Beautiful Cassandra is a Were, a prophet both vulnerable and defiant, blessed with visions that portend the fate of the world. A rare and delicate creature, Cassie must be protected at all costs. Enter Caine, a powerful cur turned pureblooded Were whose recent tangles with a demon lord have left him in serious need of redemption. Caine is duty-bound to keep Cassie out of danger—and that means resisting his potent urge to seduce her…
And Only He Can Save Her
As Cassie’s mysterious visions lead them in and out of danger, Caine believes he has found his true mate, the woman with whom he is bound for all eternity. Cassie is both charmed and frightened by Caine’s magnetism, and unsure if he—or her feelings for him—can be trusted. But Cassie can’t afford to doubt Caine now. A deadly enemy bent on destruction is closer than they realize—and only they can keep chaos from ruling the world…
Praise for Alexandra Ivy
“Beyond the Darkness kept me riveted! The Guardians of Eternity series is highly addictive.” —Larissa Ione, New York Times bestselling author
“Ivy always packs her books with buckets of action, emotion and sexy sizzle. Another winner!” —Romantic Times on Devoured by Darkness
The abandoned silver mine in the Mojave Desert wasn’t the first place someone would expect to encounter Styx, the current Anasso.
Not only was he the King of all Vampires, but at six foot five of pure muscle with the stark beauty of his Aztec ancestors, he was one of the most powerful demons in the world.
He could command the most luxurious lair in the area with a dozen servants eager to do his bidding. But he wanted his trip to Nevada to be as discreet as it was brief, so ignoring the protests of his companion, he’d chosen to spend the day waiting for his meeting with the local clan chief in the forgotten caves.
And, if he were honest with himself, it was a relief not to be stuck with the formal ceremony his position demanded. He was a fierce predator, not a damned politician, and the need to play nice gave him a rash.
Besides, it was always a pleasure to yank Viper’s chain.
Styx made a brief survey of the empty desert that surrounded them, absently knocking the dust from his leather pants, which were tucked in to a pair of heavy boots. A black Tshirt was stretched over his massive chest with a tiny amulet threaded on a leather strip wrapped around his thick neck. That was his only jewelry besides the polished turquoise stones that were threaded through the dark, braided hair that hung to the back of his knees.
His dark eyes glowed with a golden light of power in the thickening dusk as he at last turned toward his companion, barely hiding his smile.
Unlike him, Viper, the clan chief of Chicago, had no love for “roughing it.”
Dressed in a black velvet coat that reached his knees with a frilled white satin shirt and black slacks, he looked like he was on his way to the nearest ballroom. An impression only emphasized by his long hair the pale silver of moonlight, which was left free to flow down his back, and his eyes the startling darkness of midnight.
Styx was raw, savage power.
Viper was an exquisite fallen angel who was no less lethal.
With a pointed glance toward the Las Vegas skyline that glowed like a distant jewel, Viper met Styx’s gaze with a sour grimace. “The next time you want me to join you on a road trip, Styx, feel free to lose my number.”
Styx arched a dark brow. “I thought everyone loved Vegas.”
“Which was why I agreed to this little excursion.” Viper tugged at his lace cuffs, managing to look immaculate despite his hours in the dusty cavern. “You failed to mention I was going to be staying in a damned mine instead of the penthouse suite at the Bellagio.”
“We’ve stayed in worse places.”
“Worse?” Viper pointed toward the rotting boards that did a halfass job of covering the entrance to the tunnel. “It was filthy, it smelled of bat shit, and the temperature was a few degrees less than the surface of the sun. I’ve visited hell dimensions that I enjoyed more than that godforsaken inferno.”
Styx snorted. The two vampires had been friends for centuries, a remarkable feat considering they were both alphas. But over the past months their bonds had grown even closer as they’d been forced to confront the increasingly dangerous world.
The Dark Lord—or Dark Prince or master or a hundred other names he’d been called over the centuries—had been effectively banished from this dimension long ago and kept in his prison by the Phoenix, a powerful spirit who was being protected by the vampires. But he refused to take his imprisonment gracefully.
Over the past months he’d become increasingly relentless in his pursuit of smashing through the veils that separated the worlds, not only allowing his return, but giving a free pass to every creature that inhabited the numerous hells.
