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Authors: Angela Knight

Master of Darkness

BOOK: Master of Darkness
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Praise for the Mageverse novels

M
ASTER OF
S
HADOWS

“Angela doesn’t hold anything back. Anyone who is a Mageverse fan is going to love this new addition.”


Night Owl Reviews

M
ASTER OF
S
MOKE

“Knight’s clever and comedic seventh Mageverse paranormal . . . follows a passionate romance between an unwilling female werewolf and an amnesiac Sidhe warrior containing the spirit of a great cat, set against a complex series background incorporating vampires, witches, alien spirits, and the legend of King Arthur . . . The result is a successful mix of magic, romance, humor, and mind-blowing sex.”


Publishers Weekly

“If you enjoy a paranormal series with a healthy dose of erotica, enough wit to lighten the mood, battles of good vs. evil, and a new twist on an old story line, then what are you waiting for? Enter the world of Mageverse—I promise, once you get in, you won’t want to go back!”


Night Owl Reviews

M
ASTER OF
F
IRE

“A fantastic book . . . The story was fresh and new and exciting . . . Sure to keep the reader on the edge of her seat. Ms. Knight has outdone herself . . . [She] has created some of the hottest sex scenes known to man. The sexual chemistry between Logan and Giada is out of this world . . . Not to mention, the ending is sure to leave you craving the next book.”

—The Romance Studio

“A great addition to the Mageverse series . . . Most enjoyable.”


Book Binge

M
ASTER OF
D
RAGONS

“Many thanks to Angela Knight for keeping this series sexy and unique.”


Romance Reader at Heart

M
ASTER OF
S
WORDS

“Fabulous . . . A terrific romantic fantasy that spins the Arthurian legend into a different, unique direction.”


Midwest Book Review

M
ASTER OF
W
OLVES

“Grandmaster of the paranormal romantic suspense.”


Midwest Book Review

M
ASTER OF THE
M
OON

“The author has certainly gotten inventive with her Mageverse series, and there’s no denying it is something different among the current glut of paranormal books.”


RT Book Reviews

M
ASTER OF THE
N
IGHT

“A terrific paranormal romantic suspense thriller that never slows down until the final confrontation between good and evil. The action-packed story line moves at a fast clip.”


Midwest Book Review

W
ARRIOR

“A wonderful science fiction romantic suspense.”


Genre Go Round Reviews

“The character chemistry is gorgeous; the sex is searing hot; the world fascinating and a joy to explore. All in all, a great book!”


Errant Dreams Reviews

J
ANE’S
W
ARLORD

“What an awesome, scintillating, and sexy book!
Jane’s Warlord
is intriguing, extremely sensuous, and just plain adventurous. A star is born.”


RT Book Reviews
(Top Pick)

[Angela Knight’s] world is believable and her plotting fast- paced. Knight’s fictional world seems to have a promising future.”


Booklist

Berkley Sensation titles by Angela Knight

Mageverse Series

MASTER OF THE NIGHT

MASTER OF THE MOON

MASTER OF WOLVES

MASTER OF SWORDS

MASTER OF DRAGONS

MASTER OF FIRE

MASTER OF SMOKE

MASTER OF SHADOWS

MASTER OF DARKNESS

The Time Hunters Series

JANE’S WARLORD

WARRIOR

GUARDIAN

CAPTIVE DREAMS

(with Diane Whiteside)

MERCENARIES

Especials

“MOON DANCE” FROM OVER THE MOON

Anthologies

HOT BLOODED

(with Christine Feehan, Maggie Shayne, and Emma Holly)

BITE

(with Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, MaryJanice Davidson,
and Vickie Taylor)

KICK ASS

(with Maggie Shayne, MaryJanice Davidson, and Jacey Ford)

OVER THE MOON

(with MaryJanice Davidson, Virginia Kantra, and Sunny)

BEYOND THE DARK

(with Emma Holly, Lora Leigh, and Diane Whiteside)

SHIFTER

(with Lora Leigh, Alyssa Day, and Virginia Kantra)

HOT FOR THE HOLIDAYS

(with Lora Leigh, Anya Bast, and Allyson James)

BURNING UP

(with Nalini Singh, Virginia Kantra, and Meljean Brook)

MASTER OF DARKNESS

ANGELA KNIGHT

 

 

 

 

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

MASTER OF DARKNESS

A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Berkley Sensation mass-market / August 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Angela Knight.

