An apocalypse approaches in the new novel from bestselling author Shayla Black's electrifying Doomsday Brethren series, as a magical warrior and a spirited witch ignite a smoldering passion that could destroy them both.
As a mysterious dark cloud drains the life of her beloved brother, Doomsday Brethren leader Bram, Sabelle Rion can think of little else. Still, every time she meets Ice Rykard's intense green gaze, her body aches with need for the sexy warrior. Their attraction is explosive, incredible and forbidden. As dangerous as he is unpredictable, Ice is her brother's sworn enemy. But as Bram weakens, a more sinister force is gaining power.
Evil Mathias and his ruthless Anarki army are on a bloodthirsty hunt for the Doomsday Diary. Sabelle must guard the potent book with her life and Ice vows to protect the beautiful witch with his. Duty demands that Sabelle deny her lover's fiery call of possession and mate with a man who can sway the magical Council against the impending rebellion. With the fate of magickind hanging in the balance, will she forsake the burning desires she can't ignore or turn her back on her people for the courageous man she can't resist?
About the Author
Shayla Black is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty sizzling contemporary, erotic, paranormal, and historical romances, including the Doomsday Brethren novels Tempt Me with Darkness and Possess Me at Midnight. Her novel Decadent was nominated for Best Erotic Romance of 2007 by Romantic Times. She lives in Texas with her family. Visit her website at www.shaylablack.com.
Read an Excerpt
SABELLE RION HEARD DEATH whisper, felt its breath on the back of her neck. Bram, it called. Come with me. She clutched her brother's hand, trying desperately to keep him anchored in this mortal plain.
Since becoming a fully transitioned witch at twenty-four, she'd had the ability to touch others and make them feel whatever she wished. In the last sixty years, she'd perfected the skill. Very few were immune to her gift. But she had no idea if Bram could feel the positive healing vibrations she now sent his way. If so, they weren't improving his condition.
Damn the black smoke surrounding her brother, slowly smothering his life and, she worried, his magic. And damn Mathias for attacking Bram with it! Fighting back angry tears, she clenched her fists, her fingernails cutting into her palms.
Just yesterday, they'd tangled with the evil wizard who had escaped after hundreds of years of exile. Last night, Conrad the healer and her aunt Millie had examined Bram. Neither knew what the deadly smoke was, exactly what damage it caused...or how to eradicate it.
They only knew it was draining the life of the person she loved most in this world.
"Can I come in?"
Sabelle looked over her shoulder as Lucan, her brother's best friend, entered the room. Following Mathias's abduction of his mate, Anka, and the breaking of their bond, Sabelle had cared for Lucan, providing him vital energy through sex while he'd been incoherent and suffering acute mate mourning. Bram had given him support, protection, and a roof over his head. It was no surprise that Lucan wanted to help care for Bram in return.
"Any change?" He caressed her shoulder.
The gesture surprised Sabelle. Lucan had never touched her while bound to his former mate. But now that Anka was in the arms of another, and he knew Sabelle had recently provided the sexual energy needed to keep him alive, had that changed their friendship in his eyes?
Nibbling on her lip, she risked a glance in Lucan's direction. He was a beautiful man. Coffee-colored hair brushed wide shoulders. His shocking blue eyes lured a woman from between a thick fringe of black lashes. His mouth...He knew how to kiss; she'd learned that...eventually. Over time, he'd become less frenzied in his mate mourning and pressed his mouth to hers. The skill of it had stunned her. Someday, they would both need a mate. Becoming Lucan's would solve many problems...
She shook her head to clear the thought. His gesture meant nothing, was merely one of comfort. Lucan still had strong feelings for Anka. And it was impossible for Sabelle to think about her future when her beloved brother might soon pass to his nextlife.
"No change," Sabelle murmured.
Clutching her shoulders, Lucan urged her to her feet to face him. "Come eat. You're worrying yourself to exhaustion."
She pulled away. "I can't leave Bram. What if he wakes and needs me?"
"Spare yourself five minutes. Olivia and Sydney have been cooking the human way. It's taken them hours to prepare enough food. They did it for you."
