paranormal / urban fantasy romance book
genre: paranormal / urban fantasy romance book
length: 91000 words / novel
released: April 2011
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A witch on the verge of achieving phenomenal power, Lealandra must turn to her half-breed demon ex-lover Taig for protection from the dark force that is after her and also from her own magic.
With her Counter-Balance dead and her coven against her, Taig’s blood and power is the only thing that can help her control her magic and survive the ascension and gain the strength to defeat her enemy.
Old feelings come flooding back as Taig allows her into his world and Lealandra finds herself fighting not only for survival but to win his broken heart again and heal the pain in their past. Can he forgive her for walking out on him all those years ago and will he ever believe her when she tells him that he’s not a monster but the man that she loves?
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Taig closed his eyes and released a long low groan of unexpected pleasure as Lealandra’s warm mouth fused with his. Her tongue slid between his lips, a delicious and familiar hot velvet caress that swept across his teeth and drew another hungry moan from him. Without considering the consequences and forgetting his anger, he twisted her long black hair around his fingers and tethered her to him so this breathtaking fantasy wouldn’t end before he wanted, and he wanted it to go on forever.
He tilted his head and pressed harder against her mouth, his tongue brushing hers, delving in deep to taste her. A shiver of desire and need shot through him, and his breathing turned rough as he reacquainted himself with her sweetness and warmth. He hadn’t imagined things turning out this way when she had walked into the bar tonight, but he wasn’t about to push her away now that she was kissing him again, rekindling passion whose embers had burned deep in his heart all the time they had been apart. She moved against him, her lips soft and grazing his, slowing the kiss until he wanted to groan and pull her against him, wanted to thrust his tongue back into her mouth and show her just how ravenous she made him. It coiled tight in his gut, pushing for control, urging him to act on his desire.
All too soon, her lips left his but she remained close. With a soft puff of air into his mouth, she spoke.
“Are they gone?” Her quiet voice trembled along with her body, telling him that the kiss hadn’t only affected him. His heart pounded for more and his blood rushed through his ears, dampening his awareness of their surroundings.
Taig glanced around the dim emptying bar. The two men were gone. He stared into her eyes, refreshing his memory of every fleck of silver against stormy grey. It had been too long since he had seen her, and felt even longer since he had kissed her. A tortuous length of time and an absence he couldn’t easily forgive, even when her kiss made him forget it.
“Not yet,” he whispered the lie against her lips, a split-second before his mouth claimed hers, dominant now that he was ready for the kiss. Desire became a raging inferno within him, burning away the anger that blazed back into life whenever he had a moment to think. This kiss was the only thing that mattered right now.
This time, Lealandra loosed a deep breathy moan. The sound sent his blood rushing ahead of his thoughts. He hardened instantly against his tight black jeans and wrapped his fingers around the nape of her neck, pressing them in and dragging her closer still. The heat of her kiss reawakened lost passion and a need for her that could never die. Six years of separation disappeared in an instant, erased by the fact that she had finally walked back into his life. He wasn’t going to let her go this time. Even if this kiss was only a decoy, it still meant something to them both. He knew it did.
Her fingertips grazed his neck and pushed into the shorter black hair at the back of his head. He groaned internally at the feel of her nails against his scalp, declaring her growing hunger, and furrowed his brow as he brought his hand forward to claim her jaw, holding her in place. He burned at the feel of her soft satin skin beneath his fingers. Her touch was still electric, sending waves of hot sparks dancing along every nerve in his body, bringing his cold flesh to life. Tilting her head back, he thrust his tongue into her mouth and slid his free hand around her waist at the same time, pulling her so close to him that her breasts pushed against his chest with each gasping breath she drew. He eased his hand lower and caressed the patch of bare warm skin between the bottom of her short black strapless corset top and the waist of her long black skirt. Lealandra tensed. Too fast.
Taig braced for impact.
The flat of her hand slammed against his chest, forcing him backwards in the curved padded seat of the booth and tearing her from his grasp. Her gelid gaze stopped him dead.
“They’re gone, aren’t they?” Lealandra’s tone was pure venom that matched the ice in her pale grey eyes.
Taig held his hands up, surrendering with a seductive smile that confessed every sin he had been considering. Lealandra wasn’t the kind of witch you lied to. With such strong power flowing in her veins, it was easy for her to read everyone. Everyone but him. His blood saw to that. Her ability to see through him didn’t come from magic. It came from the divine six months they had spent locked tight in each other’s embrace. Six heavenly months he would never forget followed by six hollow years he wished he couldn’t remember.
Lealandra looked around the bar, flicking her straight dark hair over her bare slender shoulders. His black gaze raked over her in the same hungry way it had done when she had first appeared in front of him tonight. She had grown a little thinner in their time apart. Her partner hadn’t been taking care of her. Taig curled his fingers into fists at the thought of another man touching what was his. Anger blazed in his chest, ignited by the idea that the man she had chosen over him hadn’t been looking after her needs. Had the idiot failed to see what she truly craved?
