Crazed Hearts [Grimm's Circle, Book 3]
Click on image to enlarge.
by Shiloh Walker
Category: Erotica/Paranormal Erotica/Romance
Description: He's no fairy-tale prince. But he just may be the hero she needs. Grimm's Circle, Book 3 Ren has always danced along the fine line between being a little bit crazy and being overcome by a darkness that's haunted him since his mortal days. As an empath, he prefers to live far from people who would leak their emotions all over him, so he's not expecting the woman who drives right into the heart of his wood. She has a cursed book with her and demons hot on her heels. Even more surprising are her abilities and the reaction Ren has to her. Aileas is on the run. She just isn't certain if she's running from something real or imagined. One thing is for sure, her brother is dead and she's certain the book she found has something to do with his death. She really starts to doubt her sanity when she meets a hot but somewhat crazed man in the middle of nowhere. He calls himself Ren, and although he doesn't seem to be out to hurt her, he definitely seems to want something. She just doesn't understand what. She does know what she wants though. She wants him, and the shadows and darkness she glimpses inside him don't matter. At least, right up until he claims to be a guardian angel. And she thought she was going crazy. Warning: this title contains soul-sucking demons, kick-ass angels and a hero who is a little crazy and a whole lot sexy.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2010 2010
eBookwise Release Date: August 2010
14 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [179 KB]
Reading time: 108-152 min.
Don't stop. If you stop, you'll die.
It was one hell of a motivator, she had to admit.
The skin along the back of her neck crawled and the hair there stood on edge. Aileas Corbett knew she was being followed. She'd been followed for weeks, ever since she'd buried her brother. Ever since she'd found that damn book...
She'd tried to ignore it at first. Tried to write it off as grief, exhaustion. Tried to go about her job, her life. Tried to ignore the shadows she saw at night and the weird whispers that echoed through the solitary apartment.
But she couldn't ignore it anymore.
She couldn't think about that right now.
Swallowing, she glanced at the damned thing wrapped in a blanket, lying in the back seat.
A shiver raced down her spine. It was damned.
She'd swear she heard it whispering to her.
She hadn't slept a night through since she'd found the damn thing and that had been nearly three weeks earlier.
"You're going crazy," she whispered, reaching up to toy with the strand of pearls she wore around her neck. "That's all there is to it--you're going crazy."
That was the most likely explanation too.
A psychotic break brought on by grief, lack of sleep and who knows what else. A shrink would have a field day with her.
Assuming she actually stopped running to talk with one.
But she wouldn't stop running. Not until she figured out what to do. And she couldn't figure out what to do until she had this book someplace where it couldn't hurt anybody.
She pressed the heel of her hand against her temple and muttered, "I sound insane. It's a fucking book. It can't hurt anybody."
It could though. In her gut, she knew it. And the thought terrified her, left her so frightened, so afraid.
You don't need to be afraid, the book whispered to her. Open me. Use me. I shall make you strong. I shall make you immortal...immortal. You could avenge the death of your brother.
"Oh, for fuck's sake," she muttered. Reaching out, she turned on the radio, but the only thing that came through was static, static and more static. Sighing, she grabbed her iPod and one of the earbuds. So it wasn't exactly safe. But it wasn't like she was running into a lot of traffic driving through these woods on the way to the cabin her parents had left to her and her brother.
Just her now though... A sob rose in her throat, tried to break free.
She swallowed it down. Crying right now? On these roads? A quick, certain way to get herself killed. The cabin, tucked away in a remote part of Wisconsin's North Woods, wasn't exactly in the most easily accessible area, and if she wanted to keep the car on the road, she didn't have time to cry.
Of course, if she wanted to be smart, the last thing she needed to be doing right now was driving someplace so isolated when she knew she was being followed.
The fear tried to press in. Overwhelm.
But before it could, without her even understanding why, there was a warm touch on her mind, on her heart, her soul.
"Everything will be fine," she murmured. "I just need to keep going to the cabin."
That warm touch spread, became a sense of peace, pushing out the dark, uneasy, edgy feeling. A sense that managed to last right up until the time a big black dog--practically the size of a pony--darted out in front of the car.
With a half-scream, Aileas slammed on the brakes.
* * * *
Ren heard her scream, but he was more concerned with Pan.
"Damn dog," he muttered. Glancing at Mandy, he said, "Stay up here."
Bent over, her hands braced on her knees, she glared at him from under her lashes.
"Aye-aye, Cap-i-tan," she mocked between breaths.
He jogged down the incline.
There was a woman down there. Ren had had about two seconds to notice the fact that she was female, and the fact that she was far too close to Pan. The wolf/dog breed wasn't an aggressive animal, but she was a stranger and Pan considered this his territory.
He leaped down, covering the twenty foot incline in a silent, single jump. She was being careful, he had to admire that, not trying to approach Pan, talking to the dog in a calm, quiet voice.
"Sit, Pan," Ren said.
The woman went rigid.
Ren narrowed his eyes and reached out, silently repeating the order with a mental command that no animal could resist. The dog obeyed, lowering his hindquarters to the ground, still staring at the woman with suspicious eyes.
He was tempted to do the same with the woman, but he hadn't tried to impress a command on a mortal in decades, more than a century to be exact. He wasn't about to do it now.
"He won't attack," Ren said, keeping his voice light, crisp. "You best get in your car, run along."
She turned around and studied him, her eyes narrowing. "Run along?" she repeated.
Her tone was offended.
Her eyes were dark brown, shot through with slivers of pale gold.
Around her long, slim neck, she wore a strand of pearls. He wanted to see her wearing nothing but those pearls.
Her mouth was quite possibly the softest he'd ever seen.
When he looked at her, Ren was certain the very earth beneath his feet shifted. He wanted to stare into those eyes for a very long time. Then he wanted to cradle that face in his hands and take his time as he kissed that mouth and learned it, explored it...
He sucked in a breath as the punch of hunger hit him hard and fast. Hunger, need, something too intense for him to describe.
Her eyes widened as she stared at him and he saw something...was it an echo of what he felt? There was something in her eyes. He sensed it dancing just beyond the shields he didn't dare lower.
He couldn't risk that.
He didn't need to lower them to see some things though. Like the way her pulse was pounding against the fragile skin in her neck. The way her nipples hardened, pressing against the thin worn flannel of the shirt she wore.
Slowly, he breathed in through his nose, wondering what she'd smell like.
And that was when he realized something else.
Something rather pressing. It cleared the fire in his blood, the fog in his mind all too quickly.
She had the stink of death, destruction and demon hanging in the air around her.
But... He closed his eyes, dragged the air in, tasted it, rolled it around on his tongue... The smell was not on her, but it was damn close.
She hadn't been tainted...yet. But there was something very, very wrong. And it was close. Far too bloody close and on his land too.