A fire-breathing mob Boss. A court spy with memory loss. A jealous enemy waiting for the right time to destroy them both…
After the devastating loss of his mate and the surprise revelation of his dragon shifter Powyr, Eoghan Gilchrist sets himself to consolidating his power as head of a Shadow Mob family. The death of a capo brings to head a brewing territory war with neighboring Shadow Yakuza.
Itching for the coming fight, the last thing Eoghan expects to distract him is his missing mate’s sudden reappearance.
Annika Leeds has spent the last year questioning her sanity. Her memories begin when she woke up in a homeless shelter knowing nothing except her name. Desperate when no one believes her dreams of being a dragon shifter are real, she makes her way to a wytch rumored to be able to help.
Instead, Annika finds herself recognized by a man claiming to be her mate.
Annika, unable to resist Eoghan’s numerous temptations, soon finds herself at the center of jealousy, betrayal, and war. As her memories return, both Annika and Eoghan are left with more questions than answers.
Can Eoghan and Annika navigate the fallout of a discovered double life before their enemies strike a final blow?
Eoghan sat with his long legs stretched out and toyed with his sister’s locket. He snapped and unsnapped the clasp, flipping the portraits open and shut and not really seeing the faces inside. One was dead and the other as good as. It was all he had left of sweet Maura.
He and his mates made sure the bastard knew he wouldn’t be a welcome sight in Edinburgh ever again. Served a few years for it but that was the life. Someone always needed to pay.
Someone would pay for making him wait.
He hated waiting. Waiting allowed the thoughts he didn’t want to acknowledge roll in. Thoughts like the ones of his sister but more often than not, thoughts of her.
Eoghan snapped the locket open and closed with greater speed and intensity. Thinking about his missing mate set him on edge, even more than the waiting.
It really was no wonder why his men flinched when he looked their way. They didn’t want to be the focus of his foul mood. He reveled in their apprehension even as he itched for a good fight.
He squashed the memories of Annika before they could pull him into an even darker mood than the one that sat heavily on him at that moment.
Open, close. Open, close. He turned back the sleeve of his leather jacket and checked the time. The wytch and his capo were late.
It was supposed to be a simple smash and grab. Smash the shop, grab the wytch. She encroached on Gilchrist territory. She’d been warned what would happen if she continued to peddle her mischief without giving him tribute. He was to have one more talk and make it utterly fooking clear that she paid him or she left town.
But the time had come and gone. Neither wytch nor man appeared.
Blessedly finally, the door to the warehouse creaked open and two of his soldiers dragged in Johnny Boy. Eoghan could smell the death on him from across the space.
He swept his eyes over the gathered men and women and they all flinched away from his look. They’d seen him fight his way to becoming Don of Baltimore. He’d ruled them through sheer will alone for a solid year. They knew death could come for them at any moment and they placed their trust in his decisions.
Decisions that had gotten one of them killed.
He snapped the locket closed one last time and stuffed it into his pocket as he rolled to his feet.
“What’s the story?” he snapped.
“He was dumped. Whoever did it knew exactly where we’d be.”
That was hardly a surprise. Nearly everyone with a spark of the Wyrd inside them knew where to find his people. Running the city came with a fair bit of celebrity. He held court in an abandoned warehouse in the port. It gave him and his shifters ample space to change shape if needed and have a degree of discretion for any other business.
Even with the space known to the criminal element, he posted soldiers to look out for any unwanted visitors. He was Don, not an idiot. Best to make any enterprising officer or rival boss work to take him down. Though, with the amount he slipped to the right people, there would be hell to pay if someone even sniffed in his direction.
With the body left behind, it had to be someone like him. Someone was sending him a message. Eoghan rolled his shoulders. Hell would be paid when he found out who dared challenge his control on the city. He looked forward to the fight.
Fury raged inside him and he clenched his fists in his pockets. He waited for the soldiers to lay Johnny Boy out for him to look over. The rest of his soldiers and capos crowded around behind him and his underboss stood only a few feet closer. There was an order to things, even at the height of their curiosity.
Eoghan knelt down and rolled Johnny Boy to the side. The killing blow was on the back of his neck and his shirt was still wet with his blood. It was a clean death, he had to give the attacker that. Sharp cut to the back of his neck, like a knife slipping straight down the spine. Honorable.
It set his teeth on edge.
It happened in threes, didn’t it? Bad luck. It’d followed him around all his life.
First, Maura. Terrible, that. Poor girl died of shame in some back alley. He was too busy to listen to her, too busy to warn her away from the slime who got her with child and left her at the altar. She bled out because he simply couldn’t be bothered to pull his head out of his arse and really see what was going on at home.
Trying to right his sin of distraction brought on his second bout with Lady Luck. Maura’s bastard had too many connections to just slip away into obscurity. Soon as the doctors unwired his jaw, he started spewing names.
Eoghan served time for that one. Learn to calm his jets, the sheriff said at the solemn. He’d learned, ay. He’d learned plenty in those two years. He knew to not leave behind a body, now.
