Award-winning author Debra Mullins introduced readers to the world of the Truthseers in Prodigal Son and Heart of Stone. Now the story of the lost Atlanteans continues in Warrior of Fate.
Warrior Adrian Gray has dedicated his life in service to his people, and has never doubted his calling...until now. Three mystical Atlantean power stones were assumed lost for centuries, but one by one the Seers of Atlantis have tracked them down in a tireless race against the extremist Mendukati. Adrian's mission? To ensure that the stones are acquired and protected by the right peoplehis people.
Adrian has always been uncompromising in his dedication to the cause. But the True Seer Tessa Montana proves a sensual distraction in his quest, and he soon finds his discipline wavering. Torn between his sacred duty to the Warriors and his desire for Tessa, will Adrian and his secrets cost them the war?
About the Author
DEBRA MULLINS is the award-winning author of historical and paranormal romances. She has been nominated for the Holt Medallion, the RITA from Romance Writers of America and the National Readers Choice Award. When not writing, she is reading or traveling or working on her family tree-sometimes all at the same time. She is the author of The Truthseers series, including Prodigal Son, Heart of Stone, and Warrior of Fate. Born and raised in the New York/New Jersey area, she now lives in California with her family, where she doesn't miss snowstorms in the least and optimistically continues her search for real pizza.
Read an Excerpt
Warrior of Fate
By Debra Mullins
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2015 Debra Mullins
All rights reserved.
They'd brought an army to Belize.
Adrian Gray peered through the underbrush at the Mendukati encampment. The members of the extremist group scurried around breaking camp, collapsing tents and loading trucks with supplies. He counted fifty men. On the far side of the camp stretched a beach, and on it sat a helicopter, silhouetted against the setting sun. That had to be how Azotay, their commander, was planning to make his escape.
Azotay. Adrian clenched his teeth, then wished he hadn't as pain speared through his jaw — a parting gift from Azotay's fist a few hours before. The bastard had knocked him out and stolen the power crystal of Atlantis right out from under him. Next move would be for Azotay to deliver the stone to his leader, Jain Criten. Then Criten would have two of the three ancient stones of power. And if he ever got his hands on the third ...
That would be bad. Very bad. Armageddon bad.
Adrian knew where the third stone was: guarded by a family of Atlantean Seers he had come to regard as friends. The Mendukati blamed all Seers for the destruction of Atlantis and had vowed to wipe them from the earth. He knew what Criten would do to the Seers to get that third stone. His job was to make sure that never happened.
Starting here and now.
He checked his weapons: his diving knife, a handgun — Glock 9mm — and three grenades he'd liberated from an unsuspecting arms dealer's yacht. As a Warrior of Atlantis, he preferred to use his superior strength and speed in hand-to-hand combat, but since it was just him against an entire battalion of Atlantean Warriors who shared the same gifts, he needed every advantage he could get. He did have one ace in the hole: he was a member of the Leyala, an elite group of Warriors who judged other Warriors and could drain them of their powers. Invoking the Word of Judgment was a sacred duty, and since the process was irreversible, he only used it in the most extreme of circumstances.
If he got cornered by a bunch of these guys, the circumstances might indeed become extreme.
Satisfied with his weapons, he tucked everything away and inched closer. Once this started, there was no going back. It was his fault Azotay had gotten this stone, his screw-up, so he had to be the one to fix it.
He inhaled, centered his power, quieted his mind, and sprang.
The first few men went down without a murmur, victims of his silent, slashing blade. Someone shouted to his right — a group loading one of the trucks. He yanked the pin and sailed a grenade their way. The explosion rocked the camp. Screams clashed with ripping metal and shattering glass. He darted to his left, taking out two more guards with sharp strikes to the head as they stood goggle- eyed at the blast.
