Happy New Release Day to Valen and Eva in my Guardians of Hades series!
VALEN, book two in the series, is out now. It’s time to catch up with what has been happening in the world of these seven sexy powerful sons of Hades as they fight to protect our world and theirs from certain doom!
Enter the VALEN international giveaway (ends March 12th) at my website, where you can also download a long sample of the book: http://www.felicityheaton.com/guardians-of-hades-valen-paranormal-romance-book.php
Prince of the Underworld and Lord of Lightning, Valen was banished from his home by his father, Hades, two centuries ago and given a new duty and purpose—to keep our world and his from colliding in a calamity foreseen by the Moirai.
Together with his six brothers, he fights to defend the gates to the Underworld from daemons bent on breaching them and gaining entrance to that forbidden land, striving to protect his home from their dark influence. Cursed by Zeus to never know love again, Valen has brought up barriers around his heart to protect it, but with each new barrier he creates, the dark hold his power has over him grows, becoming all he needs.
Until the night he finally crosses paths with the assassin who has been watching him from the shadows, a bewitching mortal possessing the name of an angel and the skills of a devil—a woman who awakens his passionate heart and stirs dangerous desires.
Eva has built a fearsome reputation for herself in Italy’s underworld, but her latest job in her beloved city of Rome has left her feeling that she has stepped into a dangerous world and this mission might end in her death—either at the hands of her mysteriously seductive client or by the blade of the wickedly alluring warrior who is her target.
As the threat from the daemons escalates and more than just the Rome gate becomes their target, will Valen be strong enough to face the fears in his heart and the ghosts of his past to claim everything he desires or will they lure him deeper under their spell and into the darkness?
EXCERPT FROM VALEN (GUARDIANS OF HADES BOOK 2)
Whoever she was, she wasn’t being subtle.
Valen had first noticed her when he had stepped out of his apartment building and into a nearby square right in the heart of Rome, and a jolt had run through him, a hot bolt of electricity that had lit up his senses until they had been singing a symphony, a cantata all about his little assassin tail.
Gods, had he missed her?
After his brothers, Ares and Daimon, had sent a message to their enemy by cutting down the daemon known as Trickster, everything had fallen quiet rather than imploding as Valen had been hoping. He had bet his left bollock to his eldest brother, Keras, that the death of one of their ranks would draw the rest of them out of hiding, allowing him and his brothers to see just how many they were dealing with as the calamity the Moirai had foreseen centuries ago finally kicked into action.
The dumb bastards had done the opposite, showing just what weak-spined pathetic limp fucking wastes of blood and bone they were.
Fuck, Valen had wanted a fight, had craved war with every drop of blood in his body, so fiercely that it had taken him weeks of hunting and dispatching daemons in Rome to finally find some balance again and master his power.
Electricity arced across his fingertips, illuminating his hands as he strolled across the long square towards a narrow road at the southern end of Piazza Navona, luring his little friend with him.
His thoughts returned to her, senses honing in on her location, easily pinpointing her despite the masses of mortals that moved around the popular tourist attraction, milling around the illuminated fountains and snapping photographs of each other in front of the elegant buildings, all of them taking advantage of the more clement weather as spring finally showed the first signs of warming up the city.
The tiny bolts of lightning that leaped between his fingertips chased upwards and burrowed into his skin beneath his long black cotton coat, and his eyelids slid to half-mast as warmth suffused his flesh and sank deep into his bones.
Sweet gods, it felt good.
Always did. Always would.
He let his power flow through him, coaxing it to chase along his skin just beneath the surface, cajoling it into doing his bidding in order to have that momentary high, that sweet, sweet buzz that he had come to crave ever since he had been banished to this fucking hellhole known as Earth, kicked from his home in the Underworld by his father.
All because of the motherfucking Moirai.
He turned his head to his right and spat on the worn stone paving slabs. The Moirai would know it was aimed at their ugly bitch faces.
The lightning dancing just below the surface of his skin grew in intensity, until it lit up every nerve ending and became the one who coaxed him.
Cajoled him into surrendering to it.
He wanted to. Gods did he want to.
Fucking Keras and his other brothers would come down on his head if he let loose around so many mortals though. Hell, they would tear him a new one if he so much as stepped in front of a human, teleporting away and leaving a vapor trail of darkness behind him.
Some bullshit about not being allowed to reveal there were such things as gods.
