Authors: Noa Xireau
Three powerful warriors are called on to
play the Three Kings for a dying Spanish girl. Shapeshifter Duncan must work
with his ex-lover Gedeon, the vampire who once betrayed him. When the
mysterious dream-walker Xiu comes out of the shadows,
all of them know they are being manipulated.
Instead of a girl, they find a woman who is
dying, protecting the Earth from an otherworldly creature. Trapped in Sarah’s
dream world without powers, the three men will have to convince her to return
with them—by any means necessary.
Gedeon, Xiu and Duncan will need more than
just battle skills to work out their issues before Epiphany and not all of them
are aware that Sarah is not the only one who’s being seduced…
An intense adrenaline rush can make you
fight or…well, yes, just that! Be prepared to stumble over two alpha males
blowing off steam in a very hot way.
Reader Advisory: This story has graphic sexual language and
scenes—no closed bedroom doors (or other rooms) here!
adult paranormal romance
from Ellora’s Cave
A debt of gratitude to Rachel Anglin and to my editor Jill
N. Noble–Shearer for her patience and hard work.
His strong fingers slid softly, almost reverently, over her
bare skin. There was no chance his dilated pupils would miss the telltale signs
her face was probably betraying her with. He could probably read her like an
open book but she was way past the point of shame and she didn’t want to hide
her emotions and desires. She dropped her lids, enjoying the sensual overload.
His fresh breath caressed her neck, making her aware of how close his mouth was
to hers. His luscious, minty, vanilla and sandalwood scents wrapped her in a
sensual wave of need. How he could smell sweet, all male and sophisticated at
the same time was something she’d never been able to figure out. Even so, it
was all him. When his hand wandered a little bit lower, she bit her lip and
lifted her hips.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” he murmured, ignoring her
silent plea, grazing her earlobe tenderly with his teeth.
A warm feeling spread through her body, and her lips curved
by their own volition. Opening her eyes, she lost herself in his angel blue
ones. With her index finger, she traced his straight golden brows, his high
cheekbone and firm, masculine jaw. He kept still, allowing her to take pleasure
in his smooth, silken perfection. She reached his full, half-open mouth,
brushing lightly against his teeth. His fangs extended and the vestiges of
darkness looming in his pupils gave away the predator in him.
“Now I’m here for you,” she whispered, fascinated by how the
turquoise of his irises showed violet hues as a small drop of blood appeared on
Holding her breath, she watched him wrap his lips around and
suck gently, not letting her out of sight.
“I must find you,” he said.
His husky voice made her heart skip a beat.
She gasped when he caressed her neck leisurely with his
nose, and his hand started to skillfully explore each and every sensitive nerve
ending hidden between her soaked, swollen folds.
“I’m a three-thousand-year-old vampire. Trust me when I say
nothing’s impossible.” He chuckled in her ear.
“I’m living in another dimension!”
She moaned when his teeth scraped delicately at her pulse,
reminding her of his nature.
He raised his head, staring sternly at her. “Tell me how to
“You can’t come to my world.” She smiled sadly, remembering
all the reasons why she couldn’t take him with her.
“You’re here; there has to be a way to go there.”
“I’m not really here, Ged. This is only a dream.”
“I can taste you, smell you, feel you…”
He punctuated each word with his tongue, nose and hands,
making her tremble.
“It’s still just a dream.” She touched his cheek as if he
“There has to be a way!” Gedeon insisted. “You wouldn’t be
, my blood mate, if there wasn’t. It wouldn’t make sense.”
“Sometimes things don’t make sense,” she replied, turning
her face away.
“You know I could go into your mind and see for myself.”
She tensed, looking startled at him. “Don’t!”
She took in a sharp breath. “I’d never forgive you.”
“Why would it matter?” he asked coldly. “You’ve already
decreed that I’m going to lose you, anyway.”
He fell back onto the mattress. “If I can’t go there, is
there a means for you to come here?”
When she didn’t reply straightaway, he stared at her.
“How?” he asked.
“It’s not that easy—I can’t just come to your world.” The
thickness in her throat made it difficult to keep her voice steady.
Unable to answer, she leaned over his body, fighting back
Because I love you. Because there’s someone else in my dreams.
