Sneak Peek: Zealot, Chapter One

We are just ONE WEEK away from the release of Zealot, you guys. Eunomia’s story arc ends with a bang, and I cannot wait to share it with you.  To get us ready, here’s chapter one of Zealot!

 

Zealot, Hidden: Soulhunter Book Three

Chapter One

The air hung heavy and damp around me, the glowing streetlights along the narrow street haloed in a misty glow. My footsteps were silent, my breath slow. I followed a trail few others could see or feel.

This would, barring any nonsense, be my forty-eighth soul in one day.

In one neighborhood of one city.

And I knew why they were dying at such a rate. Everyone knew it, now. Just as I could feel the fresh signature of the newly-dead, I felt the presence of the reason the young woman had died.

Undead.

They swarmed across the earth, leaving death in their wake. Multiplying.

My eight New Guardians and I weren’t enough. We had known it for weeks now. There was no way nine of us, most of them very new to this life, could thwart the unstoppable tide of undead that had been released upon the innocent mortals. Thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, had died in the past month as the number of undead grew, as they devoured the bodies of the living in their endless, limitless hunger.

They grew stronger. They were learning, and their learning was a nightmare.

The first few undead had been aided, coaxed, fed the hearts of the living. Created as tools to unhinge my Queen, the Goddess of Death. But now, with so many of them around, they were watching one another and learning. And, as more humans died, many of them became undead, refusing to give in to death.

Refusing to go to my Queen for their final judgment.

We were losing.

And, still, I hunt. It is the only thing I know how to do.

I tracked the energy signatures to a dark alley. The new soul, who I knew to be Marilyn Smith, had been murdered by the very undead who now struggled with her. Marilyn wasn’t going down without a fight, even in death, and that was something I could appreciate. She hit the undead hard in the face, stomped his foot. The undead, now sated with Marilyn’s flesh, just wanted to get away. It had not counted on Marilyn’s rage. This was not the first such scene I had witnessed, and I had a feeling it would not be the last. People were angry. Some of them were angry enough to try to fight back. If only intentions and emotion were enough.

As they struggled, I crept up behind the undead and plunged one of my Netherblades into its back. It howled, screeched, flailed, and did everything it could to reach the blade. When it failed to manage that, it lunged for me, its breath stinking of decay and death.

This one was partially-corporeal. Two hearts eaten. It sickened me that I knew these things now the same way I know my own name or the tapestry of scars across my flesh. I punched the undead in the face, satisfied by the crunching, squishing sound its face made when met with my fist. It slumped, and I quickly pulled the large black sword out of the scabbard I carried it in and removed its head with one swift motion.

At least Mollis would not have to deal with this one. Its soul, anything that was left of it, had long since been destroyed in its lust for flesh, for a living body of its own. There would be no soul to judge.

But it was still a soul that Mollis would miss, knowing that a being had died and she had been unable to punish it. It was one of many things making life worse for the Goddess of Death of late.

I turned to the soul of  Marilyn Smith.

“Will you come quietly?”

She nodded and held her hands out.

“I am sorry you ended the way you did,” I told her as I fastened a gleaming black chain around her wrists. The words came automatically now. Too many of them had expired this way, murdered by the mindless beasts Mollis Eth-Hades’ enemies had created. I was numb. At a certain point, death becomes routine. The Black Plague, the second World War had both been like that for me, since Europe had always been considered my domain.

This… this was worse than that. This would never end, not the way it was going.

I shook my head. Such thoughts did not do anyone any good. All we could do was keep fighting, keep hunting.

Keep hoping my Queen managed to keep her sanity long enough to bring her enemies to justice for the devastation they’d caused.

I shoved that thought away as well as I glanced at the body of the undead I’d destroyed. It was already in the advanced stages of decay. The only good thing I could say about the undead is that at least we did not have to deal with the bodies after we killed them; they just sort of melted away like filth being hosed into a gutter. I put my hand on Marilyn Smith’s shoulder, then focused on rematerializing us to the Netherwoods, where she would face her final judgment.

Before, first working for Hades and then later for his daughter and heir, Mollis, we would simply bring the souls and be done with it. Now, with such a ridiculous number of souls needing to be judged, and only Mollis capable of doing the judging and sentencing them to their punishment, there were long lines of them waiting even to be admitted to the area where they would await their judgment. Each of the rooms of Mollis’s palace, other than her personal quarters, had become holding areas for the souls of the dead. Demons guarded each room, swords and axes in hand, their glowing red eyes constantly surveying their charges, watching out for trouble.

“Guardian, do you ever sleep?” One of the demons said when I walked into the least-full admitting room.

“Do you?” I asked him, and he shook his head tiredly.

“If I do, it’s likely happening when I’m on my feet,” he said, and I nodded.

“How are things moving along?” I asked, glancing around the room.

“Our Lady has been working tirelessly. We’re now grouping the souls in terms of how much evil they caused, and she’s sentencing them in groups.”

“Efficient,” I said.

“She hates it. You know she likes to give each soul her personal attention,” the demon guard told me, and I nodded.

“Let me guess: this method was her husband’s idea.”

The demon guard nodded.

“I thought so,” I said. Mollis’s husband, the demon Nain, was in charge of her army of demon guards, and it was easy to see his hand in the way the demons behaved. They were disciplined, but ruthless.

“So where do I put this one?” I asked, nodding toward the soul I’d just brought in.

“The room down the hall, last on the left, is for those we believe are low risk,” the demon said in its low, growly voice. “Still very well guarded, so don’t try anything,” he said to Marilyn Smith.

“I-I won’t,” she said, giving a small shiver beside me.

“I will take her down there now.” He gave me a nod, and I led the soul away. We made our way down the wide stone corridor, black stone beneath our feet, stone walls rising on either side of us. Elaborate iron chandeliers were spaced at even intervals along the ceiling, lighting our way.

In the distance, I could hear screams echoing off the stone; evidence that Mollis and the Furies were working.

I found the room the demon had directed me toward, and handed her off to one demon as another walked toward me.

This one, I knew. Unlike the others, he wore his human skin, even here where his demon form would have been totally acceptable.

“E,” Nain said as he stalked toward me. “Answer your fucking phone.”

“Hello to you, too,” I said, raising my eyebrow.

“Yeah, hi. Answer your fucking phone,” he repeated.

“My phone hasn’t rung in days,” I said, pulling it out of my jacket pocket to show him. It was only then that I saw that it had been punctured, a nasty-looking hole going from the screen out the back of the phone.

“I wonder why,” Nain said drily.

I tried to remember when that had happened. I remembered fighting an undead who’d had a spear-type weapon.

“Was Mollis trying to call me?” I asked him, tossing the useless phone into a nearby trash can.

“Not Molly. Brennan.”

I blew out a breath.

“When’s the last time you even talked to him, E?” Nain asked. I was about to answer when he stopped, stalked over to a soul, said a few low words, then came back.

“What was that about?”

“That one was trying to incite bullshit earlier. That was his second warning.”

“And when his third warning becomes necessary?” I asked.

“He’ll spend a little time with Megaera. She’s always good for helping to keep them in line.”

I nodded.

“So. Brennan? Call your husband, E.”

“He knows I am fine.”

“When’s the last time you talked to him?”

I rolled my eyes.

“I know how long it’s been. Do you?” Nain asked.

“I have a few things going on right now,” I snapped.

“Yeah, no shit. Call him anyway. Or, better yet, go home and get some sleep. You look like shit and if Molls saw you looking like this she’d want to kick your ass.”

“You do know that the flood of souls isn’t slowing, yes?”

“And you and your New Guardians are doing more than anyone ever thought you could do in terms of bringing them in. Every single one of you looks like a fucking zombie or something, which is saying something since you all have that Nether pallor going anyway.”

I gave him a dirty look.

“Quinn fell asleep while I was talking to him. Erin and Catherine both got injured because they were so tired they—“

“Are they all right?” I asked.

“Yeah. They’re okay.”

“Why didn’t anyone tell me? They know how to contact me,” I said. Quinn was going to hear about this.

“Because they’re just as busy as you are, and unless one of you has a limb cut off, you seem incapable of stopping.”

“It’s what we were made for,” I said with a shrug. “And she needs us to be doing this,” I said, nodding my head toward the rear of the palace, where I knew Mollis was working.

“She needs you. But even she rests sometimes.”

“Only because you insist on it.”

“And because seeing our kids helps her with all of the sick shit she has to see. Go home, E. Take a few hours to get some rest. All the undead fuckers will still be there when you go back out.”

“Except that there will be more of them,” I argued.

He sighed, and then he rubbed his hands over his face. “I know. But all of us running ourselves ragged isn’t working. There has to be something else. This isn’t doing it.”

I have rarely heard despair from the demon Mollis married. Only once, when we’d believed her dead. But I heard it now, and I well understood why: he was watching her slowly but surely lose her mind. She was losing herself in the constant evil she was faced with, with the mounting numbers of souls that were slipping away from us.

“I need to help her,” I said.

“You need to go home for a while. A few hours isn’t going to make or break any of this shit,” he said tiredly. And then he turned and walked away, taking a corridor that I knew would lead him to where Mollis was.

***

I glanced around, then rematerialized myself back to London, back where I’d collected Marilyn’s soul. I would make one more circuit of the neighborhood, and then I would take the demon’s advice and check in with Brennan.

I hadn’t even given it a thought, that he might have been trying to contact me. Hadn’t even glanced at my phone, expecting that it would ring if he really needed me for something. A wave of guilt crashed over me. I knew how he worried. And, more, I knew that he missed me when I was not there.

