Long ago, infamous vampire Enforcer Jasen Hawthorne was merely a man who loved a woman. On one tragic day, they were both brutally slain … only he woke up again, facing eternity alone. So he embraced his rage and became the force feared by even the monsters.
When the Vampire Queen’s estranged, bitter brother came forward with plans to dethrone her and destabilize all of vampire society, it fell on Jasen to find and eliminate him. But defeating the Original vampire is easier said than done, and when Jasen realizes the scope of the rising rebellion around him, he has little choice but to accept the help of an unlikely ally.
Indisputably the strongest water witch of her time, Rhea has long been ostracized from her community. She’s the witch her superiors call in when a situation is too dire for anyone else. This is why she was sent to Seattle, to investigate and put a stop to a string of vampire attacks. But she could never have anticipated the scope of the battle ahead, or everything it would dredge up.
Jasen and Rhea have to put aside their inherent differences and find a way to work together if they’re going to defeat their ancient enemy. What neither of them anticipated was the connection that already bound them, and just how significant the fight against the Original would become. If they survive when the dust settles, they’ll have choices to make that will change more than just their lives.
Rhea turned her gaze toward the bay for a long minute, quietly watching the waves roll against the shoreline. “Since we’re working together on this,” she said, “I suppose it’s only fair you understand why I want to be part of this fight.”
Jasen felt one of his eyebrows raise in time to the spike of curiosity inside him. He had thought it was odd that she was so insistent, but then, there was always the chance that she just felt she had something to prove. Not the greatest motivation, but also not the worst. Still, there was one point he felt he should make, too. “You realize if your interest is due to some spell that grants you the power of whoever you kill, we might have a problem, right?”
She faced him fully and rolled her eyes. “Don’t be ridiculous,” she said. “That’s a complete Hollywood gimmick. There’s no such spell.”
His lips twitched. “In that case, I’m curious.”
Her eyes practically glowed in the dark, with the water behind her and nothing more than a thin beam of light from inside the rental illuminating the beach around them. “There’s an old vow on the record,” she said after a moment, “an offer, if you will, first issued by a previous generation of Elders. The term we used to use for what’s now the Council. They offered what they considered an unachievable goal for quite a tantalizing prize.” She paused and drew a breath, as if her admission made her uncomfortable. “Any witch who slays an Original, without the aid of her fellows, will be set free from the oversight of her superiors.”
Jasen held himself still for a moment as a myriad of reactions ran through him. He was so well trained that the very idea of her words incensed him, and he had to pull the reaction back to hear her point. She wasn’t in any way saying she intended to go after the Queen. She wanted Boris—an acknowledged Original, who was neither his superior nor his responsibility. And she was being honest about what was in it for her. Hell, she was giving him valuable information, presuming the offer was one that would remain beyond this fight.
“Wow, I think I just saw emotion on your face,” Rhea said, a faint teasing tone to her voice.
Jasen grunted. “Trick of the light.”
Her grin remained. “I’m sure.”
Jasen straightened and walked up to her, stopping just outside of arm’s reach. “I’ve heard your Council can be oppressive,” he said. “Do you honestly believe they’ll let you go?”
She made a vague waving motion with her hand. “It was an oath. The promise cannot be broken.”
He inclined his head. “I appreciate you telling me that.”
Her hands flexed at her sides briefly. “Listen, Jasen. The whole concept of partnering up for work is fairly foreign to me,” she said. He had the distinct impression she was admitting something uncomfortable. “But since the end goal is important to both of us, I thought it would be helpful to make sure you understand why I’m invested. I screwed up today. I’m woman enough to admit that, and I appreciate you having my back.”
Jasen frowned as his instincts waged war with his reason. He didn’t like her blaming herself for what had happened, and he didn’t like that he felt so strongly about any of it. He said none of that. “You don’t have to thank me. That spell you’re talking about using tomorrow more than makes up for it.”
She huffed out a breath. “Don’t oversell it.” The tension had eased from her voice, though, so he assumed she appreciated his response regardless. Then she moved closer and laid a hand on his chest, between the zippered edges of his jacket. “Even vampires need their rest, you know,” she said, quieter, before her hand fell away and she stepped entirely around him.