Rising Darkness [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Cynthia Cooke
eBook Category: Romance/Fantasy
eBook Description: Demon hunter, vampire and member of the Cadre, Damien Hancock has come to Wolvesrain to help Emma McGovern defend herself against a powerful demon. For if Emma finds love--and consummates that love--the demon Asmos will fulfill a generations-old curse and claim her soul. Damien knows just how powerful the ancient demon is, but he never anticipated the all-consuming effect courageous Emma would have on him. Having led a sheltered life within the walls of her ancestral estate, Emma senses that Damien, like her, carries too much pain and loneliness in his heart. But as their attraction proves impossible to resist, Emma fears it is the curse that is drawing them together. Can the love she has found in Damien's strong arms now help her fight the rising darkness?
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Silhouette Nocturne
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2007
8 Reader Ratings:
Present Day, England
Desperation bordering on the edge of insanity filled Emma McGovern as the wolves' howling broke through the stillness of the early evening. She stood at the window, looking out onto the bleak countryside, the raucous baying bringing a tremble to her fingers and a burning sensation to the scars along her cheek. Phantom pains, she'd been told, but that didn't make them hurt less, or make the memories any less vivid.
"They're back, Lucia," Emma said without turning to look at the woman who was bending into the oven and basting the roast. The rich aroma of tender pork and glazed vegetables wafted through the kitchen but couldn't warm the chill in Emma's bones, nor mask the underlying scent of fear.
Lucia closed the oven with a sharp thud, then turned and opened a cabinet next to the stove and pulled out an antique tin. She removed the lid and took out a brooch fashioned with dried heather and gardenias. "Here, put this on," she said.
"It's beautiful," Emma murmured, then lifted the brooch to her nose and breathed deeply. Instantly, she pulled away, her face twisting in revulsion. "Eww. What is it?"
"Fish oil. It will protect you from the beasts. Now put it on and wear it, at least until the night of the Equinox has passed," Lucia insisted, and returned the tin to the cabinet.
Reluctantly, Emma pinned the brooch to her lace-trimmed top, knowing deep down that nothing would protect her from the beasts. Her destiny was catching up with her. "It will never end, will it, Lucia? Every year I think, this year will be different, but then the wolves come back." She stepped over to the window, watching, waiting for the inevitable.
Lucia shook her head. "I will find a way to break the curse. Gypsy magic created it, gypsy magic can destroy it. In the meantime, you must take precautions."
"I know." Emma gave her a half-hearted smile. "You don't have to worry on that front. Love isn't in the cards for me." Emma took a sip from her tea, and quickly averted her gaze. She didn't need a curse to keep love from her doorstep. Even if she could find love out here in the middle of nowhere, love would take one look at the scars on her face, turn and run.
Lucia's voice softened. "You can still have companionship, Emma. Friendship and a deep mutual caring are very important in any relationship. But you'll never find even that if you don't ever leave the house. Take a chance. Venture into the village. Meet people."
"So I can have what Mum and Dad had?"
How could Emma explain that she wanted more than a half-hearted relationship based on mutual interests? She wanted…she blew out a sigh. She wanted what she couldn't have. A deep passion and a forever kind of love.
"Have you seen Angel?" she asked. "That stubborn dog hasn't come to my calls."
"No." Lucia's voice filled with concern as she moved to stand beside her at the window. "Has she been gone all day?"
Emma nodded, the worry gnawing at her. "She's usually back by now. She'd better come home soon, before—"
"I'll find her," Lucia assured her, patted her on the arm, then walked back to the stove and opened the oven door. She put on her mitts, and took the roast out of the oven.
Part of Emma knew it was foolish to worry. Angel often ran off in the late afternoon. The silly dog would catch a scent of some rabbit or squirrel, and off she would go, chasing it through the countryside. Always before, she'd come home by dark. Tonight wouldn't be any different, she thought, trying to reassure herself as the sun sank below the horizon.
Only, before now, the dog had always returned when she'd called for her. The scars set deep in her cheek burned. She touched them, rubbing gently.
"Is the pain getting worse?" Lucia asked, the worry back in her eyes.
Emma nodded. "It always does this time of year." And not because of the cooler days and nights, as Dr. Callahan liked to say, but because it marked the return of the Equinox, of the wolves, of hopelessness.
"I'll make the salve," Lucia muttered. "In the meantime, take this tray up to your father, but don't let him see your fear." She ladled a hefty serving of potatoes and carrots onto a plate.
Emma pulled her fingers from the jagged edges of the scar tissue. "I know. Dr. Callahan told me to keep him calm. I won't upset him." She took the tray, and walked upstairs to her father's room. For a moment, she stood outside his door, trying to compose herself. She didn't want him worrying about her. Not now, not when his heart was so weak.
She took a deep breath, then walked in with the tray holding his dinner and medications balanced in her hands. "Ready for supper, Dad?"
"Emma," he said, his eyes narrowing as he smiled at her. "Have you been avoiding me?"
"Don't be silly. Why would I be avoiding my favorite dad?"
"Oh, do you have another dad I don't know about?"
She grinned and placed the tray on his lap. "Lucia's made pork roast with carrots and new potatoes. She's really outdone herself tonight."
"You should have brought a tray for yourself and eaten with me," he said, and gave a small pout.
"I should have, you're right," she agreed, reluctant to tell him she couldn't eat. How could she, with her stomach all tied up in knots? She busied herself turning up his light to chase the shadows back into the room's deep corners, then sat in the Queen Anne chair next to the bed.
Copyright © 2007 by Cynthia D. Cooke.