Read No Knight Needed Online

Authors: Stephanie Rowe

Tags: #Ever After#1

No Knight Needed

No
Knight
Needed

***

Stephanie Rowe
"Rowe is a paranormal star!" ~J.R. Ward

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Praise for Forever in Darkness

“Stephanie Rowe has done it again. The Order Of The Blade series is one of the best urban fantasy/paranormal series I have read. Ian's story held me riveted from page one. It is sure to delight all her fans. Keep them coming!” ~
Alexx Mom Cat's Gateway Book Blog

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Praise for Darkness Awakened

“A fast-paced plot with strong characters, blazing sexual tension and sprinkled with witty banter,
Darkness Awakened
sucked me in and kept me hooked until the very last page.” ~
Literary Escapism

“Rarely do I find a book that so captivates my attention, that makes me laugh out loud, and cry when things look bad. And the sex, wow! It took my breath away... The pace kept me on the edge of my seat, and turning the pages. I did not want to put this book down...
[Darkness Awakened]
is a must read.” ~
D. Alexx Miller,
Alexx Mom Cat’s Gateway Book Blog

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Praise for Darkness Seduced

“[D]ark, edgy, sexy … sizzles on the page…sex with soul shattering connections that leave the reader a little breathless!...
Darkness Seduced
delivers tight plot lines, well written, witty and lyrical - Rowe lays down some seriously dark and sexy tracks. There is no doubt that this series will have a cult following. ” ~
Guilty Indulgence Book Club

“I was absolutely enthralled by this book…heart stopping action fueled by dangerous passions and hunky, primal men…If you’re looking for a book that will grab hold of you and not let go until it has been totally devoured, look no further than
Darkness Seduced
.”~
When Pen Met Paper Reviews

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Praise for Darkness Surrendered

“Book three of the Order of the Blades series is…superbly original and excellent, yet the passion, struggle and the depth of emotion that Ana and Elijah face is so brutal, yet is also pretty awe inspiring. I was swept away by Stephanie’s depth of character detail and emotion. I absolutely loved the roller-coaster that Stephanie, Ana and Elijah took me on.” ~
Becky Johnson,
Bex ‘n’ Books!


Darkness Surrendered
drew me so deeply into the story that I felt Ana and Elijah’s emotions as if they were my own…they completely engulfed me in their story…Ingenious plot turns and edge of your seat suspense…make
Darkness Surrendered
one of the best novels I have read in years.” ~
Tamara Hoffa,
Sizzling Hot Book Reviews

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Praise for Dawn at Birch Crossing

“Dawn at Birch Crossing
is m-a-g-i-c-a-l! Hands down, it is one of the best romances I have read. I can’t wait till it comes out and I can tell the world about it.” ~
Sharon Stogner, Love Romance Passion


Dawn at Birch Crossing
is contemporary romance at its best….There was not a moment that I wasn’t completely engrossed in the novel, the story, the characters. I very audibly cheered for them and did not shed just one tear, nope, rather bucket fulls. My heart at times broke for them. The narrative and dialogue surrounding these ‘tender’ moments in particular were so beautifully crafted, poetic even; it was this that had me blubbering. And of course on the flip side of the heart-wrenching events, was the amazing, witty humour….If it’s not obvious by now, then just to be clear, I love this book! I would most definitely and happily reread, which is an absolute first for me in this genre.”
Becky Johnson, Bex ‘N’ Books

“Dawn at Birch Crossing
is an amazing story of love and life…I literally laughed out loud, cried and cheered....
Dawn at Birch Crossing
is a must read and must re-read.”
Jeanne Stone-Hunter, My Book Addiction Reviews

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Dedication

For Martha Cohen-Barrett, a dear friend who inspires me daily and who has been such a steadfast supporter through the tough times and the brilliant moments, and who totally rocks it on the tennis court. Martha, I love you!

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to my core team of amazing people, without whom I would never have been able to create this book. Each of you is so important, and your contribution was exactly what I needed. I’m so grateful to all of you! Your emails of support, or yelling at me because I hadn’t sent you more of the book yet, or just your advice on covers, back cover copy and all things needed to whip this book into shape—every last one of them made a difference to me. I appreciate each one of you so much! Special thanks to, Jeanne Hunter, Sharon Stogner, Jan Leyh, Summer Steelman, Teresa Gabelman, D. Alexx Miller, Holly Collins, Janet Juengling-Snell, and Jenn Shanks Pray. There are so many people I want to thank, but the people who simply must be called out are Denise Fluhr, Alencia Bates, Rebecca Johnson, Karen Roma, Nicole Telhiard, Denise Whelan, Tamara Hoffa, and Ashley Cuesta. Thank you also to the following for all their amazing help: Judi Pflughoeft, Deb Julienne, Julie Simpson, Mary Lynn Ostrum, Shell Bryce, Jodi Moore, Jacqueline Wilson, and Amanda Tamayo. You guys are the best! Thanks so much to Pete Davis for such an amazing cover, and for all his hard work on the technical side to make this book come to life. Mom, you’re the best. It means so much that you believe in me. I love you. Special thanks also to my amazing daughter, who I love more than words could ever express. You are my world, sweet girl, in all ways.

