Prince of Shadows
Moonlight Series – Book Eight
Publisher: Pocket Star
Date of Publication: 5/27/13
Number of pages: 384
Word Count: 93,000
A gentle female held hostage in a deadly play for power, Kendra Terriot’s only means of survival for herself and her family is to play to a careful courtship game. The one she chooses from her clan’s dangerous heirs will inherit the coveted crown, keeping her their prisoner forever . . . unless she can retain her virtue until rescue arrives.
Favored son of their brutal Shifter leader, the only calm in Cale Terriot’s violent world is a childhood love for his delicate distant cousin whom he’s pledged to make his queen. With Kendra at his side, he knows he can become the kind of ruler his clan needs, but first he must learn how to become the kind of mate she desires.
In a treacherous race for control, where weakness means death, Cale must prove he’s not the beast his beauty fears and still protect her, especially once her unrequited love returns to free her. The only way to win her respect could mean surrendering his throne.
The only way to win her heart could mean letting her go…even if she no longer wants to be saved.
Cale stood in the shadowed doorway. Before him was everything he’d ever wanted, there for the taking, but for the first time in a long time, he was afraid to make a move.
A blush of moonlight filtered down from the skylight to bathe Kendra’s sleeping form in a tender halo. So beautiful that it hurt to look upon her while dark, urgent thoughts prowled. His gaze adored the relaxed innocence of her features, the way her fair hair rippled across the pillow like silk. No protective bulk of fleece tonight. Something silky and shimmering detailed the contours of her graceful shape.
His soft exhale of longing was tempered by the fisting of hands that still shook. He couldn’t keep himself away any longer. His need had intensified into an agony of desire and regret. Her scent drew him inexorably where he shouldn’t go, where he couldn’t trust himself to be. Close enough to be a threat to her. Because promises had yet to be sealed with a bond.
She stirred in her sleep, murmuring softly, rolling onto her back. That slippery gown whispered across her breasts and hips the way his hands yearned to. He watched her take unhurried breaths, unaware of how harsh and forceful his own had become.
It was the way his family did things. Swift, purposeful action, necessarily brutal, to take and hold what was theirs. His queen, beside him. His heirs, inside her. That dizzying heat returned, scalding his brain, flaming through his body in a shuddering rush.
She’s yours by her own vow. Claim her!
She shifted within that seductive wrap of silk, and all he could think of was tearing it off her, tearing into her, feeling the warmth of her body, tasting her blood, exulting in the glorious relief of joining with her beautiful spirit.
Staining it. Bruising it. Crushing it along with her trust and any love she might ever have felt for him.
The cool touch of her voice pierced through the pounding rage of his intentions. He faded back into shadow, silently withholding his presence from her until she settled back to sleep.
He hadn’t returned.
In the warm pooling sunlight, Kendra glanced about in sinking dismay. Cale hadn’t come back. Nothing had been disturbed since she’d lain back upon the covers to wait for him.
His absence was unexpectedly wounding, but the reason behind it filled her with unease. Would another Terriot prince be moving in today to replace him? If that were the case, she could anticipate no mercy or restraint. She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to block out the brutal sight of Bram Terriot growling over her mother’s back. Was that what she had to look forward to in the next few hours?
If she ran, would she have the slightest chance of escape?
If you don’t accept my protection, I can’t help you.
She’d never get off the mountain intact, perhaps not even alive. Struggling with that panicked certainty, Kendra slipped from the bed and moved anxiously into the outer room. She came to an abrupt halt at the sight that greeted her. The prayer of relief whispered from her, soft and shaky.
Cale was sprawled on the floor with one booted foot on the sofa cushions, showing every indication of a hard, hellacious night. His closed eyes were sunken and deeply shadowed, his hair stiff with dried sweat. More bloodstains covered his skin and torn clothing; perhaps he’d found more debts that needed settling. She was guiltily pleased to note that no female scent was attached to him. He didn’t stir as she crossed the room.
Carefully, she moved his foot and reclined on the cushions, resting her head on her arm as she studied him.
Cale Terriot. Treasured friend from childhood or terrorizing intimidator from the not so distant past? The lines between the two confusingly blurred. There were moments when he’d smile and the surfacing sweetness would stir in her all sorts of buried emotions, leaving her dangerously vulnerable. Then that expressionless mask would drop into place, the one he wore when about his father’s business, and from behind it he could deal out a stunning degree of viciousness, as if morality never registered. Both sides fed upon her loneliness, upon the restlessness of late-blooming sexuality.
Was she seriously considering staying with him? About bonding as his life’s mate?
That would mean remaining here, locked away from a world she’d hoped to enjoy, a pampered prisoner, but prisoner nonetheless. Sharing every little intimate detail of her days and nights with this quixotic man she didn’t understand. Trusting him to care for her, to protect and cherish her.
Then there was the sex. And that, she guessed, would be frequent and vigorous whenever and wherever he was in the mood. Just thinking about it quickened the curious stir in her center. Before she could stop herself, she put her fingertips to his cheek. And gasped as he caught her wrist roughly.
His eyes flashed open, seeming more incredibly pale and beautiful against the shaded bruising surrounding them. Once he recognized her, his words were rough. “Probably not a good idea to startle me when I’m sleeping.”
“I’ll make a note.” Kendra withdrew her hand when he released it, rubbing at her abraded wrist while he rolled his head away and laid his forearm across his eyes. “I didn’t hear you come in last night.”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t have reason to wake you.”
That flat tone deflated fragile hopes. Kendra swallowed hard. A forlorn prickle of pride refused to let her beg him. “It should only take a few minutes to pack up my things.”
“What?” His gaze flew up to meet hers, eyes wide and round and filled with a tumble of complex emotion. “You’re leaving?”
“Isn’t that what you want?”
“No.” He drew a quick, jerky breath. “Do you want me to?”
The last thing she’d expected was for him to place that kind of power in her hands, but he delivered it without any hesitation. Kendra sat up and carefully weighed her next words. “I can’t stay if I’m afraid of you.” She gave that time to settle in. His stare, so intense and still, was riveted to hers. “There have to be rules.”
A quick blink. “You’re giving me rules?”
She heard his arrogant claim in her head. I’m a Terriot prince. I do whatever the hell I want. But she didn’t back down. “Someone has to, Cale.”
“So,” he ventured carefully, “what are they?”
Nancy Gideon is the author of over 54 novels ranging from historical and contemporary suspense to paranormal with a couple of horror screenplays thrown in. When not at the keyboard or working full time as a legal assistant, she can be found feeding her addictions for Netflix and all things fur, feather and fin.