I was a few streets over from where we were staying, our little flat in Whitechapel, when I felt an immortal nearby.

I spun around, looking in all directions, trying to decipher where the power source was. It was not overly strong, the way Mollis or one of the other gods’ powers would feel. This was weaker, lighter, like one of the lesser gods.

Like my own power, I suppose.

I felt other energy signatures nearby as well, and I headed toward where all three were, cold rage already coursing through me. The last time I’d found a lesser god with the undead, it had been because my sisters were working with the undead, working to undermine Mollis.

Working to throw the world, apparently, into chaos. I did not understand it, but seeing the effect their actions had set into motion made me more angry than I’ve ever been.

I sped up. My sisters, other than my two missing Guardian sisters, Amalia and Zara, were all dead. If this was one of them, with the undead…

Well. Then at least I would know that my instincts had been correct, that if they were truly innocent of any wrongdoing, Amalia and Zara would have come forward to help Mollis.

As I got closer, I knew it wasn’t either of them. This wasn’t a Guardian or even a New Guardian power I was feeling. I ran around a corner, hearing the scuffling of feet, followed by a weak moan. Straight ahead of me, I saw four undead surrounding a lesser god I knew well: Lethe, the goddess of memory. She was fighting them back, but Lethe was never a warrior god. Most gods aren’t, especially not the emotion or nature gods; Poseidon and his family are the exceptions there.

I ran toward the group and started stabbing out at the undead, quickly taking two out as the other two started to run away.

That, in and of itself, was unnerving. That much immortal blood and flesh should have made them stay. It was usually irresistible to the undead. But just as they seemed to have learned, over time, how to gain a corporeal form, they seemed to have learned something else as well:

Fear of me.

I was about to chase them down when I saw Lethe stumble, then fall, a pale shadow glinting in the dark recesses of the quiet street. I ran over to her, noting with disgust the bite marks on her, the sickly pallor of her usually luminescent skin. Her eyelids were closed over her silvery eyes and her breathing was shallow. I gently picked her up and started to focus, attempting to rematerialize with her. She would need healing.

I had just started to feel the sense of coming apart that precedes rematerialization when I felt something hard strike the side of my face. My concentration broke, and we remained in the alley where we were. I looked around and spotted one of the undead who had run away with its arms raised, a large chunk of rock in its hand. I ducked away just as it sent the rock flying toward me. I set Lethe down, feeling momentarily guilty that I was using her as bait. It was too much temptation for the undead. It threw another rock at me and I leaned lazily to the side as it whizzed past me. It hurled another one, and I took a few steps away, quickly grabbing my Netherblades from under my jacket. The undead kept one eye on me, but was so hunger-crazed that even its unease about my presence there wasn’t enough to dissuade it from scuttling over to where Lethe still lay unconscious. It had gotten over its fear rather quickly, yet more evidence that the undead are less than animals, ruled by hunger. They could learn, but in the end, their desire for flesh would alway overrule sense. And immortal flesh was something none of them would ever be able to resist.

As far too many immortals had learned in the past few months, I thought as fresh rage coursed through me.

The undead, as I predicted, completely forgot that I was there, focused on Lethe’s still form. It had just started leaning over her prone body when I whipped one dagger at it. The dagger hit home, sticking out of the side of its neck, and it flailed and screamed and ripped the dagger from its flesh. It had just removed the dagger when I sent another one that embedded itself into the undead’s stomach. Another screech, and it dropped the first dagger to scrabble furiously at its stomach. It was nothing at all for me to walk up behind it, draw my sword, and remove its head.

When it fell, I pulled my dagger from its stomach, grabbed the other one where it had fallen, and wiped the blades of all three weapons off on the undead’s tattered shirt. At this point, I could not tell whether this one had been male or female just by glancing at it, and I surely did not care enough to try to investigate further. I looked at the undead again as I re-sheathed my blades, then went back to where I’d left Lethe. I heaved her body up once more, took a breath, and focused.

It was time to go home.

Moments later, we were standing in the living room of the small flat Brennan and I had moved into upon relocating to London. It was late, and the loft was silent. I settled Lethe on the brown leather sofa and tossed a soft maroon throw over her. There was still a lamp on in the living room, and my heart gave a little squeeze. I knew he left the light on for me, hoping, undoubtedly, that I would manage to make my way home to him this night, even though I had failed to do so so many nights before.

The wood floors gleamed, and the apartment was neat and organized. One thing Brennan and I had found after moving in together was that we had no arguments at all about the style in which we preferred to keep our home. My style could be considered “simple.” His could only be called spartan. The only extraneous items in the main living area were photos of Brennan’s son, Sean, either alone or with either Brennan or Brennan’s grandmother, Artemis. In the center of the cluster of framed photos adorning one wall, there was a photo of the two of us, Brennan and I, in an unguarded moment when we were both relaxed and smiling.

It had been taken the day we’d moved to London, and there had been far too few moments like it since that day.

I heard the floorboards creak, and a moment later, Brennan stepped out of the hallway that led back to the bedrooms in our flat. He was dressed only in a pair of loose pajama bottoms, and the sight of his muscled arms, wide shoulders, the golden hair sprinkled across his chest, was enough to nearly make me forget myself and everything going on around us. On his left hand, a silver band glinted. It matched the band I wore on my left hand, and it symbolized everything I never thought I’d have. All I wanted to do was touch him.

Instead, I stayed frozen where I was, standing beside the sofa.

Brennan’s gaze met mine for a moment, and I was relieved to see warmth there. Not anger. Not irritation. Certainly not rejection. So often already, I’d expected him to tire of the way our life was. I’d expected him to realize that the life he was sharing with me was not the one he desired. I knew this was not how he’d ever envisioned his life. He deserved more, but I was and continue to be too selfish to let him go.

We had promised one another that we would fight side by side. And we had, until it had become impossible to keep up with all of the souls that the undead were creating. Every supernatural being who could, including Brennan, spent most of their waking hours dealing with the chaos the undead were causing. Shifter packs and vampire families were on edge, and the humans were beyond terrified. My husband was already finding himself in the same position he’d left in Detroit; the de-facto leader of London’s shifter community, based on the fact that, like any wild being, shifters respect power above anything else. As the grandson of the goddess Artemis, Brennan had more than his fair share of power, and that plus his ability to work with and organize people earned him plenty of respect as well. We both hunted. It had just become impossible to hunt together, because I was forced to go wherever I felt a soul appearing, and he was needed in London, where the undead horde had begun and still continued to grow.

It all made me hate the undead and those who had brought them into being a bit more.

“Nice to see you, Tink,” he said in a quiet voice, and just the sound of it sent pleasant shivers down my spine.

“It is nice to see you as well, Cub,” I said. We held one another’s gaze for a few moments, and then I looked down. “I need to have Asclepius come here,” I said, gesturing to Lethe.

Brennan stepped toward me and looked down at the goddess. “What happened to her?”

“I am not entirely sure. I know these most recent injuries are due to the undead. I found four of them attacking her not far from here. But she seems weaker than she should be.”

“What’s she doing here in London?” he asked quietly, picking the phone up from the end table.

I shook my head. “I have no idea. It would have been safer for her where she was.”

He nodded, and a moment later he was speaking, to Asclepius, I realized. I bent down and gently brushed Lethe’s silvery hair back from her face. Not only was she pale, but her cheeks had that hollow look that comes when people have been sick for too long. That, and the deep, dark shadows beneath her eyes suggested that she had been through some things.

“He’s coming,” Brennan said a moment later.

“Thank you for calling him.”

Brennan didn’t answer. I stood up straight and looked at him. As near as he was, I could smell his warm, comforting scent, a hint of the soap he used when he showered. I looked up into his blue eyes, eyes that never failed to remind me of sky and sea, and raised my hand, gently running my fingertips through his flaxen beard. He leaned his face into my touch and closed his eyes, reminding me for just a moment of the giant cat he was when he shifted.

“I am sorry my love. I’ve been gone too long. And I should have called, if nothing else,” I said softly.

He took my wrist in his hand and brought it to his mouth, gently kissed the sensitive place where my pulse throbbed in my wrist. Then he held my hand against his chest. I could feel his heart beating strongly, and I stepped closer.

“You don’t need to apologize to me, Eunomia,” he said softly, his gaze capturing mine again. “I never want you to feel guilty for being who you are.”

“This was not what you signed up for when we pledged ourselves to one another, I think,” I whispered. He gave me a lopsided grin, one that still had the power to make me swoon, and more than a little.

“I signed up for eternity with you. This is what that looks like at the moment. I’m not complaining.”

“You have not seen me in, what? Days? Weeks?” I asked him. “It was inconsiderate of me not to at least call to tell you I was all right.”

“Nain would have let me know if you’d gone more than a few hours without turning in a soul. Based on how often they see you, I know you’re working your ass off. Stop beating yourself up for doing what you need to do.”

“I feel guilty. I am never here,” I said.

He gave a low laugh. “Imagine how guilty you’d feel if you were just sitting around with me all the time and letting the undead run rampant.”

I shook my head, and he pulled me into his arms.

“You’re exhausted, though, and that isn’t something I’m okay with. I’ll sit up with Lethe and see what Asclepius says. Take a shower and get some sleep.”

“Bossy,” I told him, standing up on my tiptoes to press a kiss to his lips. He kissed me back, and I sighed contentedly against his lips, just as he sighed against mine.  His big, warm hands immediately made their way under my leather jacket and t-shirt, and I shivered at the sensation of his strong hands touching the bare flesh at the base of my spine. Just that single touch was enough to make me feel more at ease than I had felt in days. “You are perfect,” I murmured before pulling away.

