Release Date: 8/23/2016
Available formats: eBook (paperback coming Winter 2016)
Length: Novel (359 printed pages)
Series: Blood Moon Rising (Book 6 of 6)
FIND OUT HOW IT ALL ENDS NOW
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Elijah Johnson never thought he’d see one, let alone both, of his brothers again. If only it were a happy reunion, but that bullshit was usually reserved for fairy tales and soap operas. One brother is lukewarm and civil; the other wants to knock his block off. Not that Elijah can blame them. He’s feeling pretty rotten about the state of their relationship, and is starting to question whether staying away was the right choice…
Verika Tate—whoops, “Johnson”—is growing into her powers at an alarming rate, but she’s not about to tell her mate that. He has enough on his plate as is, namely dealing with his own insecurities about magic while his brothers try convincing him to join them on an epic quest to defeat the witch he fears more than death itself.
As Verika and Elijah struggle to deal with their inner demons, the strength of their bond will be tested—especially as Mistress Black draws closer, determined to convert Verika over to her side and use her to destroy everything in her path.
Can true love survive in a world wrought with war and treachery?
The climactic ending to the Blood Moon Rising series.
The climactic ending to the Blood Moon Rising series.
EXCERPT (Warning! There are spoilers. I recommend reading the books in order, starting with Fever, which is currently free!)
Elijah took a sip of the lukewarm soup, wincing as pain threaded along his jaw. Nik had left a nice-sized knot there. He’d be lucky if he could chew right for a week.
He smiled a little. Hits like a Johnson, all right. Looked like Elijah’s instruction on fighting techniques wasn’t completely lost on his younger brother.
The two of them used to spar and wrestle in their backyard when they were kids. Elijah even got it in his head to open up a neighborhood fight club and charge spectators money. He set up all the matches himself, even made a ring out of some rope and old gym mats he’d found in a Dumpster. His “concessions” had consisted of microwavable popcorn and beer from their father’s stash. For a thirteen-year-old, the money had been pretty good. The fight club lasted about a year before other kids’ parents caught on and all but broke down their door, cussing and yelling at their dad. He’d beaten Elijah hard that night. Which was fine by him. At least he hadn’t gone after Nik or little Gage.
Verika sat beside him at the small dinette set in their private suite. The place was luxurious, with five-hundred-count this and designer-brand that. He’d half-expected Nik’s taste to drift toward the Walmart or Goodwill chic, but hell, people’s tastes changed.
He had changed. He’d always been a hard man, speaking more with his fists than his mouth. But there was a weight to him now that had settled in the creases on his forehead, the hollows of his eyes. That was another thing—his eyes had lost their luster. Mischief once sparkled there—Nik never had taken the damn world seriously—but now there was a deadness, a worry to them that troubled Elijah.
Verika clenched and flexed her fingers—a nervous habit, he’d noted. Worry wrinkled her lovely features, those green eyes of hers bright as she looked at his jaw. “Do you want me to heal it?”
His heart skipped a beat with fear, which he shoved back down.
Verika’s eyes widened. She swallowed hard and looked down, staring at the half-eaten soup.
Shit. He hadn’t been quick enough to hide his reaction. Yeah, he was still scared of magic, but he hated himself for it because of her. Dealing with his personal demons would take a whole lotta therapy and a whole lotta time. He accepted that. Didn’t mean he liked it. For her sake, he wanted to be fixed now, to let some spell wash away all his fears. But he knew there wasn’t a snowstorm-in-hell’s chance of that happening.
He grasped her hand and squeezed. “I’m so—”
“Shssh.” She pressed a finger to his lips and shook her head, those red curls he loved so much bouncing around. A smile lit her face. “Don’t be. You have nothing to be sorry for. I shouldn’t have pressed you. I’m the one who should be sorry.”
“Bullshit.” He grabbed the back of her head and pulled her close to kiss her forehead. “You’re amazing.”
A pretty blush colored her cheeks. He’d never get tired of making her blush, of hearing how her heart sped up ever so slightly every time he touched her.
Glad to know he wasn’t alone in that respect. His own heart tickled his chest with a fluttering thrill whenever he caressed her. A warm glow overtook him each time he looked at her, somewhat overshadowing any lingering fear he had about magic.
Or her ability to wield it.
His throat tightened slightly, and he cursed, letting his hands drop from her face. Fuck it all. He wasn’t about to let some trauma determine how he felt about his mate. Clearly, fate wanted him to get over his old wounds, to heal and move forward with his life. Otherwise, why make his mate the very creature he was terrified of?
Though it was a bitch to clutch the spoon because his hand hurt so much—hey, clobbering people was hard work—Elijah hurried up and ate the rest of the soup. It was good. The chef here was almost as good as Mistress Black’s had been.
He shuddered. That bitch had a taste for good food and had hired only the best chefs. Sometimes, she’d fly in cooks from California, New York—all over, really. He swore some of the meals he’d eaten had cost more than the shitty little house he and his brothers had grown up in. He just knew it was a whole lotta money, which he’d never seen much of. Not legally, anyway. Not until he’d decided to turn over a new leaf. And look where that’d gotten him.
