Authors: Candice Stauffer
After a breathless moment of
silence, she made the connection.
A burst of energy rushed past Caylee. Then, bolt after bolt of
bluish white lightning arced across the sky, lighting the meadow and casting
shadows in the trees surrounding it. The sound of thunder was so loud it caused
the ground to shake. She would’ve fallen to her knees if Haden hadn’t been
standing behind her, holding her in his strong arms and anchoring her against
his solid body. She blinked to focus on a pitch-black cloud of smoke forming
several feet in front of her.
Holding her breath, she watched as the smoke dissipated and a
huge, shadowy image appeared. Squinting, she struggled to make sense of what
she was seeing. It was an animal. A very large animal.
A colorful series of explosions, similar to fireworks, started at
the top of the animal’s head and continued all the way to the tip of its tail
until brilliant shades of red, gold, silver, and purple shimmering streaks
illuminated what appeared to be a black dragon.
To Caylee’s horror, the dragon turned and fixed its gaze onto
hers. It slowly moved toward her. With each step it took the ground rumbled
beneath its weight. Stopping directly in front of her, it bowed its massive
head reverently at her feet.
Seeking Haden’s protection, Caylee took a step back, only to
realize he was no longer behind her. How could he just abandon her? She
would’ve screamed, but she couldn’t even breathe.
“Breathe, little love. I would never abandon you.”
“Huh?” She blinked. Did the dragon just smile at her? She shook
her head. Did it just talk to her? She tilted her head to the side, studying
its eyes. It didn’t make sense. Its eyes were so familiar, so comforting. After
a breathless moment of silence, she made the connection.
“Oh, oh my God.” She swallowed
hard. “Haden?” It had to be an illusion. “No.” It was a magic trick of some
sort. She’d seen him do many strange, impossible things. She’d seen him appear
from out of nowhere and disappear several times. The dragon wasn’t real. Hoping
to prove it, she reached out to touch it. Her fingers felt warm, hard scales.
“It really is you.”
4 of 5 stars
If you love romance novels for
the hawt adult scenes, do not worry—there are plenty of
am so glad that I read this book. In fact, I had a very hard time putting it
down. The para elements were both familiar (vampire and witch and weres) and
new (hot dragon/immortals). The minor characters were amazing. I am so excited
this is going to be a series so I can learn more about them.
Overall, I really enjoyed this
book and will definitely be reading the next book when it is released.
~ Delphina Zmom
Delphina Reads Too Much
5 of 5 Hearts
this book takes you from the pits of a living hell on a journey of love, lust,
passion, action-packed fight sequences, not mention very vivid, HOT, and Steamy
Sex scenes! I am honored to have been able to Read~n~Review this book!
The characters are personable,
detailed and so realistic, that I found myself yelling at Caylee for being so
stubborn by not making better choices, laughing when she teasingly shows Hayden
her naught, and being terrified when her past is revealed or when she comes
face to face with a very, lustful and twisted vampire!
The world building is consistent,
passionate, and spell-binding as Candice Stauffer creates a storyline with a
powerful punch to entertain and intrigue the reader with the hope of more to
I highly recommend this book!
This is the first book of her series and what an introduction it is!
Lovetiggi’s Book Reviews
I highly recommend this new
series from Candice Stauffer
loved this book so much. I was hooked from the start and loved the ride Candice
took me on while reading. This book is for adults as the sex scenes are HOT!!!
And the lead male Haden is even HOTTER!!!
I love the spin Candice puts in
this book with the demons. She has them as savers of our world instead of
wanting to destroy it and everyone in their path. The characters are flawed but
that is what makes them perfect. I was drawn into Caylee and Haden’s world
… I love the side characters just as much and cannot wait for their
stories to be told. We get just enough about them that leaves you wanting more
of this amazing world Candice has written. I highly recommend this new series
from Candice Stauffer. She is a Must watch author.
~ Sabrina Ford,
Sweet, Decadent Fire
What a wonderful short read!
loved Candice's first book, so when I saw she had released this vampire tale, I
had to buy it immediately. The story flowed beautifully and brought me back to
the world of her novel. The beautiful thing about this piece is that you did
not need to read her novel to have background for the story. It is a complete
work, in and of itself. Also, my favorite character (Mia) from her novel made
an appearance which filled my desire to learn more about Mia, as I desperately
away the release of her next book, which I believe will feature Mia :). This is
a great choice if you want a short vampire read, want to read more from
Candice, or want to see if Candice's style is one that you would enjoy.
