GREAT NEWS!!! THE DARKENING takes place 1 month after the events of GATES OF RAPTURE! See, I promised you GATES would not be the last of my wonderful, sexy, hunkalicious warriors!
Below, you’ll find chapter one!!!
But first the awesome cover created by Carol Webb of Bella Media Management!
THE DARKENING, by Caris Roane
A novella of the Guardians of Ascension
49,800 words plus Ascension Terminology
A tortured warrior and a peace-loving counselor battle to protect Second Earth against a powerful dark force…
He thwarted connection of any kind…
Fearing that his newly emerged grayle power will kill innocent ascenders, Samuel Daman struggles to keep his distance from beautiful Vela Stillwell. But the breh-hedden has struck and her light floral scent tears at his restraint. When the enemy draws them both into the darkening, a place of secret travel for Third ascenders, will Samuel learn to control his power, or will he destroy what he desires most?
She hid from grief…
Vela Stillwell wanted a new life, away from Militia Headquarters, away from the reminder of all she’d lost when her husband died five years earlier. Seeking a more reclusive occupation, she finishes her last day of work only to have Samuel Daman and the infamous breh-hedden sweep through her life. Though trying to disconnect from her new emerging power and from Samuel, the call of the darkening pulls Vela into an adventure that both terrifies her, yet reveals the truth about her deepest desires. Will she succumb to the breh-hedden, or will her fears prevent her from living life to the fullest?
A most sacred mantle lost to the desecration of those who partake of dying blood.
Keep thyself pure.
– Collected Proverbs, Beatrice of Fourth
Near dawn, Samuel Daman dragged air into his lungs, each breath like fire as he surveyed the Superstition battlefield. He’d been fighting death vampires for hours, like the rest of the Militia Warriors.
Sweat trickled from beneath his weapons harness and down his back. Blood seeped in a few places as well since one or two swords had caught skin.
He was a fucking mess.
But the death vampires kept coming, floating through the dimension on arctic air, fresh and ready to fight, dozens of them hour after hour.
He’d never seen so many pretty-boys at a Borderland before, which meant of course that the chaos leftover from Darian Greaves’s defeat in recent weeks, had turned up the heat. Maybe it was a good thing to have the Commander out of the way, but his generals had hauled the remnants of his army into pre-planned hiding places before Thorne, in charge of the Allied Ascender Forces, had been able to run them to ground.
Chaos now ruled Second Earth.
The fucking war was still game on.
At the very least, the current engagement required another eight squads of Militia Warriors. Thirty-two trained men. But what the situation really needed was another Warrior of the Blood who could handle up to eight pretty-boys at a time. Eight, while a squad of four Militia Warriors struggled to slay just one.
He extended his vampire vision and in the distance saw that Warrior Santiago battled, holy shit, thirteen death vamps, way beyond capacity even for a powerful What-Bee. Santiago fought with his back to the immense monolith of the Superstition Mountains, a Latin God in the moonlight, his sword moving like a silver streak of lightning.
Samuel whipped his warrior phone from the slim pocket of his leather fighting kilt and thumbed over the surface. He kept his sword at the ready and turned in a slow circle keeping his eye sharp for more trouble.
“Central Command, Jeannie here. How can I help, Warrior Samuel?” He served as back-up to Section Leader Nathaniel. He didn’t like the job, but right now what anyone liked didn’t matter.
He explained the situation, that he needed another eight reserve squads called in and another Warrior of the Blood to the Superstitions on the double.
“Done.” He almost smiled as he thumbed his phone. The women at Central could handle anything. And no argument.
He took one last look at the field. The Militia squads were holding their own so he knew where he needed to go.
One problem remained. If he didn’t release his dark power, something he never did, how the hell was he supposed to support Santiago? In his current state, if even three turned on him, he’d be dead.
And he’d vowed never to allow that power to flow as it would, in smoky streams into the air.
His dark power possessed deadly, untried, and unpredictable qualities. Yet, from the time of his escape from a decade of captivity and torture, he’d had the capacity to battle at Warrior of the Blood level.
