Though she loses a sister, she finds a new life.
For the first time ever, Kayla has no family. Though her heart tells her otherwise, she can no longer deny the truth. The young woman she had thought was her sister betrays her at every turn. But as Kayla’s life is turned inside out, one constant emerges: Ryan and his pledge of love.
With their winter refuge destroyed, Ryan moves his Fae warriors south. Although it allows them to escape the Dark Fae, he has another purpose. Once and for all he determines to get to the bottom of his lover’s mysterious past, and dispel the long shadow it casts on their future.
Wonderful rollercoaster ride!Cheri Berryman, Goodreads Reviewer
Another outstanding series from an excellent writer!PPeters, Amazon Reviewer
Just when you think you know what is going to happen next, surprise you're wrong, and something totally unexpected happens.Lynda, Goodreads
Astonishing! I loved the fourth book in this series! The author has created imaginative characters that steal your heart as you sit on the edge of your seat.Christie R., Goodreads
The series just keeps getting better.Raina Collins, Goodreads Reviewer
There she found Ryan Sheridan, the Fae warrior with whom she’d fallen in love. He towered over everything else like a beacon of hope. She saw his glittering white-blonde hair, and the tenderness in his jewel-blue eyes. Since she’d come to work as a groom at Forever Faire, Ryan’s traveling Renaissance Faire, he had shown her secret magick, hidden marvels, and passionate, life-changing pleasures. Being with him these last weeks had changed her from a frightened stalking victim to a confident, strong woman. If she died happy, it was only because of him.
This is my home, inside you, he told her in his rich, deep voice. I’m going to fill it with pleasure and lust and love, and me. As much of me as you will have.
Yet as the blackness wrapped around her, Ryan’s image dissolved into a thin, gray-eyed teenager watching her from the shadows. The fragile spill of moonlight hair on her narrow shoulders made Kayla reach out, but the girl turned and ran away.
Her baby sister, Tara. She was so afraid.
You don’t love me. You only think you do.
Kayla didn’t understand the words, or the cold voice that had uttered them. She couldn’t remember what had happened before she’d dropped into the abyss. Had they been separated again? Was it her fault? She felt almost sure that it was. But how could she have left her sister behind?
She’d looked after Tara since childhood, when their mother had abandoned them. Her baby sister had been so small and helpless, and Kayla’s father had crawled into a whiskey bottle. Some would say she’d had no choice, but Kayla had chosen to be sister, mother and father to that innocent infant.
Kayla hadn’t minded. She’d never tired of holding that chubby hand and listening to her birdlike chattering on the way to and from school. Teaching Tara how to dress and tie her sneakers by herself had been little victories for them both. If their father hadn’t given up the bottle, Kayla would have gone on being everything to Tara anyway.
Tara had been Kayla’s entire world. She could never abandon her.
Even when her sister had begun suffering from terrible depressions, Kayla hadn’t stopped loving her. She’d checked out self-help books from the library, and when those hadn’t worked she’d nagged her father until he’d taken Tara to a therapist.
You think I was actually depressed all that time? I faked it so you’d leave me alone.
No, that had to be wrong. All of this was wrong. When her father had died, Kayla had promised Tara she would never leave her alone—and she’d kept that promise. She’d never once turned her back on her little sister. Tara would never hurt her, either. She loved her just as much.
I don’t feel love, Kayla.
I hated you and Dad.
Kayla’s head began to spin as she clutched at what she thought she knew. Tara was the only family she had left. She loved her. Her sister would never–
I’m a Blackstone, and you’re my enemy.
A body dropped on top of Kayla, and knocked them both out of the darkness into some kind of empty dressing room. As soon as she could breathe she wrapped her arms around her sister and held onto her tightly.
“You came after me,” she said, sobbing out the words. “Oh, sweetie, I had no idea, I’m so sorry–”
“I’m not,” Christine said. She sat up and looked all around them. Her soft Tennessee drawl went flinty. “So. This is really fucking bad.”
Kayla swallowed against the lump in her throat. Why had she thought Christine was Tara? It made no sense. But instead of her sister, her friend had come after her. The final gap in her memory filled in as she remembered the last moments before she had fallen into darkness. Tara had traded Kayla for her own freedom by betraying her to the Blackstones—by sending her to them.
Tara had shoved her into the abyss.
The dancer said in a low voice, “We’re at the strip club where I used to dance. Where all the Blackstones are, remember?” She listened for a long moment. One of the overhead lights made her green eyes flash, as hard and cold as jade. “I don’t think they know we’re here yet. That’s good. We might just make it out of here alive.”
The lump in Kayla’s throat swelled until she thought she might strangle. “Tara–”
“I know, I was there. I heard all that shit she said. We’ll talk about it later.” Christine helped Kayla to her feet and went to a curtain to peek through it. She came back and started undressing. “Strip.”
The order made Kayla wonder if Christine had gone crazy, too. “I’m sorry?”
“Take off your clothes,” the dancer repeated with thin patience, “or we’re going to die.”
Like a robot Kayla jerked off her shirt and jeans, and then her underwear as Christine raided a nearby rack of what looked like skimpy, sparkling bikinis. She handed Kayla a bra and thong made of lime green satin with hot pink sequins. When she put the costume on it barely covered her breasts and mons, and almost completely exposed her bottom.
