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BLOG TOUR ~ Pursued by the Imperial Prince by Mina Carter

 

 

 

 

On the run… Hunted… by the man she once gave her heart to.

Outlawed noblewoman Jaida’s been everything from a high speed courier on Arcalis Prime to a waitress in the cloud café’s on Selenis. Different careers, different names, different identities. When a cover got easy–so easy she started to believe it herself–she knew she’d been in the same place too long and it was time to move on. Before she got comfortable and started to make mistakes. Mistakes would allow Imperial Prince Seth to find her, and if that happened, people would die…

But after five years, Seth has found her, and she can no longer outrun her destiny: she’ll be the prince’s courtesan, but he’ll never own her heart…

He wanted the one woman he couldn’t have…

Five years ago he thought he’d found his princess, the woman he wanted to be his bride and rule alongside him. But instead of accepting his betrothal bracelet, she refused him and ran. Unable to let the insult lie, he’s chased her ever since. Now he finally has her, captured while working on the docks and he can finally get his revenge on the woman who spurned him. The woman he can’t get out of his head. He’ll make her his courtesan and get her out of his system for good…

But all is not as it seems, and the truth he thought he knew turns out to be a lie. When Jaida’s life is threatened by a hidden enemy, can Seth see through the lies in time to save her… or will he lose everything to deceit?

**Please note – This title has previously been released with another publisher and has not been revised or altered significantly.**



Move that fucking piece of shit… Yeah, I’m talking to you buddy. Sheesh, some people really need to learn to drive.”
Jaida slumped back into the harness of her power loader and concentrated on transferring the load she was carrying from the open cargo hold in front of her to the anti-grav pallets beside it. She grumbled under her breath as she worked. Today was not a good day. The idiot-factor was so high she was virtually swimming in them.
She shook her head, her dark hair dancing about her shoulders, and issued another curse directed at idiots who wanted to load high and drive fast. Yeah, she was just as interested in her weekly bonus as anyone else, but there was no way she was risking a safety fine. Especially not when her rent was due.
She moved smoothly, arms and legs activating the sensor plates in the bi-pedal loader as she transferred her load container by container. A tired sigh escaped her lips as the last one slid into place with a heavy clunk-click. The red light on the side of the full pallet flicked to green and it moved away on automatic, a fresh one sliding into place in front of her.
“Hey chica, almost quittin’ time… You working overtime?”
Jaida turned at the voice, the feet of the loader clunking against the deck plating until she could see the voice’s owner. Felis, the only other woman on the team, smiled back at her through her front screen.
Jaida rolled her shoulders to ease the ache creeping across them. “Yeah, I am. Could do with the extra cash, and you know what’ll happen if the Galess shipment doesn’t get offloaded in good time. Hicks’ll pitch a hissy fit, and tomorrow will be down the shitter before we start.”
She smothered a sigh at her language, automatically coarse to match her cover identity. She’d been everything from a high-speed courier on Arcalis Prime to a waitress in the cloud cafés on Selenis. Different careers, different names, different identities. When a cover got this complete and easy, so easy she started to believe in it herself, she knew she’d been in the same place too long.
It was time to move on, before she got comfortable and started to make mistakes. Mistakes would allow Seth to find her, and then people would die. They always did. Trouble was she liked Felis and the guys. For the first time in years she felt at home. If a wanted woman could relax enough to feel at home anywhere.
“Jai! Boss wants to see you in the office.”
Another voice interrupted their conversation. Both loaders turned at the heavy clump-whirr-clump of an approaching crane-lifter. Jaida hid her shudder as the driver leered at them. All the women on the docks knew about Hanrahan—they’d all been subjected to his sexist and suggestive comments.
“Hey Jai, you want a hand getting out of that tin can? Perhaps a little bit of a rubdown?”
“No thanks Han, I might catch something.” She turned away in a whir of mechanics, rolling her eyes as she passed Felis. “Best see what the boss man wants. Catch you tomorrow if I’m not out before you leave.”
“Okay, good luck sweets. Mood he’s been in, you may need it.”




Mina was born and raised in the East Farthing of Middle Earth (otherwise known as the Midlands, England) and spend her childhood learning all the sorts of things generally required of a professional adventurer. Able to ride, box, shoot, make and read maps, make chainmail and use a broadsword (with varying degrees of efficiency) she was disgusted to find that adventuring is not considered a suitable occupation these days.

So, instead of slaying dragons and hunting vampires and the like, Mina spends her days writing about hot shifters, government conspiracies and vampire lords with more than their fair share of RAWR. Turns out wanna-be adventurers have quite the turn of imagination after all…

(But she keeps that sword sharp, just in case the writing career is just a dream and she really *is* an adventurer.)

The boring part: A full time author and cover artist, Mina can usually be found hunched over a keyboard or graphics tablet, frantically trying to get the images and words in her head out and onto the screen before they drive her mad. She’s addicted to coffee and would like to be addicted to chocolate, but unfortunately chocolate dislikes her.

Author Links

 

RELEASE DAY BLITZ ~ Pursued by the Imperial Prince by Mina Carter

 

 

 

On the run… Hunted… by the man she once gave her heart to.

Outlawed noblewoman Jaida’s been everything from a high speed courier on Arcalis Prime to a waitress in the cloud café’s on Selenis. Different careers, different names, different identities. When a cover got easy–so easy she started to believe it herself–she knew she’d been in the same place too long and it was time to move on. Before she got comfortable and started to make mistakes. Mistakes would allow Imperial Prince Seth to find her, and if that happened, people would die…

But after five years, Seth has found her, and she can no longer outrun her destiny: she’ll be the prince’s courtesan, but he’ll never own her heart…

He wanted the one woman he couldn’t have…

Five years ago he thought he’d found his princess, the woman he wanted to be his bride and rule alongside him. But instead of accepting his betrothal bracelet, she refused him and ran. Unable to let the insult lie, he’s chased her ever since. Now he finally has her, captured while working on the docks and he can finally get his revenge on the woman who spurned him. The woman he can’t get out of his head. He’ll make her his courtesan and get her out of his system for good…

But all is not as it seems, and the truth he thought he knew turns out to be a lie. When Jaida’s life is threatened by a hidden enemy, can Seth see through the lies in time to save her… or will he lose everything to deceit?

**Please note – This title has previously been released with another publisher and has not been revised or altered significantly.**


 

 





Mina was born and raised in the East Farthing of Middle Earth (otherwise known as the Midlands, England) and spend her childhood learning all the sorts of things generally required of a professional adventurer. Able to ride, box, shoot, make and read maps, make chainmail and use a broadsword (with varying degrees of efficiency) she was disgusted to find that adventuring is not considered a suitable occupation these days.

So, instead of slaying dragons and hunting vampires and the like, Mina spends her days writing about hot shifters, government conspiracies and vampire lords with more than their fair share of RAWR. Turns out wanna-be adventurers have quite the turn of imagination after all…

(But she keeps that sword sharp, just in case the writing career is just a dream and she really *is* an adventurer.)

The boring part: A full time author and cover artist, Mina can usually be found hunched over a keyboard or graphics tablet, frantically trying to get the images and words in her head out and onto the screen before they drive her mad. She’s addicted to coffee and would like to be addicted to chocolate, but unfortunately chocolate dislikes her.
Author Links


 

CHAPTER REVEAL ~ Pursued by the Imperial Prince by Mina Carter

 

 

 

Coming July 18th

 

He wanted the one woman he couldn’t have…

Outlawed noblewoman Jaida Lianl had been everything from a high speed courier on Arcalis Prime to a waitress in the cloud café’s on Selenis. Different careers, different names, different identities. When a cover got this easy–so easy she started to believe it herself–she knew she’d been in the same place too long. It was time to move on before she got comfortable and started to make mistakes. Mistakes would allow Imperial Prince Sethan to find her, and if that happened, people would die…

Now after five years, Seth has found her, and she can no longer outrun her destiny: she’ll be the prince’s courtesan, but he’ll never own her heart…

 


