Two lost souls forge something beautiful from something broken.
Rachel Ingram is living the dream. Heiress to billions, she’s engaged to the perfect man. But with the sudden death of her parents, her world begins to crumble. When she discovers her new husband’s true nature, her life implodes.
Evander Talorc is living a nightmare. Traitor to his clan of immortal highlanders, he lives alone in a remote cottage. But it was not always that way. Once he had given up everything for the sake of his mortal lover. Then she died of the plague. But when he visits her grave at the center of the sacred grove, he encounters the unbelievable.
Abandoned and forgotten, Rachel and Evander find each other. But the rest of the world will not let them be.
I adore this series, and this is my absolute favourite so far. I'm a sucker for the whole anti-hero deal.Oscar, Kindle Reviewer
Evander has his faults, but he is a good man at heart, and when he finally finds Rachel we actually get to see his heart of hearts. Lots of love, passion and of course suspense and fighting.Jan Janus, Kindle Reviewer
When the paths of these two lost souls cross, something magical happens. I appreciated the pace of the story, as well as the interesting twists and turns. I adored the dynamic between Evander and Rachael, as well as their journey towards happiness.AC_1098610, Kindle Reviewer
Their connection is so intense and they really have to battle for their love. I really enjoyed watching their love grow and their hope for a future together.L. Levine, Kindle Reviewer
I don't know why I doubted. It was just as amazing as the other books in this series. I've forgiven Evander and was even moved to tears in parts of his story. We get to see him in a new light as well as a teaser of the druid's plot. So it is definitely worth the read. Don't skip this one!!!Kindle Reviewer
I often get teary at parts of a plot, but this one had me sobbing at one point. That's how real the emotions were.Shirley Foster, Kindle Reviewer
Rachel Ingram walked out onto the garden balcony overlooking the swimming pavilion, where her father’s infinity pool spread like a lake suspended in the air. Beyond it his beloved red gum eucalyptus trees climbed the curves of the estate’s rolling green hills. They provided an illusion of privacy, as if all the world belonged to Avalon. Sometimes, looking out at the pristine grounds beneath the porcelain blue sky, it seemed as if it did.
In Rancho Santa Fe, one of America’s wealthiest towns, all of the residents wanted that illusion. In the Covenant, the most exclusive neighborhood within its boundaries, they got it.
A hundred acres beyond the Ingrams’ treasured old trees and high, sculpted hedges lay other immense estate houses belonging to their billionaire neighbors. No one went to the tech mogul’s smart mansion to ask for a spare charger, or to the self-help guru’s opulent villa to borrow a cup of sugar. That was simply not done. Plenty of neighbors went to the Olympic gold medalist’s gaudy shrine to himself and his sport, but he was more of a sociable guy.
“He’s holding another party in that over-sized frat house,” Sheldon Ingram had often complained to his wife and daughter. “I can hear them rolling the kegs from here.”
Rachel smelled the airy sweetness of her mother’s white roses, and glanced over hundreds of blooms draping the loggia. Her parents’ lounge chairs still sat beside the old stone table that Beatrice Ingram had fallen in love with during their European honeymoon. Her father had secretly shipped it from Scotland to present it to his wife on their first anniversary, along with Avalon.
A few withered petals had fallen on the massive slab of green-streaked granite, which now looked like a toppled tombstone overgrown with moss.
The scent of a familiar, leathery cologne drifted around her as quiet footsteps approached, and she braced herself against the railing.
“Good morning, Paul.”
“I’m so sorry to disturb you, Rachel.” Her parents’ attorney came to join her, his sober suit fitted as if he’d been born with navy silk as an outer shell. “How are you feeling?”
She wanted to tell him that she’d spent the morning throwing up, but he didn’t need to hear that.
“I’m all right, I guess.”
“I thought I’d stop in and see if you’d come to a decision about the estate.” His smile turned slightly uneasy. “I understand how difficult this must be for you, but the buyer is hoping for an answer on their offer soon.”
