Twilight Guardian

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Not even the Goddess can save him…but maybe love can.

In Book 3 of the Children of the Goddess series, the mysterious Sariel guards are defined by loyalty and their sense of duty. To protect those they love, is any price too high?

a vividly enchanting world
 
       “she never fails to write a page-turner”   
 
                        “a spectacular read”
 
                                      
 

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  A Sariel guard, Kit has spent centuries fulfilling his people’s oath to protect the Trueblood Clan. Not Vampire, not Were, and certainly not human, Kit is something altogether…different. And when he is called back home to honor his obligations one last time, he can do none other than obey.Jesse experiences life behind the lens of a camera. The only time she truly lives is in her dreams. For years she’s imagined a world filled with werewolves, vampires, magic. And him. When she realizes that not only is her dream world real, but the giant of her fantasies is in danger, she’ll have to jump in with both feet, and trust her heart. In Kit’s arms, she learns love is as infinite as time.But so is a bitter god’s thirst for vengeance.After a thousand years of duty, Jesse’s love is a gift from the Goddess. But for Kit, it might have come too late… 
EXCERPTJesse knew the instant Kit appeared beside them. He didn’t glance her way, his expression so stoic that if she didn’t know how he truly felt about her, she’d think he didn’t know she existed.“Max, keep her here. No matter what you see.”“Of course, my cousin. May our Great Mother protect you.”“Wait! What—” Kit walked down the dune without another word, his jaw set, hand on the hilt of his sword.“He goes to face his first challenge. To prove he is worthy to be the Igigi sacrifice.”Jesse’s stomach dropped. “You have to be fucking kidding me. Who the fuck is this egomaniacal jackass? How dare he test Kit’s worth? Or any of your people’s? Hell, Kaine is worth more than that jerk.”Max’s laugh sounded surprised. “Bite your tongue. The Beta mentioned you had a mouth on you.”

“Only when I’m angry. Is this test dangerous?” She wrapped her arms around her waist, as if to protect herself from his answer. She didn’t blink, refusing to take her gaze from Kit’s shrinking figure. If she couldn’t protect him, the least she could do was bear witness.

“Not for the trained warrior. My father told me that there are two challenges before the final ritual. This first is merely to test the senses and physical prowess. The second tests the heart and mind. I do not think the god made these tests to harm our people. After all, if Kit died here then he wouldn’t have the same…satisfaction.”

She heard the distaste in his voice. It was a feeling she shared. The monster from the stele on the wall, the one so petty and filled with hatred that he demanded something like this from his children, was no god. Not by her definition. And if she knew where to find him, she’d tell him so.

Kit had come to a swift stop, his head tilted as if scenting something on the wind. He turned in a slow circle, sliding out his sword and gripping it in both hands.

Jesse gasped, reaching for Max’s arm. “He’s facing the wrong way. Why is he facing the wrong way?”

Max inhaled sharply, turning her to face him. “Jesse, what do you mean? I sense the same enemy Kit does, but not in any discernible direction.”

“You don’t see them?”

“Them?”

 

Kit was on edge, but not because of the upcoming challenge. He’d spent the night in hell, watching the woman he loved in another’s arms. He trusted his cousin, but there was no doubt he desired Jesse. And like a fool, he’d accepted Max’s oath to take care of her after Kit was gone.

How long would Max wait before comforting Jesse turned into something more? Was he so selfish that he begrudged her happiness with another, even when he wouldn’t be around to take care of her? He wished he could say no.

A profound stench stopped him in his tracks. His skin crawled in the same way it had when the god’s creatures began following them. But the smell told him this was something else. Something decidedly older. And if he wasn’t mistaken, it wasn’t alone.

He drew his sword and reached out with his senses. He couldn’t see anything, and his sense of smell was no indicator of direction. The odor surrounded him, coming from everywhere at once. Where were they? What were they?

“Kit! Kit, can you hear me? Please, for the love of your goddess, tell me you can hear me.”