“Not even close. But I’m glad you think so,” he said with a grin. I kissed him again, and he pressed my body closer to his, his hands still resting at my lower back, and he gently trailed his fingers up my spine. He pressed a warm kiss to the side of my neck and slowly released me, tilting his head toward the bedrooms. I shook my head and started tiredly down the hall. I glanced back at him.

“You will wake me if I am needed?”

He nodded.

“And you will come to bed with me as soon as Lethe is settled?”

He smiled. “Obviously.”

I smiled, and it was the first time I had done so in quite a while.

Zealot Cover Reveal (And a Giveaway!)

The third Soulhunter book will be out on September 1, and I have a cover reveal and description for you today!

So, what’s the story with Zealot? Here’s the blurb:

Fearless. Tireless. Unstoppable.

Zealot.

Death’s hunter and her New Guardians have been woefully incapable of ending the rise of the undead who now plague the world, their mindless, hungry ranks increasing faster than Eunomia can cut them down.

Human governments grow weary of the immortals and the dangers they bring to the world. Desperation reigns, tempers flare, and the immortals find themselves on the brink of war from all sides.

If only that was the worst of Eunomia’s problems.

An evil still walks among them, one that continues to elude Eunomia and her hunters, and everything Eunomia, Molly, and the rest of the immortals have fought so hard to protect is crumbling…

…along with E’s love life.

Her trust shaken, her world falling apart, E finds herself pushing away everyone who has ever mattered to her in her quest to somehow save it all. Her single-minded devotion to her Queen and the world she loves threatens to destroy the life she was beginning to create for herself.

And when an enemy is revealed, when the unthinkable happens, the world sees just how much of herself Eunomia is willing to sacrifice in order to save what she holds dear.

Because sometimes, what the world needs… is a zealot.

And the cover, which, as always, was designed by my husband, Roger Vanderlinden. I think this is officially my favorite cover of any of my books. He got the mood of the book so perfectly, and it’s very E. I love it.

Cover_Zealot_750h_8_11_16

GAH! I love it so much!

The Giveaway

Here’s the deal. It helps me out a lot when people add my books to their GoodReads shelves. It makes the books more visible, and that encourages even more people to add it to their shelves. You guys know I don’t do much marketing and promotion (mostly because those things make me stabby and I’d rather be writing) but this is one of those very easy way to spread the word among readers. So… the GoodReads listing for Zealot is here. To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is add the book to your GoodReads shelves, then come back here and comment telling me you added it. For a bonus entry, share about the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook (I’ll have posts up in both places that will be easy to share.) The giveaway will be open through 8/24.

What do you win? I’ll randomly select three winners who will receive a free Zealot ebook as soon as it becomes available on Amazon! Winners will be announced August 25th here on the blog. Thank you in advance for helping to spread the word!

 

Valentine’s Day Story: “Have a Little Faith”

You guys voted for it, and here it is: a little visit with Brennan and Eunomia. Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Have a Little Faith

I stood, my soulblades ready, and watched Brennan questioning the undead we’d chased and then finally caught not too far from Westminster.

“A name. Who do you work for?” Brennan repeated, holding the undead by its throat up against the brick wall nearby. He’d been in his cat form when we’d caught him, which meant he was now standing there in all of his glorious nakedness under the yellowish streetlights. After all of this time, after all of the times I’d seen his body both in our bed and out of it it should not have affected me the way it did.

And yet, I continued to have to force my focus back to the business at hand, watching and waiting, ready to destroy the undead should it make a single move against Brennan.

“We know you’re not one of the mindless ones,” Brennan was saying. “You are leading that group who’s been causing trouble around Westminster. You’re organized. Who’s calling the shots?”

The undead laughed in its weird, raspy, phlegmy voice. And then it spat at Brennan, a disgusting splatter of grayish phlegm landing on his face.

“Okay,” Brennan said, wiping it away with his free arm. “We tried to do this the nice way.” An instant later, the air kind of seemed to shimmer around Brennan, and instead of a man standing there imprisoning the undead. an enormous black cat knocked the undead down and sat solidly on its chest. The cat looked at me with slate-blue eyes that I recognized very well, and I gave him a small smile.

I walked slowly toward the undead and looked down at him. “He did give you a chance,” I said softly. “And he’s much nicer than I am.” I held up my soulblade, and the undead tried, unsuccessfully, to get out from beneath Brennan’s massive cat form.

“Let me up, and I’ll talk,” the undead whined, staring up at me with its sunken eyes, the sickly pallor of its flesh making my skin crawl. The undead never failed to unsettle me, if for no other reason than that they simply should not be. And now that they were here, turning others, growing their ranks through crazed hunger and violence, getting rid of them would be a task that would be nearly impossible to keep up with, especially with only myself and my small band of new Guardians able to destroy them.

I exchanged a glance with Brennan, and he heaved a sigh and stepped off of the undead, then started shifting back to his human form. It was then that the undead launched himself at Brennan, who was vulnerable during the shift, his body changing his mind neither cat nor man.

There was no thought on my part; my response was automatic. I launched toward the undead and sank my soulblade into the back of his neck, feeling black metal meet bone and sinew and watching as the last of its life force dissipated. The undead crumbled to dust in the same moment that Brennan completed the shift. It had all taken fractions of a second.

Brennan looked at me, his jaw set, his blue eyes flashing just a little.

“We needed that one alive, Eunomia,” he said quietly. “He had answers.”

“We will find another. It is not as if there is any shortage of undead here.”

“Yeah, but none that we knew of that were in any kid of organized leadership…” he trailed off, shaking his head and then he walked over to where his clothing lay. He started pulling his pants on, then his shirt, his posture tense.

“This is more my problem than yours. I do not see what you’re so angry about,” I muttered, wiping the black remains of the undead off of my soulblade on some nearby grass then putting it back in the sheath across my chest. He finished getting dressed wordlessly, then he walked toward me and leaned down, his mouth close to my ear.

“Your problems are my problems, Tink,” he said. It was not the same teasing, light tone he usually used with me. There was an edge to it that made me look questioningly at him. He met my eyes for a moment and then started walking toward where we’d parked the car, a few blocks away. We’d spotted our prey and ended up chasing him on foot.

And it had come to nothing.

He was right, I thought, heaving a sigh as I followed him. We rarely got any kind of a lead. The undead in London were organizing, and it was a very bad sign, to put it mildly. It was one thing to deal with random crazed undead beings. It was something else entirely to deal with an organized, disciplined force of them, focused on causing the most damage and carnage in a minimal amount of time. We probably could have gotten answers from that one, but I’d destroyed him.

But, I’d protected the man I loved. I would take that trade, and he could be annoyed with me if he wanted to be. What else would have have expected me to do? I thought irritably as I followed him.

We drove back to our flat and caught up with Artemis, who had spent the day with Brennan’s son, Sean. The four of us went out to dinner together, and then I parted ways with the rest of them; Brennan had things to attend to in terms of getting Sean settled and in to bed, and I had more undead to hunt.

When I got back home, he was still clearly irritated with me. We sat wordlessly, and we made love as we always did, but there was that edge of tension, irritation through it all. I dozed off, somewhere between angry and happily sated, and it was only a while later that I heard Sean begin his night-time crying, his nightmares getting the better of him, and Brennan got up and pulled on his pajama pants and t-shirts with a sigh, patting my hip before leaving the room to take care of his son.

I watched him go, and thought about our argument that day. It wasn’t the first time we’d had it, and we were having the same arguments over and over lately. And I knew it was beginning to wear on both of us. And I started feeling that creeping worry that seemed to have seeped into my psyche. We’d moved quickly, and he had followed me here. Had it been a mistake? I knew I loved him, completely, and I knew he loved me. But sometimes, you can love someone and still not be right together. And our personalities were very different.

The truth of it was, he was driving me crazy. The beautiful, thoughtful, intelligent, soulful man I was now sharing my life with was a good example of why, I think, Athena has chosen to remain celibate for so long.

At the same time, he is the embodiment of everything Aphrodite was supposed to symbolize.

I lay in our rumpled bed in the flat we were staying in in London and listened to the floorboards creaking as he walked back and forth in the next room, talking softly to his son, Sean, after the boy woke, screaming, from yet another nightmare. My body still ached pleasantly from the way he’d loved me before we’d drifted off to sleep. Falling asleep wrapped in Brennan’s warm, strong embrace was one of the absolute pleasures in my life. We had no issues at all in that department. Physically, we were a match made in heaven, his warm body a complement to my naturally cold one, his large body a counterpoint to my diminutive one. HIs passion the other side of my more even-headed outlook.

It was everything else we had to do together that was the problem. When it came to fighting the undead, dealing with the local supernatural community, and trying to solve who was behind the kidnapping of Brennan’s child, along with Molly’s son and Hephaestus’s son, we were always at odds. He was ever the diplomat, the former federal agent, the investigator.

I tended to be more of the “stab with my soulblade first, ask questions later, or not” philosophy. He focused on looking for answers, teasing details from those we chased, trying to get to the bottom of why everything was such a mess. And it was a point of view I definitely appreciated and would have welcomed in any other being.

But him? All I saw when I watched him patiently trying to get answers from an undead or a minor god was the possibility of losing him. Of his life being cut short. And I was starting to realize that this was exactly why my kind, the Guardians, were supposed to be celibate and cloistered. Loving someone the way I love Brennan changes things. It changes simple things, like how you wake up in the morning and how you fall asleep at night, and it changes big things, like having to choose between doing the things you’ve been sworn to do and selfishly trying to protect the one thing you cannot live without, no matter what it costs otherwise.