He pivoted and punched through the mêlée, his target the largest tent in the camp. Had to be Azotay's. The prick would want the biggest and the best, and Azotay and the stone would be there. Adrian slashed and struck his way through any opposition, bodies falling before him like wheat before the plow. Some of them realized who he was and what he intended, but the advanced training of the Leyala gave him the edge. He got through most of them with quick blows to incapacitate, moving, ducking, blocking. A chop to the windpipe here, an elbow to the diaphragm there. A sweep to the legs to fell one, a hard fist to the jaw to send another reeling. From the corner of his eye, he saw a guy pop out of a tent, a rocket launcher balanced on his shoulder. Adrian jerked the pin from a grenade and tossed it. Rocket launcher and wielder went flying, along with the tent and a cluster of men behind it.
He spun around with the momentum of his throw and slammed a fist in the throat of a Warrior rushing him. The guy collapsed. He jumped over the body and met three more fighters armed with knives. He struck, blocked, avoided. One fell. Two. He started on the third and caught movement from the big tent. Azotay stepped out, carrying a small wooden box. The bastard glanced over at Adrian. He smirked, and with a little salute, he started toward the chopper, followed by two of his men.
That salute slid into his bloodstream like acid, eating away at everything but the rage bubbling there. Azotay would not get away again.
So nice seeing you, brother dear. Azotay's telepathic taunt — and the reminder of their shared lineage — only added fuel to the fire.
Stick around, he sent back, glaring at his brother's retreating form. The party's just getting started.
Sorry, got to go. Do give my regards to Father.
Adrian knocked away another two Warriors coming at him and targeted Azotay. He pared through the next wave of men like a blade through butter. Closed the gap between himself and the helicopter. His mind raced, working strategies as he sped up his pace. He gave a shove to a handful of attackers, tumbling them like bowling pins, and leaped over them, hitting the ground at a run, beelining it toward that chopper.
The distance shrank by half. He was going to make it.
Someone grabbed him from behind, jerked his shirt tight around his arms and throat and spun him around. He faced a bare chest — and on it, just over the heart, a large X-shaped burn mark where a tattoo used to be. Disgraced Leyala. He jerked his gaze up. "Martel."
"Yup." Martel smashed him in the face.
Adrian turned his head, avoided the death blow to the nose, took the impact on his already-sore jaw. Came around swinging, lobbing a fist to Martel's gut. Didn't budge him an inch.
The bigger Warrior hooked his arm around Adrian's neck. Squeezed. Spots swam before his eyes. Adrian grabbed Martel's arm with both hands and pulled, straining, searching for one millimeter of give so he could draw a breath. That arm stayed solid as steel. He grew lightheaded. He was going to die here on this stinking beach while Azotay escaped with the stone.
He grabbed Martel's pinky and yanked, snapping the bone with an audible crack.
Martel howled. His arm jerked, allowing air to flow. Adrian slammed an elbow into Martel's gut. The bigger man fell back a step, clasping his injured finger. Adrian slid out of his hold and stumbled forward, sucking air into his starving lungs. His head cleared as oxygen flowed to his brain again. The broken pinky would only distract Martel for a minute, and then it would piss him off, driving that killing rage even higher. Adrian came around, jerking the Glock out of the small of his back. Aimed.
Martel was already closer than he'd expected. The bigger man grabbed Adrian's wrist before he could get off a shot and squeezed, forcing him to drop the gun. Adrian pulled his knife with his free hand, went for the jugular. Martel blocked the movement just in time, tried to wrest the knife away, closing both his hands around Adrian's. Adrian smashed their joined hands against Martel's chest, crushing the broken pinky. Martel swore and cuffed Adrian in the side of the head, sending him back a step. He jerked the blade from Adrian's grip.
Adrian backed away, keeping the gun in his peripheral vision, circling toward it. Martel rushed him, knife arcing toward his heart. Adrian blocked, shoved Martel's arm down and away. Martel twisted his hand at the last second. The blade plunged into Adrian's side.
