The Warlords. Brenna and Seb’s book is almost here!
Only she can awaken an icy warlord’s immortal heart, but can she survive the aftermath?
COVER: Montana Jade
Title: Winter’s Awakening
Series: Warlords of Empyrea #2
Release: Sept 17th, 2019
Dark warlord Sebris will sacrifice anything to save his angelic dominion of Dregarus, even shed his own blood. Snatching the foretold mortal from her world is nothing—as long as she can find the missing artifact their realm desperately needs to survive. He expects a mere pawn, not a fragile human woman who confuses and tempts him, stirring in him a desire that is as dangerous as it’s deadly.
After a freak accident lands florist Brenna Graham in a coma, she awakens to find herself in another world and in the care of a cold, ruthless immortal. The Darkrean leader both draws and terrifies her. Still, she’s furious over the abduction she unwittingly agreed to. But the longer she’s with him, the more she discovers an unexpected, tender side to the icy warlord. As barriers shatter and rigid laws are broken, an unabiding passion consumes them.
Except, time is not on their side in the dying, war-ridden world. But for a chance at a future and an ever-lasting love, they must fight for survival. When unseen enemies target Brenna, their bond is brutally tested. Sebris vows to bring down dominions to save the woman who became his heart…
“Another great action-packed adventure, teeming with tension and excitement, from Georgia Lyn Hunter. The broody, sexy, Alpha warlord with a heart of gold and the brave, snarky heroine make this story a must-read for Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance fans.” ~Celia Breslin
“Seb, it’s time.”
Cursed stars! Sebris bit back a snarl at the rough shake of his shoulder, pain shrieking through his skull. Impossible agony bled not only through his head but into his bones, too. “Xev, I swear on our useless creator, you’ll be dust coating this damn realm if you do that again—”
Teeth clenched, he sat up, feet hitting the cold floor. “What in Urias’ hell did I do?”
“You went straight through two bottles of vodka last night—or what was left of the dark hours,” Xever, his ever-helpful second-in-command expounded as if he needed a damn answer. But using liquor as a crutch certainly didn’t help him.
Sebris dragged his naked self from the bed and stumbled to the bathroom, wishing it were a hangover giving him the bone-eating anguish.
“For hell’s sake, later—” He winced, more pain dripping through his skull like acid at his burst of irritation. Emotions, not good—not good at all…
Breathing deeply through his nose, he tried to shut out everything, lock down his mental shields, but nothing worked. Of all the senseless things he’d done, and there’d been plenty in his impossibly long life, boozing to numb the pain was topping the list.
He, the leader and commander of Dregarus’ vast militia, sought succor in alcohol.
A snort sounded. Sebris knew what was coming, didn’t want to hear it. “Cork it, Xev.”
His second plowed on regardless. “You know you could go find a female here and fuck that pain back into submission?” Like Sebris needed the reminder. “It would hold you until we get back home and can equate. You’ll get rid of all the er…” Xev sought for a word, humor animating his eyes. “Crabbiness. Sure, liquor dulls the pain some, but the backlash bites ass. Aftermath’s hell. Mortal females are a far better indulgence.”
“I don’t need your lecture. I have the damn council members for that. And I don’t do humans.” Sebris shut the bathroom door on Xev’s grinning face.
Crabby, he wasn’t. Pissed definitely. He’d slept—passed out, whatever—in this dratted hot human world. As a Darkrean, his kind preferred the cold and lesser sunlight.
He hadn’t been back to Dregarus in weeks to equate. His powers had flatlined days ago. They always did when his kind stepped foot out of their world. The wound on his abs from the fight several days ago with the Empyrean in The Village hurt like a bitch. Even his healing abilities had slowed. Now he walked around tight-lipped, black-eyed, and ghost pale, the downside of not equating.
Releasing a shuddering breath, he staggered into the shower and turned on the faucet. Fists planted on the tiled wall, he squeezed his eyelids shut. Cold water pelted him like needles, but was still too tepid, accustomed as he was to the sub-zero temperatures of Dregarus.
Soon enough, the alcoholic fumes cleared from his mind, but another spike of pain impaled his head. Stars! He wanted to gouge out his eyeballs. Mowing down on his jaw made it worse. He had to calm down, or he would be crawling back to Dregarus on his hands and knees, dragging the foretold one behind him.
Not even finally finding the female—the only one possessing the blood magic to track the missing mystical Stone of Light his world desperately needed to stop from fading into oblivion—made a dent in his ire.