Excerpt from “Enforcer” from
Unbound
by Angela Knight copyright © 2013 by Angela Knight. Cover art by Gene Mollica. Hand lettering by Ron Zinn.

Cover design by George Long.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-1-101-58127-8

BERKLEY SENSATION
®

Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

BERKLEY SENSATION
®
is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

As always, I had a lot of help on this book.

Virginia Ettel, my dear Bookdragon, did troubleshooting on my giant snake, originally far too fat and un-snakey. Author and Gaelic speaker Eileen Gormley kept Finvarra from sounding like a Lucky Charms commercial. Shelby Morgen (aka the Queen of Porn, the Mistress of Darkness, and She Who You Don’t Want to Sing to You) kept me from collapsing into a whimpering heap of self-doubt. Sandy (aka Camille Anthony) helped me avoid a nasty anticlimax. Kate Douglas, Markeeta Karland, and my beloved friend Diane Whiteside spotted assorted plot holes, typos, and logic problems.

My agent, Jessica Faust, provided encouragement and suggestions in the book’s early stages. Congratulations to her and her husband on their new baby boy, Ryland.

Thanks, as always, to my patient editor Cindy Hwang, without whom I would have no career. Her assistant, associate editor Leis Pederson, is always willing to help with my latest crisis. Thanks, Leis.

I also want to dedicate this, the ninth and last book of the Mageverse series, to my sister, Angela Patterson. She has always been my dearest friend and cheerleader, even in the days when I was struggling to get something,
anything
, published. She will never know how much that meant to me. Her husband, Chuck, has been a source of warm encouragement and the occasional cackling laugh. (Sometimes at my expense.) He and Angela love being grandparents more than anyone I have ever seen. As well they should, with grandbabies Princess Naomi and the Bonny Princes, Charles, William, Richard, and Henry.

Most of all I want to thank my loving (and beloved) parents. My mother, Gayle Lee, encouraged me to become a writer from the time I was nine and wrote “The Mouse Who Went to the Moon.” Her unstinting praise made me believe I could actually
do
this. My father, home builder Paul Lee, taught me the meaning of dedication, hard work, and craftsmanship, characteristics I have tried to bring to my writing.

As always, I want to thank my husband, Michael, who is still the loving heart of every hero I’ve ever written. My son, Anthony, and his friend, James Berg, provided meals and housecleaning when I was too busy writing to do either. They are much appreciated.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to dedicate this book to
you
, my readers, who have stuck with me through the Mageverse series. I hope that you will enjoy the coming books in my new Familiars trilogy. Thank you for reading!

A
NGELA
K
NIGHT

ONE

William Justice arched
against the mattress like a man being tortured on a rack, his hips rolling upward as he braced his big feet on the bed. Breathing in pumping pants, he ground his head back into the pillow and growled. The low rumble didn’t sound human.

An erection curved high over his taut abdomen, hard as a blade, flushed dark and thick with need. A single bead of pre-come clung to the curving tip of his velvet glans. He sucked in a deeper breath, making the long shaft dance. The drop broke free, hit his belly, and rolled into his navel.

Dropping his hips to the bed, he went still, dark lashes fanning his cheeks as his eyes flicked behind his closed lids, tracking the dream that tormented him.

One big hand fell into the sheets, curled into a fist around a handful of twisted cotton, and gripped hard. A bead of sweat rolled down the thick curve of his biceps, drawing a shining trail as it worked its way along the contours of muscle.