Because I’m dying
, she thought with each soft, sweet kiss she placed on his
“Tell me again why the fuck I’m here, out in the snow,
freezing my ass off, dressed up like a fucking wise man.” Duncan grunted,
trying to find a dry rock to step on, to keep the ridiculous jeweled slippers
from getting any more soaked more than they already were.
“You’re a wolf. Wolves don’t freeze their asses off in the
snow.” His beta Sam cleared his throat and looped his thumbs into the front
pockets of his jeans while staring at the ground.
Sam’s lips twitched and Duncan narrowed his eyes. Yeah, he
was fidgeting like a little boy in the sumptuous robes. And? No man ought to be
wearing them anyway! Right? He should have made his beta accompany him dressed
up like a camel…or maybe a mule. It would have shown him not to laugh at his
“And the reason you’re here is still the same as it was five
minutes ago—to save your sister’s cute hide from being stripped raw by the Elders
Council,” Sam pointed out.
“Cute hide? My ass! That crazy bitch is going to pay for
this! What sane woman breaks the peace between werewolves and wizards just
because she wants a faster way to change her hair color than going to a
hairdresser?” Duncan hissed. “She stole the most frigging powerful magic stone
in the world, so she didn’t have to dye her goddamn hair for the New Year’s
“Well, you have to admit that, in spite of not making the
best choice, she had a point with—”
Duncan’s furious snarl froze the smirk on Sam’s face. With a
deadpan face, Sam lifted both hands and stepped back.
“If you attack me, you’ll destroy those rich robes and—”
A low chuckle from the shadows had them both spinning to
their left with all their senses on alert.
“I see things are never going to change with you both,
“Gedeon!” Duncan’s claws and canines extended, and he
released a low, rumbling growl as he recognized the newcomer. “What the fuck
are you doing here?”
The vampire gave Duncan a lazy once-over before answering
with lifted brows. “I thought I was Ged to you, and I’d venture I’m here for
the same reason as you, pup.”
Duncan’s growls increased as he took in the vampire’s
clothing, so similar to Duncan’s own. “Why. Are. You. Here?”
Gedeon crossed his arms. “I’m paying an old debt.”
“That’s none of your business, pup.”
Duncan clenched his jaw and adjusted his cuffs with a frown.
He wanted to forget the pathetic, love-struck youngster who once was ready to
follow Gedeon to the end of the world. Time had passed. Still, seeing Gedeon—as
handsome as ever and floating two feet above the snow-covered ground, while
Duncan’s feet were soaking and freezing—didn’t make him feel like the powerful
and respected alpha of one of the strongest packs in Europe, which was what he
He shut his lids briefly, evoking his mate’s sweet, soft
voice as she’d whispered naughty promises in his mind. His real destined mate,
the elusive, mysterious woman he could only see and talk with in dreams. Soon,
he’d find her and make sure she’d stay at his side forever. Usually, just the
memory of her laughter made him feel calmer but this time, it didn’t work.
Exasperated, he glared again at Gedeon. “If not the why, could Your Highness at
least honor us and reveal the what?” he asked, not trying to subdue his
“I’m here to play one of the three kings for Samgar’s
goddaughter. She’s dying, and he wanted to give her a special present before
she passes,” Gedeon explained, studying Duncan closely but without giving away
the slightest clue regarding Gedeon’s thoughts or intentions.
Duncan’s eyes narrowed to two grim slits. He hadn’t trusted
Samgar’s ulterior motives an inch before, yet he could almost taste the
treachery now. As one of the first vampires, Samgar represented his community
in the Elders Council. Astonishingly, he’d interceded on behalf of Duncan and
his pack in front of the Council. Some events were too strange to be good and
this probably was one of them. And concerning Gedeon… He’d already betrayed
Duncan once. He wasn’t about to give him the opportunity to do so again.
“I’m finished here; let’s go,” he informed Sam, turning
His beta’s hand on his arm stopped him. “Alpha, we must
“No, we must not. I don’t trust him.” Duncan nodded toward
Ged. “I don’t trust Samgar, either. Although I agreed to this humiliating plan
in exchange for the council’s leniency toward my sister, we are talking about
something else altogether now. I’m not going to walk into a trap with my eyes
“The Elders Council ordered you to come here, not Samgar. If
we don’t stay, your sister is the one who will have to pay for her acts, and I
doubt the next punishment will be as benevolent as this one.”