Difficult? Rachel frowned. Avalon had killed her parents. She had to sell it, only because no one would let her bulldoze it into the ground. But she couldn’t say that to Paul Carver. Deliberately destroying a multi-million dollar mansion instead of selling it wasn’t acceptable, and in a few hours Paul would be her father-in-law.
No one wanted crazy in the family.
“I can’t deal with the sale today,” she said. “David and I are going into the city to get married. Then we’re going to drive up and spend the weekend at the beach house.” She hated how dreary she sounded, talking about her wedding as if it were a dental appointment. Since the funerals she felt so exhausted and depressed, and sometimes just getting out of bed took all her strength. “I’m sorry.”
“Keeping it simple is probably best,” the attorney said quickly. He agreed with everything she said but, now that she had inherited the Ingram fortune, everyone except David was doing that. “Call me when you get back in town, and then we’ll talk.” He touched her shoulder before he retreated inside the mansion.
A few minutes later the purring sound of a Rolls came from the front of the house, and Rachel watched as the man who would be her father-in-law sped down the long curving drive, pausing only for security to open the gates.
For once Paul’s behavior actually registered as odd to her. It seemed as if he couldn’t get away from her and Avalon fast enough, and she wondered why. Her father had made Paul a very wealthy man, and Rachel was marrying his son. Maybe he didn’t want her to, or he simply didn’t like her. Yet when she’d told him they were getting married, she’d felt his relief as surely as if he’d voiced it.
Rachel had often wondered if she should tell her fiancé about her uncanny intuition. But David might think she was delusional, and over the last few weeks her sensitivity had been so muted she rarely even felt her own emotions. His father had to be happy about the marriage. If nothing else, Rachel was now one of the richest women in the country.
It was all thanks to her dad, who had used the millions he inherited from his corporate CEO father to become the most successful start-up investor in modern history. From solar-powered smart phones to 3-D printed replacement heart valves, the ventures Sheldon Ingram bankrolled always proved wildly innovative as well as profitable in the extreme.
“I’m not a genius,” Sheldon told a reporter once. “I invest in people. Guessing which ones are going to change the world is what I do best.”
Her father had slowed down only long enough to romance and marry Beatrice, Rachel’s Italian heiress mother, who had brought old world money, blue blood, and ancient connections with European royalty as her dowry. He’d built this Mediterranean chateau for her when she’d gotten pregnant with Rachel, called it Avalon, and then set up his kingdom in the Covenant.
Her father had always fancied himself a Merlin rather than a King Arthur. Since everything he touched turned to gold, Midas might have been more appropriate. Thanks to him, Rachel would never have to work, or worry, or do anything except what she wanted.
But all she wanted was what she could never again have.
Rachel would happily give every cent she’d inherited to hear once more the reassurance of her father’s deep voice, and the sweet trill of her mother’s easy laughter. They had given her so much love she’d never once considered how it would feel to be without it. She would beggar herself to bring them back to life. If only she’d skipped the weekend shopping trip to L.A. with David and his mother. She’d have been here when the fire started. She knew she would have woken up in time to get them out of the house—or not.
I could have died with them.
How long Rachel stood there wishing for what she could never have, she didn’t know. She only came out of her trance when her fingers began to cramp, and glanced down to see the white-knuckled grip she had on the balcony railing. Carefully she released it and turned around to face Avalon, now fully cleaned and restored. The only signs of the electrical fire that had consumed the master suite and burned her parents to death was scorched earth around the newly-built wing. In another week the landscaping company would finish putting in the new sod, and even that would be gone.
Like her parents, cremated in their own bed.
From inside the sunroom David Carver emerged, his elegant hands holding two slender goblets of champagne. From his razor-cut short blond hair to his spotless white shirt and shorts he looked immaculate, but then he always did. Rachel knew he had spent the morning playing tennis at one of his mother’s charity fundraisers, and yet he still appeared pressed and polished, as if he’d just gotten dressed.
Rachel admired his perfection—who didn’t?—but something about his appearance this morning bothered her. He seemed almost too spotless. Did her fiancé even have the ability to sweat?
“Are we toasting your victory?” she asked.
One thing that had attracted her to David was that, like a very few other people, she could never read him. For her that felt intriguing, as well as very restful.
