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From New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant comes another gripping story in her Reaper series featuring a brotherhood of elite assassins who wage war on the Fae at Death’s behest—and the women who dare to love them.
There is no escaping the Reapers—or me. If you succumb to evil, you will be judged. And we will come for you… I’ve known the torment of being trapped, of battling monsters—both outside and within. But I’ve also known the peace and completeness of holding the one I was meant for in my arms. Unfortunately, she’s not intended for me. I am destined for one thing and one thing only: eradicating the evil that plagues our world. Once I deal with my nemesis, maybe I can finally rest. Even if it means my soul being reaped by the strong, beautiful, and utterly captivating woman who makes my heart beat like no other. But I’m not sure even that is possible. Because I am no longer merely a Fae. I am something else altogether.
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He woke with his arms clutching her. Except, she wasn’t there. She was never there. His hands felt empty, as if a piece of him were missing—had always been missing.
Xaneth rolled onto his back and fisted his hands, jagged rock digging into him. He still felt Aisling against him, still smelled her jasmine scent. He opened his eyes and stared at the gray sky. Smaller, wispy clouds drifted leisurely against the backdrop of larger, darker clouds. At least his headache was gone.
They used to plague him often after he snuffed out evil, but they had ceased—at least, he’d thought they had. After the battle on the Isle of Skye, they had returned with a vengeance. How he despised them. They caused him to pass out, which left him vulnerable. Like last night—or however long it had been since he’d fallen unconscious.
He took a deep breath and slowly released it. Nothing had been the same since Skye. He’d had a chance to end the Fae Others’ leader but had opted to save Aisling instead of going after Lena.
Xaneth sat and bent his knees to plant his feet on the ground. He wound his arms around his legs and looked at his hands. He’d never felt so helpless, so powerless as he had when holding Aisling’s dead body. He should’ve known that he couldn’t do anything to help her. The rage and despair that had welled within him when he realized she had breathed her last had been more than he could handle. He’d been ready to destroy everything.
Then, inexplicably, she’d taken a breath. He’d been so dumbfounded that he could do nothing but stare at her. He had almost gone back to her. Held her. Touched her. Then he remembered who he was…what he was. And he knew he had to leave. His mission was to eradicate evil. Nothing more. Nothing less.
So, he’d teleported away before he did something foolish. At least Aisling was alive. That gave him a measure of comfort. Though he wasn’t sure he deserved it.
He fisted his hands once more and hung his head. Skye had been a disaster for him. He could’ve—and should’ve—ended Lena once and for all. The havoc the Fae had caused was unconscionable. How many more times would he have the opportunity to reset the balance between good and evil? How could he continue walking this realm, knowing he had let his personal feelings get in the way of what he was meant to do?
Xaneth got to his feet and looked at his surroundings. Wind buffeted him on all sides, the air heavy with the scents of salt, driftwood, and seaweed. Water met the horizon in every direction he looked. Beneath his feet, the rocky ground had patches of snow that clung to the last vestiges of winter. He scanned the desolate area, looking for any signs of life. Other than sea lions and birds, he saw nothing.
Where was he? He glanced at the semi-sheltered area of rocks against the rising hill where he had been lying. At least he hadn’t been left completely exposed—not that the boulders hid him, but they were better than nothing.
Xaneth leaned his head to one side and then the other, hearing the pops as he stretched his neck. Then he looked up at the tall mound and its steep incline. It wasn’t large enough to be a mountain, but it was by no means puny. He could teleport to the peak, but he needed movement after being unconscious. So, he began the arduous trek upward.
By the time he reached the top, his breaths came rapidly. The isle was small, maybe only a quarter mile in any direction. And uninhabited. Perhaps that was why he had chosen it, though he had no memories of it. Other islands were near, and he could even see movement on some. Was he still in Scotland? Xaneth tried to pull up his memories of what’d happened after he left Aisling on Skye, but everything was blank.
How many days had passed? Or was it weeks? How he hated the lost time with no way to account for it.
His thoughts drifted back to Aisling. The moment he’d gone to Skye to join the Reapers and Druids in fighting the Fae Others, he had sought her out—even when he knew he shouldn’t have. They had stood shoulder to shoulder in battle. Not because she couldn’t take care of herself, but because he hadn’t been able to stay away.
She had followed him for weeks, and he’d demanded that she leave him be. She had finally given up and returned to the Reapers as he wanted. He should’ve been overjoyed. Except, he had been anything but. He should’ve kept his distance from her. But that was like asking the moon not to shine.
Xaneth thought of that battle and how he had known that Aisling had his back. That he could count on her. Just as she had known that she could count on him. They had been in sync on a level he hadn’t comprehended even existed. He had enjoyed fighting alongside her, as odd and ghastly as it was to admit.
Since he had awoken from his torture at the hands of his aunt, Xaneth had been utterly and completely alone. At first, he’d wanted to change that, but it didn’t take him long to realize that he was something different. Something to be feared. That was when he knew he had to stand apart from everyone else for however long he had left.
Even the beautiful Aisling.
Because he craved to be near her.