Prologue

“You don’t have to go through with this, you know that…don’t you, sweetheart?”
Jaida smiled. “Dad, I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure?”
Duke Lianl’s eyes were full of concern as he turned her to face him. His hands paused for a second on her armbands, then slid down to her hands. The armbands were new, to mark her coming of age. “You’re only eighteen Jaida. We can put this off a year or…ten maybe?”
“Dad, it’s fine. I’m fine. I’m all grown up now. You worry too much.” She chuckled, a light sound of amusement. Nothing could bother her today.
Her father smiled as he swept a look over her. His eyes were the same color as hers, deep sapphire ringed with the silver of royal blood.
“You look just like your mother. She’d have been so proud of you—” Duke Lianl broke off as a familiar sadness filled his eyes. She’d been dead ten years, but Malden Lianl had never forgotten his wife.
“Thank you. I hope she would have,” She squeezed his hands softly before letting go and then tucked her hand into the crook of his arm. “Shall we?”
“If you’re sure.”
Lord Malden gave in with a small sigh, but she caught the gleam of pride in his eye as he straightened up and gave a nod to the servant at the door. They were ready. The servant pushed the doors open ahead of them, and her stomach clenched. This was it. The moment she’d been dreaming of for years.
“His grace, Lord Malden, the Duke of Lianl, and his daughter, the Lady Jaida,” the herald announced. His rich voice rolled around the cavernous ballroom, a ringing voice that drew the attention of the crowds gathered below.
Would he be here?Jaida’s heart clambered into her throat, trying to escape the manic butterflies racing around her stomach. Shivers chased each other over her skin as Jaida and her father neared the top of the formal staircase. Wide and sweeping, it made a grand entrance into the palace ballroom, and as tradition dictated, every debutante walked down those steps to take her place in society.
Jaida’s heart stuttered to a stop, no longer beating wildly against the formal silk of her gown as everyone in the ballroom below turned to look up at them. Her knees trembled, knocking together so loudly she was surprised the people below couldn’t hear them.
Unable to help herself, Jaida lifted her eyes and looked out over the ballroom below. The floor was a kaleidoscope of color. The bright silks and satins of the women’s formal gowns contrasted sharply with the somber grays and greens of the men.
Her gaze swept over the hall. Had all these people really turned out just to see her presented to the court? Her eyes searched the crowds, looking for one figure in particular. He had to be here. A tall, broad shouldered figure dressed in black and wearing the sash of royal blood. Her breath caught in her throat as her gaze collided with piercing silver.
He was here.
His highness, Prince Sethan Kai Renza. Not just a royal prince, but an imperial prince, and the most eligible bachelor in the Combined Systems of the Fifth Princedom. The only man she was interested in seeing.
Everything faded into the background as he moved toward her, the crowd parting like water before him.
Her hand tightened on her father’s arm as they drew to a stop at the head of the stairs. They would remain there until she was formally invited to the court, then she would walk down alone. It was a journey that signified her transition from childhood to womanhood and marked her as eligible for marriage.
“Breathe, sweetheart,” her father said softly, obviously misconstruing her tension to be nerves. “Imagine them in their underwear if that helps.”
“Dad!”
“Especially young Kai-Renza. I remember him as a snot-nosed brat in diapers.” Duke Lianl carried on, ignoring the fact that Jaida was trying to contain her mirth and failing badly. Luckily, being at the top of the expansive staircase, only her father could hear the delicate little snorts of laughter she couldn’t keep in.
“You can’t say things like that! It’s…I don’t know, treason maybe?”
The Duke shrugged, but the amusement drained from his face. Below them, the Prince stepped forward.
“What the hell…” Her father’s voice echoed shock as Sethan strode to the bottom of the staircase in a total breach of protocol.
What was he doing? The tension in her father’s body was catching, flowing through to Jaida.
“Duke Lianl, it’s a pleasure to see you at court again.” Sethan inclined his head in deference to her father’s status as a royal duke. Then he turned his attention to Jaida, and heat flared in his quicksilver eyes. She shivered. It felt like her soul had been branded. Then Seth did something no one expected.
He bent into a deep bow before straightening and extending his hand to her. “My lady, would you do me the honor?”

Chapter One

“Move that fucking piece of shit… Yeah, I’m talking to you buddy. Sheesh, some people really need to learn to drive.”
Jaida slumped back into the harness of her power loader and concentrated on transferring the load she was carrying from the open cargo hold in front of her to the anti-grav pallets beside it. She grumbled under her breath as she worked. Today was not a good day. The idiot-factor was so high she was virtually swimming in them.
She shook her head, her dark hair dancing about her shoulders, and issued another curse directed at idiots who wanted to load high and drive fast. Yeah, she was just as interested in her weekly bonus as anyone else, but there was no way she was risking a safety fine. Especially not when her rent was due.
She moved smoothly, arms and legs activating the sensor plates in the bi-pedal loader as she transferred her load container by container. A tired sigh escaped her lips as the last one slid into place with a heavy clunk-click. The red light on the side of the full pallet flicked to green and it moved away on automatic, a fresh one sliding into place in front of her.
“Hey chica, almost quittin’ time… You working overtime?”
Jaida turned at the voice, the feet of the loader clunking against the deck plating until she could see the voice’s owner. Felis, the only other woman on the team, smiled back at her through her front screen.
Jaida rolled her shoulders to ease the ache creeping across them. “Yeah, I am. Could do with the extra cash, and you know what’ll happen if the Galess shipment doesn’t get offloaded in good time. Hicks’ll pitch a hissy fit, and tomorrow will be down the shitter before we start.”
She smothered a sigh at her language, automatically coarse to match her cover identity. She’d been everything from a high-speed courier on Arcalis Prime to a waitress in the cloud cafés on Selenis. Different careers, different names, different identities. When a cover got this complete and easy, so easy she started to believe in it herself, she knew she’d been in the same place too long.
It was time to move on, before she got comfortable and started to make mistakes. Mistakes would allow Seth to find her, and then people would die. They always did. Trouble was she liked Felis and the guys. For the first time in years she felt at home. If a wanted woman could relax enough to feel at home anywhere.
“Jai! Boss wants to see you in the office.”
Another voice interrupted their conversation. Both loaders turned at the heavy clump-whirr-clump of an approaching crane-lifter. Jaida hid her shudder as the driver leered at them. All the women on the docks knew about Hanrahan—they’d all been subjected to his sexist and suggestive comments.
“Hey Jai, you want a hand getting out of that tin can? Perhaps a little bit of a rubdown?”
“No thanks Han, I might catch something.” She turned away in a whir of mechanics, rolling her eyes as she passed Felis. “Best see what the boss man wants. Catch you tomorrow if I’m not out before you leave.”
“Okay, good luck sweets. Mood he’s been in, you may need it.”
* * *
“Jai’s one of our best loaders…precise and fast. Keeps to herself. Never had a bit of trouble with her. Polite and easy to get along with, the others all like her…” The docking bay manager’s voice trailed off as the man at the window turned and fixed him with an iron gaze.
“She’s a criminal, Mr. Gregaris, not at all the sort of person you want in your employment.” Seth’s voice was quiet, but inside he was seething. He turned back to the window as the loader rounded the last corner and started down the straight walkway toward the offices. He watched it approach, his face an impassive mask. He’d learned early in life never to show weakness or reveal the chinks in his armor. As chinks went, they didn’t get much bigger than Lady Jaida Lianl.
Why? he mused to himself, his temper simmering just under boiling point. I would have given you the universe, anything you ever wanted. Why run?
The loader clumped to a stop below him and a force field snapped into place around the bay. The blue-turquoise haze was unmistakable, shimmering as oxygen was pumped into the enclosed area. The air vents on the hatch popped, releasing the pressure in twin geysers as the canopy lifted. A small, slender figure emerged and climbed down the front of the large machine with an ease that spoke of long practice.
Seth’s anger started to mount again. She would rather do manual labor than be with him? If it was work she wanted, then he’d be sure to give it to her…on her back in his bed.
“She’s a criminal?” The dock manager sounded confused. “Begging your pardon, Your Highness, but are you sure you have the right woman? Jai…no, I can’t believe she’d even think about breaking the law. She’s a stickler for them.”
Below Seth, the woman walked toward the door, pausing for a moment to look up as though she sensed the sword of Damocles hovering over her.
“Perfectly sure, Mr. Gregaris.” Seth bit back the surge of triumph. There could be no mistake. It was her. He resisted the urge to step back. She couldn’t see him up here, and even if she could, there was no way out. His men had the bay surrounded and his second in command was in place at the single room apartment she rented. There was no escape. Not for Jaida.
Not from him. Not now.
Not ever.

