Book 3 in The Amoveo Legend
Praise for Unleashed:
"The characters haunted my dreams...I thought about this book constantly."-Long and Short Reviews
An ancient race of shapeshifters has lived secretly among humans for thousands of years...they are...the Amoveo
HER WORST NIGHTMARE IS COMING TRUE...
Layla Nickelsen has spent years hiding from her Amoveo mate and guarding a devastating secret. But Layla's worst fear is realized when the man who haunts her dreams shows up in person ...
HE HAS FINALLY FOUND HER...
William Fleury is as stoic as they come, until he finds Layla and his feelings overwhelm him. She won't let him get close, but then an unknown enemy erupts in violence and threatens everything Layla holds dear...
The Amoveo Legend Series:
Unleashed (Book 1, The Amoveo Legend)
Untouched (Book 2, The Amoveo Legend)
Untamed (Book 3, The Amoveo Legend)
Undone (Book 4, The Amoveo Legend)
Unclaimed (Book 5, The Amoveo Legend)
Praise for the Amoveo Legend series:
"I loved the book. I'm looking forwards to many more in this series."-Night Owl Reviews Reviewer Top Pick, 5 stars
"Fast-paced paranormal romance with fantastic world-building."-The Book Girl
About the Author
Sara Humphreys is the award winning author of the Amoveo Legend series. The third book in the series, Untamed, won two PRISM awards—Dark Paranormal and Best of the Best. The first two novels from her Dead in the City series have been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award. Sara was also a professional actress. Some of her television credits include A&E Biography, Guiding Light, Another World, As the World Turns and Rescue Me.
She loves writing hot heroes and heroines with moxie but above all, Sara adores a satisfying happily-ever-after. She lives in New York with Mr. H., their four amazing sons, and two adorable pups. When she's not writing or hanging out with the men in her life, she can be found working out with Shaun T in her living room or chatting with readers on Facebook. For a full list of Sara's books and reading order, please visit www.sarahumphreys.com
Read an Excerpt
Why wouldn't her legs go any faster? Her lungs burned with effort, and sweat dripped down her back as she stumbled blindly through the fog-laden woods. He was right behind her. Always. His energy signature, the spiritual fingerprint that was so distinctly his, rolled around her in the mists. Behind her. Above her. In front of her.
He was everywhere.
His energy enveloped her, but still-she couldn't see him.
Layla's breath came in heavy, labored gasps, and a bare branch caught in her long, curly red hair as she tripped over a log. She pulled the tangled strands away, swore softly, and ducked behind the trunk of a giant old elm tree. Layla pressed herself up against it, praying he wouldn't see her. In response to her silent plea, the fog in the dream realm thickened and provided additional shelter from her relentless hunter.
She'd been able to avoid him so far, but tonight it felt as if he was dreadfully close to finding her-and claiming her. His powerful energy swamped her and stole from her lungs what little breath she had left. She squeezed her eyes shut and prayed that the tree and the fog would swallow her up. Could she do that? Could she control the environment of the dream that much? Just as she was about to try, an unfamiliar voice tumbled around her.
Why do you run from me? The smooth, deep baritone flooded her mind and filled every ounce of her being in a shockingly intimate way. The sharp pang of desire zipped through her and made her breasts tingle. The sudden onslaught caught her off guard and had her head spinning.
He'd never spoken to her before. She could barely hear him above the rapid pounding of her heart and wondered for a moment if she'd imagined it.
You did not imagine it. His voice had become irritatingly calm. Please answer my question. Why do you run away from me? That distinctly male voice rumbled through her. It reverberated in her chest just like the deep bass beat of one of her favorite songs. Why are you afraid of me? Amusement laced his voice and floated around her in the fog.
That did it. Now she was pissed. He was laughing at her? First he haunts her sleep every night for the past two weeks, and now he's making fun of her? Oh, hell no! Layla's eyes snapped open, and she expected to find him-whoever he was-standing right in front of her. However, she was met only with the thick fog she'd created.
I'm not afraid of you. She placed her hands on her hips and looked around at the swirling mist. Layla tilted her chin defiantly. I just don't want anything to do with you. So why don't you piss off!
Rich, deep laughter floated softly around her. You make it sound as if there is a choice in the matter.
You bet your bossy ass there is. Layla shouted boldly into the gray abyss. I decide my fate. Me. Layla Nickelsen. She pointed at her chest with her thumb. Me. Not you or anybody else.
She waited. The beautiful sound of silence encircled her. Was he gone? She sharpened her focus and found him quickly. No. His energy still permeated the dream but had lessened. He had backed off? Interesting.
Layla stepped away from the tree, and the fog retreated in response. She steadied her breathing as her heartbeat slowed to a normal pace. A victorious look came over her face as she found herself gaining control. She pushed her hair off her face and watched the familiar woods where she had grown up come slowly into focus. A satisfied smile curved her lips; she nodded and made a hoot of triumph. Fate can kiss my ass.
The words had barely left her mouth when two strong arms slipped around her waist and pulled her against a very tall, hard, and most definitely male body. Stunned and uncertain of what else he might do, Layla stayed completely still and glanced down to discover that her hands rested on two much larger ones. She could feel his heartbeat against her back as it thundered in his chest and thumped in perfect time with hers.
He dipped his head, and warm, firm lips pressed an unexpectedly tender kiss along the edge of her ear. Luminous heat flashed through her with astonishing speed, making her breasts feel heavy, and sending a rush of heat between her legs. It took every ounce of self-control to keep from sinking back into his strong, seductive embrace. Her body's swift reaction was positively mortifying. She shivered, bit her lower lip, and fought the urge to turn around and kiss him. Why, and how, could she be turned on like this? Layla stiffened with disgust at her lack of self-control and her body's obvious attraction to his.
You cannot outrun your destiny. His surprisingly seductive voice dipped low, and his breath puffed tantalizingly along the exposed skin of her neck. She closed her eyes and tried to fight the erotic sensations, but it was like trying to stop the tide as it throbbed through her relentlessly. And for future reference, Firefly, the only one kissing your ass-or anything else on your beautiful body-will be me. He released her from the confines of his embrace and disappeared with the mist.
The shrill ring of the motel's wake-up call tore her from sleep. Without even looking, Layla picked up the receiver and slammed it down harder than necessary. For the first time in a long time, she hadn't wanted her dream to end. That was a switch. She pushed herself up onto her elbows and blew the bed-head hair out of her face. She looked around the cheap motel room and squinted at the sun that streamed so rudely into her room.
"Why can't the damn curtains ever close all the way in these places?" Her sleepy mumble echoed through the empty room. The memory of last night's dream was still fresh and raw, which was painfully evident by the heat that continued to blaze over her skin. Layla flopped back down and threw her arm over her eyes. It looked like her bossy stalker was right.
There was no escaping fate.
"Something's different about you," Kerry said with a suspicious look in William's direction. She cocked her head and studied him intently from across the dining room table of her spacious apartment.
"I'm not sure what you're implying," William said coolly. "I simply came by to see how the two of you are doing now that you're married."
He folded the newspaper neatly and placed it on the mahogany table, exactly in the spot he'd found it. He sipped the cold orange juice and checked his watch, hoping to keep Dante's irritatingly perceptive mate from knowing just how much her intuitive nature unnerved him.
"On the surface... you look exactly the same." She waved one manicured hand at him. "Three-piece suit. Hair tied back and not a smile in sight. You seem to be as uptight as ever, the cold bastard most of us have come to know and love."
"Charming," he murmured. "What exactly do you mean?"
"I mean," she said, lowering her voice to conspiratorial levels. "You're uncharacteristically distracted, and if I didn't know better, I'd say that your unannounced visit this morning has more to do with you, than it does with Dante and me."
"Really?" He glanced out the large picture window, pretending to be interested in the New York City skyline as opposed to her observations. "And why would you think that?"
"Well, for starters"-she laughed as she buttered her toast and prepared the rest of her breakfast-"most people don't just pop in on newlyweds for a visit first thing in the morning, let alone you. I mean, let's be honest, William. You're emotionally anorexic, and in the brief time that I've gotten to know you, you've rarely shown concern. In fact, the only emotion that I think I've ever seen you exhibit is anger, but you had been stabbed at the time, so that was certainly understandable."
"I wasn't angry," he said humorlessly. "I was irritated."
"Forgive me." Kerry took a bite of her toast. "You were annoyed that you got stabbed, not angry."
"Hey," Dante interrupted. Clad in his bathrobe and toweling off his wet head, he sidled up to his mate and gave her a kiss. "I thought you weren't pissed about that anymore," he said as he helped himself to some juice. "You know it was an accident. I was trying to kill that crazy Purist bitch Pasha, not you."
"He wasn't pissed." Kerry elbowed him. "He was irritated," she said in a tone that William assumed was her best attempt at mimicry.
He liked Kerry and appreciated her directness. It was, in his opinion, her finest quality, but he wasn't in the mood for jokes. Then again, he was rarely in the mood for joking around.
