Asha is the Queen of the Fey, genetically engineered immortal humans who feed on human souls to survive. But she’s running from her people. When she is found by her enemy, one of the Hunters of the Fey, she expects to die. Yet he’s oddly intrigued by her, and Asha finds herself falling in love with him, hoping she can find safety and the home she’s been seeking. Then she’s kidnapped, and everything changes.
Fallon is a Hunter. She’s looking for her long-lost sister, using an addictive drug to search through the stream of time. Her addiction leaves her dangerously exposed to her enemies but, consumed by her search, she doesn’t care…until her fellow Hunters start dying from a mysterious illness. She is torn between duty and desire, and must find an answer before they all die.
What Fallon doesn’t know is that Asha might just be the key to saving them all, if only she can find her.
And time is running out.
PLEASE NOTE that this book contains explicit language, explicit sex, and graphic violence. It isn’t suitable for those under 18.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult audiences only
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 4 – R Rated
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I thought about what it would be like if the fey weren't based in myth, but in science, and the plot grew from there. It was an idea that grabbed me and didn't let me go until I wrote the entire thing over the course of five or six months. It became my debut self-published novel.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters actually came from my first finished novel back in 2003 that I wrote for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I took them, names and all, and put them into Fey Touched. Everything else I changed. Their personalities developed a bit differently, though, and that happened as they hit the page. I didn't plan anything or do any character sheets. It all happened very organically, which is my usual process.
The woman lay in the cemetery on a bed of snow. Snowflakes clung to her blonde hair and sparkled like diamonds. Slivers of moonlight touched her serene face. Her skin was the blue-tinged skin of the Fey.
After turning up the heat in my coat, I reached out to touch her and immediately recoiled. She was so cold that I'd gotten a taste of frostbite, the cold stinging my fingers. Was she dead?
Pixie, a German Shepherd who was my companion and familiar, whined. She was right to lead me here, her thoughts urgent in my head.
She poked the woman with her nose. The woman did not move, did not even twitch. Pixie whined, poking the woman again. There was no rise and fall of her chest. There was nothing.
“What do you think, girl?” I asked.
Pixie gazed at me with eyes that reflected sympathy and intelligence. The thought – Pixie's – unfurled in my mind.
Not dead. Must save.
My heart thudded. I was Fey Touched, a Hunter of her kind. Technically, she was my enemy. I had the right to kill her on sight. Why didn't I?
I didn't like the Fey as a rule. There were Hunters who believed that all Fey were evil and must die. I was open to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, they were wrong. Maybe some of them weren't evil. That even without mana – a soul – they could be good.
Maybe this Fey woman in front of me, lit by moonlight caressing her face, was one of the good ones.
I sat back on my haunches, my eyes flicking to the headstones as if they could give me an answer. I couldn't just leave her out here. She needed help.
I gently shook her and her eyelids fluttered, but she did not wake. I pressed two fingertips to her carotid. Slow heartbeat, but there.
“Shit,” I muttered. I took off my coat and wrapped it around her, letting out a hiss as more cold wind hit me in the face.
Pixie danced around the woman, whining and yipping at me.
“Chill, girl. I got this.” I took a breath and unfurled my wings, wrapping them around myself like a coat.
I lifted her and chuckled at how light she was. She wore a poofy green dress that was so out of place for the weather here. Which made me wonder if she'd come from a long distance away.
My need to protect and my calling as a Hunter of Fey warred inside me. It didn't matter who she was. She was an innocent and she needed help.
I held her close to me as I took to the air. Wouldn't want her to fall. “Hang on just a little longer,” I whispered. “We're almost home.”
As I touched down in front of my apartment, Pixie caught up with me, barking and sending frantic thoughts. Warmth – safety – home – warmth –
“We are home, girl. Come on,” I said as I entered the dimly-lit hallway that led to my apartment. I fumbled with the keys and opened the door wide, stepping into the small but cozy living room. I set the Fey down on the couch, then retracted my wings.
Pixie jumped up onto the couch and lay beside the Fey woman.
“Are you hungry, girl?” I asked, watching the dog. I could swear she was smiling at me.
I glanced at the woman again. She didn't move. I could hardly hear her breathe, and that worried me.
I quickly got Pixie's dinner together, some kibble and wet food, and headed back into the living room. She let out a low whine as I set the bowl down in front of her and rubbed behind her ears.
As she dove into her meal, I crouched in front of the woman and checked her pulse again. Still slow, still there.
I had no way of reviving her. Should I wait? Should I take her to the hospital? No, that would raise too many questions. If I could help her here, that would be the best thing.
“What do you think, Pixie? Should I try rousing her again? Or are you too busy stuffing your face?”
She glanced up at me, crunching her food, and I could swear she'd arched her brow. She was practically human, this dog.
I shook my head, chuckling. After a crazy day, this was just what I needed.
After about ten minutes, I decided to try to wake the woman up again.
She was Fey. She was immortal – at least theoretically. Still…
This time her eyelids fluttered and I was suddenly looking into the most beautiful shimmering eyes I'd ever seen.
