Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : Shannan Albright
Word Count :21522
Publication Date :2011-10-31
Series : Knights of Excalibur#1
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-77111-020-4
Arthur and his knights are back and ready to kick ass!
Merci Tramaine is not happy to be called back into service by her old boss Arthur, especially when she is charged to find her missing ex-lover. Drake Monroe is Merlin reincarnated. With his powers bound by the Goddess Nimue, he has become a skilled fighter, but is no match for Nimue who kidnapped him, determined to destroy him forever.
The bloodline of Morgan Le Fey taints Merci, keeping her on the edge between light and dark. The goddess's wicked trap springs shut, leaving both Drake and Merci racing against the clock. Passions ignite once again, but are they too late to plan a future or will they be torn from each other?
This time for eternity.
This is a colossally bad idea.
Merci Tramaine entered the abandoned warehouse. Here she was sticking her neck out for a man who didn’t give a damn about her. Talk about irony. The rays of the full moon came through the windows, bathing the large room in hues of silvery blue. The air, thick with the smell of dust, unwashed bodies and urine, assaulted her senses.
The homeless in these parts were known to make use of the old building as shelter. Old mattresses and discarded clothing lined the sides of the walls. Several large metal trashcans used to stave off the night’s chill, their insides blackened and scorched, dotted the area.
Her low-heeled boots echoed hollowly in the eerie quiet of the warm May evening. She couldn’t detect a single soul in the warehouse and that made her uneasy as hell. Her skin prickled at the nape of her neck and her pulse quickened, her built in warning system, telling her something preternatural was nearby.
Oh yeah, this was a very bad idea.
The minute Arthur’s name appeared on her caller ID, a hard knot formed in her belly. Alarm bells ringing in her head—an inner sixth sense—had warned her that picking up the phone would be a mistake. Arthur would talk about Drake. Arthur would ask for her help, which would ultimately involve Drake. When would she ever learn? She had left that life behind her when she split up with Drake, unable to be near him and keep a working objectivity. If that made her a selfish bitch, then so be it. She knew it was beyond her capabilities to keep an emotional distance when it came to Drake.
Arthur knew all that, too. Damn the man to the nine levels of hell!
Arthur. The name had seethed in her brain, boiling up like a dark cloud threatening to erupt in a torrent of conflicting emotions deep within her where she battled the blackness in her soul. If not for him, she would have never known she was a direct descendant of Morgan le Fay. Arthur, the man once called future king, walked the earth again, calling his men to him just as he did so long ago. Like pieces on a chessboard, they’d all clicked into place. This time though there was no round table for discussing strategies, no knights in armor, and Merlin’s powers were bound. That hadn’t stopped them from forming a fighting force under the guise of Templar Security and Investigations, running all over the world, righting wrongs just like a freaking Robin Hood movie. For a while, she had bought into the whole do-good thing. Drake had helped her to find peace between the dark and light parts of her soul.
Despite her knowledge of the past and the warning bells, she had picked up that damned phone. “Whatever you want Arthur the answer is no.”
A deep masculine chuckle had rumbled through the phone. “I haven’t even asked you for anything.”
The yet had come over loud and clear in her head. “It’s me, Merci, you’re talking to. I’ve known you a long time.”
“All right then, I need you. If there was anyone else...”
He would have turned to them instead of her. The thought had stung, but she only had herself to blame. She had made it abundantly clear she wanted no part of Templar Security and Investigations, especially him. “Fine, what the hell do you want?” She couldn’t keep the anger and resentment out of her tone, and really, did she even want to?
Arthur’s tone had been filled with dread and worry. “Drake is gone. Disappeared. No one knows where. You’re the best tracker I know. I need you to get him back.”
Merci’s heart lurched painfully in her chest. Drake was missing, possibly hurt. Damn that man, too, to the nine levels of hell! At that moment she didn’t know who she hated more Drake or herself for still caring what happened to him. “When and where was his last reported location?”
