I’m celebrating the release of Fuery and Shaia’s book in my Eternal Mates paranormal romance series with an amazing giveaway plus sharing the first four chapters here at my blog. Read on for chapter two, and details of the awesome giveaway you can enter!
UNCHAINED BY A FORBIDDEN LOVE, book 15 in the series, is out now. It’s time to catch up with what has been happening in this world of dark elves, shifters, fae, demons and angels…
Lost to the darkness, Fuery wages a daily war against the corruption that lives within him, constantly in danger of slipping into the black abyss and becoming the monster all elves fear. Work as an assassin gives him purpose, but what reason is there to go on when he killed the light of his life—his fated mate?
Shaia has spent forty-two centuries mourning her mate. Tired and worn down, she agrees to wed a male of her family’s choosing, following tradition that has always bound her as a female and hoping she will be able to gain just a little freedom in return. But as she resigns herself to being the mate of a male she could never love, fate places an old friend in her path—one who tells her that her lost love is alive.
Will Shaia find the courage to break with tradition and leave the elf kingdom in search of her mate? And as a ray of light pierces his soul again, can Fuery find the strength to win his battle against the darkness or will it devour him and that light of their forbidden love forever?
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Shaia despised having to walk with the male beside her, hated the way he treated her as if she was fragile and liable to break. He never spoke to her as an equal, never entertained her when she tried to converse about things he believed she didn’t need to know about purely because she was a female.
It annoyed her.
Almost as much as the ridiculous outdated traditions of elf society that had bred those opinions into him.
But he was necessary.
She had put off her family for so long that they had finally reached the end of their tether and were determined to marry her off at last.
They had found a suitable male for her, had negotiated with him, and now it was time to seal the deal.
She cursed elf society.
It treated her like a possession or an asset.
Not a living, breathing thing with free will.
Shaia scoffed under her breath at that. Free will?
She looked around the rolling green landscape bathed in light, at the fields that lined the worn earth road, and the males who toiled in them. Males. Ahead, in the village that nestled between one of the hills and the broad stream, the stalls of the market and the mills would produce the same results.
Not a single female ran a store or a mill. Not a single female toiled in the fields to turn the earth or harvest the crops, restricted to tasks like sowing seeds that society thought fitted their more delicate constitutions.
Not a single female fought in the ranks of the elf army.
Her heart plummeted in her chest and she pushed away from thoughts of the legions, but she wasn’t quite quick enough to spare herself the pain that came whenever she thought of that noble duty or saw soldiers passing through the village.
She felt Eirwyn’s eyes on her as a vile shudder over her skin and glanced across at him. Concern lit his violet eyes. Concern she could almost fool herself was real. Perhaps she was misreading him again, mistaking frustration for concern. He often became annoyed with her whenever she fell silent, drifting along in her own world and captured by her own thoughts rather than talking with him about whatever dull topic he had chosen and believed suited her feeble female mind.
Gods, she wished she had the strength and courage to stand up, tell her family that she would never marry and she was going to leave this small world behind and search for a meaning in life in the greater one beyond the borders of the elf kingdom.
Borders that had been her cage for her entire life, one she had never quite been able to break free from despite her best efforts.
She had travelled the length and breadth of the kingdom, had visited every region but the one around the palace, but not once had she managed to muster the bravery to do something her family would view as unforgivable.
Something society would view as disgraceful, and akin to committing a damned crime even though males could do it freely and without consequence or scorn.
She had never crossed the border.
She had reached it once, had stared down from a high mountain peak into the valley beyond, knowing it was part of the First Realm of the demons. She had gone back and forth for hours, fighting with the idea of setting foot in it and breaking with convention, flouting the rules of her family and society.
In the end, she had lacked the courage to take that step.
Her family were all she had, and although their relationship was strained by the things they had done, the thought of them turning their backs on her because she had done something society would view as disrespectful towards them, and unladylike of her, hurt too much for her to dare go through with it.
Even when her heart longed to see what lay beyond the elf kingdom in those shadowy lands she had surveyed from the peak.
