connection, throwing her to the floor. They lay gasping in a heap while Jason peered at the witch, terrified.
"What the fuck is going on?" Robert was crowding around the situation.
"A confusion enchantment," Katie answered, coughing. Her hair — which had been starting to turn back to a lovely chestnut brown — was now white again. His sister-in-law would have a constant change of hair colour whenever she used too much magic.
"What? An enchantment placed by a witch?" William asked.
"No. Too powerful and it acts more like a defence mechanism. It makes the most vulnerable and weak in the room act on their insecurities then harnesses them until a reaction occurs, causing a type of confusion."
Adam didn't want to analyse why his youngest brother had been the target.
"Who could perform this type of magic?" Robert began with the questions.
"It's not performed. It's more like a spell that has been wrapped around him for some time, kind of like a cloak he never takes off. It has to be centuries old, even to the point where no one knows what is happening."
There was only one person whom he knew was centuries old.
"Poppy!" Adam didn't give them time to ask questions. Poppy was in danger and something was going wrong. In minutes he was at her door. He went to open it, but the doorknob wouldn't budge. Throwing his whole weight behind the wood, he charged. Adam bounced off while the door stayed firm and intact.
"Poppy!" he yelled. Adam continued to charge at the door in an attempt to open it.
William was the first to get there. "What's going on?" he asked.
"I can't get through!" he yelled, applying as much pressure as possible. It wouldn't budge.
"We'll try together." William put his hand on his shoulder and together they charged the door. Nothing happened.
"Let me try," Katie said, running up behind them. Unlike the two brothers, she stood in front of the door and shot bolts of fire and light out of her hands.
"Stop it, Katie," William ordered.
"I've got to get in." Adam pressed a hand to the door. Poppy was in there and he had to protect her.CHAPTER 2
The air was still and silent. Poppy opened her eyes and whimpered. Pain erupted in her head and her body ached all over. Her arms were like lead and her legs felt like they'd never been used before.
Her gown was white with streaks of red crimson. Not her usual black dress. Her blood stained the white fabric. Her hair was black and lay down one shoulder.
"It takes a while to adjust," a voice spoke to her left. She looked around her. The scene was washed in grey. No colour, no light or dark — a simple blankness with no emotion.
"Where am I?" she asked.
"I wouldn't attempt to move right now. You feel, yet struggle in this desolate place." A figure, obscured by a cloak similar to the one she wore in the real world walked forward.
Poppy lay down and looked up at nothing.
"Where am I?" she asked again.
"You should know."
"I've never been here."
"You have not visited, but you have. You will never know what truly happens until you learn to accept who you are and what you are."
"Okay, you know you can use contractions, right?"
Poppy was struck across the face.
No pain, nothing.
It was as if this place had been cut off from any emotion.
"Open your eyes, Poppy."
Strange, I thought I had.
Poppy opened her eyes and gazed at a woman, so beautiful and calm.
"How do you feel now?" she asked.
Poppy tested her body and found no aches or pains.
"You must accept."
"Please, tell me where I am," she begged.
A mirror appeared before her. "Mirrors are so useful. I imagine when humans made them, they had no idea of the multiple uses they had for people higher than themselves."
Whoever this woman was, Poppy didn't like her. Glancing in the mirror, she saw her body slumped to the ground.
"How can a mirror be used like this?"
"What makes necromancers so great and so deadly is their ability to produce the same artefacts found in only three places." The woman stood behind her.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Adam"
Copyright © 2013 Sam Crescent.
Excerpted by permission of Totally Entwined Group Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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