The magic that inhabited her body drained her and made her hungry. She needed to feed often and he wasn’t talking about food. Magic as old and potent as hers demanded the highest price and had the basest needs. If it didn’t get what it wanted, it was hard for Lealandra to retain control. It only proved the point he had tried to hammer home to her when she had been on the verge of leaving him all those years ago and disproved hers.
Taig didn’t give a fuck about the rules of her kind. A witch was no match for a witch, especially not one who needed blood to sustain her.
The thought that Lealandra had been struggling with her power these six long years stoked his anger into blind fury. Every muscle itched with the desire to find her pathetic excuse for a man and teach him a lesson he would never forget for making her suffer. The kind of lesson that would satisfy Taig’s own deep dark cravings.
“I can’t believe you’d take a cheap shot like that,” Lealandra muttered in his direction, her eyes meeting his. “No. Wait. Actually… I can.”
With his best sexy smirk, Taig leaned back into the grotty dark brown leather seat and stretched his arms out along the top. He shrugged and held her gaze.
“You kissed me first. I just returned the favour.”
Her tongue swept over her lips, as though she wanted to kiss him again and was contenting herself with the lingering taste of him. If she wanted him to kiss her, he would. He would kiss her so hard that she would forget that idiot she had left him for and her own name in the process. She would forget everything but the feel of him inside her where he belonged. He would ruin her to everyone but him.
“That’s not the kind of favour I need from you.” Lealandra casually rested her elbow on the back of the leather seat and propped her chin up with her hand. Her head tilted to one side, her dusky kiss-swollen lips curving into a smile. His heart thundered, beating hard with the rush of desire that flooded him.
That smile had made him want her the moment he had laid eyes on her all those years ago. He still wanted her.
He tamped down his desire and got a grip. Her kissing him hadn’t changed a damn thing. Whatever they’d had, it didn’t exist anymore. She had trampled it on her way out of the door and it was going to take a lot more than a kiss to get her into his good book again.
“A favour? Tell me, why should I do you any favours? Last I checked, you were shacked up with another bloke. Why don’t you ask Loverboy to help you out? I’m sure he could do something… unspectacular.” Taig picked up his shot of whisky from the table and necked it. The liquid burned his throat as it slid down, heating him through. Sometimes it was nice to feel something other than cold. Alcohol and hunting were the only things that did that these days. His gaze ran over Lealandra. She used to make him burn hotter than Hell on a summer’s day. She still did, but he wasn’t about to let her see that. “I guess that’s why you’re here. Loverboy just doesn’t cut it when it comes to handling demons. That pair of weaklings would have him inside out and back to front before he could lift a finger to cast whatever impotent half-assed spell he could muster.”
Taig held her gaze, cool and steady, watching the hurt surfacing in her eyes and feeling like a bastard for it, but on some twisted level, it satisfied him.
He narrowed his eyes and casually placed the glass down. “Well, you’re shit out of luck, Lea. I’m not interested.”
Her only reaction was to look away from him. She flicked the small silver bells on the ties of her long skirt and her shoulders lifted in a sigh. That was unsatisfactory. He had expected a better response than that. He had wanted her to argue with him about it. Perhaps even fight him. A good fight with her might go some way towards releasing the anger that was burning like acid in his veins, eating away at him and filling his head and heart with acrid memories.
Memories that drove him to kill.
He quirked a dark eyebrow and waited for her to say something. It wasn’t like her. She looked up at him through her eyelashes.
A hint of fear surfaced in her beautiful eyes and rippled across her pale skin in a wave that only he could detect. He sat up, all sense of casual lost now that he had realised that she was frightened and it wasn’t of him. His anger faded. Something was very wrong. Lealandra didn’t do frightened. No witch as powerful as her did, at least not when they had their Counter-Balance, their other half, the one who could temper their magic and help them maintain control of it.
“I’ll pay you... whatever you want... just name your price.” She coughed to clear her throat, as though such a pathetic attempt to cover her turbulent feelings would fool him.
It was there in her body and her power, and he knew her well enough that he could easily read both. She was scared, and he was an idiot for not noticing it the second she had approached him, and the moment those thugs had walked into the joint. They had been out of place and suspicious, and he had sensed their demon blood, and then Lealandra had kissed him and he had lost track of them and her feelings. She had tasted purely of hunger and desire. All sweet with arousal. It had been enough to throw him off her underlying fear.
“You know my price.” Taig’s eyes narrowed on hers, intent and showing her that he was being serious for once. His voice dropped to a low whisper. “I want you, Lea.”
She swallowed and blinked. Once. Twice. “No deal.”
