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The stench of stale beer and sweat invaded Ava’s nostrils as she moved toward the bar. A football game played on the screen behind the counter, but none of the three men populating the pub paid any attention to it.
The air inside was musty, old, and it only worsened as she approached the end of the room.
She passed by the first man, who sat in a booth on the left. He stared at nothing in particular, with a cry stuck midway in his throat and a half-empty jug of beer clutched in his hand. The bad lighting drenched half of him in shadows, making it seem like darkness was swallowing him.
He didn’t notice Ava because she had masked her presence before entering. She wasn’t exactly invisible. Humans could see her if they focused hard enough, but they rarely did.
Ava made a mental note to check up on that poor soul if she had the chance, her Guardian instincts urging her to help. He was clearly suffering, but she was here for a reason, and the reason was not that man. So she went back to the task at hand.
The wooden floor creaked as she approached the bar. The bartender, an old man with white hair and a face marred by deep wrinkles, cleaned a dirty glass from behind the counter.
She wasn’t here for him, either.
The last man sat hunched at the edge of the counter. Well, he wasn’t exactly a man. According to his file, he was a Selfless, an angel whose memories had been wiped out so he could be reborn as a human—standard procedure, considering centuries of memories could overload a human brain.
She stopped by his side and sat on the red padded stool to his left. The seat’s ripped leather grazed the white fabric of her bodysuit, scratching her thighs.
The man was hunched over, so she couldn’t see much of him except for his strong build and dark hair. He took a long gulp of his drink and didn’t acknowledge her presence for a while.
So she waited.
“Archie isn’t dead yet,” he finally said, his voice rough like a cement wall.
“I do belie—”
“He’s not dead,” the man repeated, his attention solely on what was left of his whiskey.
She took a deep breath. “I know, Liam.” She used her Guardian voice, the calm, soothing tone to which she had grown accustomed. It was how she talked to her charges, how every guardian angel spoke, actually. Using the same serene tone.
Liam turned to Ava, his brow furrowed and his lips twisted, and for a moment too quick to count, she lost her breath. Ava had seen his photo on file, but the live version of him was brutally handsome. Liam was a cool wind on a summer morning and a thunder waiting to crack. His features were all sharp angles and fierce lines, but his eyes … Ava had never seen eyes like those. Rough emeralds cut with razor-sharp precision, almost like crystalline water, if water were green.
“Don’t call me by my name,” he spoke through gritted teeth. “You don’t know me.”
“You’re right, and I apologize.” She patted her thighs as if she were fixing the apron of an invisible dress. “I only read your file, but I’d like to get to know you, Liam.”
“You’re a Guardian,” he scoffed and took a sip of his drink.
“I am,” she said, ignoring the contempt in his tone. “However, the word the Messenger used when he assigned you as my charge was ‘temporary partner’.”
“You’re not my partner,” he barked through tight lips. “Archie is.”
“I’m not here to replace Archibald, Liam.”
He glared at her, certainly because she had used Archibald’s name and his. This seemed to be a sensitive matter to her new charge, so she calmly added, “I can’t replace your partner. No one can.” Ava extended her hand to him. “I’m Ava, by the way. And I’m here to help.”
The Devil to Pay
The pill is small, so I decide to be cool like people in movies and pop it in my mouth without a drink. When I swallow, the pill sticks to the back of my throat. It’s not big enough to block my air, but I’m full-on gagging and hacking when I see a guy in a white shirt and tie duck past my window, open the rear door, and let himself into the backseat.
“Hey,” I croak, “you’re just in time to pass me that soda at your feet.” Which doubles in heavily-accented snark-talk for Who and/or what the hell, random guy?
But he’s not bilingual, so he only searches at his feet and passes up to me a half-empty bottle of soda. After a drink, I cough out: “Sorry, I wasn’t ready just then to host a mugging. But I’m good now.”
“Um,” he says, unsure, “okay, I think I might have made a mistake.”
“It’s true, I’m not a hooker.” In the rearview I can see a pristine wedge of blonde hair above pleasing green eyes. But very concerned eyes. Haunted, even.
He says, “I thought you were trying to take me.”
“Again, not a hooker.”
“But there’s no room back here to take somebody. I can’t even sit down. Are these all your clothes?”
“It’s laundry day,” I lie. “And let me get this straight. You were afraid I might be here to take you away in my car, and so…you got into my car?”
“Yeah, but I was going to do this.” He jabs a gun into the back of my neck. His voice is shaking. “Now look to your left. See those guys?”
“Wait, you were going to do this, or you’re actually doing it now?”
“Just look!” He quickly adds, “Please.”
“Well, since you said please…”
“You see them?”
I do. Up ahead, just beyond the light of the blue street lamp, stand two tall figures, deep black silhouettes against a lighter black night. They appear to be facing us. Just watching. “Yeah, I see ’em.”
“Can you call them off?”
“Hey, remember that one time when you were saying you might have made a mistake about me?”
“I know, but now I figure maybe even vampires gotta have laundry day, right?”
I take another look at him in the mirror. He’s sweating. Eyes darting. His aggression is coming from fear, not anger. I know he’s human, because I can’t feel any underworld in him, and I definitely would feel something from this close.