That he’d killed his captors hadn’t troubled his conscience even a little, but he still saw the faces of those guiltless men who had died despite his most strenuous efforts to corral the power and stop the deadly streams. He could still see them in his mind’s eye, hunched men, little better than slaves, who had cleaned his cell, bathed him while he was strung up in those heinous ropes, and who had fed him. More than once, one of those slaves had offered him a vein, which he’d taken greedily, as damn-blood starved as he’d been.
Their deaths lived like a terrible fire in his soul.
Thinking about the murderous sequence that had attended his escape brought more sweat trickling down his chest and back.
He flexed his sword in his hand, his gaze fixed on Santiago. The warrior’s situation hadn’t improved and back-up still hadn’t arrived.
Slowly he started to cross the desert in his direction. With thirteen pretty-boys still harassing him, and not one having yet fallen, it would only be a matter of time. Shit, a single misstep on the What-Bee’s part, and he’d be dead.
Samuel needed to release his dark power, but if he did, would Santiago get caught in one of those terrible, uncontrollable energy streams?
He heard Santiago give a shout, calling for back-up.
Samuel couldn’t remember the last time a Warrior of the Blood had called for back-up.
Holy fuck, Samuel had just run out of choices.
If he didn’t do this, if he didn’t at least try, a Warrior of the Blood would die tonight and it would be on his head for eternity.
Settling into himself as much as he could, he reached deep into his soul, the place where he’d found all that power, that had helped him escape a decade of torture.
With his chin low to his chest, and his gaze fixed on Santiago, he allowed the power to take him over, to rise in a dark, possessive tide, up and up, building an excess of strength into every limb until his quads twitched, his biceps flexed, and his molars ground against each other.
The darkness moved straight up, invading his body, searing his muscles, power that didn’t belong in this ascended world, not on Second Earth at least. No, this had always felt like something greater, like a Third Earth manifestation.
And with the power, a smoky mist rose from his body, a dark thin cloud that swirled around him.
More power followed and the bloodied sword in his right hand no longer felt heavy from tedious hours of battling, but became light as a feather.
He held his position, however, waiting to see if the deadly streams of energy flowed from him. If they made even the smallest appearance, he’d fold himself to the middle of the desert in order to keep from killing his brothers-in-arms.
But he felt nothing as he had the night of his escape, when rage had flooded his heart and mind and delivered up this power for the first time.
In fact, he felt in control of what now possessed him and when Santiago shouted again, Samuel made his decision.
The time had come.
He folded three feet behind the arc of the black-winged bastards that kept Santiago pressed against the mountain wall.
“Hey, assholes,” he called out.
Two of the pretty-boys turned around, a big mistake for one of them. Santiago, who had battled at Warrior of the Blood level for most of his life, took advantage of Samuel’s move and drove his sword straight through the death vampire’s kidneys, sending his shriek into the air and his body lurching forward into cactus and dirt. Without missing a beat, his sword once more moving like lightning, Santiago returned to battling the rest of them.
The second death vamp offered Samuel a slow smile and in any other situation, he’d have reason to fear the significantly more powerful death vampire. A big motherfucker, this one definitely carried more muscle mass, though he matched Samuel’s six-five height.
But Samuel knew his strength, so he smiled in return, which gave the bastard a moment’s pause before he engaged.
Samuel’s sword met steel, the strike sending a heavy vibration up his right arm. He countered, and smiled as the pretty-boy took a step back. The death vampire was incredibly beautiful with long dark hair, a porcelain complexion, and an aligning of features that eventually made him and all his murdering buddies look alike.
Enthrallment, of course.
The death vampire finally lost all his good-humor and came back enraged that he’d lost his easy victory. He even whistled for back-up.
Samuel’s turn to smile. “Can’t do this alone? Bring it, pretty-boy.” The nickname sent color at last into the death vamp’s oh-so-lovely complexion as well as a series of reckless moves.
A few seconds later, as Samuel continued to match his slices and thrusts, one of his buddies joined him.
Samuel kept summoning the dark power and his muscles filled with all that incredible strength. He gave it free rein because these bastards needed to die. Death vampires drank the innocent to death in order to get at the euphoric nature of dying blood.
