Authors: Stacey Marie Brown
Tags: #urban fantasy, #coming of age, #paranormal romance, #fantasy, #urban, #contemporary romance, #new adult, #bestsellers new adult, #stacey marie brown
Darkness of Light
(Darkness Series #1)
Fire in the Darkness
(Darkness Series #2)
Beast in the Darkness
(An Elighan Dragen Novelette)
Dwellers of Darkness
(Darkness Series #3)
Blood Beyond Darkness
(Darkness Series #4)
City in Embers
(Collector Series #1)
The Barrier Between
(Collector Series #2)
Across the Divide
(Collector Series #3)
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This is a work of fiction. Any references to
historical events, real people, or real locales are used
fictitiously. Other names, characters, places and incidents are the
product of the author’s imagination and her crazy friends. Any
resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead,
is entirely coincidental.
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from the author.
Cover Design by Eden Crane Designs
Developmental Editor Jordan Rosenfeld
Edited by Hollie (
Sorry about all the cliff-hangers and
emotional turmoil I put you through.
Hahaha. No, I’m not!
I’m evil and enjoy every moment!
Thank you for putting up with me.
Love you awesome nerds.
The elevator doors opened. Through the
darkness the lights of the lab equipment and monitors sparkled like
alien stars. I slipped against the wall and walked as quietly in my
boots as possible down the hallway. My neck was damp with nervous
sweat, while the code numbers continuously looped in my head. I
punched in the eleven-digit number. The panel blinked in
I cringed when the door beeped. The lock
releasing sounded like a ton of bricks falling into a metal
dumpster in the silent corridor. I opened the door and slipped into
The outer room blushed an eerie yellow from
the emergency lights along the floor base. The code to Ryker’s cell
was the same code backward. No sooner had I hit the last number
than the green panel beeped, releasing its hold.
Nerves in my stomach twisted. I hadn’t let
myself think about actually being alone with him. Croygen warned
me, but circumstances and my stubbornness won out. Again, I was far
too deep to turn back now.
It took me a moment for my eyes to adjust to
the solid blackness of the inner the room. Eventually the glow from
the emergency lights from the other room bled, giving an outline to
the objects in the room. There wasn’t much here, only a bed and
some medical equipment. The darker mass of Ryker on the gurney
loomed in the middle of the room. His labored breath, like someone
in pain, reached my ears.
Emotion took hold and I rushed to his side,
my fingers finding his face. Tears filled my eyes as I touched him,
my heart slipping into my gut, thrashing around like a wounded
be all right.” What if we went too far? What
if today was simply too much, and I had killed the man I loved?
“Ryker, open your eyes.” My hands slid along
his jaw, cupping his face. His grown-out stubble scratched my
palms. Touching him now was different. Before, I had only been a
husk, not letting myself truly experience what it felt like to have
him near again.
He stirred under my hand, a slight moan
coming from his throat. I leaned in closer and saw his lids
blinking, trying to open.
“Ryker, wake up. We need to get out of here.”
Not thinking, I unhooked the cuffs on his arms. Freeing him. His
eyes opened, his white eyes glowing in the darkness. Absent eyes
landed on me like we were strangers.
He sat abruptly. My arms dropped, and I took
a step back. He still only wore the gray scrub pants, and his chest
continued to leak blood and pus from both new and old gashes.
Wounds I gave him. “You come back for more,
twisted the words, his eyes cold and remote. “Carving me up during
the day isn’t enough for you?”
“Ryker, it’s me.”
“I know who you are.” He swung his legs down
and stood up, his body moved like a coiling snake. “I’ve been
waiting to be alone with you for a while.”
This man wasn’t Ryker. A shiver ran down my
“Ryker. It’s me, Zoey.” I focused on linking
our names, making a connection. Deep down, I believed in those rare
moments we had shared, the times his eyes cleared. I felt if he
really saw me, he would be able to override the promise. I was
“Your name will mean the same to me dead or
alive.” His voice was void of feeling. “Nothing.” He fisted his
hands, taking a step.
“Fight it, Ryker. I know you are under there
somewhere.” I backed up.
Ryker didn’t even flinch. “All that’s in
here.” He pointed to himself. “Is a demon. Well, half…on my
father’s side.” He took a step, drawing my attention back to him.
For every step he took, I took two back.
Father? Demon? What was he talking about? He
didn’t know who his father...
Oh no. No. No. No
An image of two blond men came into my mind. How
did I not see it before? The similarities between them became
glaringly obvious. The body frames, strong jaw lines, the Nordic
“Vadik?” My mouth dipped open.
A gruesome smirk turned up Ryker’s mouth.
“And this half-demon has made a promise to kill you, human.”
We moved at the same time. I went for the
door. He bolted for me, reaching me as the door handle rolled in my
hand, slipping through my fingers. His hand wrapped around my
throat, and he threw me back against the wall next to the door.
“Ryk—” My mouth opened to speak, but he
squeezed down, cutting off my words. With a grunt he slammed me
again, ripping the air from my lungs. My fingers went to his hands,
clawing at them. “
His lids fluttered, his glassy eyes sparked
with life. His hand loosened around my throat, giving me a gulp of
air. “Zoey.” He blinked, his voice low. He dropped me to my feet,
his hand falling to the dip at the base of my collarbone.
“Yes,” I whispered hoarsely, ignoring my
burning throat. “Stay with me.” I reached out for him. The instant
my hand touched his face, his eyes slammed shut, like it burned his
“I can’t fight it,” he whispered.
“Yes. You can.” I drew him closer to me,
tipping his forehead against mine, hoping contact with me would
help keep him centered. “Remember we do whatever it takes to live
and be together. That’s the love I want with you. Whatever the
outcome. We fight.”
He jerked his head up, sucking in air. He
blinked, his brows dipping in puzzlement.
Fearful of losing him again, I wrapped my
arms around him. “Feel me, Ryker. Remember us. We are more powerful
together.” My hands drifted over his back, running up and down his
body. The scars, open wounds, and dried blood were jagged under the
tips of my fingers.
He breathed out, letting his body fall
against mine, pressing my back against the wall. In an instant, his
hands moved under my top, roughly grazing my skin. His touch was
fire to my system. A barely audible groan escaped my mouth. He bit
down hard on my lip, drawing blood. The pain only triggered more
craving. Our breaths became frantic as our mouths moved together
He yanked his head back, his tongue sliding
over his bottom lip. He reached to his mouth, blood pooled on his
finger. My blood. His gaze went to my mouth. He leaned forward, his
tongue slowly licked my broken lip. He watched me as he trailed my
mouth. Ryker drew back, swallowing. His eyes glinted, a rumble
rolled from his chest, sounding wild and threatening.
It was instant, the shift. The taste of my
blood. A growl flared from his throat. His muscles tightened under
me. He pinned my body harder against the wall with his, grabbing my
face forcefully. With a snarl, his hands slid down to my neck.
“Ryker. Don’t—” My plea cut off, his hands
compressed around my neck. A thumb rubbed softly over my vocals.
Then his eyes flared, a strangled cry wrenching out of him, full of
pain. I saw him fully leave me. The curse battling for dominancy.
He grunted. His shoulders grew, expanding
with power. The thumb which had caressed my skin was now pushing
into my throat. My mouth gaped for fresh air, which would not come.
Spots dotted my vision as I fought against his hold. Like a cat put
in water, I clawed, kicked, and hissed, but he did not relent.