Release: March 13th, 2014
Renee’s life had been normal until the shadows reappeared and the legendary stone was sent to her. As the arrival drags her further into the paranormal world, the last thing Renee expects is to be swept off her feet by a brooding werewolf.
Yet Coran captures her heart and attention. Small problem—he doesn't want a mate. Coran still suffers from the loss of his first mate, but when Renee is attacked by shifters he is forced to protect her at all costs. Things heat up when he realizes fate has wickedly granted him a second chance at love. With the war causing the body count to rise, now is not the ideal time to find a mate.
The Circle is becoming desperate and something has Lucius worried which means trouble for his followers. It's a dance between danger and fate in this second installment of the Dark War Chronicles.
When Coran’s shift ended he wasted no time escaping the bar. Jumping into his truck, he leaned his head against the back of the seat and took a deep breath. He’d thought about Renee the whole evening. His wolf did nothing but pace inside him when the human came to mind and that alone was unsettling; normally the beast was the pillar of calm. Something about the human woman stood out to him and he wanted to see her again, despite everything.
Voices made him look out his window and a group of males gathered on the sidewalk caught his attention. If Coran had been human, he wouldn’t have noticed anything different about them. Dressed in clubbing clothes, they could have just been out for a night on the town. It wasn’t unusual to see a group like them downtown, but the wind brought a scent through the cracked window. Shifters, ones he didn’t recognize. They took off running to the west and he started up the truck. Following the group, he parked to watch what their plans were when they approached a house party. Again, not something that was unusual downtown, but something ate inside Coran.
Renee downed another drink from her housemate. Another whiskey down after an hour of drinking games made the room spin around her. Danielle laughed and grabbed Renee's wrist. "Okay birthday girl, I think you've had enough."
Renee shook her head. "Nooo, I need more. Rum. Where is the rum?" She stood and tried to get to the kitchen, but Danielle held her back.
"It's gone." Someone else in the house cried out.
"Why is the rum always gone?" Renee asked, feigning a pirate voice. She giggled as she headed towards the kitchen, escaping Danielle's clutch. She searched through the bottles but froze when a person she didn't know passed on the other side of the counter. Swearing, she saw an animal waver behind him, just like she had with Coran at the bar. Then she blamed it on being stressed. Now she blamed it on being drunk. Placing her shot glass on the counter, she drew in a couple deep breaths and closed her eyes. When she opened them the room stopped spinning and the man with the shadow was no longer in the room.
"You okay?" Danielle's voice made Renee jump.
Nodding, she pulled away from her friend. "I just need some fresh air." She grinned.
Danielle motioned to the door. "You know where the door is, use it."
Renee stumbled outside and took a deep breath, closing her eyes again. The heat from the day still clung to the air and thoughts from the chase the night before returned to her. Footsteps still echoed in her head, reminding her of the men who chased her. Her eyes flew open when someone grabbed her wrist. Stumbling, her heart pounded as she shoved at the stranger, frantically slapping him with her other free hand, trying to get them to let go. Drinking made her more clumsy than normal, but she tried to pry the man’s hand off her. The world spun around her as she struggled with the stranger. The man's grip bruised her arm as he pulled her off her stumbling feet. Renee crashed to the ground taking her attacker with her. He landed next to her with a yell and two other men came running. Her eyes widened when she could see the other forms — a wolf, a big cat of some sort, and a bear. A scream bubbled up in her throat, but one of the other men clapped a hand over her mouth. She tried to kick, but her alcohol-laden system moved too slowly to surprise him.
"Shut it, you little bitch."
An accent she couldn’t place tinged his voice. She thrashed against the man, her mind racing through the worse possible scenarios.
Within a moment the man disappeared, yanked away from her. Renee glanced up, surprised filling her hazy brain when she recognized the hunky bartender. Coran held an attacker in the air by the shirt collar, a foot off the ground. She couldn't believe it, exactly what kind of bartender was this guy? Coran smirked at her and in that moment the image of the wolf flickered behind him, snarling. She swallowed and gave him a shy wave.