He folded, spun, and caught one of the death vamps straight across the hamstrings so that the pretty boy dropped to his knees.
Just as the other turned to engaged, Samuel folded again, but instead of landing on earth, he materialized in the air above his enemy, something rare in his world. He brought his dagger from his weapons harness into his left hand and as he came down on the vamp, drew the sharp blade in a clean cut across his throat.
Samuel folded once more, spinning mid-dematerialization then reappearing behind two death vamps still battling Santiago. The rest of the action became a blur of cutting tendons, running slices through wing-locks, and of course taking off the oh-so-beautiful heads of his enemy.
He breathed hard when the last headless corpse leaked blood over the dirt. He stood with arms wide, sword up, still on alert as his gaze searched for the enemy high in the air and into every crevice of the monolith.
“Samuel? Is that you, hermano?”
He heard his name and spun in Santiago’s direction. A metallic smell coated the dusty desert air.
The famous warrior looked at ease, wiping his blade down with a cloth he’d folded into his hand. His sword had a ruby set in the center of the cross-guard.
“Fuck,” Samuel spit. He’d meant to get the hell out of there before Santiago took stock of him, but the battle had kicked his fighting rage into high gear and all he could think about was being ready for the next round.
Santiago drew his thin warrior phone into his hand and called for clean-up. When he ended the call, he said, “Close your eyes.”
Samuel dropped his lids and a flash told him that Jeannie had orchestrated a full scale removal of disconnected debris including corpses, body parts, and blood. The process took only a couple of seconds, so yes, Central had power. He popped his eyes open and here was one miracle of their world, that they now had technology to leave a pristine desert behind after a battle.
“When were you going to show Luken this power of yours? Or Jean-Pierre? Right now I’m not sure which brother will be more angry with you.” Santiago still had a Spanish accent, even after several centuries, something that tended to stick for all ascenders, depending on place of birth. Santiago was from Mortal Earth Spain a few hundred years ago.
“Never.” Samuel’s voice sounded rougher than usual. His power had that effect.
He turned, ready to fold someplace else, away from the battle site in order to resume his natural state, but back-up had finally arrived.
Luken, the leader of the Warriors of the Blood, stood beside Jean-Pierre and both men glared at him.
“I’m not doing this,” Samuel said, meeting Luken’s gaze dead on. “You can’t have this ability for your Warrior of the Blood shit.”
Samuel had been a Militia Warrior, a Thunder God Warrior, almost from the day of his ascension to Second Earth in 1908. He didn’t want to leave behind the men who had held his loyalty all these decades. Besides, he couldn’t always control his dark power and more than anything he feared hurting or killing someone, other than the enemy, by using it as a weapon on a regular basis.
“You may not get a say in this,” Luken said. Built like a tank, he led the What-Bees, as the Warriors of the Blood were known among the Militia Warriors.
He had blue eyes and long blond hair, extra-long like all the What-Bees, and caught back in the required clasp called the cadroen. Women followed him around at the Blood and Bite, taking care of his needs with little more than a snap of his fingers.
He opened his mouth to explain, but Jean-Pierre, usually good-natured, stepped into him and got right in his face. “You Goddamned motherfucker!” The words were so strange spoken in his French accent. “All these months that I have worked with the Militia Warriors, seeking to build up those with exceptional power, but you never said a word to me or anyone else. I suppose not even Duncan, who is your friend and who helped you escape.”
“Don’t blame Duncan. He knew, but he understood my reasons.”
“Fuck those reasons. Merde, how many times did I speak to your section and ask if any warrior had an emerging power that he wanted brought forward, developed? And this is what you have had all the time? Were you laughing at me, warrior?”
“No. Fuck, no.” Samuel took a step back, horrified that Jean-Pierre would accuse him of such a thing.
“I am pissed past speaking the words!” Jean-Pierre’s nostrils flared. “How could you have held back this tremendous power that I have just witnessed, so dark and so beautiful, like a flow of smoke and mist around you? Or do you not understand that even though Greaves, is gone, we still have a terrible war threatening our entire world?” He grunted his exasperation and without waiting for a response, he lifted his right arm and vanished.