Several minutes later, the pain-induced sweat showered off, he stepped out of the cubicle and dragged a towel from the rail, rubbing his wet hair before hitching the terrycloth around his hips. Raking his fingers through the damp, tangled strands, he lumbered toward the kitchen.
Xever set a mug of steaming black java on the counter, looking as energetic as a damn grasshopper. His eyes no longer bore the black strains that seeped into their irises when their powers drained, but they still appeared a murky gray. A thin black hairband held back his blond hair, revealing the multiple small hoops he wore in his left ear, the fine gold metal glinting in the kitchen light.
Sebris picked up his coffee, took a drink of the bitter brew, and bit back a curse. The liquid nearly caused second-degree burns in his throat. He aimed a flat stare at Xever. “We should have left when we had the chance. She could have healed on our world.”
“What do you suggest then?” Xever leaned against the kitchen counter, arms folded over his chest. Jagged tattoos peered out from the collar of his t-shirt and covered most of his biceps. “There’s an ice storm currently happening. We can’t risk her in it when she’s weak and injured. She is mortal. She dies, then we might as well lay down and call it quits, too.”
Sebris understood Xev’s fears. Their world of Empyrea resonated with arcane magic, tapped from the seven mystical Stones of Light. Two thousand years ago, one of the Stones suddenly vanished, and the link broke, causing their magic to diminish. The missing artifact had to be found and brought back before their realm faded into one of desolateness, and their demise followed.
But for Sebris, it was so much more than merely saving his world.
Pulling in a deep breath through his nose, he exhaled slowly. “I don’t need you to be my damn conscience as well,” he muttered without heat, managing to get his mental shields back up. The pain locked deep inside his bones from using a shitload of emotions eased a little. “I know what’s at stake.”
Xever picked up his mug from the counter. “You could have gone to Dregarus and equated. I would have kept watch over her here.”
Why he hadn’t asked any of his deadly warriors to do so, males who’d spent millennia with him searching for the Stone, he had no idea. He only understood one thing; he trusted no one near her. “I’m not taking any chances.”
Xever frowned, then shrugged and let it go, sipping his coffee.
Three days ago, they’d taken the mortal, Brenna Tiwari-Graham according to the label on her hospital chart, age twenty-four, straight from the hospital in New York where she’d been admitted for a head injury, then found they couldn’t actually leave the human realm with her. Their own world’s problem, a cursed blizzard, had stopped them.
If they didn’t need to equate, he would have been tracking for the missing artifact as soon as she’d recovered. But he was patient. He’d waited millennia. A few more days mattered little.
Sebris set his mug down. “Let’s get going before something else gets in our way.”
Refastening the towel sliding low on his hips, he left the kitchen and navigated the long stretch of corridor, stopping at the first door. He opened it and entered.
Unlike the first time, her floral scent didn’t hit him with a brutal punch in his gut, but seeped into him like a gentle caress. Shutting off his disconcerting reaction to the little human, in the same way he had his pain, he frowned at the purple bruise marring her left brow and cheek.
It still hadn’t healed. She must have slammed into the wall or the concrete ground damn hard. Her ebony, shoulder-length hair lay like lifeless seaweed against the white pillow, and despite her pale caramel coloring, her skin bore the ashy undertone of her ailment.
Except for the local doctor whom Xever had willed to attend to her, they’d remained isolated in this cottage Xever had rented for a week. Sebris refused to linger in the mansion situated further down the Hudson River with the Empyreans watching it like hawks. More, he wanted to be close to the soft spot in the woods surrounding the cottage to open the portal back into their world.
He sat on the bed and reached out to heal the bruise on her temple, but instead found himself tracing the delicate curve of her cheekbone with a fingertip then trailing across her lush top lip. Her feminine nose tapered in a slight tilt. He did not understand what it was about her that had him reacting in this odd way of wanting to touch her every time he came to this room. She was human, tiny, and nothing like the tall, strong females of his race.
Perhaps it was the fact he’d finally found her, the one who would help his world, and give hope back to his people. Or, perhaps he could at long last keep his centuries-old promise to the one who’d set him on this path—the one person he’d given up everything for.
Sebris withdrew his hand and willed the chosen awake, needing to see she was well enough to travel.
A low moan escaped her lush mouth, her brow creasing. Her eyelids fluttered open, and she blinked those long dark lashes as if struggling to see clearly, revealing startling, crystal-blue eyes.