When she moved to stand, Taig grabbed her wrist, locking his fingers tightly around it. She looked down at his hand and then into his eyes. Her startled look added to her natural beauty, her eyes round and her rosy lips parted. A blush stained her pale cheeks, deep enough that he noticed it even in the low light of the bar. He wanted her more now than ever and he wasn’t about to let her walk out on him again.
“You knew what I’d ask for so why come to me with your problems if you were going to refuse?”
Lealandra pried his fingers off her and frowned. “You saw those men. I need a demon hunter. You’re the best I know.”
Demon hunter. The job title neglected to mention the fact that his father had been one of the most powerful demons to walk the Earth. He stared into Lealandra’s stormy eyes and saw the same calm acceptance that they always showed him. Had his mother looked at his father that way? She had dared to be with him after all. That union had spawned himself—half demon hidden behind the mask of man.
Taig tapped his fingers on the dark table, torn between rejecting her request unless she agreed to his terms and kissing her again. His eyebrows knitted tight together. This wasn’t easy. What they had shared six years ago wasn’t the kind of everyday passion that most people found at the start of a relationship. It had gone beyond that. The dark and hungry craving had consumed them both, had pushed them to the edge and had almost tipped them over it a few times. It had been unbridled passion—the sort that was rare in this world—and it still flooded him whenever he looked at her, whenever her beautiful eyes met his and dared him to make a move. He could deny it all he wanted, pretend that he no longer felt a thing for her, but she still tied him in knots and had him on his knees with only a smile. She licked her lips again, a nervous sweep of her tongue that reminded him that something was wrong.
What could be so bad that she wasn’t asking her precious coven for help and was instead looking him up after six long years?
Was it just the demons that had her scared or was there more to this than she was telling him? Witches and demons got on like a house on fire but usually they kept well clear of each other, sticking to their own world. It was unusual for a demon to go after a witch, but he couldn’t deny that the two kids earlier had been looking for Lealandra.
And now she was asking him for help.
What reason could demons have for going after her?
Taig looked deep into her eyes, focusing on them as he tried to get a hold on her feelings. There was anger in her now, aimed at him, but the fear was still there too. It echoed in the unsteady beat of her heart and danced in the depths of her eyes. She was in trouble, big enough that she had sought him out even when she knew that he would be pissed off at her and that he would demand a high price for services rendered. Either she was desperate or she truly believed that he was her best choice.
Or maybe she just wanted to see him again and this was the perfect excuse for her to waltz back into his life.
Still, his ineffable charm and attractiveness aside, parts of it didn’t make sense. Lealandra was powerful enough to take care of a couple of weak lower demons and her bastard Counter-Balance and dear coven should have been able to protect her if she couldn’t fight them for some reason. Taig had never met them, but the coven was probably strong enough to take on a demon of his strength. Two weaklings would be nothing to them. Like swatting flies.
And why was she here anyway? Alone too. Her Counter-Balance would have a tantrum of galactic proportions if he knew that Lealandra had come to her ex-lover for help.
In fact, none of it made sense.
Taig’s head ached from trying to figure it out. It was just like her to send his mind in ten directions at once. There was only one way to find out what the hell had Lealandra walking back into his life. He never had been backwards about being forwards, after all. It was one of the qualities that Lealandra had liked about him.
“Why do you need me?” Taig sensed the deep spike in her feelings, the rise in her desire that struck him hard and sent a jolt to his groin, reigniting his own hunger.
Her eyes widened and her cheeks coloured.
He hadn’t considered the possibility of a second meaning to his words but now he was. His suspicions had been right. He wasn’t the only one the kiss had affected. He wasn’t the only one who felt this need burning deep within.
His eyes narrowed on hers in both a challenge and a command. He was damned if he was going to let her get away without answering, and damned if he was going to let her walk out on him again.
"I found this to be a compelling, well-paced, sexy read with interesting characters and plenty of room for storyline growth. As always, Felicity Heaton has brought her characters to life wonderfully and given them emotions that ring true. I'm eagerly looking forward to book two."
-- Kelly, Reading the Paranormal -- 5 out of 5 (read the whole review)
"Felicity knows how to add hot heat between a half demon and his witch, in her new upcoming release of Ascension. I couldn’t quit reading this exciting story. You get action, danger, steamy romance along with a mystery... I recommend this to any paranormal romance or erotic romance reader."
-- Laurie, Bitten by Paranormal Romance -- 4 out of 5 (read the whole review)
"Felicity Heaton has done it once again! A story every lover of paranormal romance will love. Ascension is layered with action, adventure filled with powerful magic and just as powerful heart wrenching emotion that pulled at my heart strings until the very last word... I feel very strongly about this book and loved everything about it! For all paranormal romance readers and lovers and even new comers to the genre, add Ascension to your MUST READ list because it is a story you won't want to miss!"
-- Talina, Night Owl Reviews -- 4.75 out of 5 - TOP PICK! (read the whole review)