Book 2 in the Fae Touched Series
DUTY IS EVERYTHING TO JAMES
Wolf shifter James Reed is a devoted truemate to Sarah and proud protector of the magical community. But a command from the region’s vampire prince forces him to face an impossible choice: abandon his family or turn his back on his people.
Ordered to infiltrate a group of renegade shifters, James discovers the danger to the Fae Touched way of life is more significant than he ever imagined. When the rebels’ plans endanger his beloved Sarah and threaten the fragile peace with humanity, James struggles to make the right decision. Should he fulfill the vital mission to secure the future of the Fae Touched or follow his heart home?
DUTY IS EVERYTHING TO JAMES—BUT IS IT WORTH LOSING HIS MATE
Contents include unapologetic alpha males, brave heroines, a bit of cursing, a little violence, and some steamy scenes—tastefully done, of course.
Book 2 in the Fae Touched Series
Read an Excerpt
“I won’t do it.”
“It wasn’t a request, Mr. Reed.”
Wolf shifter James Reed turned from the Dádhe prince and strode to the chapel’s wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. He propped his shoulder on the engraved wooden frame and watched the sun begin its ascent over the streets of Mud Island’s Queenstown. James smiled without humor as the morning light spread across the cobblestones and chased away the dark shadows, guaranteeing the ESC’s vampire heir would have a painful trek home.
The pre-dawn, clandestine meeting was arranged without informing James of the reasons beforehand and what had been revealed so far didn’t jell with the enormous sacrifice Prince Myles Handley was asking him to make.
“You don’t need my help unearthing a few witches who are in bed with the knights,” James said, grinding his teeth to keep them from lengthening. He was holding onto his human form by a thin thread.
The Knights of Humanity, or the KoH, were an influential human-run organization with a radical agenda to repeal the Fae Accord. Abolishment of the almost ninety-year-old treaty between the Fae Touched community of magic-users and their human neighbors would threaten the sovereignty of all nonhumans in the US, and could ultimately lead to war.
“If incendiary magic was used in the latest rash of off-island vandalism against Fae Touched businesses as we suspect,” James continued, “the traitorous Anwyll will be found and brought to the queen’s justice.” The swift punishments were far harsher than any carried out in a human court of law.
“Disloyal witches might not be all we have to worry about.” Prince Myles crossed over to James with his hands buried deep inside the pockets of crisply pressed trousers. The vampire didn’t flinch as the first diffused rays of daylight streaked across his face. “It appears the rumors that shifter outcasts have taken up with the knights in the ongoing attempt to disrupt the peace between the two species are more than rumors. If true, we have to find out how these males are remaining sane without a Clan’s binding.”
“It’s not possible,” James said. An exiled Ferwyn wouldn’t be able to function long without an intact bond with an Alpha. He’d turn feral within twelve months of breaking ties with his shifter pack.
“Which is why your cooperation is vital. I need you to infiltrate the rebel Ferwyns. Discover whether another monarch has sent an Alpha across our borders to control these Clanless shifters and why they’ve chosen to join the enemy. Or if it turns out an outcast from our region is right-minded enough to hold together a surrogate pack…dispose of him.”
“When Noah was whelped, I promised Sarah that I was done with dangerous undercover work.”
“You can’t tell your mate or Commander Walker about this assignment. No one can know.”
James grabbed the lapels of the Dádhe’s suit and got up in Prince Myles’ impassive face. “You want my truemateto think I left her willingly? Lie to my pack’s Alpha?”
“It’s necessary for the success of the mission.” His voice was calm, his body lax. “Commader Walker would never approve the abandonment of his sister. Even though there is no one better suited for this job than you.”
“It won’t work.” James shook his head, unable to hold in a growl. “Sarah and the pack will never believe it. None of my teammates on the Guard will either.”
“Be convincing,” Prince Myles said, his incisors remained hidden, his scent unworried. “I’m counting on you being persuasive enough to cast doubt on your loyalty. Your apparent defection will do the rest.”
“No.” He lost the battle for control, claws emerging and tearing the expensive fabric of the vampire’s jacket. “I won’t let Sarah think I’ve deserted her.”
“Can Mrs. Reed convincingly fake the despair of a truemate’s betrayal?”
“No female could,” James snarled, gums swelling and canines aching for release.
“Exactly, and as I said earlier, this isn’t a request.” Prince Myles’ piercing green gaze met James’ glowing wolf-yellow without fear or sympathy. “A strong alpha male can survive a prolonged separation from his Ca’anam.”
“But our claimed females cannot. Mentally or physically. Her body will start deteriorating in a matter of weeks. And if I’m captured or forcibly kept away from Sarah too long…” He lifted the prince onto his toes, a low growl vibrating in his chest. “She. Could. Die.”
“Then don’t get caught,” he said, hands finally leaving his pockets to wrap around James’ wrists like cold, steel bands.
“How do you expect me to pull this off?” Was he going to do this? Did he have a choice?
“It shouldn’t be hard to fake that you’re tired of the ongoing harassment of our people by the humans and upset Commander Walker has not pressed the issue with the vampire queen.”
“Samuel won’t be fooled easily.” James pried his nails free, releasing the prince’s suitcoat.
Prince Myles straightened his tie, tugged at the cuffs of his dress shirt and calmly said, “Challenge him for the position of Alpha in Memphis. That should be sufficient proof.”
“Fuck you,” James replied, teeth gritted.
“Remember to whom you are speaking, wolf.”
“Fuck you…milord.” The scent of damp earth and a hint of lengthened incisors warned James he was pushing the prince’s patience. He didn’t give a shit. “And I’m speaking to someone who wants my child to believe his father is a traitor.”
“Noah’s reached his majority. He’s hardly a pup.”
“Desert my pack.”
“Defy my Alpha and betray my queen.”
“They’ll be told the truth.” Prince Myles waved his manicured fingers. “Eventually.”
“Abandon my Ca’anam.” James’ voice broke. “Knowingly cause Sarah pain.”
“She’ll forgive you.” The vampire popped his jacket’s collar to cover the bare skin on his nape before slipping on mirrored aviators and turning to leave the small vestibule.
James opened the mating bond; the connection with Sarah strummed with peace and contentment. The pull of their tie told him she was west of the chapel. Still asleep in their bed. He’d left a note, explaining he had to run an errand for the Guard. The first of many lies to come if he accepted the assignment.
He couldn’t do it. Couldn’t hurt Sarah.
“Milord, I can’t…”
“Mr. Reed,” Prince Myles interrupted without turning around. He opened the exit door, and sunlight spilled into the room, washing over the Dádhe’s exposed skin. “I wouldn’t ask for this sacrifice if it wasn’t necessary. My gut tells me the freedom of our people…your family…could be at stake if we do nothing.”
The vampire dug his hands into his pockets again and stepped into the blazing sunshine.
James stared at the closed door, clutching the pew so tightly the wood creaked. “Your gut better be right.”