“I didn’t know you’d be here, Duncan,” Gedeon stated
stiffly. “But I already suspected there had to be something more going on. Samgar
is not one to waste the opportunity to earn a big debt from someone like me,
and this favor doesn’t match what I owe him by far.”
“Samgar saved my life…and…the life of…a loved one.” Gedeon
spoke hesitantly, as if he didn’t want to say too much.
With his hands on his hips, Duncan nodded slowly. There was
nothing else to ask about, nothing else he wanted to find out.
“What’s your reason for being here, shadow-walker?”
Duncan’s ex-lover’s words made him raise his head in alarm.
Gedeon, though, stood motionless, serenely inspecting the
darkness looming between the large oaks.
“Freedom.” A calm, dark voice surrounded them and, as if out
of thin air, a tall, dark-skinned Native American emerged with fluid,
feline-like movements from the shadows. He looked like an Indian—a Native
American—but his flesh was more golden brown, as if perhaps he had Spanish
“You’re the one called Montezuma’s Warrior.” Gedeon’s
statement contained a hint of respect.
Duncan tensed even more. Gedeon rarely showed his respect
openly to an unknown warrior before he’d fought with him. Duncan too had heard
of this immortal, a rare breed of shadow-walker and dream-walker. As a child,
he’d been captured by a shaman and sold to the emperor during the famines. He
was not only a fierce, powerful adversary you had to take into account in
battle, but it was also said that he followed his own strict code of honor—a
warrior’s ethic that, as Duncan had been told, not all of the shadow-walker’s
masters were able to appreciate.
“You’re a good observer, vampire. Not everybody recognizes
my two natures and, therefore, who I am,” the ancient warrior acknowledged, his
steady voice as unreadable as his face.
“Montezuma? We aren’t talking about the Aztec’s emperor, are
we?” Sam gawked from the man to Gedeon and back in an almost ridiculous manner,
although his slightly spread legs gave away that he was as prepared to fight as
Duncan was. “Why have I never heard about you?”
ring a bell, pup?” Gedeon asked
“Yeah, that’s one way to put it,” Duncan muttered. “Nothing
personal, Death Walker, but it doesn’t bode well for us that Samgar has
recruited experienced warriors to play the three kings for a sick kid.”
“And not just any three warriors, either,” Gedeon added
“Do you think it is a trap?” Duncan was already sure it was,
but he wanted to know the others’ opinions.
Instead of answering, Gedeon glanced to the shadow-walker.
“Is your master the one offering you freedom, or did Samgar buy you and then
make the offer?”
The dark face didn’t show any emotion when he answered. “He
paid for me. And yes, he’s the one who has offered freedom if this mission goes
“Mission? So he told you why we’re here?” With arms crossed,
Duncan regarded the shadow-walker and the large, suspicious-looking sack he
“He just ordered me to be here the second of January at 7:00
p.m., dressed in this costume.”
“Why’d you call it a mission?”
“Because nobody pays that much for a weapon like me just so
I can deliver some gifts to a girl. In addition, Samgar has promised to reward
me afterward with my freedom.”
“Do your orders include instructions to get rid of us?”
Gedeon inquired in his usual calm manner.
Duncan listened carefully, wondering why someone would call
himself a weapon.
The shadow-walker raised a brow. “Would I tell you if they
“Yes, you would. Nevertheless, I’d realize if you lied,”
Gedeon said softly, his extended fangs reflecting the light in the darkness.
“Maybe…or maybe not.” The shadow-walker’s mouth twitched
almost imperceptibly. “However, no, I’ve no orders to kill you, at least not
“What about you, Duncan?” Gedeon asked.
“He never mentioned anything related to violence. I didn’t
even guess who my companions would be in this ridiculous assignment.”
“My life, his freedom and your sister in exchange for an
insignificant favor,” Gedeon said. “Too good to be true. I suppose we ought to
be prepared for whatever awaits us in there.” He stared at the empty hospital
entrance, where a lone skinny Christmas tree blinked rather cheerlessly.
