"This. This book... It was perfect...My heart raced the entire way through! And oh, THE TENSION! THE TENSION!... I was more than broken... tears flowed from my eyes... outstanding... phenomenal... Stunning."Goodreads Reviewer
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"Our love could save us both. Or it could destroy everything."
Leila McKay is both blessed and cursed. Her potent serryn powers are growing stronger, but they come with a heavy price. And to prove her love for vampire leader Caleb, she needs to bring his murdered brother Jake back to life. The only way is to cast a spell no one has dared to attempt before, that could tear apart the fabric of time itself…
But Caleb fears that treachery runs deep in Leila’s veins. Although the heat between them grows hotter by the second, Caleb’s past has left him with a hard heart and a mistrustful nature, and it was at her sister’s hands that Jake was killed… but with his brother’s life in the balance, giving in to his primal instincts is more tempting than ever.
Time is running out for Caleb. In a matter of hours, Jake will be past the point of saving: and around them, all-out war rages in Blackthorn. With genetically modified lycans and vicious convicts roaming the streets, Sirius Throme at the Global Council has secret plans that threaten to devastate the whole district… and Leila is the only one powerful enough to save them all. But can Caleb really trust her?
With countless lives at stake, will Leila and Caleb’s fierce attraction be strong enough to see them through the ultimate test? Or in unleashing the darkness within, will they destroy everything they hold dear?
The explosive, action-packed conclusion to the utterly addictive Blackthorn series will leave fans of paranormal romance breathless. Blackthorn is an eight-book series with an overarching plot, so if you’re at the start of your Blackthorn journey, read BLOOD SHADOWS to discover how it all began…
Readers have been left absolutely breathless by Blood Broken:
"Incredible… wonderful… The ultimate emotional rollercoaster, with twists and turns you never see coming… A gripping story of epic proportions… I absolutely loved it… superb… worth so much more than the 5 stars I can give." Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
"Five Platinum Diamond encrusted stars!!... Be still my very beating heart Blood Broken is absolutely fantastic!... I’m completely breathless." Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
"WOW just freaking WOW… enthralling, thrilling, spell-binding, captivating… so many twists… a huge roller coaster… I am just stumped for words… I am totally in awe of this awesome, amazing author… Five Humongous Stars" Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
"I thought that this book was excellent!!... I was hooked right from the first few pages!... a brilliant story and I loved every page… I loved it… completely addictive!!" Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
"Blood Broken took me on a rollercoaster of a ride… a heart-pounding, thrilling journey… amazing… loved every second… Highly highly recommend." Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
"My favourite ever book series… electrifying." Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
"I was glued to my Kindle… HOT character chemistry, mystery, lust, love, tears… I absolutely loved it… Highly recommend this book, this series and this author!" Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
"A definite 5 out of 5 stars!!... Utterly gripping finale!... An absolute page turner that I couldn’t put down… I cannot praise it enough… superb." Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
"I absolutely LOVE this series… amazing… I just can’t put into words how much I loved it." Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
Release date: May 20, 2019
Print pages: 502
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Lindsay J. Pryor
With dedications to:
My Dad. I wish you could have seen me published, especially after all those years I tortured you and Mum with that electronic typewriter. Well, I did it. It took thirty years, but I made it. Nine books published now, and two more to come. I listened to you: I pursued my dreams. I’m making every second count and I will keep going for as long as I can – just like you did. You never gave up, so neither will I.
For Tilly, my very special girl and writing companion throughout Blackthorn. My writing days will never ever be the same without you. No one could have loved you more than us.
My baby. I wish I could have got to know you for more than that short time. If you’d ever been given the chance to grow up, I think there would have been a lot of Tuly in you. I know I would have been the proudest mum ever.
And to Shelley, one of my amazing readers who loved this series but never made it to read this final book. Meeting Sara was an honour, Shelley. I could see how much she loved you.
With special thanks to:
My incredible readers. The letter I wrote is to you. I say everything there.
