He was an Adrastos Warrior, destined to protect the worlds–for the mate he would one day find. But when Haleos Adrastos finds his mate, the female wants nothing to do with him…
Kea knew the male was hers, and she wanted him, as was her right. But she was of Sebastos blood, and that meant the visions she saw would one day come true.
And Haleos could not stand in her way…
Haleos followed the girl, his hand gripping his sword, as she walked through the streets of Thrun. Why did she have no guard at her side? He had tasked one of his own warriors with that very job, yet that male was nowhere to be seen.
He would rectify the warrior’s failure himself.
Yet he did not see one wearing the color of her father’s House, either. Kea walked the streets completely alone. And that was not to be tolerated.
Haleos had met her father; the male did not seem the foolish sort. Yet Kea walked alone, wearing older garments and shooting looks behind her.
As if she felt Haleos behind her. It was possible the female, barely thirty in years, did just that. And was stubbornly ignoring him. Like she had from the moment he had lifted her from the ground after she had fallen from the cliff she had had no business being on.
He had been near the Demon River that ran through the southernmost edge of the city, patrolling and searching for his brother’s missing female, when a cry had rung out.
He had thought it might be his sister-in-law and had run in that direction. Even if it hadn’t been his sister-in-law, it had obviously been feminine, and as an Adrastos warrior it was his duty to protect.
He had found her at the bottom of a twenty foot cliff, burning mad with an injured ankle.
Haleos had questioned her but she had refused to tell him what she was doing. And when he had tried to force her to tell him, she had stubbornly clammed up and refused to speak at all.
So he had slipped his arm beneath her knees and the other behind her back and lifted her.
The instant he had touched her, he had known.
This stubborn, intractable, obstinate, hard-headed and foolhardy girl was the mate the goddess had chosen for him.
She had been running from him ever since he had carried her home to her mother. He had wanted to carry her inside and gather all of her belongings, then take her home to the suite he had inside the great hall, where the rest of his brothers and their females lived.
But the instant he had tried, his female had denied him. Told him that while the goddess may have chosen an Adrastos for her, she would not have him.
Nothing had ever hurt him more.
But Kea was young and frightened, and she lived so close to the worst area of the city—the area where Adrastos under his father’s rule had taken to tormenting young females. And joining with the demon gangs who roamed this area of Thrun, known as the Bottoms, wreaking havoc and destruction and fear everywhere those gangs stepped.
She feared him, because of his family name.
Haleos had no idea how to fix that. Especially since they argued every time he got close to her.
She had slipped from his arms four blocks from his home that first day and somehow managed to escape him. It had taken him over a week to find her again.
When he had, she had refused to acknowledge the bond between them to her own father. Effectively, she had shut him out. And there was nothing he could do about it until she changed her mind.
But that did not mean he would not do what he was able in order to protect her.
She should not be out here this day. Not with the rising that had occurred four days before.
Two demonic forces, far more powerful than anything that had been found within this demon world had burst from the ground beneath Thrun. One had been within his brother Havrich’s neighborhood.
Several mated pairs had been lost and his brother Rix’s female, Ambrea, had been gravely injured when the house she shared with her six sisters had been directly next to one of those risings. Ambrea and her sisters’ fates were still undecided, and the seven Woald sisters had been taken to the world of the great healers now.
If Ambrea died, his brother Rix would follow within days.
Mate bonds between Rajnis were just that strong.
He wanted his Rajni. But as long as she refused him, under Dardaptoan law, he had to give her what she wanted.
But he refused to not do what he had to in order to protect her.
She darted down a back alley. One she had no business being in. Haleos bit back a curse and followed.
She was getting far too close to the site of the second rising. The evil of that place still permeated the air. What in the Three Hells was Kea doing there?
Kea knew what she was doing was beyond reckless. But she’d woken that morning with the knowledge that this was what she was supposed to do. Her mother was of the Woald and Sebastos Houses and had passed on her gift of foresight to Kea. Enough to know when she was supposed to do something, or go somewhere, anyway.
And when a certain person needed her for something.
Cerian; it was Cerian who needed her now. A second cousin that she did not know well, other than from the school they had attended together as girls. But it was Cerian she could not get out of her head.
Cerian–who was in trouble.
Kea had seen Cerian on the streets a time or two—she was half-convinced Cerian, who had once lived with the parents of the very Laquazzeana who ruled the city of Thrun, might actually be living on the streets. Cerian was starving and had very few pieces of clothing and it was obvious that she had been abandoned by her family.
The hasha scarf, fabric every Dardaptoan wore to denote what family they belonged to, that Cerian had once worn had been black.
Now she was only seen wearing one of Woald yellow. Woald, like Cerian’s mother. It was through their Woald mothers that she and Cerian were related.
Her mother and Cerian’s had been first cousins and playmates throughout their childhood. Her mother had told Kea that she had tried to get Cerian after her mother’s death, but that the Blacks had claimed a closer relationship. They’d wanted the girl; at least Petr had.
But Kea suspected Cerian had been abused the entire time she’d been in their keeping. And now…
Every instinct she had told her that her cousin was out there and in trouble somehow.
And the only one who would even notice was Kea.
But someone…someone was following her.
Kea knew exactly who it was.
She wished she could trust him enough to tell him. To ask him to help her.
But the knowledge that he was an Adrastos terrified her.
She didn’t shout her Woald ancestry, but she wasn’t ashamed of it. Even with the things her cousin Uruses had done to endanger all of the Dardaptoan people. His crimes had tainted the Woald name forever.
But the demons in this section of the city—it was almost as if they had a way of sniffing out Woald blood that she just didn’t understand.
And they’d come for her.
And her cousin Reanna. Reanna’s father had been a Woald, too.
The demons really wanted Reanna.
She shivered again.
There were demons near. She could feel them.
Kea pulled her cloak tighter around her shoulders and just kept going.
She’d find Cerian and convince her cousin to come home with her to Kea’s mother, and then she’d get out of the Bottoms as fast as she could.
It was far too dangerous there now.