~ Delphina Zmom
Delphina Reads Too Much
Breath of Darkness
Edited by: Karen Babcock
Cover Artist: Rae Monet
All rights reserved
Names, characters, and events depicted in this book
are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual events, places, organizations, or persons, living or
dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author.
No part of this book may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system,
without permission in writing from the author.
Copyright © 2011 by Candice Stauffer
Published in the United States of America
I would like to dedicate
this to a wonderful friend and fabulous author, Claudy Conn.
TAKING A DEEP breath, savoring the sweetness of her lingering
scent, Haden Drake watched Caylee Adams walk toward Mia’s Clothing Boutique. He
shifted, repositioning the seam of his pants, attempting to lessen the terrible
ache that was becoming his most loyal, frustrating as hell companion. There was
a small chance his attempt to get a little more comfortable would’ve worked if
she hadn’t dropped her phone and bent over to pick it up. Shuddering, he
uttered a curse, his cock swelling until it was impossibly hard, nearly
bursting out of his pants. She was sexy in anything, but nothing compared to
the way the worn fabric of those tight, low-rise jeans hugged her ass at that
He, a demon, was the
furthest thing from a saint, and pretending to be one was no longer an option.
For a year he’d battled against his powerful, volatile sex drive, but day after
day the torment of wanting her and not having her had been building into a
fierce, unstoppable storm of raw lust. Every night he dreamed of her writhing
beneath him, calling out his name in sheer ecstasy as he plunged deep inside
the tight, silky heat of her body. She wasn’t ready for him to stake his claim
on her, but the season for moving slowly, seducing her gently, was long gone.
Despite his great power, he was utterly powerless to deny his insatiable hunger
for her any longer.
Just before entering the
boutique, she glanced over her shoulder and smiled at him. It was a naughty,
wickedly sexy smile. If he didn’t know her better, he would’ve thought she’d
purposely bent over to torment him. Had she? Rejecting the thought, he shook
his head. “Nah.” Teasing wasn’t her style. Once she was out of sight, he wasn’t
unable to shake the feeling something wasn’t quite right. Every second that
went by the feeling of uneasiness increased in him so much that his
centuries-learned ability to remain absolutely calm under pressure failed. It
was her smile. Something about it was raising a red flag. He would never admit
it, but the moment she turned to smile at him, chasing after her was
While getting out of the car
he tried to merge his mind with hers, but she was blocking him. He could easily
use more force to penetrate the barrier, but he wouldn’t do it. Not yet
anyways. He would if it proved necessary, but for now, knowing it would cause
her pain, he decided to wait.
A terrible, should’ve known
better feeling churning in his gut, he approached the boutique, hoping she was
inside. He really wished she wasn’t so skilled at blocking him. She was
uncomfortable with his ability to touch her mind at will so he permitted her to
build a wall to keep him out. Hindsight was a particularly brutal thorn in his
ass. He was an idiot for allowing her wall to become so solid the only way to
get through it was to cause her pain.
Taking a deep breath, he
released it with a frustrated groan as he entered the building.
“Well, Mr. Slick, it
definitely took you long enough to figure it out.” Mia approached from behind.
Her sharp voice slicing deep
gouges into Haden’s skull, he cringed as he slowly turned toward her. His
eyebrows drawn together, he flashed an uneasy smile. “Hello, Mia.” The instant
he saw the wicked look in her eyes, his heart stopped. “Where’s Caylee?”
“Oh, I get it.” Hands on her
hips, Mia narrowed her gaze on him. “It’s a man thing. You couldn’t possibly
comprehend what has just happened without further explanation. Oh my, you poor,
miserable boy. There’s no reason to pout. It’s your lucky day. I just happen to
be feeling quite charitable.”
He suppressed the urge to
growl. She was smiling too sweetly, showing way too many teeth for any demon’s
liking. The woman was a wolf. Literally. She was lycan, though she didn’t know
it. She had been orphaned at a young age and raised in foster homes and
eventually group homes. He wasn’t sure why, but the true essence of her wolf
remained dormant. However, when she was riled, the temperament of the wolf was
always present. She never hesitated to follow through with a bite after baring
“She ditched your pathetic
ass,” she whispered.