“And now I figure,” he says, “that when I say vampire and you say nothing, that tells me that maybe I didn’t make a mistake.”
“Could be I’m just speechless because I think you’re a crazy person. Or I could be waiting for you to look at me in the rearview mirror…” His eyes go to mine in the mirror. “…so I can use my Dracula mind-control powers on you.”
He quickly turns away and digs the gun deeper into my neck. Ow. “You might be supernaturally fast, but can you dodge a bullet?”
Human. White shirt and tie. Knows about vampires… “You’re from Washington?”
“Washington state? Is that a vampire thing? Makes sense. Lots of rain there, not much sun.”
Okay, I’m going to shut up now. This guy’s either the world’s greatest bullshit artist, or he’s just a human who found out way too much, and those two shadows under the streetlight really are vampires, in which case they’ll either wipe his mind or kill him.
“I’m Detroit PD, Homicide,” he says. Not the bullshit artist, then. Nice knowing you, guy. “Two days ago I’m assigned to a hooker from Corktown, and there’s no—”
“When you say assigned, you mean she’s dead?”
“I mean, her body was found with her throat ripped out, only there’s no blood at the scene, because there’s no blood in her body. Like it’s been sucked out.”
He eases up on the gun. “Right? Is that what you think?”
“I’m saying that’s what you think.”
“I don’t think, I know. Just like I know you’re either a hooker or a vampire, and probably both.”
“Try neither, and definitely not a hooker.”
“Yeah, you said that already. Very first thing when I got in your car was ‘I’m not a hooker.’ It’s like, ‘Oh, is your name also Methinks?’”
“Methinks, Methinks! It’s like a famous internet meme or whatever, and she protests too much about the thing that’s obviously true. I’m not a hooker, I’m not a hooker! Then why are you sitting out front of Dario Machlin’s apartment?”
“Dario? You’re here for Dario?”
“You tell me.” He pulls the gun away, and my shoulders can finally relax. After another glance at the shadow figures—yep, still there—he takes a breath, collecting himself. “Vampire or not—”
“Hooker or not.”
“—you have to know something. Last night you got into Underworld, which I’m pretty sure is a hangout for vampires. And you came home with Dario Machlin. You stayed all night.”
“What, so you’ve just been spying on us? Did you peek through his window at any time last night? Because you could have learned some things your girlfriend will appreciate.” I put the car into drive.
He flinches. “What are you doing?”
“I’m taking us around the block. Unless you want to have a chat with those guys?”
He sucks in a breath when he sees that the shadow figures are now on the move toward us. As they pass beneath the light of the street lamp, I recognize them, and yes, they are vamps, and yes, my night just got shot to hell.
Storm of the Gods
Don’t Cheat Me
“Hey, sexy, how about you bring a shot of Angelfire and that pretty little ass over here.”
I pour a shot of the fey alcohol and bring it to the tactless man with a forced smile. As I take the cash he lays out on the counter, he grabs my arm and pulls me close. “You know, I’ve never had a human before—they’re not usually worth my time—but I’d make an exception for you.”
I yank my arm back. “Not interested, thanks.”
I start to walk away, so he quickly downs his shot and asks for another. “What’s the matter? Think you’re too good to bed an underworlder?”
I smirk as I fill his shot glass with another round of the light blue liquid. “Nope. Just too good for cocky assholes.”
I don’t have time to regret running my mouth off before the man has me by the throat and is pulling me across the counter to his seething face. “I’ll show you manners, human. You’re nothing but an insect in my world. A plaything. And now you’ll be mine. I’ll have you begging for death for all eternity.”
His thoughts are scarier than his words. He plans to follow through on his threat. He knows many fey in the winter court that keep human pets. He’s never seen the appeal, but now he wants nothing more than to humiliate me and make me suffer. And maybe he’ll eat me once he’s bored of the torture.
His grip is so strong I can’t breathe, but before I start to see spots in my vision, Wulf and Nick rip me apart from the psychotic winter faerie. Wulf has me behind him, using his body to physically shield me, while Nick has the faerie laid out on the bar by his throat. The man is wailing in pain, and it takes me a moment to figure out it’s because Nick’s buried a dagger in the man’s shoulder, hilt deep. Judging from the screams of pain, the dagger is made of iron, which is poisonous to faeries. “What was that about begging for death for all eternity?” Nick asks. “Is that how you like to play?”
“But she’s human,” the faerie cries, as if that justifies his actions.
Wulf growls at this, and his whole body begins to shake. I place a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to calm him down. I’ve heard that werewolves like physical touch, and a gesture to tell him I’m all right should help with his protective instincts. I’ve never seen a werewolf shift, and I don’t really want to see one now while he’s pissed and I’m trapped behind a bar with him. I want to say something soothing, but honestly, I’m too scared to get any words out. That faerie has a dark, twisted mind.
“She is an employee of this club and Terrance’s only clan,” Nick says.
The fey’s eyes pop wide open. “She’s his clan?”