It is entirely possible that I spend too much time overthinking things. All of this, this having of friends, this being out in the world, this caring about others at all — all of it is new to me. Loving Brennan is the newest thing of all. I was unprepared for how much it would change my life. Unprepared for the way my heart seems to quite literally ache sometimes at how much I love him, or the way just seeing him smile that slightly cocky, lopsided smile can turn my whole day around, even if I am coming home covered with undead guts and other filth.

I heard the steady creaking from the next room stop, which meant that Brennan was settling Sean back into bed. The boy would likely sleep through the rest of the night now. We’d settled into this routine, because Sean’s nightmares were so steady you could practically set a clock by them. We’d rescued him a little over three months ago, and it did not seem to be getting any better. He could tell us little of what had happened to him, other than some incoherent mumbles about scary ladies.

It was one of the few times I was actually glad I no longer had my wings. If I had them, he would have seen the “bad ladies” every time he looked at me. All of the Guardians, myself included, looked very much alike. Luckily, even though I looked like them in almost every way, all he saw when he looked at me was the lady who’d saved him. I would take that.

Brennan walked back into our bedroom, closed the door and started walking back toward our bed,  shedding his shirt and pajama pants as he did. I turned over onto my side and leaned my head on my hand, watching with appreciation. Good Hades, he was a beautiful male. He caught me watching and gave me that cocky grin.

“I love it when you look at me like that,” he said as he climbed beneath the covers.

“Well, I rather enjoy it as well,” i said, and he pulled me into his arms. We fit together as if we’d been in one another’s arms for an eternity, settling against one another, limbs tangling, my body pressed to his as he rested his face at the side of my neck and my arms went around his shoulders, his arms holding me tightly around my waist, pulling me closer, always closer.

“You were pissed at me earlier,” he said, his voice muffled, his breath hot against my flesh.

“That is nothing new,” I said lightly, and he laughed.

“You know we’re not going to get any answers unless we do some digging. I mean, that’s how this works, Eunomia. WE can’t just keep stabbing them and expect to get to the bottom of why all this shit is happening. Why the kids were taken, why the undead started appearing now… all of it. We need answers.”

“We need to destroy them,” I said.

“Of course. But we need answers, too.” He pulled back a little. “And I know what you’re doing.”

“What do you mean?”

“When you go all stabby. You just want them gone. You hate them being anywhere near me.”

“Obviously.”

“Except that you’re forgetting a few things. One, I’m actually really well-trained in the art of killing whoever I need to kill if it comes to that—“

“I know that,” I said irritably.

“Two,” he continued, “this is kind of the whole reason we’re here. Molly needs us here to find answers and yeah, put down the undead, but answers are important.”

“Yes, but—“

“And three,” he said, pulling back so he could meet my eyes. “I need you to believe in me, just a little bit.”

I stared at him, mouth agape. “I do believe in you,” I finally said.

“No,” he said, pulling me close again and settling his face against my neck. “You’re always expecting me to get my ass kicked.”

“It is not your skills I’m concerned about. We’re dealing with—“

“Supernatural beings. Who I’ve been fighting since I was twelve years old. Nice try,” he said, running his hands up and down my back. “I know you’re worried about me. I’m just saying, you know, no man wants his woman to constantly be watching him, waiting for the moment he’s gong to screw up.”

“That is not what I am doing,” I argued. He kissed his way down my neck, my collarbone, my sternum, resting his face between my breasts for a moment before tilting his head and gently nipping the underside of one of them. I bit back a small groan. I knew what he was doing. He knew this conversation would make me tense and he was trying to distract me from getting worried and irritated.

“That’s exactly what you’re doing. Do you have any idea how much it pisses me off?” he asked. And then, as if to soften the effect of his words, he started doing very interesting things involving his mouth and my breast. This time, I couldn’t hide the helpless moan that escaped me, and I knew it was exactly what he wanted. After a moment, he released my nipple with an audible “pop” and I gasped.

“You need to stop” he said, meeting my eyes. He kissed his way over to my other breast and lavished it with the same attention, making my toes curl, my body heat. I fought the pleasant fuzziness forming over my thoughts. This was the way we did things. We did our best arguing in bed. So far, it seemed to be working for us.

“I am not waiting for you to get your ass kicked, you insufferable man,” I said, though the effect may have been ruined by the cry he drew out of me at the end. “I know you are more than capable.”

He kissed, licked, and nibbled his way back up to my neck, along my jawline, then claimed my lips. I dug my nails into his strong shoulders, trying to keep myself centered and focused. Gods, this man. He brought me to the brink of insanity over and over again, made me want to scream in frustration at times, and yet, there was always this between us. He knew me the way no one else ever had. He understood me, honored me. And I wanted to do the same for him.

Damn it all. And I hadn’t been. Not really. Not if he had the sense that I was waiting for him to fail. Not when my faith in him meant so much to him.

I kissed him back, then gently tugged his hair as I pulled away. I met his eyes. “I do not intend to make you feel that way,” I said softly. I ran my fingers through his hair, gently scraping my fingernails along his scalp, which I knew he loved. He closed his eyes languidly, and I ran my fingertips over his scalp a few more times. Moments like this, even in his human form, he was very much the giant cat he took as his favorite form. Touch was important to him, more so than I ever would have realized.

A few more strokes through his hair, and I let my fingertips trail down the sides of his face, through his short beard, then down the sides of his neck. He slowly opened is eyes and watched my face.

“I love you,” I murmured. “It still frightens me sometimes, how much you make me feel. Please understand that I am not expecting you to fail. I am just terrified of that one unlucky moment, that instant that could happen to any of us, in which your opponent gets lucky. Because that is what it would take for you to be bested. A slip, a distraction, and my world could be torn apart. Because the fact remains that while we are fairly sure you are as immortal as the rest of us, there is the tiniest chance that you are not. That chance haunts me,” I finished in a whisper. He continued watching me. “I have spent eternity without feeling the things you make me feel. There is no way I could go back to the way things were, if you were ever taken from me.”

Brennan pulled me close again, capturing my lips with his, and I let myself fall into the tangle of sensations that accosted me with every touch, every kiss, every time his eyes met mine.

He rolled me onto my back and settled his muscular body on top of mine, his gaze intense as he kept it locked onto mine.

“Eunomia, have a little faith, all right? They’d have to move heaven, Earth, and everything in between to ever get me away from you,” he promised in a low voice. He nudged my thighs apart, and then there was no more need for words.

* *

When I woke the next morning, it was to find Brennan’s side of the bed empty and the blankets tucked closely around my body. I rolled over onto my stomach, burying my face in his pillow. He woke well before sunrise most days, often to touch base with his friends back home in Detroit, then start his day. Sean was an early riser, so most days, I woke up to the sounds of laughter and running footsteps through our flat. This morning, it was silent. I was confused for a moment, but then I remembered that Artemis was taking Sean to Greece this week to show him some of the old temples. I smiled to myself, then burrowed deeper beneath the covers. A whole week without Sean. I liked the child, maybe even spoiled him a little, mostly because he reminded me so much of his father. But I had no maternal feelings at all, and I doubted I ever would. I had to admit that an entire week of having Brennan to myself, just the two of us in the flat sounded like paradise.

I should probably get up, I thought to myself. And then I closed my eyes and pulled the blankets up over my head and let myself doze for a while longer.

I was awakened a while later by the feel of the mattress shifting, the familiar feel of Brennan’s arms pulling me up against him as he delved beneath the blankets with me.

“You’re back early,” I said sleepily.

“I made it clear to the packs that I wasn’t in the mood to spend all day listening to them bitching,” he said, pressing a series of warm kisses across my upper back, over the scars that remained from the day Asclepius had had to remove what was left of my wings. They’d become too damaged, and I’d become too weakened. Removing them and giving me an infusion of Mollis’s blood had given me a chance to recover. Brennan kissed the scars often, as if he hoped it would somehow comfort me after the devastating loss.

And the crazy thing was, it kind of did.

He kissed his way up my spine, the back of my neck, and then I tuned my head so he could kiss my lips. He kissed me, then pulled back just enough so I could turn around and hold him. He’d shed his clothing, and I was delighted to rest this way, skin to skin with him, completely, utterly, and blissfully alone.

“I’m glad you finished your meetings quickly,” I said, nuzzling his jawline. “Did you talk to Nain this morning?”

“I ended up talking to Ada. Nain was out dealing with some undead mess or something.”

“How is she?”

He didn’t answer for a moment, and I pulled back so I could see his face.

“What is it?” I asked.

He shook his head. “She had a little bit of a health scare the other day, I guess.”

“What kind of health scare?”

“She thought she was having a heart attack. So Nain and Stone took her to the hospital, and it turns out that it was indigestion, but when she was there, I guess they told her that her blood pressure was way too high and her sugar was too high and they put her on a  bunch of meds. Which you know Ada hates.”

“Yes. I’m glad she is all right, though.”

“Me too.” He held me close, rubbing my back. “It was just a kind of sudden reminder that Ada and Stone aren’t like the rest of us,” he said quietly.

Not immortal, or very close to it, was what he meant. And while the witch and the strongman had already lived much longer than many humans, and aged much more slowly, the fact was that neither of them were exactly young anymore. I knew that Ada was the primary mother figure in Brennan’s life since his own mother had died when he was a boy.