The tears that had been threatening all day speared the back of her eyes, closed up her throat. Though she'd only known the other women for a few weeks, she already considered them great friends. Yes, circumstance had thrown them together. Having Mathias on the loose required a magical army to defeat him. Bram had assembled the Doomsday Brethren, a group of warriors, mostly magical, willing to fight. Olivia and Sydney were mates to two of Bram's fighting force, and had not only stood by their men, but the group. They'd risked themselves to rid magickind of this cancer, though the fight wasn't theirs. Their efforts to help her touched Sabelle.
"Five minutes," she agreed reluctantly.
Lucan nodded and brought her close. "I'm worried about you. You can't carry all of Bram's responsibilities on your shoulders."
She cast him a desperate gaze. "I have to try. He's worked so hard to build this "
"No one will allow it to crumble. Come see. Everyone is assembled downstairs, waiting for you."
Everyone? Surely not..."Shock?"
Lucan clenched his jaw. "No one wants the traitor here."
Especially not the traitor who was now shagging Lucan's former mate.
It touched her that the Doomsday Brethren had come to pay homage, but she feared only one person could help her brother. "Has anyone searched for Bram's mysterious mate? Emma's energy "
"Might heal him. I know. But it's hard to find a woman when you know nothing more than her first name. Sydney has volunteered to call Aquarius, since she presumably knows Emma."
Sabelle shook her head. "Aquarius says she doesn't know Emma's whereabouts. Her flat is empty, her mobile phone disconnected. The shop she once worked in is closed tight. Bram already tried all those avenues. Clearly, the woman doesn't want to be found."
"In light of the situation, Sydney agreed to speak to Aquarius once more."
She prayed the woman would help them this time. If not...The looming possibility stabbed despair through her heart. Sabelle beat back a fresh batch of tears. She would not cry. Waste of time that solved nothing. She could fall apart later. Alone. Now, too much was at stake.
Lucan smoothed a thumb across her cheek. "You're one of the bravest women I know, Bella. Bram is my best friend. Let me help you. Lean on me."
The offer was tempting. Lucan was a strong wizard and warrior. But he'd lost his mate a mere month ago, and had only just learned that Anka sought refuge with an enemy. His whole life had been torn apart. He needed to get back on his own feet before worrying about her issues.
She plastered a smile on her face. "I'm fine, but thank you."
"Let me help. There wasn't time earlier for me to express..." He sighed. "Thank you. I know the sacrifice you made to save me, the risk you took in bedding someone feral to provide me proper energy to live and heal." Lucan threaded his hand thorough her pale hair. "I remember being with you. Your fear. Your determination. Your softness."
He remembered? Damn and blast. That would complicate everything. But it wasn't as if she'd forgotten the feel of Lucan either, his heat, his hardness, his single-minded intent. The unexpected desire. In their time together, Sabelle had come to know him as a lover...and she wasn't certain how she felt about it. Now was hardly the time to sort it out.
"Lucan, I "
He brushed his lips over hers, cutting off her words. Soft but firm. Achingly gentle. He set his mouth on hers and merely felt her. Breathed her. Then he lifted his head.
"Anything you need, I will be here for you."
Why? Friendship? Gratitude? Passion?
Though she often tried to block others' thoughts, she peeked into Lucan's. Friendship, certainly, and gratitude by the bucketload, a bare hint of passion and a welter of confusion. She related to that.
Slipping from his mind, she sent him a wan smile. "Lead the way."
Lucan took her hand and led her downstairs to the dining room. As he'd said, everyone was assembled. Marrok stood, tall and daunting as ever. Olivia, his mate, sat beside him as he rested a big hand on the crown of her dark head. Envy tore through Sabelle. She ached for the sort of love and affection they shared. Between her brother's protective streak and her obligation to marry well, she wondered if she'd ever find it.
"Are you all right?" Sydney asked gently.
The human redhead stood beside her wizard mate, Caden. Lucan and Caden exchanged a brotherly glance that she didn't have the energy to decipher.
"Fine," Sabelle reassured her. "Something smells good. Thank you for cooking."
"Come eat so you can get back to Bram." Sydney shoved a plate into her hands and gestured her toward the spread of food on the sideboard. Roasted hen, a flaky white fish, even a Beef Wellington, along with an array of vegetables and breads. The gesture touched her all over again, pricking her eyes with tears.