“His first.” Nick nods. “And he’s especially fond of her. So I would advise you to leave her alone. In fact, I bet you’re a dead man walking once Terrance figures out you’re the asshole who put the bruises around her neck.”
Nick’s eyes do that thing they do when he gets really pissed. The pupils turn into vertical slits. It’s freaky looking. He also emits some kind of power. I can’t really explain it. I don’t know what kind of underworlder Nick is. It’s rude to ask, and he’s never offered the information up. But it’s something totally badass that scares even the nastiest underworlders. Mr. Creepy Fey Man is squirming under his grip, looking like he’s about to piss himself. “I’m sorry,” he whines. “I didn’t know who she was. I’ll leave. Just let me up before Terrance comes.”
“Maybe we should leave him pinned to the bar for a while,” Wulf says, making the fey’s eyes go wide again. “That’ll send the message that Nora is off limits, which might appease Terrance.”
I can’t help the way my mouth falls open. “You’re not serious.”
Wulf gives me a grim look. “This man disrespected Terrance’s staff. That won’t go unpunished—house rules.”
“Terrance will kill him for touching you, unless we punish him first,” Nick adds, backing up Wulf’s claims.
They’re not kidding. They plan to keep this guy staked to the counter the way he is. The underworld runs on a different set of rules. It’s brutal and dangerous. If I want to survive it, I need to learn to stomach the darker side of it and trust those who have my well-being at heart.
“Okay,” I say, since both Wulf and Nick seem to be waiting for my approval. It’s not that hard to agree, considering how evil the man’s thoughts were. “Let’s leave him for a while.”
“Put a sign on him so everyone knows,” Nick says.
Wulf writes a note on a pad that says I touched the human girl. He puts it on the faerie’s chest. “Hold this, and don’t drop it.”
The man grips the message and holds it against his chest where everyone who gets close can read it. But he’s squirming, swearing, sweating, and hollering about the pain. I have no doubt it hurts. Nick has no sympathy for him. “Shut your mouth,” he says, touching the dagger’s hilt and twisting it ever so slightly, causing the faerie to scream in real agony. “This is a tender mercy. Stop whining, or I’ll put this dagger through your heart to shut you up.”
I’m not surprised when the faerie shuts his mouth and keeps his discomfort to mild whimpers from then on. If Nick had looked at me the same way he looked at that guy just now, I’d find a way to forget about the pain, too.
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“I …” Tasia paused, choosing her words with care this time. “My work with your Pack …” “Fuck the Pack.” His voice was very even. “This has nothing to do with the Pack. I’m talking
about us — you and me.”
more clearly. “There’s no us.”
been with me every step of the way.”
the edge of a precipice. She couldn’t discern his expression but she wondered what he read in hers, with his night eyes.
“Any time you’d like a demonstration, let me know” he remarked sardonically.
Tasia flushed. They’d been leading up to this moment, she realized. This was the dance he talked about. She should have put a stop to it before. Now, she’d have to defuse it carefully or the resulting conflagration would destroy her.
“I’ve been around the block a few times, witchling. You and I — we make our own fire, no tinder required. That’s not it. Something else has you stepping back. What is it?”
Tasia thought furiously, through the fog in her head. “You don’t get involved with Pack” she reminded him.
“I’m willing to make an exception for you” he said clearly.
when I thought you were in danger. What does that tell you, witchling?”
in the way of his responsibilities to his Pack or to her, no matter how bad things got between them. Then, something seemed to strike him. “Is it because I’m a Shifter?”
Tasia wondered wildly if he would accept that. Perhaps his pride would not let him pursue her if he believed that she wanted no part of a relationship with a Shifter. It would make her sound like a bigot. But she’d take that.
“Will you let this be if … if I have reservations about Shifters?” she asked hopefully.
“Hell no.” His response was immediate and forceful. “I’ll do my damnedest to change your mind.”
He frowned, something about her answer registering finally. “Is that what this is about — being with a Shifter?”
Again, he was forthright with his query, and Tasia realized she could not bring herself to lie to him. Like him, she too was willing to make an exception. For him.
“No” she admitted softly.
There was a short silence while Tasia tried to get her jumbled thoughts into order. The wild cacophony in her head was now so loud that it drowned out everything but his voice, even the gentle lap of water against the wall and the whoosh of the wind behind her.
“Let me simplify this for you” he said, the gold eyes holding her gaze. “Tell me what you want, and we go from there.”
“What I want?” Tasia repeated mechanically.
I can’t have what I want.
“Don’t tell me you don’t know what you want.” His eyes narrowed in the darkness.
Tasia shook her head, her eyes darting away as if to seek an escape. She’d have to walk away, she thought despairingly. She saw no other way out.
His initial fury having abated, Raoul was starting to use his connection to her, much as he had before, when he’d been so attuned to her unspoken words. He had realized it almost immediately, taking it in stride. He wondered if she had picked up on it yet.
“You told me once that you don’t run away” he reminded her, picking up hints of her roiling emotions.
Tasia said nothing.
“If you run from me because you don’t want to deal with whatever is between us, witchling, I will come after you.” His voice hardened as a spike of anger flared in him. “I won’t stand by again while you run recklessly into the fire.”
