Authors: Lauren Dane
“Dane has an extraordinary gift . . . While it’s easy to fall in love with the hero, it’s also easy to like the heroine.”
RT Book Reviews
“A super thriller . . . The lead couple is a solid paring of two alpha warriors while the evil enemy has been around seemingly forever.”
Genre Go Round Reviews
“Compulsively readable . . . Interesting world-building, page-turning action and a truly satisfying romance.”
“[I] can’t wait to see what Ms. Dane has in store for us next.”
Under the Covers
“Slow-building romance set in a well-developed world with characters you just can’t help but love.”
Dark Faerie Tales
Heart of Darkness
“Fresh, fun, fast-paced paranormal romance. Spellbinding magic, a wry-humored, gutsy heroine and a sexy-as-sin hero put the charm on this witchy new series from multitalented, always fabulous Lauren Dane!”
New York Times
“Dane always delivers a steamy, exciting ride . . . She leaves me wanting more!”
New York Times
“Unputdownable . . . Great characters, wonderful world-building and, as always, a delicious romance. If you pick this book up, make sure you’ve cleared the afternoon.”
—Ann Aguirre, national bestselling author
“The world Lauren Dane has created here is big and bold.”
Reading the Paranormal
“I was riveted . . . Passion, magick and suspense . . . An instant favorite.”
“The characters are compelling, the love scenes steamy hot and the world she has built sparks interest in the reader for more.”
“Pulse pounding . . . Dane delivers!”
New York Times
“Scintillating! . . .A roller coaster of emotion, intrigue and sensual delights . . . I was hooked.”
—Vivi Anna, author of
The League of Illusion: Prophecy
“Erotic . . . Sure to keep you reading late into the night.”
New York Times
“In a word . . . amazing.”
RT Book Reviews
Berkley titles by Lauren Dane
Bound by Magick
HEART OF DARKNESS
The Brown Siblings
(A Berkley Heat Special Novella)
The Federation Chronicles / Phantom Corps
The Delicious Series
(with Maya Banks)
THREE TO TANGO
(with Emma Holly, Megan Hart and Bethany Kane)
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) LLC
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
USA • Canada • UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • India • South Africa • China
A Penguin Random House Company
A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright © 2013 by Lauren Dane.
Excerpt from Heart of Darkness by Lauren Dane copyright © 2011 by Lauren Dane.
Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.
Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.BERKLEY SENSATION
is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.
The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-59246-5
Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / November 2013
Cover photo by Claudio Marinesco.
Cover design by Rita Frangie.
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.
tasted magick. Magick and blood rushed over his skin and through his system. His beast surged forward as he caught a human male by the back of the neck and threw him up against a nearby fence.
His beast raged within, aching to be let free. Ached to rip those who dared harm his protected to small pieces.
These humans had thrown firebombs into a community center that had been full of Others at the time. The parking lot had been full. Children had been playing on the field out back.
If it hadn’t been for Clan Gennessee—who’d posted guards who’d noted the behavior of those humans who’d attacked them—they’d have been worse off. Fortunately, they’d acted immediately and evacuated.
His fist made contact with a man’s face, satisfaction roaring through Faine as the human crumpled to the ground.
The air was filled with the stench of the fuel used in the firebombs. With sweat and fear. His beast loved the latter.
Most of the humans were down, but what caught his attention was
She strode through the melee like a Valkyrie. Her magick sang with each step she took. Men fell all around her as she managed to use her fists and her power to push them back. Her face was a mask of fury and vengeance.
He blew out a breath as he took her in from head to toe.
Helena Jaansen was magnificent.
She was totally focused as they fought the humans for a few minutes more before the threat they posed had been thoroughly dealt with. The police had not shown up yet, though some ambulances had arrived and those who’d escaped the building when it had been firebombed were being treated out of the fray.
He watched her hungrily as things wound down, and when it was over she put her fingers to her lips and whistled loudly. Her men and women froze, turning their attention to her.
“I want a team working immediately to gather evidence. Get the kits from the van. John and Evan, I want everything on video. The police will arrive shortly. Do not impede them, but do not cede ground either.”
There was absolutely no doubt who was in charge and her people responded quickly and efficiently.
“I’ll keep an eye on these humans.”
Helena looked to Faine. “Thank you. Feel free to break something if they try to escape.” She turned away, issuing orders as she went.
The police rolled up seconds later, exiting their cars with their weapons drawn.
Helena approached them, her hands up. “Nice timing. The people responsible for trying to kill a community center full of people are all there.” She indicated where they’d taken prisoners. “Subdued and bound until you arrived.”
“On the ground!” one of the officers screamed.
Helena looked at them and then at the people they’d apprehended lined up at her feet. “My hands are up and my identification is in my back pocket. I am
going to get on the ground.”
“We will shoot you if you don’t comply.”
One of her brows rose slowly. “You can try. Or you can do your job and deal with this situation you avoided until you figured it was over.”
hung in the air, unspoken, but not unheard. Magick crackled from her body as she spooled energy from the earth beneath her, from the air all around her.
She kept her hands up, but also her feet. “There’s video of the attack. We’ve got a backup, just in case it gets
. You’re free to look at it. My people are guarding the room where the monitors are. It’s in a relatively unscathed part of the building. Back door, up the stairs to your left. They know you’re on the way, but they
continue to monitor as you watch. We’ll wait right here with our hands up while you do.”
“You don’t give the orders here.” The cop who stepped forward sneered. She was unmoved.
