A Novel of the Nightkeepers
FINAL PROPHECY Book 7
Cara Liu must earn her place as the leader of the winikin, but her powerful feelings for Nightkeeper Sven could jeopardize the balance right when the winikin must become warriors to help the magi fight their increasingly powerful enemies. Sven tries to keep his distance given their troubled past, but when they are betrayed by one of their own, he can no longer deny the attraction. Their searing chemistry—and the danger—increases as they race to locate a hidden cave that could hold the key to resurrecting the Nightkeepers’ strongest ancestor. But their growing feelings face the ultimate test when the winikin army faces an unimaginable threat and Sven is called on to make the hardest choice of his life.
~ ~ ~
Cara saw Zane shove Lora to safety and turn back for her, but the beast was too close, too fast. She could hear it right behind her, could feel the jarring thud of its feet through the worn soles of her boots and smell its rotting stench. Her body tensed for pain, and incredulity flared at the knowledge that she wasn’t going to make it. She glanced back just in time to see the huge creature rock onto its haunches, preparing to spring, and—
“Cara, get down!” The words came from the other side of her, in a deep voice that jolted her like lightning.
Before she could react, a gray-and-buff blur raced past with a bloodcurdling howl of rage, and the hard, heavy weight of a man’s body slammed into her, knocking her out of the demon’s path and taking her to the ground. Her rescuer wrapped his arms around her and rolled them as they hit, so he took the brunt and cushioned her fall.
There was sudden warmth, solid muscle, and the yielding press of a man’s body. And not just any man: She caught rapid-fire impressions of sun-bleached hair against deeply tanned skin, stormy blue eyes, and an air of wildness that defied the high-tech armband and warrior’s garb. Their legs tangled, and when they stopped rolling, he was on top of her with his hips planted firmly between her thighs. Instead of untangling himself, he reared up over her on one arm and lifted the other to summon first a shield and then a huge fireball, and although her brain was struggling to catch up, her soul already knew exactly what was going on.
“Sven,” she whispered, frozen with the shock of seeing him again after so long.
He looked grimmer and more tired than he had a few months earlier, when he’d taken off for the south. There were new stress lines cut alongside his aristocratic nose and wide, slashing cheekbones, and his old trademark surfer’s ponytail was a grown-out military brush cut now, gone shaggy and adding to the sense of some wild creature contained within human form. He wore close-fitting armor and the Kevlar-impregnated black-on-black of a Nightkeeper, and he was all warrior as his eyes went to where an enormous gray-and-buff coyote—his bonded familiar, Mac—was fighting with the huge black demon.
“Leave it!” he ordered. Mac quickly tore away and leaped back, and Sven unleashed his deadly fireball.
Hiss-boom! Instantly engulfed in flames, the demon-dog reared back with a horrible, unearthly howl. A terrible stench filled the air as it struggled in its death throes. The other animals too were dead and dying, making Cara suddenly aware that the rest of the magi had arrived, and were tightening around the winikin in a protective ring as the creatures melted to stinking black puddles. After a moment, even those faded and disappeared, leaving silence behind.
As her pulse pounded in her ears, she thought crazily that it was the kind of utter quiet that came in the aftermath of a disaster that didn’t cause any actual casualties but had come damn close, to the point where everyone sort of sat there for a second, thinking, What the hell just happened?
But although that was the question that ought to be going through her head, her mind had blanked. All she could do was stare at Sven as he levered himself off her and rose to his feet with a loose-limbed grace that sharply defined the muscles under his tight black clothing, making her entirely aware of his body, and the imprint it had left on her own.
There was a low whine and the scuff of paws on dirt as Mac trotted over to stand beside him, then looked at her with his pale green, human-seeming eyes gleaming, his ears pricked and his plumed tail wagging in wide sweeps. Sven and the coyote made a formidable pair, and the sight tightened her throat. It had been a long six months since they had gone down to Mexico to head up the Nightkeepers’ efforts to contain the spread of the xombi virus—an infection that was part magic, part disease, and thoroughly vile. She had worried about them, especially when the reports from the southern front had grown increasingly grim. But her relief that they were home safe caromed off resentment that she hadn’t gotten any word beyond the official reports, nothing personal, nothing that acknowledged her and Sven’s connection. He’d promised to help her . . . and then he’d taken off without a word. Which was just Sven, and shouldn’t have surprised her.
It had, though, and that was why, as irritation won out over relief, she summoned a flip smile she knew would annoy him, and said, “Hey, welcome back. Did you miss me?”