“Are you trying to tell me we might have to fight in these
sissy clothes?” Duncan grunted, looking down at his pompous robes.
“Feeling vulnerable, darling?” Gedeon turned to Duncan,
lifting a brow.
“Feeling sexy, sweetheart?” Duncan replied dryly, crossing
his arms over his chest.
“Aren’t you already familiar with how vampires usually like
to play both sides, pup?” Gedeon murmured suggestively, giving him a wink. “And
yes, if you want to know. Wearing knives over my bare skin always makes me feel
Duncan blinked, flabbergasted, struggling not to let
memories of his former lover’s bare white skin conquer his mind. “Since when do
vampires like you make jokes?”
“Since I’m the only vampire like me…I suppose you’re never
going to find out.”
Gedeon glanced at the shadow-walker, although not before
Duncan could identify something akin to sadness flashing through the vampire’s
eyes. “By the way, my name’s Gedeon—Ged, if you’re going to battle at my side.
The alpha pup is Duncan and that’s his beta, Sam. What’s your name? I can’t
imagine calling you Death Walker each time I have to ask you to kick someone’s
Gedeon glanced at him with upraised brows. “Any objection to
my calling you Xiu?”
Xiucatl shrugged. “I don’t mind what you call me, as long as
you mind the way you call me.”
* * * * *
Duncan wasn’t the only one with his mouth set in a hard line
when they waited in front of the elevator. They had detected strong magical
wards protecting the building, plus the inside of the hospital was crowded by
otherkin, most of them nightbreeds. Duncan had already counted six guards and
several hospital staff members who were fey and night-walkers.
security measures to protect just a kid.
“I’d prefer to take the stairs,” he muttered between
clenched teeth when the red numbers showed that the door was about to open.
“Me too.” Gedeon nodded. “You and Sam take the lead. You’ll
need to shift if we’re attacked. Xiu and I’ll bring up the rear.”
Duncan’s alpha instincts rebelled against the orders;
nevertheless, Gedeon was right. In case of a confrontation, being able to see
someone approach from the front would give them more time to change. They were
good fighters in human form, although, in uneven battles their chances would be
higher as wolves. Duncan turned to the stairs; the rest followed without
The guards beside the stairs lowered their gazes. They
didn’t retreat yet Duncan could smell a slight hint of fear. Not surprising—the
four of them had to make a hell of a picture. He was six foot three and, as his
sister loved to say, built like a brick shithouse. He was used to people
staring at him while they stumbled out of his path. Sam was almost the same
height, his shoulders even broader than Duncan’s were. Xiu and Gedeon were no
less impressive. Their bodies were lean and athletic, with a natural elegance
in their movements; nevertheless, they exuded danger from every pore. The
shadow-walker was not just taller than Duncan was by at least two inches, but the
darkness surrounding him shouted “predator” loud and clear. Regarding Gedeon…
Duncan sighed. Ged was simply striking, with a face Michelangelo could have
sculpted. However, in spite of all his handsomeness, people didn’t require a
second glimpse to recognize that he was dangerous. Duncan still remembered
their first encounter—Ged had reminded Duncan of an avenging angel, and that’s
how he always thought of the man… As an amazingly stunning and deadly creature.
They found a pair of guards at each level, though nobody
addressed the four warriors. When they reached the third floor, Gedeon stopped.
“We need to go out, cross this wing and take the stairs at
the right to the top floor,” he said.
Frowning, Duncan turned to Ged. “Well-prepared, aren’t we?”
Gedeon shrugged. “You don’t get as old as I am by going
blind into dark alleys.”
Duncan cringed. He should have done the same—readied better
for this situation. It shouldn’t have been too difficult to find the building’s
blueprint and take a quick look at them.
Who said you didn’t need to be old
to be wise? I’m dressed like a fucking wise man and acting like a dim-witted
“Okay, let’s do it,” he decided, opening the door to check an
A ball rolled out of a room. A giggling little girl followed
after the ball, her black curls bouncing around her cute, heart-shaped face. As
soon as she noticed their presence, her sky-blue eyes went wide. She whirled
hastily around to disappear again inside her room.