Book Cover: Shadow's Curse

Death and chaos can devastate even the best-laid plans…

After tragedy strikes the Northwest Kyn, leaving the houses in chaos and the Wraiths hungry for blood, the fallout threatens Natasha Bertoi’s carefully laid plans. When the Council sends Darius Abazi, the one man guaranteed to skew the odds, she faces her toughest opponent yet.

As death stalks the Northwest Kyn, can Natasha trust Darius, a man well versed in subterfuge, to uncover the truth before treachery destroys them all?

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Present Day, Deep in the Taurus Mountains in Turkey:

Darkness spread its opaque cloak over the cobbled paths winding between the stone buildings while silence crouched and waited. In this small corner, goats walked streets too narrow for cars, and the human inhabitants were tucked inside their humble homes. Inside the inky confines of a rustic alley, a figure slipped from the shadows and through the unlocked wooden door of one of the homes.

“You’re late, Darius.” The sharp greeting came from the man lounging with casual elegance among the jewel-festooned pillows on one of the low-slung couches.

“And you’re in a pisser of a mood, Zayn.” Unfazed by the rude welcome, Darius snagged an olive from the table. Popping it into his mouth, he grabbed an empty cup and poured a drink.

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Taking a handful of olives and his cup, he walked across the lush, overlapping rugs and sprawled on the other sofa. He studied Zayn as he chewed, taking in the overly long white shirt paired with sand-colored linen pants. Despite his sun-streaked blond hair and the small abode’s rich haven of comfort, Zayn still managed to convey a Middle Eastern flare.

“Until we find out who is behind Mulcahy’s death, I don’t see that changing.” Zayn lifted his own cup, his sleeve fluttering with the movement. “What did you find out?”

Darius chased the olives’ lingering salty tartness away with a quick sip and wiped his fingers against the dark denim covering his thigh before answering. “We were right to question the account received from the Northwest Kyn. There is more to the story than they are sharing.” And he intended to uncover just what that “more” entailed.

Zayn’s lips twisted into a grimace. “No surprise there. No way would Natasha cough up the whole story.”

No, the little demon queen was too intelligent to show her hand to the Council. It didn’t stop the whispers, though. “There are rumors she could be behind his death.” And if the rumors were true, Darius would ensure she’d be facing someone much more dangerous than the Kyn’s Council.

“I thought they shared a history.”

Darius gave his companion a dark frown and shrugged his shoulders. “Shared history doesn’t mean shit when power is on the line. Mulcahy’s death created some damn explosive opportunities. She’s grabbing as many as she can. What does that tell you?”

“She’s an intelligent woman?”

Zayn’s quip drew a snort from Darius. “Of that, I have no doubt. She didn’t get to her current position on looks alone.”

“No, she’s not one to let emotional attachments get in the way of her plans.” His tone as dry as the winds of summer, Zayn advised, “Be careful that she doesn’t return you and your ego in nice, bloody pieces.”

Leaning back, Darius stretched his arms across the back of the couch, confident in his appeal to the fairer sex. He’d been de- scribed as a study of shadows. From his olive-toned skin to his dark, shoulder-length hair and closely trimmed goatee, the description was warranted. The only unsettling bit of color was his eyes— ice-cold blue, ringed in fiery red. A deep chuckle escaped. “Would you miss me?”

“You?” Zayn shrugged. “Not so much. But there might be few others with a different opinion.” Humor bled away, a startling seriousness taking its place. “This change. It’s been hundreds of years in the making. Unfortunately, Mulcahy’s death has accelerated things. If they aren’t handled correctly, the outcome could be extremely detrimental to our goals.”

“I haven’t forgotten.” Hard to forget when the line they walked was razor thin.

A small nod. “We won’t be welcome.”

Darius’s smile was anything but friendly. “Their welcome is not my worry. Nor should it be yours.”

“Don’t underestimate them. Ryan Mulcahy was not the only reason the Northwest Kyn have become who they are.”

“Yet, he’s the one who held them together.” A fact that some- one out there knew all too well, or Mulcahy wouldn’t be dead. Darius’s hand tightened into a fist, his knuckles showing white through his skin as he fought back the grim wave of fury and grief.

“Perhaps. But he hasn’t done it alone.” Zayn paused. “Do they know about you?”

They could apply to so many—the Council, the Northwest Kyn, the one’s behind Mulcahy’s death—but in this instance Darius knew which they was implied. They were the Northwest’s Wraiths, a shadowy group of warriors, standing between the American public and the nightmares haunting the dark. “No. They know only what they need to.” And until he discovered who was playing for whom, it would remain that way.

Zayn rubbed a hand over his clean-shaven chin. “The potential for a shitstorm is tremendous.”

“There’s no ‘potential’ about it.” Too much was at stake to walk delicately now. “Mulcahy’s death changed the game. With- out him, there is no one left to bridge the emerging division of the Council. Sides will be picked. We need to stack the odds in our favor.” Odds that had shifted with one violent act.

Zayn raised his cup in silent agreement. For a few minutes, quiet reigned. He broke it with, “Did DiMarcco give you your orders?” When Darius remained mute, Zayn gave a small smile of acknowledgement. “Our esteemed leader won’t admit to worry. Instead, he and the rest of the Council will couch it in false concern and empty platitudes. Yet they are watching and waiting. Will Mulcahy’s Kyn will rise or fall?” He slowly rolled the cup cradled in his hands. “Of course, it would not surprise me if some are trying to assist their desired outcome.”

Council maneuverings were a given, especially as current events threatened to tear the last threads from the fragile veil hiding the Kyn from mortal view. Some on the Council weren’t op- posed to the impending revelation, so long as their agenda succeeded. “Dissension is an insidious ploy. It can turn on a whim. Many are unprepared for what they wrought.” A lesson Darius had watched more than one learn the hard way. “I don’t think the outcome will be what anyone expects.”

“Still, tread carefully. The path isn’t as clear as it once was, and I would not put it past the high-and-mighty Council to offer you up should a scapegoat be needed.”

“Or you,” Darius drawled.

Zayn sighed then raised his cup in a silent toast. “I’m going to miss the bastard. He was bloody brilliant. His people should prove interesting.”

“If nothing else, they will make our visit all the more entertaining.” A predatory grin broke across Darius’s face, while anticipation hummed under his words.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Nana Prah, Author of Destiny Mine wrote:

“I have no idea how Ms. Gray does it, but every single book in this series is AMAZING.”

Crystal, Amazon Review wrote:

“This author has a gift with words. She paints a picture, and the reader feels like they are RIGHT there…I highly recommend this book if you like urban fantasy with a sprinkle of romance!”