Tasia looked away from him. There seemed no way out of this impasse. He would not back away, not without an explanation from her. She could not give him one, not without endangering all sorts of secrets, and she was very much afraid that, unless she convinced him to walk away first, she’d eventually succumb to him.
Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire!
Raoul stared at her, puzzled by her inexplicable desire to deny that which sizzled like a living entity between them. He tried to piece together what he could sense from her.
Suddenly, it hit him. “You’re afraid!” he muttered incredulously.
This was the primary emotion he sensed from her, overriding everything else. He had sensed many emotions from her before but terror, the kind he sensed now, had thus far been reserved exclusively for the Clan.
She said nothing, neither confirming nor refuting his statement. Jolted, he took a step back. “Of what?”
The Blood Curse
The complete SPELL WEAVER Trilogy:
They came to the door of the ladies’ club and Ash reached for the handle. Before he could touch it, the door flew open and Lyre fell out, still dressed in the white waiter “uniform” and his arms full of his clothes and weapons. Shouts burst from the building’s interior.
“There you are!” Lyre blurted, wild-eyed. “Time to go.”
“What happened?” Ash barked.
Clio was still gawking when Lyre launched down the alley, leaving her and Ash to rush after him.
“Some women react poorly to rejection,” Lyre explained breathlessly. “Especially when they’ve paid a lot of money to not be rejected.”
“You blew your cover by rejecting her?” Ash snapped. They fled down several alleys before Lyre skidded to a stop and whirled on Ash, still clutching his belongings.
“I’ll dress up in stupid costumes,” the incubus snarled with unexpected temper, “and I’ll pretend to be a paid whore, and I’ll even let a crucial informant pinch and paw at me.” He thrust an accusatory finger at Ash. “But I will not allow that nasty old hag’s tongue anywhere near me, not even to save the damn world!”
Ash blinked. Scowling blackly, Lyre shoved his armload at Ash, then pulled a dagger from the pile and cut his leather-
strap top off. “Next time, you can do the nasty stuff and I’ll kill people.”
Ash blinked again, seemingly at a loss for words. Lyre continued to mutter angrily as he dragged the pants off and redressed in his black outfit. Clio stood a few steps away, her hand pressed over her mouth to hide her smile. Even with most of his face covered, Ash looked off-balance for the first time she could remember, a wrinkle between his dark eyebrows.
“Was she that disgusting?” he ventured, sounding a lot less like a hardened mercenary than usual. He normally seemed years older than Clio, but she was pretty sure he was actually a little younger.
“Worse,” Lyre growled. “Whatever you’re imagining as ‘disgusting,’ make it about ten times more revolting.”
The draconian winced as though he had pictured it, and the mental image had hurt. “I never saw her myself.”
Lyre slung his quiver over his shoulder and buckled it. “Be glad you didn’t.” His anger faded and he smirked. “It’s fine, Ash. Hardly the most scarring thing I’ve ever done. And”—his smile sharpened predatorily—“the banshee was a goldmine of information.”
“Good.” Ash straightened, all business again. “Then it’s time for phase two of the plan.”
The Soul Mender Trilogy
by R.S. Dabney
Genre: Urban Fantasy
The Soul Mender
The Soul Mender Trilogy Book 1
In a wild escape to avoid becoming the sixth victim of the elusive Rocky Mountain Murderer, twenty-two-year-old Riley Dale finds herself flung into a universe parallel to her own, where Las Vegas is known for its churches, terrorist attacks are initiated by the United States, and peace can be found in the darkest corners of the globe.
As the deadly visions that have haunted her since childhood become real, Riley is confronted with the implausible story of a world split in two and the stark contrast between good and evil in people she thought she knew.
Racing deeper into the mystery of the new world, Riley discovers the explosive truth about her ancestors who have been hunted for thousands of years because of a single mistake made long ago.
And now it’s her turn to pay for that blunder.
Pursued by both the government and a clandestine sect of assassins, Riley must ally with the only people in the parallel universe willing to keep her safe—the drug-addicted, prostituting other half of her soul, and the counter soul of a man who tortured and killed five young women.
Discover new worlds in this Kirkus Star Awarded (https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/rs-dabney/the-soul-mender/ ) book that is being called "not only highly entertaining, but profoundly edifying!"
Dark hair swirled around the faces of two figures looking down on the lights of a
city far below. They stood motionless on a precipice, unmoved by the wind and
pelting rain. Sharp daggers, gilded and set with precious stones, hung from
scabbards hidden beneath long coats that billowed with each gust.
“Does she know?” the smaller one asked, heavy-lidded eyes focused on the
“The old woman is afraid. She wants to protect her, but she knows what is at
stake,” the taller man replied. Golden rays flecked his eyes, mirroring a sun that
had yet to show its face.
“The Germans know where she hides,” the first said in a heavily accented
voice. “She will be dead within a fortnight. She may die before the secret can be
The tall man’s eyes flashed, but his face remained stoic. “The woman is
afraid, but she is not a fool. She will alert the girl in some way.”
