Home > Darkness Betrayed

Darkness Betrayed
Author: Alexandra Ivy

 

 

      To the extent that the image or images on the cover of this book depict a person or persons, such person or persons are merely models, and are not intended to portray any character or characters featured in the book.

   This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

   LYRICAL PRESS BOOKS are published by

   Kensington Publishing Corp.

   119 West 40th Street

   New York, NY 10018

   Copyright © 2021 by Debbie Raleigh

   All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

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   Special book excerpts or customized printings can also be created to fit specific needs. For details, write or phone the office of the Kensington Sales Manager: Kensington Publishing Corp., 119 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018. Attn. Sales Department. Phone: 1-800-221-2647.

   Lyrical Press and Lyrical Press logo Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.

   First Electronic Edition: May 2021

   ISBN-13: 978-1-5161-1095-7 (ebook)

   ISBN-10: 1-5161-1095-1 (ebook)

   First Print Edition: May 2021

   ISBN-13: 978-1-5161-1098-8

   ISBN-10: 1-5161-1098-6

   Printed in the United States of America

 

 

Dedication


   To David, who is always there. Thanks for all you do.

 

 

Chapter 1


   The lair of the Anasso, King of the Vampires, should have been a dank, musty place filled with bats and a few shabby coffins to emphasize the whole creepy vibe. Or at least dug deep underground to avoid the dastardly sunlight.

   Instead, Styx had chosen a sprawling mansion on the outskirts of Chicago with lots of marble and gilt that was supposed to give it a classic sophistication. Okay, it had been Styx’s mate who’d chosen it. Styx personally thought it looked like something an aging rocker with too many burnt brain cells would choose, but it pleased Darcy. And since she was a pureblood Were with claws that could literally rip out a male’s throat, he tried to keep her happy.

   Styx was currently in his office, which had been stripped of most of the gilt, although there was nothing he could do about the marble. Or the fluted columns that grew like a forest throughout the mansion. He’d intended to spend a few hours enjoying an ancient manuscript that had been loaned to him by Jagr. Darcy had recently gone to Kansas City to visit her twin sister, who was mated to the King of Weres, Salvatore, and their litter of pups. It’d been his suggestion that she take the trip, but she’d been eager to agree. She claimed that late fall was the perfect time to travel to see the leaves changing colors.

   Styx had declined her invitation to go with her. He wasn’t interested in foliage, no matter what color it might be. More importantly, the Were pups had reached an age when they spent an enormous amount of energy racing through the house, shrieking and yipping at the top of their lungs. It didn’t matter if they were in their human form or their wolf form. The noise was enough to raise the dead.

   And not in a good way.

   Unfortunately, his decision to remain behind hadn’t gone as he’d planned. He’d barely settled into his large leather chair when a male shoved open the door to the office.

   Xi was one of his Ravens, the personal guards who’d sworn to protect him. Unlike Jagr, who was the leader of the Ravens, Xi wasn’t bulky or as strong as an ox. He wasn’t even the most powerful warrior, although anyone stupid enough to challenge him would quickly find himself with a dagger shoved into his chest and his heart cut out.

   But he possessed a unique talent for stealth that made him the perfect choice for Styx’s latest assignment.

   Setting aside the manuscript, Styx regarded his Raven with a lift of his brows. The male was just under six foot, with short black hair that was shaved on the sides to reveal, on his scalp, the tattoos of two coiled snakes. His eyes were dark and his finely carved features so perfect he didn’t look real. He was standing in the open doorway wearing black jeans and a black T-shirt. Keeping with the theme, his heavy boots were also black. The clothing was more about blending into the background than any particular fashion choice.

   Styx, on the other hand, was wearing black leather pants and a white silk shirt because that’s all he had in his closet. Darcy had finally accepted that he was never going to dress like a king.

   “Are you looking for me?” Styx demanded when the male continued to stand there, eying him with an inscrutable expression.

   “Yes.”

   “Then what are you waiting on? An engraved invitation?”

   Xi’s dark gaze drifted around the room before returning to Styx. “I’m attempting to decide whether or not I have the courage to enter.”

   Styx scowled. He’d witnessed this male battle a horde of orcs with nothing more than his fangs and a dagger.

   “The one thing you’ve never lacked is courage, amigo.”

   “Normally, I would agree with you, but you have been…”

   Styx lifted his six-foot-five body out of the chair. “I’ve been what?”

   “Volatile over the past weeks,” Xi told him.

   The Raven was right. The past month had stretched Styx’s limited patience to the breaking point. It was nothing he could put his finger on. Unexplained fires. Sudden riots. Vandalism. Brutal attacks on lesser demons.

   Every night, he woke to discover a line of demons waiting to make a complaint or plead for his assistance. It was enough to stress out the most Zen vampire. And there was nothing Zen about Styx.

   Which was why he’d requested Xi to investigate the various incidents.

   With an effort, Styx leashed his burst of annoyance at the interruption. He even managed to force a wry smile to his lips.

   “According to my mate, I’m always volatile.”

   Xi didn’t argue. “More volatile than usual,” he clarified.

   “Mount Etna volatile or Mount Vesuvius?”

   Xi answered without hesitation. “Definitely Mount Vesuvius.”

   Styx tapped a finger on the edge of his desk. He was often short-tempered. It was part of his charm. But the past month had rubbed his nerves raw.

   “I’ve had stressful times, terrifying times, and the world-is-about-to-end times. But this…” He shook his head. “I feel like I’m being tormented by a thousand unseen ants. Each biting when I least expect it.”

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