Prince of the Underworld and Lord of Water, Esher was banished from his home by his father, Hades, two centuries ago and given a new duty and purpose—to keep our world and his from colliding in a calamity foreseen by the Moirai.
Together with his six brothers, he fights to defend the gates to the Underworld from daemons bent on breaching them and gaining entrance to that forbidden land, striving to protect his home from their dark influence. Tormented by his past, Esher burns with hatred towards mortals and bears a grudge against Hades for forcing him into their world, condemning him to a life of battling to keep a fragile hold on his darker side—a side that wants to kill every human in the name of revenge.
Until he finds himself stepping in to save a female—a beautiful mortal filled with light and laughter who draws him to her as fiercely as the pull of the moon, stirring conflict in his heart and rousing dangerous needs long forgotten.
Aiko knows from the moment she sets eyes on the black-haired warrior that he is no ordinary man, just as she’s no ordinary woman. Blessed with a gift, she can see through his stormy façade to the powerful god beneath, and the pain and darkness that beats inside him—pain she grows determined to heal as she falls deeper under his spell and into his world.
When the daemon bent on turning Esher against his brothers makes her move, will Esher find the strength to overcome his past and fulfil his duty, or will the lure of revenge allow the darkness in his heart to seize control, transforming him into a god intent on destroying the world?
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Aiko swung with all her might, striking her assailant in the face this time. His breath left him in a rush, foul with the stench of alcohol and cigarettes. He swayed with the strike, but remained upright, and slurred something obscene at her. She tugged her arm, trying to twist free of his grip, her heart hammering against her chest, but he tightened his grip, squeezing her bones.
She gritted her teeth against the pain.
The only other man in the carriage looked in the opposite direction as she fought with the salaryman. Chikushō. Damn it.
The door beyond the male slid open and she froze as a handsome foreigner stepped through, his tall frame eating up the space. Black hair grazed his cheek, shorn short all around the sides but left long on top, swept forward so it almost obscured one of his eyes.
Those ethereal blue eyes locked on her.
She shivered, cold sweeping through her at the emptiness they contained, no trace of feeling.
The salaryman tried to pull her towards him again.
The newcomer strode towards her, his eyes turning stormy as he shifted them to the person manhandling her and closed the distance between them.
In the blink of an eye, his right hand closed around the man’s throat and he was off her, slammed against the train door by the foreigner who stood at least eight inches taller than him. The man leaned in close to the drunk, looked as if he wanted to say something as the salaryman began babbling in fear, and then eased back.
She thought he might release the man.
He pulled him away from the door, and slammed him back against it with enough force that the man passed out and the entire carriage jolted. The foreigner huffed as he released the man and watched him slump to the floor, and wiped his hand on his coat, as if the man had some sort of disease that he didn’t want to get.
When he turned towards her, those stormy blue eyes lowering to meet hers, she bent forwards and dropped her head.
“Thank you,” she said in English, hopeful that he would understand and would hear the true measure of her gratitude in her voice. It shook as she bowed several times, unable to stop herself as her adrenaline waned and all the fear it had been holding at bay swept over her.
He responded in perfect Japanese. “Don’t ride alone so late at night, or at least use the women-only carriage.”
She wanted to tell him that the women-only carriage wasn’t available on the last trains, but held her tongue, not wanting to appear ungrateful for his help. She nodded, rubbed the tears from her face with the back of her hand and sniffed as she straightened.
The man looked her over, his eyes revealing nothing to her. They settled on her hands as she clutched her backpack, and she tried to stop them from trembling, but no matter what she did, they kept shaking.
“Are you alright?” he said in Japanese again, and she swore there was a flicker of concern in those words even if it didn’t show in his eyes.
She nodded again. “Fine.”
The train eased to a halt and the doors slid open, and relief crashed over her when she saw it was her stop. She stepped off the train, glaring at the sleeping salaryman as she passed, tempted to level a kick at him. When she looked back to thank the stranger again, he was stood on the platform beside her, his eyes dark as he stared at the man, looking as if he wanted to do more than just kick him.
He huffed as he turned away, his motions stiff, as if he had to fight himself to do it, and muttered, “Fuck.”
Aiko followed his gaze to the station sign.
The way he sighed had her eyes roaming back to him. He was at least seven inches taller than her, and probably would have been closer to ten above her five-six height if she hadn’t been wearing her shoes. A black cotton coat that reached the ankles of his worn leather boots hugged his slender frame, tight to his chest but flared from his waist. The split down the front revealed blue jeans tucked into the tops of his army boots.
