Dark Alpha’s Awakening
Barnes & Noble
Title: Dark Alpha's Awakening
Series: Reapers #7
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: February 5, 2019
There is no escaping a Reaper. I am an elite assassin, part of a brotherhood that only answers to Death. And when Death says your time is up, I’m coming for you…
Serving Death and the Reapers has been my life for centuries. I’ve always put my duty before everything, even my yearning for Death. But now, she’s fading – our foe is bent on destroying her and he will stop at nothing until he does. Death holds the key to our survival. I will do everything in my power to stop her from disappearing. For her, I will ensure we have the best fighting chance. For her…I will cross the divide keeping us apart.
Dark Alpha's Hunger does a bang-up job of settling the fate of Bran and Death and explaining the reason for the Reapers' existence; highly recommended. - Library Journal
Also in this series:
The Beginning . . .
The nothingness was vast. So far-reaching that it never ended. An eternity of stars and solar systems for her to explore.
She didn’t know how long she drifted in the darkness, staring at distant stars. It could have been days or eons.
Time meant nothing. She didn’t even know what time was.
One day, she grew curious about a planet she passed. For the first time, she wanted to leave the ocean of black and see what was on the massive globe.
Once on the ground, she was astounded to find a world of vivid colors so bright, she had to shield her eyes. As she walked, she took in the moist air and the mountains rising around her covered in tall trees and clumps of beautiful blooms that took her breath away.
Then she heard it. A deep trumpet call. Unable to stay away, she followed the sound until she came across the beast. She had no idea what it was, but it was magnificent. Tall, muscular, with giant horns extending outward and upward.
The soulful, dark gaze of the animal met hers. She took a tentative step closer, wanting to touch such a creature. It didn’t move, just waited patiently for her.
Suddenly, the animal reared up, a scream of pain bursting from it. She spotted a thin rod sticking out of the animal’s neck. The beast tried to run, but its legs buckled, and it fell over, dead.
She stared in absolute horror, trying to understand what had just occurred.
Then, they came.
The beings were enormously tall and thin, their limbs long. They wore animal fur for clothes, and their skin was covered in some kind of yellow paste that had dried and cracked. They held weapons and rushed around the beautiful creature they had brought down. To her dismay, they began to cut into it.
It was then she realized that they planned to use the beast for food, clothing, and weapons.
She listened to their words, and slowly began to understand them. One was talking about being hungry.
Hunger. She didn’t know what that meant.
She wondered why none of them had seen her, especially since she stood out in the open field among the tall grass. Yet, not a single one of them looked her way.
As she studied the beings, she noted their lack of hair. She reached up and lifted the long black strand that fell over her shoulder. Then she noticed the three fingers on their hands. She raised hers and counted five digits. But that wasn’t the only difference.
Unable to watch the animal slowly destroyed, regardless of the reasons why, she returned to the darkness she knew. Except she couldn’t stop thinking of the creature and the beings, of the rich colors and amazing smells.
She began going from planet to planet, trying to find beings who looked similar to her. Surely, she couldn’t be the only one. There had to be someone else out there.
She finally found them.
They were beautiful. Each and every one. As was the world. Flowers were everywhere, so many bright and fragrant buds. She spent more time with the plants, admiring the shape of their petals, learning the subtle scents.
But she also absorbed the language of the planet’s inhabitants as she did. She walked among them, learning their words, and somehow not surprised that they couldn’t see her.
They were Fae. And while the section of land she was in was stunning, apparently, there was another set of Fae. The Dark. Curious, she went to find them, as well.
Dark was an apt name for them. They cared for power and standing. Where the Light world was draped in colors and cheerfulness, the Dark’s half of the realm was nefarious and sinister.
The wickedness touched some Dark more than others. At first, she grouped the Fae into Light and Dark. But the more time she spent with them, the more she realized it wasn’t so straightforward.
There were Light who ran on the fringes of what some would call Dark. And some Dark who rarely caused harm. But the Fae didn’t care. You were one or the other.
She stood by and watched as a civil war erupted. Despite that, she remained. She walked among the Fae, noting the similarities between them and her. And it wasn’t long before she realized that she belonged with them.
War and death were all she witnessed, decade after decade. While she was interested in the Fae’s magic, it was their weapons that she truly appreciated. So, it was no wonder that she discovered where they were crafted.
There, she watched as the Fae designed and fashioned each blade with expert precision, each a stunning weapon, unlike anything she’d ever seen.
Eventually, she grew bored of surveying. She was lonely. Observing conversations, laughter, arguments, and even lovemaking made her long to find someone who she could interact with.
But that wasn’t meant to be. Her mistake was remaining with the Fae during their endless, relentless war. It became ingrained in her. Instead of wanting to make peace or find someone to be her friend, she came to crave one thing—death.
One day, she decided she’d sat on the sidelines long enough. It was time to take action. She made her way to the Fires of Erwar, the secret mountain where special blades were made. There, she forged her own weapon out of beautiful, black metal. Then she clothed herself in the attire of battle. Instead of picking one side of the Fae to join, she went out into the universe again.
It wasn’t difficult to find wars. She willed herself to become visible and joined her first skirmish, and soon learned how good it felt to wield a sword. It took her some time to discover how to use the weapon, but once she did, she was unstoppable.
She was soon dubbed the Mistress of War. Any army she joined rejoiced, knowing they would defeat their enemies with her by their side.
She bathed in blood, delighted in death.
But she didn’t pay attention to how quickly—or violently—her power grew until she destroyed her first realm. She thought it was just a fluke until the second and third realms were demolished.
It wasn’t long before the armies that once cheered at the sight of her now ran in fear. Still, she didn’t stop. She comprehended then that she didn’t need anyone. She had always been on her own. And she always would be.
So she waged war by herself.
For a while, it helped mask the loneliness that consumed her. She didn’t know who she was, how she had the power she did, or where she came from. She had no name, no friends. No home. And no family.
For centuries, she visited realm after realm, laying waste to them. Until one day she looked down at the blood that covered her. Once, it had been the very thing she sought. But now, it made her sick to her stomach.
She ran fast and far until she found herself back in the dark nothingness between realms. She cried, holding herself because there was no one else. Once more, she drifted, but this time, she didn’t care about realms or the distant stars. She no longer wanted to exist.
That was her last thought as she lowered her lids and willed her heart to stop beating.
When she opened her eyes again, she found herself lying on a soft bed of grass with birds chirping around her. She rolled onto her back and bent a leg. A dragonfly came to land atop her knee, its large eyes staring at her.
She smiled at it. When it flew off, she sat up and looked around in wonder. Amid the mighty forest were animals of all kinds, watching her curiously. She got to her feet and spotted the tranquil, blue waters of a lake.
With the use of just a small bit of magic, she discovered she was the only person on the realm. It was the first time she’d felt at peace. It was contentment the likes of which she had never experienced before. She knew she’d found her home. This was the place she would call her own, somewhere she could be herself.
She looked down at her hand and spied her sword still clutched tightly in her fist. Before she could enjoy this new realm, she needed to set aside who she was. The Mistress of War would have to disappear. And to do that, she needed to return to where she had been fashioned.
When she revisited the Realm of the Fae, she discovered that their war still raged. She attempted to speak to the rulers of the Light and Dark, but neither were interested in peace.
That left her few options. She could easily best both and bring about her own ceasefire, but she had no interest in ruling anyone—much less an entire race. She would have to think of another solution.
She walked aimlessly for days, looking for some kind of inspiration. To her surprise, she found it on a battlefield.
He was utterly resplendent and battled with a fierceness that stole her breath. A natural leader, men followed him, quickly and easily doing as he bade in order to win their battle.
She could have watched him for an eternity. He was a formidable opponent in war, but with his friends, his smile outshone the sun. He was valiant, fearless, and intelligent. He alone could win the war for the Light.
Yet when he looked her way, she hurriedly veiled herself. She might want to talk to him, to touch him, but she couldn’t after everything she had done. He fought, not because he liked it, but because he protected his people.
She’d waged war because she enjoyed it. How could he ever want to be around someone like her?
Feeling more alone than ever, she continued onward, intending to forget the handsome Fae. Her mind, however, was still on him when she stumbled across another Light. He was battle-weary.
There was a kindness about him that instantly drew her. She stayed, trying to figure out why she liked him. For two days, she followed him, learning his movements and his acquaintances. He was a fine warrior for the Fae army. Unfortunately, he chose the wrong friends.
They betrayed him, sinking a blade into his back before they deserted their post and headed toward the Dark. She remained with him, easing his passing as his last breath left him.
She touched his hand, and his eyes opened. She smiled at him.
“Are you Death?” he asked.
She gave a nod, an idea suddenly forming. “I am.”
“What happens now?”
“I have a proposition for you, Theo. You’re dead, and you can remain that way if you wish. But I can bring you back. You will be the first of my Reapers.”
Doubt swirled in his silver eyes. “Reapers?”
“I am Death. I will be judge and jury to the Fae. As a Reaper, you would carry out my orders.”
He blew out a breath. “You mean kill.”
“I mean justice.”
“Yes,” he replied instantly. “I accept.”
She pushed some of her power into him. It not only healed his wound, but it also made his own magic stronger. “You were betrayed by your so-called friends. Hunt them down and bring them to me.”
He rose to his feet and bowed his head. “How will I find you?”
“You need only call for me. I will find you. Oh,” she said and touched his arm before he left. “You’ll discover your magic and power increased. No one can best you as a Reaper.”
He smiled and left.
“Death,” she said to herself and nodded. She now had a purpose. But first, she had to put her sword somewhere that no Fae could ever find it.
With one last look back at the handsome Fae she knew she would never forget, Death left to find a realm to hide her sword. Because today was the start of a new beginning.
And the Fae were about to be delivered a reckoning.