(Shadow Pact, #1)
Publication date: April 21st 2022
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Sometimes the most enchanting monsters are the ones you can’t see, only feel…
I am a survivor. For the past ten years, I’ve been forced to give every part of me to sinister vampires in a feeding community. But when I touched an ancient book and recited a spell out of sheer desperation and zero arcane knowledge, a dark entity came to me. Rescued me. Mrak helped me escape.
I have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into. But Mrak has been at my side for the last three months—well, inside me, anchored to my existence and lovingly tender with his ethereal touches. It’s not quite possession, not quite a haunting. But it’s real, it’s sexy as hell, and he’s mine. Or I’m his. Either way, we’re now in this life together.
Mrak is distracting, seductive, and powerful, but he’s also keeping a secret. One that’s now put me in immense danger despite his claims he’ll do anything to protect me. Because the cops have come calling. Bodies have turned up. And despite his reassurances, I’m starting to wonder if Mrak has a hidden agenda that he’s somehow kept secret from the inside.
My life might be in my monster’s debt. My body might be his for pleasure. But my future is mine no matter how much he wants and uses my body. I’m no longer the weak woman he saved from a vampire lord, and it’s time to take my body—and my life—back.
MONSTER INSIDE is the first of a M/F paranormal monster romance duology.
Panic caught in my throat. I returned my attention to the ancient book before me and skimmed the pages faster. Cassius’s heavy footsteps resounded through the room. As my eyes raced across the text, the strangest thing happened: the words became English. This was a spell book! And this… the more I read, the more convinced I became that these pages in particular were aritual of some sort. The page had an old illustration, faded some, that appeared to show a shadow forming from nothing, coalescing into some more solid, vaguely humanoid shape.Around it, runes spelled out the magic words.
“Please let this be a spell to become shadow,” I muttered as I began to read the text aloud. I’d gladly live out the rest of my days as shadow or smoke if it meant escape from Cassius in this very moment—and from Lazarus’s inevitable wrath once his amusement had run out. I’d seen him sic a half-dozen vampires on one male feeder for less.
The words seemed to rise from the page as I read them. Cassius stormed up the steps toward me. He was a tall, bulky man, the most aggressive of Lazarus’s elite, and right now, he was charging at me like he planned to rip my head off.
“Gods, help me!” I cried out as I stood, continuing to read the spell with a shaky voice lost to fear as I backed up. The bag of gems on my wrist swayed haphazardly. The more I spoke, and the closer Cassius got, the clearer the smell of smoke became. It wasn’t until I broke eye contact with Cassius and looked down at the page that I found the page burning in my hands and fire on my fingertips.
My eyes widened and I yelped, dropping the book as I finished chanting the spell.
Cassius froze where he stood, gaping up at me. “Y-You—”
I threw up one hand. “Stay away! I hate you!”
Fire poured from my palm in heavy, orange-white torrents toward Cassius. It lit books on fire. The rugs. Desks. Everything on its way to Cassius and all items around him.
Cassius leapt at the last minute off the balcony, landing on the first floor with a look of utter shock on his face. “Lazarus will see your end.”
He was afraid of me. Why? Because of a little magic?
I froze as a silky, smooth voice whispered in my ear. “He fears what’s come to answer your call, Aisling.”
“What?” I whispered. “Who are you?
Seeking tendrils slid up my ankles. I yelped again, shuffling away from where I stood and looking down. Nothing was there. Not a single tendril or anything. But I could have sworn something had been grabbing me!
“Only you can sense me,” the voice intoned. “I am within you. I’m answering your call.”
“What call?” I spat.
“Lazarus!” Cassius yelled out of the broken library door.
I stumbled back a few more steps, but it felt like I’d run into someone. I spun around—no one was there. “What is happening?”
“That book,” the voice said. “You summoned me to aid you. I heard your call for freedom. For safety, Aisling.”
My eyes went wide. “My what?” I’d just read a spell. An ancient one that looked like it was just going to turn me into a shadow or something, and then I could hide forever. Be free. Escape. Be safe.
I gulped as I realized it. The voice was right. But… “Are you the shadow in the image?”
“How do you know my name?”
“I know everything about you.”
My gaze darted between the now-burned book I’d been reading and Cassius, who had begun storming up the stairs to me again now that the flames had gone away. Blood dripped from my neck onto my fingertips. Crimson. The only currency in a place like this.
There had to be more to life than blood and vampires.
“I don’t know what I did,” I started as Cassius approached once more. “But I accept your help. If you can get me out of this fucking hell, I’ll owe you for life.”
A soft chuckle reached my ears—darker than I should have been excited about. “As you wish, Aisling. I help you, you help me. For life.”
River Starr writes books that help you escape, especially fantasy romance full of magic and supernaturals. Favorite things: coffee, wine, chocolate, and a heavy dose of books to chase away the dark… or invite delicious darkness in.
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