* * *

Something was wrong. Jaida reached the main doors and paused for a moment as a tendril of dread wound its way up her spine. Narrowing her eyes she tried to get a look into the lobby ahead as she passed through the first set of sliding doors. She couldn’t linger here. The bay was on a time sequence. In five minutes the force field would snap off, and she’d be left trying to breathe hard vacuum. Something she didn’t particularly fancy doing.
Rock and a hard place. She stepped forward. The doors slid shut behind her with a solid clunk. The sound rolled through her like a death knell. Her instincts screamed at her to run, not step into the reception lobby.
“Crap, crap, crap. This is such a bad idea.”
She moved forward to the doors and tried to peer through them as the airlock went through its cycle. She’d always thought it was overkill, what with the bay outside, but now she was glad of the delay. Trying for nonchalance, she scanned the lobby. Already her agile mind was working out all the routes out of the building.
Miriam, the receptionist, sat behind the large flexi-glass-and-steel desk, headset on and hands moving swiftly over the holo-console in front of her. Her fingers twisted and pinched as she worked, plucking at images Jaida couldn’t see from this side of the desk.
She scanned around, her vision panning from one side of the room to the other. Opposite the reception desk, a small group of couches sat in front of full-length windows overlooking the loading docks. Having worked on them for months, she’d have picked a different view. Even a blank wall would have been preferable.
Nothing was out of place, not even a leaf on the expensive Terranian palms in the corner.
“Okay, jumping at shadows. Get a grip, Jai,” she told herself as the doors in front of her slid open and she stepped through.
“Morning Miriam, boss called me. Shall I wait?”
Jaida headed toward the chairs discreetly hidden behind the palms. Unlike the plush couches for the visitors, these were hard, wipe-clean plastic. For the workers, people like her. The dregs of society. A long time ago she’d have sat on the couches and not thought a thing about it.
Those days were long gone. She went to sit on the chair nearest to the lift door.
“No. Go on up, go right in.” Miriam said.
One eyebrow winging up in surprise, Jaida stood and headed that way. It wasn’t until the door slid shut behind her and the lift started up that she processed what Miriam had said.
Go right in.
No one went right into Gregaris’ office. He was an approachable guy, if a bit blunt, but even so, no one went right into his office. The sense something was wrong hit her in the gut again, stealing her breath. The lift was too small. She couldn’t escape. For five years she’d made sure she always had an escape route, always had a way out. Panic clawed at her gut and her heart climbed into her throat.
Something was wrong. She dragged deep breaths into her lungs and forced her heart rate back down to something approaching normal. It worked, but only just. Her heart pounded and slammed against her ribcage. The sides of her neck hurt with all the tension as she battled her fight-or-flight instincts.
Gradually she got them under control, biting her lower lip as she watched the numbers above the door count up. Sweat slid between her shoulder blades and down the valley between her breasts. Nothing was wrong; there was no way Seth could have found her here, not with all the hoops she’d jumped through to set up this identity. A lot of money had changed hands for her to get the ID and med numbers of a kid who’d died at seven but whose parents had never registered the death. Med numbers were worth their weight in gold.
The door pinged. She gulped a lungful of air as they slid open to reveal the corridor beyond. It was empty.
Shaking her head Jaida stepped out the lift and walked toward Gregaris’ office. Plush carpeting under her feet ate the sound of her steps as she approached the door. Her hand reached out, was almost at the handle, when she paused. A frown creased her brow.
Something was wrong. The instincts that had been clamoring since the lobby ganged up on her and became tribal screaming. This time, she listened.
She snatched her hand back from the handle and turned on her heel. The space between her shoulders itched as she headed back the way she’d come. She could feel the crosshairs painted on her back, a little red mark dancing across her skin like a butterfly.
Walking past the lift door, she headed for the emergency stairs at the end of the corridor. She’d barely covered half the distance when it began to open. Her heart stilled, fluttering deep inside her chest as she started to backpedal. She knew what she’d see before the heavily armed trooper stepped through the open door.
Time slowed to a crawl as the muzzle of the trooper’s rifle swung toward her. The red dot of the laser sight raced across the pale walls, then across her field of vision, blinding her for a second. She turned and raced for the lift, yelling and slamming her hands against the flat metal of the closed doors.
“No. Oh please, Lady, no…”
They’d called it back down. She jabbed at the buttons frantically as more troopers piled into the hallway. There was no way out, just the lift and the stairs currently filled by imperial guards. Or…the office at the end of the corridor, the door looming in her peripheral vision like some harbinger of doom.
“Bollocks…”
She abandoned the lift and raced up the corridor, grabbing at each handle as she passed, hoping beyond hope one would give. If she could just get into one of them she could find a ventilation shaft or something. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d escaped him that way.
“Lady Jaida Lianl, by order of his Imperial Majesty, you are under arrest—”
“Screw his Imperial Majesty!”
Her hand closed around the last door handle, and wonder of wonders, it opened. She stumbled through and slammed hard into a solid chest. Strong arms closed around her, and with a gasp she looked up into familiar silver eyes.
“I thought you’d never ask.”
“No…” Her gasp of denial was automatic as she fought against his hold, vicious as a wildcat, bucking and heaving in his embrace.
“Yes.” He quelled her struggles by yanking her up hard against him.
Panic and awareness flared through her at the familiar feel of his body against hers. His Imperial Highness, Prince Sethan Kai Renza. Seth. The man she’d once loved with all her heart and soul.
Defeat wrapped around her heart in a crushing embrace as she looked up. He had the face of a dark angel, all hard, masculine lines. His eyes were mercurial silver, their cast almost feline, surrounded by thick, dark lashes. A straight nose sat above sinfully full lips reputed to make even a priestess think wanton thoughts. He was as handsome as she remembered, but where once his expression had been charming, it was now hard and triumphant.
“Let me go!” She shoved at the brick wall of his chest, but it was a futile gesture. Seth was solidly built with a warrior’s physique. Once it had thrilled her, but right now she’d give everything she owned to be on the other side of the galaxy.
“Anyone would think you’re not pleased to see me.” His drawl was rich and mellow, just a hint of his court accent tainting the galaxy-standard he spoke.
Jaida’s lip curled into a sneer. “You don’t think? Goddess, you musta been at the back of the queue when she was handing out the brains.”
He winced at her words. She knew he would. The rough dock dialect would grate on his nerves just as much as the insult.
“Don’t talk like that.” His hand slid into the hair at her nape, and his thumb stroked along the sensitive skin at the side of her neck. Refusing to be cowed, either by his touch or his larger, more powerful body, she pulled against his hold.
“Or you’ll what? Declare me an outlaw, exile me from my family, and denounce me as a criminal? Oh…wait. You already did that.”
Anger flared in his silver eyes. He leaned in until his lips brushed against her ear and whispered. “You’re mine, you always were.”
She snorted, an inelegant sound of amusement and contempt. “I’ll never be yours, Seth. Never. Why do you think I left? You’re not man enough for me.”
It was a foolhardy thing to say to an Imperial prince, especially Seth, but she wasn’t thinking. She wanted to hurt him. Deal a blow to his masculine pride. Her heart ached at the lie, but now that he’d caught her, it was the only weapon she had. Her heart had been shattered beyond repair anyway, so what was one more hurt?
All that mattered now was hiding the effect that seeing him again was having on her. She kept her expression cold and furious, but deep inside a flutter had started in the empty and bruised space in her soul. Blood surged faster through her veins at his touch, and the solid strength of his body against hers started a fire low down in her belly that burned brighter every second.
“Not man enough?” His eyebrow winged up, a raven arch against his pale skin. Court pale. None of the nobility would be uncouth enough to allow their skin to tan. Well, unless they’d been on the run for five years like she had, taking any job they could just to eat and provide a roof over their head. The first thing she’d done to fit in was get a suntan.
“Never.”
As soon as the word was out of her mouth, she knew she’d pushed too far. Fury blazed in his eyes, scorching her to her soul. His fingers tightened in her hair. She tried to turn her face away, but he hooked a finger under her chin and tugged. Not gentle, not rough, just unstoppable.
Held fast, she watched as Seth’s lips descended. A whimper escaped as he pried her lips apart and thrust his tongue past them to claim the sweetness within. The touch of his lips shattered her defenses. Disbelief and need surged through her in equal amounts. She’d promised herself that, should the worst happen and he captured her again, she would be as cold as the grave. Wouldn’t respond to him at all. To her, Sethan Kai Renza had ceased to exist as a man.
Yeah, right.
His kiss was designed to punish and humiliate, but as soon as he touched her, her body responded. The blood in her veins heated, and her breasts tightened as he held her. Her heart rate skittered and went through the roof as she developed trouble taking her next breath. Worst of all was the heat spreading out from her core. Shame burned bright banners across her cheeks.
She moaned against his lips as his tongue thrust again, sliding along hers and demanding her response. A response she gave, tentatively at first but then with unwilling passion. Her tongue tangled with his in an erotic dance, but her heart ached. After all he’d done, how could she crave his touch?
He lifted his head. Heat and smug satisfaction colored his eyes. “Not man enough, was it?” he taunted as he stepped away.
She clamped down on the sense of loss. There was no way she wanted him touching her, not ever again.
“Take her to my room at the Babylon, and for heaven’s sake, scrub the stink of the dock off her.”


 


Mina was born and raised in the East Farthing of Middle Earth (otherwise known as the Midlands, England) and spend her childhood learning all the sorts of things generally required of a professional adventurer. Able to ride, box, shoot, make and read maps, make chainmail and use a broadsword (with varying degrees of efficiency) she was disgusted to find that adventuring is not considered a suitable occupation these days.

So, instead of slaying dragons and hunting vampires and the like, Mina spends her days writing about hot shifters, government conspiracies and vampire lords with more than their fair share of RAWR. Turns out wanna-be adventurers have quite the turn of imagination after all…

(But she keeps that sword sharp, just in case the writing career is just a dream and she really *is* an adventurer.)

The boring part: A full time author and cover artist, Mina can usually be found hunched over a keyboard or graphics tablet, frantically trying to get the images and words in her head out and onto the screen before they drive her mad. She’s addicted to coffee and would like to be addicted to chocolate, but unfortunately chocolate dislikes her.

