(Guardians of Hades #3)
by Felicity Heaton
Kindle Edition, 310 pages
Published March 24th 2018
Prince of the Underworld and Lord of Water, Esher was banished from his home by his father, Hades, two centuries ago and given a new duty and purpose—to keep our world and his from colliding in a calamity foreseen by the Moirai.
Together with his six brothers, he fights to defend the gates to the Underworld from daemons bent on breaching them and gaining entrance to that forbidden land, striving to protect his home from their dark influence. Tormented by his past, Esher burns with hatred towards mortals and bears a grudge against Hades for forcing him into their world, condemning him to a life of battling to keep a fragile hold on his darker side—a side that wants to kill every human in the name of revenge.
Until he finds himself stepping in to save a female—a beautiful mortal filled with light and laughter who draws him to her as fiercely as the pull of the moon, stirring conflict in his heart and rousing dangerous needs long forgotten.
Aiko knows from the moment she sets eyes on the black-haired warrior that he is no ordinary man, just as she’s no ordinary woman. Blessed with a gift, she can see through his stormy façade to the powerful god beneath, and the pain and darkness that beats inside him—pain she grows determined to heal as she falls deeper under his spell and into his world.
When the daemon bent on turning Esher against his brothers makes her move, will Esher find the strength to overcome his past and fulfil his duty, or will the lure of revenge allow the darkness in his heart to seize control, transforming him into a god intent on destroying the world?
Esher stood near the outside wall of the main room of the mansion, the tatami mats warm beneath his bare feet, the slight roughness of them soothing as he listened to his oldest brother, Keras, drone on about the latest intel they had managed to gather on daemon movements.
He picked at the bandage around his right arm as his brothers began to file their reports, and Marek made dry comments as he noted them all down on his laptop from his perch in the cream armchair that stood to Esher’s right and completed the rough semi-circle of seating around the TV in the corner beside him.
Keras sat on the couch opposite Esher, their youngest brother Calistos shifting to his left to give him room. They were a contrast, Keras’s black hair the darkness to Calistos’s blond light. Where Keras was neat and orderly, his hair kept short and immaculate, and his tailored black dress-shirt and slacks pressed, and even his black socks perfect, Cal looked like the tempest he was, his fair hair pulled back into a messy ponytail, and a worn khaki t-shirt that had more than one hole in it hugging his chest and faded black fatigues encasing the long legs he stretched in front of him, resting his feet on the coffee table.
Cal’s pale blue eyes flicked towards the TV to Esher’s right, and he could almost see his brother itching to grab one of the controllers and fire up the console to knock out a few rounds of one of the first-person-shooters in his collection.
Cal hated them treating him like a kid because he was the youngest, but he acted every second of the one hundred and seven year age gap between them. Fuck, it was better than being seventy years Esher’s junior and acting twice his age like Daimon though. More than once, Daimon had remarked that he felt like the older brother to Esher and not the other way around.
Daimon was just lucky that he loved him most out of his six brothers, otherwise he might have been inclined to take him up on those fighting words, like their older brother Ares did whenever Daimon threw barbs at him.
Fire and ice.
Esher didn’t miss the days of them brawling in the Underworld. He’d had quite enough of coming close to being flambéed or frozen.
Daimon scrubbed a black-gloved hand over his frosty-white hair, his blue eyes cautious as he gave his report to Marek.
“Speed up,” Valen muttered from the couch nearest Esher. He toyed with a knife, flipping it end over end, his impatience showing. “This is taking too long.”
His blue eyes fixed Keras with a glare when their oldest brother looked at him and sighed.
“You’d complain too if you had a woman waiting for you.” Valen flashed a grin at Keras, who only sighed again and rolled his green eyes.
“It’s bad enough I have to hear complaints from him.” Keras jerked his chin towards Ares where he sat beside Valen.
The brunet had a death grip on his knees, his knuckles white as his fingertips pressed into his black jeans and his warm brown eyes flickering with amber sparks. Tension radiated from him, his broad muscled shoulders tensed beneath his black t-shirt, and Esher knew the source of it.
His older brother wanted to return to his female.
Just as Valen wanted to return to Eva.
Esher had denied them entrance the last time his brothers had tried to bring them to the mansion. With the wound the wraith had given him still healing, he couldn’t stand having the mortals present in his home. Ares had understood and complied immediately, taking Megan back to his apartment in New York to wait for him.
Valen had kicked up a fuss.
When Esher had threatened to butcher the human assassin, spelling out the exact reason he didn’t want her near him, and Keras had been forced to restrain him, his brother had backed down and taken her away.
And refused to attend the meeting.
Esher wasn’t sure he should be grateful for his attendance this time.
It had taken him five minutes to start complaining. He brought up the female at every opportunity, making it clear she had been working with him to protect the gate. As if that would curry any favour with Esher.
It only made him want to kill her even more.
Mortals had no place being near the gates, so close to his home.
Valen pushed his fingers through the overlong top of his blond hair, brushing it down over the right side of his face, so it almost concealed it from Esher’s view. While Esher’s haircut was similar, with short sides and back, and the long lengths on top swept forwards, the hair on the sides of Valen’s head had been crudely cut, and it was longer on top, reaching his jaw.
He folded his arms across his chest, causing his biceps to tighten against the sleeves of his black t-shirt, and grumbled to himself about Eva.
Mortals had no place in this house.
Esher teased another thread free of the bandage around his right arm as he stared through the opening between the wood-framed white paper panels across the room to his left.
Sunlight played across the garden and the wing of the Edo period mansion beyond it, where more paper panels closed off the rooms from the covered wooden walkway that ran around the three sides of the horseshoe-shaped building. It reflected off the ribbed grey tiled roof that swept downwards and chased over the manicured bushes that dotted the small courtyard garden.
