18+ A snow leopard shifter exiled from his pride twenty years ago, Harbin treads the dark path of life as an assassin, driven by a hunger for vengeance, mercilessly hunting the Archangel members who attacked his kin, murdering his mother and sister.
A snow leopard shifter exiled from his pride twenty years ago, Harbin treads the dark path of life as an assassin, driven by a hunger for vengeance, mercilessly hunting the Archangel members who attacked his kin, murdering his mother and sister.
When a new contract comes in and the mark is a snow leopard shifter, he can’t resist venturing into the mortal world on a personal mission to find out why one from a normally peaceful species now has a price on their head. What he finds in a rundown nightclub isn’t quite what he expects—a beautiful snow leopard female that awakens a fierce hunger inside him.
Aya has spent seventeen years living in London, immersed in the underbelly of the fae world, keeping her head down and her tail out of trouble. But when trouble walks right into her life in the form of a sinfully handsome, dangerous assassin, she is pulled into a whirlwind of events that stir up the nightmares of her past but might just give her a shot at putting those ghosts to rest—if she can resist the dark allure of a male she knows is her fated mate.
Can Harbin and Aya resist the passionate fire that blazes between them as they chase the vengeance they both crave? Or will they surrender to their deepest desires?
Aya bent forwards and ploughed her fingers through her damp black hair, pulling the jaw-length strands back. She clutched the sides of her head and tried to focus on her breathing as memories surged to the surface again. Her throat closed and her heart thundered against her ribs, a sickening rhythm that echoed in her ears together with distant screams and pleas for mercy.
She shook her head in an attempt to dislodge those memories and growled.
She wanted to forget again.
She needed to immerse herself in the tangled fae and mortal world, losing herself in it and surrounding herself with people, or she would only sink deeper into her memories, her instincts forcing her to seek out the familiar faces of her past so she would no longer feel alone. She needed to escape that past, and that meant returning to the club. It had become her sanctuary over the past few years, a place she returned to nightly to talk with the people she knew there, fulfilling the deep need to be part of a group that had been formed in her decades at the bustling pride village where she had grown up. Now, she sought crowds whenever she woke, escaping the emptiness of her apartment, hurling herself into the fray and dancing or drinking the night away.
It was a risk, because she knew the male might be there too.
A flash of silver shot across the darkness of her closed eyes. It drifted back and split, forming into two piercing orbs and a messy tuft atop them. The male. She had felt the intensity of his gaze the moment he had entered. It had sent an electric shiver through her, a bolt of awareness that had shattered everything around her, leaving only him behind. She shivered again beneath the covers, her heart beating harder for a different reason as heat swept through her as it had last night when his gaze had drifted over her, taking her in from head to toe.
He shimmered into being in her mind and she snapped her eyes open, breaking the illusion.
Aya shoved the covers off her bare legs, shifted them over the right edge of the double mattress and rose from the bed. She stretched, moaning as she arched her back. There was nothing quite as enjoyable as a good stretch when she woke up.
She lowered her arms and checked the clock on her bedside table. The numbers cast a green hue across her small bedroom, providing the only light. It was already growing late. She had managed to sleep through the day before her nightmare had begun.
Hopefully tomorrow she could do the same again without the nightmare.
She padded across the narrow span of wooden floor to the bathroom opposite her and flicked on the light, flinching as the white tiles reflected the brightness and seemingly magnified it, hurting her sensitive eyes.
Aya gave them a moment to adjust before opening them again. Her reflection in the mirror above the grey vanity greeted her. Or possibly mocked. She looked awful. Her silver-gold eyes were bloodshot, last night’s make-up smeared like black ash all around them, emphasising how tired they looked. She tugged her fingers through her messy black hair, trying to smooth the wild short strands that stuck out in all directions at jaw level. Silver threaded her hair, turning her stomach. She would need to dye it again soon. She hadn’t been able to face herself with her natural hair colour since starting her new life. It was a reminder of her past, another thorn that only tore at her and left her bleeding inside.
She had loved her silver hair once, back when life had been carefree and simple, and she had lived at the pride village.
Back when she’d had a pride.
She turned her cheek to the gaunt female in the mirror and headed towards the double shower cubicle that took up the entire right side of the room. A shower would help clear her head and set her back on track.
