Master of Darkness -- August 2012, Berkley
Despite their mutual distrust, a werewolf couple -- a witch and an ex-cop -- must work together to defeat her abusive father, a werewolf wizard who is determined to destroy the Magekind
But though Miranda Drake and William Justice team up to help Arthur and his knights, neither trusts the other. Justice strikes Miranda as the sort of dominant Alpha male who has abused her all her life. Justice has worked with other domestic violence victims, and knows that the women sometimes turn on the cops who try to help them. Yet for Justice, protecting Miranda is his opportunity to redeem himself for his inability to prevent Warlock’s manipulation of his people into war.
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RTR Online Review ... Angela Knight’s unique and enthralling spin on the Arthurian legends is unlike any other paranormal out there! ...
The magical city glittered among the night-black hills, an elegant sprawl of castles, chateaux, villas and neat little cottages. Its cobblestone streets bustled under the moonlight as the vampires and witches of the Magekind went about Merlin's Great Mission: protecting humanity from its own worst impulses.
He wanted every one of them dead.
Warlock flexed his clawed hands and spread them wide, reaching out with his magical senses to probe the powerful shield designed to protect the city from invaders. Meaning Warlock, his five hundred werewolf warriors, and his three Bastards.
They stood in ordered ranks behind him, disciplined and silent as the Bastards' magic rendered them undetectable to Arthur's witches. The wolves made an impressive sight, towering and muscular in their armor, clawed hands gripping axes, swords and spears, all enchanted to kill Magekind. Their thick fur ranged in shade from pale gold to a black so dark they were barely visible even to Warlock's eyes. He was the only white wolf; the moonlight seemed to tip his fur in silver so that it blended with his armor, as if he was a weapon.
Which is exactly what Merlin had created him to be, all those centuries ago.
The spell that protected his enemies swirled in a complex of lethal energies that would feed back and kill anyone without the proper magical signature. Which he didn't have. Even if he managed to avoid getting fried, the shield was designed to alert Morgana le Fay, Guinevere, and the other senior witches if it was tampered with. At which point Warlock would be ass-deep in the Knights of the Round Table, as well as every other warrior Avalon could muster.
He had gone to considerable trouble to lure the Magekind's most deadly fighters away from Avalon tonight. His people were well-trained, but the Knights would still slice through them like Excalibur through wet toilet paper.
Not what he had in mind at all.
So Warlock probed the shield with exquisite care. He didn't need a large opening, only one wide enough for his werewolves to slip through a few at a time.
Then they'd kill and loot until the Immortal City lay in flames.
Green shoots thrust their way through the rich loam and sprang instantly into vivid bloom as violets and peonies. A second wave of flowers shot from the dark soil to explode in swaths of brilliant color, as if an artist's brush had swirled daffodils and snapdragons across the landscape instead of paint.
The soft blue-white sparks of werewolf magic faded, and Miranda Drake cocked her head, considering the effect. "What do you think?"
"Randi, I'm a cop," William Justice told her. "Ask me who killed who with what, that I can tell you. But when it comes to gardening, I don't know carnations from kudzu."
Miranda shook her head, red curls foaming around her shoulders. "You're such a guy, Justice."
He pulled his jeans' waistband jeans out and looked downward as if checking himself. "Looks that way."
Miranda wrinkled her nose in mock disgust. "You've been hanging around Tristan too long. It'll be fart jokes next."
"Well, I did win the last belching contest. Arthur accused me of cheating, since I shifted to Direwolf to do it." She blinked, so he elaborated. "Seven and a half feet of fur means reeeeealy big lungs. I can maintain a good beer belch for a minute and a half."
Miranda eyed him. "I take it back -- you're not a guy."
"You're a twelve-year old on steroids."
"What do you think a guy is?"
Miranda snorted and studied her garden again. "Needs some rose bushes."
Justice watched her work, as he had so often in the past month. It had been just a job at first--providing protection for a woman who might be the key to preventing an otherwise inevitable war.
God knew he had nothing better to do. The Council of Clans who ruled the werewolves of North America had fired him and named a new Wolf sheriff, one more willing to look the other way while they sold their votes and declared war on the Magekind.