“Officer—” She leaned forward slightly, reading his name tag. “Officer Franklin. I’m Helena Jaansen, and as you’re too late on the scene of an assault called in twenty minutes ago, let me catch you up to speed. I’m not giving orders. I’m letting you know how it is. You can either protect us all, as is your job, or you can refuse. In either case,
will protect my people. And you won’t stop me from protecting children from these thugs. I have no desire to make this into an issue. But should you . . .” She shrugged. “I’m not a defenseless four-year-old just trying to jump rope. I can fight back.”
The tension built up in the air all around her. And all around the witches who stood near her. They’d taken enough abuse and would endure no more. If the cop didn’t figure that out, if he decided to ignore it and push his luck, Faine knew what would happen. And who’d still be walking when it was all over.
Another law enforcement guy came up through the crowd. “Stand down, officers,” he called out.
Franklin looked back, clearly intending to countermand, but when he saw the blue windbreaker and the big, yellow FBI letters, he stopped. “This is out of your jurisdiction.”
“You can put your hands down,” the FBI guy told Helena. She did, but she kept her body at attention. “Firebombs are actually firmly in our jurisdiction. Especially when it’s connected to a nationwide crime syndicate aimed at a certain group of citizens. That’s right smack dab in our wheelhouse.” He held out his identification to underline that.
One of Helena’s brows rose again and Faine wanted to put his lips on it. So often she kept her features impassive, but she had a rogue eyebrow that said what she so rarely did out loud.
FBI guy looked back to Helena. “You were saying there was video of the event?”
“Marian?” One of Helena’s people approached slowly, keeping her hands in plain sight. “Can you show Agent . . .”
“I’m Gil Anderson. Head of the new Cross Species Task Force.”
“The what?” Officer Franklin and Helena said this in unison.
“We set up this week.”
“Okay then. Marian, please show the agent up to the room with the monitors.” Helena turned back to Anderson. “We have backups of the video, by the way. I was just telling Officer Franklin this.”
“You don’t trust us to be fair?” Anderson asked this after one of his agents went with Marian.
“Experience has taught us to be cautious about human motivations. I don’t know you one way or the other. But I do know such evidence has been
more than once since this mess started. And that makes me careful. Careful keeps people alive.”
Anderson nodded. “Fair enough. Officer Franklin, please take the humans on the ground into custody. My people will conduct interviews at the station.”
Thwarted, Officer Franklin put his hands on his hips. “You can’t just jump in the middle of this!”
“I can. And I am. So, please get these men and women cuffed. Read them their rights and throw them in cells. Separately, please.” Anderson turned back to Helena. “I’d like to interview you and your people as well.”
Faine took up a spot next to her. She didn’t seem to mind, but Anderson did. He looked Faine up and down, a frown on his face. Too bad.
Helena watched them begin to process the humans and turned back to Anderson. “If any of these assholes gets
on the way to the station, I’m going to be vexed, Agent.”
“That would make two of us. Look, I’d prefer if we could start off on the right foot. I
here to help.”
“You’ll have to excuse my pessimism, Agent Anderson. Months of constant harassment, attacks, death and threats have left me less than trusting, even when someone claims they want to help.”
Agent Anderson blew out a breath. “I understand that. I truly do. But this task force is in place to try and stop all that.”
She nodded. “I’m Helena Jaansen. I work for Clan Gennessee.”
Anderson looked up into Faine’s face. “Faine Leviathan. I work for her.”
Faine caught the ghost of a smile flitting over her lips. Just a brief flash before it was gone.
“You’re a Were of some sort?”
“Of some sort.” They’d all decided not to reveal the existence of anything beyond the Veil. For the time being, no humans needed to know a damned thing about Lycia or the packs of Lycians, part man, part giant wolf, who dominated it.
Helena decided to forge ahead. The FBI guy appeared to want to ask more about Faine and she didn’t want that.
“At four p.m.—prime after-school time, by the way—the guards noticed a group of humans who seemed to be casing the building.”
“How did they know to identify that behavior as casing?”
Helena just shot him a look. “Really, Agent Anderson?” There was no need to let on just how well trained and militarized Clan Gennessee was, or the level of training of those Others who made up their new unified defense force. Or hell, even the existence of such a defense force. However, they did need to understand the Others were not going to allow themselves to be victimized any more.
He sighed. “Fine. Go on. But don’t think I’m not going to want to know just how well your people are trained.”
He could want it until the sun burned out. She’d tell him what
wanted him to know and nothing more.
“They watched, notifying me and my people. One of the guards came out to get a closer look.” Her mouth flattened briefly as he cast a look toward the body, covered by a sheet, that they’d moved out of the way of traffic. “He was attacked by two humans, shot in the head before he’d had a chance to react. The guards inside then began an evacuation of the Others inside the community center out the back as those humans threw what we later ascertained to be firebombs through the front windows of the community center.
“By this point, we’d arrived, having only been in La Habra. They have automatic weapons, but we also have our own mode of protection. One of the men you took away is Gentry Fenton, one of the lieutenants for PURITY.”
“How many of them were there?”
“Fourteen at the first.” Faine broke in with his rumbly voice. Despite the stress and grief of the situation, it still made all her parts tingly. “Then a van approached with six more.”
Anderson interviewed her people, spoke to his own after they’d viewed the video and left two hours later.
PURITY had thrown twenty people with guns and bombs at a building full of kids and elderly people. It had been bad enough that some humans had gravitated toward the bigoted message of groups like PURITY and Humans First. But this sort of violence was on a whole different level.
And becoming rapidly more common. Her sister, along with one of the witches from Owen, Molly Ryan, had been injured multiple times, most recently in the bombing of a legislative hearing room.
The human separatists clearly had no problem killing and maiming, nor with harming humans who happened to be nearby. Things were escalating and they had to answer the threat with a defense of their own. She hated it. Hated that it was necessary.
Worse, she wasn’t sure how much longer things could go on without erupting into full-blown civil war.