Dark Alpha's Hunger is the sixth paranormal romance novel in New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant's Reapers series featuring a brotherhood of elite assassins who wage war on the Fae at Death's behest--and the women who change their hearts.
There is no escaping a Reaper. I am 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…
Where Death leads, I follow. Nothing will stop me from my duty – not even the darkness that claims me. It’s the music that leads me from the dark, returning me to my brethren and a new foe that has risen. Learning who hunts Thea could be the key to unraveling what we need to know to defeat our enemy. The Half-Fae’s music stirs a passion within me that I’ve never known. For her, I will break my vow of silence. For her…I will risk everything.
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
The portal stones stood against the sunset like giants. And just like many years earlier, they called to her, urging her closer.
Thea's hand tightened on her violin case. It had been nearly three weeks since her last visit to the stones, and each time the same anxiety, the same restlessness filled her. As if her belonging there were preordained.
From the very first time she had seen the megalithic structure, she had been struck by its beauty. And its mystery.
"Leac an Scail," she whispered as she walked closer. Stone of the warrior.
Kilmogue was one of the largest dolmens in all of Ireland. Without a doubt, it was one of the most impressive. It stood twelve feet high with the capstone over thirteen feet long.
Thea reached the stones and set down her case. She rested her hand on one of the boulders and felt the warmth that seemed to radiate out from the inside.
She walked all around the dolmen, looking at the capstone resting on two large boulders with a pillow stone laying on its backstone. She stopped at the entrance that faced northeast with the enormous doorstone almost ten feet high.
For long minutes, she stood in the doorway. Once, about ten years ago, she'd almost gotten the nerve to walk inside. They weren't called portal stones for nothing. But she lacked the courage then. And now.
Instead, she visited the dolmen as often as she could, waiting to see what the stones wanted from her. Because she knew they desired something. Otherwise, why would they continue to call her back?
Thea retrieved her case and gently laid it flat to open it. Then she pulled out the violin and tucked it beneath her chin as she found the bow. She placed her fingers on the strings and closed her eyes to let the music find her. The notes constantly floated around in her mind, forming melodies and songs without any effort. Today was no different.
Placing her bow on the strings, she gently pulled it back, hearing the first soft tones. She gave herself to the music, the notes rising and falling on their own.
And her body played as if controlled by another.
Song after song fell from her hands, filling the air. She lost track of time, as she usually did while playing. But there was nothing purer or more beautiful than music.
It fed her soul as nothing else could. And it had saved her.
At only eight years of age, she had struggled to get through each day. Utterly alone and buried in depression — so low that she actually begged to die while in the children's home. It wasn't death that she was given, but a violin.
Ms. Fylan, who smiled without saying a word, had placed the instrument in Thea's hands. For weeks, Thea sat in music class without attempting to play. Each day, she found herself looking forward to hearing more of the tunes.
Nearly two months passed before she tried to play the violin. From her first cringe-worthy note, she discovered her passion.
While Ms. Fylan had given her the instrument, ultimately, it was the music that saved Thea.
She'd never found a foster family. Instead, she spent her days in the children's home until she was able to go out into the world. Those formative years made her strong enough to survive on her own.
She worked numerous jobs to pay for University. It didn't matter how long her day was or how exhausted she felt, she never went to bed without playing her violin.
That's how Duane found her. He'd been walking home from a gig at a nearby tavern and heard her through an open window. He'd called up to her. While Thea never thought to play in a band, Duane's offer intrigued her.
The next day, she went for an audition, and two nights later, she was performing her first gig. It paid so well that it became her sole source of income.
Returning from her reverie, she finished the last song and let the note fade away. Thea opened her eyes as she lowered her bow arm. Darkness surrounded her, with nothing but the moonlight and stars to light the way.
The inside of the portal stones was black as pitch, but for just a moment, she thought she heard something within. It had been a deep rumbling, almost like a ... growl.
Thea swallowed, her heart beginning to pound against her chest. She contemplated leaving, but the pull of the stones was too strong.
With the sounds of the night all around her — and nothing coming from the dolmen — she adjusted her chin and began to play again.
Except she kept her eyes open this time. So many times, she'd come to play, but nothing like this had ever happened before. It was a little frightening. Then again, it would take much more than some sound to make her run away.
The way her mood had turned, Thea wasn't surprised when the music shifted from something soft and soothing to a somber, stirring song.
She swayed with the gripping melody. Each note slid through her body until she felt it in every muscle, every bone. She was so engrossed in the music that, at first, she didn't see the glow emanating from within the portal stones.
Thea stepped back and tried to stop playing but she couldn't. The music continued, almost of its own accord. Her gaze was locked on the doorway as the soft pinpoint of light grew larger in diameter.
