His awakening would end the reign of terror. But when the vampire king returns as the phoenix God, things don't go as planned. With an evil demigod still loose, Aidyn must track him down and end him for good. Except, being a God now means he has to play by the rules. Ones that specify no killing their own. The phoenix may have to obey, but the vampire does not and Aidyn will do anything to protect his mate.
The dragon rebels.
There's a thin line between love and hate and it's one Leria walks often. Since the day she pleaded with the vampire king to spare her father's life, she has been in love with a man she scorns. Ending his life didn't make her feel any better. Matter of fact, things become complicated when he comes back as the long-awaited phoenix God and more determined than ever to claim what belongs to him. When she learns about his little secret, it's one more nail in their fated coffin, and she can no longer accept his deception.
A dragon and a phoenix should be the perfect match.
He has loved her since the day she was born, but in his attempts to keep his future queen safe, Aidyn has pushed Leria straight into the arms of the enemy. Now, she's in danger and he has to make a choice. Saving her might cost the life of her dragon. Letting her go will mean an eternity without her.
Release date: October 27, 2020
Print pages: 182
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“I know my friend, but we must wait. Timing is everything.”
The bird clawed under his skin. It wanted its mate and now Aidyn understood why Leria––a dragon shifter––had been his chosen. How perfect a pairing the two were. Trouble was, she despised him and had since she was a young girl and thought he had sentenced her real father to death. The truth was, he’d spirited Odage away and tucked the dragon into a safe place where no one would find him. The shifter’s mind had succumbed to the darkness that Lowan had thrust Odage into. Even though the elder shifter had murdered Aidyn’s mother, Aidyn was able to forgive. The dragon was a pawn like so many others in Lowan’s bid for domination. Lowan had taken Leria as a child and imprisoned her, which had been the only reason Odage had committed the crimes he had.
To keep his daughter alive.
Now, it was Aidyn’s turn to keep Leria out of harm’s way because he didn’t doubt Lowan would use her against him.
This is why we need to bond now! Our mate will become stronger, the bird responded.
“I will not force this upon her.” Part of him wanted to. The side that was nearly paralyzed with fear that he would lose his mate just as he’d lost his entire family. The voice of the very young vampire who had failed his sister, then his father and finally his mother screamed he wouldn’t fail his mate.
You cannot fail. You are Phoenix and must convince our mate to become ours.
The bird inside him was persistent and wise. If he mated with Leria, she would hold his powers along with her own. Then again, she might become an even bigger target for Lowan. There were many reasons to force their bond and just as many not to. He was positive Leria was already a foe most would not want to tangle with. Hopefully, that would be enough to keep her safe, but he would add an extra precaution. At least until he could rid the universe of Lowan then work on convincing Leria she couldn’t live without him.
Then tell her! Tell her the father she longs for lives and she will forgive you, the bird hissed.
He ignored the screeching Phoenix because he had his own agenda.
Staring at himself, he noted the differences. The bird living under the surface was a rather significant one. One day he was the vampire king, the next he was dead and had arisen as the Phoenix god. Deep down he knew that every step he had taken as Aidyn was because of the Phoenix. The fire bird guided him, but in the case of forcing his hand with Leria, he was going to remain in charge.
For the moment, anyway.
His gaze fell to the scars on his chest. The ones he bore from his brother’s punishment. Zarek had shown no mercy and Aidyn was certain that even had his brother known Aidyn was really Pyros, the punishment would have been the same. The gods were not to interfere.
And as king, many of the same laws applied to Aidyn. So, when Odage had been handed over to him as a prisoner for crimes not only committed against the crown, but against the gods, Aidyn was expected to execute the shifter overlord. When he had refused, he was punished. Even through his transformation, the scars remained as a reminder of his crime. One that he would commit again and again for the woman he loved. Even if she despised him.
He moved from the mirror and slipped on a black, button-down shirt, tucking it into his jeans. There was business to attend to now that he was back as the Phoenix. The gods awaited, and he was eager to see them all through new eyes. Through the eyes of a brother who had missed them all terribly.
Dressed, he walked the empty home his brothers had built for his return. He’d not been sure where he wanted to reside. Still wasn’t, but he knew that with Lowan’s demons back in Hell, he planned to resurrect Vandeldor. The home of the guardians might have been destroyed in war, but its precious relics remained hidden deep underground along with the one place where his brethren could bond with their mates. Lucan and Sabin were planning their own bonding, and it thrilled him to surprise them with his gift.
Passing under a large arch of fire, male voices reached him. In the courtyard stood his brothers. He took a moment to look upon each of them before moving closer. They were as he remembered, with a few exceptions.
Something Aidyn recalled his angry brother had done little of when Pyros was alive.
The creases on Zarek’s forehead showed the king of the gods had weathered a lot in his lifetime. Being ruler over not only his brothers, but those he created tended to wear heavy on a being. Immortal or not.
However, it was the sadness in Argathos’s eyes that weighed the heaviest in his heart. The painful loss of Argathos’s wife and what had led to the war thousands of years ago that had also taken Pyros’s life still lingered on the surface for his brother. He moved to him first, arms outstretched, and pulled Argathos into an embrace.
“You are not well, my brother,” he whispered even though the others could still hear him.
“I am relieved to finally see you with my own eyes.”
Aidyn chuckled. “You mean instead of in your visions?”
“You’ve no idea how difficult it was knowing you were coming back, yet not knowing when.” Argathos stretched his arms to better look at Aidyn. “The first vision I had of you was so long ago. I knew it would be centuries before I would see you in the flesh.”
“Which he conveniently kept from the rest of us,” Zarek boomed.
“Oh for fuck’s sake, stop whining like a two-year-old.” Hades rolled his eyes. “It’s unbecoming of your status.”
