Inno loved his vampire mate but something had been bothering Mikel lately. Something he hasn’t shared with Inno. When his sister Claudia calls him over he learns there was more to his abduction than he first thought. Unable to stand the betrayal he walks away broken-hearted.
Mikel can’t understand why Inno hasn’t claimed him. Didn’t Inno’s wolf want Mikel as his own? Unwilling to upset his mate Mikel doesn’t know how to fix the problem. Outside forces work to keep them apart but in the end it’s all about whether or not Inno is willing to mark Mikel.
Anthony floated through his dream, drifting from scene to scene, his feet never touching the ground. Wind whipped past him and brought with it a foul odor. Anthony gagged. What was that? What could possibly create that horrible combination of rotten eggs and raw sewage, and since when did he have the ability to smell in his dreams? He hoped this new gift was refundable.
“Do you understand now?” A deep voice boomed through the air, resonating through Anthony’s body and threatening to shake him from the sky.
“Understand what?” What could he possibly discern from stinky air? The smell didn’t bring with it any wisdom or answer any questions over the identity of his mysterious visitor. Was this the person his grandfather Zeus had warned him about?
Anthony might be strong against wolves and mutants, but he was nothing against a god. He hadn’t come into his godhead yet, and according to Zeus, he wouldn’t for many more years.
“How little control you have. I could crush you like a gnat in the palm of my hand. Puny half-fae have no resistance against the power of a god.” The disdainful tone did little to allay Anthony’s fear. Whoever had pulled Anthony into this dream didn’t like him much.
Clenching his fists, Anthony dug his fingernails into his palms and took slow breaths out of his mouth, almost choking on the taste of the polluted air now coating his tongue. Enemies could smell fear. He’d learned that from his wolf mate, Silver. Patience would serve him better than confrontation. The other being’s malice twisted through the air, heavy and foreboding, a dark cloud of hatred. Whoever was doing this—controlling Anthony’s dream—wanted him frightened and intimidated.
A stream of dark smoke circled before him in sinuous circles. Anthony tried to focus and gather his energy, but his magic didn’t respond. He scanned his surroundings, struggling to see anything through the fog. If he escaped this unharmed, he needed to be able to collect as many details as possible in order to identify this new enemy. Did the cold, smelly but essentially empty background reveal the intruder’s true nature? Was his opponent as soulless as Anthony’s environment?
“Your magic has no place here. This is my world.” The deep voice continued to taunt Anthony. “You are powerless, favored one.”
“Favored?” He suppressed a hysterical giggle at the ridiculously dramatic setting, even as the scorn in the invisible speaker’s voice when he said favored sent warning bells through him. Someone knew Zeus’s plans for Anthony, and he wasn’t happy. Unfortunately, identifying his opponent was like trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle from a destroyed box while missing half the pieces.
“Are we related?” Anthony asked, hoping to get more of a clue. Who was this? Who hated him so much he took over Anthony’s dreams?
“Zeus has chosen poorly to grant a mere witch-fae godlike powers. What he sees in you I’ll never understand. You are not worthy.” An almost tangible malice filled the air.
Anthony relaxed a bit. This braggart appeared to want to flaunt his superiority more than harm Anthony. Not many beings were powerful enough to invade dreams, of course that also meant the guy was probably related to Anthony’s father and not his mother. Sometimes having a direct relation to Zeus didn’t turn out to be the awesome genetic funfest it should have been.
Smoke swirled in the air around him until it formed the shape of a man. Red eyes glowed at Anthony. “Do you deny our connection? Saying I don’t exist doesn’t make it so.”
Anthony examined his words before spoke them. “I don’t know who you are. I have lots of relatives I’ve never met.” Zeus wasn’t known for his faithfulness or his discernment. Anthony had no doubt hundreds, maybe thousands, of unknown relatives lived out in the world.
A low, menacing laugh filled the air. “Don’t worry, I’m working on narrowing them down. You’ll be happy to know I’m going to save you for last. I want you to anticipate your death, dear Anthony. Zeus knows I’m coming, and it will destroy him when I finally kill you.” The satisfaction oozing from the stranger’s voice told Anthony the deep hatred this being held for Zeus.
“What’s your name?” Anthony asked, hoping to identify his tormentor. He couldn’t mount a proper defense until he knew his adversary. He doubted a pack of wolves would be enough to handle this threat. He might have to call in reinforcements.
“I am the death that stalks you and your unnatural offspring. Did you think no one would care that Zeus loves you over the more deserving? For no one else did he insist on providing an heir. My own child died, and Zeus did nothing to help. You lose a mere lover and the heavens thundered from your despair.”
Anger burned through Anthony as only one phrase stuck in his head above all others. “I’m sorry for your loss, but touch my son or anyone in my family and I will destroy you.”
Anthony’s version of family encompassed his son, alpha mate, and an ever-expanding werewolf pack, each and every member he’d kill or die for.
“You can’t harm me, child.” Wide-eyed, Anthony watched as smoke turned into flesh. The man floating before him resembled Anthony’s father. His appearance close enough to send chills down Anthony’s spine.
His grin jolted Anthony with a spike of fear. “Because I am your destiny.” He lifted his hands. Energy crackled from his fingertips seconds before a bolt of lightning shot through his palms and slammed into Anthony.
Screaming, Anthony jerked up in bed. His eyes blinded by the flash.
“Shh, I’ve got you.” Silver’s familiar voice eased his terror, but didn’t erase Anthony’s memory.