As always, he dreamed of Miranda Drake. Miranda, with eyes the vivid gold of sunlight-shot amber, and a mane of hair as red as fox fur. Her breasts looked intriguingly full beneath the soft cotton T-shirts she favored, usually with some snarky phrase scrawled across the front. Snug blue jeans drew attention to her long runner’s legs and delightfully curvy ass.

Justice had never seen her naked anywhere except his dreams. These days, that was damned near every time he fell asleep. Sometimes he dreamed her nipples were the color of peaches on the sweet cream curves of her breasts, or candy pink, or soft, dusky rose. But in every single dream, her scent intoxicated him with its rich, erotic promise as she reached for him with a wicked, witchy smile.

Never mind that the real Miranda treated him with a cool, distant professionalism that made it plain he was her bodyguard. And that was all.

All he was. All he’d ever be.

“Dammit, Miranda.” Lips peeling off his teeth, Justice growled, the sound deepening to become a bestial rumble. “Miranda!”

Magic flashed. Blazing sparks engulfed him in azure energy. The glowing outline of Justice’s big body grew even bigger, muscles bulging thicker, swelling along lengthening bones. Fingernails curved into claws, shredding the sheet he still gripped. A silken tide of sable fur raced across his body, thickening over chest and groin just as his short hair lengthened into a thick, black mane that extended halfway down his back.

Justice woke with a jerk, pointed ears flattening against his skull. “Fuck,” he growled through the sharp teeth filling his long muzzle. With a disgusted growl, he rolled out of the king bed that was now too short for him, leaving behind shredded navy sheets.

Third time this week he’d wrecked the bed. That damned witch was driving him insane.

Justice stalked on clawed toes to the stained glass window, jerked the latch up, and swung the window wide. Fall air gusted into his face, cool and damp with the woody smell of decaying leaves. Judging by the angle of the sun, it was early afternoon. They’d started keeping Magekind hours, he and Miranda, sleeping during the day and going on missions at night.

You did that when you worked with vampires.

Bracing his hands on the window frame, he stared out across the elegant cityscape of castles, chateaus, and villas that surrounded Miranda’s cottage. Towering walls of marble and granite shone in the afternoon sun, surrounded by trees gone orange and gold with autumn. Topiary knights and ladies danced and jousted between the gilded oaks, swaying in the afternoon breeze.

Avalon.

An enchanted city built by witches on a world that was the other-dimensional twin to Earth, Avalon inhabited a universe where magic was a natural force, like magnetism or gravity. You could use that power to build a house—or turn into a werewolf.

Two months ago, Justice had agreed to serve as the bodyguard Miranda desperately needed. Her father had sworn to kill her, and he was more than capable of carrying out the threat. Even King Arthur and his vampire Knights of the Round Table weren’t enough protection.

Not against Warlock, immortal wizard, werewolf, and all-around son of a bitch.

Justice wasn’t sure he was good enough protection either, especially given this damned sexual obsession he’d developed. Bodyguards did not become obsessed with the bodies they guarded. Not and keep their clients alive.

Yeah, that did it
. Looking down, Justice saw that the thought of Miranda in danger had indeed killed his hard-on. He swung the window closed, turned to brace his back against the cool wall, and tried not to remember the dream.

So of course he remembered it anyway. Miranda, naked on her knees, offering him the smooth, perfect peach of her ass. Her witchy eyes shimmered as she smiled at him over one slim, pale shoulder. Her oval face reminded him of an Art Deco goddess, with its delicate strength and long Roman nose. Dusky rose lips curved in a white and wicked smile, seductive as Eve’s. Her gleaming hair cascaded around her shoulders in a thousand shades, from fox-fur to antique gold, and her round, pretty tits danced as she moved. Her pink nipples seemed to beg for the swirl of his tongue and the rake of his teeth. Her slick sex pouted at him from the soft, fiery curls between her spread thighs. Ready for his aching cock . . .

Which promptly stirred and began to rise again, unfurling with the hot flood of arousal through his veins.