He shifted back a step, placing more distance between them, and looked away from her, back in the direction the train had come. “Guess I’m walking.”
She had studied English in school, and took classes at her university, so she knew enough to understand him and the implications of his words—he had missed his stop.
“I could call… you… a cab.” She managed, with only a few pauses to think of the right words.
While she studied English, she didn’t get to practice it much. Her parents didn’t know it, and she only got to speak it with her classmates, and a lot of the time they only wanted to speak Japanese and were just learning English so they could put it on their résumé.
He shook his head but didn’t look at her.
She thought about going ahead and calling him a taxi anyway, her eyes drifting back down the height of him as she considered it. Her gaze stopped on his hand.
Blood covered the side of it.
“You’re hurt,” she said in English and pointed to his hand.
He looked at it as if it was nothing and wasn’t bothering him at all.
Had he done it when helping her?
“Chikushō,” she muttered to herself and thoughts of hailing him a cab were replaced by ones about returning the favour by helping him. It was risky, but she owed him, and she couldn’t let him go without tending to the wound. She just hoped he knew enough Japanese to understand her. She pointed to his hand again. “My parents run a small clinic below our house. I can help with that.”
He regarded her with cold assessing eyes, and she had the feeling he was the one who didn’t trust her.
As if she could hurt him.
He was far more powerful than she was, and had proven it on the train. She wasn’t a threat to him.
So why did he look as if she might be?
It was there in his eyes as she looked deeper into them, and she could feel it as she focused on him. Just a glimmer of a feeling, but it was there. Hazy, but clear enough that she could name the emotion.
Part of him feared her.
“I would like to help,” she added softly, and he looked back down at his hand again, the black slashes of his eyebrows meeting hard above his darkening eyes.
When he lifted them back to her, they were colder than before, and she moved back a step as a feeling went through her, one that warned her away from him. He glanced over his shoulder again, and then back at the station sign.
Which stop had he wanted?
“Why would you trust me?” His deep voice rolled over her, his accent almost perfect.
If she closed her eyes, she could easily fool herself into thinking she was talking to a Japanese man, not a foreigner.
Where had he learned her language? He spoke it as if he had been doing it every day of his life. Had he been born in Japan?
No, she could feel that he hadn’t been born in this land, that he didn’t really belong here. It was a sensation that he didn’t fit or wasn’t welcome, one that most people would put down to instinct, but that ran deeper in her.
In her blood.
She studied his face as she answered him. “Why wouldn’t I?”
He frowned at her. “Because I could be trying to get into your tiny panties too.”
She doubted he wanted to do such a thing, the emotions she had detected in him pointing towards a desire to get away from her as quickly as possible rather than get closer to her, yet his words sent a thrill through her, followed by a heat that had her pulse picking up pace.
“Come with me, or don’t. I won’t force you.” She turned away, slipped her arms into her black satin coffin-shaped backpack and strode towards the exit.
When she didn’t feel him following, she resisted the temptation to look back. She had offered him help, extended a hand to him. It was down to him to take it.
Aiko passed through the barriers and out onto the street. It was quiet, no cars moving along it, but she looked in both directions anyway before hurrying across to the other side.
“How far is the clinic?” His voice arrested her steps and she looked back at him where he stood in the entrance of the station, his left arm wrapped around him and the late-spring breeze stirring the damp lengths of his black hair.
“A mile.” She pointed in the direction.
His face darkened. She presumed it wasn’t the distance irritating him, but the fact she had intended to walk a mile through the maze of streets alone in the early hours of morning. She did it all the time, and she wasn’t the only woman in Tokyo who had the same habit.
He looked as if he wanted to tell her to hail a cab for herself and then said something, but she didn’t catch the words as she watched the emotions flitter across his handsome face, a kaleidoscope of them that moved so swiftly she couldn’t take them all in. Fear was there though. For himself still, or for her? Did he worry about her walking alone at night? Something akin to anguish crossed his face more than once too, and that emotion was there in his eyes as he reluctantly crossed the road to her.
What internal war did he wage?
His question earlier had revealed more about himself than anything he had said or done so far.
He found it difficult to trust, so he couldn’t understand how others could do it so easily.
She could trust him, because if he had wanted to get into her ‘tiny panties’ he probably would have done it when they had been standing on the platform of the station for ten minutes, not a soul in sight.
He had stopped the pervert on the train too, revealing a noble streak in his actions.
“You’ll probably get yourself killed if I let you go home alone,” he muttered in English, and she understood enough to get the meaning of his words.
He wasn’t coming with her so she could look at his wound. He was walking her home because he wanted to protect her.
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: