Darkness Devours (Dark Angel Series)

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9780749957650: Darkness Devours (Dark Angel Series)

The sexy, thrilling adventures continue in bestselling author Keri Arthur's new Dark Angels series, set in the realm of danger and desire known as the Guardian World ...Half-werewolf, half-Aedh Risa Jones can enter the realm between life and death, and she can see the Reapers who collect the souls of the dead. Now, she is using her gifts - and the investigative know-how of a man who broke her heart - to find a cabal searching for the power to control time, reality and fate. And this is besides her work for the Vampire Council, half of whom want her dead. But for now the Council needs her alive. Someone is killing blood-whore addicted vampires, and Risa must find the guilty party. If she succeeds, she may finally convince the council to lift the execution order on her life. But before she succeeds, she must first survive ...

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About the Author:

Keri Arthur won the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Urban Fantasy and has been nominated in the Best Contemporary Paranormal category of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards. She's a dessert and function cook by trade, and has one daughter.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

We do what we have to do—we track these people down by whatever means necessary.

The words weren’t mine, but they ran through my brain nevertheless, going around and around, chased by echoes of pain and heartbreak as I stood on the footpath and stared up at the multistory building in Southbank.

I’d never been inside but I’d driven past it many a time. And, more than once, I’d stopped here at the curbside, sharing a lingering kiss, reluctant to let what we’d experienced the night before come to an end.

I’d been so in love. Stupidly, foolishly in love. And it had all been a lie. Not on my part, but his.

Jak Talbott—the werewolf I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with—had wanted nothing more than a good story. And he’d got that, mixing lies with reality so deftly it was hard to pick them apart. Mom had sued both him and the paper over the story, but in the end had settled out of court rather than have her name—and possibly mine—dragged endlessly through the gossip mags while the court case was ongoing. But mud tends to stick, even if it isn’t true, and she lost several lucrative TV spots because of it. Not that that had particularly worried her. She’d been more concerned about the effect of Jak’s actions on me.

And my reaction had been fairly intense. Even now, two years later, I avoided anything resembling a deep or lasting relationship, preferring the fun but emotionally sterile liaison with my Aedh lover, Lucian.

Meeting Jak Talbott again was the last thing I ever wanted to do.

I crossed my arms and rubbed them lightly. The midday sun held plenty of warmth, but it didn’t chase the chill away from my flesh.

We do what we have to do—we track these people down by whatever means necessary.

Fine words, but did I have the courage to actually follow them through? After standing here in front of this building for the last five minutes, I wasn’t so sure that I did.

I glanced at my watch and saw it was a few minutes past twelve. If I was going to run, I’d better do it now . . .

Awareness tingled across my senses and I looked up the steps to the building’s entrance—straight into the intense black gaze of Jak Talbott.

I can’t do this, I thought, as all the old pain and hurt rose, threatening to drown me all over again. I just can’t.

But even as that thought crossed my mind, the inherently stubborn part of my nature rose, as well. I straightened my spine. Clenched my fists. I could do this. I needed to do this. Not only for the sake of my heart and any future relationships I might have, but also because saving the world from the hordes of hell might well depend on what happened here with Jak.

I watched him walk toward me, his strides long and lithe, graceful in an almost feline sort of way. He wasn’t a classically handsome man, but his rough-hewn features were easy on the eyes and his body was well toned without being too muscular. His hair, like his skin, was a rich black, although these days there seemed to be a fair amount of silver glinting through the shaggy thickness of it.

He stopped several feet in front of me, his gaze briefly skimming me before resting on the fists clenched by my side.

“I hope you’re not going to aim those at me, Risa.”

“You’ve already had one good story out of my family,” I said, amazed that my voice actually sounded civil. “I’m not about to give you another one.”

“Really?” The black depths of his eyes were wary, watchful. “Then what do you want?”

“Coffee.” Although, in all honesty, several large bottles of alcohol—the stronger, the better—would probably have been more suitable right then. I might have the constitution of a werewolf, which meant it was damnably hard for me to get drunk, but several bottles would at least soften the haunting sense of loss.