“What?” Things like this
didn’t happen to him. “No.” He was a powerful, immortal warrior. “No.” He was a
demon, a master of deception. “No.” He’d live too many lifetimes, acquired too
much knowledge to be so easily duped. “Where’s Caylee?” It was a joke. She was
hiding somewhere, having a good laugh at his expense. Laughing was good. It was
great. But enough was enough. Feeling uncharacteristically bewildered, he
glanced around. Spotting the dressing room area, deciding it was a perfect
hiding place, he walked toward it.
“Just what the hell do you
think you’re doing? Don’t you dare open that door.” Mia followed him. “You’re
going to scare the hell out of my customers.” She grabbed his arm and yanked it
as hard as she could. “She isn’t here.”
Turning, he glared at her.
“Where is she?”
Mia glared right back at
him. “She … ditched … your … pathetic … ass.” She said,
then smiled, lifting her chin defiantly, obviously enjoying the moment. “Was
that clear enough for you? If not, I’m sure that I could look around and find
some crayons to draw you a picture.”
“Why?” Nah. It was much more
than enjoying the moment. She was clearly savoring it.
“Why do you think?” Snorting
indignantly, she glanced down at his groin. “You haven’t even tried to make it
worth the aggravation you put her through day and night. Try using the most
valuable tool God gave your gender.” Smirking, she shrugged. “Maybe, and, yes,
I know it’s a highly unlikely maybe, if you manage to use it correctly she’ll
learn to look beyond the fact you’re a seriously flawed, arrogant bastard.”
Fists clenched at his sides,
Haden nodded. Yep. The woman was a wolf. Rather than bite and release, she
clamped down to bury teeth bone-deep to rip and devour. She clearly had some
really messed-up, unresolved issues with men. He wanted to strangle her, but
unfortunately, no matter how infuriating women happened to be, he never
strangled them. He was a demon of great strength, integrity and valor. A
warrior. A guardian. Demons like him didn’t strangle women. Not even if they
were lycan. Grumbling, because it was the only thing he could do, he turned to
“Leave her alone, Haden.”
She managed to get in front of him, using her body to prevent him from leaving.
“I’m serious. You can’t continue whatever sick game you’re playing with her.
It’s wrong, and you know it is.”
He stared down at her. “What
are you talking about?” Wonderful. She was willing to take him on to protect
Caylee. Now, despite the fact she irritated the hell out of him, he actually
respected the woman.
“Look, Haden, it’s totally
cool if you’re gay. It’s not a big deal. Really, it isn’t. I swear. Just be
honest with Caylee. Introduce her to your lover. You can still be her friend.”
She shrugged. “Unless—” She tilted her head to the side. “—your lover boy is
the controlling, jealous type and he doesn’t allow you to engage in other
“Huh?” His jaw dropped.
“Caylee thinks I’m gay?”
“No,” she lied. Smiling, she
softened her expression, attempting to use kindness to manipulate him into
continuing the conversation. “That’s my assumption,” she lied again. “You’re a
very wealthy man. You’re not all that hard on the eyes. You’re always clinging
to Caylee. I’ve never seen you give any other woman a second glance. And,
here’s the big one—you’ve never tried to get down her pants. Oh, and don’t try
to lie to me about it—she would’ve told me. She always shares her greatest
disappointments with me.” She waited for a few seconds, but he didn’t respond.
“Look, I don’t have all day to play games with you. Just tell me the truth, are
you gay or not?”
Haden really wished he
didn’t know Mia was lying. He didn’t even want to consider the possibility
Caylee believed he was gay. For the first time ever, he truly regretted having
the ability to hear the thoughts of another person. A few women, peeking
at them from behind a manikin, giggled and whispered to
each other. He glanced over at them and then, shaking his head, he looked down
at Mia. “No.”
“Oh crap. It figures. She
won another one.” She waved a twenty-dollar bill in his face. “You know, I’m
starting to think it’s time to take that girl to Vegas. Well anyways, give this
to her when you catch up to her.” Dismissing him, she turned and walked away.