The first thing I realized upon waking was that I was no longer outside, or in the cemetery. I remembered running away from my royal wedding.
The second thing I realized was that I was in a stranger's home. A nice-looking stranger with longish brown hair and captivating blue eyes. A human?
The third thing? I wasn't dead. But I should have been.
I was cold. The blanket around me helped some.
So what had happened? He'd come to crash my pity party?
I opened my mouth, and then snapped it shut.
There was a dog sitting next to me. Eating something that smelled disgusting. Oh, boy. My people didn't like dogs.
I met the eyes that were watching me, trying desperately to place who he was. Nope, didn't ring a single bell in my fuzzy head.
Except maybe my libido bell, but we're not going there, are we?
“Hi there,” he said, smiling. “How're you feeling?”
“Um,” I said oh so articulately. “I'm cold. And a bit confused.”
He nodded. “I figured that.” He held his hand out to me, and it was a very human thing to do.
Once I extracted my hand from the blankets he'd swaddled me in, I touched my hand to his briefly.
“I'm Joe Vincent. And you are…?”
“I'm Saoirse. It means 'freedom' in Gaelic.”
This was a lie, of course. He couldn't know who I really was. No one could.
The illusion I'd woven over myself guaranteed that.
“That's a pretty name,” Joe said. He smiled, and it seemed forced. “I – uh – found you in front of a grave.”
Can you explain that? was left unsaid.
“I fell. I have no idea whose grave that was.” I arched a brow.
Joe studied his hands, which were folded as if in prayer. I was almost positive he was human –
No, he wasn't.
He had mana, the life essence of a human, but there was something more to it. I could see it burning brightly, golden like sunlight.
The Fey Touched had some of our enhanced genes in them.
So, even though he'd technically saved my life, Joe was not my friend. His sole purpose in life was to track down and kill rogues. Or punish them, as I've heard whispered around Court. And the Touched did not associate with Fey for any reason – except to plunge iron stakes into our hearts.
I needed to get out of here.
I tried to extract the rest of my body from the bundle of blankets and failed epically. Hells.
“Hang on,” Joe said. “Are you going to be okay? Should I take you – ”
“You will take me nowhere,” I said through clenched teeth. “I will be taking myself out of here.”
“Is this how you treat people who try to help you?” Joe's eyes flashed with anger. I could almost feel it rolling off of him in waves.
I didn't like his bluntness.
I really didn't like that he was Touched.
“Saoirse,” Joe said softly, reaching out to me. “Are you okay?”
I recoiled as if I'd been hit. I licked my dry lips. “Look, it's not personal, all right? I know what you are. So, thanks but no thanks.” I managed to get some of the blankets off my upper body. And then I remembered my dress, which wasn't going to help matters.
“I saved your life out there. And I'd like to make sure you stay alive. That's it. Nothing more.”
The dog finally decided to notice me. It jumped up and tried to lick me, and I moved away quickly before it could. Gross.
“Pixie likes you,” Joe said. “Not a dog person, huh?” He patted his thighs, and it shot to him, leaping and licking and generally being, well, gross.
“I'm not,” I said, and resisted the urge to apologize. I was Fey royalty. I didn't need to apologize for anything. When the dog had settled down, I spoke again, this time from my heart. “Why didn't you leave me out there?”
Joe's eyebrows shot up. “Seriously? I couldn't let you die out there.” He started pacing, which only made me dizzy.
“Joe, it was none of your concern.” My voice was flat, intentionally unemotional. I couldn't get emotional. I'd just managed to shut that part of me off. If I opened it again…things would get exponentially worse.
He spun around to pin me with his gaze. The dog whimpered. “None of my concern? Really? How does that work? I'm supposed to protect people. Not kill them.”
I could have argued that point, but I decided to let it go.
I shed the rest of the blankets with quick, sharp movements. I stood, taking care not to enter his personal space. I met his eyes, and so much writhed inside. Ghosts, maybe. “I know what your little tribe of hunters stands for. I've seen it firsthand. But that doesn't give you the right to determine someone's destiny for them.”
My stomach clenched. Was I really fighting with this guy? Over him saving my life?
“Saoirse?” He was right in front of me now. Close enough to touch. I felt something deep inside, a longing, a stirring of something. I wanted to touch him. Run my fingers through his hair.
That was my hormones talking.
“I don't know what you want me to say,” I said. “I hadn't intended on being found, damn it!”
“Well, I found you. And I will help you get better.” He glared down at me, daring me to do something. Infuriating, this guy. Who knew that the Touched were this insane? “Now, do you want something to eat?”
My eyes widened and my stomach growled. Make that a vehement yes. Bastard. “I must admit I am hungry. But you're under no obligation to feed me.” I turned around, studying the space he lived in for the first time.
Dull white walls. Blood-red curtains. Plants in pots in several corners. Fake. Comfy couch with a charming array of colors that didn't match. A loveseat that didn't match, either. It was orange. Yuck.
At Court, everything matched and was handmade from the most exquisite fabrics. Seeing things like Joe's hurt my eyeballs.
My stomach growled again, and something occurred to me.