“Angel?” her sleep-roughened voice whispered.
Sebris had no idea what it was she saw. He was the farthest thing from those celestial beings his fickle creator had shaped them after. Eons of blood and death stained his soul. He’d done whatever he had to, to get what he wanted. But if she thought him so, who was he to dissuade her of the halo she’d given him? “How do you feel?”
“Like an elephant sat on me.”
She’d joke despite her rough condition? He would never understand humans.
“We’re leaving in a few minutes…” Then he added, “Will you come with me, Brenna of Earth?”
Why indeed. Because telling her he didn’t want his enemies getting ahold of her while he recharged his waning powers wouldn’t work. He, who never explained his actions to anyone, said, “My world is dying. We need you.”
“I don’t understand—” a whimper escaped her, pain etching deep furrows on her brow. Healing others wasn’t one of his strengths, but still… With his thumb, he eased the lines, absorbing her pain. She sighed in relief, and his own bone-eating agony leaked out, spiking in response to his breach. He ground back a curse. “I’ll explain it all later. Will you?”
“Okay, I’ll go with you.” Stunning him into silence, she lifted her hand and gently ran her fingertips over his stubbly jaw. “You’re…hurting.”
“I’m fine.” Frowning, he willed her back to sleep. Her eyes closed, her hand falling to the covers. The fragrance of wild roses, a lot like the ones clambering up the walls of their mansion, teased his senses.
The sound of Xever’s boot steps echoing down the corridor pulled Sebris back to what remained of his common sense. A human sensing his discomfort?
Impossible. Being in this infernally hot realm was scrambling his brains.
He dealt in war, in keeping his world safe, and now in this quest. Humans didn’t hold his interest. But he was responsible for this female.
Sebris dug deep into his psyche and pulled up his mental shields once more, locking the agony from not equating deep within him. Back in his ice-cold mode, he left the room.
“God…” Brenna moaned, a wave of pain bursting through her head. Dying would be so much better. It was the recovery part that plain sucked.
Did someone smash her skull open and mush her brains? It sure felt like it.
She gingerly rubbed her temples, trying to ease the pounding there, and forced her eyelids open. Her blurry sight cleared, disclosing a sea of golden-brown wooden walls in a spacious but cozy bedroom. Intricately latticed dark timber suspended the domed ceiling above. Blue-streaked yellow flames rose from deep orange-blue crystal-like shards in the stone hearth adjacent to her bed. She blinked in confusion.
A low keening echo drifted to her. Her gaze snapped to the domed-shaped windows on the other side, revealing a whiteout. She frowned. There should be cars honking, voices adrift, people cussing. Life. Not a muted whine of a snowstorm. This was all wrong.
“You’re awake!” An excited cry erupted like nails piercing her head. “I will get Kyrii!”
Brenna winced and rubbed her sore head, catching sight of a slender figure in a dark blue, ankle-length dress disappearing through the door at the far end, enormous wings attached to her back dragging behind her. Wings?
Her heartbeat picked up in a fast staccato. Had she finally died from an asthma attack? Was she in Heaven? But she hadn’t been sick in a decade. It should be warm in Heaven, the buildings all sparkly white, or so she thought. She pushed up to sit—
“Oww,” she gasped, falling back on the bed. Every part of her ached as if after using her head to break concrete, someone had used her body to scrape up the gravel.
The door opened. An incredibly tall man stepped inside. Shadows concealed him for a second in the entryway. Then he moved, walking toward her with a predatory gait. Black pants molded to muscular thighs and disappeared into well-worn, knee-high black boots. An untucked, dark t-shirt hugged his broad shoulders and chest.
As he strode past the window, even with pain clouding her mind, Brenna’s breath caught in sheer wonder. So gorgeous…like an angel.
In the slant of dull daylight, his gleaming shoulder-length hair appeared like polished sheets of nickel bronze. The strands fell from a widow’s peak to frame his striking, aristocratic face.
But when she met those eerie onyx eyes, with the detached way he studied her, unease stomped out her fascination.
Dangerous. The word whooped around inside her head. Everything about him held about as much warmth as his cold, obsidian stare. He stopped at the foot of her bed.
“How do you feel?”
His tone held a dark, exotic edge. It scraped over her battered skin in a way that made her blood feel like warm molasses, and she shuddered, then frowned, so sure she’d heard his voice before. Except, she’d never seen him in her life.