Gazing toward an unknown future, their silent stares vanished into the
roaring sky. “It won’t be easy this time. The world is gearing up for war, and
they know this is their last chance. They’ll be desperate,” the short man said.
The tall figure nodded and turned, his trench coat fluttering.
“What now, Emir?” the man at the ledge asked.
“We wait,” the man called Emir replied, disappearing into the darkness. “We
wait until Riley Dale decides whether or not she values her life.”
The Peace Keeper
The Soul Mender Trilogy Book 2
Safe in her own world, Riley Dale should finally be able to put the horrifying experience in the parallel universe behind her. But as she processes recent events, business as usual is not an option. Her allies are still in big trouble.
To rescue her friends, Riley ventures back into the parallel world she had tried so hard to escape from. As her path winds through a maze of twisted history and familial legend, she finds herself blocked by both her attitude and insecurities, as well as by her enemies.
And those enemies are becoming desperate.
As each version of the world and her opponents grow more volatile, Riley must cast aside her own weakness and accept the mantle of Electa if she can ever hope to save humanity from a devastating end.
Tick, tick, tick. What must have been a clock counted away precious seconds
with a jarring noise, as if the long arm of time scraped in slow motion like nails
on a chalkboard. Shapeless shapes and hazy clouds morphed and changed colors
in her mind with each excruciating tick. But she remained frozen.
Occasionally, a new form emerged, a humanlike silhouette that hovered close
and danced for a moment in the world between sanity and whatever muted fog
she’d entered. Then came the darkness and the tick, tick, tick.
Finally, a day came when the shapes formed outlines, and the colors
remained static and sharp. The ticking sound blended into the rest of the waking
world, overshadowed by chirping birds and wind pressing through an open
window. Welcome sounds. Soft sounds. And the wavering human outline
appeared, and this time he had a face and didn’t bring with him a new cycle of
darkness and harsh noises.
Riley Dale stared up at the man, aware for the first time of her own body
lying on an old brass bed. A sticky cloth bandaged her head, and her arm was
wrapped in iodine-stained gauze. A temporary brace held one leg secure as
mysterious blue liquid dripped into her veins through an IV attached to her arm.
She coughed, hacking up green bile and pink clumps that she prayed weren’t
pieces of lung. The man held out a bowl, and she spit.
“Welcome back.” The old man stood by the bed, looking tired and wan.
She searched each wrinkle on his face, studying the way his jaw tightened
and unclenched, noting that any signs of age were intentionally misleading, not a
true indication of strength or ability. Her mind flashed back to the night she’d
staggered to his porch and asked for help. She’d told him everything, and he’d
confirmed that he was indeed her grandmother’s Custos.
Michael Flynn stared down at her sympathetically, removing the bandages
from her head and forearm.
“How long was I out?” she asked.
“A week.” He wiped the wounds clean and applied a fresh coat of antibiotic
ointment. “You needed to heal.”
She tried to sit upright but felt weak and dizzy. Her head raced, and her leg
still throbbed, but the physical pain was insignificant compared to the anguish of
wasting a week doing nothing.
Resting her head back onto the pillow, she let out a slow breath and nodded
at the leg. “Is it broken?”
“No. The bone was bruised but intact. Once you feel strong again, you won’t
have a problem walking.”
Riley sighed and peered out the window. Leaves rustled in the breeze, and
for a moment she felt comfort knowing she was back in her world. But then
Ezra’s determined stare and Oz’s angry scowl flashed through her mind as she
recalled the SUV plummeting into danger to save her life.
And all she’d done to assist was lie in bed.
“I have to help them.” She pushed herself into a seated position and met
Michael’s eyes. They seemed to burn with a new intensity, as though the
smoldering amber coals had finally found enough oxygen to burst into flames.
“Yes.” He nodded. “You do. But you couldn’t have accomplished anything in
your former condition. You are stronger now.”
Riley touched the spot on her forehead where she’d hit the dresser when the
bad half of Zachary Stone had tried to kill her. No more oozing, pus-filled
laceration—just a clean patch of scarred flesh. She caught a glimpse of
Michael’s concerned stare but kept her gaze on the bedsheets. His eyes carried
too many terrible thoughts. Too many excruciating conclusions. Gabe. Pain
clenched in her stomach.
“Have you heard from him?” she asked.
Michael dabbed a wet cloth to her forehead and handed her a small pill. “He
hasn’t checked in yet. I’m sorry, Riley. Gabe is strong. He always finds a way
Riley swallowed the medicine, fighting tears. “Do my parents know I’m
“Not yet. I thought you should recover first before deciding if you want to
bring them into this. If you really mean to save your friends and complete your
mission, you will have to disappear. They would lose you all over again. That
decision is yours to make, not mine.”
Almost immediately, Riley felt her lids growing heavy from the medication
in her system. Never mind the weight of the task—really the weight of the world
—resting on her shoulders if she chose to be the Electa. Michael Flynn pressed a
comforting hand on hers before he slipped from the room. She drifted back into
the unconscious world, thinking only of her friends and all the people who
needed to be saved.