"Ah yes, it's a feeling I'm familiar with again," he said pointedly to Kerry.
"See? Something is definitely up with you. A few weeks ago, it took getting stabbed to ruffle your feathers, but now, a little teasing, and you're already annoyed. Ever since we left New Orleans, you've been just a bit... off." She extended her hand to William and smiled. "C'mon, fork it over."
He flicked a glance to her outstretched hand and back to a pair of mischievous brown eyes. He knew what she wanted him to do.
Kerry was a hybrid-half human and half Amoveo from the Panther Clan. In addition to the Amoveo abilities inherited form her father, her human mother had passed on her gift of second sight. With one touch she could see inside of people and the secrets they buried deep.
William shook his head. "There's no need for that." He turned his attention to Dante. "Your mate is quite perceptive, even without using her second sight."
"Ha," Kerry shouted. "I knew it." She clapped her hands. "What is it?" Her eyes grew wider, and she leaned both elbows on the table as she peered at him. "Wait just a minute. It's not a what at all... it's a who... isn't it?"
"You found your mate?" Dante said with a wide grin. "That's wonderful news. Is she a hybrid, like Kerry and Samantha?"
"Not exactly." William stood and straightened his vest.
He walked to the window and looked out over the sea of tall buildings, longing to shift into his gyrfalcon form. He wanted to fly and soar over the world, away from his doubts, because for the first time in his life, he was unsure of himself.
"She is a hybrid." He kept his back to them, for fear of revealing his uncertainty. "However, there is one very large difference between my mate and yours."
"What? Is she from some unknown Hamster Clan or something?" Kerry asked with her usual teasing tone.
"No," William bit out. He kept his hands clamped firmly behind his back and struggled to keep his growing frustration at bay. "She knows what she is." He finally turned to face them and found them looking as shocked as he had when he realized the truth. "She knows that she is half Amoveo."
"Wait." Dante's brow furrowed with obvious confusion as he looked from William to Kerry. "She knows that she's a hybrid?"
"Yes." He nodded in Kerry's direction. "You were correct about New Orleans. That's where I found her. It's Layla Nickelsen."
"The photographer from my shoot." Kerry slapped Dante on the arm. "I knew there was something up with her, but I just couldn't put my finger on it."
"Well"-Dante winked-"you were a bit distracted with your own... issues."
"Hot damn! Way to go, William!" She wiggled her eyebrows at him. "If memory serves, she's one spirited chick. Something tells me that you're going to have your hands full with her."
"You have no idea," he mumbled. "Although, the thrill of discovering her has been rather short-lived." He ran a hand over his face and paced back and forth by the windows, almost forgetting the two of them were even there. "I assumed that she knew nothing of her Amoveo heritage, just like you and Samantha, but when I connected with her in the dream realm... she ran from me. At first, I thought it was because she took the connection for an unusual or unsettling human dream, but last night... she confronted me."
"Confronted you-how?" Dante asked.
"I've connected with her in several dreams over the past few weeks, and she continued to elude me, but last night she stopped running." William adjusted his tie and smoothed it down, as if it could calm his growing confusion.
"What did she say?"
"She told me to get lost and called me a stalker."
Kerry laughed long and hard, and Dante tried to suppress a smile, but to no avail.
"What on earth are the two of you laughing at?" William asked, openly bothered by their reaction. He stood ramrod straight as he watched their blatant amusement at his conundrum. "I don't find this the least bit funny."
"Oh, William." Kerry wiped at the tears that were streaming down her face as her laughter subsided. "I'm not sure what's more amusing. Your reaction to her, or the fact that you just don't understand why a woman-whether she's a human, an Amoveo, or a hybrid-wouldn't want to be stalked?"
"Well, what on earth am I supposed to do?" William's brow furrowed. "You know that the dream realm connection is crucial to our mating process."
"How about introducing yourself to her in real life? What do you know about her aside from the fact that you think she knows she's a hybrid."
"I don't think," he snapped. "I know that she's aware of her Amoveo heritage."
"Fine." Kerry sighed and folded her arms. "If she knows what she is, then who the hell raised her? It can't be an Amoveo, right?" She looked at Dante. "Wouldn't other Amoveo know about it? I mean, where in the hell has she been all these years?"
"I'm not sure of anything anymore," William murmured. "You know that the prince informed the rest of the Council members that Purists like Brendan and Pasha wouldn't be tolerated. He has publicly embraced the idea of humans mating with Amoveo, and he wants any other hybrids found and brought into the fold and protection of their clan."