The moment Haden stepped out
of the boutique he tried to call Caylee, but her phone was turned off. Driving
to the secluded trails where she jogged, he reviewed everything that had
happened. Fearing for her safety, he’d told her to stay out of forest. As
expected, she refused to listen. She loved using the scenic trails to jog in
the afternoon. He was ready for the argument, ready to win. He’d offered to jog
with her. How could she refuse? And, she didn’t. She looked up at him with the
mysterious, sexy smile that always heated his blood and wreaked havoc in his
body, and she agreed.
him, Haden suddenly realized. She wasn’t teasing him. Opening the door to the boutique,
she’d glanced over her shoulder to smirk at him. She was flipping him the bird
in her own special way. He would’ve known it if he hadn’t been obsessing over
her ass. Accelerating through the last curve, pushing the car to its limits, he
punched the dash with so much force he left an impression of his fist in it. If
she were anyone else, he would’ve happily abandoned her. He sure as hell
wouldn’t be chasing after her to protect her, completely helpless to do
Throwing gravel, he sped into
the parking lot and slammed on the brakes. Sliding sideways, the car abruptly
stopped when the rear end crashed against a boulder. From time to time, she
accused him of being a control freak. To be fair, he was a bit overly
protective of her, but he wasn’t a control freak. His behavior wasn’t due to a
lack of respect for her. It was his responsibility, his right to ensure her
survival. If she would just be honest with herself, she would accept the fact
she didn’t always make the best decisions. It wasn’t her fault. Not really. She
was a woman. Women needed men to lead them. Women commonly made bad decisions
based on overly sensitive emotions. It was a hormone thing. Hopefully she would
eventually learn to rely solely on his flawless wisdom. It would sure as hell
make life a whole lot easier.
He opened the car door and
stepped out. Hoping to find her more quickly, he checked his phone, just in
case she’d left a message. “Of course not,” he growled, clenching his fist,
crushing the phone. “Why make anything easier?” The woman was stubborn as hell.
He had until the end of time to train her, but deep down in his heart he knew
it wouldn’t be long enough for him to teach her to submit.
There were miles of trails
in every direction, and he needed to find her now. He never should’ve let her
out of his sight. Slamming the car door, he moved quickly, allowing his finely
honed tracking skills to lead him. The warm, muggy air reeked of old blood and
decayed flesh. A vampire was nearby. Surely, despite being human, she could
smell it, couldn’t she? He grumbled unintelligibly; questioning her ability to
detect the presence of danger was senseless. It was his responsibility to guide
and protect her. What pissed him off was that he’d told her to stay out of the
forest and now, deliberately defying him, she was jogging directly into the
path of a vicious predator.
Haden stopped. The vampire
wasn’t just close. It was hunting. Swinging his head to the left, he clenched
his jaw, drawing his lips back in a soundless snarl. All senses on alert, he
scanned the ever-darkening interior of the forest. Standing completely still,
he was silent, barely even breathing, focusing on the vampire, studying the
creature’s venomous thoughts. He felt the ferocious, relentless thirst for
blood driving it far beyond a state of madness. He felt its depraved
anticipation for the kill.
Then, Haden saw the
vampire’s intended prey.
Absolute fury welled up,
stirring the deepest, darkest portion of his essence, the dragon, the living
force of destruction feared by even the most powerful, deadly immortals. A
deep, ominous growl, a promise of swift, violent retribution to the undead
pursuing her, rumbled in his throat as he expanded his mind to pinpoint her
exact location. But he felt nothing. No hint of her location.
Terror instantly replaced
fury. It slammed into him so hard and so quickly that he did what a fearless,
unfaltering immortal never resorted to doing: he panicked. Heart pounding, he
took to the sky, ripping the atmosphere apart, creating a thunderous boom while
an enormous mass of black, swirling clouds that completely covered the sun and
hid his ascent. As he traveled with supernatural speed, he covered her with a
hedge of protection, but he quickly realized that he still didn’t know where
she was. With his enormous power and strength, he’d never experienced fear or
doubt in his ability to defeat adversity of any kind. But now with her life in
jeopardy, fearing he wouldn’t reach her in time, he froze.
While he plummeted toward
the ground, lightning exploded all around, violently crisscrossing the sky. He
landed hard, jarring his bones, but ignoring the pain he remained on his feet.
Lifting his face to the heavens, he closed his eyes and expanded his mind to
search for her.
Caylee, where are you?
Normally, nothing ever rattled
him to the core. He was utterly unshakable, but not now.
didn’t have the strength to wait for her to answer or to willingly open her
mind to him. Sending forth a brutal current of power, he forced his way into