She stared into Eirwyn’s eyes, verging on speaking her mind and telling him that she hated what he represented, she despised that she was going to willingly leave one cage to enter another. The black slashes of his eyebrows dipped low and his lips thinned, a flare of irritation lighting his eyes as he slowed to a halt.
Could he see everything she wanted to tell him in her eyes? Could he see into her heart and see that it would never be his?
It belonged to another.
Gods damn convention and the slow pace of her species.
Other species in Hell had moved forward, their females given freedom and power, and a will of their own.
Why couldn’t the elves move at that same pace?
Had anything really changed in the last forty-five centuries? The village was the same. The people in it hadn’t changed. Even the larger towns had barely progressed. Her world was stagnant. Boring. She longed to shake things up, to do something that would alter her cage or perhaps break free of it.
Gods, she longed for that.
She had tasted true freedom once, so many centuries ago. It still felt like yesterday to her at times, when she allowed herself to think back to those halcyon days and managed to feel warmth from remembering them, hope and light, not cold and pain.
Four thousand five hundred years had passed since her birth, and what had truly changed in that time? Society had barely shuffled forwards a few steps. Females were growing stronger, beginning to gain more power and more respect, but it had taken her entire lifetime for it to happen and such power and respect was limited to the larger towns. In the villages, females were still treated like chattel, given to the male who offered the best payment to her family.
In her case, Eirwyn had offered both the highest bid and been the most persistent of her suitors.
Her family had caught her at a low point, when she had been depressed from the long months she had passed alone at her small home far from the village and her feet had carried her back to her family’s house, a need to speak with others and see the faces of her kin dragging her back to them.
She had been weak, tired from fighting with them when she wanted to spend time with them in peace and happiness, wanted to relive the days that had come before she had matured and they had started looking for a suitor for her, an eligible male that filled their every need and desire.
She had regretted agreeing to it just seconds after the words had left her lips, but Eirwyn had been swift to swoop on her and announce their future marriage to the entire village, and now the deed was done.
She would marry him, and she would live with him.
But she would never love him.
She stifled another sigh and forced a smile for him. He was handsome enough, with his regal features and his long black hair tied into a neat ponytail at the nape of his neck, allowed to flow down his back to blend with his tailored black tunic that reached his knees and accentuated his fine figure, but she felt nothing for him.
Whenever she looked at him, she saw another. She saw a male who had lit a fire inside her, a spark that had burned in her heart and had given her strength, and more than ever she wanted to find the courage to stand on her own two feet and push back against tradition to claim the life she wanted for herself.
He began walking again, talking about the crops this year, as if he played any part in their success. He owned land, paid males to work it, and profited off their success.
Coin was the one thing she lacked, and the one thing it was impossible for her to come by without her parents, or a male. Eirwyn would at least provide that for her she supposed. No more scrounging for seed to grow her own vegetables and fruit, or relying on her parents to send her an allowance.
Hopefully, Eirwyn would allow her to continue working with nature in his garden, and she could lose herself in it for hours, filling her day with work and avoiding him as much as possible.
Shaia stared off into the distance where the windmills stood proud on top of several of the hills above the village, their blades rotating slowly in the gentle breeze that stirred the wheat fields surrounding them.
Her thoughts drifted as her eyes settled on one windmill in particular, set away from the village and high on a hill above the others.
She had met the son of that family several times in her youth, could remember how proud his family had been when he had joined the legions and had been chosen to serve under Prince Vail, and how relieved they had been when he had survived the battle near the borders of the free realm, a war begun by that prince when he had turned on his own men.
At the time, Shaia had cursed them, had wished it had been another male who had returned from that brutal battle and not their son.
The loss of that male, and the darkness of her desire for him to have survived and their son to have died instead, had propelled her into a deep depression that had consumed her for years, had clouded her heart and her mind, and had taken her decades to escape.
It was a depression that still consumed her from time to time.
“Shaia?” Eirwyn’s bass voice penetrated her thoughts and she pulled herself away from her past and the pain that lived there and back to him. “You seem out of sorts today. Shall we not go back?”