Silver wrapped his strong, warm arms around Anthony, holding him safe. Anthony’s heart stuttered in his chest, a panicked unfamiliar beat. He’d been afraid before, but never to this level of terror.
Only the soothing voice and touch of his mate grounded him back to this world.
“He’s coming,” Anthony whispered, the sound so soft and broken it should’ve belonged to someone else.
“Who’s coming?” Silver pressed a kiss to Anthony’s forehead. “Shh, it was just a dream. Nothing to worry about. No one is going to hurt you.”
If only that were true.
Anthony scooted closer, seeking Silver’s comforting heat and breathing in the familiar scent of home. He pressed his cheek against Silver’s naked chest, trying to ease his terror through osmosis.
“One of Zeus’s offspring is after me. I don’t know his name, but that wasn’t a regular dream.”
Anthony’s vision cleared, and the room snapped into focus. He tilted his head in time to catch the worried expression flashing across Silver’s face.
“Who?” Silver asked.
“I don’t know.” He struggled to remember any detail, but not once did the intruder mention his name. “He could be any one of hundreds of people. Grandfather gets around.”
Silver sighed. “I’m usually the last person to say this, but I think you need to call Zeus.”
Anthony shuddered. He loved Zeus, but interactions with his grandfather were never easy. The god attached strings to any request, and Anthony didn’t wish to owe him any favors.
“He threatened Trin.”
Out of everything, that one threat had been the worst in Anthony’s mind. He’d send Trin to live with the fae before he allowed this psycho to get any closer to his son.
Silver’s eyes glowed with a feral light, his inner animal surging forward, seeking to destroy any danger. The wolf would defend their young to the death.
“We will hunt him and show him the error of his ways.” Silver’s voice took on a low growl, the beast eager to snap at its enemy.
“He’s stronger than me.” Anthony bowed his head at the confession. He’d never much cared about his magic except to use it for the safety of the pack. Now he couldn’t even protect the ones he loved, a difficult truth to swallow.
“What? How is that possible? I thought your magic was growing?” Alarm colored Silver’s voice, and his beautiful eyes darkened.
Anthony sighed. “It is, but not enough. To you and the pack, I’m strong, but among gods and demi-gods I’m like a gnat they can squish between their fingers.” The man who took over his dreams made sure Anthony knew his inadequacies.
Silver grabbed Anthony’s chin between his fingers. “You are not a gnat, my sweet mate. You are my world.”
Silver’s endorsement only shoved the knife of despair that much deeper into Anthony’s heart. “As sweet as that is, I still need to figure out who is after us.”
“Whoever it is, we will face him together.” His growl added a deeper timber to Silver’s voice as if the wolf half wished to burst out and take down their enemy.
Anthony blinked back his tears. He didn’t have time to wallow in self-defeating doubt. He refused to let anything happen to his son. Resolve filled him, and with it determination.
“I’ll call Zeus.”
“No need. I am here.” The god’s deep voice boomed off the walls while lightning electrified the air and spread the scent of ozone.
“Someone is killing your children.” Anthony didn’t try to sugarcoat the issue. His grandfather must have known something was wrong if he had appeared so fast with the mere mention of his name. “What do you know?”
The god solidified a few feet from their bed. Zeus pulled a chair from along the wall and settled it next to Anthony’s side of the bed. “I thought you’d be safe. I’ve warned your father about him, and he said he’d watch out for you.”
“I doubt Father expected me to be attacked in my dreams.” Anthony swallowed as his throat dried up at the memory. “The guy said he’d kill Trin and me. He said nothing about Dad.”
The lines deepened on Zeus’s face. “I’ve made my fondness of you too obvious. Some of the others have become jealous. I didn’t think they would come after you directly. I figured they’d bitch some, then go back to their regular lives. My warning to stay away from you should’ve been enough. Someone is challenging my rule.”
“Who?” Anthony couldn’t imagine anyone strong enough to challenge the leader of the gods, but he’d never been a power-hungry psycho either.
“I don’t know. I will figure it out, but you need to make a decision.”
Anthony froze beneath Zeus’s intense gaze.
“What kind of decision? I won’t leave my family.” His stomach churned as he worried about what his grandfather might say. He couldn’t abandon his loved ones even to keep them safe. Not again. Never again.
“I’ve always said you would eventually come into your godhead. You can choose to accept all your powers now and protect your family or…”
“Or what?” Silver prodded.
“You can prepare to die.” Zeus tossed something at Anthony.
He instinctively caught it. A silver orb the size of a baseball glowed a swirling orange in his hand.
“When you decide what you want to do, think of me and smash the ball. It will trigger your godhead. I will come and teach you how to control the magic. Make your decision and make it soon.” Zeus vanished.
“Fuck,” Anthony cursed. He almost threw the ball from his anger, but Silver grabbed his wrist in time. “Some choice.”
Anthony didn’t want to be a god. Hell, he barely had a handle on his powers now. Depressed, he lay down beside his mate and spun the ball between his fingers.
“We will figure this out,” Silver vowed. “I won’t let anyone hurt you, or our son. We’ve fought too long to let some asshole god-wannabe take anything from us.”
Anthony sighed. Exhaustion seeped into his bones. “I’m tired of fighting.”
There, he’d said it. Peace and a little boredom would be welcome companions.
Silver rubbed Anthony’s arm. “I know. I’d love it if everyone would just leave us the fuck alone.”
Anthony nodded. “That would be amazing. I wish I’d dream about that instead of psycho assholes.”
“We’ll figure this out.” Silver stroked Anthony’s head.
Become a god or die. There was little choice.