My social media followers. For your support, your encouragement, your kindness, your fantastic sense of fun and for being a voice in what would otherwise be silence; thank you for giving up your time to interact with me.
To all the bloggers who have put their personal time into reading and reviewing my books. I know what a thankless task you sometimes have, so please know how appreciated you are.
My awesome Darklings. Thank you for all you do for both me and my books in the background. Your continuing companionship and backing mean the world to me. I seriously don’t know what I would have done without your unrelenting support for this series.
Four exceptional ladies: Dawn Higgins, Jen Dyer, Louise Rhodes and Tracey Morrow. Thank you for every spare minute you put into heading up ‘Blackthorn and Beyond’ on Facebook and for looking after my readers there. I’m privileged to have you run that group.
Caroline Mitchell. Your generosity and loyalty knows no bounds. Watching you fulfill your dreams and obtain such incredible success has been a pleasure. There’s nothing quite like seeing good things happen to great people. Thanks for being by my side.
Those who have been such a massive part of this adventure from the outset: Anita, Christine, Emma, Fiona, Incy, Kelly, Linds and Tima. Thank you for every little thing you’ve done for me and simply for being there whenever I’ve needed you.
To all of the editors who have worked on this series over these past six and a half years and helped it become what it is, especially Donna, the longest-serving editor on Blackthorn. Thank you for embracing my vision.
Ellen, my first-in-line at Bookouture now. Thank you for being such a patient buffer through my anxieties and fears these past eighteen months and, most of all, for understanding just how much these books, and my writing, mean to me.
Sarah Baxter at The Society of Authors. Thank you for all of your contractual help, support and advice in the absence of an agent. I don’t know what I would have done without you.
My sister. Yes, I know there are a lot of bad words in these books. Thank you for reading them anyway.
And finally to:
Oliver Rhodes, it feels like I’ve said it all before. Thank you for taking a punt, not only on these stories but on me being able to carry this off. It was never going to be easy and it hasn’t been, but we did it. Bookouture is thriving and I achieved a lifelong dream. Thank you for standing by this series and seeing it through to its conclusion even after your own focus and plans had moved on. Thank you for loving these books, for seeing their potential from the outset, for your input, your perseverance and for making all of this possible. Working with you has been inspirational and far more fun than I’m sure it ever should have been.
Tracey “Hood-Girl” Rogers. Has it really been eight years since then? One of the best things to come out of Blackthorn was you coming into my life.
Mum, thank you for convincing me I could do this and for never hampering my dreams growing up, however farfetched they seemed (including being convinced I could one day sprout wings and fly)! If there was one thing I wish I could do for you it would be to bring your soulmate back.
My husband. The biggest hero behind this story is you. I don’t know how you’ve put up with me for more than twenty years, let alone all these characters I came with. Thank you for accepting me for who I am, for not trying to eradicate the voices in my head, and for believing in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. For your unwavering support and kindness, and keeping the demands of the real world ticking over whilst I’ve been immersed in my own reality, I can’t thank you enough – let alone for all the times you’ve been forced to patiently nod in response to my ‘I’ll only be another hour.’ Thank you for understanding why I cry with my characters, why I laugh with them, why I root for them and why they drive me insane and, most of all, for accepting all of that as if it is entirely ordinary. Through all the joy, the frustration, the excitement and the sad times during this journey, thank you for making a point of celebrating every milestone and convincing me each of them mattered. There is no one I’d rather have shared this adventure with.
Hade rarely saw that look. And never in the thirty years he had known Caleb had he seen it at that level of intensity. His heart pounded as Caleb’s red-rimmed eyes locked on his, Jake’s limp body cradled in his arms. Caleb’s deathly pallor, the slackness of his mouth, the glaze across his eyes, all told Hade that Jake was gone.
As the chilled night air consumed the club’s corridor from the open fire-exit doors, Hade backed up against the wall. His throat clogged. His knotted stomach was an unbearable weight. His lungs were empty of breath.
Caleb turned right in the direction of his penthouse, silence gripping the corridor in his wake. His strides were impressively unfaltering, controlled, his grip on his brother steadfast as he kicked open the doors with shocking force before disappearing.