The World Binder
The Soul Mender Trilogy Book 3
Riley’s allies are scattered, broken, or dead. In one universe, an army stands ready to destroy the East. In the other, a biological weapon threatens to wipe out the West. Despite the looming devastation, she is no closer to restoring balance to humanity.
As Riley trains to use the ring her grandmother left her and works to find a way to bind the worlds, terrifying new visions plague her. Unearthed betrayals lead Riley to painful truths and hopeless revelations about those she thought she could trust.
Even about people she loves.
As her enemies circle and her friends falter, Riley must race to find answers lost to ancient memory in the sands surrounding what was once the Garden of Eden. Healing the world may demand she sacrifice all she holds dear—even her own chance to witness the peace she’s fought so hard for.
Disguised in the signature black robe of the ancient assassin clan, Gabriel Hart
pulled his hood lower around his face and remained still. Dread, dark as the
robes and minds of the men surrounding him, pumped through his veins. Cheers
that mutated into a low chanting erupted from the crowd, bouncing back and
forth against the rock walls of the Jondi-Al-Haqq’s underground chamber.
Behind Emir, the leader of this clandestine group, the multitude parted as blackclad
assassins came forward, dragging two frightened prisoners.
Abigail Weaver’s dark skin lay shrunken against her emaciated body. Her
eyes were hollowed-out orbs of fear. Months of torment and neglect hung on her
like a shroud. Kiersten Dale appeared less gaunt, having been a more recent
capture. Her blond hair lay tangled across her face. Splotches of dirt accented
her cheeks. Raw terror radiated from her being, but she was still alert.
Riley’s sister and her best friend. Gabe swallowed and took a step forward,
knowing what their deaths would mean in the scope of this great mission.
The assassins strung the young women up on the posts and began pouring oil
over the wood at their feet. Silent tears fell from Abby’s vacant eyes, and for a
moment, Gabe felt them fall upon him. He looked back at her through the
secrecy of his hood. The chanting grew louder.
“Abigail Weaver and Kiersten Dale, you will die today because of your
friend and sister’s unwillingness to save you. Riley Dale was given the
opportunity to turn herself over and take your places, but she refused that offer.
It is not us who kill you today but the cowardice of your loved one. Your hate
and anger are just. You two do not deserve death, but Riley has forced our hand.
Direct these last moments of anger at the real one who has failed you. Godspeed
to you both into whatever afterlife awaits you.”
A pair of assassins emerged from the chanting crowd, each carrying a
flaming torch. As they walked to the center of the room, Gabe closed his eyes,
took a deep breath, and prayed for strength beyond what he’d ever mustered in
his long life.
“You? It can’t be. You Judas son of a bitch. You betrayed her.”
Gabe’s eyes snapped open at the sound of the familiar voice. He spun his
gaze to the side and there she was: Riley Dale, or at least some version of her,
storming forward. Rage and terror etched the creases of her face. Her goldenbrown
hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail. Fury swirled in her green eyes.
He recognized one of the torchbearers and felt matching anger erupt through his
body. Tariq Zaman, one of their good friends, turned his back on Riley and
touched the impatient flame of his torch to the waiting oil. Fire erupted across
the wood. The screams of the girls twisted with the smoke into the air.
Riley sprinted toward Tariq, but as she jumped to attack him, Gabe flung his
body forward, knocking her to the stone floor. Her head slammed into the
ground, and as her image faded from sight, he locked eyes with her, hoping she
caught his pleading stare before she vanished. For a split second, he gazed at the
floor, but the piercing shrieks of the two girls yanked him back to the present.
The time to think had passed. Gabe shut his eyes and materialized at the base
of Kiersten’s pyre, grimacing as flames lapped onto his own robe and clawed
hungrily at the flesh around his ankles. He grabbed Kiersten’s hands and in an
instant transported her from the hot breath of death’s mouth to a vacant spot
behind of the crowd of assassins.
The room fell silent, except for a few startled inhalations. Hooded faces
stared at the empty stake in the center of the room where the black-robed figure
touched by flames had just snatched their prisoner before disappearing. As fire
licked higher up Gabe’s robes, he closed his eyes and reappeared next to the
second stake, grabbing Abby’s gaunt hands and vanishing again, only to
reappear on the far edge of the cavern, far from where he had left Riley’s sister.
By now his entire robe was ablaze, and he threw it from his body, scattering
the closest group of men. His white undershirt clung to his skin, soaked through
with perspiration. Charred holes and flaps of fabric adorned his pants. Burns
needled the flesh on his lower limbs. He winced.
“Gabe?” Abby’s question came out in a dazed whisper.
“Stay down. I’ll be back.” He shoved her to the ground and then disappeared
as the first dagger flew, zinging through the emptiness he’d just vacated to clatter
off the stone wall. As Gabe reemerged next to Riley’s terrified sister, he felt
something tear across the flesh of his back. Grabbing Kiersten’s hands, he
transported her up into the main entryway of the Jondi mansion, far above
ground. He left Kiersten in the empty foyer and reentered the chamber below,
where he’d left Riley’s best friend. She was nowhere to be seen.