"Thank you so much." Sabelle sniffed and blinked, holding back the tears.
"Eat." Lucan pushed her toward the food, then accepted a plate from Sydney and stood protectively behind Sabelle.
She dished herself a few spoonfuls of food without looking at what she'd served herself. It was all just nutrients to help her tend Bram longer. Nothing else mattered.
Behind her, all the others plated up. Sabelle settled into her usual chair. Lucan sat directly to her left. Marrok and Olivia settled in at the far end of the table. Caden and Sydney plopped down beside Lucan. The Doomsday Brethren's newest member, Tynan O'Shea, sat glumly across from Marrok and began picking at his food. His vengeful thoughts blared past her mental barricades, along with his pain. His grief over his intended mate's murder by Mathias was affecting his appetite. Sabelle had no trouble understanding why.
Beside her, Bram's chair at the head of the table sat empty. The realization that he might never again sit there hit her like a blow to the belly. She lowered her fork and looked at her plate, now blurred through her tears.
"Sabelle." Simon Northam, the Duke of Hurstgrove, approached the table slowly.
Until the formation of the Doomsday Brethren, Bram and Duke hadn't known each other well, but despite his lofty human rank, he'd been a solid member of the group from day one.
She took a moment to swallow her tears, then raised her gaze. Being born a Rion, everyone expected her to lead by example, tamp down her fear, and move on. Bram, most of all, would demand it. For her brother, she'd stay strong.
Duke nodded, dark hair looking uncommonly shaggy, as he set his plate on the table and eased himself into Bram's chair. She swallowed an urge to jump up and rail at him. He could not take her brother's place!
"Would you rather sit here, or shall I?" he asked softly.
The angry wind left her sails. She took a deep breath, common sense prevailing. The group needed a leader, and Duke occupying Bram's chair signaled he was willing to take the job.
"You. I'm no warrior, and I'll have my hands full with Bram's Council business."
He cast her a sympathetic gaze, a silent promise of support, then looked down the table. This was for the best. Mathias was weakened, but in no way defeated. The Doomsday Brethren had to stay together and remain strong.
Duke opened his mouth to speak when the last of the warriors sat down directly across from her.
Sabelle felt that intense green gaze of his fasten on her. Oh God.
Though fearsome and reportedly insane, since becoming a member of the Doomsday Brethren Ice had been on his best behavior around her, anyway. Hardworking. Polite. Eventempered...mostly. But the constant staring and the naked want on his face tied her belly in knots. He was a puzzle she was utterly compelled to solve.
His fierce expression made her wonder exactly what he was thinking. Oddly, he was one of the few people whose mind she could not read. She'd tried. Nothing. Wondering what was in his head drove her mad. The one time Ice had put his arms around her to heal Sydney's injured friend, Aquarius, had been overwhelming. Combustive.
Not only born to the Privileged class of magickind, she was among its elite, the closest thing to royalty in the magical world. Rions were descendants of Merlin, the greatest wizard of all time. While Ice...well, the Rykards were not only Deprived, but disliked and distrusted Ice more than most. As if that didn't complicate their attraction enough, Bram hated him with a boundless passion.
Anything between her and Ice was impossible.
"Is something wrong?" Lucan asked, wrapping his warm fingers around her chilled ones.
Ice's fork clattered to his plate, his mouth tight. She didn't need to read his mind to feel his hostility. It raged across his face as he stared at her hand clasped in Lucan's. Her breath caught, and her first instinct was to pull away. She checked it. Nothing good could come of fostering an attraction between her and a man she could never have. Better to let him believe her attentions were otherwise engaged.
She gripped Lucan's hand in return, feeling his strength and fortitude.
"I'm fine." Sabelle realized with a start that the entire table was staring, and she flushed. "Truly. Everyone eat."
Silence reigned for long moments. No one spoke, and the dead air was painful. Often, Bram led the conversation or dominated it, as was his wont. The quiet now only reminded her that her brother might not live long enough to control the conversation again.
Suddenly, Duke cleared his throat and addressed the group. "No one can replace Bram, but someone must oversee our leadership while he recovers. Does anyone else want the role?"