A few pebbles of the gravel beneath them were out of place, and one was resting on a stepping stone.
One of his brothers had been walking out there.
His brows drew down as he charted a series of footprints, his fingers fraying the end of the bandage. He would have to go out with the rake when his brothers were gone. The topiary had a few pine needles out of place too, and perhaps he could enjoy the cherry trees blooming in the larger garden beyond the pond while he fed the koi and soaked up the silence.
“Esher?” Daimon’s voice cut into the peaceful image building in his head, shattering it, and he looked at his younger brother, his frown sticking. “You alright?”
He nodded, and looked around at his other brothers. They were all staring at him as if he had two heads.
Or was about to rampage through Tokyo.
“Someone walked on the gravel.” Esher drew down a deep breath to calm himself, reining in the urges they had all spotted in his eyes, and probably in the favour mark on his wrist too judging by the way Daimon was looking at it.
Esher looked down, but the trident above his black bracelet that matched the ones his brothers wore on their wrists was a steady pale blue, not giving his feelings away.
He followed Daimon’s gaze again and realised his brother wasn’t looking at his wrist. He was looking at the bandage around his arm. A bandage Esher had been playing with.
He still couldn’t believe he had gone with the human, or that he hadn’t wanted to kill her when she had been tending to the wound.
Or that he couldn’t get his mind off her.
It had been three days since they had met, and he kept thinking about her, kept replaying small moments of his time with her. Only eighty percent of the time, an urge to harm her rose inside him.
The other nineteen percent?
He wasn’t sure how he felt then.
And the remaining one percent was reserved for a thought that had left him cold and confused.
He wanted to see her again.
He had ruthlessly shoved that desire out of his head and his heart, banishing it. It wasn’t going to happen. She was human. Untrustworthy. Dangerous. A wretch.
So why did he despise himself whenever he thought of her like that?
Why did he feel as if he was the one who couldn’t be trusted, the one who was dangerous, a wretched beast?
“Esher?” Ares this time.
Esher’s gaze snapped down to him.
“You sure you’re alright, man?” Ares looked him over, not at all bothered by the glare he levelled at him. “You seem a little more tense than usual.”
“Daemons attacked the gate. I… was injured and a mortal might have…” He couldn’t finish that sentence.
Keras sighed. “You killed someone.”
It wasn’t what he had meant to say. He had been teetering on the brink of bringing up the female, a desire to understand the conflict she caused in him almost convincing him to share her with his brothers, but then the thought of telling them anything about her had slammed his mouth shut.
He didn’t want to share her with anyone.
He shrugged. “He saw the daemons and me fighting.”
A reasonable excuse.
“You could have wiped his memory,” Marek volunteered, his tone distant as he typed on the keyboard of the silver laptop, his brown eyes on the screen.
No, he couldn’t have. Wiping memories was a talent they all possessed, but to do it he would have had to touch the human.
Which meant the male would have met the same end.
Touching humans was a definite no.
“You forget who you’re talking to?” Calistos offered with a grin in his voice, and Marek looked up from his computer, regarded Esher with a look that said he might have but he knew now what a mistake the suggestion had been, and went back to his work.
He had touched the pervert on the train, and he had wanted to kill him too. He still wasn’t sure how he had managed to rein in that desire and claw back enough control to stop himself.
What about the mortal female?
Had he touched her?
She had touched him.
Ninety-nine percent of the time he hadn’t found it repulsive, or grounds to make her blood explode.
The remaining one percent?
He recalled her fingers had brushed his, and an electric jolt had lit him up inside, like Valen had just pumped fifty thousand volts into him for a laugh, only it hadn’t been unpleasant.
He shook her out of his head and focused back on the room, because Daimon was intently staring at the bandage now and looking as if he was going to mention it. Again.
Daimon mentioned it whenever he visited.
Esher had refused to answer every question or suggestion.
“Daemons attacked my gate that night too,” Daimon offered in a slow, measured way that made it clear to Esher that he was still debating mentioning the bandage again, pressing him for answers he didn’t want to give.
“How many nights ago?” Valen looked from Daimon to him, his blue eyes bright with curiosity.
“Three.” And Esher had gone over it from every angle. “It just felt like a regular attempt on the gate.”
But now Daimon had mentioned an attack in Hong Kong at the same time.
Keras exhaled a curse, which was never a good sign. “Shit… Paris and London were hit that night too. I went straight from Paris to help Cal in London.”
Marek finally looked up from his laptop. “Seville had a couple of visitors. Nothing I couldn’t handle though. I hardly broke a sweat.”
Everyone looked at Ares. His second-eldest brother was a wall of tensed muscle as he sat on the couch with fire in his eyes, the air around him shimmering like a heat haze as his face darkened.
“Five hit the gate,” he growled, the flames in his irises burning brighter, and then said what was on everyone’s mind, “It was a coordinated attempt. They’re testing us.”
Guardians of Hades Romance Series
Felicity Heaton is a New York Times and USA Today international best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books. In her books, she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! If you're a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.
If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling Vampire Erotic Theatre series. Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the new Eternal Mates series.
The author is offering one eBook copy of either Ares or Valen to one reader today. To enter, just join Felicity's newsletter list and fill out the rafflecopter below. Good luck!
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Enter the grand tour-wide giveaway to win a $75, $50 or $25 Amazon Gift Card at the Esher book page. This giveaway is international and open to everyone, and ends at midnight on April 8th. Enter now: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/guardians-of-hades-esher-paranormal-romance-book.php
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