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His dad is the devil. Mine is a faerie king. And I’m the scary one?
I’ve always known I was a little different. But I never could have imagined the twisted fate that awaited me. The corrupted Unseelie Court, terrorizing the city, has claimed me as their Queen. But I refuse to be a part of their evil plans. Especially when I’ve fallen in love with Calan, a hunter sworn to eliminate my kind.
But Calan is no angel either. He’s more of a bad boy antihero with a demon dog who wants my blood and a ghostly horse waiting to carry me off to Hell. And our forbidden love is the only reason his demonic pets haven’t turned me into their prey.
My reprieve isn’t endless. I must resist the temptation to embrace the darkness and instead strive to live as a monster in a human’s world. But it’s a constant battle, and I’m not sure how much longer I can hold on.
Calan won’t let me go without a fight. But as my monstrous family closes in, I can only hope we make it out alive before I go psycho bitch on everyone, including the man whose heart and soul I claimed.
Includes the expanded prologue, Sacrificed.
Present Time – Nine Years Ago
Harley Callahan peered through the windshield. No lights shone in her house. She scanned the windows for movement. Nothing. She grinned and barely resisted doing a little dance in her seat. Another successful escape from the mansion of solitude. She wished she’d started sneaking out sooner. The past seven days had been the best of her life.
Tomorrow would be even better. She was moving out. Harley couldn’t wait to turn her back on her privileged life and the secluded three-hundred-acre estate she called home. Deep in the Catskill Mountains of New York, her parents’ country retreat offered walking paths, gardens, a lake, and a greenhouse. It was beautiful. It had also acted as her prison for as long as she could remember.
No more, though. She’d never allow anyone to lock her away again.
The decision she’d made tonight was the right one. Harley knew it in her soul. She allowed the conviction to settle over her and continued her survey.
Darkness covered the grounds she knew by heart. Nothing unusual grabbed her attention. She opened the car door and listened. Only the sounds of insects and the hoots of owls carried over the quiet of the night. She scanned the windows once more, and the tension drained from her muscles.
Her mother still slept.
Harley breathed a sigh of relief. She couldn’t get caught outside after dark. It was against the rules. She’d be barricaded in her room or sent to the basement.
A chill ran down her spine. She shoved away the memories of her youth before the recollections of solitary confinement took hold.
Part of her was tempted to just drive away, but she needed the stash of money she’d collected over the years if she expected to make it on her own. Besides, she wanted to leave a note for her brothers—telling them goodbye.
She slipped out of her car and took several steps across the lawn before a dull ache spread through her—familiar and unsettling. Harley pressed a balled fist to her chest, where the hollow feeling she experienced nightly flared, worse than she’d ever endured. She didn’t know what caused it or why it had gotten worse over the years. Her mom refused to take her to a doctor. A trip to the clinic would involve leaving the estate, and Harley wasn’t allowed around other people.
She had to stay at home where it was safe.
Anger rose and made the burning sensation worse. She wanted to hit something. The wall, her mother’s prized sculptures, their China—she didn’t care what as long as she left the world around her in chaotic shambles.
No. Harley breathed through the discomfort and pushed the violent thoughts away, exactly as she’d done all her life. Good girls weren’t supposed to act that way, and she was good, no matter what her mom said.
Harley took one more steadying breath, then made her way across the lawn. The thin piece of plastic she’d shoved between the sliding glass door and the doorframe still held her escape route open. With her lip caught between her teeth, she pushed the door and squeezed inside.
Heart pounding hard, she waited. Nobody came running or shouted accusations at her. She tiptoed across the room. The grandfather clock next to her chimed. Midnight. She jumped, a hand over her mouth to muffle her cry.
“Harley Marie! Where have you been?”
Shit, shit, shit. Harley turned and came face to face with the woman who ruled the house—supermodel, actress, and tyrant.
Harley flashed a hopefully innocent smile. “Hey, Mom. What are you doing up?”
“Where were you?”
