The ultimate sacrifice, a love that lasts forever…
Five hundred years ago, facing extinction, a group of powerful witches united to create a pact with the Were to save witch–kind. The pact expelled an ancient evil, known only as the Darkness, that was blocking the Were from their wolves. With the Darkness destroyed, the Packs and their Covens grew strong as they thrived beside each other in their brand–new world.
But the Darkness was not destroyed.
Shelley Conners has good reason to hate and fear the powers that connect her to the spirit world and the insanity they foretell. But with the Pack's Trickster, Adam McVale, transformed into a Shade, a creature caught between life and death, Shelley holds the only key to saving him. Opening herself up to the world of the dead will only speed up her descent into madness, but Shelley never expects an even darker evil within – the Darkness, waiting patiently for her and the opportunity to destroy the world.
About the Author
Leisl is a tall red head with an overly large imagination. As a child, she identified strongly with Anne of Green Gables. A voracious reader and a born performer, it came as no surprise to anyone when she did a double major in English Literature and Drama for her BA, then went on to a career as an actor, singer and dancer, as well as script writer, stage manager and musical director for cabaret and theatre restaurants (one of which she co-owned and ran for six years).
After starting a family, Leisl stopped performing and instead, began writing the stories that had been plaguing her dreams. Leisl's stories have won and placed in many competitions in Australia and the US, including the STALI, Golden Opportunities, Heart of the West, Linda Howard Award of Excellence, Touch of Magic and many others.
Leisl lives in the leafy suburbs of Melbourne with her two beautiful boys, lovely hubby, overly spunky dogs, Buffy and Skye, and likes to spend time with family and friends. She is addicted to the Syfy channel, and her shelves are full of fantasy and paranormal books and scifi DVDs. She sometimes sings in a choir, has worked as a swim teacher, loves to ski, can talk the hind leg off a donkey and has been President of Romance Writers of Australia from 2014-2017.
To find out more, visit Leisl on her website.
You can also follow Leisl on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
Read an Excerpt
The smell was the first thing that hit Adam, a horrible burning of flesh and cotton. Then the punch as he was flung backwards. Time slowed, every bare millisecond separated as he flew through the air, giving him a chance to look down.
Fuck, there was a hole in his chest.
Time sped up as the pain in his chest tore through him. He hit the wall and there was a strange popping, wrenching sound that made him stagger. There was a thump behind him. He spun to see his body splayed on the ground, a stupid look of surprise on his face. Marcus landed beside him. A black charred hole smoked in both their chests. Marcus' body was still in the super-empowered form that had allowed them to break down the door. Adam's was returning to normal. Well, as normal as it could be with a big black smoking hole in his chest.
Hang on. Why was he looking at his body and not up at the ceiling?
The room span. There could be only one explanation.
He was dead.
He was dead?
It all happened so fast. One moment he'd been rushing into the room, feeling stronger than he'd ever felt before, the next — bam! Struck by Warlock Lightning. Dead.
It was the most curious sensation. Not at all like he'd thought it would feel. Quite freeing actually if you discounted the initial pain. Although there sure was a lot of wind in the afterlife — he couldn't feel it, but it was a loud whooshing in his ears. It made hearing anything else difficult.
Shelley had never mentioned it. Maybe she didn't hear it. Maybe you had to be dead to hear the noise of the afterlife.
He laughed, couldn't help it. It was so absurd.
Shelley's gaze snapped to him and the laughter died. She wasn't looking at his body lying on the floor with the smouldering hole in its chest. But at him. Ghost him. And the expression on her face made him want to howl.
Horror. Grief. Realisation.
He was dead. And there was no way they could ever be together. Not that there was ever really a chance that they would have been, but now that chance was completely gone. Whisked away between one breath and the next. It was like being punched in the chest with something worse than Warlock Lightning. He couldn't breathe. Couldn't breathe. He was dead! And every hope he'd ever had was gone.
Something brushed past him and he became aware of the pandemonium around him. What the fuck was he doing standing here worried about what he'd lost? There was a battle raging around him. Cain was about to throw a lightning bolt at Shelley.
