Huge thanks are going out to Alexandra Ivy for sending us this story tonight! She’s deep in the “deadline cave”, so we don’t have a new story… but wanted to share something with all of you — so we’ve got an excerpt from her Guardians of Eternity series! She chose this bit of her story, based on this image…
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Excerpt from CONQUER THE DARKNESS
book 15 in Guardians of Eternity series
Ulric released a howl of sheer pleasure as he loped through the vast darkness. It’d been far too long since he’d had the luxury of leaving the glittering lights of Vegas to run across the desert. This week, thank the goddess, Chiron had returned his elegant casino on the strip.
That meant that Ulric could finally shift into his wolf-form and lose himself in the wild pleasures of the night. He ran, he hunted, he terrified a group of campers and bayed at the moon until his throat was raw.
All in all, a perfect night.
Dawn was nearing when he halted at the edge of the desert. Tilting back his head, he released a pulse of magic. A shudder raced through him before a shimmer surrounded his body. The thick, midnight fur disappeared, and his elongated muzzle started to shrink. In the space of a heartbeat he’d gone from a massive wolf to his human form.
Bathed in moonlight, he stood over six foot with the wide, muscled body that came from his long runs while in his wolf form. He also had the rabid temper of his animal, and the willingness to use violence when necessary. His skin was the creamy color of cappuccino and his eyes were golden and smoldered with an unmistakable power.
Running his hands over his smoothly shaved head, he wiped away the layer of sweat. The February air was cool, but he’d expended a considerable amount of energy during the night. Plus shifting always made him hot.
In a good, shivery way.
Primitive magic was always the best magic.
Stretching out his muscles, he moved to grab his jeans and black t-shirt that he’d folded on a flat rock. With a few efficient movements he was dressed and ramming his feet into a pair of military boots. Then, with a last glance toward the sky that was beginning to turn pink around the edges, he headed toward the city. Less than fifteen minutes later he was surrounded by civilizations.
As usual, he took the most direct route to Dreamscape, indifferent to the fact he was strolling through one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Vegas. What did he have to fear? Already he could hear the scrape of running footsteps. He had a badass vibe that sent both humans and demons scurrying out of his path.
A shame really. The adrenaline was still pumping through his veins. He wouldn’t mind the chance to knock one or two thugs on their asses.
Chiron, unfortunately, had strict rules on what Ulric could do to the customers, even if they were trying to cheat or being a drunken pain in his ass. It meant that he rarely had a chance for any fun. At least none that involved blood and screams of pain.
With a shrug of resignation, he jogged through a back-parking lot and entered the towering glass and steel building through the kitchens.
Like all of Chiron’s properties, this Dreamscape Resort was sleek, elegant and designed to please the humans who were willing to spend a small fortune to avoid the horde of tourists that descended like locust on the city. Only the high-end gamblers walked through the door or stayed in the luxury suites.
Ulric glanced toward the chefs who were sorting through the fresh ingredients they’d just purchased from the local markets before heading toward an opening next to the walk-in fridge. He entered a small, dark hallway and stood in front of the private doorway. He knew that Chiron would be making a last sweep of the gaming rooms before heading down to his rooms beneath the building. Although the vampire had a sun-proof office on the top floor, he always felt more comfortable when he was resting in his heavily fortified rooms buried deep in the ground.
On cue, Chiron opened the door and moved to stand directly in front of Ulric.
The vampire was not as large as Ulric. In fact, he was slender enough to look almost delicate in his expensive, tailored suit. His dark hair was cut close to his head and his features were finely chiseled. One glance in his dark eyes, however, warned the most thick-skulled creature not to screw with this male.
The temperature dropped by several degrees, but Ulric was accustomed to a chill in the air. He’d been with this vampire for over five centuries. Ever since Chiron had rescued him from the slave pits beneath the previous King of Vampire’s lair. The old Anasso had been addicted to tainted blood, secretly holding humans and demons in dark caves to feed his nasty habit. Chiron had desperately tried to reveal the Anasso’s treachery only to have his own master, Tarak, disappear and Chiron’s clan banished.
Chiron had rescued Ulric and together they’d fled. For several decades they’d simply drifted from one place to another, both needing time to heal the wounds inflicted by the previous Anasso. Then, on a dare by Ulric, Chiron had established his first gambling club. It’d been an instant success and Dreamscape Resorts had been born.
Ulric loved the challenge. Chiron concentrated on the style and finances of the business, while Ulric dealt with the vast staff. Chiron had given him a purpose to keep living, along with a sense of pack.
But in the past three months, everything had changed.
Ulric didn’t deal well with change.
Probably because it always sucked.
Easily sensing the strange agitation that boiled inside Ulric, Chiron tilted his head to side.
“Everything okay?” the vampire asked.
Ulric shrugged even as the question pressed against his raw nerves.
Was everything okay?
It should be.
He had money. Security. Females if he wanted them. And a master who was as close to him as any brother. So why did he feel like a dark cloud was forming just over the horizon?
It was just the recent upheavals, he fiercely reminded himself. Chiron was mated to a witch named Lilah. Tarak was released from his prison. And the new Anasso, Styx, made a habit of traveling to Vegas. No doubt out of guilt that he’d refused to believe Chiron when he’d claimed the former King of Vampires was a whackadoodle.
Ulric trusted Chiron. Period.
As far as he was concerned, the rest of the leeches could sink back into the netherworld they’d crawled out of.
It was no wonder he was feeling a little antsy.
“Everything’s better now that I had a chance to get out and stretch my legs,” he assured his companion.
Chiron studied him for a beat, obviously aware that Ulric was hiding something from him. Then he shrugged. He knew that Ulric wasn’t a touchy, feely, share-every-emotion sort of dude. He was a growly, bitey, dangerously rabid sort of dude.
He’d talk when he wanted to talk.
“I don’t think I’ve thanked you for taking care of things while I enjoyed my honeymoon,” Chiron said, smoothly changing the direction of the conversation.
“It’s what brothers do.”
“Not all brothers.” Chiron reached out his hand to lay it on Ulric’s shoulder. “I appreciate your loyalty, Ulric, even when I forget to tell you.”
Ulric felt a heat crawl beneath his skin as he cleared his throat. Clearly being mated was making the vampire all mushy.
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