Warrior's Curse

Warrior's Curse

The Imnada Brotherhood Series, Book 3
April 2014
Pocket Books

Available now, the third novel in the dark and sexy Imnada Brotherhood series about shape shifters in Regency-era England.

Gray de Coursy, Earl of Halvossa and Imnada shape-shifter, flies the streets of Regency London, soaring as an eagle under the cover of night. While fighting against Napoleon, Gray and his comrades were cursed by a dying Fae-blood. Now Gray hopes to break the spell that exiles them from their clan by stealing the Imnada’s most treasured relic—the Jai Idrish. When he receives a visit from his childhood companion Meeryn Munro, Gray is not only surprised by her offer of help, but also by how her sensuous curves tempt him beyond reason.

Appointed the Imnada clans’ next high shaman, Meeryn knows she possesses the power to keep Gray safe. What she is not prepared for is the torrent of desire he sets off in her. When they discover that the only way to lift Gray’s curse is to travel to the Gateway—a magical door between two realms—Meeryn and Gray must outwit a dangerous enemy if they hope to have a future together.

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Meeryn Munro was the last person Gray had expected to visit him—in his bedchamber—in the middle of the night . . . alone. Yet here she was, shed of her mouse’s skin and seated on the edge of his bed in nothing but his borrowed robe. At this point, he would have preferred her covered in fur. It was far less revealing. Far less apt to make his thoughts wander away from what her unexpected arrival meant.

“You’ve changed—grown up.” A trite and pointless comment. Of course she’d changed since he’d seen her last.

“Age happens to the best of us, I’m told,” she answered with a wry smile.

“Yes, but . . .” He waved a hand in her general direction. “The curls are gone”—replaced by soft waves of honey colored hair—“and your figure has matured”—the gawky, flat-chested girl of his memories was now a woman of luscious feminine curves and long elegant limbs—“and you used to have . . . I mean there were the . . . the . . .”

She wrinkled her nose. “Spots. I know, they were positively horrid, but thankfully long gone. Lemon juice and oil of talc every evening before bed. But surely, I haven’t changed that much.”

“No, not exactly.” His gaze traveled over her from head to foot and back. The ghost of the old Meeryn lingered in the narrow elfin face, pert chin, and full coral lips, but there was a shrewdness in her eyes and a severity to her jaw that had never been present in the laughing playmate of his youth. “And then again—yes.”

“Well, you haven’t. You look just as you always did.”

His smile came laced with bitterness. “That’s the first lie I’ve caught you in tonight.”

“It’s true. You do look the same. A bit longer in the tooth and leaner in the face, of course, but that’s to be expected after . . . well . . . after all you’ve been through.”

She couldn’t say the words. He didn’t blame her. It had taken months before he could speak of his banishment without vomiting his guts until his throat and stomach were raw and even then he’d not been able to say the word. A sensibility he’d overcome as he had so many others. There was no room in his life for sentiment. He rubbed his scarred palm without even thinking. Dropped his hand to his side when he caught her watching him.

“I heard rumors that you’d lifted the curse,” she said.

“Contained . . . not lifted.”

“But it’s night”—her gaze cut to the window—“the sun is down and you’re still . . . they said when the sun left the sky, you were forced to become your animal aspect. Forced from man to beast against your will. That’s what I was told.”

“There are ways to hold the spell at bay and keep to the form I choose, but it comes at a price.” He cleared away the various manuscripts he’d been studying, arranging his pencils in a row, pocketing the four ancient metal disks, being careful to return the Krylesos Pryth, the silver disk of the Gylferion, to its leather drawstring bag. The draught made him sick enough. He needn’t add silver’s poison to his list of illnesses.

“How long has it been—ten years? It’s hard to believe,” she commented.

Ten years—the blink of an eye. An eternity. They’d grown up together; duke’s grandson and duke’s ward. Close as siblings—closer even. His brother had been eight years his senior and barely noticed Gray except as a nuisance to be shed at the first possible opportunity. Meeryn had filled that slot, becoming his boon companion in all things, from illicit raids on the Deepings kitchens and nasty pranks on the string of tutors and governesses when they were young, to illicit raids on the Deepings wine cellar and midnight forays beyond the protections of Deepings’ walls as they grew older.

As a child, he’d foolishly imagined their friendship would last forever. First school, then university, and finally the army ended that dream. Yet, she’d remained a bright memory among so much he’d tried to put behind him when he’d been condemned to exile. Was that remembrance, like so many other things in his life, about to be irrevocably shattered?

“Why are you here, Meeryn? And why sneak in?”

She offered him a flippant roll of her eyes. “Would you have welcomed me if I’d knocked and presented my calling card?”

“Not while Pryor and his enforcers scour London, hunting those they believe to be in league with me.” He poured himself a brandy.

“But, you see,” she said, “it was Pryor who sent me.”