“Good girl,” Christine said. The dancer retrieved two wigs made of tinsel from a drawer and fitted one over Kayla’s dark hair. She used the other to cover her golden-brown waves. “Show how you would look if you were completely stoned.”
Kayla blinked. “What?”
“Never mind, just look like that. Don’t talk, don’t smile, and don’t move or blink too fast.” Christine grabbed some hairpins and went to check the curtain again. “There’s a back door behind the stage outside. That’s our way out. Come on, we can do this.”
Kayla grabbed her hand and followed her through the curtain. They emerged in the back of a dark, smelly bar. She kept her head down and focused on the heels of Christine’s stilettos, flinching as a big, heavyset man with an unconvincing comb-over staggered out of a men’s room.
“Hey. Nobody told me there were twins dancing tonight.” He swayed and leered at Christine’s breasts. “You two like to tag-team, or what?”
What he said made Kayla frown. She and Christine didn’t look anything alike. Yet when she glanced at the mirrored wall, she had to stare. In the costumes and wigs they were almost doubles of each other.
“We like anything you like, sugar,” Christine said, her voice a coy purr. She sidled closer, and rubbed up against the drunk as if he were the sexiest man on the planet. “Come outside and we’ll give you a private preview.”
Kayla didn’t understand why Christine wanted the man to go with them, until she saw how his big frame blocked them from view. Dark Fae were scattered around the club. She nearly froze when she spotted Dirk Blackstone. He was grunting and jerking behind a naked woman who he had propped against the bar.
The most horrifying thing Tara had told her burned in her ears: He’s been fucking me in my dreams since I was thirteen.
Dirk Blackstone wouldn’t touch her sister again, Kayla thought, a strange calm settling over her. She’d cut off his hands with a hacksaw, if need be. His penis, too. Maybe she should take care of that right now, just to be on the safe side.
Christine’s hand clamped on Kayla’s shoulder. “No,” she said flatly. “You’re not doing this now. We’re outnumbered, and he won’t kill us. Not right away. Do you understand?”
Feeling as if she might vomit, Kayla nodded, and followed Christine and the drunk outside.
Christine closed the door gently and turned to the fat man, who gave her a big smile.
“So what do you two do?” His expression froze as he looked down at the fist gripping his genitals.
“We say good-night,” Christine said. She took away her hand and rammed her knee into the same spot.
The drunk went down like a sinking ship, toppling over to whimper and clutch at his crotch.
Christine started searching the man’s jacket pockets, but Kayla saw something move in the trees. A motorcycle without a rider slowly rolled out of the shadows and stopped to idle in front of her. She knew it only looked like a motorcycle. In its true form it was an enormous, fire-breathing black dragon, created to serve the Blackstones. But something made her reach out to it.
“Hell, Kayla.” The dancer grabbed at her. “Get away from that thing,”
“It’s all right,” Kayla said, though she didn’t know how she knew. But when she touched the bike she felt a powerful surge of determination and fear, not evil intent. “It isn’t here to hurt us.”
Christine uttered a sound of disbelief. “Are you kidding? One of these things burned me to death. You remember, right before I came back to life with boring brown hair, and all my tattoos gone?”
You must leave this place now, lady, the dragon whispered inside Kayla’s head, his deep voice rumbling inside her bones. Only take me with you, and I vow I will guard you both with my life.
Kayla’s telepathic ability allowed her to communicate by thought with horses–and now, it seemed, shape-shifting dragons, too.
“Why should we trust you? You helped the Blackstones attack our camp.”
We were given no choice.
Hundreds of horrific images poured into Kayla’s thoughts, but as gruesome as they were, she felt completely disconnected from what she was seeing.
I’m in shock.
It felt bizarre to realize that she really didn’t care about anything but hurting Dirk Blackstone for what he’d done to her sister. But Tara wasn’t her sister. She was Dirk’s.
“Stop the slideshow, please.” Kayla climbed on the motorcycle, and said to Christine, “Get on.”
The dancer shook her head. “I’d rather walk back to Forever Faire.”
As the back door of the club started to open, Christine divided the hair pins she carried between her two hands. A heartbeat later she staggered backward as the bike shot forward. It was all Kayla could do to hang on to the handlebars.
Kayla’s legs gripped the beast as though it were a horse. A second later, its front tire rammed into the door, slamming it closed. With a screeching squeal of tires and the smell of burning rubber, the engine revved as the motorcycle turned in place. The entire machine shuddered as a blast of white-hot fire shot from its tailpipes, welding the edges of the door to the frame.
Someone inside the club shouted, and a heavy weight rammed into the door from the other side.
The motorcycle lurched forward and stopped next to Christine. Her astonished expression matched Kayla’s shock. There was more shouting from behind the door.
“I hate walking,” Christine said, and climbed on behind Kayla.
Once her friend settled into position, the bike made it’s way through the parking lot. Though Kayla looked like she was steering, she only gripped the handlebars to stay mounted. She looked over her shoulder just as the Blackstones emerged to stare at the fallen drunk.
“Here they come.”
The motorcycle’s engine revved.
“Got it,” Christine said. She whipped out her arms, flinging the hairpins at the Dark Fae trotting toward them. Three of the men at the front of the group shrieked and fell, covering their eyes with their palms.