Desperately searching for Abby, Gabe ducked and rolled as more daggers
flew. He heard Emir’s booming voice echoing to “kill the Custos.” Exhausted,
Gabe’s mind flashed back to many years before when a mob of black had rained
down upon him—black so heavy, it reduced him to nothingness. Not the time for
He darted as the nearest assassin slashed at his abdomen. Twisting toward the
edge of the cavern, Gabe spotted her. Despite months of captivity, Abby had
found the strength to crawl along the edge of the wall, trying to avoid detection.
And it seemed to be working, as every other pair of eyes was trained
malevolently on Gabriel Hart.
Thinking of Kiersten alone in the hall above, Gabe offered a silent curse in
his head to the man who was supposed to be protecting her. If you’re not already
dead, Raphael, I’ll kill you when I get out of here. Another dagger found his
flesh, this time at the back of his calf. He let out a frustrated grunt and then
reappeared next to Abby’s retreating form. He grabbed onto her as she let out her
own scream of pain, and focused on the entryway above.
He’d been gone too long. Beneath the towering ceiling and marbled
columns, two assassins stood with Kiersten between them, one with a dagger to
her throat, the other with his dagger across her abdomen. Gabe held a wounded
Abby, who clutched at the place in her ribs where red was spreading like an
unwelcome rash. His heart pounded as blood pumped from his own wounds.
“You may save that girl,” one of the men said in his thick Arabic accent.
“But we will kill the other. As soon as you vanish to come for her, our blades
will move as well. Either way, this is the end for Riley Dale. You have failed,
Custos. Once again, you have failed.”
Gabe set Abby gently on the floor, trying desperately to formulate a plan that
ended in Kiersten reuniting with her sister. But exhaustion clouded his brain.
Everything was just a little out of focus.
“Gabe,” Kiersten said, her green eyes sparkling with tears. “Save Abby.
Please. I will be okay, but don’t let anything happen to her.”
“Riley will never forgive me.” Gabe’s heart tightened at Kiersten’s
composure and bravery, and at the notion that even if he rescued one of these
two girls, Riley would forever blame him for the loss of the other.
“Gabe.” This time Kiersten’s voice was higher, more urgent. “They’re
coming. Get Abby out now!”
He spun around as what looked like a colony of rabid bats hurtled toward
them from the hallway. Black fabric billowed in a deadly storm of assassins.
Gabe bent down, picked up Abby, and turned a solemn face toward Kiersten.
Their eyes met. He felt his own grow large. A figure appeared behind Kiersten
and the two assassins, simultaneously plunging a knife through each of her
captor’s throats. The daggers aimed at Riley’s sister clattered to the ground as
the men holding them fell to their knees.
Gabe felt rage and relief as the newcomer grabbed Kiersten. But before he
could act, the angry mob had reached his position and buried another dagger into
his flesh. Gabe slammed his eyes shut, held Abby tightly, and focused on the
Sham Al Basra hotel, praying Ezra would be waiting in the room, ready to help.
About the Author
Debut author R.S. Dabney’s passion for reading, writing, and exploring thrilling stories about unlikely heroes conquering evil started at a young age, culminating in the completion of her first novel, The Soul Mender, book one in The Soul Mender Trilogy. Her favorite books span every genre and she likes to describe her own work as having something for everyone—a sprinkle of suspense, a dash of adventure, and a whole lot of good versus evil.
R.S. grew up running around the red rocks and ravines in the deserts of southern Utah, building forts, fighting battles, and living the lives of all the characters she and her friends created. An avid lover of all things nature and the outdoors, R.S. attended Texas A&M University where she majored in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and minored in Park and Natural Resource Management. She worked for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for three years before leaving to pursue her dream of writing a novel.
She currently lives in the Big Bend region of Texas with her husband, two dogs, and cat. When she isn’t lost in another dimension creating havoc for her characters and stories, she enjoys mountain biking, exploring the desert, and eating way too much Mexican food.
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by Samaire Provost
Publication date: January 24th 2018
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy
In an abandoned warehouse in Manhattan, two enemies battle to the death, while outside, a malevolent entity watches and waits and plots, eager for blood. On an island in the heart of Seattle, an immortal princess struggles to lead a normal life just as a flood of terrifying creatures starts to pour in through a portal that should not be there. A young man meets a classmate while walking home from the college library, and embarks on the most dangerous adventure he’s ever known – will he survive? A deranged madman hunts the girl he’s lusted after for a century, in a relentless pursuit for vengeance. A prehistoric, mythical beast jealously guards a primeval land, which is leaking into present-day Seattle. A sweet, forbidden passion blossoms between two lovers who steal moments whenever they can, while unbeknownst to them, they’re hunted by a deadly creature.
A royal family threatened at its weakest – yet lethal in its own right – is stalked by an ancient evil that will not rest until they are utterly destroyed: a nightmare incarnate that has waited millions of years for revenge threatens the very existence of the young lovers and their family.
Will they prevail?
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Vampires and magic, dragons and time portals, romance and death, this book will suck you in and the ending will have you gasping, “What?”
The beginning starts with a battle to the death, then it starts to slow down as a love blossoms. However, don’t get too comfortable because there is a monster hiding in the darkness, one who has waited millions of years for his revenge. This monster is what gave me the biggest surprise in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed discovering his history.