He set the man down. "I suggest you run before I rip your head off."
The man quickly nodded in agreement and he and his comrades took off. Coran turned back to Renee and held a hand out to her. "What was that all about?" he asked as he pulled her up. She stumbled into him. "Are you drunk?"
"Beats hot milk and butter." She grinned before turning in the direction the attackers ran off in.
"Those butt faced miscreants."
Coran laughed and put an arm around her trying to lead her back to the house. "That's a new one."
Renee leaned into him, using him for balance. Here she was drunk and about to screw up a chance with the hot bartender...again. "I don't want to go back in there." Her mind flashed to all the images flickering behind people and tears formed in her eyes. She was tired of these forms reappearing. She swore that time of her life was over.
"What? Why? It looks like a fun party." He turned to her and tilted her chin up to meet her eyes. "Are you crying?"
She sniffled, trying to keep the little drops from falling. "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to...gosh darn it! I'll leave if I want to."
"I'm so going to be dead for this." He grumbled and picked her up, cradling her against his chest.
"How drunk are you?"
"You're only going to be mostly dead." She laid her head against his chest. "And I'm not as think as you drunk I am." She could feel his chest rumble with laughter as he started to walk away from the house. He tucked her into the passenger side of his truck, buckled her in and kissed her forehead.
"To the bat cave," she muttered and pointed out the windshield.
He got in on the other side, chuckling as he started the truck. "Something like that, sweetheart."
"You're going to let that shifter walk off with your charge?" A male voice made Danielle turn around.
She shrugged. "I know she's safe with him. It bothers me, but obviously we have other problems on our hands."
"Like the fact that she was just attacked? You think you should report this?"
Protocol required a Hunter to report if anything changed in their assignment, but Danielle wasn't ready to report that the human she was assigned suddenly started to attract a shifter and a pack of rogues. "Not yet. I don't want to get them worked up over nothing. It could just be a coincidence. "
"You don't sound so sure of that." Her partner leaned against the door jam. "After what? A couple years finally something starts to happen with this girl and you want to ignore it?"
Dani glared back at him. "Look, I'm the Elite here, you follow my orders. We don't report this yet and we don't pursue it. There is something else going on here. I'll talk to her about her choice in men when she comes back tomorrow."
"You think she'll come back?" He laughed. "Most women can't resist shifters."
She snorted. "This is Renee, she’d rather have Mr. Darcy than a shifter who happens to be there when she's drunk. Besides, tomorrow she'll wake up embarrassed and come home."
"You're sure about that?" Her partner's voice made her doubt everything. She hated when the younger Hunter did that.
She forced herself to nod. "I am, I've known her for years. She's not the type to fall head over heels with a man." Even she could hear the hesitation in her voice.
"Weren't you given orders to follow her every move?" He chuckled. "Do you need me to help track her? She has no idea what I am so it would be easy."
Dani shook her head and bit her fingernail. "That man is a shifter, an immortal one nonetheless. I've heard the local wolf pack talk about him. He'd know you were there in a heartbeat."
"I wasn't aware there was an immortal in town."
"And that's why you're a Skilled and I’m a Elite. Give her until tomorrow before you start following her around."
He snorted. "I'm only six months away from graduating you know."
"Then you should have realized that he was an immortal and that there is at least one in town." She shrugged and walked back into the house, determined to enjoy the rest of the party.
A.L. Kessler is a paranormal romance author living in beautiful Colorado Springs, CO. When she’s not at beck and call of the household—made up of her cats, dog, daughter and husband—she can be found hard at work on her next novel. In those rare moments of free time, she can be found playing video games, crafting, or reading.
In the Light of the Moon
The Touch of Night
Of Souls and Steam (Penny Dread Vol. 4)