Talk about a lot of hard work but I stayed on schedule and The Theft of Darkness has officially been released. This is the continuation of Julien and Martina's story and since Darkness Rising continues to be my biggest seller then I am assuming most people are interested in seeing where their relationship goes and the problems they encounter.
Below, you will find the cover, blurb and the first chapter. Plus, as a bonus, I have included the first chapter of Killing Time (The Ties That Bind Trilogy) in the The Theft of Darkness e-book and will also feature it in the paperback as well. Enjoy and have a great week everyone. ;-)
Barnes & Noble (Processing)
Julien can’t believe he is living his happy ever after with Martina but he wished it felt that way. Between outside pressures and his new position as Alpha, he feels the pressure and all he really wants to do is take his beautiful mate and walk away from it all.
The Alpha’s Mate…
Martina is still in love with Julien but she can’t help feeling like a disappointment. After months of trying, she still isn’t pregnant and doesn’t feel like an adequate spouse. Is it possible to become the flawless life mate everyone expects the Alpha of the Gasquet Pack to have and will she ever measure up?
King Sebastiaan offers Julien a chance to step out of his funk which involves a trip to Las Vegas. He and Martina soon realized they have been pulled into a cold war and in every battle, one has to choose a side…
Julien and Jori sat across from one another.
As they were both considered guests in King Sebastiaan’s home, they were on their best behavior. Julien had no wish to fight with his older brother, not anymore, and though it pained for him to admit it, he was quite happy his brother finally had a Pack to call his own.
They were so alike yet so different. Julien possessed their mother’s dark hair and gorgeous features with their father’s crystal blue eyes. Tall, lean and ivory skinned, he looked more like a pretty boy model than a former Lycan fighter and champion in the ring. Jori was a man’s man and ruggedly handsome with his tanned skin, crystal blue eyes, brown hair and features from both parents. He also looked like the average Lycan though he was an Omega and the tattoo sleeve he wore only added to his menacing sex appeal most women—human, vampire or werewolf—found hard to resist.
Julien scowled and tried not to look annoyed but he couldn’t help himself.
It irked him the Sebastjori Pack was under direct influence of the King. Although Sebastiaan claimed he had nothing to do with the day-to-day operations of the Pack, Julien couldn’t help but feel that gave Jori an upper hand amongst the pack Alphas whether either one of them would admit it or not.
He calmed himself down and swigged from his bourbon and Coke.
“How’s that beautiful wife of yours?” Sebastiaan wondered with a lecherous smile on his face.
Jules’ crystal blue eyes immediately hardened though he managed for his voice to stay even tempered as he murmured, “She’s doing great though you know we don’t have wives or husbands in the Pack.”
Jori snickered. “It’s just a figure of speech, bro. Give it a rest already.”
“I don’t mean to be rude but what is this meeting about?” Julien inquired.
Sebastiaan stood and refreshed his drink before he sat down again. “Lots of changes are gonna happen this year, Jules. It’s another year, another month, the weather sucks and I just wanted to have a pow-wow with two of my fellow Alphas who I consider my ‘top dogs’ so to speak. Both the de Vries and the Garbou-Cahill Packs’ are still run by people who are old enough to be our grandparents but it isn’t up to me to infuse new blood in either pack. I would like the three of us to form a working relationship together. I could use more friends around my age.”
“You mean Andreas’ company is getting a bit boring?” Julien shot back before he finished off his bourbon and Coke.
“No, but he isn’t Lycan either and he doesn’t understand the dynamics of the Pack. I would think you could allow the drama and all the excessive bullshit we have between us to dissipate. I have always admired you, Jules. You were a fighter who actually recognized your own potential and rose to the top of the food chain in your own Pack. That is something to be proud of. You life mate is a beautiful woman whom you adore and hopefully soon, you’ll be tellin’ us some good news?”
He stared at Jori who continued to look at him with crystal blue eyes—his eyes—their father’s eyes, and he knew. His brother could read him like an open book; he and Martina had been trying for a child because there was absolutely no reason to wait but they hadn’t been lucky yet.
Maybe it was global warming or something in the water; Lycans weren’t supposed to suffer from these “mortal” problems. The women had a time of the month they went into heat and if a couple mated during that time, the female was supposed to become pregnant and that was that.
Julien knew Martina’s menstrual cycle like the back of his hand but she still hadn’t become pregnant. He knew she wasn’t taking anything because she wanted a baby as much as he did.
Their togetherness which had come so easily hadn’t always been smooth sailing since they’d mated. They loved one another very much but so many outside influences affected their pairing, and neither had any control over this unfortunate bit.
Between Odette and her prying into Martina’s family history to the strain his relationships had taken with his siblings, half the time he didn’t know whether he was coming or going.
Jolie had been kicked unceremoniously out of the Gasquet Pack after it emerged her life mate was a vampire with a quarter Lycan heritage. It wasn’t enough and Mémé Odette would not be overruled in her decision. He was Alpha of the Pack yet he couldn’t stop his own sister from being tossed out on her own.
This betrayal stung and hurt him deeply. He slipped into a dark depression that lasted months yet Martina was always there for him and it was only through her unwavering support and strength he’d made it through the horrific incident.