Valen snorted, not quite a laugh but as close as he ever came to one.
As if he had ever given a damn about the rules.
His steps slowed at the junction in the road and he stopped without realising it, arrested by his own thought.
He snorted again. Maybe he did give a fuck about those. Hell, he wasn’t turning his tail into mincemeat in front of all the petty little mortals now, was he? Rules were the only reason he hadn’t killed her yet, making an example of her to whoever had sent her to kill him.
She drew closer and he turned his head to his right, until the scar down the left side of his neck and jaw pulled tight and irritated the fuck out of him. He felt her still and then slink deeper into the shadows of the buildings, attempting to blend in with a group of mortals. Good luck with that.
She couldn’t hide from him.
He slid his right hand inside his long black coat and shuddered as his fingers found the cool metal of his black blade and tiny sparks of electricity leaped from their tips to the knife, warming it beneath his touch.
He had been aware of her the moment she had stepped from the shadows to follow him, had been leading her on a dance all night without her knowing it. She had tailed him all across the city and into his favourite nightclub, Heavenly Body. He had pretended to chat to the women there, and a few of the men, but the whole time his focus had been on her where she had sat in a dark corner of the bar, her face in shadow as she spoke with two men, acting as if she had gone there to meet them.
His little assassin probably thought he was unaware of her, blind to her dogging his every step.
She was good, but not that good.
In the short time he had been aware of her tailing him, before she had disappeared on him for three long months, he had grown attuned to her, as if she had burrowed beneath his skin just like his lightning to become a part of him in a way.
It was the only way he could explain how he reacted to her without truly being aware of her.
He was always watching for her even when he didn’t know it. He didn’t need to put his mind to it at all now, not as he had at first. No. Awareness of her was constant. Permanent.
She was branded on him.
Stamped on his black soul.
He knew the moment she was near him, because she lit up his veins as fiercely as his lightning and made his body buzz just as addictively.
Gods, he had missed her.
Keras would call him sick if he knew, but Valen didn’t give a fuck what his brother thought. He didn’t give a fuck what any of them thought, and he hadn’t for a long time, not since they had stopped giving a shit about him.
Valen shoved his arsehole brothers out of his head and focused on her where she lingered in the shadows, until she was all that he knew.
Whoever she was, she was human.
A little mortal.
No trace of daemon in her.
Did she know what she had gotten herself into or was she oblivious to what he was—a god?
He wanted to turn around and ask her, but then the game would be over and where was the fun in that?
Someone had hired her to kill him. He had zero doubt that she was a professional, and she was probably very good at her job when her target was a lowly human, without his heightened senses or abilities.
Had she been hired by the same people who had sent a daemon to take down his brother, Ares’s, gate to the Underworld in New York?
He would find out soon enough.
He moved on, taking the road to his left and then banking right, and smiled when he sensed her following. He crossed the small square in front of the church and glanced at the ice cream parlour that was closing up for the night, the elderly owner bringing his signs into the shop. It was tempting to stop for a gelato and see what she would do. The weather hadn’t been nice enough for ice cream, but now the cold crisp morning air often gave way to a warm afternoon and that heat bled into the evening before the cold stole in again. It was almost gelato weather.
Gods bless the Italians. They knew how to cook.
Gelato, pasta, pizza, and desserts. They made the best damn food. He glanced at the ice cream parlour again, sorely tempted to grab a cup to go, but managed to resist. Once he was done playing with his little assassin, he would find somewhere to indulge his new craving.
That was the other thing he loved about Rome. The clocks were striking midnight around him, but he knew without a doubt he would be able to find somewhere to eat well into the morning hours.
Valen forced himself to move on, taking the next right and then banking left, heading down a narrow street between the old buildings, leading his tail onwards to their final destination.
The streets were growing quiet now. By the time he reached where he was heading, they would be in that strange period of emptiness between the tourists heading to bed and the clubs kicking everyone out.
What would his little assassin do then?
The corners of his mouth quirked. He really wanted to know.
He headed left again, down another narrow street, slowing his pace to allow time for the square ahead to empty. He could see it just in the distance, the rear of the circular building still illuminated by yellow light. Beyond that, the huge open square would be quiet, the restaurants and cafés closed for the night.
They would be alone.
Electricity coursed through him at just the thought, sending a pleasant hot shiver over his skin.
