I didn't start out like this.
Unsalvageable, dangerous, guilty of manslaughter, and unloved.
Before the mutation, I was only unloved. I lived in a spacious mansion with a father who never looked me in the face, and in secret I drew Lunar Adurian, the scarred guy always watching me.
The guy I hoped was unloved, too. I wanted him, at least, to understand.
Then the mutation hit us all.
Now I'm reviled by my father and stuck with Lunar, a guy who reeks of heartache and wants to hurt me. He hates what I am.
But he also awakens my sleepy soul, taking what was unloved and drizzling it with honeyed hope. He wants me to love him even as he wants me to hurt like him. It's a constant push and pull, on a balance we're both afraid to tip.
But maybe there's always a little self-destruction in love.
The fate of a city rests on the actions of three women.
Lysium, a guild slave in the city of mages, dances in the arms of her handsome, aloof husband and longs to understand why a shadow comes every night and steals some of her memories.
Essence, a shunned sorceress, is the last one holding up the demesne's protective walls, but her loneliness traps her in the web of a mysterious mage who brings her the one thing she cannot resist: love.
Melynda is the sorceress who tries to protect them both along with her assassin lover while keeping an entire society of mages and assassins secret from the corrupt magnate who would destroy them all.
It's a losing battle.
“You have three hours to tell us where she is, or else we kill him.”
That’s the choice the Coalition gives me: betray my best friend or have my partner killed. And this after they locked us under a caged sky and mutated us, giving us all wings with random-as-crap powers. Mine are sparkly pink ones whose favorite pastime is flirting and healing people and… worse.
But I was learning to live with it—the wings, the fact that my best friend had become a fugitive, the fact that I was falling in love with a guy with wings of ice, a heart of gold, and secrets he wasn't telling… but the Coalition used him again and again to force me to stoop to their demands—and I did. I bowed, I bent—I would not break—
But I will only go so far for love.
THIS IS ONLY A SAMPLE CONTAINING THE FIRST HALF OF THE BOOK
You betrayed me, Cezelia.
Yes, Drayven… I did. But you betrayed me first.
How? What did I do that you stand there now and watch me forced to bow at their mercy? I know you’re watching…
I can’t help but watch, because even now, you are beautiful.
Surrounded by shadows in an alleyway strewn with trash, you arch back on your knees, bathed in the light of their torches. The radiance from those flames illuminates the tattoos that cover your skin. The ink forms chains around your neck and coils and twines down your arms in shapes of dragons, weapons and calligraphy that disappear beneath the waistline of your pants.
Torchlight gleams on your hair. In the glow, its strands are the color of bruises.
I feel you standing in the shadows as I kneel before my foes...
Lorelei takes flight, her immaculate white wings outstretched, dazzling white against the darkening heavens, beautiful, exquisite. Without a backward glance, without a shadow of sorrow to mar her flawless brow, she soars away from me. The Untouched know no emotion, not even love or devotion to one another.
There is no reason for her to look back.
I nearly take wing after her, but the Crimson Tainted grabs my wrist and drags me back down to the gory battlefield. I catch a glimpse of my wings. Already tinged with ruby from the blood that I’ve shed.
“Our bargain,” he reminds me, and lowers his mouth to mine.
He arrived in the middle of the night, banging on their door in the midst of a raging storm.
Windy gusts lashed the windows, tree branches scraping the panes. It brought her and her parents barefoot down the creaking stairs, their movements indolent from sleep. Guttering candles in iron sconces painted gold on their heavy-lidded eyes.
Her father opened the door, letting in a fury of tempest that billowed her nightgown around her legs and sprinkled raindrops on her cheeks. They clung like crystals to the cloudy curls around her head.
And there he stood: his long dark hair plastered to his skull by the torrential rains of the autumn storm, a crumpled piece of parchment with water-blotched ink on it clutched in his pale fingers.