Samuel turned to meet Luken’s gaze, wanting to explain, but the usually affable warrior shook his head, and muttered, “You’ll be hearing from us.” He also lifted his arm, the signal for a fold, and vanished.
Samuel stood very still, distressed that he hadn’t been given a chance to explain. The warriors viewed him as having let down the war effort, but he knew what he risked each time he released the dark power.
And how the hell could Jean-Pierre have described it as beautiful?
As his dark power began to recede, and the attending smoky mist that came out of his body, evaporated, Samuel pivoted to glare at Santiago. He waited for the warrior to say something, and so he did. “Incoming.”
The air turned arctic and Samuel shifted his gaze to the night sky as another eight more death vampires descended out of the inter-dimensional trough, that nether-space between dimensions, sent by a Second Earth general of vast power.
“Hermano,” Santiago said. “You probably should summon that bad-shit of yours again because I have one slight problemo.” He pivoted to away from Samuel to show him the deep skin burn he had along the back of his left calf. The warriors, Militia or otherwise, called any cut a skin burn, unless it incapacitated movement. Blood still seeped from Santiago’s wound, trickling down his calf and into his leather battle sandal.
“Fuck.” Samuel reached down deep and once more let the darkness come. As the bastards landed in the dirt, all fresh and ready to go, Samuel added, “Bring it on, assholes.”
Santiago offered him a smile, full of white teeth. He looked back at the first beautiful death vampire and jerked a thumb in Samuel’s direction. “What mi hermano said, asshole.”
* * * * * * * * *
Vela Stillwell sat straight up in bed and planted a palm between dripping breasts.
A nightmare that wasn’t a nightmare.
She set a stream of curses rippling the air and leaving behind tiny little fireworks–one of her more exalted powers that she kept hidden. Normally, the sparkling lights made her smile, but right now she was pissed as hell.
She didn’t want this, more power than she’d ever asked to have and a connection to another Militia Warrior.
She didn’t know the man in her dreams, but he had a darkness about him that both frightened her and left her feeling weak in a womanish way, like she wanted to be with him, wanted to be under him.
The vision, or whatever it was, had taken place in the desert and the warrior had been battling out at the Superstitions. He’d helped out a Warrior of the Blood, the super-sexy Santiago that had half the women at HQ racing to the workout center whenever it was known he would be running sword drills with the Thunder God Warriors.
Vela avoided the workout center.
The last thing she wanted was to hook up with another warrior. She’d loved and lost a man of the sword and she couldn’t go through it again. So, when the women at lunch got to talking about who looked particularly hot in a battle kilt these days, she’d usually make an excuse and head back to her desk early, on the opposite side of the building, where she worked crunching numbers, invoices, and purchase orders.
She’d been widowed five years now, but it still felt like yesterday since Jeff was killed in the line of duty, while battling death vampires at the Awatukee Borderland.
Waking up, therefore, with weird dreams about a warrior she didn’t know, but who appealed to her in an erotic, primal way, chapped her hide especially since today would be her last day at HQ.
She’d finally decided to leave the Apache Junction Two compound so she wouldn’t have to be around the whole Militia Warrior camp. She wanted a fresh start and next week she’d take up her new job as a counselor at the rehab center where she’d be working with Fiona, Warrior Jean-Pierre’s mated breh, helping to rehabilitate former blood slaves.
She checked her bedroom clock. It was already half past five. She got up and worked out for an hour, something she’d done since Jeff died. The exertion kept her sane.
She dressed in her usual dark slacks, light blue silk blouse, and low heels. She let her unruly, and very thick, long blond hair flow free, ignoring all the errant curls, letting the uncontrolled mass be a sign of the change to come, that after today she’d begin a new, less restricted life.
