Mark of Lycos #3
Releases May 31st from Pride Publishing
Jericho Dark Walker is a Bear, a creature born to assume the form of man or animal. He’s second in command to the mixed group of shifters living in the Great Forest. When an opportunity arrives to represent the clan to oust an evil plaguing the outer edge of the Great Forest, he gratefully volunteers to work with the athmae-demons. The athmae assigned to work with him is a male demon as large as Jericho, and just as deadly. So why is Jericho so taken with the male when he has only ever felt desire for a female?
And why, when they rescue an annoying, sexy, female cat shifter from certain death, do his instincts scream to claim both the feline and the demon as his own? Bears don’t mate outside their species, yet everything inside Jericho pushes him to do just that. A cat, a demon, and a bear. Oh my.
Before Jericho could put some heat behind what would no doubt be a weak argument, Master Fel appeared. A wizened athmae and the king’s personal mage, Seino’s grandfather knew futures and pasts but never let his knowledge interfere with the present that Banathmae guided him to further. Other Kin avoided him like the plague, something he and Seino had in common. Great power often made those with less uncomfortable.
Seino nodded in deference. “Master Fel.”
“Seino. A pleasure.” The papery thin skin of Fel’s flesh pushed past the withered robe he wore. He reached out and grasped Seino’s hand.
Power shot through Seino and leeched away his will to do more than breathe. Fuck. More games. His grandfather’s eyes twinkled with joy, the red orbs glowing. Then Fel let him go.
Jericho frowned, glancing between them, obviously unsure of the exchange.
“Ah, and the young shaman. Returned to us at last.” His grandfather seemed too pleased, and Seino had a bad feeling he’d been railroaded into this assignment when the old mage cast a satisfied glance between them. Weir and his team had initially been assigned the mission to recruit help from the outside world while Seino battled with an overeager band of harpies killing Kin to the south. Then the king—the spokesman for Master Fel—had intervened. Instead of protecting the kingdom, Seino had been sent to the weak earthen plane. To find a bear, apparently.
Before Seino could introduce them, Fel took Jericho’s hand in a firm handshake.
“Good. Strong. Potent. You’ll be a good breeder.”
“What?” Jericho scowled. “Just who are you, old man?” He sniffed. “You smell of power.”
Fel ignored Jericho and released his hand. “The sorceress you want is no longer here. She took what she needed out of the Kin—their hearts, their power. And now she no longer needs us to go after the real prize.”
“Which would be?” Seino prodded when Fel said nothing, just stared at Jericho.
By Banathmae’s sword, he’d rather be killing things than dealing with the mysteries of his grandfather’s odd mind.
“You have two days here. Two days to build the trust you’ll need to defeat your foe.” Fel closed his hand and chanted. Then he opened his fingers and dropped three amulets into Seino’s palm. “Use these.”
Before Seino could ask in what capacity, Fel raked a long nail across Seino’s wrist, the pain like a parasite, stealing his ability to think. Blood spurted, rich and thick. The liquid soaked into the amulets, and they glowed a bright gold that faded into deepest black.
“Was that necessary?”
“What do you think?” his grandfather asked.
Seino took a deep breath then let it out slowly, reminding himself that arguing with his grandfather would only please the wily athmae while frustrating Seino to the extreme. “Protection?”
Seino gripped his wrist and willed away the pain, sealing the wound. Jericho, he noted, looked none too happy with his grandfather. A sign the bear felt protective? Or did Jericho dislike the powerful mage for some other reason?
“Aye.” Fel motioned for Jericho to step near.
“Oh, hell no.” Jericho didn’t move.
His grandfather sighed. “Stubborn as the rest of your kind.”
“Bears are immovable. It’s who we are.”
“No, not your animal. You. Dark Walker. It’s your family of whom I speak.”
“What’s the big deal everyone keeps making about Dark Walkers? What do you know about my family?”
“Put this around Seino’s neck and I’ll tell you.” The amulets disappeared from Seino’s hand and reappeared in his grandfather’s. But now, each amulet was fashioned into a necklace held by a thin, iron rope chain.
A harder scrutiny of the amulets made Seino step back. He suddenly understood what the hell his grandfather was up to. “No, I don’t think that wise. Jericho, step away. Don’t touch it.” The mission to find the killer suddenly paled next to avoiding a mating dance crafted by a wily old man wanting to see his grandson settled. But why he thought Jericho might give him progeny made no sense. Even Kin needed females to spawn young.
“Why? What’s with the necklace?” Jericho made no move to step forward.
“Don’t be afraid.” Fel dangled the amulets.
“I’m not. But I’m curious that he is.” Jericho narrowed his gaze on Seino.
Fel explained, in that veiled way he had that often preceded trickery. “Lord Seino fears the power you will have over him if you chain it around his neck. Perhaps it would be better if I gave it to him instead, that way he might control you.”
“No. I’ll do it.”
Trust the stubborn bear to so easily accept the thought of commanding Seino. “Jericho, really, don’t—”
The nasty grin on his face snared Seino’s lust between one heartbeat and the next. The wily bear wanted control, power, and a connection, even if he didn’t yet realise it. And everything inside Seino yearned for what the big bear would give him, despite not wanting a mate. There had to be some way he could fuck Jericho without forming a lasting attachment.
“Come here. Maybe you can beg me to take it off later.” Jericho’s dark brown eyes glinted with what promised payback.
About the author:
Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marie Harte has over 100 books published with more constantly on the way. She’s a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. Visit Marie’s website and fall in love.
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