At the livid glare stamped on her mom’s flawless features, Harley groaned. “I went to see a movie.”
“How did you get there?”
Her mom’s eyes widened. “Drove? You don’t have a license.”
“No.” Harley sighed. “I don’t, but I borrowed one of the cars and taught myself.”
Curses fell from her mom’s mouth. She threw her arms up in the air. “You disobeyed me. Put yourself in danger. Why, Harley, why? You need to be a good girl. Can you—”
“I’m not a girl. I’m eighteen!” Her chest heaved. All her pent-up rage and resentment spilled over. “You keep me locked away in this prison, barely talk to me, and when you do, it’s to repeat your stupid rules! I’m sick of them. I’m moving out!”
Her mom stepped closer. “Those stupid rules are the reason you’re still alive. You should thank me, you ungrateful little brat. I could’ve aborted you or given you away, but I didn’t because it wasn’t your fault you were created from that monster who raped me!”
“R-raped you?” Her heart stuttered. Here she’d thought she was an oops from one of her mom’s many affairs.
“Yeah, and it’s about time you learned the truth. You’re not—”
Breaking glass drowned out her mom’s words. A hulking man stepped over the shards of the sliding door. Harley swept her gaze over him, from his motorcycle boots to his black baseball cap. Something about him drew her, both intriguing and repulsing her at the same time. She locked her knees to stop from going to him.
The guy faced her. Black pupils swimming in red locked on to her. He grinned, showing off a mouthful of pointy teeth.
She screamed and backed up.
Her mom yanked on her hand. “Run, Harley, run!”
She couldn’t. Her body wouldn’t obey her mind. Fear locked her in place.
The man shifted his gaze to her mom. “Hello, little maiden. Long time no see.”
Her mom shook her head. “No. I’m not—”
“Don’t bother. I know who you are. What you are.”
Her mom sucked in a sharp breath. “I—”
“Stop. I don’t want to hear your denial.” He curled his hands into fists. Blood dripped from where his nails pierced his palm. “It’s time we end this, don’t you think? Finally, free each other?”
Harley glanced between them. What were they talking about? End what? She didn’t get the chance to figure it out. Her mom stepped in front of her and faced the intruder.
“You don’t understand. I had no choice. I made a deal. I—”
“Sorry, maiden. I made a deal too, and now it’s time for you to say goodbye. You lost.”
He leapt at her with outstretched, clawed hands. Her mom whipped her head to stare at Harley, fear in her eyes.
“Please, baby, r—” Her mom’s command turned into a shriek.
Harley pivoted on her heel and ran.
More screams resounded—her little brothers’, the butler’s, her dad’s. She pressed her palms to her ears and kept running. In the front yard, monstrous men prowled—misshapen, hunched, and frightening. They all turned at once. Garbled roars added to the pitiful cries spilling out from behind her.
Harley turned her back on them and fled across the grass to where she’d left her car parked farther down the driveway. Her lungs squeezed and muscles burned. Still, she ran. Her mother’s last plea to her urged her forward.
At the edge of the front lawn, a charley horse contorted her calf. Her pace faltered. The grunts and groans from behind her grew louder. Fear choked her. She bit her lip to muffle her cry, and the bitter, sour taste of her blood filled her mouth. She swallowed it down and pushed forward, but a sharp pain radiated up her leg. She stumbled.
No, no, can’t die. Not now.
But she would die. The monsters were gaining on her. She bent and rubbed furiously at the hard lump in her calf. A gust of wind swept over her back, tousling her curls over her face. The breeze calmed the burn, tightening her muscles and filled her with strength.
Impossible, but she wouldn’t question it. She shoved the platinum locks of her hair out of her face, grabbed hold of the power, and ran faster than she ever had. The trees around her blurred. At the butterfly garden, she turned right, caught her toe on a tree root and fell face-first toward the ground. She never hit it. Hands at her waist stopped her. She spun, ready to do battle, and came face to face with a pair of pale blue eyes, floating without a body.
