THE AKSELI and THE PURVELI were both nominated for Book of the Year!
Delve into an exciting new stand-alone novel in New York Times bestselling author Dianne Duvall's "fast-paced and humorous" (Publishers Weekly), "utterly addictive" (RT Book Reviews) Immortal Guardians series.
Nick Belanger can't stop thinking about the single mother who lives next door. She's smart. She's funny. She's so beautiful he can't stare at her too long for fear his eyes will start to glow. But Kayla thinks he's just an ordinary guy who works in security. Finding out he instead is a powerful immortal warrior who hunts and slays psychotic vampires for a living may not go over well, particularly since she has a daughter she doesn't want to endanger.
Kayla Dorman can keep neither her gaze nor her thoughts from straying to the man next door. Who can blame her really? He is the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome with smart, charming, and honorable thrown in. He's also a few years younger than her and surely would not be interested in a single mom who hasn't dated since her divorce. At least that's what she thinks until an accident nearly takes her life and Nick risks all to save her.
The dynamics of their relationship swiftly change. The friendship they've developed over the years deepens into love as the two spend every minute they can together, laughing and teasing, never suspecting a threat may lurk in the shadows. But that threat soon strikes, making it clear that Nick is the target and his enemy doesn't care if Kayla gets caught in the cross fire. Though Kayla bravely rises to the occasion and is determined to do whatever it takes to help Nick defeat his enemy, Nick is terrified of losing her. Can he identify and eliminate his new nemesis before the man takes everything from him?
"I loved the chemistry and banter between these two. I swooned and laughed... I loved it all from the telling to the hot teasing."
"The relationship between Kayla and Nick is sweet and hot... This story proves once again that Duvall can flat out write. Her writing never ceases to amaze."
—Audio Lovers Blog
"This book was fantastic... Nick and Kayla are cute together. And I loved how Nick let Kayla be herself and vise versa."
"Another outstanding edition to the Immortal Guardian series... I've been reading this series from the beginning and it just gets better every time."
—Read All About It
"What a whirlwind of conflict and fundamental love!... The many heartfelt moments sent my emotions in hyperdrive: laughing one moment, crying the next. The bantering and teasing fit perfectly throughout the storyline, I mean what more would you want out of a paranormal romance?"
She eased a few inches closer. “So.”
Her heart thumped a little louder. “It’s been a weird-ass day.”
He laughed. “Yes, it has.”
“A long one, too.”
He nodded. “And terrifying at times.”
That he cared enough about her to have been that shaken by her accident still stunned her. “There have been a lot of surprises.”
His look turned guarded. “Too many surprises?”
Nick’s superhuman speed and strength and glowing eyes might seem unreal and would take some getting used to, but she could handle it. Because it was Nick. “No.”
“Even if there are more to come?” The spark of vulnerability that entered his eyes hit her right in the chest. Was he referring to his gift, whatever it might be?
“Yes.” His reluctance to share it with her inspired no resentment. She suspected it had less to do with trust issues and more to do with concern that it might make her reject him.
“There’s a way out of the rabbit hole, you know,” he murmured. Resting both hands on her hips, he drew her closer.
Damn, she loved this man’s hands. They were so big and warm. And no matter where or how he touched her, Nick made her feel more alive than she had in years. “What?”
“You said you felt as though you had fallen down the rabbit hole.” Sliding his hands around, he clasped them at the base of her spine and drew her against him. “If it’s too much . . . there’s a way out of it. There’s an exit.”
Heart pounding, barely listening, Kayla followed his example. Wrapping her arms around his trim waist, she clasped her hands at the base of his spine, just above the muscled ass she wanted to fondle. “What do you mean?”
Her breath caught when a faint amber glow lit his irises.
“I can ask Seth to bury your memories of everything except the crash.”
That snagged her attention, yanking it away from how good he felt pressed against her. “What?”
“If it’s too much . . . or if you’ve changed your mind . . . Seth can bury your knowledge of what I am and”—his gaze flickered up toward his bedroom and back—“what I feel for you, so your life can return to normal without any preternatural stuff impinging upon it. And things between us can go back to what they were.”
Anger swiftly rose, strong enough to make her step back and break his hold. “First of all,” she bit out, “the fact that your friend can do that unnerves the hell out of me. I don’t want anyone messing with my mind and my memories. Ever.”
Then uncertainty zoomed in and halted what otherwise would’ve turned into a nice long rant.
Had he had to do that before? Had some woman in Nick’s past reacted so badly to his being immortal and having special abilities that he’d had to ask Seth to bury her memory and make her forget? Had some woman rejected him for it? Or women plural?
The fact that he now looked as if he were bracing himself for a blow made sympathy rise and merge with the absolute certainty that some dimwit—or dimwits—had actually done that. They had actually treated him badly because he was different, which spawned a new anger.
“And second,” she snapped, bolstering her nerve, “does this feel like I want to forget?” Heart pounding in her chest, she closed the distance between them once more, rose onto her toes, wrapped her arms around his neck, and drew his head down for a fiery kiss.
Nick’s muscled arms banded around her, crushing her close. Her breasts smashed against his chest. Her hips melded with his. Heat flooded her as he deepened the kiss, his tongue stroking hers. Her breath shortened as she fought the urge to jump up and wrap her legs around his hips.
On the brink of losing that fight, she dragged her lips from his and drew in several deep breaths.
It didn’t help. Every inhale drew his scent into her lungs and filled her with Nick pheromones that made her ache for more.
She looked up at him.
He stared back, his eyes boring into hers with a bright amber glow. “You don’t want to forget.” His voice was deeper and husky with desire that did nothing to dampen her need.
“I don’t want to forget,” she assured him, as if her tight hold on him hadn’t already made that clear. “But someone in your past did. Someone rejected you because of who and what you are.”
His Adam’s apple bobbed with a hard swallow before he nodded.
He hesitated for so long she thought he wouldn’t answer. “Almost everyone I’ve ever loved,” he confessed wearily.
Her heels dropped back to the floor. Her chest tightened. And the backs of her eyes began to burn with tears she hastily blinked back.
Those five words held a wealth of sorrow.
Leaving one hand on the nape of his neck, she cupped his strong jaw with the other. “They were fools.” One corner of her lips turned up as she arched a brow. “And total wusses apparently.”
His lips stretched in a smile that bespoke both amusement and relief.
She winked. “I’m smarter and made of sterner stuff.”
“Yes, you are.”
“I don’t want to forget.”
“You don’t want to forget.”
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