With: Jeaniene Frost
November 28th, 2017
You can run from your destiny, but you can’t hide…
Ivy thought that she and Adrian had conquered their fates. Yet with thousands of innocents still trapped in the demon realms, she’s determined to locate the final hallowed weapon and harness its unparalleled power to free them. But the last relic nearly put Ivy in the grave—there’s probably no coming back from this one.
Adrian’s dark lineage has made him the most powerful of his kind, yet even his incredible abilities might not be enough now. Instead, the treacherous fate he has fought so hard to escape might be the only way he can save Ivy. Their scintillating bond has been tested before, but never with so much on the line. Now fate will come head-to-head against true love, and nothing they’ve endured can prepare Ivy and Adrian for the unthinkable choices they’ll face…
“The conclusion to Frost’s Broken Destiny trilogy is, by far, the strongest of the lot and the most fulfilling. There’s been a great deal of thought and care put into the complexity of this world, and it all comes together here in an emotional burst of action, mythology and romance. It’s saying something when the reader comes to care — really care — about the characters, even a monstrous gargoyle with a penchant for raw meat. The ending is unexpected, and is a fitting farewell to Ivy and Adrian.” Romantic Timesmagazine, 4 stars.
Read the entire first chapter below. Spoiler warning: If you haven’t read books one or two, there are BIG spoilers below and they start in the first sentence. Also, this chapter is slightly different than the one that’s currently at the back of The Sweetest Burn. That’s what happens when you post something pre-revisions :)). Disclaimers aside, enjoy!
I walked into the museum with a half demon holding my hand and a gargoyle waiting for me back at our car. As a history major, I’d often dreamed about going museum hopping throughout Europe, but not once had I pictured doing it like this.
“We’re here for the four p.m. tour,” Adrian, my new husband and the aforementioned half demon, told the museum attendant.
“The four p.m. tour group is over there,” she said, pointing toward a small cluster of people about a dozen feet away.
As we walked off, Adrian traced the braided rope tattoo on my right hand. My sleeve hid the rest of it, just like my high-necked blouse and long pants hid the remains of the other hallowed weapon that had supernaturally merged with my flesh. If the hallowed weapon we were looking for was here, I’d no doubt end up with a third supernatural tattoo.
Of course, that tattoo might one day end up decorating my cold dead corpse.
“Feel anything, Ivy?” Adrian asked in a low voice.
I directed my senses outward and felt the distinct vibes that meant this was hallowed ground, as well as extra brushes of power from the various religious relics in this museum. But I didn’t feel anything potent enough to punch a hole through every demon realm in existence, and that’s the specific ancient relic we were after.
“No,” I said, frustration coloring my tone.
I hadn’t felt the power we were seeking when we were at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome last week, or the Hofburg Palace in Vienna earlier this week. Now we were at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin complex in Vagharshapat, Armenia. This was the third place in the world claiming possession of spearhead of Longinus, aka the Holy Lance, aka the final hallowed weapon that I was supposedly fated to wield. The third time was, unfortunately, not the charm according to my lineage-derived radar. I could sense hallowed objects, and the famed spearhead wasn’t here, unless wards were messing with my ability to feel it.
Someone close enough to overhear that gave me a startled look. I just waved at her. I wasn’t worried about shocking her with the truth about demons, demons’ minions, Archons—better known as angels—or any of the other supernatural creatures I now knew were real. I could spend the next twenty minutes telling everyone here that all these things existed, and no one would believe me even if a bunch of demons were breathing down their necks while I spoke. I knew that from experience.
Adrian drew me closer, brushing back my dark brown hair. “We had to check out this museum to be sure the spearhead wasn’t hiding in plain sight. Besides,” he murmured, leaning down until his mouth nearly touched mine. “This might not be a successful relic hunt, but it’s turning into a great honeymoon.”
My cheeks weren’t the only parts of me to grow warm at his statement, yet instead of leaning into his lips, I pushed him back. The look in his eyes said he was about to kiss me in a way more suited to our bedroom than a museum located on the headquarters of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Still, Adrian was right. We might have struck out at finding the third hallowed weapon, but other than that, this had been the best month of my life. I’d used the second hallowed weapon to close the gateways between the demon realms and our world, effectively locking the demons out. That made it a thousand times safer for me, Adrian, my sister, our friend Costa, and every other person in the world. Only demons’ minions were left on this side of the realms, and with their demon masters locked up, the minions seemed to be running scared instead of terrorizing anyone.
“Kiss me later. Let’s do the tour now,” I told Adrian. “I might not feel anything, but the last weapon’s power was blocked by wards. Maybe the spearhead is here, and I just can’t feel it yet.”
“Maybe,” Adrian said, his light tone belying the sudden darkening of his sapphire-colored gaze.