Pain seared through his body, slicing upward like fire. He tried to yank out the knife, but Martel kicked his legs out from under him. The two of them went down, Martel on top. He twisted the blade with a sadistic smile, eyes alight with glee.
Sprawled beneath the bigger Warrior, Adrian gritted his teeth against the agony, his gaze dimming in and out, his breath hissing from between his teeth. Martel dug the knife in deeper, tearing at muscle and guts, nearly filleting him like a fish. Blood flowed like a crimson fountain, leaking his life away.
He locked eyes with Martel, lifted a shaking hand.
Martel laughed. "You've got nothing left, asshole."
Adrian gathered the last bit of fading life force he could, flattened his hand against Martel's chest, and spat the Word of Judgment.
The tattoo on Adrian's chest — the badge of Leyala — flared and pulsed, channeling every bit of energy he had left into Judgment. Panic flared in Martel's eyes as power surged down Adrian's arm and into the other man, gutting Martel of his strength and everything that made him a Warrior. Martel shuddered as if struck by lightning, his eyes glazing over and his tongue lolling from his mouth. Adrian gave him a shove, and the bigger man rolled off him to lay staring and oblivious.
The chopper flew away above them. Azotay had escaped.
Adrian lay still, his broken body trembling from power expended and absorbed. His wound still bled, and his training told him that the injury could prove mortal if he didn't get off this battlefield. Warriors possessed innate accelerated healing, but his wouldn't kick in fully for damage this serious without the assistance of some bandages and a safe place to rest. The power he'd drained from Martel would have to hold him until he found shelter and could rebuild his own reserves. Which he'd do in a minute or so, when he'd stabilized enough to move.
What had he been thinking, taking on the entire platoon of Warriors, going after Azotay by himself? He hadn't been thinking at all, that's what. He'd been feeling — grieving because Azotay was behind the murder of his friend Ben Wakete, furious because the Mendukati had put one over on them and snatched the stone away, and betrayed because his own brother, his fraternal twin, was the hatchet man for the enemy.
He'd let emotion get the better of him and, as his father had always predicted, he'd lost. Now he had to return to Arizona with his tail between his legs. The Council would have something to say about all this, he was sure. As would the Seers, the people he was supposed to protect.
Especially one Seer. She always had something to say, especially if it was a dig at him.
He allowed himself to think of Tessa Montana for one moment, her blond beauty a balm to his battered soul, those violet eyes full of secrets, her mouth lush and sexy — and smart. The woman could rip up pavement with her sharp sarcasm, but he wanted her anyway. Would they ever get their chance?
Nearby, a truck backfired, and he shoved the image away and focused on his surroundings. Time to move.
He sat up, muscles screaming, and pulled the knife from the wound. Blood poured free. Tearing off his T-shirt, he fashioned a quick bandage to keep the pressure on, fastening the wadded material in place with his belt. Around him the remaining Warriors were bugging out, no doubt rattled at the fall of their mightiest comrade. One intrepid soul, seeing he was alive, rushed toward him, yelling. Adrian snagged the gun from the ground and fired, dropping the attacker. Then he struggled to his feet, tucking away the knife but holding the gun against the prospect of any other heroes, and forced his beaten body toward the trees.
Despite the commotion, no one else seemed to be pursuing him. Those who were still mobile dragged the wounded to the trucks or outright fled. Three guys approached Azotay's tent, probably to break it down. He paused a few feet away, pulled the pin on the last grenade, and threw it. The explosion lit the darkening sky, flames swooshing over the tent and decimating it in minutes.
He grinned, slipping into the trees as chaos erupted behind him.CHAPTER 2
It surged through her with scorching heat, enough to turn sand to glass. But Tessa Montana did not burn, nor did she cry out. She tilted her head back, turning her face to Sedona's glorious morning sun, opening the hands resting on her knees, palms up, to better absorb the nourishing shower of energy. Every molecule of her flesh sang, every cell of her muscles strained closer to blessed Ekhia, the sun. And around her neck, a small, clear crystal throbbed like a beating heart.