He wanted to pick up the pace, wanted to reach the square and finally meet his little assassin, but somehow kept his steps slow and measured, the thought of arriving there and not finding the piazza empty because he had rushed tempering his urgent need.
He didn’t want this moment spoiled.
He wanted it perfect.
His mother’s words rang in his mind, a warning she had issued when she had visited him months ago.
She is a storm born of the earth, bearing the name of an angel but the skill of a devil.
Gods, how many days since he had heard those words had he lain awake thinking about them.
Thinking about her.
He was sure his mother hadn’t meant to make the assassin sound alluring, hadn’t meant to weave an image of her that teased his imagination, but she had and he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her since that day.
It had been hell when she had disappeared. At first, he had been convinced it would be only a day or maybe two without her familiar presence in his life as he patrolled Rome’s streets. When she hadn’t shown up after three, he had told himself it would be only a week. And then two weeks. Then a month.
Three had passed.
Now part of him wanted to confront her and ask her where the fuck she had gone.
How the fuck could she leave him alone for so long?
He snorted at that, this one filled with self-contempt. Idiot. She was an assassin. He was nothing to her. A mark. A contract. A pay-day. That was all he was, and it was stupid of him to think any differently. It was foolish to let her sink this deep into his skin, burrow this far into his black soul.
He had learned his lesson about what happened when he succumbed to such behaviour long ago.
Had even vowed that it would never happen again.
Yet here he was, casually strolling down the slope into the Piazza della Rotonda, following the graceful curved side of the Pantheon, being a fucking fool all over again.
Valen closed his eyes, gritted his teeth and shut down that weak part of himself, slamming the door shut on it and locking it back inside where it belonged.
When he opened his eyes again, he was passing the three rows of thick towering Corinthian columns that supported the triangular pediment at the front of the Pantheon. He cast his gaze over them as he walked around towards the front of the ancient building, acting absorbed in their majesty even as his senses shifted back to his assassin. She had slowed, lingering in the shadows again, hiding from him.
He would know her face.
She would know his.
It was the last thing she would see.
He pulled the two sides of his long black cotton coat back, flashing the gold lining that matched his eyes, and jammed his hands into the pockets of his equally dark combat trousers, careful to keep his blades hidden from the few stray tourists that were leaving the square. Their paces quickened as they caught sight of him, their eyes darting to his scar and widening before they leaped away and their owner hurried in the opposite direction to him.
He had that effect on people.
Valen shrugged it off and stopped in front of the fountain in the centre of the quiet square. He scanned the old, shuttered buildings that surrounded him, feigning interest in their pale blue, terracotta orange and cream façades as he made sure he was alone with his little assassin now. The last of the tourists slinked away into a side street and he waited until his senses said they were far away before turning around, resting his backside against the curved marble base of the fountain, and staring at the columned façade of the Pantheon.
It was beautiful, and older than he was.
That was the greatest thing about Rome. Most of it had been stuck on Earth for longer than him, and half of it outstripped his tender eight hundred and forty-four years in age by at least a thousand more. The crowded city centre overflowed with such places, a mixture of old Roman buildings and ancient sites dedicated to a pantheon of pathetic gods.
Movement to his right snagged his attention and he dodged left, and frowned as something zipped past his head and splashed down in the water behind him. He glanced over his shoulder at it and his frown hardened, his lips flattening as he spotted the small feathered dart sitting in the bottom of the fountain.
What the fuck?
No way she was going to try and drug him from a distance when he had lured her to this square in order to finally come face to face with her and find out what she wanted.
No way in the fucking Underworld was he about to let that happen.
His golden eyes snapped to the little assassin where she lingered in the shadows of a small side street to the right of the Pantheon. He caught a flash of something metal and threw himself forwards into a roll across the cobblestones as his senses blared a warning. Another dart zipped past him and he growled through clenched teeth as he came onto his feet into a dead run at her.
He sensed her alarm, heard the spike in her heartbeat as she hastily reloaded the dart gun.
She fired again and he dodged each bolt with ease, ducking beneath the first and side-stepping to evade the second, closing in on her the whole time. The gun shook in her hands as she was forced to reload again.
His right hand went to the curved black blade sheathed against his hip and he did the one thing sure to piss his brothers off if they heard about it.
Darkness embraced him, cool and comforting, and then the lingering warmth of spring in Rome met him again as he emerged from the teleport.
