Excerpt: Darkness Seduced

Excerpt: Darkness Seduced

Book 2: Order of the Blade

Lily ducked past her assailant and sprinted up the cement stairs, her bare feet slapping on the concrete, her heart thundering in her ears as she vaulted up the steps toward the open door. She jumped through it then whirled around and threw it shut, catching a glimpse of the Calydon warrior as he came after her. She slammed the bolt home then tore down the hallway. There was a shuddering explosion behind her as the Calydon burst through the wooden door. She skidded around a corner as her mind whirred. She’d never make it to the kitchen. She needed to stall him—

She screamed as a heavy, sweaty body tackled her and her chin smashed on the wood floor. Her head rattled with the impact as she was flung onto her back, and Lily saw the Calydon leer at her chest. Lust flared in his eyes, the raw, uncontrollable sexual greed of a Calydon. She jerked her gaze down and realized he’d torn her shirt when he’d tackled her.

Terror, raw visceral terror, tore through Lily, and for a split second, she was too numb to move, too terrified by the memories, by the moment, by what had happened before. Just like this. Again. God, not again.

He reached for her breast, and the sight of that hand coming toward her jerked Lily out of her stupor and galvanized her into frantic self-defense, a chance she hadn’t had all those years ago. “No!” she screamed. She slammed her foot into his crotch as hard as she could.

Her attacker shouted and doubled over, and Lily scrambled out from under him, lurching to her knees—

He grabbed her ankle and dragged her back toward him, his grip crushing her leg. “I have to bring you back alive and able to perform,” he ground out as he tried to catch his breath from her blow. “But those are all the limitations I have on what I do with you.”

She fought, she kicked, she tried everything, and she was no match for his strength as he yanked her across the floor, back toward him, toward the lust gleaming in his eye—

Oh, crap. His eyes. They were glowing red, pulsating with evil, and her heart stuttered.

He’d gone rogue. He’d crossed the line from sanity into raging, crazed killer, a beast who would feel no pain, have no empathy, ravage mercilessly until there was nothing left. There was no compassion, no humanity left in this warrior. No matter what his orders, she was doomed now. He wouldn’t be able to stop himself.

Again. It would all happen again. Just like before—

“Get off me,” Lily screamed, scrabbling desperately for a handhold to try to get away from him. Her fingers hit a table leg and a cord. Tears streaking down her cheeks, she yanked on the cord and coveredher face as a lamp crashed down on both of them, shattering glass everywhere. Oblivious to the glass, he grabbed her other calf and hauled her until her legs were around his waist, her back slicing across the broken glass as she fought him, desperate, frantic—

“Get the fuck off her!” An enraged bellow blasted through the hallway.

Her attacker didn’t even flinch, lunging for her skirt with the furious insanity of a rogue Calydon. She pounded on his shoulders, then heard the whoosh of wind behind her. Lily looked up as a throwing axe spun past her head and slammed into her assailant’s chest. The fatal blow flung him backward against the wall, a gaping wound opening over his heart.

Lily scrambled back, barely noticing the glass sinking into her hands and her feet as she struggled to get away from him. He hit the floor with a thud, and the axe yanked itself out of his body and sped back past her head. She heard the slap of it hitting someone’s palm.

Another Calydon.

She whirled around, and her breath caught. At the end of the hall stood the largest Calydon she’d ever seen. He had to be close to seven feet, and he was wearing all black, even his heavy boots and his tee shirt that barely covered his broad shoulders.

Everything was dark about him, except his dusty blond hair hanging raggedly about his angular face and the shiny metal throwing axe in his right hand, stained with blood on one of its blades.

His face was wrenched with fury, his blue eyes raging, his stance wide and ready, prepared to take on all threats. He was darkness, he was danger, and he was death.

His eyes weren’t red, but Lily could sense he was far more dangerous than the Calydon that lay motionless behind her. This new warrior radiated danger and heat and something she couldn’t identify. Something that eased the terror beating at her. Something that calmed her need to flee. Something that made her want to rush over to him and throw herself in his arms, just to feel his body against hers…

Oh, crap. What was wrong with her?

He held up a hand for her silence and cocked his head, and Lily realized he was listening for others. Oh, God. Others?