Only a few days ago the bastard had nearly succeeded.
Using one of the twin babies he’d created to use as a vessel for his grand resurrection, he’d transformed from a formless mist into a young, humanlike female. It’d been creepy as hell to see the ultimate of all evil looking like a pretty cheerleader.
Thankfully, Jaelyn had managed to drain the Dark Lord before he could pass through the Veil, but Styx knew it was only a temporary reprieve.
Until the Dark Lord was destroyed, there would be no peace.
Which was why he was standing in the middle of the desert with a pissedoff Viper instead of waking in the arms of his beautiful mate.
“You’re becoming as soft as a dew fairy in your old age,” he mocked.
“I didn’t become clan chief to rut in the dirt like some animal.”
Viper glanced toward the distant glow of lights. “Are you at least going to tell me why we couldn’t stay in one of the hundreds of hotels just a few miles away?”
Styx turned to scan the seemingly empty landscape. Not that it was truly empty. At his feet a lizard crawled over a rock oblivious to the owl hunting in silence overhead, or the snake that was coiled only a few feet away. More distantly a coyote was on the trail of a jackrabbit.
The typical sights and sounds of the desert. His only interest, however, was making sure there were no nasty surprises hidden in the shadows.
“I prefer not to attract unwanted attention to our presence in Nevada,” he explained. “Something that would be impossible with you in a casino.”
“All I want is a warm shower, fresh clothes, and a ticket to the Donnie and Marie show.”
“Do I have stupid tattooed on my forehead?” Styx turned to stab his friend with a knowing gaze. “The last time you were in Vegas you nearly bankrupted the Flamingo and ended up banned from returning to the city by the clan chief.”
A reminiscent smile tugged at Viper’s lips. “Can I help it if I had a streak of luck at the craps table? Or that Roke is a humorless prig?”
The distant hum of a motorcycle sliced through the thick night air. “Speaking of Roke,” Styx murmured.
Viper muttered a curse as he moved to stand at Styx’s side. “That’s who we’re meeting with?”
“Yes.” Styx narrowed his gaze. “Do you promise to behave?”
“No, but I promise I won’t kill him unless he—”
“Shit.” Viper folded his arms over his chest. “This had better be important.”
“Would I have left Darcy if it weren’t?” he demanded, the mere mention of his mate sending a tiny pang of longing through his heart. Over the past months the beautiful female Were had become his very reason for living.
With a throaty roar of power, Roke brought his turbine to a halt and, sliding off the elegant machine, he crossed to stand before them.
Dressed in black jeans, a leather jacket, and moccasin boots that reached his knees, he was not as tall as Styx, although they shared the same bronzed skin and dark hair that brushed his broad shoulders. His features were lean with the high cheekbones of his Native American bloodlines and a proud nose. His brow was wide and his lips generously full. But it was his eyes that captured and held attention.
Silver in color, they were so pale they appeared almost white, the shocking paleness emphasized by the rim of pure black that circled them. They were eyes that seemed to pierce through a person to lay bare their very soul.
Not always the most comfortable sensation.
Especially for those who didn’t particularly want their soul laid bare.
Which was . . . yeah, pretty much everyone.
“Styx.” Offering a low bow, Roke’s movements were liquid smooth as he slowly straightened and with stunning swiftness hurled a dagger to stick in the ground not an inch from Viper’s expensive leather shoes. “Viper.”
Viper growled, giving a wave of his hand to dislodge the dirt around Roke’s feet. All vampires could manipulate the soil, a necessary skill to protect them from the sun or to hide the corpses of their prey, but Viper was particularly skilled, and in less than a blink of an eye, Roke was buried up to his waist.
“Are you two done playing?” Styx demanded, his icy power biting through the air.
The clan chief of Nevada climbed out of the sandpit and dusted off his jeans, his expression as inscrutable as ever. “For now.”
Viper made a sound of impatience. “Why are we here?”
Styx nodded toward their companion. “Roke has something he believes we should see.”
“His collection of blowup dolls?”