Right in front of his little assassin.
Her gasp was sweet music to his ears as he introduced her throat to his blade and she froze in place.
A second later, she recovered, raising her gun and aiming it at his stomach.
Valen clucked his tongue, grabbed the gun with his left hand and twisted it out of her grip, earning another delicious gasp from her. He curled his lip at the weapon and tossed it away from him, not bothering to look where it landed as it clattered across the dark grey cobblestones.
His little assassin had the whole of his attention.
Luminous blue eyes like tropical waters stared up into his, wide and beguiling, surrounded by dark make-up that accentuated their striking colour and framed by long black lashes.
Crimson full lips parted to reveal straight white teeth and the tempting hint of a soft pink tongue.
Short dark hair caressed her neck and swept across her forehead, streaked with blue that matched her eyes.
Fuck, she was beautiful.
He swallowed his pounding heart and tried to remember what the hell he was meant to be doing. His eyes dropped from her pouty red lips to the blade he had poised against her throat. That was right.
He was meant to be getting answers, not getting a hard-on.
He had let her have her fun with her gun. Now he was going to have his own brand of fun.
“My turn.” He pressed the blade harder against her throat.
She snarled and kicked him in the shin, her knee-high boot connecting hard with it. He was behind her before she could catch him with a second strike and he snagged her right wrist and took her arm with him, twisting it behind her back. She whimpered as he pressed it against her leather jacket and he barely suppressed the hot shiver that rushed through him on hearing the sound leave her lips.
Everything about her was sexy.
His wicked little assassin.
As addictive and seductive as his power, everything he had dreamed she would be and feared she wouldn’t.
Valen released her wrist and stepped closer to her, so their bodies touched, and his breathing quickened at the same time as hers. He swallowed hard, desperate to wet his throat, and lowered his eyes to the smooth curve of her throat and the sharp edge of his black knife. So provocative. So tempting.
An ache started deep in his belly, a hunger that was always there, lurking and waiting, born of darkness.
He moved the blade closer to her throat, eliciting another delicious whimper that cranked up that hunger, made it fiercer, gave it substance and strength. He could easily kill her. Part of him wanted to do it. He traced a finger down her neck, shuddered in time with her as his lightning crackled between them, energy that lit him up and pulled him deeper into his power’s seductive embrace.
She trembled in his arms, her head tipping up so the back of it brushed his chest. Such a petite little thing. He wanted to drop the blade and fist his hand in that silken black-and-blue hair of hers, wanted to hold her head back while he introduced her to all the ways his power could pain her.
Or pleasure her.
He barely bit back the groan that rumbled up his throat at that thought, but he didn’t manage to steady his thundering heart and quiet the trembling in his limbs.
His golden eyes slid to her face. To her lips.
Or kiss her?
She tensed and he clucked his tongue again, chastising her for thinking about making a move to break free of him. She had brought this upon herself. She should have stayed away, but she hadn’t. She had walked back into his life, and she had tried to drug him.
He looked down to his left, to the gun that lay on the cobblestones a short distance away, and the hunger coursing through his blood transformed from a need to kiss her.
To a need to kill her.
Electricity arced from his fingertips and she gasped and jolted backwards, pressing harder against his body. He growled into her ear and traced his hand over her arm, feeling the leather of her short black jacket, heating it with his power as it tried to insulate her from it. The way she trembled and shook in his arms said it wasn’t doing a good enough job.
“If you answer me honestly, I won’t kill you.” A lie, but she didn’t need to know that.
He skimmed his hand over her stomach, smiled as he felt the unmistakable outline of more weapons beneath her leather jacket. He lifted his hand and she tensed as he found the tag of the zipper by her throat and started to pull it down.
Another whimper escaped her.
This one sounded distinctly unlike fear.
He had bedded enough females to be able to distinguish the sounds of fear from pleasure, and the noise his little assassin had just made sat firmly in the latter’s range.
Valen slowed, easing the zipper down, his eyes falling to the smooth pale mounds of her cleavage as he exposed it to the cooling night air. The dark halter-top she wore cut low, revealing far too much skin. He frowned, wanted to growl at the thought of her parading around like this, on show for every wretched male out there.
He shoved that stupid need out of his head and focused back on his task, rougher now as he tore at the zipper and opened her jacket. He took her other gun from the holster beneath her right arm and tossed it across the square. A knife followed it.
