The Secret: Irin Chronicles Book Three

BOOK: The Secret: Irin Chronicles Book Three
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Contents

The Secret

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

I.

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

II.

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

III.

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

IV.

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

V.

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

VI.

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

VII.

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-one

Chapter Thirty-two

Chapter Thirty-three

Letter from the author

Acknowledgements

About the author

Also by Elizabeth Hunter

Praise for the Irin Chronicles

Only when the darkness falls can you see the light of the stars.

THE SECRET

Irin Chronicles Book Three

For thousands of years, the scribes and singers of the Irin race have existed to protect humanity and guard the gifts of the Forgiven. They have lived in the shadows. They have kept their secrets.

But the Irin aren’t the only race with secrets.

Ava and Malachi have survived the darkness, but will they ever discover the light? A powerful cabal of the Fallen may hold the answers, but to surrender them, it wants the Irin race to finally face their enemies. Both those coming from the outside and those raging within.

The Secret
is the third book in the contemporary fantasy series, the
Irin Chronicles
, and the conclusion of Ava and Malachi’s journey.

THE SECRET

Irin Chronicles Book Three

ELIZABETH HUNTER

THE SECRET

Copyright © 2015

Elizabeth Hunter

ISBN: 9781941674031

Smashwords Edition

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

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

Cover art: Damonza

Edited: Victory Editing

Formatted: Elizabeth Hunter

This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please delete it and purchase your own copy from an authorized retailer. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

For information, please visit:

ElizabethHunterWrites.com

For my mother and father

Thank you for showing me what love
 

Looks like

Sounds like

And acts like

Every day of my life.

They took and brought me to a place in which those who were there were like flaming fire,
 

and when they wished, they appeared as men.
 

They brought me to the place of darkness,
 

and to a mountain, the point of whose summit reached to heaven.
 

And I saw the places of the luminaries and the treasuries of the stars,
 

and of the thunder,
 

and of the uttermost depths
.

The Book of Enoch
,
Chapter Seventeen

Prologue

SHE WALKED AS SHE always walked in these dreams. Slowly. With no thought of where she was going. She only knew that, within this forest, a dark angel walked on her right and her mate walked on her left. Sometimes she could smell the soft damp rot of the forest; sometimes she couldn’t. Sometimes she could hear her footsteps as she walked over leaves. Often the birds chirped and called, but this night they were silent.
 

She might see his shape, but often the angel was only a presence lurking on the edges of her mind.
 

This night, her mate was beside her and the angel’s dark form walked at her side, his presence tangible. His power muted.

“Why do you visit me like this?” she asked him.

“Because I want to.”

“There is another reason.”

“If I am here, then the other cannot be.”

She glanced at the warrior beside her. “But
he
is here.”

“He belongs here. The other does not.”

A tendril of anger threaded through her dream. “I don’t understand you.”

“You will.”

“Why can’t he hear you? See you?” She glanced at the warrior. In the low light, his
talesm
glowed with a silver sheen. He didn’t touch her, but she felt his presence as if the whole of him were wrapped around the ephemeral thought of her, anchoring her mind to her body.

She would drift away without him.

“Your mate is not mine as you are.”

“I don’t know what that means.”

“You will.”

“When?”

The dark angel paused. “Soon. You will know soon.”

They walked, and the night grew darker. Colder. She shivered, and her
reshon
reached out, taking her hand in his. That was all he did, but the cold fled and she was drawn into his light. The mating marks on her arms lit. Her shoulders grew warm, and the fog that surrounded them grew thinner.

The angel stopped, so she did too. He stepped closer, until his face was lit by the light that glowed from her body. Her own marks. Before her, he grew. And he was not a man. He was more, but she was no longer frightened.
 

“This is how it should be,” he said, one hand hovering over her rune-marked shoulder. “Thousands of years, and I finally understand.”

She felt her mate draw closer, but the dark angel held up a hand. He was forced to retreat. The scribe said something she did not hear because her eyes were locked on the familiar gold gaze of a man who was not a man.