He threw himself in the way but he needn't have bothered. Power sizzled in the air as Shelley waved her hand and shouted out a word. Something buffeted him, and he saw the spirits around him waver and crackle, like bad transmission on the TV. There was a faint amethyst outline hanging in the air around them all, like a bubble — holy crap, it was a shield! — protecting her, Cordy and the two bodies lying on the floor. Cain loosed his lightning. It hit the shield, flared and skittered up to the ceiling, exploding there.
'Fuck, Shelley, that was amazing. I didn't know you could do that.'
She simply stared at him and then her gaze darted around him and he became aware of hundreds of spirits surrounding her too. He wasn't sure if they were being protective or staying in her protective cordon. He didn't have a chance to ask. Another bolt of lightning hit the shield. Sparks sprayed everywhere, delineating the edges of it, the strange amethyst tinge to its translucent edges fluttering. The bolt slid up and hit the ceiling. Rocks and plaster bounced off the shield and clattered onto the floor. Shelley winced as if they'd hit her.
She was being hurt. Protective rage surged inside him. 'You bastard,' he shouted at Cain and leapt towards him — and fell right through him and onto the floor. He rolled over, swearing, and rose, ready to try again. One of the spirits was whispering something in Shelley's ear. Another — he knew it was Harrison, Skye and River's grandfather, from photos he'd seen — shouted something, a general organising his troops, and half the spirits surged forward towards Cain.
Cain shrieked, his words lost in the strange wind that seemed to be a constant whistle in Adam's ears, loosed another bolt and then ran to the door.
'Don't let him get away!' Iain shouted, loud enough that he did hear it. Shit. Iain was there. With Eloise cradled in his arms on the opposite side of the room. He'd forgotten about them. He turned to do as Iain bid, but Cain was already out the door, loosing another lightning bolt at Shelley as he went. More rocks and plaster rained down from the ceiling. Cain was gone, but he didn't really care. He turned to check on Shelley.
She was staring at him.
'I'm dead, aren't I?' She didn't answer, but her eyes blinked faster. 'Is this where I go towards the light?'
'Don't go. Don't go,' she whispered. Strange that he could hear her so clearly.
Then a sob rent the air. Cordy grabbed Marcus' shirt. 'Marcus. Marcus. Come back to me. Don't you leave me alone. Not like this. Not like this.'
Adam's gaze tore from Shelley to see Marcus' spirit standing over Cordy, tortured grief written in every line of him. Shelley stared, then started forward to go to Adam and Marcus' bodies.
'Shelley.' Iain's voice, a sharp, desperate shout. 'Shelley. You can't help them. They're already gone. Eloise is still alive. We have to help her. Shelley!'
Cordy's wailing became even louder, the sobs so grief-filled they lashed him. He could see they were lashing Iain as well, the grief in his friend's eyes for him as well as the Alpha and the mate he'd left behind. Yet, like a good lieutenant always would do, he put aside his grief and did what he could for the living. Adam understood. Just as he understood Iain would do anything to save his new mate.
Marcus had turned to Shelley and was saying something to her, but Adam still couldn't make out his words through the howling wind — he could barely make out what the living were saying. Except Shelley. Her words were clear.
Shelley blinked and then very slowly turned to Cordy, her brow creased. She touched the McClune's Pack Witch on the head and said, 'Sleep.' Cordy slumped over Marcus' body, the absence of sobbing a shocking silence. Shelley nodded slowly as Marcus said something else. 'I know. Are you sure?' She paused, then nodded. 'I'll tell her later.' Marcus looked pleadingly at her, then nodded and turned back to his mate.
'Who are you talking to?' Iain asked.
She swallowed hard. 'Marcus. He's standing right there. He couldn't bear Cordy's grief and asked me to make her sleep. She'll be no use to us anyway.' Her eyes slipped to where Adam stood and then away.
'We have to help Eloise,' Iain repeated.
'Yes.' Shelley blinked again and turned to look at him and the woman in his arms.
'Bron will be here soon.'
'We can't wait for Bron. We have to do something now.'
'You're holding her here.'
He grimaced. 'She's holding herself. She's using the bond and I'm holding her to it, but she's weakening. She's lost too much blood. The bond will tear if we don't do something. Please ... help. You're a nurse. Surely there's something you can do.'
