An exclusive new series from New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant!
There's no escaping a Reaper. I'm an elite assassin, part of a brotherhood that only answers to Death. And when Death says your time is up, I'm coming for you...
I'm a warrior. My unbreakable determination, my backbone of steel define me. As a Reaper who does Death's bidding, weakness is a word I don't understand. Until a stunning librarian stirs emotions deep within me I've never felt before. Her soft curves blunt the sharp edges of my soul, crushing my defenses - yet make me stronger. But underneath those wide eyes and fierce femininity, she has a weapon, one she won't hesitate to use. And when the Dark begin their deadly descent, we'll need each other's love and protection...or risk fracturing apart.
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About the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant has been praised for her “totally addictive” and “unique and sensual” stories. She’s written more than thirty novels spanning multiple genres of romance including the bestselling Dark King stories, Dark Craving, Night’s Awakening, and Dawn’s Desire. Her acclaimed series, Dark Warriors, feature a thrilling combination of Druids, primeval gods, and immortal Highlanders who are dark, dangerous, and irresistible. She lives with her two children, a dog, and four cats in Texas.
"Dark, sexy, magical. When I want to indulge in a sizzling fantasy adventure, I read Donna Grant."
--Allison Brennan, New York Times Bestselling Author
Read an Excerpt
Edinburgh, Scotland New Year's Eve
Kyran stared curiously at the large gray structure of Edinburgh's Central Library. What was it about such places that called to some mortals? Even the half-Fae Jordyn found it one of the most amazing places in the city.
He didn't get it.
"Just a building full of books," Kyran mumbled.
Talin smacked him in the arm as he came to stand beside Kyran. "Don't knock it. Many of the books on Jordyn's list are in that place. The more she has, the more information we get."
"I know." That didn't mean he liked it.
Talin turned his silver eyes to him. "What's the problem?"
Kyran shot him a look. "We're Fae, Talin. Reapers. We kill those Death chooses. We don't break into libraries and take books. Our skills are being wasted."
"It's a change, that's for sure." Talin chuckled softly and rubbed his hands together. "I attempted to check out one of the books on Jordyn's list, but the librarian is fierce. She told me I was asking about a book in the ancient section, as if I was supposed to know what that meant."
Kyran rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. He'd already heard this story four times, and each time the librarian became more and more ferocious. "Aye."
"When I asked what that was, she looked at me as if I'd grown another head. Then she said, in that uptight tone of hers, 'You're Irish.' As if that makes a difference."
"I told you to get a human to ask for them."
With a snort, Talin ran his hands through his long black hair. "We're getting the books tonight. What difference does it make?"
"Why can't we just use magic and find them someplace else?"
Talin rolled his eyes. "Did you not listen to Jordyn when she briefed us on this? These books are extremely rare. There is only one edition for each."
"And some just happen to be in this library?" No, Kyran wasn't buying it. "Why this place?"
Talin looked around, his hands held out. "We're in Edinburgh. It's one of the oldest cities. Where else would these books be?"
"Let it go," Talin said with a shake of his head.
But Kyran didn't want to let it go. Why did he have to get stuck with the library instead of going to some of the private collectors? He'd much rather do that than sneak around a building.
There was no adventure in it. They'd be in and gone without anything happening.
"The library closed at eight," Talin said. "It's after midnight now. We'll have the books in hand and return to Jordyn in a blink."
"That's the problem. There's no danger."
"Ah. I see." Talin walked backward into the middle of the narrow street that was empty of people and cars. "You want danger? We'll get it as soon as we get the books. Then we can locate Bran."
The anger within Kyran sizzled at the mention of the ex-Reaper. Bran betrayed his group and was sent to the Netherworld by Death.
Except Bran managed to escape the inescapable prison and was now after them. Bran had already killed Jordyn in his bid to take the Reapers out.
But Death stepped in and made Jordyn one of them. Though she was a Reaper — the first female Reaper — Jordyn didn't assassinate as they did.
Her job was coordinating everything, as well as research. Jordyn's first order of business was discovering all she could about the Netherworld.
Kyran couldn't wait to find Bran. Cael might be the only ones who survived from the first group of Reapers, but Kyran would be the one to help take Bran down for good.
"Let's get going then," Kyran said.
With a wink, Talin veiled himself. Kyran watched the Light Fae and tried not to laugh. They'd become friends immediately, which still shocked Kyran since he was a Dark Fae.
Then again, each Reaper suffered some kind of betrayal in one form or another. That's what drew them all together, what bonded them. The seven of them only had each other. Well, they were eight now.
Kyran veiled himself so no human — or Fae — could see him. All Fae had the ability to veil themselves, but most could only hold it for a minute or so. Only the Reapers could remain that way indefinitely. It was one of the gifts of accepting Death's offer.
He walked across the street and up the steps to the main entrance to the library. It was locked and barred, which kept out the majority of the humans.
Kyran lifted his head to the cameras placed around the building. Some were in plain sight while others were hidden. The security system managed to keep out most of the criminals, but the mortals were resourceful when they really wanted something.
If the mortals knew of the books in the ancient section of the library and how much they were worth, no security system on the realm would keep the humans out.
