Authors: Sharie Kohler
THE MOON CHASERS ENCHANT!
“Sharie Kohler will grab you by the throat and hold you enthralled.”
New York Times
bestselling author Lara Adrian
“A thrilling series.”
“You are in for a treat. The world is dark and dangerous, and the characters are filled with edgy sexual tension.”
“Sharie Kohler knows how to deliver a riveting plot, steeped with sultry sexual tension and unforgettable love scenes between an irresistible hero and heroine—outstanding paranormal romance.”
New York Times
bestselling author Kresley Cole
“Sparks fly and the attraction sizzles.”
“Ms. Kohler’s titles are for the keeper shelf!”
Night Owl Reviews
“Heated passion, fast-paced action, and a world of werewolves you never knew existed.”
—Bestselling author Robin T. Popp
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To Jared, for loving this series.
And because I love you…
ain shuddered through her body, as steady and unrelenting as the ocean waves that had pounded the shores of her girlhood home. How she longed for those days of innocence now. Pain-free days when she floated through life beneath anyone’s notice. Before
She swallowed and fought back against the rolling tide of nausea. Forcing her eyes open, she flattened her hands on the floor and tried to lift her head, but the boot at the center of her back held her pinned.
She shook the dark hair from her eyes, gasping as the heel ground into her spine. Her head dropped back down; her cheek crushed into the gritty floor.
Her eyes wide and aching, too terrified too weep, she stretched her arm across the packed-dirt floor for her husband, desperate to reach him.
Like a circling vulture, Lord Marshan walked lazily about Michel, his fine boots, polished to a high shine, thudding with each step.
She looked up at his face. He used a handkerchief to dab at the bloody scratches she’d left on his cheek.
“I don’t ask much from my people,” he murmured, his voice deceptively gentle as he spread his arms wide with a flourish. “I’m known throughout this land for my generosity.” He stopped an inch from Michel’s head, his cold stare fixed down on her. “Respect. Loyalty.
.” His lips curled back from his teeth.
His dead eyes. The menace of that sneer. She felt her fate settle like a noose about her neck.
Now the tears came, rolling silently.
This was her fault. She had done this. She had put her family in danger. She choked back a sob and strained, still trying to reach her husband, frantic to touch him, as though she might somehow protect him with the merest brush of her hand.
Michel’s head moved in the barest shake. What was he trying to convey? That she shouldn’t move? Shouldn’t speak?
Her grandmother wept in the corner, tears flowing down the weathered lines of her face
as she pleaded, “Please, my lord! We meant no disrespect.”
Marshan sent her a scathing glance and sighed, motioning to one of his men with a flick of his fingers. “Silence the hag, would you?”
One of the soldiers pulled back his fist and struck Grandmère. She slumped where she had huddled by the hearth, her small body as limp as a rag doll.
Tresa had denied Marshan what he wanted:
. She swallowed against the bitter scald of tears. He was lord and master. No one refused him. She should have just let him have his way and said nothing to Michel. It would be over and done with by now, and her family would be safe.
Only she had resisted his every overture for months now. When he’d come this afternoon and tried to collect more than his wife’s herbs from her, she’d fought him. Struck him as if he were the lowliest peasant.
She closed her eyes in agony, reliving the moment when Michel and Grandmère had returned, walking in on Marshan as he shoved her down to the bed, tearing the clothes from her body.
If she hadn’t fought, he would have been finished with her and gone. Instead Michel had attacked him. This was all her fault.
“Please,” she begged. “I’m sorry. I’ll do whatever you ask.”
“Tresa,” Michel admonished from where he lay in a broken heap, his voice a sharp rasp.
“Please, what?” Marshan bent and leveled his gaze on her. “Forget the fact that this peasant laid his filthy hands on me?” He swung his gaze to Michel. “Did you think you could touch me, carpenter?” He pulled back his leg and kicked her husband in the face.
She screamed at the crunch of bone, at the spurt of blood from his nose. Michel moaned, spitting out blood.
“He was just defending me,” she cried out, struggling against the boot holding her in place.
“Defending you? And what
She winced. There was far too much truth in the accusation.
Marshan whirled around and shoved the soldier off her. He pulled her up by her hair and shook her, his grip so tight she was surprised the strands didn’t rip clean from her scalp. “How many innocents have you killed with your potions and wicked spells?”
She whimpered, grabbing his hand that gripped a fistful of hair. “I only heal,” she panted. “Even your wife uses my poultices. Ask her!”
“What was that, witch?” He pushed his face closer to hers. So close she could smell the rancid garlic on his breath. “A threat against my lady wife?”
Icy dread washed over her. “No! I did not say that!”
He scanned the room, looking at each of his soldiers. “Did you hear that, men? Your queen has been threatened.” He returned his gaze to her, and the absolute evil there wrapped her in its embrace.
“Burn the house,” he announced in a calm voice, as if he were requesting lamb for dinner. His gaze flicked to her husband and grandmother. “Leave them in it.”
“No!” She surged wildly from his grip with no thought to the strands that tore from her scalp. Michel and Grandmère were in no condition to save themselves. Not that they could defend themselves against Marshan and his knights even when able-bodied. There were simply too many of them.
She stomped down on Marshan’s foot and his grip loosened. For a brief moment she reached Michel, held his battered face in her hands. Her vision blurred, overrun with tears. She flexed her fingers against his ravaged face, savoring, memorizing the feel of him. Blinking
fiercely, she whispered frantic words of love… apologies… farewell…
He shook his head at her, his dark eyes so full of pain and anguish. He covered her hand against his cheek with one of his work-roughened ones as though he could keep hold of her there against him. The gesture felt so tender and sweetly familiar that it made her chest ache, knowing this was the last time she would ever have that.
A knight grabbed her and started to pull her away. She lurched forward and pressed a final kiss to Michel’s lips.
The knight came for her again, ready to tear her away, and something swelled inside her. The old frightening, overwhelming energy expanded from deep in her core. Her muscles buzzed from the power of it. She hadn’t felt it in years. Not since childhood. Not since she’d learned to suppress it. To ignore it. Fight it.
The moment before he reached her, his body lifted off the ground and launched through the air. He landed with a crash across the room. Everyone looked from him to her, their expressions a mixture of wonder and horror.
Her chest heaved with violent breaths. And then they were on her, too many to fight. Even if she could use her power, it was a wild, elusive
thing. Impossible to control, to summon. She didn’t know how to harness it. She’d only ever denied it.
Still, she struggled, her feet thrashing off the ground as she watched Marshan’s men lift the candles off her table and hold them to the curtain surrounding her bed. One soldier stood on a stool and lit the thatched rooftop. It immediately caught fire and sparks popped and rained down on them.
“Want us to leave her in here, too, my lord?”
“She’s a witch,” Marshan announced, his words as cold and unfeeling as his gaze. “Witches are drowned.”
The words shot ice down her spine. It was the fate her parents and Grandmère had always feared for her. Why they had taught her to deny her
Michel moaned and tried to stand, but a soldier kicked him back to the ground. Tresa tried to use her feet as she was dragged out of the house without her family.
“Michel!” She strained for a glimpse of him as she was carried away. Thick smoke already filled the cottage. Outside, the acrid smell hung thick, mingling with the aroma of wood fire and the villagers’ brewing stews and baking breads.
In the fading light of dusk, a crowd gathered to watch, their faces cast in the red glow as they forgot about their dinners. None moved to help as she was dragged through the village and toward the river in her torn dress, parts of her exposed to every man’s greedy eye.