Justice had promptly appointed himself Miranda's bodyguard, which had kept him nicely busy. Her vicious father was determined to kill her, and Justice had to keep a close eye on the girl if he didn’t want her to end up dead.
Not that watching Miranda was a hardship. There was something hypnotic about the way magic illuminated the striking curves and hollows of her clever face. Her eyes glowed soft amber as she cast her spells, and her full lips parted as if for the kiss he'd wanted to give her for two weeks. Slim and strong as a dancer, she moved through her garden, her breasts sweet handfuls under the thin cotton of a Black Eyed Peas T-shirt. She’d tucked her jeans into riding boots that made her legs look endless, and as she walked, glints of power swirled around her feet like sparks from a campfire.
Miranda gestured, an elegant little flick of the fingers, sending another wave of magic rolling over her garden. Rose bushes burst out of the earth and exploded into bloom, yellow and red and soft peach, enhancing the little stone cottage she'd spent the last week building. Arthur had presented her with the land it stood on in gratitude for saving his wife's life--and his own.
Werewolf bites could trigger a fatal anaphylactic reaction in Magekind victims, killing them in anywhere from minutes to an hour; the stronger the victim's magic, the faster he died.
When Gwen was bitten during a battle two weeks ago, the lethal spell had spread to Arthur's body through their Truebond magical union. Miranda realized that though the spell was designed to resist Magekind healing, she could break it with Direkind magic. The couple survived, to the immense relief of everyone in Avalon.
Since then, strangers had been coming up to Miranda to offer their heartfelt gratitude. Arthur was no longer High King--if you dared use his old title, he would tell you so, at length and with impressive volume. But he and Gwen still ruled his people's hearts.
Miranda never failed to blush and stammer whenever yet another grateful stranger stopped her on the street to babble thanks. Justice found that oddly charming. But then, he found Miranda charming a great deal of the time.
The rest of the time he found her a pain in the ass.
"Water feature," Miranda announced, studying her garden. "It needs a water feature."
She strolled along the lush carpet of grass, head cocked as she considered where to put her fountain. Justice's gaze drifted to the tempting curve of her heart-shaped ass. A mental growl of hungry approval vibrated through him, and he had to drag his eyes away.
He was dying to seduce Miranda Drake.
But if he tried and failed, she’d kick him out. Then she’d promptly get herself killed like the fearless lunatic she was. And he just didn’t want that on his conscience.
Magic swirled from her hands, transforming into the leap and burble of water tumbling down a neat pile of rocks into a pool ringed with ferns, honeysuckle and violets. Miranda stepped back to consider the effect, then nodded in satisfaction. “There.”
Justice watched her stroll around the pool, long-legged and delicate, her red hair shifting around her slender shoulders, blazing in the light of her magic. She braced her hands on her hips and eyed him in challenge.
Oh, great. Here it comes.
“You ready to gate home?”
“That depends.” Damned if he was going to sugar-coat it. “Is your daddy still trying to kill you?”
Miranda’s fragile jaw set. “I can defend myself. And considering I can work magic and you can’t…”
“But I’m immune to magical attacks. And you aren’t.” Merlin had created the Direkind as a safety measure in case the Magekind began abusing humanity. Immunity to magical attacks meant they couldn’t work magic. Miranda, on the other hand, had inherited both her father’s powers and his vulnerability to magic.
Her red brows drew down, and she took a challenging step forward until they were nose to nose. “I don’t need a bodyguard, Justice.”
“Too bad.” He gave her a deliberately pleasant smile. “I’m not leaving.”
“If you think you’re moving in with me…” They had been staying with Belle and Tristan while Miranda finished the house. Which had grown a little awkward, given the sensual heat roiling between the Mageverse couple since their Truebond.
He folded his arms. “You’d rather I pitch a tent among the azaleas?”
She bared her teeth. “I’d rather you go home.”
“Not an option.”
Her soft upper lip curled into a lupine snarl, and her eyes sparked with temper. Justice looked at that pretty mouth and wondered how she'd taste.