She lurched to her feet, staggeringas a wave of dizziness caught her and she nearly went down. She braced her hands against the wall, holding herself up as she stumbled away from him, toward the kitchen. Glass cut through her feet, and a cry of pain slipped out.

“Lily!” he commanded. “Don’t move!”

Lily? He knew who she was? Was he also working with Frank? Had he killed her rogue assailant to ensure she made it back to Frank?

The Calydon was striding toward her, his face dark with fury. Energy was swirling off him, and his well-defined muscles were taut with rage. He was terrifying, but at the same time… he was pure, elemental beauty. He was pure grace, remindingLily of a wild cat loaded with sinewy muscle and a lightning-fast strike that would bring instant death to his enemies, but one that would curl around her and protect her, keeping her safe, claws safely sheathed just for her.

He was all male, a testosterone-laden specimen of strength and aggression, a threat to all she was as a woman. He was ruthless temptation calling to her deepest, darkest desires, the ones she’d hidden away even from herself. In his presence, everything that made her female flared to life, longing for this man, this warrior, this enemy.

Lily backed up as he neared, holding out her hand in a pathetically useless attempt to stop him.

“My name’s Gideon. I’m here for you.” His voice was forceful and unyielding, but to her surprise, he eased himself to a stop several yards away from her. He spread his hands as if he were trying to appear harmless. Hah. There was no chance he could ever be mistaken for anything harmless, and it wasn’t simply the weapon in his right hand or the axe-shaped brands burned into his forearms. Danger bled from his pores, darkened his expression, weighted his broad shoulders. “Don’t run,” he said. “You’ll slice your feet.”

There was no remorse in his face for the body on the ground behind her, yet at the same time, heated desire brimmed in his eyes as he studied her intensely. He was a Calydon, a warrior of hot passions and cold death, both of them hopelessly intertwined. His overwhelming presence was stirring up heated feelings of longing deep within her, even as her heart froze in fear at all he was, for how her life could fall at his hands in a split second.

Lily tugged her torn shirt closed over her chest, knowing it would do nothing to protect her from the raw sensuality pulsing from him, from the painfully intense yearnings rising within her, responding to his call, desperate to fall into the fire he was already kindling between them.

She’d met dozens of Calydons in the past. She’d always felt their pulsing sexuality, their intense stares that made desire rush through her, preying on her heritage and how it called her to their kind, but this was different . With all those others, she hadn’t felt anything for them. It had been easy to turn them away, to ignore the beastly desires of her kind.

But Gideon was different. He was stripping her raw, branding her with his gaze, making her body ache with need for him, for all that he was and could offer her.

His eyes darkened, and she knew he could sense her reaction, the need pulsing so strongly within her.

Her cheeks flared with embarrassment, and she began to slide along the wall away from him, using it as a support to keep herself vertical. She winced as her foot landed on something sharp, and she jerked her foot off the floor, brushing off the glass by running her foot over her calf.

Gideon’s jaw tightened, and his hand went up, as if to grab her, but he stopped himself when she flinched. “Lily. There are more Calydons outside that my teammate is dealing with.” There was an urgency to his voice. “We need to go.” He snapped his fingers impatiently. “Come on. Now.”

Lily gritted her teeth against the almost uncontrollable urge to drop her shields and bolt into his arms. To give herself over to him. Gideon was death, but he was also temptation. As she stared at the hand he was holding out to her, she felt an unshakeable conviction that he was her sanctuary. For the first time in years, she could be safe, if she would just reach out and take what he offered, his violence, his sensuality, his overwhelming desire, his protection.

But she’d trusted Nate when he’d invited her into his house so she could interview him for her latest research project, and she’d wound up his captive for two years. Despite all Lily knew about Calydons, she’d forgotten all her lessons and walked into Nate’s house and paid dearly for it. She wasn’t stupid enough to trust a Calydon again.

Never, ever again.

Not even the warrior who’d killed to save her. Next time, it could be she who fell victim to Gideon’s weapon. Or it could be Gideon who turned that uncontrollable lust onto her.

And if he didn’t turn on her next time, he would eventually. Of that, Lily had no doubt. The warrior standing before her was her salvation, her passion, and also her ultimate destruction.

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