Hade promptly turned his attention to Feinith as she crossed the threshold behind Caleb, her guards flanking her. There was sorrow painted on her face but none reflected in her steely eyes.
Hade swiftly reverted his attention back to the fear and confusion transparent on the faces of those he’d been conversing with. He promptly dismissed them. ‘No one disturbs him.’
With a compliant nod, Karl sealed the doors, leaving Hade alone with Feinith and her guards.
‘What the fuck happened?’ he demanded of her.
‘Serryn,’ she answered simply, before turning to follow in Caleb’s footsteps whilst her guards remained behind at the doors. ‘He should have killed her when he had the chance.’
Hade instantly pursued, but was blocked by Feinith’s upheld hand as she spun one-eighty to face him.
‘He’s best left alone,’ she warned.
As if she knew what was best for Caleb. As if she knew anything about him at all. As if she could even begin to comprehend a fraction of how much pain Caleb was in right then.
How much pain he was in right then.
He watched her push through double doors after double doors into the distance, a route he had taken tens of thousands of times over the three decades he’d served in that club. Voices and images from the past filled his head: the brothers’ chatter and laughter; Jake’s wisecracks; Caleb berating his younger brother for another reckless or mindless act; and that night… that night they’d found Jake almost dead under that very roof after consuming dying blood: an assassination attempt over a week ago that had kick-started the entire snowball. An assassination attempt that had necessitated bringing a serryn into Caleb’s realm to perform a blood spell in order to save Jake. The serryn he himself had gone to collect. The serryn who had lost her serrynity. Who he’d returned to the far side of Lowtown a week ago under Caleb’s instruction.
‘Do something for me,’ Leila had said as he’d let her out of the car.
The early morning breeze had blown her russet hair back from her face. Her eyes had been laden with exhaustion and worry. He’d seen then exactly what hell Caleb had put her through those three days he’d had her in his grasp. The three days he’d spent trying to break her. But Leila McKay hadn’t broken. More so, Leila McKay had escaped his clutches, even if it had been with the noose of a leash around her neck as her two sisters had remained back in Blackthorn – both Alisha and Sophia within Caleb’s reach.
Sophia who had become infected with the serrynity Caleb had taken from Leila.
‘You make sure he believes that I’m coming back to him,’ Leila had said, her hazel eyes intensely focused. ‘Whatever it takes, I will get back to him.’
And he’d wanted to believe her. He’d wanted to believe Caleb hadn’t made an uncharacteristically huge mistake in letting her go. But every decision Caleb made was meticulously thought out. Caleb rarely did anything impulsively; whether it took a minute of pre-thought or a decade, no consequence was ever left unturned.
‘You have seven days, Leila,’ Hade had reminded her. ‘He wants you back here in seven days. I advise you arrive early.’
‘Just make sure he knows, Hade. Convince him I won’t let him down. Everything depends on him believing I won’t let him down.’
As she’d jogged towards the border control that would take her into the safety of Midtown and Summerton beyond, he’d not taken his eyes off her until she’d passed through.
Hade slammed through the doors, hot on Feinith’s heels.
‘Was it the sister?’ he demanded up the stone stairwell.
The slow and steady rhythmic clicking of Feinith’s heels came to a standstill.
Hade took the last few steps so he could see beyond more than just the hem of her dress.
‘Was it her?’ he demanded again.
Feinith looked down across her shoulder at him, her haughty, hooded eyes resonating her utter disregard for him. But clearly she had her own reasons for answering him. ‘Yes.’
Hade backed down a couple of steps as Feinith continued to ascend.
Sophia McKay: a member of the Alliance, the anti-third-species organisation who had infiltrated the club that pivotal night to assassinate both Jake and Caleb.
She had got him in the end.
And Caleb… Caleb would see it that his choice to take Leila’s serrynity had allowed it to happen. Caleb would feel responsible for Jake’s death, the death of his last remaining family. His brother murdered by the sister of the girl he had let go.