Chapter One

Clare Gray knew it wasn’t the same as that night fifteen years ago.

It wouldn’t happen again.

It
couldn’t
happen again.

But as she inched her car along the twisting mountain road, staying as far as she could from the washed-out edge, she couldn’t help but remember the night she’d become an eighteen-year-old widow. The awful night she’d lost a husband, and her tiny daughter had lost a father.

It had been a night, a storm, and a road just like this one.

Her tires slipped on rain-slicked pebbles, and the car slid several feet down toward the edge. “Oh, God, no—”

The rubber caught, and the car stopped. She clenched the steering wheel, her hands shaking as she tried to calm herself. Her heart was hammering frantically, her chest so tight she felt like a vise was crushing her ribs. She couldn’t catch her breath, her mouth so dry she couldn’t swallow.

The wipers hammered as they fought the onslaught of rain. The thundering of the rain on the roof was nearly deafening, and all Clare could see in her headlights were sheets of water cascading across the dirt and gravel road.

Her phone rang, the shrill sound making her jump. Her daughter’s ringtone. Clare set the emergency brake, then grabbed the phone. “Katie? Are you all right?” All she could hear was crackling. “If you can hear me, I’m on my way. Just stay where you are, okay?”

The connection went dead.

Damn it! Clare checked the phone. No reception. Her body shaking with frustration and anxiety, she jammed the phone into the console so she could reach it if Katie called back.

She’d had it with the untainted quality of life that was so important to her town. She was bringing up the cell phone reception issue at the next town meeting, and she wasn’t going to let it die this time. This was why they needed a cell phone tower in Birch Crossing. Even charming Maine towns had teenage children who went camping and got stranded in storms.

Dear God. It had been almost two hours since Katie had called, asking for help. Two hours in that freezing rain, stranded in the woods—

The phone rang again, and Clare lunged for it. “Katie?”

“Mom?” Her daughter’s voice was barely audible over the interference. “Where are you? We’re so cold!”

“I’m on my way, sweetheart.” Clare desperately eyed the muddy water streaming over the road, like an insidious threat trying to keep her from her daughter. “Another twenty minutes.” God, she hoped she could get there that soon, that the road wouldn’t betray her.

“What?” The phone crackled again. “Mom? Can you hear me?”

“Katie!” Clare shouted, frantic to be heard over the static. “Stay where you are. Don’t try to find a dry place. Just wait for me. I’m coming! Don’t go anywhere!”

“If you can hear me, bring blankets.” Katie’s voice was thin and fragile, and Clare gripped the phone tighter, clutching it so tightly she felt like her hand was going to snap. “And food. Our stuff went over a cliff into a river after Jeremy fell in.”

After Jeremy fell in?
Clare’s stomach dropped. “Is everyone okay? Did he get out?”

“Mom? I can’t hear you!”

“Katie! Is everyone all right?”

The phone disconnected again. “No!” Screaming with frustration, Clare bowed her head and pressed her hands to her forehead, fighting desperately to maintain her composure, to stay focused enough to navigate the mountain road and make it to her daughter.
Please, God, take care of them until I can get there.

She took a deep breath, then raised her head, staring grimly through the windshield at the sheets of rain that had turned the mountain road into a muddy river.

If she screwed up and crashed tonight, what would happen to Katie? Who would take care of her? Her daughter had already lost a father. What if she lost a mother too? Katie would be all alone. Terrified. Clare’s heart started to hammer, and panic hit—

“No!” Clare spoke the denial out loud. “Tonight is not the night for any of us to die. Everything is going to be fine.” She had all-wheel drive. New tires. And a very smart fifteen-year old-daughter who would stay put until Clare got there.

It was going to be okay. It had to be okay. She was going to make it okay.

Clare set the phone in her lap in case Katie got through again. Then she shook out her shoulders, released the emergency brake and carefully, precisely, eased her foot onto the gas and the car began to creep forward again.

* * *

Griffin Friesé liked the rain.

He liked the way his tires spun out as he shot up the dirt road. He liked to feel his truck strain beneath him as it fought the earth for survival. Truck versus nature. Someday, maybe, nature might win, but she’d have to put forth a hell of a show, because his truck had a winning streak that had never been seriously challenged.

He hadn’t thought about nature since he’d left home at age seventeen to head to the city and make a life for himself that didn’t involve the carpentry, deep woods and logging that had consumed his existence as a kid and driven his parents into an early grave from hard work and financial stress. But being back in the Maine woods was making him remember how much fun it could be to challenge nature head-on and come out the victor. He’d always had an infallible instinct about how far he could push it and still come out on top, and it felt good to know he hadn’t lost his touch.

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