Maybe he should reconsider this whole “law-abiding citizen” act. After all, the only reason he’d met Verika was because he’d been caught trying to buy some illegal papers to get out of the States. Maybe his penchant for breaking the law was actually a good thing.
But he knew in his heart of hearts, his honest, law-obeying mate—who, hello, was a freaking cop—wouldn’t see it that way.
Verika watched him in silence while he finished eating. The worry never left her eyes.
“I’m fine,” he said—er, mumbled. Moving his jaw hurt, but he was used to it. He’d been busted up worse. Actually, he’d suspected Nik had taken it easy on him.
Which meant there might be a ray of hope he could fix things with him.
The thought made his heart speed up, he wanted it so badly.
A family. His family.
Yes, he was determined to create another one with Verika. Maybe even have pups someday, if she was up to it. They hadn’t gotten that far yet, though he sure as hell hoped she was all right with it. She hadn’t mentioned being on birth control, and they’d made love under the stars a few times now on their way here. They’d been responsible, used condoms. But still… accidents happened.
If he had pups, he wanted—needed—his brothers to be involved in their lives. To tell them embarrassing stories about their old man when he was a kid. To look after them and Verika should anything happen to him.
Ever since they’d mated, he’d had this ominous feeling hanging over his head. As if all this happiness was a dream that was going to be ripped away by Mistress Black when she found him. And considering Verika hadn’t had any luck yet lifting the brand that bound him to Mistress Black, he knew it was only a matter of time before that happened.
“Elijah?” A warm hand rested on his arm. “Are you all right? You’ve been drumming your fingers harder and harder…and you’ve bent the spoon.”
“Huh?” He looked down. Sure enough, the metal spoon was now crooked, courtesy of his thumb. And his fingertips actually hurt from tapping them on the table. “Sorry.” He bent the spoon back into shape before he set it down in the empty bowl and pushed it aside. “I get like that when I’m thinking.”
“They must not have been good thoughts.”
He smiled, hoping it reached his eyes so it would hide the shadow of fear there. “Some were good. I was thinking of us.”
“Yep.” He pulled her onto his lap, her back to his chest, and pushed aside her hair so he could kiss her neck. He loved the spot just below her ear. It always made her shiver when he planted his lips there. “I was thinking about how damn sexy you look naked.”
She snorted and gave him a playful shove. “Scoundrel. What would my parents think, knowing I’ve been traipsing the countryside alone with a man I’m not married to?”
He stiffened. “Are they that upti—er—traditional?” His “Johnson bluntness” was something he was trying hard to work on, too. Gage always had been the most considerate and tactful speaker of the three of them. Most of the time, whatever flew out of Nik’s and Elijah’s mouths was the first thing on their minds. Sometimes to the detriment of whomever they were speaking to. Verika was still very fond of her adoptive parents, despite her father pointing a gun at Elijah and all but running him out of their house. And for her sake, Elijah was damn well going to make an effort to try not to insult them.
Verika winced. “Dad is, for sure. He grew up in a very strict, conservative military family who were devout Christians. Mom is a Christian, too, but I think her parents weren’t quite as strict as Dad’s. I think that’s why she has a bit of a hidden wild side.”
Elijah thought back to when he’d stepped out of the shower and Mrs. Tate’s gaze had swept his very naked body down and up again without shame. “Yeah, I kind of got that vibe.”
Verika groaned and covered her face with her hands. “Don’t remind me of the shower debacle. That was mortifying.” One of the weird quirks of their mate-bond was that they could share mental images with each other. A few memories had leaked into Verika’s mind and vice versa, the shower scene being one of them. Elijah knew it wasn’t an uncommon quirk, especially if one or both parties had some magical ability.
“Come on.” Elijah kissed her hands. “You have to admit it was funny as hell.”
“Nothing about my mother seeing you butt-naked and liking it will ever be funny to me.” With the mood officially killed, she stood and stretched her arms above her head. A yawn followed. “We should get to bed. It’s nearly dawn.”
He’d figured as much, even without looking at his watch. The light behind the curtains was growing brighter.
After they’d both showered and crawled into bed—holy fuck, it was nice to sleep on a mattress that didn’t feel as though it were made of straw—it took Elijah another half hour to finally pass out. His brain kept working, turning over every worry and finding no way of resolving them.
Getting rid of his Blood Magic mark.
Overcoming his fear of magic.
Overcoming his anxiety around Verika when she went all badass Black Witch on people.
Patching things up between him and his brothers.
Killing Mistress Black.
Saving the Underworld and, hell, probably the whole world in the process.
When his brain couldn’t think anymore—because let’s admit it, saving the world is damn exhausting—he at last succumbed to sleep.
And immediately wished he hadn’t when he saw who waited for him inside the cage of his nightmares.
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