She folded to the HQ landing platforms, on time as usual, and went to work, sitting in her office and processing purchase orders for all kinds of weaponry, uniforms, and electronic equipment. Over the past several weeks, the latter had become an almost constant stream of acquisitions for Warrior Thorne, the Supreme High Commander of the Allied Ascender Forces. He’d set up a working HQ, a Command Center, at Madame Endelle’s palace during the time preceding the battle at White Lake that saw Greaves’s defeat, and he’d continued building up his operations since.
Now, apparently, he had a new set of problems.
Vela always got a headache thinking about the turn in the war. What had begun as a great victory and celebrated throughout the world as a resounding defeat had already taken on the shape of a nightmare. Three of Greaves’s generals, as a contingency plan to his failure to win his mano-a-mano battle against Madame Endelle, had essentially taken their master’s army, hiding over three hundred thousand troops each, which added up to almost a million warriors, and had subsequently begun launching guerilla-like attacks against Thorne’s AAF.
The body count among the Thunder God Warriors had hit numbers that forced her to avoid certain websites and newsfeeds.
She couldn’t get away from all of this chaos soon enough and she intended to be as far away from the action as she could get.
She glanced at her computer and saw that it was now ten-after-five. She was officially done and could say adios to HQ forever.
Yes, a new life awaited her and she chomped at the bit to get started.
Of course, she only had three purchase orders left to process, and since she couldn’t stand the thought of leaving the task undone, she kept working. What was twenty more minutes?
But as she prepared to print-out a hard copy of a particularly troublesome document, she heard a familiar group-giggling sound and she smiled.
Her time was up.
“Shut it down, Ascender Vela. You no longer work here.”
She looked up and saw her three closest friends, all looking chic and young, grouped in her doorway. She loved her world that at least two of her friends were over a hundred but didn’t look a day past thirty. Sweet.
As she did a double-take, she realized all three wore silly grins.
Suspicion set in.
“All right, what’s going on?” she called out. She closed the last file and signed off. Despite that her friends were clearly up to something, a deep sigh of relief left her. Her tour of duty at Militia Warrior HQ was officially over.
She stood up and grabbed her purse.
“Well, we’re definitely taking you out for drinks,” Donna said. “But first, have we got a surprise for you.”
“Really?” She grinned. “I hope it involves a cake with that really bad-for-you, sugary-white frosting, because I’m in.”
When she reached the door, Bev and Chris flanked her left side, and Donna, who shared HQ grid-work with Bev, took her right.
“This has nothing to do with that kind of cake,” Donna said, “but it is cake if you get my drift.”
“As in beefcake,” Chris drawled.
Vela stalled out and couldn’t make her feet move. “Please don’t tell me we’re going to the workout center.” Anything but that.
“Oh, yes we are,” Bev said. “We’ve heard it on the grapevine that someone special is being brought in, a warrior we’ve been hearing rumors about for the past several months but have never seen. He’s the one Duncan helped rescue from that weird prison cell in Honduras Two, where he’d been tortured.” She lowered her voice. “Apparently, he did something last night out at the Superstition Borderland that has all the What-Bees in an uproar. For one thing, he really pissed off Warrior Luken and you know how good-natured he is.”
Vela started getting that really bad feeling that Bev’s description matched the man from her nightmare and her heart rate cranked up a notch. What if this was him? What if she walked into the workout center and there he was? Wouldn’t it mean something? Wouldn’t the preternatural nature of the situation demand that she do something?
Her heart sank. She didn’t want a connection with another warrior, not any kind of connection.
So she stopped in her tracks. “Please, can’t we skip this? In fact, why don’t we all go out to dinner? I have a friend who works at the White Lake Resort Colony. I’m sure I can get us into any number of restaurants over there.”
“Hell, no,” Donna said, as Chris and Bev nudged her along. “Before you leave HQ permanently, we want you to enjoy a bit of eye-candy, because, girl, locked away in the rehab center, you’re going to die of man-starvation. At least here at HQ, you get to see Militia Warriors coming and going, but there? You’ll be lucky to see a man once a decade.”
Which was exactly what she wanted.
She took a deep breath. “Fine.” She only had to get through the next half hour or so then she’d never be back here, never be tempted by something she really, really, didn’t want in her life.
Besides, they could drag her to the trough, but she didn’t have to drink.