I also liked the history of the family featured in the book. Knowing who they are, it’s not a surprise that the evil man who brought their family down is a vampire. Quite poetic, actually, considering he could be compared to one in real life.
An enjoyable read, Romanov will have you wishing to explore more of the world they discover outside their own realm.
About the Author:
Samaire Provost lives in California with her husband and son.
Her love of paranormal stories, odd plots, and unique tales as well as the works of Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Susan Cooper, Madeleine L’Engle and Stephen King has deeply influenced her writing.
The Man From Rome
by Dylan James Quarles
Genre: Urban Fantasy
From the author of the highly rated Ruins Of Mars Trilogy:
Rome is a city like no other, protected by a man like no other.
He is the unnamed Immortal, the Man from Rome, and he is under attack.
An agent of his secret order has been murdered, her tongue ripped out, her throat coated in molten silver. The killing is meant to be a message, a warning that old enemies have resurfaced to punish the Man for the sins of his past.
Forced to retaliate, the Man sets in motion a sequence of events which pit an American thief, a Roman policewoman, a heartless mercenary, and a fallen Olympian against one another in all-out war. The streets of Rome become a battleground where the supernatural clash with the mortal, and the Eternal City bears witness to yet another chapter in its storied history of violence.
Vengeance reigns supreme in this, the newest Novel from Dylan James Quarles.
I absolutely LOVED this book. So much mystery, so much adventure, and the suspenseful scenes were written marvelously, with lots of action. What’s even better? There’s going to be another book! Yes, lots of mystery still to be discovered. I can’t wait. I need to know who The Man is!
The Man from Rome, the actual man, was the most intriguing character. I can’t really say a lot about him because we don’t know much, but he definitely made this book.
I loved Cato and hope to see him again. I’m not sure if we will, but he is a noteworthy character. There was a lot going on with him. He discovered that his life was not what he thought it was and dealt with many twists and surprises. I still have some questions about him that I hope will be answered in the next book.
Louisa, there is still a lot of mystery with her, too. She’s very smart, calculating, and seems to know what she wants. However, some of that slips in the story. She seems to go back and forth on certain aspects. Thankfully, we should see her again!
Mr. Hannity was very cut and dry—a mercenary. He thrived on battle and bloodshed.
Then we have the mythological characters. I don’t want to give that away, just be prepared for some paranormal aspects.
I have to point out that there are lots of spelling and grammar errors. However, it did not distract from the story. I repeat: it did not distract from the story. There’s just so much going on, the buildup was amazing, and again, the mystery will drive you to read faster.
About the Author
Dylan was born in Portland OR but moved to Washington state as a young boy. Growing up in a small town on the Olympic Peninsula, he spent most of his youth involved in various creative projects.
With a passion for films, music and writing, Dylan even had the honor of being featured in the Port Townsend Film Festival for his short film "La Niut Des Vampires".
After high school, he attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia where he directed two more films, "Resurrected", and "House On The Borderland".
Graduating a year early with a BA in film, he moved to South Korea and taught English in an after school academy. Deeply impacted by the experience, he returned to the States a much different person than when he left.
Shortly there after, work began on The Ruins Of Mars Trilogy and the next chapter of Dylan's life opened wide.
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by Sierra Cross
(Coven of Fire, #1)
Publication date: June 15th 2017
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy
I closed the door on magic long ago…the day it made me an orphan.
Ten years ago, the Coven of Fire sacrificed their lives—my mother among them—to hold off an overwhelming demonic force. Now it’s back.
As a poorly-paid bartender, how can any of this be my problem? But Callie, another orphan of that battle, swears I’m the key to reviving the coven. And there’s an incredibly sexy guardian stranded on my couch who’s promising to help me stop the demons and keep the veil between the realms standing.
One problem: I’ve never been able to use magic. Our local bad boy warlock assures me I have the talent, but even if I did, we don’t have enough witches to complete a coven. The only way to survive is to pull together this pack of magicborn misfits, who have more secrets than spells, into a makeshift coven.
Can we—three untrained witches, a sarcastic warlock, and an overly intense guardian—take back the city…before the demongate falls and the forces that killed my mother destroy us too?
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This was a fun and intriguing read, different from what I usually go for but I wanted to try something different :) I'll admit I did have to flip back and forth to the glossary quite a bit so I could follow along in certain parts, but was happy the author included it as it was quite helpful!
This Paranormal had a bit of everything: witches and warlocks as well as ghosts and demons. It was an interesting mix and I couldn't wait to finish to get to the bottom of the mystery! Alix and Matt made a good team and I enjoyed their side of the story. There's a twist in the story that had me surprised but worked well with the storyline.
I give this 4 stars!
Spells and skyscrapers. Warriors and warlocks. Coven secrets and forbidden romances. Sierra Cross lives for urban fantasy, for modern magic and the bold supernatural beings who stalk our contemporary world. Her Spelldrift universe stars kickass witches and their heroic guardians, as well as vampires, shifters, mages, Fidei, and the dark demonic forces that threaten them all.
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