His gut wrenched. A chill encompassed his body. He gripped the balustrade.
As Feinith disappeared, Caleb’s unnervingly controlled footsteps echoed in his memory.
Footsteps that had been as perfectly consistent as a ticking clock; the silence of the empty club their backdrop.
The calm before the hurricane.
The loss of all he had left to care about.
And subsequently the death of his conscience.
Tick… and… tock.
She was back.
In the silence of his library – the wind whistling against the steel shutters the only reminder of the world outside – Caleb’s slow-beating vampiric heart pounded at the vision in front of him.
But this was no illusion. The fact his skin prickled from being in close proximity to her again confirmed that.
Leila’s long russet hair hung damp around her face, mist-kissed, wayward kinks licking her chin. Dark rings, exacerbated by her pallor, shadowed her eyes. Dirt was visible on her scuffed knees where her jeans had been ripped. She trembled, but seemingly only from the cold; there was no tremor in her composure, and no hesitation in the directness of her gaze.
And certainly no tremor in the hand that held the sword by her side.
He stared into intense hazel eyes that scorched him; he’d almost forgotten the intensity of having her look him square in the eyes.
‘Though clearly you’ve been keeping yourself busy in the interim.’
She was no doubt referring to Feinith’s near kiss as they’d crossed the threshold together. The accusation was nonetheless calm, controlled. That much hadn’t changed about her: Leila McKay, the queen of self-restraint.
‘Late?’ Feinith interjected, providing a much-needed reminder of her presence. ‘You were expecting her?’
Leila lay her sword on the floor and backed away a few steps, her wet deck shoes squeaking on the wooden floorboards. Next she unhooked her rucksack from her shoulder and placed it carefully on the floor. Slipping her oversized coat off, she let that drop to the floor too before lowering to her knees, cleverly putting herself into a physically vulnerable position. A position he would have to be a coward to act upon. Or at least that was how she was most likely hoping he would see it.
She held her arms out slightly at her sides, palms up: the ultimate sign of submission.
He didn’t trust her surrender though, even if it was the only rational option for her to take considering four of his guards – human guards – followed her through the hidden doorway in the bookcase she’d used to get in there. Three held their tranquiliser guns aloft in her direction as two moved into position to flank her.
‘She came alone,’ Nach, the fourth guard, confirmed. ‘The perimeter is in the process of being secured.’
Caleb nodded. ‘Lock the door.’
A series of subtle clunks echoed to his left as the bookcase door was closed and sealed from inside the chamber beyond, preventing her exit – and preventing any unwanted visitors now that he had the one he’d been waiting for.
He addressed Payton to Leila’s left. ‘Check her bag and coat.’
As Payton promptly did as instructed, Caleb clicked his fingers at the sofa to his right.
Despite knowing what he was directing her to do, Feinith instead stepped closer to him. ‘We need to speak in private,’ she said, her voice lowered.
But ignoring her request, Caleb kept his awaiting palm upward, his unflinching gaze locked on Leila.
With a quiet exhale of frustration, Feinith conceded. Returning from the sofa, she placed the hilt in his open hand. She didn’t relinquish her grip on it, however, as she stepped in front of him to form a barrier between him and Leila.
‘I don’t know what the fuck is going on here or how this has happened,’ she whispered in his ear, ‘but if my senses are correct, we need her alive.’
Her sense that a serryn was in their grasp and that, consequently, the prophecy was finally within reach.
Caleb scanned the bunches and bags of herbs, plant roots, small bags of what looked like ash, a wooden goblet and bowls on the floor, Leila’s rucksack now empty.
‘That’s it?’ he asked Payton.
‘Take it all down to the lounge. The sword she brought as well.’
Brushing past Feinith, Caleb took a few steps towards Leila. He placed the tip of his sword beneath her chin, used the flat of the blade to tilt her head upwards slightly, his deft precision preventing any nicks or cuts. He stared down the length of his blade at her, every instinct telling him to keep her at arm’s length, to touch her only from behind the safety of cold steel.