Aya slid the door open and stepped into the cubicle. The water was cold as she lifted the lever to start the flow, but soon warmed to her preferred temperature. She turned beneath the spray, closed her eyes and sighed as the hot water pounded down on her back. The effect was immediate, easing her muscles and washing away her bad memories. She focused on showering, using the routine to empty her mind. Once she had rinsed the conditioner out of her hair, she switched off the water, slid the door open again and grabbed a towel from the rack.
Her mind drifted as she dried off, thoughts of who would be at the club tonight keeping her occupied. She shut out any about the male and scrubbed the towel across her hair. Satisfied that she wouldn’t leave a trail of water across the pale floor tiles, she stepped out of the shower and moved to the next step of her routine.
When her hair was tamed, the fine black strands styled to lay flat on top but flick outwards and upwards at the ends in a cute way, she applied her standard black make-up around her eyes, a dash of lip-gloss, and a quick spray of perfume.
Aya padded out into the bedroom, grabbed her white strapless bra from the floor where she had tossed it last night before falling into bed, and put it on. She followed it with a matching pair of knickers from her chest of drawers at the foot of the bed and then sidestepped to her wardrobe and pulled the doors open.
She grabbed a pair of black ones from the pile at the bottom of the wardrobe and tugged them on. They were tighter than she remembered. She growled as she wriggled into them, muttering beneath her breath about cutting back on the sweet treats whenever she visited a coffee shop or hit the grocery store.
She had always been average, not a woman blessed with a stick-thin figure and never one to want to look that way either, but she was holding a little more winter padding than normal. Back at the pride, she had gotten away with indulging in her love of food, needing the fuel to keep her warm. Old habits died the hardest. She never had managed to shake her constant craving for food, even in the warmer weather of London.
Her silvery gaze roamed over the hangers filled with a range of camisoles, t-shirts and long-sleeved tops. The weather was cooler now, but she found herself picking a silver halter-top with a plunging neckline, one she hadn’t worn in months.
It had nothing to do with the male.
She just wanted to feel good about herself tonight and dressing to impress would certainly boost her mood. She wasn’t planning to catch his eye if he was there again tonight, definitely wasn’t interested in sending any signals to him. She planned to avoid him and catch the eye of another male.
Any other male.
Hell, maybe she would flirt with a few of them.
The attention from them would definitely make her feel fabulous.
She might even do more than flirt.
It had been a long time since she had been with a male, and she needed a little physical contact, a little craziness to blow off some steam. It might even change her outlook for the better, making her forget her worries and see some good in the world again.
Aya pulled the silver top on, tugging the triangular cups beneath her breasts and smoothing the material over her stomach. It barely reached the belt of her jeans and it would flash her belly if she raised her arms above her head, but she didn’t care.
Tonight was about feeling good and forgetting, not about worrying what others made of her figure. Their opinion didn’t matter. She was happy as she was and she refused to change herself to suit anyone’s tastes.
This was her life and she was going to live it.
She blew out her breath, closed the wardrobe doors and gave herself a quick once over in the mirror on the left door. She brushed her fingers through her hair, fixed a smile on her face to shove her nerves away, and turned away from her reflection. She found her favourite black ankle boots with their short square heels perfect for adding a little height but not making her ache as she danced, or compromising her balance, and put them on.
There. Ready to face the world.
Aya walked into the small living room adjoining her bedroom and grabbed her keys and small purse off the sideboard to her left near the main door. She resisted the temptation to check her reflection again in the oval mirror above the sideboard, heading straight to the door instead. She made fast work of the locks, opened it and stepped out into the brightly-lit cream corridor. The locks clicked back into place as she closed the door and she pocketed her keys and hurried along the corridor towards the stairs that would take her down to the main entrance hall several floor below. Her heels clicked on the steps, punctuating the silence, and the pace of them picked up as she crossed the entrance hall.
The night air was even cooler now as she pushed the glass double doors open and she breathed deep of it. The scents hit her hard, a myriad of smells that had her instincts sharpening as they awakened a desire to identify each one and map her neighbourhood. The nearby restaurants provided the strongest range of smells, tempting her into taking a detour. She resisted the call of food and hailed a taxi instead. The black cab slowed and pulled over, and she made her way between two parked cars to reach it.