The edges of the radiance rippled as if it were water. She gasped, her heart jumping into her throat when a hand appeared out of the light.
With fingers spread wide, the appendage reached for something, anything to grab hold of. As more of the arm appeared, she saw the veins protruding and muscles flexing. Almost as if it were taking every bit of strength for whoever was coming through just to pull themselves out.
Suddenly, the arm was yanked back into the darkness until only the wrist and hand remained. Thea set her violin in its case and hesitantly started toward the doorway. She had to turn her head to the side and shield her eyes because the light was so bright.
"What the bloody hell are you doing?" she asked herself.
No one in their right mind would walk toward the scary light and hand. Then again, what kind of sane person played a violin in front of some portal stones?
Thea hesitated another moment before she reached out and grasped the hand. Strong fingers wrapped around hers. The grip was tight and bordered on painful, but she didn't let go. Not even when she was pulled toward the light.
She dug her heels into the earth and used both hands to yank on the appendage. Thea gritted her teeth and used all of her strength to drag the person out — and stop herself from being pulled in.
More of the arm appeared. A moment later, the shoulder. Then a second arm latched onto Thea. That was the only warning she had before she saw the muscles flex in the limbs as the hands yanked.
The heels of her boots sank deeper into the dirt and left trails as she was dragged forward. Somehow, she knew that whoever this was wasn't trying to pull her in. They were attempting to get out. Since there was nothing else for the person to grab onto, she was acting like a rope.
Her eyes widened when a head appeared. Long, inky black hair hung all around the face. Then the chin lifted, and liquid silver eyes speared her.
She found herself staring at a man — a very gorgeous, dirty man.
His face was lined with determination. Suddenly, he looked back into the light and bared his teeth as he growled. But it was the answering rumble of something dark and nefarious that caused her heart to skip a beat.
The man said nothing as he returned his gaze to her. She renewed her efforts while he continued to pull himself out. Finally, he got one leg free and set his foot on the ground. She glanced down and saw that his jeans were in tatters, his limbs coated in blood.
He threw back his head and howled in pain and anger. Thea thought she saw something dark begin to emerge behind him. She barely caught sight of it before the man roughly shoved her away.
It was so unexpected that she stumbled back, trying to get her legs beneath her. Instead, she slammed against one of the portal rocks, knocking the back of her head as she did. Pain exploded, causing her to black out for a second.
She heard grunts but could see little of the fighting because of the bright light. She struggled to get the pain under control so she could see. When she was finally able to focus again, she saw the man hitting what appeared to be a black blob.
Then, he turned and grabbed her. He lifted her in one arm as if she were a sack. Then he tossed her out of the dolmen. She landed hard on her side and rolled. When she stopped, she looked up to find him standing before the portal stones with his legs spread as if he were ready for ... something.
He had his back to her so she couldn't see his face, but she did glimpse what looked like an iridescent orb that continued to grow bigger and bigger in his hand. Then he threw it at the light.
There was a second of silence before the dolmen exploded. Thea ducked her face and covered her head with her arms. She felt the man land heavily on top of her to shield her from the debris that rained down upon them.
It felt like forever before he rolled off onto his back. Thea glanced at him before she rose up on her elbows to look at him. His quicksilver eyes were locked on her.
She gaped at them and the fact that there were no pupils to be seen. Only beautiful pools of what looked like liquid mercury.
"Run," he whispered before his eyes closed.CHAPTER 2
The bombardment of his senses slowly pulled Eoghan back to consciousness. He dug his fingers into the chilled grass and dirt. The soft rush of a breeze over his face cooled his flesh and caused a strand of hair to tickle his cheek.
He remained on his back and took it all in. The beast that had chased him was gone, left behind in that horrendous realm of darkness. It was the music that had lured Eoghan to freedom.
His eyes snapped open as he recalled the woman. He stared at the stars above him in the night sky as he remembered how she had pulled him through the doorway. It was by sheer luck that he managed to close the portal before the beast got out.
He sat up and looked around. His gaze clashed with the broken dolmen. There were very few portal stones left intact — and for good reason. They were exactly as they were named. Thanks to a few half-Fae who used what magic they had, mortals had begun crossing into other realms over the centuries.
Most were never seen or heard from again.
Eoghan's thoughts returned to the woman. His head swiveled as he searched for her. Spotting something shining in the grass, he pushed to his knees and leaned forward to grasp the item. He lifted it, staring in confusion at the black cat face earring.
He stilled as he felt something behind him, a stir in the air that sent a warning through his body. He rose to his feet and spun around, his magic ready to launch at his enemy.
But the petite woman standing before him in a black dress with a full skirt halted his movements.
"Eoghan," she said, a slow smiling pulling at her lips.
He dropped to his knees and bowed his head in deference.
