The Venators’ secrets are getting darker, but can Ava and Jasper’s love survive the truth?A demon has possessed Ava’s best friend in the pack. Jasper and Ava are fighting an unthinkable deadline to complete an impossible task. It’s Monica’s life against Ava’s in this race against the clock.
But new secrets, new allies, and new mates within the pack turn even the most practical plans into the most dangerous. Werewolves, witches, and weddings make for a deadly combination…
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Copyright ©2021 Torri Heat
Thump. Thump. Thump.
The thumping had been the soundtrack to my life since we had returned to the pack lands, and I was about to snap. I wasn’t sure if I was going to smack Jasper upside the head, or go certifiably insane, but one of the two situations was guaranteed to happen. I was staring at my computer, willing my brain to work, but all I could focus on was the fact I had seven days, and that God awful thumping.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
I slammed my laptop shut, swinging my feet over the edge of Adrian’s worn couch, and made my way to the back door. On the back patio, where Adrian had set up a makeshift punching bag, was my boyfriend, Jasper Knight. Who just happened to be working the bag like it had done him wrong in a previous life. We dealt with our nerves and agitation in different ways. I threw myself into work. Jasper threw punches.
I leaned against the frame of the screen door, watching him for a minute, all muscle and tanned skin. If only this were a different time, a different life. “Something bothering you?” I asked.
Thump. “No,” Jasper grunted. He gave the bag a solid right hook that sent it swinging, then reached across, pulling it back into place.
I sighed, crossing my arms. “Jasp. We have to talk about this.” This meaning the demon currently cohabiting Lucy’s body, while expecting me to bring my mother to them.
He gave me a quick glance out of the corner of his eye, before hitting the bag with a deadly uppercut. “Nothing to talk about.”
Jasper hadn’t come to bed last night after we got home from the party. The party where I had run away deep into the forest, after Lucy who wasn’t really Lucy. Where a demon demanded my mother or myself pay the debt in seven days. We had decided it was safer to be on pack lands while we sorted all of this out and had arrived at Adrian’s doorstep. Adrian hadn’t seemed surprised to see us at his door again and had sleepily gestured toward the already prepped air mattress. I had tossed and turned on the half-deflated mattress, cold without Jasper’s warm skin next to mine. The upside to not sleeping? No dreams to haunt me. Small miracles.
I ran a hand through my hair, glaring at my stubborn boyfriend. “Fine.” I turned to head back into the house, the screen door slamming shut behind me. He’d come in when he was ready, and I wasn’t about to fuel his pouting any more than necessary.
“Wait.” Jasper’s voice called out behind me, and I stopped and looked back. He steadied the bag with a wrapped hand, using the other to wipe the sweat off his forehead. He looked up at me with hooded eyes. “Ava. I… I can’t lose you.” His voice broke, and I nearly broke with it. We had been through so much, more than any two people should. Surely this wouldn’t be enough to bring us down. Fuck that. I wouldn’t let it.
“Jasp, I…” I what? I was sorry? Because I wasn’t. I wouldn’t go look for my mother? Because I would. Anything I was planning to say would’ve been a lie. I met his dark stare, his caramel eyes pleading with me. I shook my head. No. I wouldn’t cave. “Jasper. I have to do this.”
His expression hardened. “I don’t know what kind of hero complex you’ve developed, but you don’t have to.”
Rich coming from him… Jasper happened to be the king of hero complexes. I raised a brow, making sure to keep a lock on my thoughts the best I could. Last thing I needed right now was Jasper hearing everything I was thinking about him, including some choice curse words. “And how do you suggest we deal with the situation at hand? Pretend it’s not happening? Maybe we could offer Beau up as another sacrifice?”
Jasper groaned, opening his mouth to speak, but at that exact moment, Beau rounded the corner. His skin was tanned, a light smattering of freckles covering his bronzed face. He looked healthy, so at odds with the man I had seen in the hospital. He gave me a roguish grin, his teeth white and bright. “What kind of sacrifice are you offering me up as now, baby girl? Are there going to be other girls involved?”
Jasper and I both whipped around, glaring at Beau who merely smirked, raising his hands in defense. “Whoa. Don’t let me interrupt this couple’s spat.”
“I didn’t know you were back.” Jasper ran a hand through his thick, dark hair, giving me a stern look. I knew the look. It meant this conversation wasn’t over.
Beau shoved his hands into his pockets. “Just got back like five minutes ago. Was about to drag my ass to bed, but I heard you working the bag and figured I should stop by first.”
“I’ll let you two get caught up,” I said, refusing to meet Jasper’s glare. His stare bored hotly into my face. “We weren’t talking about anything important.”
I turned and stormed toward the guest room, Beau murmuring apologies to Jasper behind me. He didn’t have anything to apologize for. Jasper was being impossible, immovable, and he needed to understand I had to find Monica.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Torri Heat has always loved control. Her mind was blown when she discovered she could control entire worlds through story writing. Throw some steamy romance in there, and it was pretty close to perfection. Torri loves dark heroes who ride off into the sunset on their motorcycles, fierce heroines who can fend for themselves, and a sprinkle of the paranormal to keep things interesting. When she’s not creating alternate realities you can find her managing her three ring circus of kids and animals.
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