“I want you to remember now.”

Remember what?

He sent an image to her, but it was not one of the visions that were familiar and frightening. It was a narrow room, and two men were there with a woman. With
her
. One sat next to her. The other in a corner.

This is a memory. This is mine.

“Remember, Ava.”

“You are… Irin scribe house.”

“Istanbul.”

“What are you?”

“…angels.”

Angels? Her eyes closed. Her mind focused. Angels.

“Did you think the angels—”

“Ava!”

SHE woke with a sharp breath, sitting up as her eyes flew open. Malachi was beside her, his hand on her arm. It was early morning, and grey light shone around the corners of the curtains in the house by the sea. The room was cold, but she was covered in a sheen of sweat.

“Ava?”

“I’m awake.” She cleared the rasp from her throat. “I’m okay.”

“Was it Jaron again?”

“Yeah.”

She took a soothing breath as he pulled her into his arms. She no longer had to ask. He no longer hesitated.

In the month since he’d come back to her, they’d grown more familiar, though they still handled each other with care. Malachi was cautious about certain topics. Their past in Istanbul was safe. Their months apart were not.

Part of Ava felt as if she’d woken from a nightmare when Malachi came back.
 

The other part waited in terror to wake from the dream of him being alive.

“Better?” he whispered into her hair.

“Yes.” She breathed again, closing her eyes and listening to the steady surf in the background. “Yes, better.”

He held her against the solid wall of his chest, anchoring her to his body, holding her in the circle of his arms.
 

Safe. Safe.
 

Some mornings Ava woke feeling as if she could drift away. She was smoke on those mornings. The thin fog that hung over the ocean in the moonlight. They clung to each other in sleep, no matter what had happened during the day or how distant she felt.

Sometimes she woke and he was watching her, frowning as if he was trying to remember.
 

On the best mornings, she woke and Malachi was the man he had been, light in his eyes and a teasing smile at the corner of his mouth. They made love on those mornings with playful passion. The joy of new lovers in familiar skin, hiding away in his grandparents’ house on the edge of the sea.

On those mornings, they didn’t speak of the other times he woke her. The hours when she cried in her sleep. Stifling screams. Weeping with remembered loss. In the bleak darkness of those nights, they held each other desperately.

“I’m here,” he’d whisper. “Ava, I’m
here
.”

Once, she bit his shoulder hard enough to break skin, and the taste of his blood had lingered in her mouth for days.

“I’m here.” He said it over and over again.

And in the mornings, she believed him.

But the nights always came. The dark angel walked with Ava in her dreams, and she woke crying, seeing Malachi’s face dissolve into gold dust that rose in the damp air of the cistern where he had died.

“HOW is she?”

“She grieves.”
 

Rhys paused on the other end of the phone call. “But you’re back.”

“Her mind knows that. But there are moments when I think her heart forgets.”

Malachi held the phone to his ear while he watched his mate take pictures near the shore. His grandparents’ house sat on the ocean north of Hamburg, hugging the edge of the North Sea. It was bitterly cold in the middle of winter.
 

Malachi craved the warmth of southern waters, but Ava resisted a return to Istanbul no matter how Rhys and Leo reassured her.

His brothers called every week and asked the same questions.
 

How was Ava?
 

Had Malachi remembered more?
 

Had any more of his
talesm
returned?

Malachi continued to remember in scattered bits, but nothing like the full recovery they’d hoped for when he and Ava reunited. His
talesm
were stalled. They were nowhere near a scribe house where he could perform the rituals correctly, and none of his previous tattoos had reappeared as they had for a while during their dream-walks.

Ava refused to use her magic.

“Have you asked her about going to Vienna?”

“She keeps saying ‘later.’ She’ll go later. We were going to go when her father performed there, but she changed her mind at the last minute. Said she wanted to have more time with just the two of us.”

“That’s understandable.”

Malachi shook his head. “That’s not the reason, Rhys.”

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