Marrok shook his head. "I know not magickind's people or how to help them in their time of need. I possess not Bram's diplomacy. Those who impede our cause would feel only the hack of my blade, if I had my way."
"Which is why you're a warrior, not a politician." Olivia, his American mate, smiled.
Their affection, as always, wrapped them in a world all their own.
"I will, if you wish it," Caden volunteered. "Though I think you have more experience to handle the difficult times ahead."
Though gratified by Caden's show of solidarity, Sabelle agreed.
"I formed the group with Bram," Lucan offered, then swallowed. "But my mourning has just ended. My temper is...uncertain."
Lucan spoke the truth. His emotions scraped closer to the surface than she'd ever seen. He revealed much with his gestures and expressions too much to handle magical diplomacy now.
"I've been with this group less than a week," Tynan pointed out, his gray eyes the color of a foreboding rain cloud about to burst.
A fitting metaphor, Sabelle mused. Tynan himself was a ticking time bomb.
Everyone had spoken...except Ice.
Drawing in a shaky breath, Sabelle braced herself to look in his direction. He was still staring at her, hot, intent. Something in her belly tightened again. Was she actually shaking?
"Who is wont to listen to a madman?" Ice challenged with a raised brow.
Duke cleared his throat. "Then it's settled. We must resume fighting and weapons training again. Marrok?"
"Aye. Tomorrow at dawn. Everyone."
Caden rolled his eyes. "Oh-dark-hundred again. Great. I left the Marines, you know."
"Foolish on your part. They were nicer," Duke teased, then sobered again. "We'll need to add security to the house. I've no notion how Bram's magical defenses are holding up in his weakened state."
"Not well," Sabelle admitted. She could feel it slipping by the hour...just as Bram was.
"After dinner, we'll develop a new network of magical security. This house is critical to our success. We need a place to meet, to regroup, to plan. Without it, I fear we'd be too disorganized to defeat Mathias. Does anyone disagree?"
Every man at the table shook his head.
Good. Another matter settled. Now if she only knew what to do about her brother's diminishing health...
"...give us an update?" Duke asked.
It took her a moment to tune in to him, and she surmised that he asked about Bram. If he wanted new information, she had dealt with nothing else all day.
"Bram is resting, but weakening. Neither Conrad nor Millie know what ails him or how to heal him. I've no notion how to stop it unless we find Emma."
"I've got a call in to Aquarius," Sydney assured. "As soon as I hear from her, I'll let you know. We'll find Emma."
Even if they did, could they persuade her to come care for the mate she'd taken in a night of passion and abandoned before morning?
Silence overtook the group again, punctuated only by the clink of forks and heavy sighs. Sabelle blocked as many thoughts as she could and ate a few more bites of her dinner before admitting defeat. Even the smell of food was making her stomach roil.
She stood to leave, and Lucan stayed her with a hand at her elbow. Ice growled and glared at Lucan's touch. Ice wanted her, and an answering knot of desire grew again in her belly. He must suspect how she felt. If she ever found herself alone with him...nothing would be more dangerous.
"You cannot be finished," Lucan chided, scowling at her still-full plate.
"I am." She folded her napkin on the table. "I must get back to Bram. Thank you, ladies," she said to Sydney and Olivia.
Before she could extricate herself from Lucan's grip and depart, bells chimed through the house. A magical calling card. A request to enter the premises.
From Anka MacTavish, Lucan's former mate.
Beside her, Lucan tensed, his face a wrenching mixture of anger and yearning. Sabelle felt the intensity of his pain gripping her chest, sharp and panicky, like someone suffocating. No doubt, whatever Lucan felt for her paled in comparison to the consuming love he still harbored for Anka.
Marrok stomped out of the room and down the corridor. Sabelle heard him open the front door. "She is alone."
Assured that Shock or Mathias and his Anarki hadn't followed Anka, Sabelle released the last bit of security around the house so that Anka could enter the room.
The first thing Sabelle noticed was that the woman looked healthier than before...but not completely well. Was Anka not gathering enough energy in Shock's bed?
Lucan's gaze was still glued to his former mate. Despair tinged his thoughts, and Sabelle ached for him. She understood wanting someone beyond reach.