Leila didn’t even flinch. Her pulse escalated only a fraction, her breathing nonetheless sensibly terse with anticipation.
Her response was a far cry from the terrified witch he’d held his sword to down in his dungeon that first night she’d arrived. A time when he was yet to determine what had walked through his door to save his brother’s life: the most inept serryn he’d ever come across, or the most adept. An adept witch cloaked in deceit and manipulation like so many before her, in order to access the private area of his life. A threshold no serryn had crossed before her.
Except, now, this serryn had crossed his threshold twice.
Feinith instantly closed in alongside him, and gripped his outstretched forearm. ‘Caleb, listen to me. You have to think rationally.’
So as not destroy her chances of the supremacy she craved. The supremacy that could only be guaranteed through him – and the serryn.
‘Join the others in the lounge, Feinith.’
Despite his dismissal, she remained rooted to the spot. ‘Five minutes. In private,’ Feinith persisted, her tone now more of a plea than a directive.
Her discomfort was satisfying; her panic over what Leila could potentially know and disclose to him about Jake’s death. Because Feinith remained unaware of Sophia’s prior furtive visit, of exactly what Leila’s sister had already disclosed.
‘That wasn’t a request, Feinith.’
‘We need to talk.’
Finally he looked her in the eye. ‘What you need to do is fuck off as instructed.’
Feinith’s spark of indignation was palpable. Her razor-grey eyes flared, her glare potent. Her lips pursed. Her jaw tightened. She jutted her chin up a little. But unless she wanted to explain her reluctance to leave them alone together, which he very much doubted, she had no basis to ignore his command.
‘Don’t blow everything now,’ she warned quietly.
Without another glance in Leila’s direction, no doubt to avoid granting her that further one-upmanship, Feinith’s heels clicked on wood as she headed to the open doorway. Despite her predictable compulsion to eavesdrop, she knew only too well he’d be waiting for her retreating footsteps down the hallway beyond. Retreating footsteps that eventually faded into the lounge.
‘Grab a glass,’ he said to Arland, as he indicated the dining table to his left. He looked back to Leila. ‘Hand out. Palm down.’
‘The spell has worked, Caleb,’ she assured him.
But he wanted proof. He needed proof. He was not going to allow room for error.
‘We both know there are less civilised ways for me to go about this, Leila. Your choice.’
Her terse exhale was almost inaudible, but she didn’t protest further. Instead she glanced away with a subtle shake of her head before holding her hand over the glass as instructed.
Caleb lowered his sword from her chin. He tilted the blade, slid it back towards himself, and sliced through the tender flesh between her thumb and forefinger just enough to let out a trickle of blood.
She winced at the paper-thin cut, her response to pain demonstrating that, if she was telling the truth about being the serryn, she was in the early stages.
‘Squeeze,’ he instructed, as he lifted the sword to her chin again.
Despite umbrage emanating from her eyes, she did as he asked and clenched her hand to encourage her blood to flow into the glass.
‘Take it straight to Hade,’ he instructed Arland, before addressing Leila again. ‘Stand up. Sweater off. Your T-shirt, shoes and jeans too.’
She frowned, and cast a fleeting glance at Coley, the remaining guard still present. She looked squarely back at Caleb. ‘Is that necessary?’
‘You’ve arrived from the enemy camp; it’s entirely necessary.’
Caleb lowered his sword and backed up a little to give her space, cocked his head towards Coley to order him to turn around, to at least allow Leila that dignity.
Her hands tightened to fists. But they’d had many a battle of wills in the short time they’d spent together, and she’d always been smart enough to know which of those battles to fight.
Leila tugged her shapeless sweater over her head and cast it aside. Even in the few days since he’d last seen her she’d lost a little weight despite not having had anything to lose in the first place, indicating it had been a hell of a time for her as well.
As her fingers clumsily fumbled with the buttons of her jeans, she simultaneously kicked her deck shoes aside. As she stepped out of her jeans, the sight of her bare, slender thighs evoked an immediate reaction. But he brushed it aside, and even more so as she stopped at her T-shirt.
