Marked Souls, by Michelle Clay
Release Date: June 15, 2012
Not only can Alexandra Chandler summon demons, she can destroy them as well. Unfortunately, her unique gift has garnered the attention of Erielnael, one of the most powerful demons in the Netherworld. He recognizes the raw power Alex holds and wants to make her his familiar. This demon is unlike any other she’s ever gone up against. When she narrowly escapes him, he put a price on her head and his denizens will stop at nothing to please their master.
In an attempt to avoid Erielnael she stumbles across Jacob, a strange boy who hears voices. He claims demons whisper in his ear. Despite her initial aversion to him, they become fast friends. It is through him that she learns Erielnael plans to use her to rip the seams between the Netherworld and this realm apart.
Unfortunately for Alex, demons aren’t the only ones after her. A small, secretive group of demon hunters has learned of her talents and wants the use of her extraordinary gifts as well. When she agrees to help them, her life is turned upside down. To make matters worse she has fallen for Cole Murrough, a key member of the group, who is moody and sometimes difficult to get along with. Cole has a dark secret of his own, but can she accept it? Alex finds herself dealing with demons, a forbidden love, dark secrets and a betrayal so shocking; it could destroy everything she’s worked toward.
Cole’s hair had begun to dry, forming curly wisps around his head. He was still shirtless, and she couldn’t tear her gaze away. She wanted, no, needed, to lick each and every water droplet off his body. Fingers at his waistband, she curled them against his hip bones.
He drove her backward, firmly planting her butt on the end of the bed. Then he retreated to the table in the corner and sat down. He snatched up the phone book and thumbed through it though he didn’t seem to be looking at anything in particular. “Are you hungry?”
“No.” That was a lie. She was starving, but it wasn’t for nourishment. She licked her lips and watched his muscles flex each time he leaned back in the chair. He said something about finding a place that delivered, but she barely registered his words. All she knew for certain was that accent of his was damn sexy.
A jolt of awareness zipped through her each time he moved. Heat danced low in her abdomen and made her heartbeat race. She clenched her legs in an effort to quell the desires smoldering within. She attempted to sit perfectly still, but now that she was aware of it, she couldn’t ignore it. Damn that demon and its stupid curse!
Focus, Alex, focus! “So what you said back at the diner, was any of it true?”
He arched a brow. “Which part?”
“Something about a key.”
“You are the key.” He lowered his gaze back to the book. “That demon of yours wants to use you to split the seams between this realm and the Netherworld.”
“He said he wanted me to be his familiar.” The room had grown awfully warm. Alex scooted to the edge of the bed and struggled to shuck the socks from her feet.
“Once he has control of you, he can use you however he likes.” Cole sighed, obviously peeved that he had to talk to his prisoner. “He will use you to open the portal, and you’ll think nothing of it because you’ll be under his control.”
“No way. I won’t let that happen.”
“You will because that’s what he’ll command. You’ll be powerless to stop him.” He glared at her, seeming to dare her to argue further. “Doesn’t matter though. We won’t allow it.”
“Are you really going to kill me?” She lifted her hands in a helpless gesture.
His gaze followed the movement. “That’s up to the Council.”
Her fingers traced the gentle curve of her collarbone, seeming to have a mind of their own. “It’s so hot in here. Can’t you remove the cuffs to get this damned sweater off me?”
The book slipped from Cole’s fingers, and he cleared his throat. “Stop that.”
“Just be still. Go to sleep.”
“I’m not sleepy.” Tracing along the swell of her right breast, she imagined his tongue tracing the same contour. The cuff dragged across the sensitive bud, and a rush of sensation overwhelmed her. Though the feeling was muted beneath her bra and sweater, she couldn’t ignore the craving it brought forth.
“Damned Desmoedea,” he cursed beneath his breath. “You’ve really got to stop that, Alex.”
Cole’s gaze never wavered from hers. The book lay forgotten on the table as he sat up. He licked his lips, and Alex relished the idea that she had his full attention. She was getting to him. Maybe she could seduce him into freeing her hands. As soon as he did, she’d hit him with a jolt of energy and knock his cute butt out. Then she’d get the hell out of there and never look back. Only, she’d have to break the curse first. Otherwise, she’d be mad with sexual frustration and not thinking all too clearly. Things were just too complicated.
Her fingers trailed down to the waistband of her jeans. The button popped open easily enough, followed by the growl of the zipper.
He was beside her in an instant. Lust smoldered in his green eyes, but he did not touch her.
“This is your fault.” Her hands were on him again, tracing the graceful line of the mermaid’s tail on his bicep. The handcuffs rattled and jangled with each movement.
Cole grinned in a devilish manner. “How so?”
She rolled one of his small hard nipples between her fingers. “When Desmoedea came, I couldn’t protect myself. If it wasn’t for your handcuffs, I could have blasted her back to hereafter.”
It was easier to blame the demon for the covetous thoughts rushing through her. To fault Desmoedea was better than admitting she was wickedly attracted to this stranger. The same stranger who stripped her of magic, not to mention would give her over to the mysterious Council. Who knew what they had planned for her.
She leaned forward to flick his nipple with the tip of her tongue and delighted in the groan it brought from him.
His hand cupped her chin to tilt her face up to his. Then he leaned in, pressed his mouth against hers, causing an inferno to explode inside her. Cole was aroused by her. The proof of it pushed against her hip. He breathed into her, tongue sliding into her mouth, and she gave herself over completely to it.
His green eyes smoldered. “It seems only fair that I help alleviate your … discomfort.”
“Yes, please.” Alex experienced some difficulty maneuvering her hands in the cuffs. All she wanted was to touch him, feel his hot flesh against hers. Her fingers fluttered at his waist then dipped lower. “Take these cuffs off.”
Even as a child, Michelle wasn’t afraid of the things that went bump in the night. In fact, the thought of a world where werewolves roamed and Dracula reigned king may seem like an eldritch dream to most, but was exciting to Michelle. Instead of turning on a light for comfort, she reveled in the dark, imagining the lives of what was out there roaming the night and frightening those who didn’t truly appreciate how interesting the supernatural really were.
Nowadays, her visions continuously take shape as she brings life to the worlds she has imagined since childhood. The wild imaginings that often got Michelle out of, or more often into, trouble as a young girl have informed and enriched her storytelling as an adult, bringing a fresh new voice to the paranormal romance genre.