 

Author Links

 


RELEASE DAY BLITZ ~ Blood Enemy (Kyn series #3) by Mina Carter

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Feral doesn’t do babies. Or pixies. So when someone dumps a pixie baby of all things on his doorstep, he does the only thing he can think of. He tries to palm it off on someone else. Unfortunately his neighbor is out of town, leaving her sister, Tessa, to house-sit. Her single and disturbingly attractive sister. Which leaves Feral with a couple of problems, especially when a bunch of pixie ninja wannabes break into the place and try to steal the baby. Does he turn his back on the pixies, a race he’s always hated… or will Tessa cast her own spell on the strong, silent-type Kyn Warrior?


 
 
 
 
 


Mina was born and raised in the East Farthing of Middle Earth (otherwise known as the Midlands, England) and spend her childhood learning all the sorts of things generally required of a professional adventurer. Able to ride, box, shoot, make and read maps, make chainmail and use a broadsword (with varying degrees of efficiency) she was disgusted to find that adventuring is not considered a suitable occupation these days.

So, instead of slaying dragons and hunting vampires and the like, Mina spends her days writing about hot shifters, government conspiracies and vampire lords with more than their fair share of RAWR. Turns out wanna-be adventurers have quite the turn of imagination after all…

(But she keeps that sword sharp, just in case the writing career is just a dream and she really *is* an adventurer.)

The boring part: A full time author and cover artist, Mina can usually be found hunched over a keyboard or graphics tablet, frantically trying to get the images and words in her head out and onto the screen before they drive her mad. She’s addicted to coffee and would like to be addicted to chocolate, but unfortunately chocolate dislikes her.
 
 
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CHAPTER REVEAL ~ Blood Enemy by Mina Carter

 

 
 
 
 
 
Coming June 27th
 
 
Feral doesn’t do babies. Or pixies. So when someone dumps a pixie baby of all things on his doorstep, he does the only thing he can think of. He tries to palm it off on someone else. Unfortunately his neighbor is out of town, leaving her sister, Tessa, to house-sit. Her single and disturbingly attractive sister. Which leaves Feral with a couple of problems, especially when a bunch of pixie ninja wannabes break into the place and try to steal the baby. Does he turn his back on the pixies, a race he’s always hated… or will Tessa cast her own spell on the strong, silent-type Kyn Warrior?

 


 
Chapter one

There was a baby on his doorstep.
Feral stood in the open doorway of his apartment and looked down at the small bundle with confusion. Wrapped in a pale-yellow blanket, one pudgy arm and leg had escaped from the folds to punch and kick with enthusiasm. Gurgles filled the air, bursting with baby satisfaction and happiness. Whatever it thought it was fighting, in its mind it was obviously winning.
He scrubbed a hand over his shorn head. What was a baby doing on his doorstep?
“Well, hello little…actually, what the hell are you?” he murmured. “And how did you get out here?”
He squatted down to pick it up. It took three attempts. His large hands weren’t the right shape to pick up something so tiny. Lifting the squirming bundle carefully, he glanced up and down the corridor, trying to catch a glimpse of whoever had knocked on his door.
Nothing. Zip. Nada. Not surprising. Even if someone had been lurking in the shadows, the near six and a half feet of bare-chested kyn male who’d opened the door would have scared them off for sure.
Then the smell hit him.
Pungent and forceful, it stripped several layers off the inside of his nose like a gallon of paint thinner. Recoiling, he wrinkled his nose in disgust. “Fuck, are you supposed to smell that bad, mate?”
He looked at the baby in surprise, settling it into the crook of his arm. He didn’t really want it so close, not smelling as foul as it did, but he couldn’t leave it alone on the floor.
“Okay, let’s see who you are then.” He reached out to move the edge of the blanket covering the baby’s face and then froze. His lips peeled back from his fangs.
Its hair was bright pink.
Which meant two things: one, the baby was male, and two, it was a pixie. They were the only species Feral knew of with such weird hair colors.
“You just had to be a bloody pixie, didn’t you?” He glared up and down the corridor again. Still no one.
He sighed heavily. There was no point standing out on the doorstep like a spare prick at an orgy. A chill ran up the hallway and he looked down at the baby. He couldn’t leave it out here, even if it was a pixie. It would freeze to death.
He stepped back into his apartment, hooking a bare foot around the door and kicking it shut before wandering into the main room. Coming to an abrupt stop in the middle of the open area, he frowned. What the hell did he do now?
It was one of his rare nights off, so he wasn’t dressed for company. A pair of ripped, faded jeans hung off his hips and his feet were bare. Alone as he was, he hadn’t bothered with a shirt. And he’d already had a couple of beers, make that a lot of beers, so he couldn’t drive. Which left him with a problem. A small, baby-shaped problem.
He looked down, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips as the baby opened its eyes and blinked at him. Its wide, bright eyes were peacock blue.
“I don’t suppose you’ve got any suggestions as to what we should do?”
The baby just looked back and smiled the toothless, gummy smile of the very young. Feral had to admit, for a pixie, he was cute. The sort of cute that women went gaga over. The baby was also more placid than he’d been led to believe babies were. As the thought wandered through Feral’s mind, though, the baby’s face crumpled.
“WwwwwwwuuuuaaahhhHHHHHHHHHH!”
The cry started off low, but then swelled and grew in volume, like an old-fashioned air raid siren. Feral had only ever heard them in films, but now, he held an appreciation of what it must have been like in London during the Blitz. It seemed impossible someone so small could make so much noise. But he was, threatening to pierce Feral’s eardrums with the sheer volume.
“Shh…shh…shh, it’s fine. Everything’s fine!” He jiggled the baby a little, trying to calm it down, but this action only released fresh waves of the foul stench emanating from the diaper.
It wasn’t fine. It was so far from fine it beggared belief. He must really have pissed the fates off at some point for them to dump a baby on him… a pixie baby no less, when his dislike…no, his hatred of pixies was well known. Perhaps he’d kicked kittens or puppies in a former life or something.
Out of ideas, he strode across the room to the breakfast counter. The apartments on his block were open plan, with the kitchen and dining room leading into the main living space. Bathrooms and bedrooms were separated by the narrow excuse for an entrance hall.
He located his cell behind a couple of empty beer bottles and flicked it open. Vixen would know what to do. His partner of several years, and a mother herself, she’d know what to do with a baby. If he was lucky, she might even offer to look after the child for him.
Here’s hoping, he thought, hitting speed dial for Vixen and lifting it to his ear.
“Hi, you’ve reached Vixen’s phone…”
“Crap,” Feral swore as his patrol partner’s voicemail cut in. He’d forgotten Vixen’s mate, Kalen, had taken her out of town for the weekend. A second honeymoon since Vix had been eight months pregnant, and the size of a house, during their first.
“Fuckit.” He flicked the phone shut and tapped the edge of it against his teeth. Then he realized the terrible wail had stopped and he looked down in surprise. Peacock blue eyes were fixed on his cell.
“Oh, you like this, huh?” He smiled and waggled the phone. The baby watched it, tracking the movement. Feral frowned—he didn’t know they could do that until they were older. He shrugged. He must be mistaken. The little man was tracking the phone like a hawk.
Pudgy fists emerged from the blanket and made a grab for the sleek silver case, fastening around it and wrenching the thing from Feral’s grasp. He chuckled, an expression that turned to horror the next instant as the baby stuffed it into his mouth.
“No no no… Not good, not food!” he exclaimed as his phone was used as a teething ring.
“Give the phone back to Feral. There’s a good little boy,” he coaxed and worked to get a finger between the baby’s mouth and the phone. But the slobbering little thing had formed an unbreakable seal and he couldn’t even get his smallest finger in. He hissed in frustration, looking at the baby in confusion as he tried several different angles. It was no good. His hands were too big, more accustomed to battling rogue vampires than dealing with tiny babies.
Finally, he managed it, sliding his finger down the side and popping the phone free. He grimaced as his finger and the phone came away covered in baby slobber, and he held the phone up in triumph. A furious squeal tore the air while little fists struggled and pummeled the air.
“WWWWWWAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!”
“Shit. Here.”
Feral stuffed the phone back in the baby’s mouth, silencing the squeal as quickly as it had started. Great, so what did he do now? He had no clue how to take care of a baby and had no time to learn. He needed to do something about the smell soon as well because it was getting worse.
Diapers. He needed diapers. But what sort, and where could he get them from? Disposable ones would be fine—he wasn’t all earth-momma like the woman two units down. He often saw her in the basement with laundry loads of white diapers.
His eyes widened. A woman with children. Even better, she had pixie blood. Once you’d seen one pixie woman, it was easy to spot them. Which meant he wouldn’t have to explain why the baby was sporting what looked like a bad dye job.
Grinning, he did an about face. Sliding his feet into a pair of heavy boots, he trudged out the door in search of salvation.