Anka glanced at Lucan, then at his hand upon Sabelle's. Hurt flared across her face before her amber stare skittered across the table and rested on Duke. "I'd like to see Bram."
Duke hesitated, cast a quick gaze at Lucan, who gave a small shake of his head.
"He's not here," Duke lied.
So, they'd surmised that because Anka was sleeping with a wizard they all presumed to be the enemy, she couldn't be trusted? The witch's thoughts revealed that, in throwing her lot in with Shock, she had run to the man most able to protect her and least likely to make demands after her ordeal at Mathias's hands.
Anka tossed fat, blond ringlets off her slender shoulders, her broken magical signature still matching Lucan's, indicating their severed mate bond.
"He doesn't seem to be anywhere," Anka said, clearly frustrated. "I've been calling for him since dusk."
"Council business. What do you need?" Duke snapped.
Anka pressed her lips together, sent Lucan another uncertain glance, then addressed Duke again. "Earlier this evening, Shock told me some alarming things. I I couldn't keep this to myself. Not when there are so many people here I...care for."
Duke gestured her to the chair at the far end of the table. Anka sat, as did Sabelle and Lucan. He didn't relinquish his hold on Sabelle's arm, and she knew Lucan needed the support. He might turn to her because she was convenient and would expect nothing in return but his heart belonged to Anka.
"According to Shock, the Anarki plans to attack you here tonight, sometime before midnight."
It was currently just after eight.
Sabelle opened up her mind a bit more to Anka. The woman wasn't lying, and she truly had been trying to tell Bram all evening. They'd been ignoring incoming messages and summons, uncertain how to handle them. Bugger!
Duke froze. "You're certain? Tonight?"
She nodded. "I warned you as soon as I could."
"Why should we believe you?" Ice asked impassively.
Her amber eyes burned. "I'm risking my life to be here."
Given Anka's fierce expression, Sabelle didn't doubt her in the least and she admired the other woman for her grit. But there was something Sabelle didn't understand.
"Why are you fucking the enemy if he works for the monster who raped you?" Lucan snarled. "Especially if you're stabbing him in the back?"
"Clearly, you haven't been alone, either," she shot back with a fiery glare. Hurt blasted from Anka's every thought before she folded her hands on the table in front of her and collected herself. "You don't understand what Mathias did to me."
"I know what he did." Regret tinged Lucan's tone. "I'm more sorry than you'll ever know that I wasn't there to protect you."
"What Mathias did changed me. I I can't remember all of our mating, can't just resume life as the happy mate. I cannot pretend I'm not damaged "
"The past doesn't matter. Nothing he did changes you in my eyes," Lucan vowed. "What you're doing with Shock "
"You're expecting me to be the same woman I was before I was taken. I'm not. I can't undo that fact, even for you."
"You think I can't handle it? Or you no longer trust me to protect you?"
Anka bit her lip. "I can't discuss this now."
"Soon." Lucan stood so suddenly, his chair toppled over, clattered to the floor. Then he left, slamming the door in his wake.
Anka sprang up to chase him...then thought better of it. But the way Anka watched Lucan's retreating back, her thoughts riddled with both sadness and indecision, made Sabelle's heart wrench.
Duke cleared his throat. "I'm sorry. Go on."
Anka looked ready to cry. "I'm sorry to cause problems."
"Not at all. What else can you tell me about the attack? How many? Where around the estate? What do they seek to accomplish?"
"A large force. Shock didn't say how many. I don't know how they plan to get in. Maybe Shock knows a way..." She sobbed.
Clearly, seeing her former lover while turning on her new one wasn't easy.
Like Lucan, Sabelle had wondered why Anka remained with Shock. Now she understood that between his low station and low expectations, she found him "easy" to be with during this difficult time.
"They want the Doomsday Diary," Anka murmured.
Sabelle squeezed her eyes shut. Damn Morganna le Fay for creating a weapon that wizards had been willing to fight and die for since its rediscovery less than two months ago. Fifteen hundred years in hiding had swelled the book's legend so much that people would do anything to get their hands on it.
"Mathias can't use it," Sabelle pointed out. "And he knows it. He's not female."
