Blood

Adventure sizzles between mortal enemies who become lovers on the run.

JULY 30, 2013 
The Dragon Kings, Book Two
Pocket Books

Print ISBN: 978-1451695922
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Digital ISBN: 978-1451695953
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As a young man, sarcastic, violent Tallis Pendray believed the Dragon Kings’ survival depended on a prophecy delivered in dreams by a woman named “the Sun.” His role has been to complete inexplicable, even reprehensible tasks. First, by murdering a priest, he united his fragmented clan in their hatred of him. Dubbed “the Heretic,” Tallis fled his family’s Highland estate. Now disillusioned, he seeks revenge on the woman he holds responsible for two decades of exile.

Telepath Kavya Indranan is a charismatic, seductive cult leader born to a prominent family. However, she grew up terrorized by the ominous threat of her powerful, insane twin brother. On the run and hiding among the poor, she witnessed the destruction wrought by her clan’s centuries-old civil war. Maturity nurtures Kavya’s determination to end the cycle of bloodshed. Those who follow her call for peace have nicknamed her “the Sun.”

Bent on revenge, and without knowledge of Kavya’s noble intentions, Tallis kidnaps her on the eve of her groundbreaking announcement. The two watch in horror as her twin brutally smashes the tentative truce…and hunts the sister whose death would make him invincible.

Kavya is the Sun–revered, untouched, and bound by a lonely destiny that promises a deadly showdown against the last of her family. Tallis is the Heretic–despised and exiled because of actions that seem random, heartless, and contrary to the safety of the clans he protects. She’s not a goddess, and he’s not a natural born killer. A desperate trek from the Himalayan foothills to the Scottish Highlands reveals two secluded souls hidden by bloody reputations. Will their trust be strong enough to avert an all-out war that could destroy them, and their kind, forever?

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“The romance is swoonworthy, the sexual tension is red-hot, and it’s suggested you find a chunk of free time or you’ll be reading long into the night, unwilling to put this book down.” ~ RT Book Reviews, 4½ Stars Top Pick

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Excerpt

Tallis shed his heavy leather jacket and levered over where Kavya, the legendary goddess known as the Sun, sprawled on the ground sheltered by the canvas tent. He wore sturdy military-style cargo pants, while she wore only a silken sari. She would be able to feel his desire taking physical form.

“Should I kiss you again?” He only touched her from the waist down, where he used the weight of his lower body as more threat than seduction. Arms straight, he braced his hands on either side of her head. “I’d learn secrets about the Sun you’re too arrogant to admit possessing.”

“More of the so-called justice you seek? I’ve done nothing to you!”

“You know my weaknesses better than I do. Every fantasy–even those I can’t arrange into thought.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You’ve used that knowledge against me for years,” he said, voice deepening with anger. “If I resisted, you invaded dream after dream like some Dragon-damned monster. You’d raid another corner of my mind to find more secrets.” He was still aroused. Kissing her had been calculated, but he’d been swept into the vortex where fantasy swirled with reality. “Is it any surprise that I desire you in person?”

“You have the only mind I’ve never been able to read. How could I have done anything to your dreams?”

A clamor of voices came from beyond the tent’s dingy white canvas. For a moment Tallis thought she’d managed to telepathically call for help, but she wore no expression of triumph. Then came more voices, more chaos.

He edged away and grabbed the deadly Norse seaxes he’d kept out of her reach.

His sense of hearing gave away her attack from behind, as Kavya swung a cooking pot. The determination and, frankly, the vehemence in her glittering brown eyes was pure surprise. Ropes around her ankles meant she had one chance before losing her balance, but she made the most of it. The bulk of the pot hit his shoulder. One seax with its etched blade and honed edge skidded along the bare rock floor.

She rolled onto her back and grabbed the hilt in both bound hands. A quick slice parted the ropes at her ankles. She spun so that she knelt again, bloodying her knees. Shins braced against the ground gave her more stability. The split skirt of her sari bared the sleek skin of her thigh.

Although his shoulder ached, Tallis could only grin. “I’d hoped there was more to you than words and specters.”