***

The tub of ice cream in the freezer was calling Tessa’s name. Chocolate fudge brownie—her favorite comfort food. After the crap day she’d had, she didn’t care about the extra calorie load. Fresh from the shower and swaddled in one of her sister’s huge toweling robes, she padded into the kitchen to collect the tub and a spoon. She didn’t bother with a bowl. Instead, she just pulled the lid off and dug in, right there in front of the freezer.
“Mmm…” She moaned in pleasure as the first taste of the chocolatey, gooey treat hit her tongue. The stresses of the day melted away, aided by the long, hot shower she’d just had and the taste of the ice cream. A little taste of her childhood. She closed her eyes and leaned back against the freezer.
Today had been the day from hell. Working in a busy logistics office meant everything had been put on hold when the trunk shipments had been late, throwing the whole day into disarray. It also meant Tessa didn’t get to leave until late. Considering she’d been on duty since 6 a.m., it hadn’t impressed her.
Finally, she’d been able to escape, a long weekend ahead of her. But even then, she hadn’t been finished. She’d agreed to house sit for her older sister Lisa, who was off for a break with her hubby and the twins. So, it had been a mad dash home to throw whatever she needed into a weekend bag and then a breakneck drive over to the apartment to catch Lisa before she left to get the usual “remember to feed the fish” chat. Lisa was only a couple of years older than Tessa, but anyone would think she was Methuselah the way she carried on.
Now though, all was calm. Tessa had waved Lisa and James off, twins already asleep and packed up in the back of the car, a little over an hour ago. Just enough time to unwind over a glass of wine as she watched the evening news and take a long, hot shower.
She just loved the shower here. A power unit, it had a setting that felt like needles bombarding her skin—thousands of tiny, dull pinpricks that took her breath away and felt wonderful after the day she’d had. She’d stood there for a full five minutes under the spray before even reaching for the shower gel.
Opening her eyes, she dug the spoon into the ice cream again, tucking the tub into the crook of her arm as she headed through to the main room. Flopping down in the middle of the comfortable sofa, she rooted around for the remote, spoon in mouth. It was there somewhere, she just needed to find it and then she’d be all set. The player was loaded with tonight’s choice of chick flick movie, one she’d been looking forward to watching for weeks but just hadn’t found the time to see. Now, she had the time. This weekend was all about her and relaxation. Lots of relaxation.
“Ahh, there you are.” She recovered the missing remote from under one of the scatter cushions. Her sister was obsessed with the things. Either that or they were breeding in here.
Sighing in satisfaction, she spooned more ice cream into her mouth as she flicked the player on. She curled her legs up under her and settled herself into a more comfortable position as the opening credits rolled. Life didn’t get much better than this.
Rap, rap, rap.
“Damn it.” She looked over her shoulder, but the knock on the front door continued as she stared. Who was that? Had to be a cold caller, she decided. A total control freak, Lisa would have let all her friends know she was going to be away. Which meant it had to be someone who didn’t know Lisa or James. And if it was, perhaps they would go away if she ignored them.
Rap, rap, RAP.
No such luck, the hammering got worse. Tessa sighed as she contemplated moving, flicking pause on the remote and freezing the scrolling text on the TV screen.
“This had better be good,” she grumbled under her breath as she put the tub on the floor, drove the spoon into the melting ice cream with a vicious stab, and then got to her feet. It had better be good…and quick, since she had a major fan-girl thing for the actor in the movie. The quicker she got back to ogle his toned and sculptured bod, the happier she’d be.
She grumbled under her breath all the way to the door, her bare feet silent on the wooden floor. Ever security-conscious, she threw the chain over before she opened it a crack.
“Hello?” That was as far as she got. The sight that met her eyes stopped any further comment in her throat.
On her doorstep was the most handsome, ripped guy she’d ever seen. Her eyes started at the middle of the broad chest, noting the heavily toned muscles as they moved outward. A long way outward. The guy was huge. And tall. Her eyes flicked upward. He had to be well over six feet. Made her feel kind of dainty, which wasn’t something Tessa got to feel very often.
He was also carrying a baby.
She blinked in surprise. Okay, this was one situation she wasn’t used to facing. Drop-dead gorgeous men did not appear on her doorstep with babies. They didn’t appear on her doorstep at all, with or without babies.
“Sorry, can I help you?”
“You might just save my life.” His voice was a low rumble that took Tessa’s breath away. The sort of sound that did things to her insides on a very primitive level.
“Um, okay?” she managed, dark eyes flicking to the bundle he carried. Then a slight breeze in the corridor, someone must have opened a door down the way, carried the unmistakable scent of a dirty diaper.
“Hmm, not being funny… but you might want to change the baby before you take it out visiting,” she suggested. And maybe put a shirt on, she added mentally. Although, she was enjoying the view. What kind of a father was he, though, bringing his baby out with a dirty diaper?
“That would be the problem.” He shifted the baby in his arms and smoothed the edge of the blanket down. Tessa caught her breath at the color of its hair.
It was bright pink, a color she’d only seen in the full-blooded members of her mother’s family. He looked at her and smiled, the merest hint of fang showing. “As you can see, it’s not mine. Someone just left it on my doorstep and I haven’t a clue what to do with it.”
He was a vampire.
The knowledge stunned Tessa for a moment, almost as much as his appearance on the doorstep had, and fear hit her system like a bullet. As she watched, he shifted on his feet a fraction and the light fell across the marks across the left side of his face and body. Her breath left her lungs in a rush.
“You’re a kyn warrior,” she exclaimed in relief, glad she hadn’t opened her door to a rogue vampire.
Even though the small amount of pixie blood flowing in her veins protected her from being turned into a vampire, rogue vamps were more interested in the high from a kill than turning their victims. And they generally didn’t use a baby as a decoy. They were more into breaking the doors down to get at their victims. A baby would be little more than a macabre snack.
“Live and kicking…name’s Feral,” he introduced himself, grinning a little. The small expression curved his full lips, transforming his rather cruel features…features made starker by the shaved hairstyle… from merely gorgeous, to devastating.
“Tessa, pleased to meet you,” she replied on automatic, silence stretching between them.

***

“So,” Feral continued, “you going to help me out here? The little guy…he’s really beginning to smell bad…” He watched her, hope coiling in his chest. When she’d first opened the door, his heart had sunk. She wasn’t the woman he remembered in the laundry.
However, she was a pixie. He could see the slight glamour clinging to her, making her appear more human. On second inspection, there was also a faint family resemblance to the woman with the diapers. Younger sister maybe? He tried that route.
“I remembered your…sister?” He smiled, a cautious edge in his voice as he hoped he’d gotten it right. Women could be funny about ages. Relief shot through him as she nodded.
“I remembered your sister has kids, so when I found him, I came ‘round to beg mercy…and a couple of diapers.” He grinned as he tried his hardest to be charming and personable. She only had to look at him to see he wasn’t a baby sort of guy. Practicing for making babies, yes. Dealing with the result, no.
Come on, sweetheart, say yes.
His silent plea seemed to work, her coffee-cream eyes flicking over him again. Feral shivered, the look like a caress over his skin. His nipples tightened as a thrill shot through him. She stepped back and released the chain.
“Come on. Bring him in and we’ll get him cleaned up,” she ordered, her voice brusque. Feral stalled, not used to being ordered around… no that was a lie. He was used to being ordered around. Vixen did it regularly, as did their boss Marak, the current kyn monarch. But both Vixen and Marak weren’t people one would want to piss off in a hurry while this woman was, well, tiny. And curvy to boot—the figure the shapeless toweling robe hinted at was enough to make his mouth water.
He followed her into the living room, looking around the plush interior and dismissing it just as quickly. It had all the hallmarks of expensive interior design and was about as interesting as the back of a cereal box.
“Come on. Let’s have him down here then.” She dragged out a changing mat from its hiding place behind the sofa, plopping it on the floor as she glanced at him. “The diapers will be a bit big, but it’s better than leaving him dirty. Can you take his diaper off while I get a fresh one?” She arched an eyebrow, obviously doubting his ability to carry out even that simple task.
“Of course.”
He kneeled to settle the baby in the middle of the changing mat. He could do this. But for such a small, little thing, it took virtually every part of Feral’s body to make sure he was placed carefully on the mat.
“Look, mate, you aren’t making this easy you know,” Feral muttered, trying to get his nose as far away from his hands as he could without turning his head or being on the other side of the room. He’d managed to remove the diaper, but he hadn’t been prepared for what it contained.
He grimaced as he considered the contents, not sure what he was supposed to do now. He’d watched Vixen change her little daughter, Marianne, more times than he could remember, and she’d always made it look easy. Grabbing a wipe, he tried to remove the sticky mess on its ass and quickly found out it wasn’t as easy as it looked.
“What the fuck is this stuff?” he muttered, not managing to clean it off but just smear it around more. “Fucking industrial glue?”
He heard a stifled giggle and found the little pixie woman watching him. At the sight of her, he sucked in a hard breath. She was utterly beautiful. He’d known she was a pixie, and he’d thought he could see through her glamour to what lay beneath, but now he realized the truth. He could see the glamour itself, and the potential of what lay beneath, but nothing more.
Now though, she’d stripped the glamour away and he could see her true appearance. And it was stunning. Exotic, feline-cast eyes dominated a small heart-shaped face, with a tiny button of a nose and full lips he ached to taste. Her chin was small but delicate and the arch of her slender neck, half hidden by the mass of dark curls, made both his cock and his fangs ache. One look and he wanted her in the worst way, under him as he drove both his fangs and his cock into her soft sweetness.
“Just where I like to see a man,” she quipped, “on his knees. Come out of the way. You’re just making it worse.” She shooed him away and then knelt in front of the baby, who was taking advantage of the moment to try and flip himself over. Reaching a hand out, she stopped him just before he managed it and tapped his nose playfully.
“Oh no you don’t, handsome,” she chuckled, catching his ankles in one hand and cleaning him up with the other. Her movements were swift and efficient and within a few seconds, the baby was cleaned up with a fresh diaper on him. Feral blinked, unsure how she’d managed it so quickly. Magic, obviously.
“There we go, all clean and dry. Aren’t you a clever little man?” She fastened his top as he wriggled again, doing his best to escape. Grinning, she caught him, his chortles filling the room as she tickled his sides.
Smiles wreathed her face and Feral bit back another surge of lust. He wanted her. Badly. She wasn’t his normal type. Kyn women tended to be tall, slender and pale whereas she was petite and curvy, with dark warm hair and eyes that reminded him of chocolate. But he didn’t care. Everything about her called out to him. Unaware of his attention, she tickled the baby again, running her fingers along the soles of his bare feet as she reached for his trousers.
“He’s a gorgeous little thing,” she commented. “So, he was just left on your doorstep?”
“Yeah, about half an hour ago. Was a bit of a surprise…usually I just get pizza delivery,” he chuckled, shrugging a shoulder. “Not the domestic type.”
“Pizza? I didn’t think vampires ate?” She flicked a glance up at him while she finished dressing the little one. Picking him up, she handed him over. “Here, hold him for a moment while I clear this lot up. Hey…what’s this?”
A piece of paper fell free of the yellow blanket as she picked it up. Reaching down, she recovered it from the floor as Feral watched, jiggling the now clean-smelling baby in his large arms. It was a sheet from a reporter’s notebook, crumpled and folded into quarters. She smoothed it out and frowned at the words scrawled on it in a hasty hand.
“What’s it say?” He shifted closer, peering over her shoulder. The scent of shower gel and warm woman enveloped her, causing a shiver to run down his spine. He really needed to get laid if just being close to a woman stirred up a reaction like that.
She shook her head. “I don’t know. It’s an old fae script, I think… This is more Lisa’s kettle of fish than mine. Some of it I recognize,” she pointed out a word in the middle, fingernail tapping the paper lightly. “This is the word for Morrigan. Oh, shit!”
She looked up at him, eyes wide.
“What? What is it?” Feral frowned, brows raised.
“He…the baby…he’s a Morrigan. There’s a fae prophecy about a male Morrigan… The only male Morrigan.” She swallowed, visibly shaken. “When he grows up, I think he’s going to be a god.”
 


 
 

Mina was born and raised in the East Farthing of Middle Earth (otherwise known as the Midlands, England) and spend her childhood learning all the sorts of things generally required of a professional adventurer. Able to ride, box, shoot, make and read maps, make chainmail and use a broadsword (with varying degrees of efficiency) she was disgusted to find that adventuring is not considered a suitable occupation these days.

So, instead of slaying dragons and hunting vampires and the like, Mina spends her days writing about hot shifters, government conspiracies and vampire lords with more than their fair share of RAWR. Turns out wanna-be adventurers have quite the turn of imagination after all…

(But she keeps that sword sharp, just in case the writing career is just a dream and she really *is* an adventurer.)

The boring part: A full time author and cover artist, Mina can usually be found hunched over a keyboard or graphics tablet, frantically trying to get the images and words in her head out and onto the screen before they drive her mad. She’s addicted to coffee and would like to be addicted to chocolate, but unfortunately chocolate dislikes her.
 
 
Author Links
 


RELEASE DAY BLITZ ~ Blood Sacrifice (Kyn series #2) by Mina Carter

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
BloodSacrifice_550.jpg
 
 
Whatever else he was, she had to admit he had guts. She wouldn’t want to be shut up in a room with an angry Kyn either. While his pixie heritage might have protected him from being turned into a vampire, it did bugger all to protect him from being dead.

The only vampire warioress in existence Vixen has spent most of her life proving herself in a man’s world, but she’s never been able to squash some very feminine thoughts where fellow warrior Kalen is concerned. Kalen however, has sworn off love, preferring to deal in lust instead.

But a passionate encounter blows their carefully constructed indifference to each other and when Vixen is kidnapped will they be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to give their love a chance?
 

 

 
 
 
 

 



Mina was born and raised in the East Farthing of Middle Earth (otherwise known as the Midlands, England) and spend her childhood learning all the sorts of things generally required of a professional adventurer. Able to ride, box, shoot, make and read maps, make chainmail and use a broadsword (with varying degrees of efficiency) she was disgusted to find that adventuring is not considered a suitable occupation these days.

So, instead of slaying dragons and hunting vampires and the like, Mina spends her days writing about hot shifters, government conspiracies and vampire lords with more than their fair share of RAWR. Turns out wanna-be adventurers have quite the turn of imagination after all…

(But she keeps that sword sharp, just in case the writing career is just a dream and she really *is* an adventurer.)

The boring part: A full time author and cover artist, Mina can usually be found hunched over a keyboard or graphics tablet, frantically trying to get the images and words in her head out and onto the screen before they drive her mad. She’s addicted to coffee and would like to be addicted to chocolate, but unfortunately chocolate dislikes her.
 
 
Author Links
 
 


CHAPTER REVEAL ~ Blood Sacrifice (Kyn series #2) by Mina Carter

 

 
 
BloodSacrifice_550.jpg
 
 
 
Coming June 13th
  
 
Whatever else he was, she had to admit he had guts. She wouldn’t want to be shut up in a room with an angry Kyn either. While his pixie heritage might have protected him from being turned into a vampire, it did bugger all to protect him from being dead.

The only vampire warioress in existence Vixen has spent most of her life proving herself in a man’s world, but she’s never been able to squash some very feminine thoughts where fellow warrior Kalen is concerned. Kalen however, has sworn off love, preferring to deal in lust instead.

But a passionate encounter blows their carefully constructed indifference to each other and when Vixen is kidnapped will they be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to give their love a chance?


 
 
Prologue

He fucking hated balls. Pain in the ass court functions filled with simpering nobles who couldn’t find their asses with both hands and a map. He especially hated balls where he stood on the sidelines as his lady wife danced with every one of the assholes besides him.
It had pissed him off so much, he’d taken her dance card and changed a few names to his… only she’d fucked off, leaving the ball before their first dance to come home.
Kalen Sauveterre stormed through the door to his wife’s rooms, his mood so foul that the wood crashed into the wall and rebounded, just barely avoiding hitting him as he strode through it.
“Astra! Where the hell are you?” he growled, finding the sitting area empty. Before he could walk into her bedroom, she appeared in the doorway, a vision of slender loveliness in pink silk, her almost-white blonde hair a cloud around her shoulders.
For a moment he allowed his gaze to wash over her. He tried to conjure some of the emotions he’d once felt for her—the feelings he’d had when they’d married and before they’d had Naeva—but there was nothing. No feeling, no emotion, no nothing. It had all been leeched away in the months of arguments since their daughter’s birth. Months in which it seemed he could do nothing right, in which it seemed Astra would rather he didn’t exist, never mind not touch her.
“What do you want, Kalen?” she pouted, the sulky expression covering what he could have sworn was panic. He had to be wrong though… what did she have to panic about?
“What was that about? Leaving like that?” he demanded, keeping his hands in closed fists at his sides. Anything to keep the rage boiling in his veins to himself so as not to scare her. Astra was a noblewoman, not a warrior like he was, and he knew the darker side of his nature scared her. So he tried to minimize her exposure to it.
She shrugged, her expression becoming even more moody, which pissed him off and he stepped forward.
“For fuck’s sake, Astra, you know better than to travel alone. What if the rogues had caught you? One driver isn’t enough to protect you.”
“Oh god, this again?” She sneered dismissively, looking down her nose at him. Somehow, even though he was noble-born and she wasn’t, she always made him feel he was beneath her because he was a warrior. “The way you talk, you’d think there were rogues hiding around every damn corner. You’re paranoid, Kalen. You should go and get your head checked.”
He bit back his growl, just the corner of his lip twitching as he kept his reply to himself. If she knew what he and the other warriors faced every night on patrol, it would scare the ever-loving crap out of her and every other civilian. The fact that they lived practically cheek to cheek with the scourge that preyed on their race… they’d go running in fear and never leave their fortified houses.
“So why did you leave?” he asked, trying to bring the conversation back on topic before she could get onto the subject of his supposed paranoia.
He knew what she was getting at… that he was mad, or slipping into blood-rage. All male kyn were at risk, but warriors, given they were so close to the rogue vampires they hunted, were even more so. If she could get him diagnosed as blood-mad, she could live the life she’d always wanted… that of a noble lady… but without the pesky encumbrance of an actual husband. He was fairly sure she prayed each night when he went out on patrol, not for his safe return like most women would have, but for the rogues to kill him and make her into a widow.
“I was bored,” she said with a sniff, not moving from the door.
His eyes narrowed as he registered her stance. It almost seemed as though she was guarding the door. But from what? Him? He almost snorted at the thought. He hadn’t been invited to her bed for months, forced to feed from one of the blood-women supplied to the warriors. It wasn’t the same as being balls and fang-deep in his beloved wife, though… a pale imitation of the bond he’d thought he had with Astra.
“Bored? You missed our dances. I would have made sure you weren’t bored.”
He stepped to the side nonchalantly, testing her reactions. She moved subtly to block him. Yeah, she didn’t want him getting into her bedroom. Why? He took a slow breath, tasting the air for any hint of a male in the room behind her, but it came up clean. The only two scents in here were his and hers.
She sniffed, leaning against the doorframe to study her nails. “Really? You bore me all the time, Kalen. I’m afraid I prefer the more…” her gaze raked over his tall form, the court clothes not able to disguise his warrior’s physique. “Intellectual man, shall we say? Not a dinosaur of a warrior.”
Anger boiled over, the snarl escaping Kalen’s lips before he could stop it. “Really? Well, tough shit. I’m still your husband, rather than one of those limp-wristed assholes.”
“Yeah, you are.” She picked at one of her nails. “For now.”
The red at the corners of his vision crept inward. “For now? What the fuck does that mean?”
In a surge of movement, he pushed past her and into the bedroom beyond, her slender frame no match for his warrior’s bulk. Instantly his gaze fell on the open trunk by the bed, half filled with her dresses.
“You’re leaving me?” he demanded, turning on her. Fury filtered through his veins, deepening his voice and making his jaw ache as his fangs tried to descend.
“You can go,” he said, accepting the inevitable. They’d been over for months, but he’d refused to accept it. “But you’re not taking Naeva. My daughter stays with me.”
He stared her down, resolute on the fact he would keep their baby. She was the one good thing that had come out of their marriage and he would ensure that she was cared for and raised as befit her station as a kyn noble.
Astra laughed, one eyebrow raised. “Ohh, you poor darling,” her voice dropped to saccharine venom. “You really think a savage of a warrior could have sired a child, let alone a daughter? No, Kalen, you didn’t. She’s not yours. She never was.”



Chapter One

Men were assholes, pure and simple.
Vixen grunted, flat on her back on the weight bench, and shoved the barbell up as though she were a pneumatic lifting machine in overdrive. Anything to avoid answering the smug piece of shit male posing on the other side of the gym.
“Com’on, blondie,” Kalen Sauveterre smirked, flexing his arms and looking over his shoulder at her. “You know you wanna take a peek.”
Vixen just grunted and threw an extra couple of plates onto the barbell before sliding under it again. Kalen was a perpetual pain in her ass. All. The. Time. The blond, muscled, handsome poster boy for the kyn warrior “brotherhood,” he’d been on her case since the moment she’d joined their ranks.
She’d been so pleased and triumphant the day she’d walked in here, right into the warriors’ training compound like she owned the place. And that day, she’d thought she did. After years, the elder council had finally conceded that, even though she was female, she had been born with the warriors’ marks over her face and body, which meant she belonged with the other warriors, fighting the rogues. Had she been male, she’d have been accepted without question and sent to the training compound when she’d come of age instead of having to fight for years to be recognized.
She’d thought her fight was over once she’d walked through those doors. It hadn’t been. Instead, she’d just faced a new fight… to gain the trust and respect of the males she worked with. Males just as strong and fast as she was. They weren’t the scrawny men she was used to who hid behind words, but big, brawny warriors. Men she finally had to look up to rather than down on.
And they weren’t impressed about having a woman amongst them for the first time. Most had given her a wide berth, silently weighing her up and trying to avoid being partnered with her. This had meant she’d spent the first month as a warrior tagging along with another pair until finally one, Feral, had thrown her weapons at her and told her she’d better not get him or herself killed. Since that day, she and the big, shaven-headed warrior had been patrol partners, and the rest of the warriors had followed in accepting her.
All besides Kalen Sauveterre. As blue-blooded as their warrior king, Marak, he was the son of a lord and heir to a noble title. Like her, he was an anomaly. Warriors’ marks rarely showed up amongst the nobility, but that didn’t seem to matter to him, or create a sense of kinship. Instead, he’d taken to needling her from the moment she’d arrived.
The normal shit-talking crap she’d have knocked seven shades of shit out of any other guy for. Trying that with a warrior though was a sure-fire way to, if not get her ass handed to her on a plate, at least get herself a going over that would make hunting the rogues uncomfortable for a while as she healed. The normal crap most men spouted about her—being too weak or that women shouldn’t be warriors—didn’t bother her.
Kalen’s flirty, snarky comments did.
They reached in and got right under her armor. She was used to being the outcast and men seeing her as a freak… usually only talking to her on a dare or to find out what being with a warrior would be like… so there was no way that a male like Sauveterre, with his impeccable breeding and good looks, would be interested in her.
“Blondie?” He never used her name. Fuck knew why. “It’s not nice to ignore a guy. Don’t you know we have delicate egos?”
She almost snorted at that. If Kalen’s ego was delicate enough to be damaged by her ignoring him, he’d have been done for years ago.
“Leave her alone, K,” a deep voice growled, a shadow falling over Vixen as the newcomer blotted out the light. “Can’t you see she’s busy working out. Which you should be doing, instead of posing in that mirror.”
She squinted up to find Marak, their monarch, looking down at her. Like her, he was an oddity, born both the heir to the throne and a warrior, his marks dark against his skin as he stood by the bench, spotting her until she’d finished her set.
“You shouldn’t let him needle you. He’s just looking for a reaction,” Marak said gruffly, hands under the bar to help her get the last inch as her muscles screamed blue murder at her.
“Yeah. Because he’s an asshole.”
She ignored the snort from the other side of the room, deliberately not watching as Kalen sauntered past them on the way to the showers.
“Not arguing with you on that one.” The corner of Marak’s lip quirked as he racked the bar and offered her a hand to help her up. “Vixen, I need a favor.”
She paused, hand halfway to her water bottle, and looked up at him. Not only was Marak the leader of the warrior brotherhood, but he was also the kyn monarch. He didn’t need to ask. He could just order her and they both knew it. So the fact he was asking… that was big.
“Sure. What do you need?” She grabbed her water bottle, slugging some back as she wiped the back of her neck with the small towel she always brought into the gym to wipe herself and the benches down. She hated to get onto a sticky bench and refused to leave them that way, unlike some heathens who used the place. Men were utter pigs.
Marak looked uncomfortable, shifting from foot to foot before he realized she was watching him and his expression smoothed out. “Well, the wedding next week? You’ll be there?”
She grinned instantly. All the warriors knew that Marak had finally found his bond-mate, and about the merry dance she’d led him on. It was practically legend, or would be soon.
“Yeah, wouldn’t miss it.”
“Good. Will you be a bridesmaid?”
Every cell in Vixen’s body froze.
“Beg pardon?” She laughed a little, wariness filling her voice. “It sounded like you just asked me to be a bridesmaid…”
Marak folded his arms over his broad chest. “I did.”
She blinked. “Err… have you looked at me recently? Not being funny, sire, but I’m not exactly bridesmaid material. And besides, shouldn’t that be Maria’s decision?”
The big kyn shook his head and then paused, frowning. “Well, yes, traditionally, but I said I wanted to ensure her safety and would arrange a bodyguard.”
Vixen’s eyes widened with surprise. “And you escaped with your life?”
She couldn’t imagine the determined queen-to-be, a woman who, despite being only half-kyn, had been determined to take on the rogues before Marak had claimed her as his own, being told anything, much less what bridesmaids she would have.
Marak snorted, amusement flaring in his eyes. “Persuasion, you could say—”
She held her hand up suddenly, cutting him off. “Yeah, that’s all I need to know about that.”
There was a snigger from the other side of the room and she tensed, thinking Kalen had come back. Instead, familiar grunts and groans joined the sound of a weight machine getting pummelled. Feral, her patrol partner, seemed to be working off some aggression.
“Yeah, no problem.” She couldn’t help her smile at the relief that spread over Marak’s face.
“Thanks, Vix. You’re a lifesaver,” he said. “I know it’s just from the Ravensford estate and she’ll be escorted by the Ravensford knights all the way… but you know what knights are like. I’ll be far happier knowing there’s at least one of my guys in there too.”
She was forced to bite back her smile as a sense of pride filled her. He’d called her one of “his guys,” not “the female warrior.” She had to agree with his point about knights, though. There was a definite and centuries-old rivalry between the two branches.
All warriors trained hard to keep up their speed and reactions, constantly learning and practicing new forms. It was necessary, a matter of survival. Rogue vampires were fast as hell, and thanks to the madness in their veins, stronger than their kyn counterparts. A slow warrior was a dead warrior.
It wasn’t the same with knights, though, not that Vixen had seen. Once you were a knight, sword across the shoulders and all that, you were always a knight. No one took that away from you, even when you got too old and slow to raise the sword.
“I was going to stick Feral in a dress just for the hell of it, but he’d only sulk.” Marak’s expression turned wicked, his chatter revealing how nervous he was. Marak had never been chatty. He was more the silent, brooding type. Until he’d met Maria. Vixen liked the change. It suited him.
She chuckled. “No, he’d definitely sulk. Then I’d have to put up with his moods for weeks. Where do I have to be and when?”
***
She looked like a damn gorilla in a dress.
Vixen looked down at herself and suppressed a grimace. Primed and preened to within an inch of her life, she didn’t even recognize herself in the mirror. Normally she made sure her face was clean and her hair was tied back, so to see herself made up with her blonde hair caught up in a stylish mess of curls on top of her head was startling.
Her lips formed a soft pout, and she watched in fascination as the reflection mimicked her. No, it had to be a mistake. The slender beauty in the mirror couldn’t be her. There had to be an enchantment spell on the mirror… She leaned forward to study her face, finding the tiny scar at the corner of her lips that hadn’t quite been covered with makeup. She couldn’t get over how amazing her eyes looked… like a cat’s, all mysterious and exotic.