She looked lost. Adam couldn't bare that look in her eyes. He had to do something. Had to bring her out of her grief and shock and bring her back to the here and now. He began to sing 'Suicide Blonde', doing his best Michael Hutchence impersonation. He knew she hated it. Knew it would make her angry. And anger would snap her out of her grief and make her move.
Her eyes flared wide and she snorted out on a laugh, 'Shut up you idiot!'
'Sure. As soon as you snap out of it and do what you're trained to do.' He pointed to Iain. To Eloise. 'She needs your help.'
Suddenly she was moving, racing over to rip the bloody sheet off the bed and turn to where Iain lay with Eloise clutched in his arms. It had worked. She was nurse Shelley again, action girl. One of the many sides of her he loved.
Smiling, he watched her go to work, directing Iain to place Eloise on the bed, snapping out instructions to Iain, who despite his own injuries and weakness, complied, even to the point where he allowed Shelley to hook him up as a blood donor when they found no blood — Iain was a universal donor, thankfully. As they worked, Adam became aware of a curious pull on him. Almost as if one of the pack were pulling on his pack bond. Weird. He would have thought that bond was sliced clean the moment he died. Maybe it didn't fully go until the ceremony of light had been completed and his body taken in the flame of the power of his coven. He knew dead Were didn't stick around once the ceremony was done. Shelley had never seen any Were spirits — just human and witch and warlock. Perhaps he would be here, linked, until then. As Marcus was.
The pull became stronger, dragging him towards Iain and Eloise. He let it. While he could, he'd give everything he could to help Iain save his mate.
Jason, Skye, Bron and River charged into the room. Jason's gaze arrowed immediately to Adam's body, the gaping wound in his chest smouldering and black.
'Oh, my God!' Skye gasped.
'Adam! Bron! Help.'
His brother's cry of denial was like another tearing wound in his chest. Fuck! He'd never wanted to cause anyone that grief, let alone his big brother who had already been through too much. But what could he do? He was dead.
Alistair and June charged in behind them. They howled at the sight of their dead Alpha and went down on their knees next to Marcus and Cordy, keening at the ceiling.
Bron dropped down on her knees beside Adam's body, hands held over him, the anguish in her eyes only a fraction of what was in Jason's.
He held his breath, waiting for her to say the words that would make their grieving real.
Shelley's gaze flickered to him. She took a deep breath and gripped Bron's shoulder. 'Don't. He's gone.'
Bron shook her head. 'No. He's still here. The bolt missed his heart. It's still beating. It's faint but still beating.'
'What?' Adam stared down at his body as Shelley slowly turned to look at him.
'That's impossible. I saw —'
He wasn't dead? Did that mean he was alive? He reached out to touch her, made contact. She jumped. 'Holy shit. What was that?' He stared down at his hand. He'd felt her. Felt her! He looked up at her. She looked just as shocked as he felt. 'Shelley? Tell me you felt that.'
'Saw what?' Skye's voice intruded.
Shelley shook her head, at Skye or at him, he wasn't certain. 'I must have been mistaken,' she whispered and turned back to Bron. 'Can you heal him?'
'I'm trying. I'm trying.'
Skye and Jason began to question Shelley about what had happened. Adam waited for her to answer, for her to finish with them. Marcus began to speak to her again, gesturing at his packmates. She crossed to Alistair and June, spoke softly. They stopped keening and stood, fury and grief in their eyes. 'You have to stop them from doing something stupid, Shelley. You're the only one who can.' Shelley's gaze shot to him and then away, her lips working as if she was holding back some terrible emotion. He wanted to talk to her, wanted to ask her so many things, wanted to try to touch her again, but she got up and hurried back to help Iain with Eloise. Then she went back to Alistair and June. More of the McClune pack arrived, and with words that Marcus spoke to her, Shelley managed to keep them focused, settling Cordy comfortably on a bed, covering and then carrying away Marcus' body. Some went in search of Cain. 'God help Cain when they catch up with him,' he whispered.
There was a tug on him again and he stumbled a little towards Iain and Eloise. They needed his strength. He was happy to give it to them. He glanced over to where Bron worked on him, Jason's hand on her shoulder feeding his strength and Alpha power into her to use in healing his horrific wounds. At any time, he expected to be pulled back to his body as she used her powers to knit his sinews back together. But there was no tug back towards the shell that was once his. It was as if whatever had held him to his body had been completely severed.