Her troubled gaze locked on his, an anxious gaze that knotted his stomach. She fisted her hands by her sides again, silence descending in the shadows of the room.
Her hesitation to proceed did nothing to appease his dread of what was fast becoming obvious: this was about more than the indignity of being forced to strip in front of him – Leila had something to hide.
He lifted the sword back to her throat. ‘Take your T-shirt off, Leila. Don’t test my patience. It’s been a hell of a fucking couple of days.’
As he glared down the length of his blade at her, Leila was suddenly reluctant to maintain hers – no doubt because she knew what a sustained gaze during conflict could evoke in her.
With no choice but to concede, she tore her T-shirt over her head and let it drop to the floor. She fisted her hands at her sides again as she stood in front of him in nothing but her mismatched underwear.
‘Lift your hair.’
She coiled her tresses in her hands and held the bun she had created at the back of her head with one hand as her other dropped back to her side.
Lowering his sword, he stepped around behind her.
Sickness gathered in the back of his throat as he saw the bite marks: one set of incisor marks on her neck; another set on the back of her upper arm. Bite marks that confirmed why she was so reluctant to strip in front of him: the truth it would expose.
Turning up there in light of her sister having killed his brother was one thing. Turning up there claiming to be a serryn again was another. But turning up there as a serryn having been bitten, knowing that would indicate to him the clock was already ticking, that it would speed up the transformation…? Because once bitten the serryn inside her would intensify, the dark path irrevocably forged.
There were only two explanations as to what could possibly warrant her daring to return to him under those provisos: she’d either completely lost her mind, or she had one hell of a reason to be back.
‘I tried to get away from them,’ Leila said. It explained the dirt on her knees, the grazes there. The scrapes and bruises on her arms and hands also validated her claim of a struggle. ‘As you can see, I don’t have long.’
Caleb hooked his forefinger over the hip-band of her knickers where the bloodstain was. He lowered them a little to expose another set of incisor marks in the upper curve of flesh.
He gritted his teeth. He closed his eyes as he tried to block out the vision in front of him; the knowledge that some other vampire – three, from what he could tell – had done this to her. Whether she had incited the attack, he wasn’t ready to face yet. What they might have done to her, even less so.
The compulsion to rip apart whoever had dared touch her was an unsettling dent in his conviction. Because the last thing he needed was that pang in his chest. That even after more than seven days, he still felt it. Because he may have been immune to the serryn but it seemed he still wasn’t immune to her.
He stepped back around in front of her. She was shivering, a blue tinge now colouring her lips. But that gaze… those unwavering eyes watched him in silence: smart, pensive and analytical. Eyes that were now bolder, more experienced, more worn. Whether that was because the serryn was lingering beneath the surface or simply the effect of whatever she had been through those past few days, he couldn’t be sure. Hade would return with the result of the blood test soon enough.
Either way, it was down to him. And if she was now a monster, he was most definitely her creator. And the monster always came back for its creator.
‘Get a blanket from my room,’ he instructed Coley. He continued to search her eyes, not granting her an escape from the invasiveness of his scrutiny. Challenging her. Challenging what might be inside of her looking out at him.
‘I want everything off,’ Caleb said to her, as Coley returned and handed her the blanket.
She wrapped it around herself before skillfully removing her underwear from beneath it, adding to the growing pile beside her.
‘Take it all to the incinerator,’ he instructed Coley.
The guard promptly nodded, keeping his gaze averted as he gathered up the damp clothes and shoes from the floor. As Coley closed the door behind himself, the subsequent ominous echo around the shadow-doused library was palpable.
Purposefully breaking from the intimacy of her reciprocated gaze, Caleb strolled clockwise behind Leila again. He needed to maintain the upper hand. To do that, he needed to leave her guessing.
Flanking her left side, he reached for her hair that fell over her cheek, careful to avoid skin-on-skin contact… avoid the heat that touching her had always generated within him… and brushed it aside to expose the graze on her face, which, up until then, had remained concealed.
