The Mythical Knights, Book 2

Book Cover: Dark Within

There are monsters, then there are monsters. Which kind wants her dead?

There was a time Marissa van Dyke loved Halloween. Then tragedy struck. Now the sight of a jack-o-lantern only reminds her of what she’s lost. In fact, she’d prefer to just hibernate.

But recently her nightmares are becoming too intense to ignore. Dreams filled with horror-movie creatures that come closer to killing her every time. Where these vampires and werewolves are coming from, she doesn’t know. She only knows they’re relentless.

Neil Drigan has no interest in finding a mate. Bind himself to one woman? No thank you. Permanent is for the wolf pack Alpha–his brother. Yet lately he persistently dreams about running, in full wolf form, to save a beautiful woman who smells of flowers–and death.

At first the woman’s identity is a mystery, until he realizes the dreams are a residual imprint of something that really happened. Not only is the woman temptation wrapped in real flesh and blood, she’s still in danger. And the one thing he never thought he wanted.

Excerpt:

Neil chewed on the savory-herb Danish thing he’d ordered at the coffee shop. What it was, he didn’t really know. Didn’t particularly care, either. He was hungry, and something sweet didn’t appeal.

So he got the herbs.

His coffee was still moderately hot, and he ran his fingers over the screen of his tablet. He told himself he brought it to do something productive while he waited for his next job interview, but he was busy playing his city-builder app based on an old TV show.

Relaxation.

That was what it was.

Really.

Sounded good, anyway.

His final job interview was at the Jackstone Foundation, a humanitarian company, kind of like the Red Cross. They had two sides—the public fundraising, helping-out-man side and the private side geared toward mythicals and victims of mythical crimes. Of all the places he’d been interviewing at lately, Jackstone was the only place who’d be sympathetic to the needs of a werewolf.

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They needed a new accountant. He needed a job. Kelsey had worked there before and had given him a cheat sheet of who’s who, and even though he was determined to get the job without any handouts, he appreciated Kelsey’s effort.

Hopefully, it would work out. Had to be better than his last two job interviews. The only crappy thing was his interview was early evening since the owners weren’t big fans of sunshine. He could have gone home, but he didn’t want to go to his condo until he finished all his interviews. If he went home, he might not come back out again today.

And, gah, didn’t that make him feel old…

He could blame it on the midmoon cycle—when the moon was gone, so was his energy—but, fact was, he was getting older.

Going out and finding a date had less and less appeal as time went on.

Could Kelsey be right? Could he be looking to settle down?

Hope to hell not…

He closed the app, and leaned back, inhaling a deep breath of the coffee shop. It wasn’t overly crowded, a few small clusters of people about.

Across the room, a group of women sat around a small coffee table.

The group intrigued him, so he decided to eavesdrop—one of his favorite traits of the wolf. Superb hearing.

Not that he used it often…

Okay, whenever he was bored.

It was amazing, when he worked, what he could learn about his coworkers when using it. While he had no proof, though, he had a feeling it was part of the reason he’d been laid off his last job—heard a few things he probably shouldn’t have.

Like affairs between certain married coworkers.

“Well, I just don’t know what to do about her,” one of the ladies said as she sipped on a huge coffee mug.

“Really, she’s far too young to be hanging out with us old, married women,” another said. “I bet her mother would—”

A young woman burst through the door, the wind pushing her inside. She cradled a book in her arms as she glanced around the shop, then proceeded to walk past Neil’s table toward the women’s table. An odd floral aroma followed her to her seat. Maybe she’d been at a greenhouse recently. “Hi,” she said, sitting down with the other ladies.

“Hi, Marissa,” the first woman said.

“Glad you made it.”

“Oh, traffic was a pain,” the newcomer, Marissa, replied. “I’m sorry I’m so late.”

“No bother, we hadn’t even gotten started, really.”

“Yeah…” the second lady added a high-pitched laugh that grated on his nerves, “…we were just laughing about antics with the kiddos.”

“Sorry I missed it,” Marissa said, but from her posture, he guessed she wasn’t really that sorry. “Let me get a coffee, and I’ll be ready.” She hurried up to the counter and was ordering her drink when he came up behind her.

What possessed him to approach her, he didn’t know.

Maybe it was because he heard what the others had been saying—most likely about her—and it piqued his curiosity.

Maybe it was because she was pretty. She was—brown, wavy hair, a curvy figure with all the right attributes.

Maybe it was the smell that lingered over the aroma of coffee in the little shop. What was it? He knew he’d smelled it before.

Where?

She turned, and he got a glimpse of her face.

“Oh, sorry,” she said, stepping away from him, “I didn’t realize anyone was behind me.” She smiled, but it wasn’t sincere.

Up close, he could see dark circles under her eyes and the paleness of her skin.

“It’s fine.” He stepped out of her way. “I was just…” And he realized his coffee was still pretty full. “Refill.” And hoped the coffee place would top off his drink so he didn’t look like a weirdo or an ass.

“Oh, okay. Excuse me,” she said, and slipped by him.

He stood there for a second, watching her walk back to the table.

As she sat, she glanced back at him. But mostly a cursory glance. Her expression didn’t change either. He might have thought she looked past him, the way she glanced at him, or almost through him.

Then she picked up the book she’d held before and turned to the other women as if he didn’t exist.

“So, do you all want to start?” Marissa asked.

Huh, maybe he wasn’t picking up anything. He thought for sure—he could feel it, really, that there was something there.

Just underneath the surface.

He shook off the thought as the gal behind the counter accepted his coffee for a top off.

But that primal side of him chomped harder and harder under his skin. The desire, a pull beneath his senses, begged to be released.

Hell, he wanted to go back to the family compound and let the beast free, let it thunder through the ten acres and feel the earth under his feet…
But time wouldn’t allow it. He gritted his teeth—he’d never quite felt such a strong, instinctive pull like this before.

He kept his hearing tuned in to her table and he tried not to look back at the girl. But that was harder than he thought it would be.

“Well, we can,” one of the women said, “but if you wanted to, uh, go talk to that tall drink of water you nearly crashed into…”

“We will certainly wait,” the other said.

Marissa laughed. “No, really, that’s fine. I doubt someone dressed that nice would be available, anyway.”

“You never know, looks can be deceiving.”

He snorted as he walked back to his table.

Lady, you have no idea…

COLLAPSE

Originally published by Samhain Publishing, and now re-released, and the series has been reorganized. 

Dark Within