She licked her dry lips. “Where—where am I?”
It hurt to speak. Ugh, she’d probably swallowed gravel, too.
The name rang no bells. “Who are you?”
“I’m Sebris. You are in my home.”
With him looming there like the Grim Reaper, Brenna felt at a horrible disadvantage lying down. Heck, he could take off with her soul or something. She struggled to sit up, but her body didn’t agree. A sharp breath escaped her, pain ripping through her hips.
In a flash, he appeared at her side, and she reared back, except there was nowhere to go, trapped in bed as she was. Firm hands slipped to her back, helping her up. Though his touch had been gentle, neither her body nor her head cared for any movement. She cried out, eyes squeezed tight.
“Get Adara.” His low, commanding voice had footsteps hurrying out. When the agony eased and she could breathe again, she found him seated on the edge of the bed next to her, his palm on her temple.
He eased her pain? Her disquiet grew further, her fingers squeezing the white covers.
The man rose, crossed to the nightstand near the bed, and poured water into a glass. He handed it to her. Brenna gulped some, the cold liquid soothing her parched throat, but before she could swallow more, he took the glass and set it down.
“No—” She tried to grab it back.
He pushed it out of reach. “Too much, and you’ll get sick. I can’t have that.”
Fear morphed to annoyance. She glowered at him and found herself trapped by those impassive ebony eyes. He folded his heavily muscled arms over his wide chest, appearing more intimidating than ever. “Do you recall anything? Your name?”
“Brenna,” she croaked, clawing through the fog in her mind… A blinding white light…flowers raining down on her—
“Oww—” She clutched her head, prism of colors spearing holes in her skull at her foray into disjointed memories.
“Kyrii?” a soft voice with a musical lilt said.
“She’s hurting, aid her.”
It took Brenna a moment before she could breathe through the pain. She dropped her hands and gaped at the tall ethereal woman with waist-length fair hair gliding toward her. Even the dull gray gown she wore did little to detract from her luminous pale beauty. Deep jade eyes swiftly skimmed over Brenna.
“My name’s Adara. I’m going to touch you and see where you still hurt. Is that all right?” she asked in a gentle tone.
Brenna blinked. Cool hands rested on her forehead, and she shut her eyes, desperate for the pain to ease. But with the spikes doing a happy jig nailing her skull, it didn’t seem possible. Soon a gentle warmth flowed through her, easing and dulling the barbs inside her skull. “That feels good…”
Why did she hurt so much—why was it so hard to remember? “What happened to me? I recall a blinding light and then nothing.”
“Try not to worry overmuch,” Adara murmured in a soothing tone and lowered her hands. The mattress shifted as she rose. “It will come back to you in time.” Sounds of glass clinked. Then footsteps. “Here, drink. It will relieve your aches.”
Sighing, Brenna opened her eyes and accepted the glass and sipped the slightly sweet liquid. By the time she finished it, whatever was in the drink, tugged her mind to shut down. She leaned back against the pile of pillows.
“Rest. I will check on you later.” Adara took the glass, set it down, then crossed to the tall, intimidating man who stood near the window. His arms remained folded over his chest, and he watched her with a detached intensity that made the fine hairs on her nape rise. She didn’t have to fake closing her eyes to escape his stare as sleep hovered.
“She needs bed rest, Kyrii. No questions about the accident. No pressure for now,” she said, her low tone stern.
Accident? “W-what accident?” Brenna mumbled, her eyelids too heavy to force open.
“You fell.” He, however, appeared more than willing to accommodate her. An aggrieved exhale escaped the woman.
She fell? Questions piled in her mind, but she found no voice as her drowsiness grew. And, as if from some far-off place, Brenna heard the woman ask, “Are you sure she’s the one?”
“I tasted her blood. There is no doubt.” His flat tone resonated with absolute conviction. “You need to get her well quickly while I equate. Nothing will stand in the way of getting the magic back to us. Nor can we have the rest of Empyrea starting a fracas if they discover we have her.”
There was something about the name she should remember.
“Soon, all will be as it should.” His cold words seeped into her fading mind, and she shifted restlessly on the bed.
Brenna forced her heavy eyelids open, wanting to ask what did he mean ‘all will be as it should?’ Instead, she met his chilling black stare and felt as if she’d fallen into an abyss of emptiness. She sensed nothing from him.
Fear tearing through her, she shut her eyelids tight, a whimper caught in her throat. What do you want from me?