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TOUCH OF DARKNESS: Darkness Chosen #2

Description

Christina_Dodd_Touch_of_darknessA thousand years ago, a brutal warrior struck a terrifying bargain. In return for the ability to change at will into a cold-hearted predator, he promised his soul, and the souls of his descendants, to the devil.

Handsome, powerful Rurik Wilder battles darkness — the darkness without, and the darkness within. For he possesses the power to transform himself into a fierce bird of prey, and that gift has caused death and destruction.

At last he is offered the chance to redeem himself and break the evil pact which has held his family in thrall for centuries. Only one woman stands in his way — flamboyant Tasya Hunnicutt, a writer determined to wreak revenge on the assassins who murdered her family. Assassins, it’s been rumored, who have powers no human should ever possess…

Excerpt

TOUCH OF DARKNESS follows Rurik Wilder, archeologist and pilot, in his quest to find the second icon that will help his family break his ancestor’s pact with the devil … but to find that, he must first find his true love.

TODAY OFF THE COAST OF SCOTLAND

Rurik stood on the bow of the ferry — he was the lone passenger — and waited for his first sight of the Isle of Roi.

From behind him, the ferry’s first mate advised, “Ye’ll na’ get to the isle faster by pushing.”

“Duncan. Hey, how are you?” Rurik grimaced as he shook hands with the weathered Scot. “I can’t help pushing. I should have been here at the excavation the whole time.”

“Aye, ye stay here day and night and as soon as yer back is turned, yer team pulls the tablecloth out from under the china and finds treasure in the tomb.” Duncan joined him at the rail and stared at the choppy water. “In the last few days, we’ve transported enough tourists to swamp the boat.”

“If the team had kept their mouths shut —”

“Nothing’s changed in the last ten thousand years. Gold brings the greedy to gawk and covet — and that means reporters, too!” Beneath his gray, trimmed beard, Duncan’s lip curled in disdain.

“How many reporters are there?”

“Four — two from Edinburgh, one from London, and a German from some international news service. Enough to write one decent story, ye’d think, but I’ve yet to see one.” Duncan turned to face Rurik, leaned against the railing, and crossed his arms over his chest. “Now when that sweet-faced dark-hair lass starts awritin’, then we’ll see something.”

Rurik played dumb. “Who?”

Duncan wasn’t buying it. “Ye know who. Hunni.”

“Tasya … Hunnicutt.” Everyone called her Hunni, and she responded easily to the endearment, smiling at everyone, charming men, women and children alike. Rurik couldn’t bring himself to use her pet name so casually. It irritated him — she irritated him — like a grain of sand in a clam.

“Ah, is that her real name? I didna’ know.”

The hell he didn’t. Duncan saw right through Rurik's pretended indifference.

“So she’s here.” Rurik would see her again, see her for the first time since that night—

“Brought her across this morning. She said she would have been here sooner, but she was finishing the photos for her story in Egypt. She’s a traveler, that one is.”

That’s for damn sure. A man would have to nail her feet to the floor to keep her in one place. “She hasn’t been here long. Good.”

“There’s na’ harm in the lass.”

No harm? Rurik remembered all too clearly the harm she’d done him. The scent of her skin, the sound of her husky laughter, the sensation of her heated body against his, her taste … “She’s too damned nosy for her own good, and if she gets the notion that because she’s the reporter for National Antiquities, she can open the grave without me, there’ll be hell to pay.” Rurik winced at his own choice of words.

“I canna’ see her doing that — but then, I’ve got the hots for her.” Duncan put his hand to his chest and sighed like a lovelorn lad.

Rurik clasped the rail as tightly as he could. He had to, or he would strangle Duncan.

Oblivious to Rurik's irritation, Duncan rattled on. “There isna’ a man on the island, except for that nancy boy reporter from London, whose compass doesna’ point north at the sight of her.”

“I didn’t see what’s so special.”

“Then ye’re blind.”

“She’s got a bony face.”

“She’s got a face?”

Duncan’s incredulity caught Rurik by surprise, and he laughed. Of course, Duncan was right. Why should any of the guys care what her face looked like?

Unfortunately for Rurik, he couldn’t get Tasya's face out of his mind.

Her short hair was so black that the highlights shone with all the colors and gloss of a raven’s wing. Her cobalt eyes were surrounded by Snuffleupagus eyelashes, absurdly thick, sooty, and long. When she looked at Rurik, her electric blue gaze sent a shock along his nerves. And to be fair, her face wasn’t really bony — sculpted would be a better word, with a broad chin that she used for emphasis — she lifted it when she was stubborn, turned it away when she had no intention of listening, pointed it at a guy when she wanted to make a statement.

When it came to her body … well, okay Rurik understood why the guys made moaning noises about woodies and making a hole in one. Her shape wasn’t in style, but there wasn’t a guy on the island who cared about style. She looked like a fifties film goddess, with generous breasts — Rurik gave her a C, and that wasn’t a grade — a tiny waist, a glorious flare of hips, and great legs. Long, muscular, great, great, great legs.

Cover all that with a nun’s habit, leave nothing but her face peeking out, and no man would even notice her.

So, of course, Duncan promptly contradicted Rurik's wistful thinking with, “’Tis her lips … she makes a man think of sins performed sinfully, slowly, and often.”

That perfectly described Tasya and her lips and the sex … “She’s a distraction.”

“Aye, that she is,” Duncan fervently agreed. “But she doesna’ use her wiles for evil, Rurik. She’d na’ do anything behind yer back.”

Rurik had been unfair about her character. Probably. And for his own reasons. But when Tasya Hunnicutt observed the dig, it wasn’t her passion for him that made her blue eyes grow gray and intense. He would swear had more on her mind than making sure she got good photos and wrote the inside story. “She knows too much about the site.”

“Ye mean, she knows as much as ye do,” Duncan said shrewdly.

God forbid.

“She is a reporter,” Duncan said, “and her employer does fund the dig, so maybe it’s worth her job to know too much.”

“Maybe.” Rurik stared at the on-coming island.

Duncan clapped his hand on Rurik's shoulder. “If ye ask me, ye should just harpoon the Hunni and stop sulking.”

Rurik whipped his head around and glared.

“It’s not like the rest of us are getting any. Ye’re the only one with any chance at all. Now if ye’ll excuse me, Cap’n MacLean’ll be wanting my assistance bringing the ferry in.” Duncan headed for the bridge, grinning.

Rurik faced the island, but he saw Tasya — and his destiny.

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