She was a Seer, descended from the last High Priestess of Atlantis. She saw images of past, present, and future. Voices murmured constantly in her mind, the thoughts of humans for miles. She'd learned to tune them out for the most part. But sometimes a vision gripped her, took over her body to make itself known. She'd seen things she shouldn't, things she didn't want to see.
But often there was a message, and she, the reluctant messenger.
She used the sun's rays now to strengthen her mental shields. The vortexes around her, masses of whirling energy famous to her home city of Sedona, helped to drown out the chatter and award her a moment's peace. She allowed her consciousness to be swirled into the vortexes, the beautiful silence.
That silence was broken moments later.
She felt him before she heard him, a masculine life force that crashed over her like a wave of lava. Because she was channeling through Ekhia, she was open, vulnerable, and his energy honed in on hers like a heat-seeking missile. Her feminine channels flooded with his essence before she could avoid it. She gasped for breath, floundered as she clumsily closed down the connection to the sun, and nearly fell backward into the yuccas. Again.
"Easy there, princess." Strong fingers wrapped around her upper arm, steadying her. She opened her eyes and scowled up into the too-handsome face of Adrian Gray.
"What are you doing here?" She pulled her arm from his grasp.
"A meeting with your family. Didn't they tell you?" A smile played along those sculpted lips as she got up from her cross-legged position on the ground, and his dark eyes had that gleam in them again, the one that reminded her of a cat patiently waiting for its prey. Not an ordinary house cat, mind you. A big, black panther. If a panther wore designer polo shirts and khakis, that is.
She swiped the sand from her shorts and ignored the warm flutter in her belly. "Yeah, they mentioned it. I just didn't know when you were coming. I thought you were —" She waved a hand. "Wherever it is you go when you're not here. Vegas, I think?"
"Not anymore. I left Vegas when your brother Rafe did."
"Right. Because you were only there chasing the stone, like everyone else."
He frowned. "Not chasing. Tracking."
"I stand corrected. You were tracking a Stone of Ekhia. Because you Warriors don't chase. You track."
"Good to know." She searched for another snappy remark. Came up empty.
"Anything else you want to know, Tessa?" He leaned in, his nearness a silent challenge.
While he remained as handsome as ever, she noticed a slight tension to his features. And ... was he a little pale? "You were gone for three days after everyone else got back from Belize, pal, and you look like hell to boot. Want to explain that?"
The amusement faded from his face. Not for the first time, she wished she could read the thoughts of Atlanteans like she could humans. She'd pay big money to know what Adrian Gray was thinking. The man had more secrets than the CIA.
"Nice to know you were counting the days," he said. "But I'm back now to meet with all of you. About what happened in Belize, and what comes next."
"About time. I've only heard stories from Faith and Darius about what happened. There's a big piece missing — your piece."
"You'll hear all about it today."
"Good." She had the strongest urge to touch him, and she shoved her hands into the pockets of her shorts. "And will you be filling us in on who you're working for?"
She'd heard the term "poker face" before, but she'd never really seen it until this moment. His features went completely impassive, his eyes guarded. "I'll tell you what I can."
"Let me guess. If you tell me, you have to kill me, right?"
He gave her a resigned smile and flicked her chin with his finger. Just the brief touch sent tingles along her flesh. "The reason I don't tell you is so you don't get killed, princess. There's a difference."
Despite his teasing remark, she could tell she'd get nothing more out of him on the subject. "You're going to have to fess up someday, Mr. Invincible. And that day might be today." She looked past him and waved. "Hey, Dar! Look who's here."
Adrian turned as Tessa's brother Darius opened the sliding door to the kitchen. "Tess, did you fall in the yuccas again? Mom's going to be steamed."
Excerpted from Warrior of Fate by Debra Mullins. Copyright © 2015 Debra Mullins. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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