“You miss them,” I said softly, and he shrugged. He’d followed me here. Mollis had sent me here to London, as the center of the undead uprising, to get things under control and find answers, and I’d gone without a second thought, because I have lived everywhere and I am honored to go where my Queen and friend needs me to be. But he’d followed me, leaving behind not just the city he’d always called home, but also the friends and family he’d loved for almost his entire life. True, he had his son and his grandmother, Artemis here. And he had me. But Nain was father figure, best friend, and like a brother to Brennan, even after their strained relationship of the past several years. Stone and Ada were like another set of parents. And all of the shifters that Brennan had led and considered an extended family had given him a community he’d felt at home in. He hadn’t even considered staying behind, and I knew that if I asked him now, he would insist he was where he wanted to be.

But he missed his home and his family. That much, I could understand. Detroit had become home to me as well, and I found that I missed the gritty yet oddly beautiful streets of my adopted hometown. Not to mention those we’d left behind.

A plan started to form, just barely, before Brennan murmured, “I like finding you naked in bed. Very convenient, Tink,” and distracted me completely.

A while later, Brennan left for some meeting he had scheduled with the local supernatural affairs people, which he’d been working with more and more since we’d arrived in London. I went out hunting as usual. I was missing my New Guardians. They were scattered around in pairs, cleaning up their assigned cities. Europe had been hit most badly y the arrival of the undead, but parts of North America and Asia were starting to see the effects as well. It was a mess, and there were not nearly enough of us to contain it. I held out hope that one day, the number of Guardians would reach its original, thirteen. At this point, we were trying to quell the undead and escort souls to the Nether for Mollis to judge with half that amount.

So I hunted, and I thought and planned and daydreamed. When I returned to our flat that night, covered, as usual, in the remains of those I’d hunted, it was to find Brennan asleep on the sofa in the living room, his laptop open on the cushion beside him, several files and other folders spread out on the coffee table. He’d given up his role as director of the Detroit branch of the federal supernatural affairs division, but h’d found himself, slowly but surely over the past weeks, settling into a position of leadership in the international supernatural affairs bureau, which was headquartered in London. They’d already been practically courting him, wanting him to take up a leadership position. For his part, Brennan preferred to consult and help as needed, but I could see that he thrived on being needed.

Just as it was between the two of us. He needed to be needed. And it worked well, because he is, quite possibly, the one thing I have ever actually required to be happy and whole.

I approached him and he opened his eyes.

“Hey,” he said in a hoarse, sleepy voice.

“Hey, yourself. You should go to bed,” I said, leaning down and kissing him. I was about to pull back, but he reached up and tangled his fingers in my hair, held me close and captured my lips again. I smiled against his mouth.

“I will go to bed,” he said, letting me go. “Are you coming?”

“Right after I clean up,” I promised. I showered, dried off, and made my way into our room. I could already hear Brennan’s faint snores from the bed, and I smiled. I climbed in beside him and he reached for me in his sleep. I stayed in his arms for a while, until he was solidly, heavily asleep beside me, and then I got up and crept silently around our room. I pulled a duffel bag from the closet and packed a few changes of clothing for him and for myself, then carried the bag out into the living room. I pulled on a t-shirt and pajama pants and booted up my laptop, then logged into FaceTime. I had arranged to talk to Ada tonight, and sure enough, she was online.

I logged in and the older witch and I spoke for a little while. When I told her my plan, she let out such a loud whoop that both Nain and Stone came running from other parts of the loft.

“Brennan and E are coming home for a couple of days!” she told them excitedly. Stone grinned, his white mustache pulling up at both sides, and he let out a happy guffaw. “It’s about goddamn time!” he said gruffly, then bent to kiss Ada’s cheek and sauntered away.

Even Nain looked happy. At least, inasmuch as Nain ever seems expressive at all. But I could tell he was pleased.

I finished talking to Ada, glad that they would all know to expect us. Two days and nights back home. The world would not fall apart if I took two days off from hunting the undead in London. If I felt overly guilty, I could hunt some in Detroit. But he needed this, and it was my turn to try to give him something he needed after all of the little arguments we’d been having of late.

When I woke in the morning, the bed was empty beside me yet again, and I frowned. He’d had no appointments today, I’d made sure of it so we could leave fairly early to spend as much time as possible in Detroit. I glanced at the alarm clock on my bedside table in irritation.

Maybe he’d stepped out to grab something to eat. I got up and dressed, and then I picked up my phone. No messages. I dialed him and it went immediately to voicemail.

I frowned. That was very unlike him. I was caught between being worried and annoyed. Mostly, I leaned toward being worried because that seems to be my natural tendency when it comes to Brennan. But I was irritated as well. The one day I had something planned, and he’d decided to choose now to deviate from his usual routine.

I sighed and dialed again, and got voicemail. I hung up and called Ada to tell her we were running late. After another half hour, I left to go out and look for him.

I walked through the area of the city immediately around our flat. He hadn’t taken the car or his motorcycle, which meant he hadn’t gone far. The longer I walked, the bigger the knot forming in my gut felt. What if something had happened to him? What if he’d run into one of the many, many beings who wanted a shot at any of Mollis’s allies? What if—

I shook my head. This was exactly what he’d been talking about other day. I immediately leapt to the conclusion that he needed to be saved, when logically, I knew very well that anyone who intended to give Brennan any trouble would be in for a world of hurt. I took a deep breath and forced myself to slow down. I decided to head back to our apartment. Things seemed fairly calm out in the city today, and I hoped that would hold during the next couple of days. Maybe we’d finally gotten rid of enough undead to make a difference.

I doubted it, but one could hope.

I was a couple of blocks away from our flat when my phone rang. My heart leapt when I saw Brennan’s number. I answered before it had a chance to ring a second time.

“Eunomia, where are you?” he asked when I answered.

“One could ask you the same thing,” I said wryly.

“I’m at home. Looking for you,” he told me.

“And I am out roaming the streets looking for you.”

Brennan let out a short laugh. “You were worried about me, huh?”

“Not at all.”

“Uh huh,” he said, doubt in his voice. “Well, I’m home now. And I have a surprise for you.”

“Is this like that time I arrived home to find you waiting with a bag of goodies from that one particular shop that makes me blush every time we walk past it?”

“Not this time,” he said, still laughing.

“Damn,” I said wistfully.

“But I think you’ll like this, too. And we can play with that other stuff anytime,” he added.

I laughed. “Very well. I’m almost there now.”

It only took me a few minutes to get home and take the stairs up to our flat. I could have rematerialized, but I did not like to do that in our own neighborhood, where one of our neighbors could look out a window and notice something amiss if I suddenly disappeared. They had enough to worry about with the undead in the city.

When I walked into our apartment, it was to find Brennan sitting there with Hephaestus. Both men stood up, and Hephaestus came to me and pulled me into a bone-crushing hug.

“How are you, my wee nightmare?” Hephaestus asked as he hugged me, and I laughed.

“Fine, you big lout,” I said, laughing and hugging him back. “What in the Nether are you doing here?”

“Aren’t you happy to see me?” he asked, grinning.

“Of course! I’m just surprised. I know you’re busy with your wife and son and all of the work you do for Mollis.”

He nodded. “Well. Every once in a while, I find the time to do a little something else. And Brennan contacted me a while back with an idea, and it sounded like a good one. It just took some time to figure out.”

I looked at Brennan questioningly and he just smiled at me, that small, secretive smile that never failed to make my heart pound a little harder.

“What is it?”

“Shall we take this elsewhere, then?” Hephaestus asked Brennan, and Brennan nodded. Hephaestus took my hand, and I took Brennan’s. I noticed that Hephaestus carried a large black bag but before I could give it much thought, we were falling apart, and then coming together again, rematerializing elsewhere.

The next time I opened my eyes, we were standing on the roof of an old manor-type house in the countryside. I glanced at Hephaestus.

“It’s abandoned,” he said, as if that answered anything at all. He set the bag down and started unzipping it. “You’re gonna have to take the jacket off, E,” he said, not bothering to look up.

I glanced at Brennan and all he did was give me that smile again and hold his hand out, waiting to take my jacket from me. I unzipped it, shrugged it off, and handed it over. Hephaestus looked up and grinned.

“I recognize that one. I was with Molly when she found it.”

I glanced down at my t-shirt, a vintage 1980s Def Leppard concert shirt. “Again, I don’t like this band at all, but I love the shirt.” Mollis had started doing this, sending me concert shirts from bands I probably didn’t know anything about as a way to help me adapt to living in this world. She’d kept it up, partially as a joke between us and partially as a way to stay connected even when I was away.

Hephaestus lifted what looked like some kind of black metal contraption out of the bag.

“Lift your arms,” he said, and I obeyed, watching him with confusion. “Strap that around her chest,” he told Brennan. Brennan came over to me and buckled a black leather strap under my breasts, and another above. I looked up at him, and he met my eyes and winked.

“You’re sure this will work,” he asked Hephaestus, keeping his eyes locked on mine.

“Positive. Tested them myself. If it worked for me, it’ll definitely work for her. Have a little faith,” Hephaestus huffed.

“Do all immortal men feel the need to say that?” I asked irritably, remembering Brennan saying the same thing to me after the recent incident with the undead and my immediate need to “rescue” him.

“Gods, faith. We can’t help ourselves,” Hephaestus said, and Brennan laughed, nodding in agreement.

“Annoying,” I said, though I couldn’t help myself from smiling. “And what are we doing, exactly? What are these for?” I asked, plucking at the leather straps Brennan had fastened.