She shook her head. “The walk will do me good. It will lift my spirits.”
A lie, but one that came easily to her when the alternative was returning back to her family home while her parents were out. She didn’t want to be alone with Eirwyn and he would insist on remaining with her until her parents returned. It was better to be out in the open, surrounded by others, tasting what little freedom she had.
What she really wanted was to convince him to walk the hills with her, or visit the stream so she could wade in its crisp waters and cool down, escaping the blistering heat of summer. Eirwyn would refuse though. He had made it clear that he thought it unladylike of her to want to do such things, and that her constitution would suffer.
She scoffed under her breath at that.
Females weren’t as delicate as he believed.
Her eyes drifted back to the mill in the distance again. That family had a daughter too, one younger than she was and a female who was often the subject of rumours in the village. Shaia loved to hear the latest tales of her, pretended to be affronted and shocked, and even dismayed by the things she heard, while being envious and wishing she were in Iolanthe’s boots.
Iolanthe roamed Hell, travelled far and wide, and even into the mortal realm at times, an independent female bent on doing things her way.
A strong female.
One who didn’t allow anyone to stand in her way.
It inspired her, kept that fire burning inside her, but the flames fanned by whatever latest tale she heard soon died back, leaving only a feeble spark behind, one quickly constrained again and subdued.
Eirwyn gestured towards the hills on the other side of the stream, to the trees that blanketed several of the slopes, and she nodded and smiled, did her best to be congenial and please him.
Her family had caught her at a low point when she had come to visit them, had convinced her that if she married, she might be happy again.
She knew it was just another cage, but she was tired, and everything seemed so bleak now. Her life no longer had any meaning. What reason did she have to go on existing?
Gods, she hated how easily she slipped into these dark moments that felt as if they were going to consume her, her will stripped from her and a desperate need for company filling her, as if that would chase the cold emptiness from her heart.
It was after a particularly brutal bout of depression, when she had still lived at home with her family, that her parents had called in a doctor from the nearest town to tend to her.
Depression was a cage, but it had given her some freedom.
The doctor had spoken with her parents, stating that she needed a hobby or some space to help ease her mood. When her parents had asked her what she wanted, she had spoken from her heart, requesting that she be allowed a small home of her own to run, away from the village.
Her parents had been reluctant, but had eventually agreed when the doctor had pressed them. Her new home had lifted her spirits, and had given her a taste of freedom, allowing her to come and go as she pleased. She had buried herself in her garden, the long days flying past as she toiled from the moment it grew light until it became too dark to see.
But the loneliness, the solitude, got to her at times, especially during the longer winter nights, and her thoughts always turned to her past, and a time when her heart had been full and overflowing.
Then, the emptiness rose inside her to consume her again.
Driving her back home in an attempt to fill it.
“Shaia?” A male voice curled around her and she frowned and looked around as they entered the fringes of the village, seeking the source of it.
None of the males coming and going along the avenues between the thatched houses were familiar to her.
“Do you know that male?” Eirwyn said and she glanced up at him, catching him scowling in the direction of the village square as he smoothed his ponytail, his actions clipped and reeking of irritation.
Shaia looked there.
A handsome male strode towards them along the broad road between the grey stone two-storey buildings, his fitted black tunic detailed with elegant pale green embroidery around the edges of the two long panels at the front that reached his knees, the matching ones at the back, and around the cuffs. Tight black trousers hugged his lean muscular legs, tucked into polished black knee-high riding boots. Their silver clasps reflected the light, dazzling her as much as his wide smile and bright violet eyes.
Eirwyn pulled a face beside her, and she could understand why. While his own tunic and trousers were fine and tailored for him, they couldn’t compare to the ones the male wore.
They bore symbols only those high in the court of Prince Loren could wear.
The male’s smile became a grin and he waved, glanced over his shoulder and said something to someone behind him, and then picked up pace, heading towards Shaia.
She blinked as she finally recognised him.
The miller’s son.
