Fleeing her arranged marriage, Adeline seeks sanctuary in Geistheim Abbey. Within its cursed walls she finds the beautiful, scarred monk, Daghan, who offers her shelter—for a price.
Daghan needs a pure soul to break his curse. Adeline isn't sure how pure she can be when she lusts after this stranger so badly. But before they can find out, Adeline's cruel fiance arrives at Geistheim to reclaim her. And he won’t leave without a fight.
She obeyed Daghan’s command and when she did, she saw he’d pushed his hood back. She couldn’t restrain her gasp. He was angelically beautiful: golden-haired and blue eyed. His face was perfection – except for one thing. A vicious scar branded his left cheek, a jagged cross that ran from the corner of his eye down to his lip. She couldn’t help raising her fingers to touch it. Pain filled his eyes as she did, but she didn’t stop. Adeline traced the lines of the scar, and felt the smoothness of his skin contrasted by the roughness of the cross. It didn’t ruin his beauty, she thought, nor did it enhance it. It was simply part of him, as much as those soft lips and sky-coloured eyes. It must have hurt though, and her heart bled for his pain. She wanted to ask how it happened but remembered to bite her tongue just in time.
“You have so many questions in your eyes.” He sounded amused. He ran his fingers over her cheek as she’d done to him, smoothing the pad of his thumb over her lips. She parted her mouth instinctively at his touch, and he slid his thumb inside. Adeline kissed it, trailing her tongue around it. He tasted of rosewood and spice. When he pulled his thumb back, she felt at a loss, but then he trailed his hands down her throat to cup her breasts and she sighed in relief.
“I was a good man,” he said, drawing delicate circles round her ready nipples. “A devout man, like all the monks here. I sought knowledge of our religion and our God, wanting new ways to understand and communicate with the divine. That was my undoing. I delved too deeply into the esoteric and occult. I learned too much and I wanted more. I discovered there was not just a divine realm, but an infernal one too. I found beings of dark power, found them willing to offer that power to men, for a price.” His voice turned bitter. “I didn’t understand the forces I played with. I didn’t think I needed to fear.”
His words sank into Adeline, and she knew she ought to be afraid. She ought to pull away, run away even. But his voice, that beautiful rich voice, kept her pinned. And his touch, so worshipful and full of promise, burned away her fear.
“I made a bargain and corrupted my soul. My brothers fled, knowing me to be cursed. I have waited here for years, Adeline, for a chance to undo my mistakes and now, as I am on the verge of giving up, you come to me.” He gazed at her as though she was a miracle, a divine gift, and it took her breath away. “My corruption can be cleansed, if a pure-hearted soul will save me. Would you save me, Adeline?”
She almost laughed. He had already seduced her. That he would ask her now seemed ridiculous. She was naked in his arms, ready and willing to give her body to him. How pure could she really be? “May I ask one question?”
He smiled and inclined his head.
“What is the nature of your curse?”
“I am shadow. I am darkness. When the sun rises, I am a wraith. I exist only when night falls.” He stared out the window at the storm raging in the black night. “I have prayed to feel the sun on my skin again.”
She kissed him then. She didn’t know if she was pure, or if their union could lift his curse. She didn’t know if it mattered. They were here together, two lost souls seeking sanctuary, and she wanted to offer him all she had to give. So she kissed him deeply, pressing her bare body to his, feeling the strength of him beneath his robes. He slid his hands down her back to cup her rear and lift her to her tiptoes, flexing his hips so his shaft pressed against her. Adeline felt herself grow hot and slick with desire, and she fumbled to pull his heavy robes away.
He laughed roughly and stepped away from her to do it himself. Beneath the discarded robe he wore a simple shirt and breeches, but before Adeline could reach for them, he gripped her hips and dropped to his knees. Holding her firm, he kissed his way up her inner thighs, gentle and slow. He drew patterns on her hips and across her buttocks with his fingers, lazy trails that sparked a desperate need in Adeline for something fiercer. She tangled her fingers in his silky hair, throwing her head back in pleasure as he made his way up to the juncture of her thighs. He licked and kissed at the sensitive skin there, shying away from her aching core but teasing, promising wicked pleasures to come. He traced the curve and crease of her buttocks, one finger slipping over her delicate rear entrance and making her gasp in surprise, before he found her clit. He swept his finger over that pulsing place, increasing the pressure little by little, until Adeline was sure her legs would give out.
Just as she thought she would have to beg him for more, a thunderous sound cut through her bliss. Not thunder itself, but a hammering and a shouting that echoed through the storm and turned her blood cold. "Falken," she whispered. She stumbled away from Daghan, sitting down hard on the bed, her heart racing. "He's found me."