A slim finger lifted his chin so he was staring into her lavender eyes. Her long, black hair was pulled over her left shoulder in a fishtail braid. "We've been searching everywhere for you. I felt powerful magic and came to investigate. I'm delighted to find you. But how did you return?" He glanced back at the dolmen before returning his gaze to Death. There was something different about her. Almost as if she were ... diminished.
Her smile was sad as she dropped her hand, her gaze holding his. "I'm dying. Bran is stealing not just my magic, but my life force, as well."
Fury ripped through Eoghan as he got to his feet. How could he have forgotten about Bran? He had to find the other Reapers so they could finish him once and for all.
Erith's hand on his arm stopped not just his body but also his thoughts. He frowned as he looked at Death, waiting to hear what she had to say.
She blew out a soft breath and released him. "I know that what happened in your past made you take a vow of silence. You've been an invaluable warrior for me and the other Reapers. I don't know how much time I have left. I no longer have the energy to keep everything going. I have need of you, Eoghan."
He frowned, not liking her words or her tone. But he waited for her to continue. He owed Erith much, and serving her for eternity was just a small part of it. After his betrayal and death, she'd given him life and a reason to continue.
He nodded, letting her know that he was listening.
"I never pushed you to do more than you were willing," she said. "You were a general in the Light Fae army. You — just like Cael — were born to lead. And that's what I need you to do now."
Eoghan shook his head. There was no way he would push Cael out as leader of the Reapers. Besides, Eoghan had no desire to lead.
"You misunderstand. Cael's position isn't in question." She briefly closed her eyes. "I allowed you and your team to believe you were my only Reapers. Over the years, I've accumulated more betrayed warriors. They work in the shadows as my spies, and to back the seven of you if needed."
Eoghan was so shocked that he took a step back.
"These Reapers need a leader. They are very good at what they do, but they lack the cohesiveness to work as a group. What they need is you," she stated.
It was the first time in years that Eoghan wanted to talk. The words jumbled in his head and swirled in a mass as he tried to figure out how to get them out without speaking.
"Bran is about to win," Death continued in a harsh tone. "I can't stop him from taking my magic. He'll eventually assume my position. And he's going to wipe out all the Reapers. For now, he has no idea about the other group. I've kept them hidden because of this. He believes you're gone. With you leading the others, you have an advantage over Bran that could stop him."
How could Eoghan refuse? But not returning to his brethren would kill him. Cael and the others were his brothers, his family.
As if reading his mind, she said, "Find Cael. Tell him what you're doing."
Eoghan gawked at her. Him? Why wouldn't Death fill Cael in?
Her face fell, a flash of regret quickly passing over her features. "You saved Cael from Bran's magic, but the battle didn't end. Bran turned Neve's brother Dark, and he betrayed and killed her."
Eoghan nodded in understanding. Talin had fallen hard for the Light Fae, and with Neve's betrayal and death, she had taken Eoghan's spot with the Reapers.
"Your brethren have never stopped looking for you. They need to know you've returned." Death gave him a smile. "I knew you would find your way back."
In the next instant, Erith was gone. Eoghan stared at the spot where she had been for several minutes, thinking over all Death had shared — and wondering what she had left out.
He fisted his hand that held the cat earring, the back poking into his palm. There was a deep, profound longing to hear the music that had called him back to Earth. Was it the woman who'd pulled him through the portal that played the music?
He'd only gotten a quick look at her before passing out. Shoulder-length, blue hair, sienna brown eyes, and a tiny diamond stud in her nose. But even with that brief glimpse, he'd recognized her as a Halfling.
A frown formed when he recalled that he'd spoken to her. He'd told her to run. And it appeared as if she had done just that. It was for the best. She was much better off staying far away from him and the war.
Eoghan began walking. It didn't take him long to realize that he was in Ireland. He briefly thought of going to Inchmickery, the small isle off the coast of Scotland near Edinburgh that the Reapers used as a base, but he wasn't ready to be among his brethren just yet.
Instead, he veiled himself and teleported into a copse of trees just outside the Light Castle. And he watched. At one time, it had been a beacon for him, a place that he believed would outshine the Dark Fae in all ways. It didn't matter if it were the castle on Earth or the one on the Fae Realm that was destroyed.
Just because a Fae was Light, didn't mean they couldn't turn Dark. His wife was a prime example. How had he been so blind to the fact that she wanted power? His position had given her just that, but it wasn't enough for her.
The pain of her betrayal no longer cut as deeply after so many thousands of years. It was a dull ache now. But it would never leave him.
Perhaps it was time to put aside his silence. He couldn't lead the Reapers if he didn't talk. Damn. This was going to be harder than he thought.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Dark Alpha's Hunger"
Copyright © 2018 Donna Grant.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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