That was a laugh, of course, because Sven made it his business never to miss anyone.
A lifelong New Englander, Jessica Andersen received a PhD in genetics from Tufts, but when the committee head said her thesis “read like a mystery novel,” she admitted she was also writing romance. She now writes full time, and has penned more than thirty science-themed intrigues and paranormal thrillers that have hit the bestseller lists and been nominated for numerous awards. She lives in CT with her beloved husband, and is hard at work on her next novel!
THE ANSWERS to the QUESTIONS
ANGI: What’s the first book you remember reading?
JESSICA: I can’t really remember my first actual book, as I cut my reading teeth pretty early, and graduated to the adult section of the library at a young age, with my mom steering me to Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. But the romance novel that really opened my eyes and made me go “WOW!” was Nora Roberts’ Sacred Sins. It wasn’t just a romance, it was a mystery too! I loved that there was action, suspense, sexiness, and all the things I loved in stories wrapped up together. I think that’s probably why I started in romantic suspense, and still keep a lot of suspense and action in all of my stories today.
ANGI: What’s your favorite cartoon character?
JESSICA: I love Flounder from The Little Mermaid. I toyed with the idea of being a marine biologist, so I love underwater cartoons. And Flounder is one of my favorite sidekicks of all time, right up there with Indy’s Short Round.
ANGI: What turns you off like nothing else?
JESSICA: Unprovoked rudeness, especially to waiters/waitresses and other service professionals. Oh, and cooked zucchini. There’s nothing sexy about cooked zucchini.
ANGI: What sound or noise do you love?
JESSICA: The sound of the ferry near my house blasting its horn as it leaves the dock, especially in the fog. It not only feels very Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, it reminds me of when my hubby and I met, and he would come across the sound to visit me. Our first date lasted two days … but in my defense, there was a storm and they canceled the last ferry. J
ANGI: Fairy Tale or Action Adventure?
JESSICA: I used to be an action adventure girl all the way—my motto was: when in doubt, blow stuff up. However, in the past couple of years I’ve discovered the beauty in fairy tales, too. (Newlywed gushing omitted for fear of inducing sugar comas.) So can I say that I love a fairytale that’s got some swashbuckling in it?
ANGI: What is your biggest vice?
JESSICA: Hm. Well, it used to be caffeine, but I kicked the Red Bull habit last year. And I’d say ‘chocolate’, but how can chocolate possibly be a vice? (Snicker.) So how about we go with mountain biking … if I don’t get my bike fix on the weekends, I am not a happy camper!
ANGI: Is there a “Blooper” in your story (it may have been changed before printing)?
JESSICA: Always! Well, hopefully they don’t make it into the final book, but I’m notorious for my typos, which I post to my Facebook page and on my website. One memorable one from MAGIC UNCHAINED was “He was the moist irritating person she’d ever had the misfortune of meeting.”
ANGI: How is it working with hot guys and sexy women all day?
JESSICA: If I could just sit there and look at the pretty pictures in my head, it would be amazing! Problem is, I have to deal with their quirks and conflicts, too, which complicates the heck out of things sometimes. But when I get to the end of the story, and know they’re going to be okay together, and that I can come back and visit them in rereads or subsequent books … yeah, that’s pretty awesome.
ANGI’S GOTTA ASK: In all the Mayan (or other culture) research that you’ve done for your NIGHTKEEPERS FINAL PROPHECY series, what’s the most unusual thing that’s stuck with you?
JESSICA’S GOTTA ANSWER: I did a bunch of research on the origins of chocolate in the Mayan empire (where the whole wonderful tradition began), and discovered that chocolate wasn’t originally used for savories, not sweets, and that you could buy a goat for ten cacao beans, which were used as currency. Which I thought was way cool … but I’m a geek that way ;-)
BEAR CLAW LAWMAN SPELLFIREHarlequin Intrigue Signet
July 2012 November 2012
BEAR CLAW BODYGUARD
Harlequin Intrigue, Nov 2011Complete List of Intrigues
LORD OF THE WOLFYN
Harlequin Nocturn, Nov 2011Complete List of the Wolfyn
I’d love to give away signed copies of MAGIC UNCHAINED to two randomly drawn commenters.
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?? TODAY'S FAN QUESTION ??
Okay, since I seem to have a bit of a chocolate theme going on in this interview (yep, sweet tooth here), tell me … what’s your favorite chocolate? Or if you’re not a chocolate buff, what’s your favorite sweet indulgence?