She wriggled as he patted her down, his blade still hovering close to her throat. When he reached her thighs, she stilled and the scent of desire on her was unmistakable. It called to his own need, ratcheting it up higher, and he slowly rose behind her, his eyes locking on her lips again.
Or kill her?
She wanted him.
He snorted at that, the sensible part of his brain still functioning despite the lack of blood flowing to it.
She had probably been getting off with someone in that dark corner of the nightclub.
“Answer me honestly,” he husked into her ear and she trembled.
Such a beautiful reaction.
“You don’t want to die?” He wasn’t sure why he had to ask that, but he needed it out there. He needed to know it.
It was careful, restrained. She swallowed, her throat working slowly against his blade.
She didn’t want to die.
Or kiss her?
He spun her to face him. Her wide eyes leaped to his and he saw himself reflected in them.
Saw black eyes staring back at him.
Evil. Darkness incarnate. Just like his fucking father.
Only this darkness emerged for one reason and one reason only. It was born of the hunger to hurt and the terrible need to unleash his power.
But not on her.
She didn’t want to die.
He smoothed his left hand over her cheek and stared down into her beguiling eyes, losing himself in their tranquil blue depths. The hunger to kill her battled the need to kiss her, to know how soft those rosy lips were and how she would taste. He lowered his eyes to her mouth, lost himself there too.
As he entertained the thought of kissing her, and imagined the myriad of ways she would respond, the hold his power had over him waned and the urge to kill faded with it. He breathed out slowly, wondering if she was aware just how close she had come to seeing the blessed isles tonight, sent there by his hand and his blade.
“Who sent you to kill me?” he whispered, eyes still fixed on her cherry red lips, and a new ache started.
A need to hear her voice, to complete the picture of his little assassin.
“I got a call,” she said, her voice unsteady at first, but then it gained strength. Confidence. Sexy, alluring, confidence. “I don’t know anything about them.”
There was bite in her words, delivered wonderfully by her thick Italian accent. A local then. She sounded Roman, right down to the way she could curse at him without saying the words.
He shifted his hand against her face and her blue eyes slipped closed for a heartbeat before they snapped open again. The way her pupils dilated almost fooled him into believing she felt something when he touched her.
Something other than disgust.
Fool. Fucking idiot.
She was an assassin. It was all an act. A lie as much as her words had been. She was trying to play him to make sure he didn’t kill her, all so she could kill him.
He pressed the knife harder against her throat, so it nicked her golden skin and she gasped, a friendly reminder that he was the one with the blade and the one who decided her fate. No amount of her acting would change that. She could fuck him and he would still be the one in control.
“Give them a message.” He leaned down towards her, so she had to tip her head back to keep her eyes on his and was aware of just who had the power in this relationship.
“If they want to kill me, send someone more competent.”
He stepped to the roof of the Pantheon and crouched in the darkness, wrapped in shadows as he sheathed his blade and watched her.
She turned in circles in the square below, her eyes darting around.
Who was she?
He flexed the fingers of his left hand. The feel of her was branded on them. Impossible to forget. Soft skin. Warm. Pulse ticking steadily. Trembling.
The sight of her was branded on his black soul.
Calm blue eyes. Crimson lips. Wild black and blue hair. A body made for sin.
And the way her eyes had flashed in that moment before he had teleported.
Sweet gods, he bet she had a temper to match his own.
He was counting on it.
His words had insulted her and she had looked ready to fight him, despite the fact he had a blade and she had been unarmed.
His gaze tracked her as she gathered her things, including the spent darts, clearing away all the evidence. A strange hot sensation went through him and his head snapped around to his right, eyes leaping south over his shoulder towards the gate to the Underworld. Bastards could wait.
He looked back down into the square and frowned, the heat within him giving way to cold.
His little assassin was leaving.
He rose onto his feet and lifted his left hand to his face, breathed in the lingering scent of her on his skin, and smiled as he watched her go. The second she was out of sight, he teleported to the Rome gate, heading in the opposite direction to her.
He didn’t need to worry.
And he didn’t need the bastard Moirai to tell him he would see her again.
He had made sure of that himself.
He had set fire to her temper, had issued her a challenge, and she would take him up on it.
She would come at him with guns blazing.
Valen grinned as he appeared at the gate.
Bring it on.