“I saw him here in Malibu two days ago. He left heading for his home. From the look of things, he never made it. Found his car on old Highway 1, but no sign of him. Looked like he put up one hell of a fight. We found blood in his driver’s seat and smeared all over the driver’s side window. Merci, I would never have called, but I need you. There is something there between you two I could always sense. Still do in fact.”
No way was she even going to touch that. Any connection they may have had Drake severed, which may have been for the best even though it sure hurt like hell, not lessening any over time.
Her heart thundered in her ears, self-preservation instinctual, primal, tugged at her with intense insistence. “Look, I can do a location spell and tell you where to pick him up.”
“Won’t work. None of us have protection if magic is involved. Only you can do this safely, Merci.” His voice was hard, implacable.
She’d itched to punch him in his perfectly formed nose.
Of all men, Drake held a special place in Arthur’s heart since Drake was Merlin reincarnated with his memories intact. That in itself was a blessing to the team, but a curse on a personal level. Even if he couldn’t summon his magic, he more than made up for it as a lethal fighter.
Resentment formed bitter bile in the back of her throat. At that moment, if Arthur had been in front of her, she would have turned him into a toad.
The old ache filled her, twisting her heart in a painful vise. Drake was Arthur’s best warrior, his second-in-command, and the reason she was in a decrepit warehouse in Detroit, wishing she was curled up in her apartment. She’d rather be on her couch with a pint of her favorite ice cream—banana with fudge chunks and walnuts—watching the show she loved most about two brothers who hunt monsters. She absolutely loved those two tortured souls.
Instead, she was ready to face Goddess only knew what. Way to go, Merci! She would locate him, then call Arthur and that would be the end of it. He could take care of it from there because she was not going to be pulled back into the fold. She had her own life to work out and live. One that was without companionship or mind-blowing sex, but she would deal as she had for the past sixteen months, two days and eight hours...but who was counting.
The skin on her arms tingled—another built in warning system alerting to magic nearby. Taking a big breath, she faced the east side of the warehouse toward whatever was making a port to this location. A small pinprick of light floated in the center of the building. The glowing sphere pulsed, grew larger and brighter, filling the room and momentarily blinding her with its intensity. Two shadowy forms stepped through the light, one tall and statuesque, the other collapsing to the dirty floor. A sick feeling roiled deep in her belly. Instinct screamed the prone figure was Drake who lay crumpled like a rag doll on the concrete floor. To see such a proud and capable man reduced to such a state. What the hell did Arthur get her into?
The light faded, showing with crystal clarity a woman dressed in a tailored blue suit, moving toward Merci with predatory grace. Pale silver blonde hair was pulled back in an artful chignon, displaying a coldly beautiful face. Wide cornflower blue eyes held a trace of malice and curiosity in their clear depths.
“Morgan’s magic is strong in you.” The woman stated it as fact, her voice a husky purr of satisfaction.
Merci fought the urge to take a step back from the approaching woman, a klaxon shrieking warning inside her head. Whoever the blonde was, she felt...wrong. Evil like a black tar brushed over her. Her skin prickled, her heart picked up speed until it pounded sharply against her ribs.
A shudder coursed through her, chilling her to the marrow. “Yeah, I’ve heard that before.” Merci was relieved her voice was steady, betraying nothing of her discomfort. “Who are you and what did you do to Drake?”
The woman chuckled with obvious delight. “Direct and to the point. I like it. You remind me so much of Morgan. I am Nimue and what I did to Drake was unfinished business.”
Merci covered her shock with a bland look, but her mind reeled with the implications. Nimue, Goddess of Weaponry, and Merlin went way back. If the story was correct, Nimue seduced Merlin into teaching her everything he knew, encouraging Merlin’s feelings to grow until he was helplessly in love with her. Once satisfied she had all the knowledge he could give her, she betrayed him. Binding his powers against future incarnations, Nimue then ended his life. Hers was the ultimate betrayal, one which Drake still carried to this day. His anger and hurt over the treachery was the catalyst that eventually ended their relationship, for the closer she got to his heart, the more he didn’t trust her. She had spent months cursing Nimue’s very existence, and here she was right in front of the cold and perfect looking woman. She felt inadequate compared to the woman. She fought the urge to rip out Nimue’s throat.