William couldn't help but notice Dante flinch at the mention of his father's name; his betrayal was still raw, a wound that would never heal. Brendan and the rest of the Purists wanted Kerry and Samantha dead, as well as anyone who would encourage the cross-mating of humans and Amoveo.
"I know she was raised in a rural area of Maryland by a human woman," William continued. "I do not believe that the woman who raised her is a blood relation, but she must know about the Amoveo."
"Hey," Kerry said brightly. "I have a crazy idea. Why don't you actually go and introduce yourself? Y'know? In person-as opposed to dream-stalking the poor woman."
William blinked in surprise. "I am not stalking her. I'm solidifying our connection via the dream realm," he said adamantly.
Kerry looked at him as if he were a complete moron.
"Yeah, you were raised by two Amoveo, but you're telling me that you believe Layla was raised by a human, so how much does she really know?" She looked from William to Dante and shrugged. "Sometimes a small amount of information is more frightening than none at all."
William nodded in agreement. Kerry was absolutely right. All he knew was that she had some idea that she was Amoveo and could control certain aspects of the dream realm. The cold, hard truth was that he didn't know much of anything, and he found that to be the most uncomfortable feeling of all.
"You may have a point," William said quietly.
"You'll notice that he didn't say I was right," she said to Dante, laughing.
"Thank you for your assistance with this matter," he said with a nod.
"You're not gonna wear that are you?" Kerry asked through a grimace.
"Of course." He glanced down at his suit as he straightened the vest again. "Why do you ask?"
"I only met Layla briefly... but she didn't strike me as an I-love-a-guy-in-a-suit kind of girl." She cocked her head and looked at him intently. "You might want to try a pair of jeans and a sweater, or at least ditch the tie."
William made a face of disapproval, and Dante nearly choked on the toast he was eating.
"That'll be the day," Dante said through a coughing fit.
"Fine." Kerry held up her hands in defeat. "It was just a suggestion. Maybe I'm wrong, and your three-piece-suit lawyerly hotness will knock her socks off."
"Thank you." William bowed his head in deference. He turned his attention to Dante. "I can call on you and Malcolm if I'm in need of assistance? The Purists don't seem to be aware of her existence, but I would be more comfortable approaching her if I knew I could count on you both... considering your experience," he said with a glance to Kerry.
"You don't even have to ask-consider it done," Dante said as he and William shook hands over the table. "Have you told the prince that you found Layla?"
"No," William said grimly. "I want to find out more about her before I approach Richard and the rest of the Council. She's remained safe all of these years, and I'd like to keep it that way."
"But the prince told everyone that the Purists are the enemy, not the hybrids." She looked from Dante to William. "Why keep Layla a secret? Even if it's just for a little while longer?"
William thought for a moment, wanting to choose his words carefully. "Let's just say that I suspect not all of the council members share Richard's welcoming feelings about interbreeding with humans."
"Are you sure?" Dante took Kerry's hand and linked her fingers with his. "If there are Purists on the Council, there could be a shit-storm of epic proportions."
"Let's take things one step at a time. First, I have to convince a woman who hates me that I am her life mate."
"You better find some patience and a sense of humor." Kerry squinted, inspecting him closely. "You have any squirreled away under that nifty suit?"
"Thank you for your help as well, Mrs. Coltari." He bowed regally and ignored her comment. "I'll be taking my leave."
"Anytime, Iceman," she said with a wink.
William shot her a look of disapproval at the use of her nickname for him, uttered the ancient language, and vanished into the air.
Kerry smiled as he disappeared and murmured, "I bet a hundred bucks she gets him to ditch a lot more than that tie."
What People are Saying About This
"A very unique paranormal romance series... " - That's What I'm Talking About
"Had my heart racing and pounding due to all the excitement... " - Book Lovin' Mamas
"Humphreys bends suspense and sensuality into a delectable spicy mix. A Night Owl Reviewer Top Pick" - Night Owl Reviews
"The humor, and angst Sara Humphreys puts into her couples getting together is right on and very enjoyable to read, especially when the chemistry between the two is burning up the pages." - Bending the Spine
"Strong, admirable characters, a sizzling love story and a seat of the pants action plot." - Star-Crossed Romance
"Sara has created a fantastic world of loveable shifters that I am always eager to learn more about. " - A Bookworm's Haven
"A good paranormal read with multi-faceted characters and an intense, exciting plot. " - Book Lover and Procrastinator
"Untamed was witty, clever, hilarious, scorching hot, and most of all heart touching. " - Bengal Reads
"The sizzling chemistry, drama and suspense were enough to make me a fan of this series. " - Fresh Fiction