Thorne knocked back the rest of his drink and crushed the mug in his fist. Shards of clay bit into his hand and scattered on the flagstones at his feet.
He hated being on the defensive.
He wanted to be the stronger male, the stronger kingdom, and the Fifth King was driving him towards failure, battering his pride along the way.
He opened his hand and stared at the splinters of mug embedded into his palm, feeling the vampireâ€™s gaze on it. Crimson pooled in the creases of his hand. It was foolish to allow himself to bleed around so many vampires. Especially around Lord Van der Garde.
The vampire was afflicted with bloodlust.
Thorne raised his gaze to the male. Hungry scarlet eyes locked on Thorneâ€™s palm, their narrowed elliptical pupils speaking of Lord Van der Gardeâ€™s dark desires. He wanted the blood.
Thorne signalled one of the servants he knew carried blood on his tray of drinks. The male hurried over and hovered near the vampire, looking as on edge as Thorne felt. Lord Van der Gardeâ€™s gaze remained rooted on Thorneâ€™s hand, transfixed, as if he had cast a spell upon him, and then the vampire blinked, shot his left hand out and snatched a cup of blood, lifted it to his lips and drank the contents in one go.
â€œNever bleed around me unless you are meaning to offer up your jugular to my fangs,â€ the vampire growled, slammed the mug down on the tray, causing the others to spill, and stalked off.
Thorne plucked the shards from his hand and dropped them onto the tray, and then nodded to the servant. The male moved away, leaving him alone by his throne. He licked the blood from his palm. This was never going to work. He was fooling himself if he thought this army he had assembled could work together and save his kingdom.
This never would have happened in his fatherâ€™s time. His father had been strong and powerful, and had reigned in an era of peace because of that strength. His might had driven all other demons from his realm and kept the borderlands safe. None had dared rise up against him. All had respected him.
Thorne wanted to be like his father, a good king for his people, and he was failing. More now than ever, he feared he would lose to the Fifth King and condemn his people to a brutal end.
This war was life or death to him, but he didnâ€™t care about his own life. He cared only about his people. He couldnâ€™t fail them.
He couldnâ€™t let those who viewed him as a youngling unworthy of his kingdom be proven right.
He had fought them for twenty-seven centuries and he would not give up now.
He would become the stronger male and protect his kingdom.
It was the reason he had gone to the mortal realm to seek the advice of the magic bearer, Rosalind. He had asked to see his future and had instead seen Prince Lorenâ€™s, and a chance to gain a powerful ally. With the elves pledged to bring one thousand men to his realm, he had found hope again.
He had convinced the werewolves to assist him by sending two hundred men and had sought the aid of the Preux Chevaliers. They had pledged to send their First Legion, the finest in their corps. Over one hundred strong vampire males in total.
He had gathered every demon of fighting age in his kingdom and posted half of them at the border villages to protect them, and had sent his best commanders to train them. The other half had come to the castle.
He had amassed an army, a force strong enough to drive the demons of the Fifth Realm back for good. When they next attacked, he would be ready for them and he would seek out the Fifth King and claim his head and his heart as his prize.
He would end the threat to his kingdom by ending the Fifth King.
His sensitive hearing picked up some curses off to his left, at the far end of the room near the doors that led to the mortal and elf quarters. His pulse doubled as his gaze scanned the gathered humans and then settled as he realised that Sable was not among them.
The mortal hunters broadcasted fear.
Archangel had sent only fifty but it had given him something more valuable than their strength.
They had brought him Sable.
Just thinking about her lifted some of the weight from his shoulders, relaxing him yet at the same time increasing his tension. It wasnâ€™t only nerves about seeing her again. It was nerves about having her here as part of his army.
She was a warrior though, and as strange as that was to him, he had to respect it. He had witnessed how she reacted when coddled by a male during a fight and knew not to belittle her abilities as a hunter. Loren had often spoken of her during their meetings, slipping information to him, telling him of the powerful creatures that she had fought and defeated in the mortal world. She was a capable and skilled hunter, and a determined female, and he admired her for it.