Kit spun toward the rise of the dune. Jesse hadn’t moved, Max had kept his word. So why did he hear her as clearly as if she were standing right beside him.

“Jesse?”

“Kit? Oh, thank goodness. I see—”

“How are you doing this? How can we be talking telepathically?”

“I don’t know, but can’t it wait? I can see them, Kit. I can see the things surrounding you. Kit, they’re all around you!”

He lifted his sword high, whirling, but he saw nothing. “Describe it to me. What do they look like? How many?”

“There are four of them. They are nearly half as big as your Old Ones, and they look like men, sort of, except for their tails. Kit, they have scorpion tails. Oh, shit.”

“Be calm, sarasvatti. They are Agrabuamelu, children of the dragon. I heard tales of them at my father’s knee. Thank you, Jesse. Now quiet your thoughts, my love.”

Ancient indeed. Earlier creations that had been, for the most part, forgotten. His people had thought them lost in the flood. They were not supposed to have powers of invisibility. That must be a recent addition.

Kit closed his eyes, knowing them worthless, and listened. His father had told him the stories. That their terror was awesome, their glance like poison, and their sting deadly. But their tails were cumbersome things, noisy. And once they’d been cut off, the beasts were easy enough to kill, since they had no mental dexterity, no free will.

If the stories were true.

He heard a whirring to his left, loud as a helicopter to his alert senses, and rolled to the ground. His blade followed the noise, the slice of connection and screech of pain telling him he’d found his mark. One down.

“Ew. The tail is still twitching and that, um, Agra-whatsit is crawling away, Kit. The other three are spreading out around you.”

“You may want to avert your eyes, angel.”

“Then how would I help you?”

The real question was, why would she want to? She had made her feelings clear last night. She didn’t approve of what he was doing. And how in the name of the Mother could she be talking to him? The small connection they’d shared during sex had faded along with his orgasm.

The sand shifted beside him and he jumped high, his boot connecting to flesh with a satisfying crunch. A powerful hand gripped his neck, keeping his feet of the ground and pulling him forward. The aroma grew stronger, making his eyes water.

This creature was strong, and while Kit struggled to peel its fingers off his throat, a fist slammed into the small of his back. Damn. He roared, his fangs extending with the pain.

“Kit! The third one’s tail is arching, it looks like…like… Move left. Now!”

He wrenched himself to the left, loosening the scorpion hybrid’s hold just in time. He heard the sickening sound of a stinger piercing flesh, luckily not his own, and smiled grimly. Once more his sword slid through the thick armored tail, currently stuck to the chest of his brethren. A thudding sound, followed by a large dip in the revealing sand and he knew he’d hit his target. “Thanks, sarasvatti.”

“I’m gonna be sick. One more, Kit. But he’s the biggest one yet. And he looks pissed.”

Not pissed enough. Kit stilled, breathing deep as he honed in to the sounds around him. He could hear the scratching of hands in sand, crawling away, the whimpers of a poisoned soul dying in the morning heat. And he could hear the harsh breath of anger, the stalking glide of the final Agrabuamelu, determined in his vengeance.

“Why do you hide from me, my brother? Are you a coward that you cannot face another of our god’s creations? Do you believe yourself inferior? I’m not sure why I’m talking to you. Can you even understand my words, or weren’t you given that ability?”

The air shimmered to Kit’s right, and he turned in time to watch the scorpion man appear in the flesh. He did not look completely formed. His forehead was lumped with horns, his nose merely a vertical slit below his lidless eyes. Kit looked away from his glance, focusing instead on his weapon. Long and large, covered in scales that glowed red in the light of dawn, his tail was a thing of beauty. A perfect killing machine.

“Ah. So you understand after all. Why would you hide from this battle? The sight of your face alone is so revolting you could have stunned me in my tracks.”

The extended jaw opened and a blood curdling sound was released, knocking Kit back with its power. The sound rang in his ears, making him weave, disoriented. The thick tail rippled, pushing the thing closer, within striking distance.

“Kit! Concentrate. He’s… Oh my God.”