Then he straightened, and just like that, the teasing, passionate man I loved was replaced by a hardened fighter who’d been raised by demons to be the world’s most effective killer. I took in a deep breath, reminding myself that the demons’ efforts had backfired. Now Adrian used all of his amazing abilities to fight against them instead of for them.
Besides, he was only gearing up in case the spearhead was here. If so, its incredible power would compel me into attempting to use it on the spot, and I wasn’t ready to do that. Not yet. That’s why Adrian would fight to the last ounce of his demonically-fueled, destiny-enhanced strength to stop me.
Because if I did use the spearhead now, it would kill me.
As it turned out, neither one of us had anything to worry about. One glance at the relic should’ve been enough to prove that it wasn’t the real deal. Touching the glass around it to make sure it hadn’t been protected by wards had almost been redundant. A first-century Roman spearhead wasn’t a short, flat, ornamental object that looked better suited to be a necklace than an ancient tool of war. It was a nasty, two-foot iron shank crowned with a sharp, pyramid-shaped point designed to impale someone even through protective armor.
No, this was another replica, and now, we had no idea where to look for the real spearhead. Adrian wasn’t nearly as upset about that as I was, and he wasn’t even trying to pretend otherwise.
“You could at least fake some disappointment,” I said as we left the museum and walked toward our rental van.
He gave me a sideways glance. “Then I’d be lying, and I thought we agreed there would be no more lies between us.”
We had, but he didn’t need to rub in how he’d much rather that I never found, let alone wielded, the spearhead. I could understand his reasons, but if I gave this up, then the demons would win and thousands of innocent people would die.
“And I thought you agreed to support me,” I said, the weight of all those lives making my tone sharper.
Adrian stopped and turned to face me. The sun was starting to set, casting artificial shades of red across his golden hair. His towering height, impressive physique, and gorgeous features had turned countless heads as we walked, but he didn’t seem to notice anyone else. Adrian stared at me as if I was the only person on this massive complex.
“I do support you.” The smoothness in his tone didn’t fool me. Unbreakable ties could also be made of finest silk. “My every action is driven by my undying love for you, in fact. What more do you want?”
Put that way, what more could I want? Yet something still felt…off, as if what Adrian wasn’t saying was more important than his words.
Underneath my joy this past month, I’d also had a nagging feeling that I was missing something important. Of course, it could be that I just didn’t know how to truly be happy. I’d never had a real relationship before. Plus, until six months ago, I and everyone else who knew me had believed I was crazy.
“I know you’re not chomping at the bit to find the spearhead because using it is dangerous for me,” I said, exploring that nagging feeling. “But I’ve survived lots of risks before, remember? I’ll come out on top this time, too.”
Adrian opened his mouth as if to argue, then closed it. “I know you will,” he said, still in that smooth, easygoing tone. “You’re just not ready to wield it yet. That’s why I’m glad none of these relics have been real. Later, when you’ve had more time to train, you’ll be prepared to handle it.”
“Yeah, well, later better end up being sooner,” I muttered. All the people still trapped in the demon realms couldn’t wait years for me to bulk up on my supernatural fortitude.
“Don’t worry,” Adrian said, intensity deepening his voice this time. “I’ll keep you safe. I promise.”
I gave him a lopsided smile. Yes, between Adrian and our good friend Costa training me, my stamina, strength and skills had grown by leaps and bounds. Eventually, with more training, I was counting on it being enough to keep me alive when I attempted to wield the final hallowed weapon—assuming we ever found it.
I shook off that nagging feeling. It had to be me projecting my own paranoia onto Adrian. After all, aside from our fight when I’d decided to go after the spearhead, Adrian hadn’t argued with me about it. He’d arranged these trips, helped me train and been nothing but supportive. So, even though I felt like I’d grown an inner “trouble brewing” sensor in addition to my hallowed one, it had to be in my head.
“Fine,” I said, my tone brightening. “Since the spearhead is a bust, do you know any good restaurants around here?”
I stopped speaking when Adrian flung me forward. He’d shoved me so hard that I would have hit the pavement face first if not for all the training I’d undergone. Instead, I rolled, muscle memory taking over. Several loud pops sounded in quick succession above me, as rapid as fireworks, yet when they were followed by screams, I knew what they really were. Gunfire.
“Ivy, run!” Adrian shouted.
I darted toward the nearest car for coverage. I didn’t have to worry about Adrian—bullets weren’t lethal to him. He hadn’t joined me behind the car, but ran in the direction of the shots. That would be suicidal for anyone else, but his half-demon bloodline meant that only another demon could kill Adrian.
“I’m good!” I shouted so Adrian wouldn’t worry about me.
The car window above me shattered from another round of gunfire. Worse, the angle from that shot had been completely different. That meant we were being attacked by two shooters.
I hit the ground and began to crawl toward another car, shredding my knees on the concrete, but not caring about the pain. Another shot hit the ground only an inch away, and I lurched forward to avoid the next one.