Home > Bewitch the Darkness (Guardians of Eternity #18)

Bewitch the Darkness (Guardians of Eternity #18)
Author: Alexandra Ivy

 

 


Dedication


   To my fabulous readers. Thanks for taking this crazy ride with me!

   Much love,

   Alex

 

 

Chapter 1


   Locke didn’t encourage visitors. Just the opposite. He’d gone to a lot of trouble to promote his reputation as a churlish hermit who regularly feasted on the hearts of intruders.

   And if his surly temperament wasn’t enough to drive away unwanted guests, he’d chosen to settle in the remote mountains of Iceland. The landscape was stunningly beautiful, but it was a combination of jagged glaciers with sheer cliffs that plummeted to the distant bay below. Up here there were no prying human eyes and, best of all, the pesky sun barely bothered to make an appearance during the long winter nights.

   Impervious to the brutal chill of the early December air, Locke poured himself a glass of the aged cognac that he imported from France and stepped onto a narrow ledge to savor the star-spattered sky that spread above him. It didn’t matter how many nights he spent admiring the view, it always amazed him.

   Taking a sip, Locke barely noticed when the ground shook beneath his feet. It was a common occurrence. You couldn’t reside above a boiling pit of molten lava and not have a few tremors.

   It wasn’t until the thunderous power sent the nearby ice sprites dashing for the protection of their nests that Locke reluctantly turned to view the massive male who was stepping out of a portal.

   Styx, the current Anasso, the official name for the King of Vampires, was an impressive sight. In his human life he’d been a proud Aztec warrior who stood at six-foot-five with skin kissed by the sun and angular features. His glossy black hair was pulled into a braid that hung past his waist and he was wearing black leather pants, thigh-high boots, and a black silk shirt.

   It was his sheer presence, however, that made the earth shake and the local wildlife flee in terror. Oh, and the big-ass sword strapped across his back.

   Easily loping down the jagged rocks, he halted directly in front of Locke.

   “Hello, brother.”

   Locke arched a brow. “You again?”

   Styx smiled. Until a few years ago, the males had been fellow Ravens, the personal guards to the previous Anasso. But after that Anasso had gone batshit crazy, forcing Styx to kill him and take the throne, Locke had retreated to this remote lair. It offered him the privacy he craved, as well as allowing him to concentrate on the one reason he still existed.

   “Just like a bad penny.”

   “I was thinking more like a pain in the ass.”

   “That too,” Styx agreed.

   Locke instinctively reached up to touch the star-shaped burn on the side of his neck. It was the only blemish that marred his traditional vampire beauty. Or at least that’s what he was told by his various lovers. He had no reflection, so he had only their descriptions that his eyes were a pale blue and rimmed with gold. And that his strong Viking features were perfectly carved. He did know that he kept his dark blond hair chopped to brush his broad shoulders and that his hard body was currently protected from the elements with a leather jacket, jeans, and heavy black boots.

   “What do you want?” he demanded in his usual blunt manner.

   Good manners were for creatures who cared what others thought about them. He didn’t give a shit.

   “I thought I’d let you know that Ian is dead.”

   Ian had been a Raven as well. Only his allegiance to the previous king had gone beyond loyalty, to blind devotion. The obsessive male had been unable to accept the death of his beloved Anasso and had been plotting his revenge.

   “I’ve heard that one before,” he said in dry tones. There’d been rumors of Ian’s death months ago.

   “This time there’s no doubt. I personally chopped off his head,” Styx assured him.

   “Did you come here for a pat on the back?”

   Styx leaned forward. “Do you want to?”

   “Hell no.”

   Styx folded his arms over his chest, regarding Locke with an expression that was impossible to read. “I’m just keeping you in the loop.”

   “We have a loop?”

   Styx shrugged. “A loose loop.”

   “Mmm.” Locke wasn’t impressed. “How did I get in the loop and how do I get out?”

   “Once a Raven, always a Raven.”

   Locke frowned. At one time this male had been a brother to him, but since Styx had taken the throne they hadn’t seen one another. Probably because Locke never left this isolated area. And then Styx had shown up a few weeks ago asking him questions about the other Ravens.

   “Fine. Ian is dead. I’ve been looped.”

   “Don’t you want to know why I killed him?”

   “Not particularly.”

   “What do you care about, Locke?” Styx demanded.

   “My privacy.” Locke pointedly glanced around the bleak, gloriously empty landscape. “Which you are currently ruining.”

   “Get used to it.”

   Locke perched his glass on a flat rock before fully turning to study the male. He recognized that edge in Styx’s tone. He was about to dig in his size sixteen boots and nothing could change his stubborn mind. The question was what he was going to be stubborn about.

   “Get used to what?”

   “Since taking the throne I’ve been dealing with one disaster after another.”

   “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown,” Locke quoted.

   Styx ignored Locke’s deliberately mocking tone. “Something like that. Unfortunately, I’ve let things slip through the cracks.” He paused for dramatic effect. “Like you.”

   Uh oh. Locke didn’t like the direction this conversation was veering. “I didn’t slip through the crack. I walked out of the Anasso’s lair and never looked back.”

   “You never said why you left.”

   “It was time.”

   “Time for what?”

   “None of your damned business,” Locke snapped.

   The male frowned, almost as if he was hurt by Locke’s sharp rebuke. Something perilously close to regret touched Locke’s heart before he was sternly dismissing the stupid thought.

   Of course Styx wasn’t hurt. The Anasso wasn’t a touchy-feely sort of vampire. Thank the goddess.

   “I want you to come stay with me and Darcy in Chicago,” Styx abruptly announced.

   It was Locke’s turn to frown. “Why would I stay in Chicago? Are you in danger?”

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