“You’re killing me,” Justice told the dream, raking both hands through his thick werewolf mane in pure frustration.

Dammit, it wasn’t as if she were in her Burning Moon. The Dire Wolf equivalent of heat struck fertile werewolf females once a year. During that month, their bodies produced clouds of pheromones that drove every male around insane with need. Justice’s obsession would be understandable if he’d spent weeks drinking that seductive scent. Only Miranda wasn’t
in
her Moon. The crazed heat he felt was purely his own creation. Meanwhile, she treated him with the unwavering good manners of a lady of the Chosen, a werewolf aristocrat who could trace her lineage back fifteen centuries. God knew what had inspired the erotic nymph of his dreams. It certainly had nothing to do with reality.

Dammit, he shouldn’t even be thinking about this. If he didn’t stay on his clawed toes, she didn’t have a prayer against Warlock.

Protecting people was what Justice did. It was what he was. Even becoming a werewolf hadn’t changed that. He damned well wouldn’t let it.

I am not going to let Miranda’s luscious peach ass distract me from keeping her alive.

* * *

Miranda Drake dreamed
of her mother’s death.

On some level, she knew it was a dream; she’d had this particular nightmare so many times, even her unconscious mind recognized it. Yet repetition hadn’t blunted its power to suck her into horror.

She screamed at herself not to open the door, but the dream Miranda did it anyway. Just as on that night three months ago, Gerald Drake stood on the other side—seven and a half feet of enraged, fully transformed werewolf. Snarling, her stepfather stormed into the house, slamming the door behind him.

Miranda backed away, her heart in her throat. He’d been beating her and her mother ever since she could remember. She knew this one was going to be bad.

“You utter fool!” Baring the knife length of his fangs, Gerald backhanded her before she could block the blow. She slammed into the wall with a crash that rattled the foyer paintings as she fell flat on her ass. “You betrayed your people.” His voice rose to a roar. “You betrayed your god!”

Miranda shook her ringing head as she fought to scramble to her feet. She had to get away before he hit her again.

“Gerald, wait!” Joelle Drake darted between them, raising her hands in supplication. “Miranda has done nothing to betray anyone, much less Warlock!”

He seemed to swell in his rage, towering over the fragile figure of his wife. “Don’t you dare lie to me, you stupid cunt! Calista Norman called—she told me all about what you did. How could you let Miranda anywhere near a Knight of the Round Table? You knew she’d talk!”

Calista, you bitch
, Miranda thought, steadying herself against the wall as the room rotated slowly around her. Stars flashed in her vision. He’d given her a concussion.

Again.

“We had no idea the knight would be there.” Joelle spoke in a desperate rush, trying to get through to him before he killed them both. “The ladies were holding a Grieving for Joan Devon, and . . .”

“Joan Devon!” Gerald mocked her in a high, singsong voice. “Why do you think Joan’s husband is dead, moron? She gave him up to the knights! Just like she”—he pointed a curving talon at Miranda—“gave up Warlock!”

“No, no, you’re wrong!” Joelle wrung her hands and darted a frantic glance at Miranda. “She told them nothing. Did you, darling?”

“Not a damn thing.” Miranda forced herself to meet her stepfather’s furious yellow gaze without flinching. “The woman tried to give me a communication spell, but Mother knocked it out of my hand and told her to stay away from me. So we left.”

Gerald’s long muzzle twitched, drawing in her scent.

Oh, shit
, Miranda thought.
I should have talked around it. He’ll know I’m going to contact . . .

“You lie!” He sprang at her, knocking Joelle aside with a sweep of one furry arm. Miranda skittered back, calling her magic as she retreated from his snapping jaws. The Shift raced over her body in a wave of fur as muscle and bone contorted like soft clay in the grip of her power.

“You dare change?” As she met his frenzied gaze, she realized he’d lost control completely. Gerald intended to kill her this time. “You dare fight me? You
dare
?”