“This,” Hephaestus said, pulling something out of the bag with a flourish. I squinted at them, and he laughed. “Hold on a minute. You’ll get the idea.”

He went behind me and attached it to whatever was on the back side of the straps, and my heart started pounding. If this was what I was beginning to think it was…

“Yeah, I think she’s getting the idea,” Brennan said, grinning. Hephaestus finished what he was doing and stepped in front of me, beside Brennan.

“Okay. Do whatever you’d normally do to open your wings,” he said, and I almost started crying right then and there. Instead, I pulled myself together and flexed my shoulder blades, using the same motion I had used my entire existence when the time had come to spread my wings. The moment I did it, whatever he’d put on my back opened as well. I gasped, then looked to one side, then the other. They were roughly the same size and shape as my old wings, bat-like, but they seemed to be made of some kind of very thin, very light metal. They shimmered, just a little bit, in the overcast light.

“All you have to do is act like you’re flying, and they’ll work. I designed them to pick up on your muscle movements and kind of act as an extension of that. So, if you start moving like you’re gonna fly, then—“

His voice drifted away as I rose into the air, high, the metallic wings beating strongly. I maneuvered, twisted, soared. I mostly tried to make sure I didn’t get near any other houses or roads, not wanting to be seen, but all that really mattered was that I was where I’d longed to be for so long, flying among the clouds, Earth’s beauty sprawled below like some kind of crazy quilt. I twisted and turned, looped around. I beat the wings and stayed in place, just hovering and looking around, the only sound the regular, rhythmic beating of my wings.

I felt tears falling down my cheeks. I was completely overcome by being there, by the scene in front of me, by the knowledge that Brennan, and Hephaestus as well, had cared enough to give me this moment. I let out a crazed-sounding whoop of joy and flew some more, basking in the weak sunlight and the cool sky.

When I finally came in for a landing on the roof a while later, Brennan and Hephaestus were sitting side by side, grinning. They stood up, and I pulled Brennan by the front of his shirt and kissed him hard, hungrily, trying to let him know exactly what it had meant for me, what it had done for me, to be in the sky again. He kissed me back just as passionately, until Hephaestus cleared his throat and we broke apart, both of us flushed and breathless.

I hugged Hephaestus, and he laughed. “Thank you!” I told him.

“Now, listen,” he said, holding his hands up when I let him go. “They’re not a replacement. You can’t use them out fighting or patrolling. They run on a battery and it won’t last much longer than you were out there. Okay? So you can’t expect to use them the way you ordinarily would have used your wings before.” I nodded. “But Brennan came to me and he said that he wanted us to figure out a way to get you back up in the sky. He said you missed it and you needed it. And I think he was probably right. So it’s not a replacement,” he repeated. “But every once in a while, you can get back up there and get yourself right again. Right?” he asked.

I nodded. “Right. It’s more than I ever imagined. I’d thought the sky was lost to me, completely. There are no words…” I shook my head, and then grabbed both immortal men and pulled them into my arms. They each laughed, and Brennan pressed a kiss to the side of my neck. They helped me out of the wings, and they were just about finished when I looked at Brennan, remembering that I had a surprise of my own.

“Hephaestus, did you see a bag in our living room?” I asked him, and he winked.

“Yep. I’ll take care of it. Go ahead and do your thing, my little nightmare,” he said. I kissed his cheek, and Hephaestus blushed.

“What’s going on?” Brennan asked. I smiled at him and pulled my jacket back on. Then I took his hands, and in the next moment, we were standing in the loft in Detroit, and all of our family and friends were talking at once, coming and pulling us into their arms.

We spent the day sitting and talking and eating with Nain, Ada, Stone, Hephaestus and his wife Meghan, and Shanti and Zero, as well as all of the children that seemed to have sprung up all at once. Mollis was stuck in the Nether, dealing with another attempt by some of the souls to break out. Nain promised she expected to be back by the following morning, and, after a while, he left to join her in the Nether.

That night, Brennan and I curled up together on the bed in Brennan’s room at the loft, and he held me, kissing me as if he could live an eternity and never, ever get enough.

“This was an amazing surprise, Eunomia,” he said when he finally broke our kiss. “How did you know I needed this?”

I smiled. “How did you know how badly I needed the skies?”

He pulled me close again. “This is amazing. You know, though, that no matter how much I love the people here, home for me is wherever you are. It doesn’t matter if it’s London, or Detroit, or the-middle-of-nowhere, Iowa, or the Nether itself. If you’re there, I’m home.”

I ran my fingertips through his hair. “I know. And you should know that every moment with you makes me feel like I can fly,” I paused. “And that I believe in you. There are very few beings I have absolute faith in, but you are one of them, my love.”

He smiled, and then he kissed me, and I remembered how much I believed in one more thing: us.

The End

Betrayer is Now Available in Audio!

Betrayer_AudiobookCoverAudiobook fans, rejoice! The second book in my Hidden: Soulhunter series, Betrayer, is now available in audio. Narrated by the fabulous Julia Knippen (who also narrated both Guardian and Shadow Witch Rising) it’s over nine hours of time spent with Eunomia.

And Brennan… (ahem.) 🙂

And now I just have to say that Julia is the only voice I can ever imagine for E. She’s just perfect. She gets across both the strength and the serenity of E in a way that makes it clear that she just gets this character. I love listening to her.

Want to hear a sample?

You can find the Betrayer audiobook at all major audiobook retailers:

RT Book Reviews Gives Guardian 4 Stars (and other news!)

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The lovely Jill M. Smith, who has reviewed several of my books for RT Book Reviews, reviewed Guardian: Hidden: Soulhunter, Book 1 for the magazine, and I was thrilled to see that she gave it a four-star rating! From her review:

Great news! Rising star Vanderlinden is launching an offshoot series to her exceptional Detroit-set Hidden series. A key component of Vanderlinden’s storytelling is her ability to create well-rounded characters forced into extraordinary circumstances. This excellent new Soulhunter series promises to be just as dramatic and action-packed as Hidden!

I was so happy to hear that she enjoyed it, and I’ve been delighted with the feedback I’ve gotten from you guys as well. I believe she’s reviewing Betrayer for next month’s edition of the magazine, so… fingers crossed! (Also, my ego really enjoyed that “rising star” bit of her review!)

Shadow Sworn Update

Shadow Sworn is on track to be finished next week, and then it goes to the editor and will be available in early September. I’ll have a more exact date as we get closer to the day. I’m not sure about doing a pre-order for this one. We may skip it this time around, but we’ll see.

I love this book. I feel like some of those little threads that I scattered around in Shadow Witch Rising are starting to weave together and I’m really pleased with the way everything is coming together. Sophie and Calder are… sigh. I love them. Can’t wait to share this book with you!

Shifted Fate Update

I suck. I just do. I got off-track with releasing the installments of Jamie’s story in the newsletter, but I will definitely have a newsletter out tomorrow with an installment, and hopefully we’ll stay on track after that. My intention was to release an installment every Friday, but just as it started up, I hit a bit of a rough patch with Shadow Sworn. We are past that now, so things should start working out according to schedule. (Ha. Wishful thinking, right?)

Lost Girl

Finally — Lost Girl is free on Amazon today and tomorrow, so if you know anyone who has been on the fence about giving it a read, this would be a good time to give them a little nudge.

All right. I think that’s it. If I don’t have an installment of Shifted Fate out tomorrow, please feel free to tell me off any time you see me goofing off on Twitter or Facebook. 🙂

 

Betrayer is Out Today!

BetrayerCoverDaggerToday’s the day! The second Hidden: Soulhunter book is out today, and I can’t wait for you all to read this one. E’s job, the hunt she began at Molly’s request in GUARDIAN, becomes so much more complicated. My history geek side got to have some fun with this book as well, and writing E’s development as she learns how to let herself feel and experience things has been such an amazing experience.

Thanks so much to everyone who pre-ordered the book — you should have it waiting on your Kindles for you! Anyone else who is interested in grabbing a copy, you can find it on Amazon.

Tell me what you think! Comments, tweets, Facebook posts, emails (and, of course, reviews on Amazon/GoodReads) are always welcomed and appreciated. The support you guys have given me, your love for these characters, is something I am so grateful for. Thank you so much.

4 More Days Until Betrayer! (So here’s a teaser!)

efearmeI can’t believe it’s almost here — BETRAYER is out on Friday, and I am dying for you guys to read it. I loved this book. I loved writing it, I loved revising it, I loved researching it (and there was A LOT of research for this one, because of its historical aspects). I loved getting to know E and her New Guardians better. I can say that I was happy writing this book, and sometimes, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, the writing is hell and nothing feels right until after several rounds of  revisions have passed. BETRAYER, though… BETRAYER felt like playing, and those are the stories that make writing so addictive for me.

So we have four more days and I thought this would be a good time to give you guys one more teaser before release day (the other teaser I posted can be found here.) This scene takes place pretty early on in the book, continuing from where GUARDIAN left off. And, of course, any scene in which I can write Molly and E being their BFF selves is a good one. 🙂 Enjoy!

* * *

A few hours later, Mollis had satisfied herself that she had punished the soul of Chen enough. Most of Mollis’s punishments were of the mental variety. She used their thoughts, their deepest fears, against them. Of course, she punished them physically as well. She hadn’t needed my help at all, though I understood why she liked having me there. Having another being standing ominously off to the side only made him more afraid.