But Kyran wasn't mortal. He teleported inside the library without a single hindrance. A long sigh fell from his lips. He was itching for a good fight ever since Bran got away a few weeks ago.
Death had been oddly quiet. There had been no assignments, and they were all growing restless. Except for Daire. The bastard was trailing a Light Fae Death wanted information on — Rhi. Kyran had no idea where Daire was. He only hoped Daire was having more fun than he was.
They'd also not seen a glimpse of Cael since Death told him who helped Bran escape the Netherworld. Each of the Reapers wanted a piece of the Fae responsible for that, but Cael departed before anyone could go with him.
Kyran looked at the help desk standing in front of him where Talin had tried — unsuccessfully — to get one of the books from the library.
He unveiled himself, his magic keeping him hidden from the cameras as he strode to the stairs and descended to the next level. Talin decided to come in from the roof and take the top three floors while Kyran searched the bottom.
Talin bet him before they arrived that the books were stored in the top hidden floor of the library. Frankly, Kyran didn't care where they were as long as they found the books and left.
His hands itched to hold his sword. More than anything Kyran wanted to find Bran and sever his head from his body. It would go a long way in helping him feel better about being tracked by Bran and his Dark Fae army — and for what happened to Jordyn.
She and Baylon might be in love, but Kyran thought of her like a sister. As soon as that thought went through his mind, he inwardly cringed.
Even now, so many thousands of years later, the thought of his sister could make him feel as if he were being crushed on all sides. He hadn't been the only one betrayed that rainy night in Dublin.
There was never a good time for those memories to be brought into the light, but on the anniversary of the day he became a Reaper, Kyran allowed a few of those memories loose.
They never did him any good. They only served as a reminder, but it was one he needed. Because time had a way of making someone forget important facts. It was the mind's way of allowing a person to move on.
But Kyran didn't want to move on.
He reached the next floor and quickly went about searching rooms, hoping that behind every door would be the place he sought.
Kyran explored the next two floors but came up empty. Frustration soured his mood. He turned around and nearly ran into Talin who was standing behind him.
"You look vexed," Talin said. "Are you vexed, Kyran?"
For some odd reason, Talin was fixated on that word. He used it as often as he could, annoying everyone in the process. Kyran glared at him. "If I wasn't, I am now."
Talin's smile was wide. "Everyone should be vexed once in a while."
"Find another word," Kyran growled as he pushed past Talin.
Talin leaned a shoulder against the wall. "I didn't find a damn thing on my floors. I even double-checked the main level. Nothing. I know it's here."
"Aye, it's here. We just have to find it."
Pushing away from the wall, Talin stood and slowly turned in a circle. "We're missing it."
"It's hidden somehow."
"Not with magic."
Kyran eyed the books around him. "But maybe magic will help show it."
"And you thought this wouldn't be adventurous."
Kyran snorted. "If you think this is exciting, then we need to have a talk." Suddenly Talin moved to block him from walking away. Kyran lifted a brow.
"Something on your mind?"
"Are you all right?"
"You mean besides wanting to find Bran? Aye."
Talin waved away his words. "We all want Bran. This is something else."
Kyran put his hand out and shoved at Talin's shoulder as he walked past. "Look on the left side of the room. I'll take the right."
"You haven't been the same since Baylon brought Jordyn into the group."
That stopped Kyran in his tracks. He turned and gawked at Talin. "What are you going on about?"
"Death changed the rules. Baylon wasn't killed for loving Jordyn, and now she's one of us."
Talin ran a hand down his face. "Are you lonely?"
"What the hell kind of question is that?"
"One that, as your friend, I'm asking you to answer."
Kyran stared at him a long time before he let out a deep breath. "When Death asked me to join the Reapers, I knew what the rules were. We tell no Fae who we are, or they die. We develop no attachments to humans or Fae so no one can be used against us. We leave all family and friends behind, letting them believe we're dead."
"You still haven't answered the question. That vexes me."
"I have the six of you. I have our assignments, doling out justice."
Talin folded his arms over his chest. "So you are lonely."
Each time that emotion threatened Kyran, he hastily shoved it away. "We're Reapers, gifted by Death with more power and magic than any other Fae. We don't have time to be lonely."
"Of course." Talin dropped his arms and turned away.
"You're lonely, aren't you?"
Talin halted. Without turning around he said, "Maybe."
"Just because Death allowed Jordyn to be a Reaper doesn't mean any of us will get that same privilege. Jordyn proved herself worthy."
Kyran watched his friend walk away without another word. He'd known when Cael sent Talin undercover to the Light Fae court that something was going to happen.
Talin ended up wooing the daughter of an influential advisor to the queen, Usaeil. Kyran had warned Talin to remember that while at court, everything was a lie, but it seems his friend forgot his advice.
Now with Baylon and Jordyn's romance condoned by Death, Talin had hope. Which was the worst thing for any of them. Hope was viciously and ruthlessly snatched from them when they were betrayed. Death gave them a purpose.
But even Kyran could admit to being a tad jealous of Baylon for having the one thing all of them thought would never happen — love.