He moved towards the gathered men and women, desiring to calm them and make them feel they were safe among so many species they probably viewed as enemies.
Sable would be here soon to take command of them. She would be pleased if she found him conversing with her people, putting their minds at ease.
The females among the group wore the same battle clothing they had been earlier.
Would Sable be dressed in such a manner or would she have a garment more suited to her rank and the occasion?
He tried to picture her in a dress of mortal fashion, one he had seen on females at social gatherings in the human world. The image that popped into his head was one of her in her black leather trousers, knee-high boots and tight little top that emphasised her breasts. He groaned and rubbed his mouth, fighting for control over his body as he recalled his dreams of her, lifelike visions of stripping her slowly before he claimed her as his forever.
A scuffle broke out behind him, pulling his attention away from thoughts of Sable and from her band of mortals.
He turned to see the source of the commotion. A few werewolves and vampires were engaged in a fistfight. Kincaid and Lord Van der Garde were already among them, both males looking as if they wanted to throw punches rather than stop their men from doing so. He took a step towards them, intending to intervene, and then stopped himself. It was better he allowed their commanders to deal with it so he didnâ€™t appear to be interfering in their business.
A ripple of heat travelled through his muscles, sending a shiver of awareness through him.
He was turning before he knew it, his gaze seeking her, drawn to his little female.
When it found her, his blood chilled and then burned for a different reason.
She was beautiful, resplendent with her long black hair twirled and clasped at the back of her head and her lips rosy, but she did not wear a dress of mortal fashion.
The long flowing blue garment reached her ankles, the sheer layers parting as she walked, revealing glimpses of bare thigh through the gauzy material that made him want to growl at every male in the room who dared to look upon his female. In contrast to the loose skirt, the top was tight, the blue bands of material held in place by elaborate arcs and swirls of brushed silver metal that acted as a corset over them.
An elven dress.
The wretched elf male beside her raked an appreciative glance over her body, blatant hunger in his purple eyes.
Thorneâ€™s lips peeled back off his fangs and his horns curled in front of his ears.
He stormed through the crowd, shoving demon, elf, vampire and werewolf out of his path, picking up speed as he neared her and the male. Sableâ€™s golden eyes met his, a smile rising onto her lips. It faded when he growled low in his throat. She tensed, her eyes going wide, and backed off a step. He pushed the last obstacle aside and seized Bleu by his throat, barely registering Sableâ€™s gasp, and kicked forwards, using all of his speed to slam the male against the stone wall behind her.
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Claimed by a Demon King
The moment the demon King Thorne of the Third Realm set eyes on the mortal huntress Sable, he knew she was his fated one. The fiery, dangerous female awakened hungers he had never experienced before, a dark craving and passion that has consumed him in their time apart. As the lunar cycle wanes, she enters his world again and nothing will stand in the way of him claiming his forever with herâ€”not the relentless assault from the Fifth Realm or the dark elf male determined to seduce her out of his grasp.
Intent on achieving the coveted position of commander at Archangel, Sable leads her small team into the dark underworld and the Third Realm, to a war where her allies are the very creatures she normally huntsâ€”vampires, werewolves, and demons. Her eagerness to lead the deadly mission has everything to do with winning her promotion, and nothing to do with the kingdomâ€™s brash, lethally seductive demon kingâ€”a king who stirred fierce desire and wildfire heat in her with just a look and an innocent touch when they first met, and has been in her wicked dreams ever since.
As the gathering storm between rivals unleashes irresistible passion that flares white-hot and the heat of the battle brings life-shattering realisations, can Sable place her duty before her heart? Or will she surrender to her deepest desires and be claimed by a demon king?
If you haven’t had a chance to read any of the books in the Eternal Mates romance series yet, they’re all available at major ebook retailers and in paperback, and you can find the links and samples of the books at my website: