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 four, the final sneak peek, 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?
Ebook available from:
Paperback available from:
It had been the third time he had seen Prince Vail.
Fuery didn’t remember much about their first meeting. Not how he had found Prince Vail’s location, or his arrival at the small countryside cottage in rural England. He had only fragments of the time he had spent with his prince and commander, scattered pieces that felt more like a dream than memories.
Hartt had assured him the meeting had happened, and Fuery was inclined to believe him since he definitely recalled his friend coming to find him, and taking him back to the guild.
A lingering sense of warmth returned whenever he thought about seeing his prince again for the first time, a sensation that had built inside him during his time at the cottage. He had felt safe.
He hadn’t experienced such a feeling in a long time, and it disturbed him now, because home was an impossible dream.
He couldn’t turn back time to when he had been another male, one free of the darkness.
Prince Vail believed it possible though, and Hartt held on to that hope like a male possessed, or possibly obsessed, had spoken of it to Fuery more than once since that first meeting, encouraging him at every turn.
Fuery had no such hope, but he also didn’t have the heart to tell his friend he was dreaming, and that reality was a far darker beast, one without mercy and light. There would be no saving himself.
He doubted Hartt would listen even if he did voice his thoughts.
His friend insisted he continued what he had started with Vail, allowing the male to assist him by attempting to bring him back into touch with nature in the hope it would lessen the burden on his soul and clear some of the darkness from it. Vail’s connection to nature was strong. Despite the darkness he still held within his heart, Vail had a stronger connection to it than his brother, Prince Loren, the ruler of the elves.
Fuery’s own connection to nature was so severely diminished by the darkness that it was almost non-existent. He couldn’t remember how it had felt to be connected to it, to feel life flow through his veins and light fill his soul, and to take pleasure and comfort from being surrounded by pure, untainted nature in all her glory.
The garden of Vail’s mate, the fair witch Rosalind, was beautiful, filled with colours that Fuery found dazzling, almost breathtaking, and Vail was convinced that it had helped him fight the darkness and claw his way back towards the light.
But Vail had retained his connection to that nature.
The same nature that had rejected Fuery, left him alone in a dark world without her light to guide him.
Hartt had taken him back to visit Prince Vail twice since that first meeting, convinced that it was doing him good and that it would help him as it had their prince, and eventually nature would begin to welcome him again, would open her arms to him once more.
Fuery wasn’t so sure.
The sensation of home he had experienced during his first visit was fading with each subsequent one, like the light in him. It felt weaker with each trip to the cottage, and the calm and peace he had felt on first spending time with Vail in the garden surrounded by the trees and flowers, and the endless blue sky, was slipping away with it.
There would come a point when he would feel nothing again, when visiting his prince would give him no benefit.
Would Prince Vail and Hartt suffer when that happened? Would it pain them to know that there was nothing they could do for him?
Would they give up on him?
Like he had given up on himself.
Gods, he didn’t want to disappoint them, even when he knew it was inevitable, so he went to see Prince Vail whenever Hartt wanted it, and he would continue to do so until they both realised there was no saving him.
It was no hardship for him.
The cottage was a beautiful place, nature condensed into a small area that made it feel like a bubble, a haven, a place removed from the world. He could see why Vail benefited from it, but he was sure it wasn’t only that stunning pocket of nature that was restoring his prince’s light.
It was the beautiful witch who lived there with him.
His prince’s mate.
Darkness stirred in his veins at that word and crawled through his soul at just the thought of her, and it whispered at him to stay away from Prince Vail and that cottage.
Stay away from her.
He didn’t need to be around females who belonged to another, and didn’t need a mate of his own either. He didn’t want a female in his life, despised how other assassins at the guild brought them into his damned home and paraded them in front of him, or how Hartt would sometimes make him speak with female clients. He wanted nothing to do with them. Mates. Females.
He closed his eyes, drew down a shuddering breath and held it as he wrestled with his darker urges as they rushed through him, stirred to a frenzy by the path his thoughts were travelling.
Pain shredded his insides, anguish ripping at his heart. Memories flickered and his veins went as cold as ice. His claws lengthened, razor sharp and itching to tear into flesh, to spill blood and cleave bone as the darkness surged in response, a need to lash out flashing through him. He needed someone to take out this aggression on, to satisfy this terrible dark need to purge the pain from him.
Fair Rosalind danced into the black abyss of his mind and he snapped his eyes open as his breath gushed from him.
He would never hurt his prince’s mate.
He would never harm a female. Not again.
Rosalind had been kind to him, sweet and caring. She had taken care of him whenever he had visited, knowing when to show herself and speak with him, and when to leave him alone with her mate as he struggled with his black urges, on the verge of losing himself to the darkness.
He had come close to losing his fight against it the last time and had left before Hartt was due to come for him, muttering some sort of excuse, although he didn’t recall the exact words he had used. Scattered ones had filled his mind, a collision of excuses that had fought to be the one to leave his lips. He might have muddled them, because Prince Vail had looked confused in the heartbeat of time between him speaking to the male and somehow teleporting.
That teleport had drained him, left him weak and shaking, the black tendrils of the dark beast that lived inside him snaking over his vulnerable body and seeping into his heart.
It was always dangerous to attempt a teleport. All of his powers were unpredictable, but teleporting was the biggest drain on his strength, because he had to force it to happen. It had been a long time since he had been able to control a teleport too. The only time he managed to teleport, it was because he was desperate for some reason, driven by a base instinct to escape that ruled him.
If his powers failed during a teleport, there was a danger he would end up somewhere that might kill him, or worse, would be lost in the infinite darkness that waited in the space between disappearing and reappearing. That space was cold now, like ice, and stabbed at him with frozen needles that punctured his flesh and dug deep to chill him whenever he passed through it. It was tainted by the darkness inside him.
Darkness that was growing stronger by the day.
Nothing Vail did would change that.
He needed to stay away. Hartt would press him to return, and Prince Vail would be upset if he stopped visiting, because both of them wanted him to get better. Both of them needed to believe they could save him from the darkness before he was lost.
He couldn’t risk it though.
As much as he wanted to be there, as fiercely and desperately as he wanted to believe they could save his black soul, he had to stay away.
He wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he did something to Rosalind.
It would break him.
Every inch of him tensed and stilled as a sensation went through him, a feeling that something wasn’t right and he needed to leave.
It was a feeling that often struck him now, and one he knew the root cause of even if he didn’t want to acknowledge it.
He looked back in the direction of the guild, aware of where it was, always aware of it, no matter how far he travelled from it.
It was the same sensation he had whenever he was in that building now, one that stirred whenever Aya was staying with her mate, Harbin, in his quarters.
His home was beginning to feel like a prison.
He shook it off and focused back on his work, scouting the lamp-lit black cobbled streets below him as he crouched on the dark pitched tiled roof of a two-storey inn in a large town near the borders of the free realm. Mountains rose beyond it, forming a steep barrier between the free realm and the land of the dragons. A final outpost for fae, travellers and mercenaries.
The last town.
Beyond the mountains, the valleys were deep and numerous, with only a handful of villages nestled in a few of them, none of which welcomed travellers or those outside the dragon species. Not unless they had gold anyway.
The sky glowed dim amber in that direction, the fires of the Devil’s lands burning hot, and his sensitive ears picked up the distant sounds of the black earth cracking and splitting as the lava broke to the surface, forming new valleys and mountains.
Fuery chuckled low in his throat.
He had half a mind to venture there, to pit himself against the strongest male in Hell.
The chance of him winning was slim, but gods, it would be a glorious way to go. If by some miracle of the gods he won, he would take his place on the black throne and rule the strongest realm in Hell, legions of demons at his command.
A fitting role for a creature like him.
Whatever evil and darkness lived inside the Devil, it beat within him too, a drum that he marched to and embraced. He bent it to his will and wielded it like a weapon.
A blade more devastating than any made of metal.
Voices dragged him back to the town, ripped him from his fantasy of ruling Hell and bloodying claws and fangs on the battlefield as he swept across the lands like a black shadow with an army at his back, subjugating all who didn’t fall to his blade.
He gritted his teeth and screwed his eyes shut, and fought back against the whispers in his mind, the ones that urged him to go through with it. Fight the Devil.
He had been a protector once. He had fought to defend his homeland, and its people. He had been good.
He opened his eyes and stared at his hands, at the long black claws his armour formed over his fingers. They flickered between clean with the town people blurry beyond them, and drenched in blood, glistening against a gory backdrop of carnage.
He had been good.
He breathed through it, each inhale and exhale making the timing shift, so his claws were clean for longer, and the sight of them bloodied grew shorter, until it was only brief flickers and then faded completely.
His claws were clean.
But not for long.
He forced his focus back to the town again, watching the people coming and going along the street far below him, a wraith in the darkness. They were unaware of him, the oil lamps that jutted outwards from the haphazard black stone and plastered buildings on the main thoroughfare stealing their night vision, making it impossible for them to see him.
He scanned each male for a tattoo on their neck, one that would identify them as his mark.
When he had checked everyone present, he moved on, heading towards the main square. He leaped the gap between two buildings, landing silently on the sloping tiled roof, and kept low as he skulked across it. At the edge of the building, above the square, he squatted and waited, his eyes scanning the busy gathering below.
His mark would be here.
The intelligence given to Hartt said they always attended this gathering each lunar cycle to sell wares. He just needed to find the male, get them alone, and dispatch them.
A lone female dressed in a dark green ankle-length dress with gold detailing on the bodice crossed an opening in the square, a heavy basket tucked between her arms, her brown hair tied in a high ponytail that swayed with each step.
He tracked her, a memory threatening to stir, just beyond his reach.
His eyes dropped to her neck.
Sickness washed through him and he stumbled backwards, landing on his bottom on the black tiles and almost rolling right down the pitched roof. He shoved his right hand out, bracing himself, his arm shaking as he stared at the female.
A collision of fear, agony, grief and self-loathing was swift to crash over him, transforming into a churning dark and malevolent tide that rose and consumed him before he could even think about trying to stop it. It dragged him down into its oily depths until he felt as if he was suffocating, about to drown.
He lifted his right hand from the roof and brought them both before him, his vision wobbling as he stared at his black armour. It flashed away to reveal pale skin marred with crimson. Blood that had crept beneath his claws. Stained them. He scrubbed at his hands, picked at his nails, but nothing he did made the blood go away. His breaths shortened, coming in sharp bursts as his heart rushed faster, sending his mind spinning as he sank deeper into the darkness.
He had to get the blood off his hands.
His head ached, throbbing madly as he rubbed his hands together. It wouldn’t come off. The faster he tried to scrub it away, the thicker the blood grew and the more frantic he became. He shook his head as he shoved one hand over the other, despair engulfing him as it only smeared the blood and spread it, so it covered all his hands and began travelling up his wrists.
He watched in horror as it formed tendrils that crawled and writhed over his pale skin, consuming more of it, and the blood on his fingers turned black.
He snarled and pushed at it, shoving his hands down his arms towards his wrists, desperate to get it off him, to purge it somehow before it swallowed him.
Eyes landed on him, a sharp sensation that had his head whipping up and locking gazes with their owner.
He needed to kill her.
He growled, shook his head and scurried backwards on his hands and feet, forcing himself away from her. Broken memories overlaid onto the present, transforming her into another female.
A beautiful female.
Drenched in blood.
He twisted away from her, planted both hands to the tiles and retched, tasting metal as his body heaved violently, as if he could purge the darkness that way.
He couldn’t let it take control.
Not a female.
Never a female.
His entire body shook, wracked by cold and pain that came in waves, each stronger than the last, crashing over him. Had to run. Had to leave. Couldn’t let it take control. Never a female. He staggered onto his feet and into a fucked up teleport that had jagged black tendrils stuttering around him and ice chasing over his skin and ended with him landing hard on his side.
On the roof of the guild hall.
He grunted and rolled down the steep black pitched roof, hit the left tower that flanked the main entrance, and spun into a fall down the three-storey height of the building. He hit the cobbled street on his front with another grunt, fire sweeping through his trembling body, lancing his bones and threatening to steal consciousness from his grasp as it stole the air from his lungs.
Several of the people who had been walking along the main street of the small town gasped and stopped, and backed away from him when he vomited again.
He pushed himself up on shaking arms and stared at the puddle on the black stones.
He swallowed hard, sweat beading on his skin, cold and sticky. More flashes of the female covered in crimson filled his mind, and he roared as he tried to shake them loose, tried to spare himself the pain. He muttered a prayer beneath his breath, a desperate plea to the gods to set him free of the torment, to make her go away. He pushed onto his feet and growled at the people staring at him, flashing his bloodied fangs.
They were quick to run.
Fuery clutched his side, grimacing as fire throbbed there, the pain pushing him deeper into the dark tendrils snaking around him and threatening to pull him into the black abyss.
He staggered towards the arched entrance of the guild, his chest heaving with each laboured breath as his heart beat hard and fast. He needed the dark of his room.
He needed the silence.
Each step took effort, every one more than the last, his progress slow as he fought to remain on his feet and not collapse again.
“What’s wrong?” Hartt was suddenly before him, concern flashing in his violet eyes.
A growl curled up Fuery’s throat and his eyes narrowed on the male.
“A fucking female?” Fuery bit out in the elf tongue, just saying the words enough to conjure images of his target and the female who haunted him, mingling them together to send him dangerously close to plummeting into the abyss. “The mark is a fucking female?”
Hartt paled. His eyes widened. “No. I did not know.”
The horror in his friend’s eyes, and his feelings, said that he truly hadn’t known, and that he regretted what had happened.
Fuery tried to cling to that, desperate to use it to calm himself, but the darkness was too strong and he was slipping, weakening as it took its toll on him. The memories he had been fighting rose, his mind and body too tired to fight them too when it was losing a battle against the darkness that surged and writhed inside him like a living thing.
Never a female.
He tried to pass Hartt, but his friend stepped into his path. He stilled as Hartt’s palms captured his cheeks, holding him gently, luring him into looking at him. He stared into the male’s clear violet eyes, and managed to focus on them.
“You did nothing wrong,” Hartt whispered softly in the elf tongue, keeping their conversation private.
A fact Fuery was thankful for considering the audience they had. Several members of the guild had stopped to watch, and a few stragglers from the crowd that had witnessed his fall outside were watching him too. None of them knew the elf language. His species had done their damnedest to keep it private to them, unknown by any other species.
“Listen to my voice, Fuery,” Hartt continued, his eyes holding Fuery immobile.
He’d had eyes like that once. Clearest amethyst. Now they were almost black, only a sliver of violet remaining in them. Soon, that would be gone too.
Then, the red would start emerging.
“Fuery,” Hartt murmured, shaking away that thought, and he forced himself to focus on his friend and his words, to listen to his voice and use it to ground himself.
He could feel the connection they shared as Hartt reinforced it, a blood bond they’d had for centuries now.
He screwed his eyes shut as he saw the female again, staring at him in horror, her violet eyes wide and lined with tears.
“Fuery,” Hartt whispered and he heard her voice.
Her sweet, sweet voice.
His eyes burned, his nose stung, and he growled through his clenched fangs as his heart splintered into a thousand fragments for the millionth time. Gods. He missed her.
“Fuery.” Hands shook him, and that male voice pierced his mind, shattering the illusion.
He dragged himself back to the surface of the oily black water that churned around him and opened his eyes before he could drown in it.
Could he ever have eyes like that again?
“You did not hurt a female. Remember that. You did not hurt her.”
But he had.
Not the female in the square, but he had hurt the one before her.
One he never should have hurt.
He had been born to protect her.
Instead, he had killed her.
“Fuery, you are not listening.” Hartt rattled him again, and he shot back to him, the darkness falling away enough that he could focus again, the suddenness of it releasing its hold on him almost sending him to his knees.
It lingered and lurked though, waiting like a shadow to strike again, to seize him if he let his guard down.
“Breathe through it.” His friend had paled further, and sweat glistened on his brow as he breathed hard in time with him.
Their hearts laboured in unison.
“Breathe,” Hartt urged.
Fuery sucked down one rasping shuddering breath, and then another, bringing the tempo of them into a match for the rhythm of Hartt’s, strengthening the connection between them just as Hartt had in order to shake him from the grip of the darkness.
Black spots appeared in Hartt’s violet irises.
Fuery shattered the connection between them and knocked Hartt’s hands away from his face.
No. He wouldn’t be responsible for Hartt’s demise as well as his own. He wouldn’t allow his only friend in this world to take the darkness from him. It was his burden to bear.
“I am fine now.” He wasn’t, he was far from it, but he needed to say something to convince Hartt that he no longer needed his help.
Hartt nodded, but the look in his eyes said that he didn’t believe him, that he knew he was lying to protect him and he didn’t like it.
The male’s eyes dropped to his arm, and then he turned away and started walking along the arched entrance hall of the guild. Fuery silently thanked him for not taking it as he wanted. As unsteady as he was on his feet, he needed to walk in unaided, because he was damned if he was going to let the other members of the guild see him as weak.
