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Authors: Alexis Morgan

Defeat the Darkness

BOOK: Defeat the Darkness
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“Tate? Why are you here?”

She blinked twice, as if trying to clear her head. “I wanted to apologize for my mother's behavior, so I brought you these.”

He accepted the basket and set it down on the coffee table. The rich scent of cinnamon and cloves wafted up.

“These smell great, but apologies weren't necessary.”

Her eyes twinkled as she held out her hand. “Okay, I'll take them back home then.”

“Oh, no, you don't!”

He picked the basket back up and carried it across to the kitchen counter. As he turned back toward Tate, the towel came undone and dropped almost to the floor before he caught it. He was about to apologize for flashing her, even if it was an accident, when he realized that this time, Tate had made no pretense of looking away.

“See something you want?”

His voice came out little better than a growl. With even the slightest encouragement, he was going to be all over her.

She actually nodded. Her eyes stared into his briefly, then started a long, slow trip downward, taking their time.…



Romantic Times
(Top Pick!)


Wild on Books



“A fabulous read.… Passionate, hot, and very sexy.”

Fallen Angels Reviews

“Fresh and exciting with the same depth of character and emotional punch we've come to expect from Ms. Morgan.”

Fresh Fiction


“Captivating, compelling, and totally hot!”

—Alyssa Day,
USA Today
bestselling author of
Atlantis Unmasked


“Utterly compelling.… Great sexual tension and action. Really terrific and totally unique.”

—Katherine Stone,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Caroline's Journal


“An innovative story line, passionate protective champions, and lots of surprising twists.”

Romance Reviews Today

“A complex paranormal fantasy that pulls readers in from the first page and doesn't let them go.”

Paranormal Romance Writers


“Tons of suspense and drama. Morgan proves that she's… here to stay.”

Romantic Times

“An intense plot with twists and turns and wonderful surprises.”

Paranormal Romance Writers



“This is great stuff !”

Romantic Times

“A hero that is beyond a doubt an Alpha Hero.… A book that must go to the top of your must-read-as-soon-as-you-get-it list.”

Simply Romance Reviews

These titles are also available as eBooks.


Also by Alexis Morgan

The Paladin Series






The Talion Series







The sale of this book without its cover is unauthorized. If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that it was reported to the publisher as “unsold and destroyed.” Neither the author nor the publisher has received payment for the sale of this “stripped book.”

Pocket Star Books
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

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

Copyright © 2010 by Patricia L. Pritchard

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

First Pocket Star Books paperback edition March 2010

POCKET STAR BOOKS and colophon are registered
trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

For information about special discounts for bulk purchases,
please contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-866-506-1949 or [email protected]

The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to
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Design by Lisa Litwack. Illustration by Craig White.

Manufactured in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

ISBN 978-1-4165-6345-7

ISBN 978-1-4165-6397-6 (ebook)


This book is dedicated to my husband, Bob,
my very own personal hero. Thanks for always being right there beside me as I reach for the stars.


A special thanks to the wonderful ladies at Village Yarn and Tea for taking the time to answer all my questions about the business of selling tea and for letting me sample your wares. Rest assured that your teas have spoiled me forever. Any mistakes are mine, of course, but my book is so much stronger because of your help.

Chapter 1

ake blocked the way out. “Come on, Hunter, you don't have to do this.”

But he did have to, if for no other reason than that the very thought had him shaking with fear.

“I won't be long.” Hunter limped forward, hoping Jake would move before he had to force him to.

As Hunter stalked past his friend, Jake caught him by the arm. “Damn it, Hunter, if you won't let me go with you, at least let me get Jarvis.”

Hunter jerked free of Jake's grip, hating being touched and hating the worry in his friend's eyes even more. “No, Jake. Wait here if you're that concerned, but this is something I have to do alone. The last thing I need is a babysitter. Don't follow me.”

“Fine, but I don't like it.” Jake stepped aside to lean against the cavern wall, his sword drawn and ready. “Holler if you need me, and I'll come running.” Just like
he hadn't when Hunter had last wandered down this particular tunnel.

Hunter walked away while he still could, the sour taste of bile burning his throat as he left the main cavern behind. It took him far too little time to reach the mouth of the correct tunnel. Time and pain had distorted his memory, making this specific place out to be the monster. But the limestone walls weren't his enemies. Their only sin was once offering his assailants sanctuary.

He kept moving forward one step at a time, ignoring the constant, bone-deep ache in his leg. The urge to break and run was riding him hard, but Hunter wasn't about to let the bastards win. Not this time.

The rough-hewn walls closed in on him, making it hard for him to breathe. His lungs constricted until he could no longer draw in enough air. He ignored the tight band of grief and fear blossoming inside his chest, concentrating instead on moving forward. Only another few yards to go, taking one painful step and then another. He'd make this journey or die trying.

Finally, when the tunnel widened out again, Hunter coasted to a stop. He reached out a hand to steady himself but jerked it back when he saw the rusty brown splotches that covered the walls. And the floor. And the ceiling. As far as he could see.

Dried blood. And all of it his.

He felt a wetness on his cheek. He touched it with his finger, too afraid to look. His logical mind said it wasn't blood; his fear screamed that it had to be. But it was just a single tear trickling down his face as he stood grieving for the man who'd died there. Thanks to the
Paladins' special DNA, Hunter's body had made the painful journey back from death. Even now his heart continued to beat and his lungs to draw breath. But although Doc Crosby had done his best to patch Hunter back together, modern medicine and good genes could only do so much to heal a shattered soul.

Hunter stood shivering in the chill of the underground chamber until temper, not fear, ruled his decision to leave. If he didn't go soon, Jake would come charging in to rescue him, not from their enemies but from himself. Hunter drew his sword and stared at its broken blade. He ran his hand down the jagged length of steel, drawing comfort from the cool touch of the metal. It was time to let go. He knelt down and gently laid the sword to rest right where he himself had died.

Then he turned his back on the past and walked away.

“Thanks for the ride.” Hunter couldn't wait to get out of the car, but at the same time he was reluctant to leave Jarvis behind.

“You're welcome.”

Jarvis stared out the windshield, the tension in his jaw a clear warning that he had something to say and was unsure of how Hunter would react. But his reaction was always the same these days: anger and rage. For the sake of their long friendship, though, he'd try to do better.

Hunter eased back in the seat and took his hand off the door handle. “What, Jarvis?”

His friend angled around to face him. “Hunter, you know I'm not much one for the mushy stuff, but I want
to tell you what an honor it has been to serve with you all these years. I
that you need to leave. We all do, but we also know that it's the best thing for now. You need to put some serious distance between you and this stretch of the barrier.”

“Yeah.” Even now he could feel it calling him, the need to stay close and defend it riding him hard. Leaving was for the best, even if he hated it. He didn't say that last part out loud because it would only make it harder on Jarvis and the others.

Jarvis made a move as if to reach out to Hunter, but he stopped, knowing Hunter's reluctance to be touched. “Buddy, believe me, if I could change things, I would. Having said that, I'm sending you out to Seattle because I trust Devlin Bane and Blake Trahern to make sure you get a square deal.”

This time the bitterness spewed out before Hunter could catch it. “I'm sure they're both
to be getting another crippled Paladin to babysit. Who knows? Maybe Penn Sebastian and I can form one of those touchy-feely support groups.”

BOOK: Defeat the Darkness
8.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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