We had been doing this for a few weeks now. I would hunt, now looking for just about any missing soul I could, and I would bring it directly to Mollis, who would learn what she could from it, punish it on the spot, and then release it into the Everafter on her own. For those who had done horrid things, apparently the Everafter was not a nice place. Mollis’s punishments were usually their introduction to what they had ahead of them, their own personal version of the mortal concept of hell. If they were good people, their Everafter was peace and love and being reunited with loved ones.

It was not the easiest way to handle things. It meant that Mollis was pretty much on call, because she did not want me to have to stand around with a soul for hours until she was able to come. She also had to hide the fact that she was seeing me, due to the fact that we supposedly hated one another.

Really, I hoped her traitor would reveal themselves soon.

My small group of New Guardians, souls who had started following me when I had begun my hunt for Mollis’s lost souls were essential in helping me find as many souls as I had. We were in a race against whoever Mollis’s adversary was, it seemed, each side racing to claim a newly-deceased soul before the other side took it. Quinn, who had taken the worst of the injuries when my sisters had attacked, was back on his feet and relentless as ever. He had started to show some interest in learning to rematerialize, despite the fact that it still made him nauseous. Claire seemed to have become my second-in-command, and kept track of the movements of the other three New Guardians, reporting their successes, and, more often than we liked, failures, to me.

I had tried, gently, because I know Mollis would rather not talk about it, to suggest that she look into her mother and aunt’s minds. She could do that. And this whole mess would be at least partially reconciled within minutes. So far, she had demurred, with the excuse that she would have to sift through thousands of years of memories, and there were things in her mother’s mind she did not want to see again. She had torn her way into Hades’ mind once, when she was captive in the Nether, and apparently had learned a hard lesson about the things one sees in the mind of a death god.

I understood that, but in this case, it seemed worth the risk. Why would you not want to just know, for sure, whether someone had betrayed you or not?

As I watched Mollis send the soul of Chen to the Everafter, which only took seconds after she was finished punishing him, I considered broaching the subject again. A look at her eyes, at the razor edge of madness there, made me swallow the advice I was about to give. The souls we were missing still weighed on her. Nether still fought her for control.

Instead, I took her hand, gave it a small squeeze. “Another one down, demon girl.”

She nodded. “Too many still out there, though.”

“We are working on it,” I said, trying to soothe her.

She gave a small smile. “I know, E. Thank you. It would be pretty handy if you discovered a few more New Guardians out there somewhere, though.”

I gave a short laugh. “That it would. Though Quinn does the work of three Guardians on his own.”

Mollis nodded. “Thanks for this. The only one he ever saw was Delo.”

I nodded. “About her…”

Mollis sighed and shook her head. “I’m still working at her, as well as your other sisters we have in custody.” She paused, looked uncomfortable. “There is still that blank space in their memories, and I know whoever is pulling the strings is there. I just wish I knew how to undo whatever was done to them to make them forget. At the same time, I really don’t want to risk whoever was working with them somehow managing to help them escape.”

I nodded.

“Nain has been watching their cells almost non-stop since you kicked Anthousa and Delo’s asses back in Tokyo.” That fight had been brutal, even beyond the loss of my wings, and I had believed, at the time, that I had killed Anthousa, at least, on the mortal plane. As it was, despite it looking as if her body had turned to dust, Mollis had found her, weakened and unconscious, not far from the building in which we had battled. I did not quite understand it, but I was glad my Queen had been able to take another enemy to interrogate. “We don’t want to risk them getting out again,” she continued. “But he has other work he needs to do too, and it’s coming to the point where having them there and accessible is more of a liability than a help.”

I could see where she was going. “So you want to end them?”

She nodded.

“I think you should do it. If they have nothing of use to offer you, do not risk keeping them around.”

“You’re sure you don’t mind…”

“Mollis! As far as we all knew, you killed them once already. It did not pain me any then, and it certainly will not pain me now. Even less so, this time around.”

She studied me. “Do you want to be there when they end? Do you want to say anything to them?”

“I have nothing to say to them. If you would like me to be there, I have no problem doing that.”

“They’re your sisters, E,” Mollis said softly.

“They are traitors. I have seen the things they have done. I feel no loss or pity for them, only regret that they have failed so completely in what they were created to do.” I paused, changing my mind and deciding to say what I intended to say earlier. “Speaking of familial traitors,” I began, and Mollis shook her head. “Have you made any headway with your mother and aunt?”

She did not want to believe it possible of either of them. Truly, neither did it. But Furies are not above petty backstabbing and other betrayals. It had already happened once, with the third Fury, Alecto, whose name was no longer spoken; everyone, especially the Furies, wished they could make it so that she had never existed at all.

Alecto had betrayed her sisters, Hades, and, most of all, Mollis. She had worked directly with the demon Astaroth, Nain’s oldest enemy, to get to Mollis. It had all ended badly, with Nain dying in the mortal realm. Mollis’s blood in his veins, thanks to the demon marriage bond they’d performed, had been the only reason he had resurrected in the Nether. Like many beings who had been imprisoned in Tartarus, Alecto was now trapped in the Nether, the gateway between the worlds having been destroyed by Mollis and then permanently closed by Mollis’s grandmother, Nyx, who was the Creator of everything known to man and god alike.

“I’m keeping an eye on it.”

I repressed a sigh, but she felt my irritation anyway. “We’re not all as uncomplicated as you are, E. I know. You just want me to break in and be done with this.”

“Obviously,” I answered. “Obviously, I want you to do that so we actually know something instead of guessing. You need to get into their minds, Mollis. Do you really want to keep going on this way?”

“Are we already falling apart here, E?” she asked me quietly.

“I am not the one falling apart,” I said, looking her squarely in the eye. “You know there is nothing I would not do to help you. You know this. So take what I am about to say in the light it is meant: you need to stop being so soft about this. You need to get into their minds and have this question answered.”

She sighed. “I know.” Her shoulders slumped, and she looked up at the night sky. We’d walked out of the church, and were standing on the front steps. “I don’t want to just force my way in, E. I do that when I have to, and if we can’t figure this out, then I’ll do it. But this is my family.”

“It is tearing you up inside, wondering which one, or if both, betrayed you,” I reminded her, and she nodded.

“It is. You haven’t had that done to you, though, have you? Had someone break into your mind?”

I shook my head.

“It’s an assault. An invasive, violent, terrifying assault. The only way I can explain it that truly expresses how wrong it is is that it’s like mental rape. I have done that. I have broken my way into people’s minds, back before I inherited my father’s powers. Now, there’s no need, except for these cases in which I’m trying to uncover what has been hidden from us,” she said with a grimace. “This is my family, E,” she stressed again. “My mother. My aunt. I don’t want to do that to them. Not unless I have strong evidence to suggest that it needs to be done. Because if I’m wrong, and I do that to them… there’s no way to come back from that.”

We stood in silence for several long moments. “And I know that our theories point to it being at least one of them, because of the missing memories in the lost souls and your sisters. I am being careful. But you also recommended that I look at every possibility before leaping to the conclusion that it had to be one of them, remember?”

“Yes,” I said. “You know, you could ask them to let you into their minds,” I said.

“If it comes to that,” Mollis said. “I will.”

She had closed up on me, which I knew meant that our conversation was over. She would not budge on this, and I did not know how to make her see that she was only making it more difficult on herself. The illogical nature of the way she was about her family truly baffled me.

“Well. As I said before. If you desire to end my sisters, please feel free to do so. I have no remorse for traitors,” I said.

“Touché, E,” Mollis said wryly. “You think I’m weak.”

I shook my head. “Not that. Never that. I just hope you do not end up regretting the loyalty and respect you are giving them. They may not both deserve it.”

“That makes two of us, E,” Mollis said softly. Then she disappeared, most likely returning to her palace in the Netherwoods to be with her mate and children.

I stood there alone for a few moments longer, and looked up at the night sky, at the puffy clouds passing over the tiny sliver of a moon. For just a moment, I felt my wings flex under my leather coat.

But of course, they hadn’t. It was the memory of wing movement, the phantom remainders of what it had been like to be able to soar.

These were the times I needed it most. These were the times I needed to feel free and weightless, just for a few moments.

My mind flashed back to that day in Tokyo. My New Guardians and I had believed ourselves to be tracking prey, tracking a soul that had eluded us. We had made our way into one of the love hotels in Tokyo, and found ourselves beset by too many enemies, including two of my sisters.

Memories passed through my mind, images I would not likely forget.

My New Guardians, lying weak and injured.

The bodies of the goddesses of autumn and winter, chests ripped open, their hearts taken from them.

My wing, falling, torn and bloody, to the filthy floor.

I shook my head and closed my eyes, trying to will the images away.

It was not just the fact that I missed flying. It was the knowledge that I was now less than I should be. That I was not fully able to do the things I knew I should be able to. I had always considered myself to be a fairly even-keeled being, especially for an immortal. But the emotions that had stormed through me since waking a few weeks ago and realizing my wings were gone, for good… those were things I had not expected. I was, at turns, depressed, angry, mournful.

Frankly, it was irritating.

I forced my gaze down, away from where I longed most to be, reminding myself that I had a ridiculous shifter to reprimand. And Artemis’s cooking to suffer through.

* * *

Just four more days!! Also, Friday’s newsletter will have the first installment of SHIFTED FATE, the next HIDDEN novella, so I hope you’ll check that out as well!

Top 5 Tracks on my Betrayer Playlist

If you’ve been reading my blog or following me on social media for a while, you likely know that I have a dedicated playlist for every project I work on. The songs help me keep the tone of each project focused, and they help me get into the right frame of mind and mood for each one. This is pretty important since I am usually working on at least two books at any given time, and usually the mood of each of them is pretty different.