The last time she had seen Bleu, he had been a scrawny lad and had come home to the village to announce to his parents that he had been given the position of commander. His family had held a celebration in his honour, and Shaia had been invited, but had refused. The thought of seeing him in the finery of a commander and attending the celebration had been too much for her, and she had spiralled back into a depression.
Bleu had visited her the day after, and had apologised. He hadn’t been the one to send the invitations to the entire village. She had been grateful when he had told her he wouldn’t have invited her if he had and that he understood, and hoped it hadn’t hurt her too deeply.
She had lied then too, telling him that it hadn’t, when it had cut her deeper than any blade could have.
She moved forwards to meet him, pulling herself away from the past and managing to smile for him. This time, it felt genuine, warming her and chasing away some of the cold that seemed a permanent part of her now.
Her step faltered when a tall, beautiful female stepped out from behind Bleu, her violet-to-white hair matching her striking eyes. Those eyes darted around, taking everything in, not seeming to notice the way the males in the village looked at her, a mixture of admiration and fear in their eyes.
Shaia could understand their shock. It rippled through her too.
She had never seen a female dressed this way before.
Violet leather trousers hugged her long legs, paired with matching boots, and a white leather corset fitted snug to her torso, revealing a strip of toned stomach and a startling amount of cleavage.
Bleu glanced back at the female again, and then did the most shocking thing of all.
He snarled and flashed fangs at the males who were looking at the female, his pointed ears flaring back against his wild blue-black hair, and snapped in their native tongue, “Get your fucking eyes off my mate.”
The males bolted, leaving the female looking around her with a confused crinkle to her brow.
“Bleu?” the female whispered, her incredible eyes landing on him, and continued in the mortal tongue, “I said it was not wise for me to dress in my usual manner.”
“And I said I like you that way and people will deal with it. You don’t have to be something you’re not.” He caught the female’s wrist and tugged her into his arms, banding them around her in a way that caused a fierce sting in Shaia’s heart. “I love you just the way you are.”
The female blushed and pushed against Bleu’s shoulders. “You are making a scene.”
He shrugged and refused to release her. “Let them all stare. They’re just jealous.”
“That they might be, but I believe you are being rude to the elf female and her male looks displeased.”
Shaia risked a glance at Eirwyn. He looked positively aghast.
She wished she couldn’t understand why, because she wanted what Bleu and this female shared to be the accepted way of things, that such public displays of affection between a male and a female were not a faux pas or frowned upon by society.
That love in all its forms could be celebrated not scorned.
Bleu nuzzled the female’s neck and then drew back, and Shaia ached as she saw the marks on the female’s throat, twin scars that confirmed what Bleu had said. This female was his mate.
“I barely recognised you,” Shaia said, hoping to pull Bleu away from his female, because Eirwyn was rapidly losing patience and she feared he would pull her away if Bleu didn’t speak soon.
She wanted to know why Bleu had called out to her, and wanted to know more about the female, because she wasn’t elf. She was something else. Something strong, and powerful, and independent.
Bleu finally pulled himself away from the female, but kept his arm locked tightly around her waist, pinning her against his side in a way that sparked envy in Shaia.
She had been held like that once.
Eirwyn placed his hand against the small of her back and a weight instantly descended on her, pressing down on her heart and making her want to twist free of his touch. While Bleu’s grip on his female was possessive, it was born of love and a need of his female, a desire to be in contact with her at all times.
Eirwyn’s touch was possession of another nature, a show of dominance over her, marking her as belonging to him.
Bleu’s violet eyes narrowed on Eirwyn and he was silent for the longest time before he said, “I know your brother… Leif. He serves in my legion. I served your father, Commander Andon, once too. It was an honour.”
“Your legion?” Eirwyn’s tone held a trace of venom and a slight note of disbelief, and she had the sinking feeling that things were about to turn dire.
Before he could offend Bleu, Shaia stepped forwards and captured his focus. “Bleu is a commander, serving Prince Loren directly.”
Eirwyn cast a glance over Bleu from head to toe and back again, and she was surprised he didn’t curl his lip. “The same Bleu who was born to the mill on the outskirts of the village?”