The journey to the club passed in silence, her gaze fixed on the outside world as it whizzed by in a blur of coloured lights and black shadows, her animal side shifting restlessly beneath her skin. She wanted to be out in the darkness, prowling the parks in her snow leopard form and marking everything with her scent so all shifters in the area would know this was her patch. How long had it been since she had shifted?
Years at best.
She put it off for as long as she could, but the need to shift steadily built inside her, growing stronger with each day that passed, until it grew impossible to ignore, even when she wanted to avoid the reminder of what she was.
The male had brought the need from a growl to a deafening roar in her blood.
Now, she itched with a hunger to let her snow leopard side out, her fingers twisting the silver material of her halter-top into her palms as she fought that urge. Maybe when she got back tomorrow morning, she would look into booking a short break up north. Over the years she had been away from the mountains of her homeland, the rugged valleys of Scotland had become her favourite place to get lost in the wilderness and spend days roaming in her animal form.
The cab ground to a halt, jerking her away from a fantasy about drifting through the heather with only nature for company and basking on the rocks. The bright neon sign of Switch blazed off to her right, the bouncer outside it nodding as he noticed her. He stepped away from the open doors of the back-street nightclub and she smiled as he pulled the cab door open for her.
Aya slipped the driver his money, plus a generous tip, and stepped out of the car.
“Rocky,” she said as the big shaven-headed bouncer grinned down at her before giving the car door a gentle push.
It slammed shut with enough force to rock the cab.
Bear shifters didn’t know their own strength, and Rocky was no exception. Aya had taken to calling him Rocky a few years ago when she had started frequenting the club and they had spent a quiet night talking. He came from a small pride of bear shifters in Canada, near the mountains she had named him for. His circumstances were similar to hers, so she understood why he had wanted to keep his name to himself, using the boring alias of Tom instead.
He had taken to the name she had given him and now everyone called him Rocky.
Aya glanced towards the dark entrance of the club, her heart beating a little quicker and her palms sweating as she struggled to keep her breathing even and convince herself to go inside.
Rocky clapped a meaty hand down on her bare shoulder. “He ain’t here.”
Relief swept through her, and she tried to hide it from Rocky, but realised she had failed when his grin stretched wider, tugging at a vicious scar that ran across his lips on the right side and down to his square jaw. He was as rugged as the mountains he hailed from too, but handsome nonetheless, especially when he wasn’t playing his role of bouncer, scowling at customers and keeping watch over the club he called home.
His rich brown eyes sparkled with mischief.
Aya held her hand up to silence him before he could talk about the male shifter she wanted to avoid.
“Here’s hoping he buggers off to Underworld,” she muttered and amusement joined the mischief in Rocky’s eyes.
They had bonded over a dislike of that nightclub too, and it wasn’t only because it was a competitor for Switch, the club she favoured and he worked for. It was because that club employed two males from a species both of them wanted to keep their distance from—a bear and a snow leopard shifter.
Distant sirens made her lift her head and peer along the dark street in their direction. It wasn’t the safest neighbourhood in London, but that didn’t bother her. Life had taught her how to handle herself, how to fight and survive, and she wasn’t afraid to deal with anyone who got too familiar with her when she didn’t want their attention.
She wasn’t afraid to kill someone.
The male snow leopard included.
He was stronger than her, but that wouldn’t stop her from making him familiar with her claws if he tried anything.
Rocky trudged across the narrow strip of pavement to the door of the club and resumed his position beside it, pressing his back against the red brick wall and folding his arms across his broad chest. His muscles bulged beneath his tight black t-shirt and all humour fled from his face, the hardened expression he wore turning him into a daunting male with a dangerous edge.
Anyone roaming the street looking for a fight would think twice before bothering him or trying to gain entrance to the club.
Aya hoped that went for the male snow leopard too.
She flicked a glance at Rocky, toyed with the idea of asking him to stop the male from entering the club if he did show up, and then walked into the dark entrance without saying a word. This was her turf and she wasn’t going to let anyone see her scared when she was on it.
If the male showed up, she would deal with him.
She wanted him to walk right through the doors at her back.
She wanted him to dare to set foot in her territory again.
Because she wasn’t the sort of female who would let a male walk all over her.
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About the author:
Felicity Heaton is a New York Times and USA Today international best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books. In her books, she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! If you're a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.
If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling Vampire Erotic Theatre series. Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the new Eternal Mates series.
If you want to know more about Felicity, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places:
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