My BETRAYER playlist has a pretty wide variety of musical styles on it, and part of that is that, for whatever reason, many of the songs for this book’s playlist are associated in my mind with a particular character. I thought it might be fun to share the five songs I listened to most. We are less than two weeks away from the release now! (Yay!!)

Betrayer: Top 5 Tracks

1. Led Zeppelin, Kashmir

This song has been with me in different ways since the first HIDDEN book. At the time, I’d noted it as “Brennan’s song.” And it still is, yet the longer HIDDEN went on, the more I started thinking of it as “E’s song.” I guess that kinda makes sense, considering. 🙂

 

2. Florence + the Machine, Shake it Out

If there is one song that kind of ties the whole Hidden: Soulhunter series together, it’s this one. “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

 

3. The Pretenders, I’ll Stand by You

This song. The only other song I could ever consider as “E’s song” besides Kashmir would be this one. Her steadfast loyalty, her love for those she holds close, the way she’ll literally do ANYTHING to protect them… this song has all of that in it. (Fun fact: this was almost our wedding song when I married Mr. Vanderlinden.)

 

4. Courtney Love, Ms. Narcissist

Eh. Once you read the book, you’ll know who this song is about. 😉

 

5. Taylor Swift (featuring Kendrick Lamar), Bad Blood

Thank you, T-Swift, for giving me the single best song ever to revise my fight scenes to. 🙂

 

So, there they are. Once the book is out, maybe we’ll have to make a community playlist for HIDDEN: Soulhunter the way we did for HIDDEN. If you want to see which other songs were on the playlist, you can check it out on my YouTube channel.

BETRAYER is available now for preorder, and will be out on July 10th!

BETRAYER Now Available for Pre-order!

 

Betrayer, Hidden: Soulhunter, Book Two is available NOW for pre-order!

BetrayerCoverDaggerThe Hunt Continues 

A betrayer hides among the immortals of Detroit, a threat that could very well send not just the immortals, but the rest of the mortal realm into chaos. Violent souls have escaped their prison in the Nether, and the appearance of the undead, created by a rite long forgotten by most beings, only adds to the imminent danger. 

Eunomia, created for the sole purpose of hunting the souls of the dead, searches ceaselessly for those who have escaped her Queen, as well as those new creations, the undead, which only she and her New Guardians can capture. 

An old nemesis appears, and Eunomia’s trust is tested by those she once considered allies. When something precious is stolen, it sends the immortals into a turmoil unlike any they have ever experienced. 

A Guardian Learns to Live 

Amid all of it, Eunomia fights beside the man she knows she is coming to treasure more than anything else in her long existence. She begins to understand how much she risks in letting herself love, and she can only hope she is strong enough to keep him and everyone else she cares for safe. 

Each betrayal, each lost soul, drives her Queen closer to insanity, and the safety of the mortal world hangs in the balance. 

Somehow, Eunomia will have to be enough to keep it all from falling apart.

* * *

BETRAYER will be released on July 10th, 2015. If you want to receive it as soon as it becomes available, you can also pre-order it now on Amazon, and it will be there waiting for you. 🙂

I cannot wait to share this book with you!

Questions About Guardian, and a New Teaser!

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We are less than a week away from the release of the first Hidden: Soulhunter book, GUARDIAN! I am dying for you guys to read this one! Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten a few questions about the book and this new series, so I figured I’d take a second to answer them here for you…. and keep reading, because there’s a new teaser from the book as well!

Soulhunter Q & A

Q: So… is this a new series? A spinoff? Explain yourself, woman.

A: Hidden: Soulhunter is a spinoff series of Hidden. It focuses on Eunomia, and is told from her point of view.

Q: Where does it fall in terms of the main series?

A: Hidden: Soulhunter takes place two years after the events of Nether.

Q: So, is it a continuation of Hidden?

A: In some ways, yes. The events of Soulhunter are a result of what happened in Hidden, and the things that happen in the Soulhunter series affect the rest of the Hidden world. (For a more in-depth explanation of the way I am planning future Hidden world books, check out this post.)

However, because this series focuses on Eunomia, you get a different look at the world. She is very different from Molly in many ways, and her life experience and history plays a huge role in her life now. The things that happen in Soulhunter are things that only E can handle… which is why she got her own series. 🙂

Q: Are the other characters from Hidden going to be in it?

A: Sure! Most of the old cast appears in Soulhunter. Some are more important to E’s story than others, but I think Hidden fans will be happy to see some familiar faces in the book and catch up on what’s happening with their favorites.

Q: Do you have to have read Hidden to read Hidden: Soulhunter?

A: No. I have tried to write this series in such a way that those who haven’t read the main series can start reading Guardian and not be lost. This series has a self-contained story arc that, while it ties into the main storyline, stands separately as its own plot. Of course, if you’ve read Hidden, it’s likely you’ll enjoy this series even more because you know the characters a little better, but I’ve tried to strike a balance between making it welcoming to readers who have not read Hidden as well as those who read the entire Hidden series.

Q: Fine. I want it! When can I have it?

A: It’ll be available in ebook format on Monday, 5/4/15 from Amazon. Paperbacks will be available shortly after.

Q: Is there a pre-order? I really like those.

A: Sorry, not this time. I am not organized enough to do pre-orders. Maybe someday I’ll do them, but for now it just makes more sense for me to do them this way.

Q: Okay. Can I get a reminder that it’s available?

A: I’ll send out a newsletter (you are subscribed to the newsletter, aren’t you?) as soon as it’s available, and I’ll also definitely be sharing the links on my Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Q: All right. So where’s my teaser, Colleen?

A: Here ya go. 🙂

* * *

Hephaestus and I appeared in a train station in Beelitz, Germany. Train stations and airports tended to be good places to reappear, because usually no one was focused on anything other than getting to their gate, and, if they were not, nowadays they were usually staring at a phone or other device.

“Okay. Fill me in here. Who’re we lookin’ for?” Hephaestus asked me.

“Friedrich Munch,” I said, leading him out of the train station. “Mass murderer. Killed seventeen teenage boys in an attempt to regain his lost youth.”

“Sickening.”

“Agreed. But of our two souls here in Germany, he’s the less evil of the two. We are also here to hunt the soul of one Peter Stumpfe. In his time, in the late sixteenth century, he was known as the werewolf of Brandenburg. He claimed the devil made him do it, and he was tried with cannibalism and murdering sixteen women and two infants.”

“And was he a werewolf?” Hephaestus asked

“He was. There was a werewolf clan here at the time, but he was a loner.”

“Why do I have a feeling there’s even more to it than that?” Hephaestus asked.

“Stumpfe was a sadist who enjoyed playing with his food before he ate it,” I answered, and he nodded. “If you need to get an idea of how monstrous he was, those two infants he killed? He ate their hearts. One of them was his own son.”

“Those are the ones I most would like to kill,” Hephaestus growled, and I nodded in agreement.

“This was where he ran after he was executed. I had to chase him down. This is as good a place to begin as any, considering how long he has been free,” I said. “There is a small inn down this road, I think.”

“E, when was the last time you were here?” Hephaestus asked with a laugh.

“Not that long. It is still here, I am sure,” I told him with a glare, and he laughed.

‘If you say so. Are we walking or traveling the sensible way?”

“We will walk. It is the best way for me to sense for energy signatures. Is that all right?”

“It’s your party,” he said.

I furrowed my brow. “I would not call it a party.”

“It’s a figure of speech, E.”

“I do not like those.”

“I noticed,” Hephaestus said, and I shook my head. We walked on, and I noted with some amusement that, as I’d predicted, his eye was caught by every distraction presented to us. Car models we did not usually see in Detroit, the man playing some one-man-band contraption on one of the street corners. He was in his element.

“You should take your family on travels more often,” I said to him. “You love this.”

He shrugged. “I will someday. When things settle down.”

“That could be never, my friend,” I told him, and he nodded.

“Eventually,” he said with a shrug. “So… what’s the deal between you and the shifter?”

I stumbled a little and swore under my breath in irritation as he laughed. “Yeah, that’s what I thought,” he said.

“There is nothing going on. He is my friend, and Mollis has us working together on this mess.”

“Sure. Yeah. That’s all,” he said, and I could tell from his tone of voice that he did not believe a word of it.

“He is too young for me. He has no understanding of our world, and he wants someone who will be a meek, delicate little flower,” I said, waving away my irritation, able to be more open with Hephaestus than I allowed myself to be with most beings. “He wants to know every detail of my life, and gets irritated when I will not tell him every single thought in my head.”

“We both know he doesn’t want someone who’s meek,” Hephaestus said.

“Well, he thinks he does, except when he thinks he doesn’t,” I answered. “I can be honest with you. I like him quite a bit. But he has had a whole mess in terms of relationships before me. And I am not particularly adept at putting in the time long-term with anyone. The relationships I have had the past two years have all been short and I was able to walk away before they became ridiculous.”

Hephaestus scratched his chin, thinking. “From experience here, E, things don’t really get good until they start getting ridiculous, until you start arguing about shit you’d never imagined yourself arguing over, and then you just look at one another and laugh. Until you’ve been through late nights and tears and anger and every other emotion, and you know one another inside and out. That’s when the relationship shit gets good.”

I shook my head. “I will have to take your word for it.”

“Why not find out for yourself?”

“It would be stupid,” I said. “And I do not want to talk about it anymore.”

* * *

Guardian (Hidden: Soulhunter, Book 1) will be available 5/4/15. 

Are you on GoodReads? You can add Guardian to your shelf here!