She screamed and scrambled backward, using her hands and feet to put distance between them. More warm air washed over her, and her breaths slowed. The vise squeezing her chest eased, along with the trembling in her body. She frowned at her reaction and the sudden quiet of the world around her.
The screams and grunts of monsters had faded. She tore her gaze from the ghostly eyes to the woods. A shimmery veil covered everything. She waited for her fear to return. It didn’t. More peace settled over her.
“That’s it. Be calm. I won’t hurt you.”
The man’s deep voice caressed her as if it had a living touch. Her skin tingled. She glanced into his eyes. So pale she might’ve considered them cold if it weren’t for the intensity burning in them.
His focused gaze made her lower belly quiver. She ignored the feeling, unsure what it meant, and studied his mesmerizing eyes. The longer she stared, the more dimension they gained. The oval surrounding them widened too, allowing her to see his darkly tanned forehead and the top bridge of his nose. Long and straight, she’d guess. Gorgeous.She had no doubt in her mind. He’d be ruggedly handsome in person. Hard where she was soft. Her perfect complement.
She shook her head to clear it of the crazy thoughts.
“Wh-who are y-you? What…” Harley focused on where his chest should be. The outline of the trees behind him showed through the fuzzy screen surrounding them. Not the strong body she envisioned he would have. “What are you? A g-ghost?”
“Not a ghost. I’m alive. I’m just not here.”
Something brushed her arm. She looked down, expecting to see his hand on her body. Nothing. The sensation of his roughened fingertips on her skin didn’t diminish, however. He slipped his invisible hand around her waist, then down to her ass and drew her closer. She gasped at the press of his body to hers and pushed against his invisible shoulders. The hard muscles under her palms flexed, but he didn’t budge.
“You need to run.” He focused on her. “You cannot allow them to steal the goodness you’ve retained.”
“Yes. Run. I need to run.” Harley shoved at him, desperation fueling her. His hold on her never wavered. “Let me go!”
“In a minute. You need to understand first.”
He slid his hand up her spine to the back of her neck and urged her even closer. The soothing scent of a campfire enveloped her. Unable to resist, she buried her nose in the crook of his neck and dragged in deep lungfuls. Something inside her clicked, and a sense of rightness seized her. She wanted him to cradle her against his chest and hold her close. Never let her go. He couldn’t carry away from this place, however. He didn’t have a body.
She choked on another sob and pulled his invisible form closer, not wanting to think about why she could touch him but not see him. Ghost man or not, he made her feel safe.
“They want to kill me.” She whispered the words against his neck.
“Not intentionally. They want your power and will feed off you, uncaring that doing so will kill you.” He pressed his lips to her ear. “I will save you, my flower, but you must promise me you won’t let them touch you until I can. They’ll dirty you, and you need to live for me. Be strong. Hold on to your goodness.”
Harley tipped her head back, and his pale blue eyes ensnared her. The sight of them triggered a memory. No. A dream, one she’d had forever. In it, Harley was told she had to endure. Her hero was coming for her. He’d protect her.
Make her more powerful than any other.
“I promise.” The words came out of her mouth before she could think better of it. She shook off the worry over why they seemed easy to say and focused on practicalities or more importantly—the hope he offered. “But how can you save me? You’re not really here.”
“Words have power, and a vow made should not be broken. Doing so will damn you. You must remember this.”
She nodded. “Okay, but how…?”
A roar cut through the quiet that had descended around them, stopping her question. She tore her gaze from his. The veil around them wavered. Her fear rushed back. “They’re coming.”
“Yes. I can’t hold you close much longer”—he cupped her face in his hands—“so you will take my knowledge and strength with you.”
He covered her mouth with his and breathed into her. His air expanded her chest. She gripped his shirt, ready to fight him, but he didn’t hurt her. More strength filled her, along with a rush of information about the monsters after her and a slew of promises: he’d love her, protect her, and save her. The tension in her body faded once more. The truth of his vows echoed within her soul. He broke their lip lock, and dizziness gripped her. She swayed.