Months later, he received a visit from Jimmy and his life mate, Mórríghan, who was also a vampire. Although the information was supposed to be classified, his brother had told him Jolie and her soon-to-be life mate were a member of the Sebastjori Pack therefore he had nothing to feel guilty about. He remembered the conversation as if it had occurred the day before.
“What do you mean soon-to-be?” he’d bellowed. “I was told they were already life mates.”
“They aren’t…not yet anyway. It’s true they have partaken of one another’s blood but the IVC is demanding she be turned before they will grant their request to officially become life mates,” Jimmy had explained in a morose tone. “Everything is different when they are involved, Jules. Just be glad your life mate didn’t turn out to be a vampire.”
“And what about you? Do you have to become a blood sucker as well? My baby sister has to be turned into one of those things? I fucking hate vampires to the depths of my soul and here you are telling me it’s the only way? She can’t find anyone else to be with?”
“Even if she did, would Mémé Odette reverse her decision? I think not, especially after what you did to that son of a bitch step-father of yours. He won’t hear of it and he is going to do everything in his power to make sure she doesn’t get back into your Pack. Plus, once you enter the Sebastjori Pack, there is no leaving unless it’s in a body bag.”
Julien had been quiet for a moment. “What about you? Do you have to…well, you know—”
“No, I don’t have to be turned. Mórríghan has nothing to do with the IVC so they have no dominion over her decisions.”
He had to let go of the past but why was he suddenly so convinced the past wasn’t quite done with him?
“Earth to Jules, you hear, bro?”
Julien looked up with bright blue eyes. “Yeah, sorry, I was just thinkin’ ‘bout…Jolie. How is she?”
Jori’s expression changed to a slight grimace. “Those fuckin’ assholes won’t let her go and now I just think they’re yankin’ our dick cuz they can and it is startin’ to piss me off. There is nothin’ she had to do for them that should take almost a year of ‘covert work’. At this point, they are holdin’ her love for Sasha over her head and she has no choice. If she comes back alone then it proves to them their union isn’t very strong.”
He stood and refreshed his bourbon and Coke. It would be his last one as he still had to drive home and the last issue he needed was to be caught drunk driving by New Orleans PD or worse, a John Q. Law from the St. Tammany Sheriff’s Department.
“Is there any way they can get around all this horseshit?” Julien inquired as he strode back to the sofa.
“Yeah, they could run away together and have a price on both their heads if that is what they want to do but Jolie has never been a coward. She wouldn’t do that and neither will Sasha.”
“Maybe they should.”
“Why? Is that what you would have done?” Sebastiaan inquired in a distasteful manner.
“Hell fuckin’ yeah. I was ready to bolt that night if they didn’t let me mate with Martina. Fuck the Pack. We could have gone to Europe. I have enough money from all the fights not to mention the accounts in the Caymans and Switzerland. No way would anyone keep me from my woman. What can I say? I’m a coward just like our father is. Standing in the face of defeat ain’t my style.” Julien swigged from his bourbon and Coke.
“Unfortunately, I am in no position to advise them to do that. They are part of my Pack and if the IVC decides to hunt them down then they are in essence starting a war with the Sebastjori Pack. That would simply mean too many lives at risk and in harm’s way, and…I can’t justify that under any circumstances.”
Julien chuckled then. “Yeah, I figured you’d say some bureaucratic bullshit like that because she ain’t never been a sister to you like she was to me. I sometimes forget we didn’t grow up in the same household. You’ll risk your neck for Jimmy but he’s a man and he can take care of himself. But you won’t raise a finger when your little sister’s life is at stake.
“If she was in my Pack, I would fly to Vegas and demand her to come back home. If that means slaughtering a few IVC members then so be it. I can’t stand those fucks anyway so I would gladly kill a few just to make an example and prove how serious I am about the current situation. They will never respect you, Jori. You’re a fuckin’ Omega and you’re stronger than me but underneath all that muscle is nothing but a scared little boy who can’t forget his Daddy didn’t love him. You’re fuckin’ pathetic, man.”
Jori’s eyes turned into some kind of animal’s—a panther or perhaps a tiger; Sebastiaan stood suddenly. “Listen, I think you should go home to that lovely mate of yours. I don’t need you two dukin’ it out in my house. I got a lot of valuables ‘round here I’d like to keep in their present condition.”
He swallowed the rest of his drink and set the crystal glass down on the cherry wood bar. “With pleasure. Remember what I said, Jori. You’re nothing but a coward and to think my sister has you as a Pack master. Poor thing…she never had a chance.”
Julien walked out and climbed into his Ford F-150 and took off down the road. He knew he was wrong but maybe he could spur his brother into action. If he could, he would happily save Jolie but she was no longer his concern.
The tears came despite the forceful swipes at his eyes. He loved her so much and to think those fucking bloodsuckers were holding her against her will. It made him sick to his stomach to think about her predicament.
It was only with determination he made it home in one piece. Martina lay in bed already asleep. He stripped down to nothing and joined her moments later. It took no more than a few minutes before sleep claimed him and he happily accepted the blessed escape.