He was tainted, almost lost to the darkness, but he was still stronger than all of them combined.
Hartt looked back over his shoulder at him as they passed the first set of thick columns that were set into the walls and supported the elegantly carved black stone roof of the entrance hall. “Will you be alright?”
Fuery nodded as he clawed back a little more control, enough that his legs stopped shaking and finally felt stronger beneath him, his steps surer as they reached the main foyer of the building, an enormous black room with a corridor off to his right and left, and a door in the far right corner of the room that led to the offices.
He bared fangs at a trio of young fae males lounging in the horseshoe of black velvet couches that encircled the monstrous marble fireplace to his left, all of them staring at him as if he had two heads. They quickly looked away.
“I will speak with the client about it.” There was genuine regret in Hartt’s smooth voice, and a note of anger that Fuery couldn’t miss. “You are sure you will be fine?”
He nodded again, even though he wasn’t, because he knew that while Hartt would speak with the client and give them hell for not mentioning that the mark was a female, he would still see the job fulfilled by another assassin for the guild.
He was far from fine with that.
Killing females was wrong.
They took the corridor to the right and he squinted whenever he passed one of the oil lamps on the black walls, his sensitive eyes hurting at the brightness of them. He needed the dark. The silence. Hartt led him deeper into the maze of corridors, right to the end of the long wing of the building, to a place where few ventured. It had been decades since Hartt had issued the order that this part of the guild was restricted, and only he and Fuery could go there. Fuery could understand why he had done it, even when it had stung a little at the time. His friend needed to protect the males he employed and felt responsible for.
He was the reason this area was off limits, and the reason Hartt had moved into the rooms opposite his, always on hand if he needed him.
Or on hand to stop him if he lost himself to the darkness.
When they reached his door, Hartt opened it for him.
“Try to sleep.” Hartt smiled at him, but the concern in his eyes lingered, worry that cut at Fuery because he didn’t want to be a burden on his friend.
The more Hartt drained himself worrying about him, and helping him, the weaker he was against the darkness that was stirring in him. Hartt denied it, but Fuery could see it. He could feel it. His friend was beginning to slip and fall, and it wouldn’t be long before the light began to leave him and he lost himself to the black abyss.
He hesitated and then lifted his hand, grasped Hartt’s shoulder and pulled him towards him. He pressed his forehead to Hartt’s, but couldn’t find the words to say what he needed to say to him, to warn him to be careful and to beg him to look after himself.
Hartt clutched him by the nape of his neck, pressing their brows harder together. “Rest, Fuery. I will check on you later.”
He nodded, and released Hartt at the same time as the male’s hand dropped from his neck. He watched Hartt leave, heading back along the corridor, the oil lamps sending warm light flickering over him. It hadn’t slipped his notice that Hartt had come to him armed for war, his black armour in place, moulded to his body like a second skin.
He pulled down a deep breath, intending to sigh.
Stilled as a scent laced it and filled him.
He stared blankly at the other end of the black-walled corridor, ears ringing as numbness swept through him, swiftly followed by strange warmth.
He knew that smell.
Lavender and crisp morning dew.
His knees gave out, sending him slamming hard into the stone floor, but he didn’t feel the fiery lightning as it shot through his bones.
What fresh hell was this?
Tears filled his eyes as he drew another shuddering breath, convinced he was mistaken, and caught the scent again, stronger this time. It couldn’t be. He focused, but the darkness pushing inside him made it difficult. He gritted his teeth and growled as he shoved back against it, desperate to catch the scent again.
This time, it was a feeling that hit him, a sensation that he hadn’t experienced in what felt like forever.
It wasn’t possible.
He snarled as he clawed at the flagstones, tipped his head back and growled at the gods, silently begging them to have mercy on him because this was too cruel.
He couldn’t bear it.
The visions of her that overlaid onto the present and the nightmares that haunted him each time he closed his eyes were torment enough. They didn’t need to do this to him. It was too much. He could already feel himself spiralling into the abyss, pulled down by the scent of her in his lungs, and the desperate need it birthed inside him, one he knew would never be fulfilled.
He couldn’t see her again.
Because she was gone.
He shoved his fingers through his hair, tugging the long lengths out of the clasp at the back of his head as he dug his claws into his scalp. The scent of his own blood joined the sweet fragrance that lingered in the air, tormenting him.
Gods, he was losing his fucking mind.
He could smell her.
The female he had killed.
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