Author: Lexi Ander
Series: Darksoul #1
Release Date: September 4th 2017
Word Count: 120,000 words
Cover Artist: Kirby Crow
Categories: Romance / Gay / Paranormal / Urban Fantasy / Futuristic Sci-Fi
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words wants to thank Lexi Ander for bringing an exclusive excerpt with her today. Check it out below and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
I want to thank Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me on the blog today. I have for you an exclusive excerpt from Sunder. Ronan is Gabe’s best friend and he’s attending the Festival where he met Akira. This is from Akira’s POV. He’s the Holy Paladin from the Temple of the Stars and he’s on a mission. Only Ronan is very, very distracting. But Ronan has his own secrets. Enjoy!
The River Walk was a resort on the outskirts of the city, the buildings constructed to resemble a medieval castle, complete with a drawbridge and parapets. Although true castles probably weren’t anywhere near the size of the one towering over him now. A valet collected the fob for his hovercraft. The noise of the crowd could be heard from the drive, and he placed filters over his earholes to prevent them ringing the whole time he was inside.
When he checked in, several human hosts greeted him tentatively, which was more relaxed than they’d been at the first gala he’d attended. Having arrived just after lunch, and an hour earlier than he was scheduled to meet Talia, Akira allowed himself to be distracted by the opulence, the art, and the displays of armor of kings and queens long dead. As he walked through various rooms, he surreptitiously watched the crowd, noting people he’d seen at other galas.
Standing on the periphery of the largest room, Akira ignored his rising disappointment that he hadn’t seen—
“I wondered if you’d come.”
Akira turned, already grinning. “Hello, Ronan. It’s good to see you again.” He glanced down Ronan’s form, admiring the cut of the suit he wore, black with yellow pinstripes and a matching yellow bow tie.
Ronan’s smile was mischievous. “I was beginning to think I’d have to suffer through the afternoon alone.” He handed Akira a flute of sparkling water—intoxicating beverages weren’t allowed at the official Festival events.
“I told you, Ronan, that you have to be bold and ignore the other humans if you’re interested in any of the candidates.” Akira inhaled, parsing scents until he found Ronan’s. Delicious.
“Oh, I can be bold.” He took a sip from his glass, his warm, dark eyes trained on Akira. He sucked in a breath as Ronan’s gaze heated. Was Ronan flirting? With him? “Perhaps I’m exactly where I want to be.”
Stunned, Akira gulped his water, the carbonation tickling the back of his throat and almost making him sneeze.
“Why don’t you have a mate, Akira?” Ronan’s gaze raked Akira’s body, intense and suggestive.
Why did Ronan have to exercise boldness now? The way Ronan gazed at him caused Akira’s belly to tighten in anticipation, making him want to draw Ronan into a secluded room and confess all. What a foolish notion when he was in the middle of one of the most important missions of the century!
When he didn’t answer right away, Ronan arched an eyebrow.
Akira grimaced. But Ronan wasn’t asking about his occupation. Perhaps he could reveal a little about himself. “I had a mate, once. He left me two seasons ago.”
Ronan’s dark eyes softened, turning liquid. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have pried.”
Akira stared into the bottom of his empty glass. Did he dare hope Ronan wanted more? He hadn’t meant to search for a mate, but he’d been attracted to Ronan from the first time he’d laid eyes on the man. And it seemed Ronan returned the interest, if the bursts of arousal Akira scented were for him and not another. Would Ronan be happy to wait until after Akira finished his assignment to see if there could be something more between them? This would be his last mission… What did he have to lose?
“My… former mate wanted the prestige of my position. As my spouse, he thought he had the right to control me, even have a say in which cases I took for the temple. Yet he left because he despised what I did.”
“That doesn’t sound logical. If he knew what you did for a living beforehand, I don’t understand. Why would he want to be your mate if he hated your job?”
Akira finally gathered the courage to glance up from his glass. Ronan looked as if he was working through a puzzle. He wanted to smooth the hard V between Ronan’s brows… until he caught sight of Ronan’s pink tongue sliding over his bottom lip. Akira fought the urge to run his thumb across the glistening trail left behind. If he could just have a taste…
“What you said, you go on missions from a temple? Are you talking about the Temple of the Stars in the heart of the Faelyn territory of Alglistan? The only people I know of who are associated with the temple are—” Ronan stepped closer, and Akira had the sudden urge to bury his nose in the side of Ronan’s neck. He held still as Ronan scrutinized him, his dress, his badges. Ronan’s gaze fell upon Akira’s armband, and he reached up to trace the starburst engraved there. Then he took in the embroidery on Akira’s robe, and the pommel of Akira’s sword. Ronan’s scent suddenly changed from curiosity to something akin to agitation.