‘Did they rape you?’
She shook her head. ‘They didn’t get the chance.’
Wouldn’t have had the chance before her toxic blood poisoned them in seconds if they’d chosen to feed on her first.
But she would have given him that answer regardless. Sex that was lustful, violent, non-consensual, would beckon the serryn even more. The previous times they’d spent in that very room together had left her with no doubt he already knew exactly that. And now he’d seen the bites, and if the blood test proved that she was a serryn again, she needed him to believe she was nonetheless in the early stages.
‘I’m still in control for now, Caleb, but the longer I’m with you, the faster the serryn will come to the surface. You know that.’ Her eyes tentatively met his across her shoulder – a continuing stark contrast to the initial challenge that had greeted him. ‘I’m here to talk.’
He moved into her blind spot. ‘Armed with a sword?’
‘That wasn’t intended for you. I needed something to be able to defend myself with out there.’
‘With Kane Malloy and Jask Tao on hand to protect you?’
‘I came alone.’
He didn’t bother to hide his skepticism in his terse exhale. ‘You’re telling me they let you go?’
‘Escaped?’ He tutted. It was a playful retort, but his anger at Malloy and Tao’s negligence simmered. ‘First Sophia and now you. Maybe I need to give those boys a lesson in keeping you McKay girls under control.’
‘We were all hiding underground but were tracked down by Sirius Throme’s army. They let genetically morphed lycans loose into the tunnels to kill as many of us as they could. It threw everything into chaos.’
It was like a punch in the gut: the prospect that she may not have been far from where his team had snatched Rob Doyle above ground; that Throme’s private army had released other morphed lycans below ground…
‘Jask was seriously injured,’ she continued. ‘While Kane was dealing with the aftermath in the hours that followed, I managed to slip out.’
In the hours that followed, but that had been two days ago.
Caleb stepped back in front of her. ‘How long have you been out there?’
‘A couple of days.’
Her gaze wavered. ‘Yes.’
Two days alone on the streets of Blackthorn with morphed lycans and fourth species and Throme’s army and now the cons too…
Barely containing his anger at her negligence, he stepped back behind her again. He crossed his arm in front of her, angled his blade backwards to rest against the inside of her bare upper thigh, slid it up to rest inches from her sex.
She flinched, then shuddered, no doubt at the coldness of the act as much as the chill of the steel.
‘So you’re telling me it has taken you two days to return to me, Leila? You intentionally made yourself late despite our deal?’
‘There were things I needed to do.’
‘Please, can we just sit down? Talk properly?’
‘What things, Leila?’
After a couple of moments of silence, she said, ‘For the alternative.’
The alternative to him inciting imminent all-out war against the humans as the prophecy dictated. Leila’s promise of her ability to find another way forward having been the basis of their deal when he’d let her go.
The alternative Sophia had already revealed to him in exchange for the syringe of serryn blood Leila had left behind with him. Leila’s original serryn blood that had been integral to the spell needed for Leila to reclaim her serrynity from her sister in order to save pregnant Sophia’s life.
But the alternative Sophia had revealed had been manufactured after Leila had left him – an alternative that Leila had had no way of foretelling, or of making possible. And that meant Leila had lied when she’d told him she’d had one in mind before she’d left. A lie she’d used to persuade him to release her and so evade the fulfillment of the prophecy in the process. Evade his success and her defeat.
‘The alternative where your soul-carrying and now aptly-timed shadow-carrying-too sister is going to take advantage of the one and only loop in the system by becoming a politician to turn the world into a better place by finally achieving equal rights for the third species?’
He knew his tone echoed his cynicism, and he wanted her to hear that because he needed more from her. Desperately needed to hear she had something other than that. Since the second he’d found Jake dead on that cold, stone floor he’d needed to believe he hadn’t been a fool believing her. Because if he’d let himself be duped, if he’d trusted her more than trusting his own instincts, if Jake had paid the ultimate
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