Jak raised an eyebrow, but waved a hand toward the small café not far up the road. “They make fairly good coffee.”

“Then let’s go.”

I strode forward, the heels of my sandals clicking on the concrete, a tattoo of sound as fast as my heart. He walked beside me, his familiar woodsmoke scent washing over me, raising memories of lazy evenings spent in front of the old log fire in his house, our bodies entwined . . .

Damn it, he used you, I reminded myself fiercely. Remember that, and only that.

The automatic fly-screen door swished open as we neared the café. Inside was shadowed, the air a mix of rich coffee, fried food, and sweaty humanity. The air-conditioning obviously wasn’t doing a great job at this end of the room.

I wove through the tables, heading for one near the back, close to the overhead vent. The rush of cold air had goose bumps racing across my bare arms, but at least it was free of the more unpleasant smells in the space.

“So,” Jak said, pulling out a chair and sitting down opposite me, “what is this all about?”

Instead of immediately answering, I asked, “What would you like to drink?”

His smile held a wry edge. “Forgotten already?”

“It’s been a few years, Jak. People and tastes change.” And I wish my tastes had changed. Wished I could honestly say I no longer found him so damnably attractive.

“I haven’t changed. Not when it comes to coffee, anyway.”

Meaning he’d changed in other ways? Somehow I doubted it. I punched in an order of coffee and cake for us both and swiped my credit card through the slot to pay for it. Then I faced him again. “I want a favor.”

He leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. “I would have thought I’d be the last person on earth you’d ask a favor of.”

“You are,” I snapped, then mentally clawed back the escaping anger. “But you’re the only reporter I know, and you happen to specialize in paranormal and occult news and investigations.”

“I do.” He studied me for several minutes, his gaze still wary. As if he’d been the injured party in the whole sordid mess. “And what do I get in return for granting this favor?”

“A story that could blow anything else you’ve written out of the water.”

Excitement flared briefly in his dark eyes before he managed to control it. But I’d expected nothing less. For a man like Jak, the story was all.

“Does this favor involve doing anything illegal?”

“I doubt it.” I paused, but couldn’t help adding, “Although we both know that wouldn’t exactly faze you.”

Amusement teased his lips and an ache stuttered through my heart. Not over him. Not by a long shot. Or rather, not over the memory of what we’d once shared. Even the hurt of his deception couldn’t erase all that had once been good. And that sucked.

“You and I both know the childhood your mother presented to the world was a lie,” he said evenly. “I had sworn statements that proved it, and your mother never did refute them.”

I gave him a somewhat bitter smile. “The people who mattered knew the truth about my mother’s past. No one else needed to. Not then, not now.”

“What about the public she was defrauding?”

A waitress approached with our coffees and cakes. I gave her a smile of thanks and waited until she left before saying, “My mother’s psychic powers were real, and they helped a lot of people. Shame you didn’t do a story about that rather than besmirching her name.”

He reached for his coffee. “I don’t do good-news stories. I prefer the dark and dirty underbelly of things.”

“Which is exactly why I’m here.” I wrapped my hands around my coffee and hoped like hell I was making the right decision to confide in him. But even if I wasn’t, I still had to chance it. It wasn’t like I had a whole lot of options right now. “How much do you know about witchcraft and ley lines?”

He frowned. “I know some people think the lines and their intersections resonate with a special psychic or mystical energy, but the jury is out as to whether there’s any truth to it.”

“What if I told you they’re not only more powerful than you could ever imagine, but there’s a major ley-line intersection here in Melbourne.”

“I’d have to say, so?”

“So, a consortium has used extreme force in an effort to gain control of the area around that intersection.”

His gaze searched mine for a moment. “Why say ‘has used’ rather than ‘is using.’ No one is interested in old news.”

“It’s not old news if only two of the three men have been captured. The Directorate are pushing resources behind the hunt for the third man, but so far they have been unable to locate him. The man is a ghost, existing only on paper.”