I'd fed right before I'd left. I needed to feed every few days.
I'd been gone a long time. And I'd been a wee bit preoccupied. That whole hiding and running for my life thing…
So why didn't I feel the need to feed, yet I was hungry for human food?
“Well, I'm offering,” Joe said from behind me, making me jump.
I turned back around and almost bumped into him. I recoiled again. “What kind of food do you eat?”
He made a gesture for me to follow him. He led me through an archway and into a kitchen that looked…so much nicer than the living room.
He had an impressive set of pots and pans hanging over an immaculate oven. A knife holder and coffee-maker sat on an island that served as the primary space. No dirty dishes in the sink; in fact, everything I saw was spotless.
Microwave cart, small television on a stand, and pretty blue curtains. The wall was white with some type of texture I'd never seen. Now this was more like it.
“This is…beautiful,” I said softly. I reached out to touch the delicate curtains, the fabric sliding through my fingers, which made me think of Court, of ball gowns and tapestries. “How did you – what do you – ”
“I'm a chef in my spare time,” Joe said with a grin. “I'm sure you've noticed that this kitchen is better decorated and maintained. That's because I spend most of my off time in here cooking.” With a flourish, he opened the stainless-steel refrigerator to reveal Tupperware containers filled with meats and potatoes, three types of milk, little wrapped packages of something that looked like pastries, a huge crystal bowl that held a colorful salad, and a pan of pasta that looked divine.
He wasn't kidding.
My mouth watered. I didn't want to eat here, accept his hospitality, but what choice did I have? Sure, I could go outside in the cold and try to kill myself again. That was still an option, but I wasn't so sure I wanted to die now. It had been a moment of weakness.
I looked up into his oh so mesmerizing eyes. Damn him for having such pretty eyes. Damn his food. Damn the fact that he was a chef. Who was also my enemy. And therein lay the biggest problem ever. I struggled to get words out of my dry mouth. “Why are you doing this? Why aren't you killing me?”
He chuckled. “Just because I'm a Hunter doesn't mean I'm going to kill you.”
“So what does it mean?” I asked.
He moved closer to me; I moved backward. The tango of hunter and prey. “It means,” he said, taking my hand in his, “that I'd like to help you. Feed you. Help you recover from your suicide attempt.”
He'd said it. He'd realized what I'd tried to do out there. I was such an idiot. I was so shocked and embarrassed that it took a few moments to realize he was holding my hand.
“Let go of me,” I said, barely breathing.
He arched a brow. “Why? Does this make you uncomfortable?” He tightened his grip just a bit, and my heart raced. Hello, panic attack.
“Yes, it does,” I said. No one at Court had ever made such gestures. He let go. “Let's talk food, all right? I can handle food.”
His eyes darkened. He didn't look angry; to his credit, he looked thoughtful. Was that a good thing? Hells, I didn't know.
“Okay, we won't discuss your experience out there in the cold.” He smiled. “We can discuss my food. What would you like to sample?”
The beginnings of excitement came over me. Sharing food could be a sensual experience. Hells, I didn't need to be thinking about that. Especially since all I had to do was go back home and claim my forty mates. The thought made me break into a sweat.
I focused on the open refrigerator in front of me and the pasta. Over the years, I'd grown to love pasta paired with a good pasta sauce. Some spices, just for flavor, but not too strong. My poor servants hated it when I sent pasta back because it was too plain or too spicy. Very few could get it just right.
“The pasta,” I said. Are we surprised? Joe reached in and retrieved the big pan of pasta. “But wait – what kind of sauce is that?”
He bent over and smelled it. “I am a big fan of traditional pasta. This here is pasta sauce mixed with Italian sausage – ”
“I can't eat that.” Bile rose up in my throat.
“Allergic?” Joe asked.
I shook my head. I didn't want to tell him. It wasn't for just anyone to know. But I felt the oddest urge to be honest. Why? It wasn't like I trusted him…
“No. It's a Fey thing.”
He arched a brow as he opened a cabinet above him and removed a beautiful ivory plate lined in gold. “What kind of Fey thing? It's not spinal fluid so it's no good?” He didn't look angry, but he sounded like it.
I didn't want him angry at me. I didn't know why, just that it would be bad. I could take him in a fight, I knew that. But my heart clenched when I thought of angering him.
Hells, what was wrong with me? I never got wibbly over a human. Then again, this guy wasn't human.
“No, it's not that,” I said quickly. “It looks and smells divine. It's just that we don't eat meat.”
“Oh yeah, I've heard of that.” He laughed. “That's just obnoxious.”
I ground my teeth together. He just had to laugh, didn't he? “No. We believe the meat carries the animal's mana. And that could infect us with an animal spirit. So we avoid it.”
“Do you, now?” he asked, staring at the pasta in the pan. “Tell you what. I'll make you a meatless sauce you'll love. Sound good?”
It did sound good.
But no matter how much I tried to make myself believe it, I wasn't a normal person doing something as normal as eating pasta. I was the Queen of the Fey, and I'd run away.
My people would be looking for me. Could be on my trail right now.
I couldn't let them find me. No matter what.
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