* * * * * * * * *
Samuel woke up from the night’s battling with an urgent message from Carla, who worked the daytime shift at Central, to get his ass over to the workout center. Essentially the higher ups had their panties in a wad about what went down at the Superstitions last night and wanted to chat with him.
And Endelle would be there.
Which of course meant that Thorne would be on deck as well.
Yeah, he was pretty much screwed.
He shaved and showered as fast as he could, but he ached from head-to-foot. Releasing the dark power had forced him to work a whole bunch of muscles he swore he’d never used before. Even his speedy vampire healing had taken its sweet time fixing things up.
Santiago met him at the landing platforms, a smirk on his lips.
“Why the fucking workout center?” Samuel knew that crowds often gathered to watch Jean-Pierre train the Militia Warriors who had emerging powers. He so didn’t want to be there, on display. Jesus.
But Santiago slung his arm around Samuel’s neck, squeezed, then laughed at him. “Thorne wants a demonstration. Besides, that much power, hermano? We need you on board and Thorne will have your cojones if you don’t join up.”
“Si. Mucho fuck.”
This time, Samuel laughed. He took long strides and Santiago joined him. They both wore flight battle gear, getting ready to head out for the night. He also knew that Santiago often stopped off at the Blood and Bite first, meeting up with the What-Bees before a night of battle. Hell, he might even head there himself. After facing off with Thorne, he might need a drink, maybe even a little action in the red velvet booths.
As he reached the doorway of the workout center, Luken waved him over. The leader of the What-Bees stood with Thorne, Madame Endelle, and Jean-Pierre.
But if that wasn’t bad enough, a combination of civilians and warriors now packed all four risers that ran the length of the west wall. He’d never been to the center himself during office hours, but he’d heard tales that once Warrior Jean-Pierre had started working with the Militia Warriors, some of the civilian staff at HQ, and an equal number of warriors took time out to watch the training sessions. “Are there usually this many people at the workouts?”
“No, hermano. This is all for you.”
“Shit.” So the rumors had been rolling. Great.
Neither Colonel Seriffe nor Gideon were present since their current joint duties included running mass Militia Warrior training exercises in North Africa. Extensive surveillance had delivered up the strong possibility that one of Greaves’s generals had a base of operations out there.
Luken’s grim expression didn’t help. The brother generally had a calm disposition. But not right now.
Thorne glared at Samuel, his arms crossed over his chest. Though he spent most of his time at the palace Command Center, he still wore flight battle gear.
Jean-Pierre ground his molars and refused to make eye contact.
Endelle stared at him with raised brows, clearly more curious than pissed. She wore a typical, off-the-rails outfit, this time with some kind of sheer tunic that hung to her knees, covered on top by a massive necklace around her throat that descended almost to her waist, made up of hundreds of small spiral white seashells. Snug leopard pants showed through the tunic. Her black stiletto boots gave her several inches on Thorne. And to top it off, literally, she wore a crown made up of electric-blue, bird feathers and some kind of fuzzy yellow thing in the middle. Vintage, Endelle. She looked perpetually ready for mardis gras.
But as he passed by the risers, his steps slowed. A funny kind of scent wafted in his direction, very light and floral, even sweet. Perfume, maybe. And somewhere in the back of his head he knew that scent, as though nothing more important existed. He might even have stopped but the fragrance faded so he continued his march.
Given the audience, he hoped Luken intended to take the conversation to the conference room, but the moment he drew within fifteen feet, Thorne started in. “What the hell have you got to say for yourself, warrior, that you would hold back this kind of power, when you know how desperately we need Warrior of the Blood capacity right now? Santiago gave a full report before turning in early this morning. What the fuck?”
Samuel glanced at Luken, but again, the grim set of his lips remained just that. Apparently, regardless of the spectators, Thorne intended to deliver a serious dressing down.
Rumors had it that once Endelle ascended to a higher dimension, Thorne would take over as the Supreme High Administrator of Second Earth. He had unbelievable power, including an ability to morph into any other person on the planet.