“No, I lost my only match to that actor from Star Wars,” David said, rolling his pale brown eyes as he came to hand her one of the flutes. “I stayed to watch Mother beat the club pro in straight sets.” His smile sparkled. “Revenge for him criticizing her backhand, I think.”
Guilt knotted Rachel’s stomach. Marianne Carver had been so kind to her since the fire, and she hadn’t even considered going to the fundraiser.
“Your dad was here earlier. I think we should have invited your parents to come to the ceremony today.”
Why hadn’t she even thought about that before now?
“Rache, darling, they understand.” His gaze shifted to the rebuilt wing, and he curled an arm around her shoulders. “This is just a formality. Once you’ve had time to grieve, and you’re ready to do the big, beautiful wedding you deserve, then we’ll have our family and friends there to celebrate with us.”
David meant to be reassuring, but it only brought home to her that since leaving college she’d lost touch with all of her old friends. She liked the Carvers well enough, but it was hard to think of Paul or Marianne as her in-laws or parents. They didn’t seem like parents at all. Maybe once she and David were married for a while her feelings would change, but for now she felt completely alone. It wasn’t self-pity, either. Her parents had been the last living members of both their families. Rachel had no relatives left.
Still, she knew getting married now was the right thing to do. She had so many decisions to make about her massive inheritance, and the constant daze she’d been in since the funeral had only made those pile up. She also wanted to make her own mark on the world, the way her father had, by making her family’s money work to help people. David agreed. He’d told her more than once that the best thing they could do was carry on her father’s legacy and make dreams come true.
“To our future,” he said now, holding out his glass. “And our wedding day.”
Rachel touched her rim to his. Their marriage had been the only thing she’d had to look forward to, and she desperately wanted to be happy again. David had stayed at her side through the darkest days of her life, so she already knew he would be a good husband. She might not be able to read him, but everything he did told her how much he loved her and wanted to take care of her. The only thing that worried her was something they hadn’t yet done.
They’d never made love.
It seemed ridiculously old-fashioned, but David had persuaded her to save their first time together until after they were married. What he claimed would be deeply romantic had always made Rachel feel a little nervous. With just two boyfriends under her belt she didn’t have a lot of experience with men, but she’d liked sex. Her attraction to David hadn’t been physical, exactly, but she’d been looking forward to being intimate with him. She’d even secretly practiced a few things.
What would she do if they turned out to be a disaster in bed?
“You’re not drinking to us,” David said, and took a sip from his glass as he watched her face. “Second thoughts?”
“It feels like I just buried my parents, and you and I have never… It’s all happening so fast,” she finished, feeling awkward now. “I know I’ve been a mess, really I do. God, I can’t even remember when you proposed to me.”
“Hey.” He gave her arm a soothing caress. “I’m not going to push you into anything, Rache. But please, at least drink to our future—unless you’re planning to jilt me at the Justice of the Peace.”
She took a swallow, grimacing at the acrid taste of the champagne.
“I’m not, I promise.”
“Poor darling,” he cooed and pressed a gentle kiss on her brow. “Tell you what, let’s forget about the wedding and head up to the beach house. We can spend the weekend sunning ourselves and making love.”
She stared into his eyes, which the sunlight had turned to gold. His sudden change of heart made her feel dizzy. Or maybe it was drinking on an empty stomach.
“You told me that you wanted to wait until our wedding night.”
“I did, didn’t I? Come here.” David folded his arms around her and rested his cheek on the top of her head. “Honestly, darling, I don’t think I can keep my hands off you another day.”
Rachel felt so relieved she nearly wept. He smelled crisp and clean, and she just wanted to wrap him around her and breathe him in. But she also wanted the wedding behind her.
“I’m sorry,” she finally said. “I think I must be suffering from a case of the jitters.”
“You’re allowed, my beautiful bride.” He held her for a few minutes before he set her at arm’s length, and smiled. “Now what will it be: a long sexy weekend on the beach as new lovers, or newly-weds?”
As she looked at him, she had another of her intuitions. He really was her future, and it was high time she got to it.
“Marry me,” she said.