Aidyn moved away from Argathos and stepped in front of Hades. “Still trying to stir the pot, I see.”
“Always.” Hades grinned then pulled Aidyn into an embrace. “You’ve no idea how much I have missed you.”
“We must get together and see what trouble we can create,” he replied. He and Hades were much like their father in their wicked ways, and it pissed Zarek off. Something the two brothers had enjoyed doing on many occasions.
Hades released his grip, and Aidyn moved to stand in front of Zarek. With a slight bow, he said. “My king. It is nice to lay my eyes on you once more.”
“Brother of mine, all has righted in our world now,” Zarek spoke then embraced Aidyn, giving a hearty slap on the back. “The three of us are once again whole now that you are here.”
Pain filled the king’s eyes. “You do not understand what it’s like to lose a sibling. Especially a quad.”
Aidyn looked at his three brothers. While they looked nothing like quadruplets, they were all born minutes apart. Zarek the eldest, then Pyros, followed by Hades and Argathos. Each brother had taken on a distinct feature from their parents. Zarek and Hades both had their father’s black hair while he and Argathos had the lighter brown of their mother. All of them had their mother’s warm chocolate eyes except for Zarek. His were the color of lightning, and staring into their depths was often a reminder of their father and his lapses of sanity. At times, their father had lost his grip on reality and would go into a rage. It was only their mother who was able to calm the beast and stop him from striking down anything that dared breathe in his presence. No one knew why their father was given to these fits, but they suspected that his age might have had something to do with it. The god had been alive for so long, one could understand how a mind might shatter. When he had finally reached the point where he’d drowned in the depths of his own insanity, their mother had ended her husband’s life using the very immortal-killing dagger that had been fashioned for Pyros by his brothers.
There was no anger or hatred. Only sorrow at the loss of a loved one, and at the way it all had to end. Their mother had been devastated and retreated into a state of slumber somewhere in the universe. No one knew where or if she was even still alive as it had been so long since they had heard a whisper from her.
“Perhaps, but I understand loss,” he replied. They had all witnessed so much of it in their lifetime.
Zarek gave a nod. “And which life will you be choosing for yourself?”
An honest question, for the Phoenix had risen before, but it had been within a short period of time. This last time he had been slain by his own dagger and had known the true death of a god. Only his DNA had brought him back and it had taken centuries.
“Pyros is dead, but Aidyn lives. Therefore, I will remain king of the guardians as it is natural to me. However, I will not give up being a deity.”
“We would not accept any other choice from you,” Hades said. “You are a god and belong with your brothers.”
“What of your mate, Leria?” There was no missing the twinkle in Zarek’s eyes. His elder brother knew the path to claiming one’s female was much like a kick in the balls. Painful.
“I’ve no doubt she will eventually come around. You chose well when you picked her. Her dragon and my Phoenix will be a perfect match.”
“I did not choose your mate, brother.” Creases formed across Zarek’s forehead and he looked to the other men standing there who both shrugged their shoulders.
“Not me,” Hades replied.
“Nor I and I can’t even see who it might have been,” Argathos added.
“Strange.” A pit formed in Aidyn’s stomach. Had he been wrong about Leria? The bird stirred beneath his skin and called out for its mate. The creature had no doubts that the dragon belonged to him. Not to mention the fact that to bring back the Phoenix god and activate the DNA, the bird’s mate must first kill him so he could resurrect again. Leria had done that thanks to Hades. So, if none of his brothers had chosen, then who?
His gaze flashed to Argathos, who had lost his wife. Brianna had not been a chosen, but his brother had loved her. Was that why she had been murdered? “What about Mia?” he asked of Hades’ mate.
“Argathos saw Mia in a vision and chose her for our brother,” Zarek replied.
“So, if none of you chose Leria, there is only one other possibility. Is Mother alive?” He wasn’t sure he wanted to think about that right now.
“There has to be another explanation,” Hades offered, and the others nodded.
“I need to take my leave for a bit.” Aidyn had a sudden urge to go to Leria and swore his bird was doing flips of joy as he started his shift and opened a portal into the realm the Draki currently occupied.
“Wait,” Zarek called. “I will have a moment with you.” He looked at the others who all suddenly vanished. Bringing his focus back to Aidyn, he said, “I hope you are not planning on using your powers to heal Odage.”
“Are you asking me or commanding me not to?”
“I’m not asking.” Zarek’s mouth drew into a tight line.
“And if I refuse to obey?”
“You have already interfered enough, brother. While I am beyond happy to have you back, I must still enforce our laws. You know what’s at stake.”
“You’re not answering the question. What will the consequences be if I disobey you again?”
Zarek worked his jaw. “Do your meddling the roundabout way, brother. Otherwise, I will be forced into more drastic measures. I may not have chosen your mate, but I hold the power to break what another fated.” The lines around his eyes softened. “I beg you to not force my hand. It’s not something I wish to do.”
Aidyn wanted to punch his brother, but he also understood how much had been lost in their past. The reason they were not to interfere. “I will not directly intervene with Odage’s healing but be assured that I will take Lowan out. As the vampire king, I still hold the power to punish him for crimes committed.”
Zarek gave a nod. “Acceptable, but only if you hunt him as the vampire king and not the Phoenix. I cannot have a deity killing his own nephew.”
“I have a question for you, brother. Why have you allowed Lowan, a demigod, to break every rule we have and some we don’t?”
The king let out a long breath. “It was a vow I made to Hades long ago. One I have regretted every day, but a vow nonetheless. Now, I wish you all the luck in the universe with your mate. You will need it.” Then he was gone.
Aidyn scrubbed his face. Of course, Zarek would make demands that would complicate killing Lowan. Fine. He would accomplish the deed no matter what.
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