“And now I see where Leif gets his lovely temperament and that lofty air. It clearly runs in the blood. I’ve had to beat it out of him a few times… so don’t think I won’t beat it out of you too.” Bleu held his free hand out to Eirwyn. “You may call me Commander Bleu.”
Shaia stifled the smile that wanted to curve her lips and schooled her features so Eirwyn wouldn’t see her amusement. If she had thought he had looked aghast before, she had been mistaken. Now he looked aghast, his mouth hanging open and face reflecting his astonishment.
It had probably been centuries since someone had spoken to him with so little respect.
It had probably been longer than that since someone had pulled rank on him.
Bleu’s steady gaze dropped to her as he lowered his hand. “Speaking of the legions… I have spent time with another male recently, one from the legions and one you know.”
Shaia frowned at him. She didn’t know anyone from the army but Bleu, and she barely knew him. She couldn’t think who he was talking about.
“You must be mistaken,” she said.
He cleared his throat and spoke very carefully, pressing each word home. “I believe you did know him once. I recall you telling me so in a town near the free realm. Do you not remember? It was forty-two centuries ago now so I can see why you have perhaps forgotten.”
Her heart started a slow, hard thump against her ribs. It wasn’t possible that he was talking about the one she thought he was, but she had only ventured near the free realm once in her lifetime, one reckless grief-fuelled moment four thousand two hundred years ago.
One moment where instinct had driven her there and she had come upon a battlefield, drenched in blood and scarred as deeply as her heart.
“Are you unwell?” Eirwyn’s hand against her back pressed deeper into her spine and she fought for air, for the words that would make him leave her alone and give her space to breathe.
She managed to shake her head and muttered, “I will be fine.”
Bleu watched her closely.
He was so different to how he had been that day, when she had gone looking for her love, desperate to find him alive even when she had known he was gone.
Bleu had told her then that the male she was looking for hadn’t come in with the wounded, that he was dead.
Now he was telling her that male was alive?
It wasn’t possible.
But what if it was true?
Gods, what if he really was alive and had been all this time?
Her throat closed as all her strength rushed out of her and she struggled to breathe, rasped as she sucked down shallow pants of air and her mind raced as quickly as her thundering heart.
She could feel Eirwyn’s eyes on her, intent and focused, and could sense he was close to making another attempt to smother her. She had to speak.
“Would you introduce me?” Her voice shook and she quickly gestured to the female beside Bleu when he cocked an eyebrow, making it clear she hadn’t meant the male he had spoken of but his mate.
Or had she?
If she asked it of him, would he take her to that male?
Was it really possible that he was alive?
Everything in her screamed that it wasn’t and Bleu was mistaken. Her heart had shattered when her love had died. She had felt it.
“This is Taryn, my mate.” He beamed at her, male pride and a lot of love shining in his eyes.
“I am pleased to meet you, Taryn.” Shaia turned to Taryn and focused on her to subdue the questions racing through her mind and give herself a moment to breathe.
The contrast between them struck her again. Suddenly, her green elven dress felt as if it was swamping her frame, designed to hide her body rather than make the most of it. The long sleeves had always irritated her when other females were allowed to wear dresses without them, and the fact it dragged on the floor was often highly impractical, but it was another elf tradition, and one she would dearly love to shatter.
She tried to picture herself dressed as Taryn was, wearing tight leather and a revealing corset, and failed dismally.
Her own corset sat over her dress, made of wrought silver swirls that felt as if they were crushing her ribs and her breasts rather than supporting her, cinched down the sides with ribbons. Some elf females dared to wear dresses that were lower cut, and corsets that revealed more bosom.
Shaia had tried that once, and had been banished to her room in her parents’ home for one cycle of the moon.
She couldn’t openly dress as she wanted, but she often did her best to break with convention when she could.
She always wore sturdier and cheaper clothing at her small home away from the village, a basic blouse paired with a long skirt. She would roll up the sleeves and open the buttons down the front to allow air across her skin as she worked, and sometimes lazed in the private garden with her skirt hitched up to reveal her legs as she soaked in the sunlight.