Of course, the Directorate—or Directorate of Other Races, as they were officially known—also had bigger problems on their hands. They were, after all, responsible for going after all non-humans who crossed the line and killed.

He studied me for a moment, one finger tapping the table lightly. A sure sign I’d snagged his interest. “For the Directorate to be pushing all resources behind such a hunt, these men had to have done something pretty bad.”

“They raised a soul stealer and set it after the relatives or friends of anyone who wouldn’t sell them the properties that surrounded the intersection. One of those who died was a little girl.” A little girl whose soul would never move on, never be reborn. Hers was a life lost to the world forever.

“You always were a sucker when it came to children.” His voice hinted at the warmth of old. “Is that what this is about? Revenge for a little girl?”

“Both the thing responsible for the little girl’s death and the witch who raised it have been dealt with.” And both of them were dead, sent to the fiery realms of hell itself—although who actually knew if hell was fiery. “This is about finding the third member of that consortium.”

He sipped his coffee for several moments, his expression giving little away. But I knew from past experience that behind the neutral expression there was a clever mind going at full tilt, chewing over information, working out possible angles. “Why does this consortium controlling the intersection worry you so much? You’re not a witch. You aren’t even as psychically powerful as your mother.”

“I have different gifts than my mom had, but that doesn’t make them any less powerful.” Although admittedly, being able to walk the gray fields—the unseen lands that divide this world from the next—talk to souls, and see the reapers who guided the souls on to the next life weren’t exactly the most usable psychic gifts in a normal, everyday life. But my life of late was as far from normal and everyday as you could get.

And those were far from the only gifts I had.

Jak raised an eyebrow. “Meaning you can use the ley lines?”

“I can’t even see them.”

“So why is it so important to you that the consortium be stopped?”

I picked up a spoon and scooped up some chocolate cake. It was a little dry, but I needed the sugary energy right then. The air-conditioning might be blasting every other scent away, but it didn’t seem to be doing a whole lot to erase his. And every intake of breath had the past stirring within me.

“These people attacked friends of mine. I want to find them.”

His gaze scanned mine again and a smile tugged at his lips. “The truth, but not the whole truth.”

I acknowledged that with a slight nod. “But the whole truth is a little out there.”

“I’m a reporter who investigates all things paranormal and occult, remember?” Sarcasm edged his voice. “You’d be surprised at just how ‘out there’ I’m willing to go.”

I was betting even he wouldn’t believe the real truth—that the intersection might well be tied up in a desperate scramble by at least four different parties to find the keys that would unlock the portals of heaven and hell. That one of those keys not only had been recently found, but had been used to open the first of the portals that protected our world from the hordes of hell.

I’d held that key in my hand. Held it, and lost it.

I didn’t want that to happen with the next two keys, and that meant finding out as much as we could about all the players involved in this race. Which meant digging up as much information about John Nadler—the consortium’s elusive third man—as we could get.

But computers could go only so far. Sometimes the only way to find out anything useful was to hit the streets. But the sort of people who would hold the information we needed weren’t likely to talk to someone like me, even if I could find them. They would talk to Jak, though. They always had. He had a talent for putting you at ease.

Or at least he did when he wasn’t sitting opposite the woman whose heart he’d shattered.

“An intersection as powerful as this one,” I said, “can be used to manipulate time, reality, or fate. If someone succeeds in controlling such an intersection, he could wreak havoc on the very fabric of our world.”

He briefly looked surprised. “The intersection is really that powerful?”

“Yes.”

“Well, then, I guess finding the third man is something of a priority.” He leaned forward a little. “But why are you involved? And why come to me? Why not just leave it all to the Directorate? It seems to be more their line of business than yours or mine.”

“I’d leave it to the Directorate if I could, but that’s not an option.”

“Leading me to the next obvious question—why not?”

“Because I’m being blackmailed into the hunt.” Which was the truth—it just didn’t actually apply to the intersection.