Then came his da. Bad heart. Losing his baby girl and seeing his adopted boy locked away didn’t help. The girls suffered the most for it. His da didn’t have much saved and money quickly ran out after funeral expenses.
So when he got out, Eoghan went to work. Someone needed to care for the family. His ma and remaining sisters needed protecting and it was his duty to provide for them. He was the man of the house, after all, and they weren’t prepared to deal with the rough world.
His da had connections to the Shadow Mob and the local Don was more than willing to lend a hand once Eoghan made his case. The man was loyal and had sisters of his own. He wouldn’t be the one to stop Eoghan making a little something to take care of the women, he’d said, even if they normally didn’t do much business with humans.
From Edinburgh to Baltimore after Maura’s loss became too much to bear, Eoghan worked his way up the ranks. One rough challenge after another promoted him from mere associate to a crew to a full-fledged capo running his own men. It wasn’t often a human could rise to power when surrounded by shifters.
But he wasn’t entirely human now, was he? Fooking Annika had seen to that.
Then Annika strolled into his life.
Tall, strong, and utterly fearless, he thought she was just another hanger-on when she took a job at one of his bars. But it soon became clear she wasn’t attached to any of his men. She slung drinks and fists with equal skill and ferocity.
She lured something out of him, something he thought surprised them both. He certainly hadn’t expected it. Dragon. That’s what he was now. She’d brought the beast out and there was no caging it away again. Her sweet scent enticed him into his Heat and he made the mistake of binding Annika as his mate.
Then she disappeared without a word.
The loss of her festered inside him. He’d run from loss once, after Maura’s death. He wouldn’t do it again. He faced it head on with his teeth bared. His mate had given him the tools needed to consolidate his power. That she wasn’t there to see the results burned him to the core.
Eoghan felt the bad luck circling in the air. It was foul and thick and tasted like ashes in his mouth. It made the others around him fidget. They didn’t like waiting for their brother or the wytch, either.
He eyed the gathered crowd once more. He resisted rubbing away the stink of uncertainty and nerves that filled his nose.
Maybe it wasn’t just the bad luck that made his men fidget.
“There’s a note—” one of the soldiers started.
“I can see the bloody fucking note,” Eoghan snarled without a trace of an accent. Perhaps he was a touch angrier than he thought. The man’s mouth snapped shut with a satisfying click.
He rolled the body over and tore away the note pinned to Johnny Boy’s chest with a rip that sounded loud in the silent warehouse. He swept a glare around the space and all the curious eyes watching him lowered. Respect or fear, he didn’t rightly care at that moment.
The unfolded note revealed looped handwriting and a short message.
Your wytch has been acquired by my order. Your man didn’t go down easily but the fight was lost even before it began. We wish to discuss a readjustment of territory lines. Awaiting your reply.
Eoghan crumpled the note in his hand. Claws he hadn’t meant to unsheathe bit into his palms. The coppery scent of blood hit the air and the men behind him shifted uneasily.
Fooking hell. Mariko. She ran the DC arm of the Shadow Yakuza. He should have known by the killing blow. Woman was fond of her katana.
There had been skirmishes between his men and hers off and on all year. She was testing his borders and reactions, looking for weak spots to make her move. She hadn’t dared to make a kill, not until now.
He’d give just about anything to wrap his hands around her throat and squeeze the life out of her. Territory readjustment? He wouldn’t give her a damn inch of what belonged to him.
She was behind Annika’s disappearance. He just couldn’t prove it. He searched the entire fooking city and found no trace of his mate. It was too perfect to be anything but nefarious. Kidnapped or killed, Mariko’s stink was all over it. Her… acquisition of his wytch was all the excuse he needed to put the bitch down.
As much as he longed to track Mariko down and rip her open then and there, the eyes trying not to study him brought his fury from white-hot boil to a mere simmer. They needed him to be smart about his next steps. Anger would lead to mistakes and death. The family had already lost one; they didn’t need to lose any others.
Eoghan addressed his underboss. The man was tough as nails and loyal to a fault. He followed Eoghan as Don when he was still but a human. “Set a meet with Mariko, Gio.”
He turned to the capos and soldiers. No associates tonight, only those bound to the family. White skin, brown skin, blue eyes and black. Even a woman or two, though he preferred they stay safe in the clubs and out of the line of fire. They were a crowd of mixed colors and talents and they all looked to him to lead. He wouldn’t dishonor them by allowing one of their own to go unavenged.
He needed to give them encouragement but he didn’t want to reveal his plan. It was a fine line to walk when he aimed to do some murder without Mariko knowing what storm she brought down on herself.
With his fury reigned in, the full weight of his burr entered his voice. “We cannae let this shite go unpunished. Sharpen yer knives, polish yer guns, have a last shag. War’s coming, boys and girls, and I don’t aim tae let the fooking Yakuza take what’s mine.”
It would be glorious to pull answers from Mariko one fingernail at a time. He’d force her to tell him the fate of his mate before he put her to her final rest.