“Where do you come from?” Shaia couldn’t even guess at what species Taryn was, but every instinct she possessed said that the female was strong, born of a breed with powers possibly more impressive than her elf mate’s ones.
Taryn pointed north-east, to a place beyond Eirwyn and the high peaks on the horizon. “The land of dragons.”
Shaia’s mouth dropped open and she snapped it shut before anyone noticed. A dragon? Incredible. She had a thousand questions she wanted to ask Taryn, but Eirwyn was watching her closely again, seemingly waiting for her to break with convention.
She smiled and forced herself to respond with just a single word. “Fascinating.”
It wasn’t against society’s rules for her to be fascinated by something. Eirwyn couldn’t pick her up on it.
The pang of envy returned as Bleu tugged Taryn a little closer, gazed at her through adoring eyes and looked as if he would die if she asked it of him. Taryn stood tall beside him, her head high, and violet-to-white eyes leaping around, taking everything in again. She glanced at Bleu and then away again, and began speaking in another tongue.
Bleu responded, a smile in his eyes as he spoke with his mate.
Shaia’s heart beat painfully hard at the sight of them, at the way Bleu indulged her and the way Taryn stood at his side like an equal, commanding his attention and not held back by him. He didn’t stop her when she broke away from him, turning in a slow circle, her eyes leaping back to him from time to time as she spoke. She pointed towards the mills and he turned, carefully caught her hand and swung it towards one in particular.
The one his family owned.
Her eyes lit up and she said something else.
Bleu smiled again, spoke to her and then looked back at Shaia.
“She’s eager to meet the family. She’s convinced she won’t be accepted and until I get her there and she sees that they’ll love her just as much as I do, she’s going to keep slipping into the dragon tongue. Either that or she’ll get so wound up she’ll want to fly and people in these parts are jumpy enough about a stranger, let alone a dragon.” He grinned, as if he actually liked the idea of Taryn shifting and terrifying everyone.
Shaia found she liked the idea too.
It would certainly brighten her day, if not her life and this dull little village.
Eirwyn pressed harder against her spine. “We should be going.”
Panic lanced her and her eyes shot to Bleu, and she blurted, “How is our friend?”
Her voice shook as badly as her hands and she feared her intended would see it, but there was no way she could contain it, not when she was speaking about him.
Her lost love.
Bleu’s expression turned grave. “Unwell. The perils of being an assassin I suppose. It is dark work.”
That terrified her as much as it delighted her. Bleu was trying to tell her everything she needed to know in a coded manner. He was giving her clues that she could follow. The male she had thought had died was alive, but terribly sick if she was interpreting Bleu’s words correctly.
Gods, she needed to find him. She needed to scour every assassin’s guild until she was with him again and could pull him back from the darkness.
That desire shattered when Eirwyn spoke, reminding her that she wasn’t free to do as she pleased. “We must move on now.”
Shaia’s eyebrows furrowed and she looked to Bleu, desperate to learn more from him but aware that she couldn’t remain any longer. Her purple eyes shifted to the dragon beside him, and courage bloomed, strength that she thought had died long ago with her male.
“Thank you,” she said to Bleu as Eirwyn caught her wrist and pulled her away, her heart soaring as she looked back at him and his mate.
The dragon was free, powerful and independent. Bleu’s sister lived her life that way too.
All it took was courage.
She could be independent too.
She could find the male she had thought she had lost.
She could find her mate.
Ebook available from:
Paperback available from:
Book 1: Kissed by a Dark Prince (Only 99c at all retailers!)
Book 2: Claimed by a Demon King
Book 3: Tempted by a Rogue Prince
Book 4: Hunted by a Jaguar
Book 5: Craved by an Alpha
Book 6: Bitten by a Hellcat
Book 7: Taken by a Dragon
Book 8: Marked by an Assassin
Book 9: Possessed by a Dark Warrior
Book 10: Awakened by a Demoness
Book 11: Haunted by the King of Death
Book 12: Turned by a Tiger
Book 13: Tamed by a Tiger
Book 14: Treasured by a Tiger
Book 15: Unchained by a Forbidden Love