She blinked and leaned back, careful not to move her feet. Her normal leathers had been replaced with a fitted sheath dress and skyscraper heels. She took a tiny step to the side and instantly had to readjust her balance. A groan left her lips. There was no way she was walking in the things without face-planting.
She cast a glance over her shoulder and studied the other bridesmaids surreptitiously. They giggled as they helped each other get ready, obviously close friends. Tiny and dark-haired, they were all seneschal girls. Maria, the bride had been born half-kyn, so she’d refused to adhere to tradition and have kyn noblewomen from the main families as her attendants. Instead, she’d chosen from the seneschal families. Vixen had to admit it was a clever move, even if she herself stuck out like a sore thumb.
Even worse, the dress was pink. Of course it was. It even had a large bow right on her ass. She grumbled to herself, twisting and turning to look at her backside in the mirror. They might as well have slapped a “wide load” sticker on her.
She suppressed a sigh. She’d never feared anything. She was Vixen, big, scary kyn warrior. She spent her nights hunting and killing rogue vampires, and she was damn good at it. Just last week her patrol had topped the leader board for the most kills for the third week in a row.
What was being a bridesmaid compared to that? A dress, some flowers and following the bride up the aisle to make sure she didn’t break a nail. It couldn’t be that hard, right?
Wrong, dead wrong. Moments to go and she shook with nerves, panic rising. She looked ridiculous. She’d thought she was clever, avoiding the dress fittings for training. Boring as they’d been, the reason behind them was now crystal clear.
Her dress didn’t fit.
The pink silk was stretched tightly across her bust, so tight she could hardly breathe. She couldn’t take a deep breath, in case the delicate lacings across her back—already stretched to the limit—ripped. The dressmaker was no help. Annoyed at having to work without a dress fitting, she’d ordered Vixen not to breathe. Vixen didn’t know if that was to not breathe deeply, or not breathe at all. Not breathing was the best option. The neckline was so low one movement the wrong way and her breasts would spill out over the top.
She cursed under her breath as she looked around the small antechamber. Just off the main hall of the court where the ceremony was to take place, it followed the rest of the building in its style. Heavy wood paneling covered half the walls while ornamental plaster carvings covered the rest. The symbols of ancient kyn families surrounded them as the bride prepared to walk up the aisle. Like a lot of vampire buildings, there wasn’t even a damn window she could wriggle out.
As soon as the idea of escape occurred, she dismissed it. She couldn’t run out on the wedding of the king. It just wasn’t done. She didn’t give a damn about protocol, but if she didn’t show, Marak would track her down and bust her ass for it.
She straightened her back. She was a kyn warrior, and warriors did not run from anything. She didn’t run from anything. Even if her knees shook under her skirt.
“Now… you look amazing.”
As if Vixen’s thoughts had conjured her up, Maria appeared at her elbow like a genie out of a bottle. A genie in a full wedding gown with veil and tiara.
“Me?”
Vixen resisted the urge to tug on the dress again as she turned to face the bride. Yanking it up until it felt more secure reduced the risk of her breasts falling out, but it meant the spilt up her thigh would rise indecently high. Pulling it down to solve that gave her the fall-out problem again. Catch-22.
“I don’t. I look ridiculous.” She gave in to temptation and went through the whole pull up, pull down routine again. “Like a damn gorilla in a dress.”
“What are you talking about? You don’t look like a gorilla at all. You’re stunning.” Maria’s gaze made a quick assessment of Vixen’s dress. Slim-fitting, it molded to every curve she had. A fact she was uncomfortably aware of.
She wore tight clothing on patrol, but that was work gear. Somehow, skin-tight leather pants with a skinny-fit tee didn’t seem quite as bad as her cleavage, or the entire length of her leg on display.
“You can see my underwear,” Vixen muttered, tugging at the dress again, nearer to a panic attack than she’d ever been in her life.
“Don’t be stupid. It’s perfectly decent. You’re just used to hiding yourself away down in the compound… Leave it. You’ll crease the silk.” Maria swatted at Vixen’s hands, her impatience obvious.
Perhaps she could still make a break for it, Vixen pondered as the bride moved off to speak to another bridesmaid. Already, Maria had adopted the role of hostess, a skill she’d need as Marak’s queen. Hope filled Vixen—Maria would understand…
Nope. She steeled herself, forcing her spine to straighten. She was a warrior, not used to being pulled about and tarted up as she had been this morning, by beauticians and hairdressers, but she would do this.
“Feral would still have looked better in this.”
She was careful to keep her muttering under her breath. Kyn hearing was acute. The last thing she needed was everyone to find out she felt like a complete and utter idiot.
“What was that?” Maria appeared at Vixen’s side again, but her attention was diverted as the door opened and a tall figure appeared.
In a heartbeat, Vixen was all attention, her body tensed and readied for an attack. She knew how much some people wanted to make sure this wedding didn’t go through, for Marak not to marry. As she recognized the man who stepped into the room, she relaxed marginally, silent understanding passing between warrior and knight.
“Are you ready, sweetheart? They’re all waiting for you out there… Marak’s like a cat on a hot tin roof.” Garen Ravensford crossed the room to his daughter, and Vixen could see the pride sparkling in his eyes as he took in her appearance. “You look wonderful, honey. Beautiful. Just like your mother did. She would have been so proud of you.”
Vixen turned away with a lump in her throat, uncomfortable at trespassing on a tender moment between father and daughter. Despite having fallen in love with a human, Garen had stood by her and the two half-kyn daughters she’d borne him. It was an old scandal—one of the most eligible lords in the court had married a human for love. It had nearly cost Garen his title. A match between a kyn and a human? Unheard of.
If she had been converted, it would have been a different matter. Occasionally though some humans couldn’t be converted. No one knew why. The scientists thought it might have to do with a strain of paranormal DNA in their genetic makeup, something not human in their family tree, that stopped the conversion. Regardless of the pressure on him, Garen stood by his mortal wife until she died, and Vixen admired him for that.
Her own father had been a different matter. He’d seen the warriors’ marks across the face and body of his newborn daughter and had walked out, leaving Vixen and her mother to fend for themselves.
“Yes, I’m ready… is everyone else? Do y’all have your bouquets?” Maria asked, twisting and turning to check as Garen lifted her veil to draw it down over her face. Vixen lifted her bouquet and waggled it in with the rest, adding her voice to the chorus from the assembled bridesmaids.
The panic left Maria’s face as her father drew her hand onto his arm and led her toward the door. The bridesmaids fell into the order they’d had drilled into them by the wedding coordinator and followed her. Vixen brought up the rear, her hand closing around the handle of her bouquet and the stiletto hidden there. Just in case. Bridesmaid for the day, protector for life.
The moment of truth was upon her. Vixen took a deep breath before stepping through the door. All eyes in the hall swung toward them. Vixen bit the inside of her lip, wishing she was somewhere—anywhere—other than here. If a rogue burst into the hall right now, she’d kiss it, before kicking its ass.
Feral should’ve worn the dress. She fixed her gaze on Maria’s slender figure, concentrated on putting one step in front of the other, and ignored the crowded room around her as she followed the queen-to-be up the aisle.


Mina was born and raised in the East Farthing of Middle Earth (otherwise known as the Midlands, England) and spend her childhood learning all the sorts of things generally required of a professional adventurer. Able to ride, box, shoot, make and read maps, make chainmail and use a broadsword (with varying degrees of efficiency) she was disgusted to find that adventuring is not considered a suitable occupation these days.

So, instead of slaying dragons and hunting vampires and the like, Mina spends her days writing about hot shifters, government conspiracies and vampire lords with more than their fair share of RAWR. Turns out wanna-be adventurers have quite the turn of imagination after all…

(But she keeps that sword sharp, just in case the writing career is just a dream and she really *is* an adventurer.)

The boring part: A full time author and cover artist, Mina can usually be found hunched over a keyboard or graphics tablet, frantically trying to get the images and words in her head out and onto the screen before they drive her mad. She’s addicted to coffee and would like to be addicted to chocolate, but unfortunately chocolate dislikes her.
 
 
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