He concentrated on Iain and Eloise, concentrated on the sensation that was pulling at him. He needed to give them more.
'Don't do that.'
He turned. Shelley's eyes were wide, slightly panicked, as she stared at him. 'Don't do what?'
'Whatever you're doing. Stop it. You're fading.' Her voice was a mere whisper, but he heard it as clear as a bell.
'What do you mean?'
She looked around the room. Everyone was busy with what they were doing and were taking no notice of her. Not that Shelley talking to spirits was anything new — she tried to ignore them, but they weren't always ignorable. Except now. They weren't trying to talk to her now. They were all hovering near his body or Iain and Eloise. Marcus and a few others were standing over Cordy. For the time being, she had some peace from them all.
She turned back to him. 'I don't know.' She gestured with her hands, waving them up and down. 'You're less real looking. And flickering a little. I don't think it's good. What are you doing?'
'I felt Iain pulling on the pack bond so I channelled my strength into it to help him with Eloise.'
'Well stop it. I don't like the look of what it's doing to you.' She went to move past him.
He grabbed her arm. She hissed. He let go. 'Sorry. Did I hurt you?'
'No.' She stared at him, down at his hand, back up. 'It's just, you touched me. How did you touch me?'
'I don't know. All I know is I can. That I felt it. And so did you.'
She nodded. 'It's icy cold.'
'Oh. Sorry. I'll try and warm up a bit. I wonder if the fire pits of hell are close by?'
Her lips twitched. 'You're such an idiot.'
He couldn't help but smile at her epithet. 'Even in death.'
Her eyes clouded, gaze flickering to his body. 'You're not dead,' she whispered.
He leaned closer to grab her attention. 'Shelley. What's going on? If I'm not dead, then why can you see me? Why can I touch you? What am I?'
'I don't know.' Her gaze met his, a thousand troubled questions clouding the clear, almost violet, blue. 'I don't know.' Iain called her then. 'I have to go.'
'Don't tell them you can see me, Shelley. I don't want them more upset than they already are. I don't want them to give up hope of me. Not until we've figured out what's going on.'
She didn't look at him again, just pressed her lips together, nodded and walked away.
He turned back to the room, his thoughts whirring. There had to be some way he could find out what was going on. Why he was so separate from his body and yet he wasn't dead. Was he a Shade like Cain had been? No. That couldn't be it. He'd touched Shelley and hadn't sucked her life energy from her as Cain had done when he touched others. There was something else going on here. Maybe one of the spirits could help him. According to Shelley, some of them were ancient and had knowledge of things that had been lost to them. Perhaps there was one in the room with him now.
He looked around and caught a woman with long, tangled black hair, staring at him from across the room, her eyes a startling violet glow in the darkened corner in which she stood. She was wearing a gown that looked like it might be from the fifteenth or sixteenth century — although historical fashion wasn't his forte, so he could be completely off there. But she was the only one showing him any interest. She floated over to him.
'You should touch her again. Do it as often as you can.'
'I can hear you.'
'Of course. We are the same. The others are not.'
'What are we?'
She waved her hand back towards Shelley. 'You must tie yourself to her more firmly through your bond.'
'Our bond?' He shook his head. 'There's nothing but the pack bond.'
She tipped her head, assessing. 'You truly believe that?' 'What else could there be?'
She opened her mouth as if to answer and then shook her head. 'You must come with me.'
'And why must I do that?'
'You want to know who you are, don't you? Why you're here? What your role is in all this?'
'What role? I'm here because I was stupid enough to get hit by Warlock Lightning.'
She tutted at him. 'You are important, Adam McVale. More important than anyone has ever given you credit for. But to learn all you need to learn, you must come with She jumped as if she'd heard a sound and looked behind her, then back at him, her face lined with worry. 'I must go. You need to come with me now. There is much you must learn.'
She reached for him. He edged away. The tug of the pack bond pulled insistently. He couldn't leave, no matter what the strange woman said. His pack needed him.
Excerpted from "Wolf Bound"
Copyright © 2018 Leisl Leighton.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises (Australia) Pty Ltd..
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