Anka nodded. "They plan to take one of the females from this house."
"He will not take her."
Sabelle turned toward the booming declaration. Ice. His protective gaze was as tangible as a caress. She swallowed.
"Of course not," Duke assured. "Sabelle is too important to our cause."
Ice stormed around the table until he hovered beside her, mere inches away, his body heat pouring over her. "If there is a breath left in my body, he will not take her."
Duke turned to her with a silent question, but Sabelle ignored him. Ice's protective nature was similar to a mate's. Naturally, Duke would be curious about anything between her and Ice. A mating between them would be nothing short of shocking.
Ice was long rumored to be mad. Many whispered that he possessed a murderous temper. Sabelle didn't know why exactly, and she hadn't seen Ice behave erratically, but Bram had gone to great pains to keep distance between her and the warrior he saw as a necessary evil. Servants avoided him, refused to meet his challenging gaze that silently laughed at their fears. But when he looked at her, his stare held another sort of challenge altogether.
Sabelle stared anxiously at Duke's face, praying he and the others would ascribe Ice's possessive behavior to his alleged insanity. Whatever his motive, she couldn't accept anything Ice might offer...no matter how much everything inside her wanted to.
"I'll be all right," she whispered to Ice, daring to glance at him over her shoulder.
Still, he lingered beside her, so close she swore she could hear his heartbeat, smell his body, a musky blend of sage, cedar, and raw earth. That scent weakened her knees every time.
"Thank you, Anka," Sabelle said. "We'll take care to protect the house and the book."
"There's more," Anka said, then turned to Duke again. "Shock said that Mathias has decided the quickest way to ascend to power is to win a seat on the Council."
That made Sabelle's heart stop. "There are no open Council seats, haven't been for decades."
Anka's thoughts assailed her, and the devious truth made Sabelle gasp. She turned to look at Duke, who suddenly wore a grave expression.
"He's going to assassinate a Council member?" Sabelle's voice trembled.
"The plan is to start with one. But eventually..."
Mathias plotted to kill them all. How else would he gain complete control of the Council? That meant if he hadn't already targeted her brother, Bram was now on his hit list.
Her knees wobbled. Her stomach revolted. The stunning revelations came one after the other...and she melted toward the ground.
Before she came anywhere near the floor, she felt strong hands beneath her, assisting her to her feet, then lifting her into iron-band arms. Sabelle looked at her rescuer, but already knew she'd find a bare stubble of black hair and vivid green eyes penetrating her all the way to her soul.
Gently, he set her in her chair. "You're overdoing. Enough."
Clearly, her efforts weren't enough if Bram wasn't improving and Mathias was plotting to take down the Doomsday Brethren, steal the diary, and kill Council members. None of them had done enough.
"You're certain?" she asked Anka, her voice weak.
Biting her lip, Lucan's former mate nodded. "I ran to tell you. I know you have no reason to trust me. My association with Shock in no way transfers to Mathias. After what he did to me, I hope he burns in hell, and I'll do whatever I can to help, even pass information."
From her current lover to her previous one and his friends.
"We appreciate anything you can tell us," Sabelle assured.
The suspicion left Duke's expression. "Be careful."
With a sad smile and a lingering glance toward the stairs where Lucan had disappeared, Anka exited the house, then teleported away.
Sabelle closed the door, gathered her strength, then marched back to the table. "We need a plan. Immediately."
Duke nodded. "Everyone, pack your belongings. Caden, you and Sydney find Lucan. Calm him down and tell him Anka has gone. Ice, can you and Tynan secure our weapons elsewhere? We can't let them fall into Mathias's hands."
His air of authority cleared the room quickly, though Ice lingered for a last look at Sabelle.
Once everyone had gone, Duke guided Sabelle to the nearby library and shut the door. "How quickly can we secure the house with our magic?"
"In a few hours' time, I don't think we can. Bram's magic is complicated. I can allow friends in, like Anka. I can undo the safeguards I've put around the house. But until he wakes, I have no idea how to unravel his protections, even if they are weakening."
"Can't we lay something over it?"
"Only with Bram's guidance and permission. We could manage in a few days, I think."