“Christ. Enough.” Styx bared his massive fangs in warning. He didn’t know what the hell had gone down between the two clan chiefs in the past and right now he couldn’t care less. He didn’t have time for their bullshit. “Roke, show me.”
In utter silence the three vampires ghosted through the darkness, moving with a speed that made them all but invisible.
They were nearing a line of rugged hills when Viper made a sound of impatience. “As much as I adore running through the barren desert, do we have an eventual destination?” he muttered.
On cue, Roke came to a sharp halt, pointing toward the desert floor just in front of them. “There.”
Viper rolled his eyes. “Man of few words.”
“Preferable to one who doesn’t know when to shut it,” Roke countered.
“Agreed,” Styx said dryly, shifting so he could study the ground where Roke was pointing. It took a long moment to recognize that the lines etched into the dry dirt were more than just the scribblings from some human. “Oh . . . shit.”
“What the hell?” Viper tilted back his head as he caught the lingering scent. “I smell pureblooded Were.”
“Cassandra,” Styx said, easily recognizing the scent of his mate’s twin sister, who had recently been revealed as a powerful prophet.
“And Caine,” Viper added. “Why would they be in the middle of the Mojave Desert?”
Now that was a hell of a question.
The pair of pureblooded Weres had been missing for weeks, despite Styx’s best efforts to locate them. An unbelievable feat considering he possessed the best trackers in the world. Of course, if the rumors were true, then the two Weres were already beyond his reach.
Which made any clue as to how she’d been captured or how to retrieve her from her current prison priceless.
“I’m more concerned with what they left behind,” he admitted, prowling around the edges of the strange symbols.
Viper frowned. “An etching?”
Styx shook his head. “It looks more like a hieroglyph.”
“A prophecy,” Roke said with a quiet confidence.
Styx turned to study the clan chief with a searching gaze. “Can you decipher it?”
“Yes, it’s a warning.”
Viper frowned. “You’re a seer?”
Roke shook his head, his gaze trained on the lines etched into the ground. “There’s only one prophet. But I was sired by a wisewoman who taught me to read the signs left by our forefathers.”
Of course. Styx abruptly understood precisely why he was standing in the middle of a desert. “So now we know why Cassandra chose to travel to Nevada,” he said wryly.
“Why?” Viper demanded.
He pointed toward Roke. “Because it was the one place to make certain her message would be understood.”
Viper snorted. “She could have sent a text and saved us a trip.”
Styx’s attention never wavered from the silent Roke. It was impossible to judge how the vampire felt about being pulled into the battle against the Dark Lord.
But then, he no doubt realized that it wasn’t a choice. Styx wasn’t the head of a damned democracy. He led his people by cunning and brute force when necessary.
“How did you discover this?”
“A cur stumbled across it two nights ago,” Roke promptly answered. “There are no Were packs in the area so he came to me with the information.”
“How many others did he tell?”
Roke instantly understood Styx’s concern. “None, but it’s been here at least two, maybe even three weeks.” He grimaced. “It’s impossible to know how many others have seen it.”
A pity, but there was nothing to be done, Styx silently conceded. “Could anyone else interpret it?”
Roke paused before giving a shake of his head. “Doubtful.”
Viper crouched down, studying the desert floor with a frown. “What does it say?”
Roke moved forward, careful not to disturb the marks as he pointed toward the strange etching closest to them. “This is the symbol for the Alpha and the Omega.”
Styx froze at the familiar words.
“The children,” he murmured, speaking of the twin babies that had been found by the halfJinn mongrel, Laylah. She hadn’t known that they were the babies mentioned in the prophecies. Or that they’d been created by the Dark Lord so he could use them as vessels for his eventual resurrection. “What about them?”
Roke traced the symbol in the air. “Here they are joined.”
Styx nodded. When Laylah had found the children they’d been wrapped in the same stasis spell and she’d assumed
there was only one child.
“And then they were separated.” Roke pointed toward the second etching. “The Omega is lost to the mists.”
Viper muttered a low curse. Styx didn’t blame him.
They’d struggled to protect the children, but while Laylah and Tane had managed to rescue the boy child and named him Maluhia, the girl child had been taken through the barriers between dimensions and used by the Dark Lord in his attempt to return to this world.