Amusement flirted briefly with his mouth and something deep inside me twisted. It was a stupid and illogical response, and it made me want to scream at my inability to just forget what might have been.

“Did someone dig up some more dirty laundry on you or your family?” he said.

His article had been more than dirty laundry—he’d accused her of lying about her past. Which she had, but not for the reasons he’d suggested. There were no nefarious crimes or shady dealings, just her creation in a madman’s laboratory—a fact that she kept well guarded, and for good reason. Her extraordinary abilities had caused many to treat her as a freak—it would have been far worse if they’d learned the true nature of her birth. “No, they didn’t. They’re threatening my friends.”

That the man behind the threats was both an Aedh—who were creatures of light and shadows, an energy so fierce that their mere presence burned the very air around them—and my father was something I wasn’t about to explain.

Jak frowned. “If that’s the case, involving the Directorate seems even more logical.”

“They are involved, but their investigation is going nowhere and they can’t protect my friends forever.” They weren’t even trying, in fact, simply because they didn’t know about the threats. There was no point in telling them when they could never, ever protect us from the force that was my father.

“So why do you think I’ll succeed where the Directorate are failing?” Jak asked.

“Because you not only have a knack for getting people to talk to you, but you seem able to uncover those who would rather remain hidden.”

The half smile appeared again. “That was almost a compliment.”

“It’s the truth,” I said flatly. “Nothing more, nothing less.”

“Huh.” He finished his coffee, then leaned back in his chair again. “How do you expect me to find someone the Directorate—with all its resources—cannot? They have some of the strongest telepaths in Melbourne in their employ. What could I get that they can’t?”

“They’re tackling the situation from a criminal angle. I have people tackling it from a com...

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Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 128 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. The sexy, thrilling adventures continue in bestselling author Keri Arthur s new Dark Angels series, set in the realm of danger and desire known as the Guardian World .Half-werewolf, half-Aedh Risa Jones can enter the realm between life and death, and she can see the Reapers who collect the souls of the dead. Now, she is using her gifts - and the investigative know-how of a man who broke her heart - to find a cabal searching for the power to control time, reality and fate. And this is besides her work for the Vampire Council, half of whom want her dead. But for now the Council needs her alive. Someone is killing blood-whore addicted vampires, and Risa must find the guilty party. If she succeeds, she may finally convince the council to lift the execution order on her life. But before she succeeds, she must first survive . Bookseller Inventory # AA29780749957650

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Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 128 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. The sexy, thrilling adventures continue in bestselling author Keri Arthur s new Dark Angels series, set in the realm of danger and desire known as the Guardian World .Half-werewolf, half-Aedh Risa Jones can enter the realm between life and death, and she can see the Reapers who collect the souls of the dead. Now, she is using her gifts - and the investigative know-how of a man who broke her heart - to find a cabal searching for the power to control time, reality and fate. And this is besides her work for the Vampire Council, half of whom want her dead. But for now the Council needs her alive. Someone is killing blood-whore addicted vampires, and Risa must find the guilty party. If she succeeds, she may finally convince the council to lift the execution order on her life. But before she succeeds, she must first survive . Bookseller Inventory # AA29780749957650

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Book Description Little, Brown Book Group. Book Condition: New. 2012. Paperback. An explosive new series by Keri Arthur that's packed with everything you could want: a feisty heroine, witches, vampires, werewolves, demons, angels of death, suspense and a whole lot of sexy action Series: Dark Angel Series. Num Pages: 400 pages. BIC Classification: FM. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 140 x 200 x 26. Weight in Grams: 310. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780749957650

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Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, 2012. Book Condition: New. 2012. Paperback. An explosive new series by Keri Arthur that's packed with everything you could want: a feisty heroine, witches, vampires, werewolves, demons, angels of death, suspense and a whole lot of sexy action Series: Dark Angel Series. Num Pages: 400 pages. BIC Classification: FM. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 140 x 200 x 26. Weight in Grams: 310. . . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780749957650

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