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Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Books

Burn Bright

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Burn Bright

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Author: Patricia Briggs
Publisher: Ace Books, 2018
Orbit, 2018
Series: Alpha and Omega: Book 5
Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
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Synopsis

Mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham face a threat like no other - one that lurks too close to home...

They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok's pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.

With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf - but can't stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills - his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker - to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn...


Excerpt

P R O L O G U E

A Tale Without an Ending

Once upon a time, there was a small spring that, touched by the earth's spirit, bore a sparkle of magic scattered in its cold, pure water.It was only a little magic, but it brought good things into the world--tiny bits of goodness born of the tiny bits of magic.

There is a certain sort of evil that cannot abide happiness, even such humble joys as lived in that spring.

Such an evil came to dwell at the spring, culling victims from those who came to seek the little surcease it offered. Eventually, even the earth's magic could not cleanse the evil from the water, and the spring's small magic was turned to darker uses.

Thus died a little joy in the world, and evil was satisfied for a time.

This evil held the now-polluted spring, one way or another, for a very long while. Time changed, and the evil changed with it, grew more clever about drawing prey to it. Sometimes it fed upon innocence, sometimes magic, sometimes beauty--but the evil always took satisfaction in robbing the world of any good it could find.

It became aware of one who sought, like the spring once had, to do a little good in a world now bleak and dark. On the evil one's webs came whispers of a monster who fought other monsters. The evil deemed it no more of a meal than a thousand others like it. Still, it could not, by virtue of what it was, allow such a one to live. It set a snare to catch one who was a hero--for heroes are delicious when they fall. It set a snare to trap a monster because even evil fears monsters, a little.

The one who sprang the trap was truly a monster. The one who triggered the snare was also a hero.

But this one was an artist, too, and not just any artist. Such an artist, he was, as found beauty and joy in the world and shared it for all to see. An artist who, like the spring had, spread little magics around and left happiness where there was none before.

An artist such as that was a bigger mouthful than evil, even such an old and wicked evil as this, could swallow easily. Much was lost in the battle, and it cost both sides dearly. As far as anyone knows, the fire of the battle burns still.

* * *

C H A P T E R 1

This was bad. This was so very bad.

He ran full tilt, ghosting through the trees. The branches and brambles reached out and extracted their price in blood and flesh for running at such speed through their territory. He could feel the ground absorb his blood and his sweat--feel it stir at the taste. Dangerous. Feeding the earth with his blood when he was so upset was not wise.

He almost slowed his feet.

No one was chasing him.

No one had even known he was there. They'd seen the trees who'd obeyed his will, but they had not seen him. The trees... he might have to answer to her for the trees.

She'd told him to run, and he had paused to call the trees. That was not how their bargain was supposed to work. But he couldn't just let them take her, not when it was within his power to stop it.

Think. Think. Think. The words were his, but he heard them in her voice. She'd worked so hard to give him rules. The first rule was think.

It was funny that everyone believed that she was the danger, that she was the crazy one. Very funny--and his lips stretched in a grin only the forest could see. It wasn't amusement that caused his feral smile. He wasn't sure exactly what the emotion was, though it was fueled by an anger, a rage so deep that the earth, aroused by his blood, rose eagerly to do his bidding. The earth, out of all the elements, was the hardest to wake but the most eager for violence.

He could just go back. Go back and teach them what they got for touching someone he loved...

No.

Her voice again, ringing in his ears with power. She was his dominant, though he was so much older, so much stronger. As such, she wielded power over him--a power that he'd given her out of love, out of despair, out of desolation. And their bargain, their mating bond (her word, then his) had worked for a very long time.

Anyone who cared to look around would know how well her hold on him had worked--there were still trees on this mountain, and he could hear the birds' startled flight as he ran past them. If that bargain had failed, there would be no birds, no trees. Nothing. His was an old power and hungry.

But their mating had given him balance, given him safety. His beautiful werewolf mate had brought love to his sterile existence. When that hadn't been enough, she had brought order to his chaos as well.

Order... that word... No, orders was the word that sifted through his roiling thoughts. She had given him orders for this situation.

He vaulted over a deadfall with the grace of a stag.

Call the Marrok, she had told him. And also, Right the hell now. That was the correct task. Call the Marrok for help. But the reason for his speed--his right the hell now--was because if he allowed himself to slow, he would turn around and...

The mountainside groaned beneath his feet. A soft shift that only someone like him--or like his true love--would feel.

His fleet footsteps... which had slowed... resumed their former speed. She was alive, his love, his mate, his keeper. She was alive, and so he had to call the Marrok and not raise the mountains or call the waters.

Not today.

Today, he had to call the Marrok and tell him... and his mate's voice rang in his head as if she were running by his side.

I know who the traitor is...

Copyright © 2018 by Patricia Briggs


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