“Why would you think that of someone you kidnapped and profess to hate?”

Her eyes were bright and widely spaced, wedded to the high, rounded apples of her cheeks. She had a tiny nose and a chin that, for all her defiance, was softly shaped. Tallis shivered. This was her, really her, not the witch who’d infected his dreams for two decades. The real Sun, this woman Kavya, was the perfect compromise between truth and fantasy, virgin and whore–a bound innocent holding his blade.

Although she remained still, she vibrated with near-visible energy. Tallis could practically smell the heady cologne of her fear and focus. Her telepathic seductions were vile, but the surprising resilience of her fighting spirit made him smile more deeply.

“I like to think,” he said, “that when I break you, I’ll have broken someone who deserved the worst I can dish out. Seems you’re in the mood to make me a happy man.”

“Happy? I want you dead.” A look a horror crossed her face. She inhaled sharply, which lifted the supple curve of breasts draped in silk.

Tallis chuckled. “You didn’t mean to say that, did you?”

Exaggerating the ache in his shoulder, crouching before her, he shifted his weight onto the balls of his feet. Rather than leap, he leaned and swept his right leg. The toe of his boot caught behind her upper thigh with a hard kick. He yanked. Between the blow and the pull, she fell hard onto her side.

She coughed, struggling for air. He pushed forward with two crouched strides and snatched the stolen blade from her bound hands.

“The Sun can fight. Gratifying, but it won’t change anything.” The gathering ferment outside the tent caught his attention again. “Stay. Unless you want to remain unaware of what’s happening amongst your flock.”

Her mouth was . . . gorgeous. There was no other word. Bee-stung lips twisted into a sneer. “Do it.”

“That’s the only command of yours I’ll obey.”

Intending to piss her off, he took one more taste of the lips he’d never believed could be real. Seeing her in the flesh, tasting and smelling and touching her–those intimacies made her night visits more ephemeral. They were mere shadows compared to the sweet bitterness of the kiss he took without permission.

She bit him. Tallis reared back. He swiped a hand against his mouth and came away with blood.

“That wasn’t very nice, goddess.” But he was still grinning.

Both seaxes firmly grasped, Tallis peered outside again. Dusk approached to take the place of full sunlight. Amiable pods of Indranan had been gathered around their fire pits. Now they hurried around wearing frightened expressions.

Strange.

Tallis’s own clan, the Pendray, were generally insane and suffered from historic self-esteem issues, but at least they displayed what they felt without pretense. They were boisterous and unapologetic. The Indranan, however, were made of mystery. To see the camp transformed into a frenzied, buzzing collection of scared souls was shocking–so many emotions laid surprisingly bare.

“Let me go,” came the persuasive voice at his back. “Whatever grudge you hold against me, you know I can calm them.”

“No. Their panic will remain unaddressed by their savior. Seeing you discredited and ruined has always be my goal, no matter how much I like kissing you.”

The fervor outside the tent died down, but only because hurrying worshipers had frozen solid. Their attention was focused on the altar.

Tallis narrowed his eyes. A man stood where Kavya had delivered her morning benediction. He was tall, with commanding presence. His hair was brown, his features sharp, his clothing black on black. Among those gathered in the valley, his layers of leather and protective plates of silver armor stood out like a burn on a child’s skin.

No matter Tallis’s grudge against the Sun and her cult, this stranger was pure violence.

“You were expecting someone else,” the man intoned, his words hypnotic. They echoed back across the valley in a one-two punch of spellbinding power. “You were expecting a savior. I’m here to say there is no such thing. And there’s no such thing as reconciliation between the Northern and Southern factions of Clan Indranan. There never will be.”

Tallis grabbed Kavya by her hair and dragged her to the tent’s opening. Her face went chalk white. The paleness looked sick and unnatural on a Dragon King, and especially eerie when it leeched the soft charisma of her beauty.

“Who is that?” Tallis was more disturbed that he would have liked, but the unexpected was always a threat.

“That.” She swallowed. “That is Pashkah of the Northern Indranan. My brother.”