"We don't have a few days." Duke mentally cursed, his thoughts frustrated.
"Indeed." She paced.
"So we abandon the house."
Sabelle pressed trembling lips together. This was her home, and a million memories resided here. Bram loved this house. Its seclusion, its beauty. And she didn't know how to save it for him. Her life was spinning out of control.
"I know this is a lot of responsibility for you," Duke murmured, as if talking to a child.
"Don't placate me. I'll be fine." Resolution and fury stiffened her spine as she pointed out, "The book must be protected."
"You, Olivia, or Sydney must carry it. A female must possess the book to transport it; its magic ensures that it will dissolve instantly and return to its last female owner or the resting place in which she put it."
"I'll take it," she volunteered.
"Olivia hasn't come into her power yet, and Marrok is both mortal and human. Were Mathias's minions to kill him, Olivia would be virtually without defense."
Duke sighed heavily. "Agreed. He's a legendary warrior, but a human without magic. Mathias would delight in tearing him apart. And Sydney is human as well."
"Indeed." Nor did the woman share Marrok's prowess on the battlefield. She'd become magickind's news correspondent, making Sydney a very tempting target. Coupled with the fact that her mate, Caden, was newly transitioned and still grappling with his magic, giving them the book to safeguard wasn't smart.
From the look on Duke's face, he had similar thoughts. "I can't send you alone."
"If you plan to take the book, you need at least one warrior to protect you. I'll take your brother and make certain he's cared for."
"No!" The thought of being away from Bram, not knowing if he lived or died or needed her, filled her with panic. "He comes with me."
"Be merciful. He's practically my last living relative." Her absent, selfish mother didn't count.
Duke rubbed his forehead with his hand. "You're making this difficult."
"Go with Caden and Sydney. Make certain the transcasts continue. Magickind needs the regular news she provides via their mirrors. Send Tynan with Marrok and Olivia. They'll need the extra protection."
"That leaves you with Lucan and Ice."
Sabelle sucked in a breath. Damn it, she'd painted herself into a corner. Being alone with either man could be dangerous. She most trusted Ice to protect her, but not herself to resist him. "I'll take Lucan."
"He admitted that his temper is uncertain. Given everything transpiring with Anka...he could quickly regress into a dangerous state. You've been granting him energy. If he turns feral, he may refuse sex from anyone else and force the issue. We can't risk that. Take Ice, as well."
As much as she wanted to be self-sufficient, imagining that she could, by herself, protect the book and care for her brother, while dealing with a wizard who might slip back into a mate mourning he couldn't control, and fight off pursuing Anarki seemed foolish.
"Bram wants Ice nowhere near me."
"He'd like you dying even less. Sabelle, the clock is ticking. We need to leave now."
Damn and blast! "I'll let them both accompany me. But it will be your job to tell them to get along. I refuse to play referee."
"Consider it done."
"I'll grab the book and a few items and be off. Tell Lucan and Ice to bring Bram down and to meet me at the foot of the stairs in thirty minutes."
Spitting mad and terrified at once, she charged toward Bram's office and the Doomsday Diary's hiding place. Bloody high-maintenance men. How the devil was she to handle the odd tension between the three of them? Manage Lucan's potential slips into illness and Ice's desire, while maintaining Bram's expectations? Later. She couldn't worry about it now.
Sabelle took a few moments to grab the book and scan her brother's office, remembering all the times she'd seen him here. Would he ever be back and thriving again?
Swallowing a lump of fear, she turned toward the study doors, feeling the clock tick down to danger.
Suddenly, the ground shook beneath her feet. A huge blast resounded in her ears. The walls shook. Smoke filled the air, choking her. She fell to her knees, clutching the book, then crawled into the hazy corridor.
Duke had managed to stagger to one of the front windows and looked out with dawning horror. "Get out, everyone! We're being attacked now!"
Copyright © 2009 by Shelley Bradley LLC
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What can I say, but wow! This series has been action packed, hot and sexy. Love it!
I dont think ive ever cried or laughed at a book more that was honestly amazing ! I havent read any of the other books in this series yet, because my nook wasnt telling me which order they go in but i think this book could stand alone just fine ! A MUST READ!!!!!!
Another great one. :)