Kyran pivoted and walked to the far wall. He was about to use his magic when he saw a door half hidden by a large bookshelf. He walked around the bookshelf and spotted the opening that was just large enough for the door.
He let out a whistle to Talin while staring at the keypad that unlocked the door.
"This is it," Talin said as he ran up and saw it.
Kyran put his hand over the keypad and loosed a pulse of magic.
River White stood looking at the dozen books she spent the last fourteen years accumulating. While everyone else celebrated a new year with parties, alcohol, and kisses, she was with the only thing that mattered — her books.
Each one was special, though she hid her reasons from the board of directors who approved her requests and sanctioned the use of funds to purchase them.
As Ancient Acquisitions Manager, she took tremendous pride in her work and everything it involved. She put on the white gloves in the humidity-controlled room. The lights — specialized bulbs — were dimmed and turned away from each of the books so as not to deteriorate them any more than they already were.
Each of the dozen books was in a glass case for protection from dust and pollutants. The library had spent a considerable sum between the precautions to keep the books in good condition and the room itself that was triple-coded to prevent anyone from stealing them.
The public assumed all the money given to the library was used in its renovation. However, part of the reason for the renovation was for the ancient books to have a place to be stored.
Luckily, Edinburgh had wealthy patrons who loved to give money during charity events. A large sum of those monies went to buying the books she now stood with.
There were more, however. The next one she was after was being sold on the black market, but River didn't have enough money for it. Nor did she think the Board would give her access to more so soon after her last purchase.
But it was imperative the books stay out of the hands of certain individuals who could use the knowledge within the pages to harm others.
River walked to the tome in front of her. The leather binding was worn around the edges, and the gold clasp locking it was worn smooth by use.
She punched in her fifteen-digit code to unlock the case. As the glass panel slid open, River carefully grasped the book and lifted it.
The last time she'd touched it was more than a year ago when she placed it inside its case. She didn't know what prompted her to go to this book tonight, but she didn't question it.
River walked slowly with the book to the podium and gently set it down. She took a deep breath and slowly released it. Unable to help herself, she ran her gloved finger down the spine of the book. The gold letters were faded now. Only portions of each were visible.
The words were written in an obscure language that she told her boss she was searching for ways to transcribe. But River already knew what it said.
"The Hidden," she whispered, her finger running over the gold letters on the front of the book. Just as with the spine, there wasn't much left of the title.
She flipped the gold clasp and opened the book. The creak of leather was loud in the silence. With the barest of touches, she turned each page, skimming them.
River already knew what the book said because she'd sat in front of her great-aunt's hearth and read it when she was only five. She hadn't understood what it meant then, not really.
If only she'd had the same knowledge then that she had now. So much would be different. She wouldn't be facing a world of monsters on her own.
"I'm not strong enough," she'd told Aunt Maureen.
But Maureen had simply held River's face in her gnarled hands and smiled down at her with the same blue eyes River saw in the mirror. "Oh, aye, my girl. You're more than strong enough."
If only Aunt Maureen could see her now. Everything she did was because of the heritage she learned on her visits to Ireland.
Her final trip came at the age of thirteen when she found her aunt dead.
River closed her eyes, shutting out those agonizing memories. But she couldn't think about her aunt without thinking of that day. Maureen changed her life, but it was Maureen's death that set River on a course that would define her life.
She read a few more pages of the book before she gently closed and latched it. Taking it from its case was hazardous, but she'd wanted to touch something that once belonged to her aunt.
With the book in hand, she was turning to replace it when she heard voices. Male voices. River quickly returned the book to the case. She yanked off the gloves and hid in the shadows.
"I told you," said a man in a thick Irish accent. He was smiling as he held out his arms and turned in a circle. His hair was long and black, and his silver eyes darted from one book to the next.
She recognized him immediately. He'd come into the library the day before, asking for one of the ancient books. River should've known the Fae would return.
It was the man behind him that made her stomach fall to her feet though. His shoulder-length black hair was laced with silver. Eyes the color of blood surveyed the room slowly, as if he knew she was there.
"See if they have the ones we need," he stated.
River didn't wonder how they got into the library and her vault, because she knew what they were — Fae. But how peculiar for a Light and a Dark to be working together. They were usually at odds with one another.
Ever since the Dark openly descended upon Edinburgh in October, River made sure to have her blade with her at all times. She bent and pulled the long, curved knife from the hidden scabbard attached to her leg beneath her skirt.
The Dark walked to the book she'd just been reading. "Some of the titles are gone."
"I know. The ones I can read are on the list."
"I think they're all on the list. We'll take all of them. What we don't need, you'll return."
The Light cut him a flat look. "Are you trying to vex me?"
"Is it working? I'm not returning for another go at this," the Dark said with a harsh look.
River heard enough. She stepped into the light. "You'll not be taking anything."
The Light Fae looked at her with confusion while the Dark's red gaze honed in on her. She glowered at each of them. Neither said a word as they continued to stare at her.
"I didn't stutter," River said. "Turn around and leave now."
Excerpted from "Dark Alpha's Embrace"
Copyright © 2016 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.
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