Fear iced her veins, but she made herself sneer. She was tired of cowering before the bastard Warlock had appointed her guardian. “Oh, I dare. And if I get a chance to talk to Belle again, I’m going to tell her everything.”

“Then I’ll have to see you don’t get that chance, you traitorous bitch!” He drew back a clawed hand, obviously intending to rip out her throat.

Joelle threw herself between her daughter and the blow. “Ger—”

His claws ripped into Joelle’s face before she could get the rest of the word out of her mouth. She flew sideways, her body slamming into the base of the stairs with a crash. Something snapped with a crack that seemed to echo in Miranda’s skull. “Mother!” Forgetting her stepfather, she crossed the room in one leap, landing beside her mother in a coiling crouch. It was even worse than she’d feared. Joelle’s head lay at an impossible angle, the life draining from her eyes.

Oh, God. I finally got my mother killed
, Miranda thought numbly. She started to snatch Joelle into her arms, only to hesitate, afraid she’d somehow hurt her mother even worse. “Call 911!”

“It’s too late.” Gerald sounded utterly indifferent. It was no pose, either; he really didn’t give a damn. “She broke her neck. She’s dead.” He bared his teeth, stalking toward Miranda on clawed feet. Grabbing a fistful of her mane, he hauled her away from Joelle’s body as he drew back for another open-handed swipe of his claws. “And I’m not done with you.”

He didn’t notice the short sword his stepdaughter conjured into the hand held down by her side. He damned well
did
notice when she rammed it into his chest.

Miranda’s lips peeled off her teeth. “Well, I’m done with you!”

“Miranda?”
The female voice breathed into her mind.

She jerked the blade out of Gerald’s chest, and her stepfather fell onto his knees, gagging in agony. Emotionless as an executioner, Miranda took his head with one swing of her sword.

“Miranda?”
The voice called again.

He won’t be healing that
, she thought.

Miranda jolted awake, sweating, her body trembling in waves. She sat up and buried her head in her hands as tears rolled hot and fat down her cheeks.

“Miranda? Dammit, girl, answer your cell! We need you now!”

Jolted from her misery, she looked up. She’d thought the feminine voice was some new wrinkle in that god-awful dream, but now she realized it was Belle, using magic to touch her mind
.

Miranda grabbed for the enchanted cell phone on the cherry nightstand. Reaching into another witch’s consciousness took a hell of a lot of power, especially when one witch was on Mortal Earth and the other was in the Mageverse city of Avalon. It was much more efficient to use a cell spelled for inter-dimensional communication. “Belle? I’m here.”

“Finally,” her friend said, sounding relieved. “I need you and Justice. Now.”

* * *

A minute and
a half later, Miranda strode down the hall to Justice’s door. He was already up; she could hear him pacing.
Must be in wolf form
, she thought, listening to the click of claws on the bedroom’s hardwood floor.

Breathing in, Miranda caught the seductive male scent of an aroused Alpha Dire Wolf. And remembered his size, his strength, the tempting power of his hard warrior’s body.

Which was exactly why she needed to stay the hell away from him, no matter how sexy he was. The very last thing she needed in her life was another Alpha werewolf.
Just look what happened to Mom
, she told the nipples that stood in tight peaks behind the lace of her bra.
Besides, Belle needs us.
It was night in Pakistan, and Dad’s pet monsters had come out to play.

Miranda gave the door a businesslike rap of her knuckles. “Justice?”

After an instant of startled silence, he laughed. “Ah, sorry. I didn’t even know you were out there. Some bodyguard, huh?”

Actually, he was a pretty damned good bodyguard. He’d killed the werewolf assassins that had jumped them in Paris last month, along with the other assorted killers before and after that. She’d be dead a dozen times over if not for Justice.

Miranda cleared her throat. “Belle just called me. She needs us. Apparently the Knights of the Round Table got in a fight with some monster Warlock dreamed up.”

BOOK: Master of Darkness
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ads

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