“The power I have,” Samuel stated as forcefully as he could, “isn’t stable. When it first emerged, it killed several innocent men, slaves I think. And I only allowed it out last night because it was either that, or watch those pretty-boys swamp Santiago.” He frowned. “And despite the fact that I felt in control, which is something I freely admit, I also know that there’s an uncontrollable side to whatever the hell this is. I don’t want anybody else dead because of it. And that’s the Goddamn truth!”
Thorne rubbed a hand over his brow. “Fuck. Okay, that’s reasonable answer. But, shit, we need you.”
“I know that,” he said quietly.
“When did this power emerge?” Endelle asked.
His gaze shifted away from her, away from all of them. He didn’t want to think about it, didn’t want to remember. He took a deep breath. “While I was hanging from ropes in that prison cell in Honduras Two. That’s one reason I’ve never trusted this power. It’s dark, it came from my hatred of my torturers.”
“Well, fuck,” Endelle said. She might have calmed down a bit since she defeated Greaves, but she hadn’t lost her sailor’s mouth. She shook her head a couple of times. “Listen up, warrior.” She angled her thumb toward Jean-Pierre. “You need to put yourself in JP’s hands, and start trusting some of the What-Bees, that maybe they’d be able to handle this dark-ass power of yours and help you gain control of the rest of it.”
He opened his mouth to speak, to argue, but she shushed him. “Ch-ch-ch! Not a word, asshole. You’ve been holding out and we’re all pissed as hell. We’ve got a full-blown war on our hands and the Borderlands have expanded with activity every Goddamn night. So, this isn’t a discussion. You will work with Jean-Pierre and you will like it. Do we understand each other?”
He nodded. “Yes, Madame Endelle.”
“Good. Now someone tell him about Duncan. I’m outta here.” She lifted her arm, and much to everyone’s dismay she folded straight from the workout center, which set the alarms shrieking. Luken already had his phone to his ear and a few seconds later, the alarms shut down. No one folded in or out of Militia HQ, without express permission, except by way of the multiple landing platforms.
Once his ears stopped ringing, he focused his attention on Luken. “What about Duncan?” The warrior was one of Samuel’s few good friends and had helped him to escape his captivity a year ago.
Luken met his gaze squarely. “Duncan’s missing. We don’t know where he is, or what happened to him. He disappeared while battling at the New River Borderland two nights ago. There’d been so many teams folding in and out of the space that it took almost twenty-four hours before we concluded he’s now MIA.”
“What?” Samuel’s chest tightened. “But how the fuck is that possible?” Duncan was an extremely powerful Militia Warrior and one of two dozen who had been working with Jean-Pierre to bring his What-Bee powers on line. In recent weeks, Duncan had confided that one of his emerging powers involved visions, maybe even similar to Elise Jordan’s immediate visions, but he’d know more in the coming months.
Samuel hadn’t seen him in over a week since Duncan’s responsibilities as a Section Leader for the Thunder God Warriors kept him damn busy. Samuel had never been much for socializing in any significant way, preferring battle and clubbing, but he considered Duncan a good friend who had helped keep him sane during the past year, as he adjusted to his return to Militia Warrior service.
He was just about to ask what he could do to help, when that scent came to him again, this time much stronger, like a river of scent that started wrapping around him. He even turned in the direction of the risers, though uncertain why.
He sniffed the air, and drew more of the scent into his nostrils, then his brain. He even felt a little dizzy. But the weirdest part – the scent started affecting his groin, stiffening his cock.
What the hell was that?
He needed to find out.
* * * * * * * * *
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt from THE DARKENING! Let Guardians of Ascension become a new journey for you!
THE DARKENING released on February 14, 2013!
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Caris Roane is the author of five paranormal novels for St. Martin’s Press and several indie pubbed novellas. Writing as Valerie King, she has published fifty novels and Novellas in Regency Romance. Caris lives in Phoenix, Arizona, really doesn’t like scorpions, and has two cats, Gizzy and Sebastien.
(Photographer/artist – please note: If any of the above photos belong to you, I would be happy to include your credit here as well as a link to your website! Thanks, Caris Roane)