“You must return to me so I can finish our bond. Do you promise?”
“Yes.” The agreement came out of her mouth without thought.
“Good. I’ll be waiting for you.”
“Why are you helping me?”
“Because I broke a promise once. I want to fulfill it.” He brushed his finger over her cheek. “With you.”
He stepped away from her.
Fear choked her with the loss of his touch. She grabbed his hand, not wanting to lose the comfort he’d given. “Don’t leave me. I’m scared. I don’t want to be alone.”
“You’ll never be alone again.” He closed his eyes. “You’re mine.”
“What do you…?”
More roars and grunts carried through the night, stopping her a second time.
“I’ll explain more once you free me.” He took several steps back. “Now, run.”
“Free you from…?”
“Our time is up. You must go. Now!” His words came out in a rush, interrupting her a third time.
“Can’t. Remember your vow. You must live for me, no matter what.”
He disappeared in a puff of sulfur-scented air without answering her question. She scrunched her nose against the pungent odor. It overpowered his lingering scent and churned her gut. Confusion rushed up, but stark terror replaced it before she could process the odd encounter. The man who’d attacked her mom stepped from the woods. Blood covered his hands and shirt.
She screamed a third time and backed up.
“Don’t run from me, Harley.” He held up his hands in a placating gesture. “I’m the one you’ve been waiting for. Didn’t they tell you I was coming?”
His question froze her in place. “Who?”
He grinned, showing off his bloodstained, pointy teeth. “The angels, of course.”
More flashes from her childhood dreams danced through her mind—majestic buildings, puffy white clouds, and the heart-stopping, beautiful faces of men who’d always wiped away her tears and sang of eternal love.
No. Can’t be. She didn’t want to believe it. “Angels?”
He dipped his head. A look of reverence chased the evil glint from his eyes. “Yes, angels. They’ve been watching over your soul for a millennium. It’s finally time for you to accept your heritage.”
His words mirrored those spoken in her dreams. “Which is?”
“You’re one of us. The strongest of all.”
“You’re a little monster, Harley.” Her mom’s voice echoed in Harley’s head. “But you need to be a good girl. Can you do that for me? Be a good girl?”
Her stomach dropped. She shook her head. “No. I’m not one of you.”
“Yes, you are.” He held his hand out to her. “Come here, and I’ll help you unleash the power you hold.”
She glanced from where blood dripped from his pointed nails to his face. She couldn’t be like him. He was…
“You’re a faerie.” That was who her ghost man had warned about in those brief seconds he’d kissed her—the Unseelie Faerie Court. Her ghost hero hunted them and kept the world free of their tainted influence.
“I’m not a faerie. You are. And soon”—he swept his lust-hazed, hungry gaze over her—“you’ll be mine.”
“No.” She didn’t want to be a faerie. They were evil, corrupted…
“You need to be a good. Can you do that?”
Her mother’s words morphed into screams that demanded retribution. Harley couldn’t deliver the revenge her family deserved. She had to be good… She had to remain a Seelie, a good faerie. That was what her mom had meant. There was only one thing left to do.
She pivoted on her heel and ran, leaving everything behind.
Genre: Paranormal Romance – Gods & Demons, Fantasy Romance
Story Elements: Fated Mates/True Mates, Secrets, Betrayal
Book Length: Novel Super Plus: 90,000+ words
Heat Level: 4/5
Main Characters: Calan (Demigod, son of the devil), Harley Callahan
All Series Titles
What readers are saying…
…intriguing and originalThe Library Journal on the Wild Hunt series
Intense chemistry between the hero and heroine adds a sexy spark to this unique take on demon and fae mythology.RT Book Reviews
This book was SO good! I didn’t want to stop reading! There are so many surprises and the suspense is maddening! The romance is HOT!! A must read for sure!!P. Lady ★★★★★