“Holy shit, the symbols have been in front of me all this time and I couldn’t look past my—”
Akira studied Ronan, unease crawling over his skin. “Do you know what I am?” How was that possible? Ronan was human, and Faelyns shielded their temple from outsiders. There were no pamphlets for Ronan to read, no books to research.
With a nervousness Akira didn’t like, Ronan moved further away. “Not here. There are too many ears.”
Unexpectedly, Ronan spun and followed the wall to the nearest exit leading out to the patio. Sun and stars, Akira didn’t have time for complications right now; he had to meet with Talia soon. But he couldn’t leave Ronan in such obvious distress. He followed, and once outside, glanced around for Ronan, catching sight of him at the far end, away from everyone else.
Cautious, Akira approached, not sure what had caused Ronan’s behavior to change.
“Am I right? Your temple is the Temple of the Stars?” His expression was blank, giving away nothing.
A group of people came out of the double doors, and Ronan snagged Akira’s hand, drawing him closer until he was flush against Ronan, giving people the impression of an intimate conversation. Although Akira didn’t think he had to be that near to speak confidentially with Ronan, he didn’t pull away. This close he could smell Ronan, only Ronan, and see how smooth Ronan’s skin was, hear the quick beat of Ronan’s heart. If he wasn’t careful, Ronan would drive him to distraction.
“Yes,” Akira breathed out. “I am of the Temple of the Stars. I have been since I came of age many years ago.”
“I’m so stupid. I should’ve seen it all along.” Excitement bled into Ronan’s voice.
Akira couldn’t help himself; to be this close to Ronan… He needed to touch. He ran the back of his knuckles over Ronan’s dark cheek. He’d never felt anything so fine. Was all of Ronan’s skin just as smooth?
“You are a paladin.” Ronan leaned into his caress.
“Is that what has you flustered? Yes, I am the Holy Paladin, right hand to the Speaker of the Stars. Does who I am scare you?”
Ronan swallowed, his dark eyes steady on Akira’s. “No.”
Awash in Ronan’s pheromones, which spoke of a yearning want, Akira put space between them, not understanding why Ronan was suddenly aroused. Had his touch elicited the response, or something else? Unless… Akira took another step back, his blood running cold.
“Why are you moving away? Where are you going?” Ronan grabbed Akira’s forearms tightly.
“How do you know of the Temple of the Stars? It isn’t common knowledge outside the Shattered Lands.” Much less among humans. Grains! He should’ve asked the questions first rather than allowing his fondness for Ronan to distract him. Did he work for someone who guessed at Akira’s mission? The thought caused his heart to plummet. Surely he couldn’t have been that poor a judge of character. Nevertheless, Ronan’s arousal didn’t make sense. Humans weren’t a species who could control their pheromones, so what wasn’t he seeing?
“I looked it up once. I’m fascinated by a belief system based on what amounts to an oracle’s sight. It reminded me of Greek history and their Oracles of Delphi.” Ronan’s bottom eyelid twitched, and Akira had a feeling that Ronan wasn’t telling him everything.
Akira scented Ronan and could smell no deception: the man withheld information, but hadn’t lied. Where had Ronan found the information? Did the Speaker know? Could Ronan’s arousal be connected to whatever story he’d read and not because of Akira himself? “We should talk about where you acquired your information. I have already been involved with someone more fascinated with—”
Ronan squeezed his arm, excitement etched in every line of Ronan’s face. “No, you misunderstand. Let me explain. Do you know what a green—”
Someone cleared their throat, and Akira looked around to see who’d interrupted his conversation. An L’fyn stood a discreet distance away, staring directly at them. He’d been so caught up with Ronan that he’d let his guard down enough for someone to approach them without his notice.
The L’fyn bowed perfunctually. “Master Akira Kaukex, you have been summoned by the Keeper.”
Akira growled in frustration.
If Sūnder Alārd was born female he would have been cherished for being faeborn—born with magick—and his birth celebrated. Instead, his L’fÿn mother insisted on his death. Only his Panthrÿn father’s desperate escape through the forest saved him.
With most Chándariāns uneasy in his presence due to rumors he is doomed to become a darksoul, and unlikely to find a mate because of it, Sūnder has nevertheless carved out an honorable existence as a warrior and commander. Serving as a bodyguard and chaperone, Sūnder accompanies the Chándariān prince to the annual mating festival on Earth, and when the prince is injured, he can’t help but be fascinated by the tongue-tied nurse who attends them at the hospital.
At sixteen years of age, Gabriel St. Baptista came home to discover his parents had taken off into space, leaving him behind to look after himself. Gabe never recovered from the unexpected desertion, and keeps everyone at arm’s length to avoid the pain of being abandoned again. However, after meeting Sūnder, Gabe finds himself unable to resist the bond between them and breaks his carefully crafted rules to spend time with the Chándariāns, regardless of the fact that Sūnder will soon leave. Scared by what he feels for Sūnder, Gabe can only hope his heart won’t be too broken when Sūnder returns to Chándaria.
But deceit and treachery surrounds them both, and when Gabe saves Sūnder’s life, it sets off a chain of events that could either tear Gabe and Sūnder apart… or give them both exactly what they want.
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The bark of the tree he hid behind exploded. Valiant flinched, hunching his shoulders to shield his fragile burden. Splinters lodged in his exposed skin, thankfully leaving the babe unharmed. His energy flagged, but if he pushed himself a little harder he could reach the field where the rest of his knights awaited with the hovercrafts. Panting heavily, he pushed off the tree and ran as fast as he could. If not for the fragile treasure in his arms, Valiant would have taken to the trees where, as a Panthrÿn, he’d make better time. Not that speed mattered. The Jade Forest belonged to the L’fÿns, and they were far more familiar with these woods than he. Instead, he relied on his battle-honed reflexes to keep him ahead of his persistent pursuers.
He ducked and spun left, the next stunner blast missing him as his keen hearing saved him once again. Had his bodyguards all fallen to the L’fÿns of Nellá? He heard people following him but couldn’t risk stopping to verify whether the pursuers were his Panthrÿn knights or L’fÿn. The babe he clutched to his chest had been silent since Valiant picked him up. Had the newborn died, making his precipitous escape through the Jade Forest unnecessary?
Valiant could hardly believe he ran from his wife and her people. L’fÿns were a peaceful race, the arranged marriage between his family and the L’fÿns of Nellá an age-old tradition that had begun with a peace treaty centuries ago. Valiant hadn’t fallen in love with Tālia, but he’d been fond of her and valued her friendship. That she became pregnant within the first season of their nuptials had been a sign from the Gods. On the eve of the birth, they’d left the capital of Wūxbury and traveled to Tālia’s homeland so the babe would be born near the forest, as was L’fÿn tradition.
All had gone well, or so Valiant thought—he’d been pacing anxiously in the hallway—until the child was born and wails of sorrow were raised within Tālia’s chamber. Her attendants burst from the enclosed room, jostling him in their haste to leave. Certain the newborn had passed through the veil—for what else could cause such a commotion?—he rushed into the birthing chamber to… discover the boy alive, whole, seemingly hale, and… on the floor? Alarmed, Valiant bent to pick the child up.
“No, Valiant, don’t touch it,” Tālia choked out, her hand held up beseechingly. Grief ravaged her delicate features, her cheeks painted with silver tears as she lay in the bed, propped up on a mound of lavishly embroidered pillows. Her cornsilk hair was bound high on her head, the loose tendrils plastered to her sweat-slick coral skin attesting to the strain of childbirth.
Ignoring her plea, Valiant lifted the babe, cradling him carefully in his arms as he fought the anger he felt at his son’s treatment. The boy’s unusual gaze caught and held his. Brilliant, royal blue eyes were each red-ringed, the vibrant crimson color matching that of his already thick mane. Like both his Panthrÿn and L’fÿn parents the child was smooth-skinned, but darker than Valiant had expected, considering his mother. Some called L’fÿns “The Golden” because their skin tones were vibrant coral hues and their hair some shade of white, gold, or bronze, although a small portion of the L’fÿn population—dròw—were between a dark gray and deepest black in color. Other than the child’s skin tone, pointed ears, and the slightly tilted angle of his L’fÿn-shaped eyes, the babe’s more prominent features were all Panthrÿn. The retractable claws, rosettes on his torso, ridges down the bridge of his nose, and long tail all favored Valiant’s side of the family.
The inherent power of an alpha emanated from his son, which pleased Valiant mightily, but he also felt something else within the boy, something unexpected. Surprised, he glanced at Tālia, stating proudly, “He has magick.”
Tālia cried harder.
“I don’t understand.” Valiant sensed nothing wrong with the babe, so why were Tālia and her household filled with such sorrow? “Why do you weep so? He is a beautiful child who shall clearly grow into a powerful male.”
“He is faeborn.” Tālia’s voice broke, and she stifled a sob.
Tālia had spoken glowingly of the treasured faeborn children, coddled and spoiled, given everything they wanted. For an L’fÿn dròw to be called faeborn, magick must rest within them at birth. Instead of being born with an L’fÿn’s light-colored hair, faeborn were crowned by brilliant hues found only in nature. These children grew to become healers, druids, or rangers, occupations of great importance because they were the only ones other L’fÿns trusted to broker peace and settle disputes. How was their son’s magick not wondrous?
“This is an incredible thing,” Valiant argued. “How can you be upset at such good fortune?”
Tālia shook her head, her copper eyes glistening with unshed tears. “He is a dròw male. Faeborn should only be female, never male. Faeborn males crave violence, blood, and war. He— It is an abomination. Father shall fetch the High Druid. She will deal with it.”
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About the Author
Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.
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