Some secrets are best forgotten.
Araneae Nation, Book 5
Fresh from the battlefields of Erania, Marne rides south with Edan, headed for the city of Beltania. Among the Mimetidae guards accompanying them is Asher, who’s been a thorn in her side since the day they met. He’s rude and abrasive…yet he was the first to volunteer as escort.
Marne dreams of a fresh start where no one knows who—or what—she is. But first, they must cross the veil. Rumor has it spirits haunt that grim stretch of road, and unwary travelers who enter are never heard from again.
Veil or no veil, Asher is honor bound to see Marne safely to her new home. Though truth be told, Marne leaving Erania is the last thing he wants. This journey is his final chance to convince her distance will only make his heart grow fonder.
When Edan is lost to the mists, Marne is trapped in a strange land with no allies—with a man who draws her closer every day. Closer to her heart, and her secrets. Secrets she must reveal if they are to save the one man bent on tearing them apart.
Warning: This book contains one heroine willing to fly into the face of danger and the hero who gives her heart wings. This adventure is BYOM, Bring Your Own Meal. Trust me, where we’re going, takeout is to die for. Literally.
Winter was the maw of a ravenous beast who raged against those foolish enough to venture into the frigid northland forests. It gulped them down through thin patches of ice or devoured them with a frostbitten sickness that spread through their limbs, blackening them until the cold sank teeth in their hearts and they expired. The northlands were a harsh, miserable territory I could not wait to escape.
After penning those words, I snapped my journal closed and stuffed it into my saddlebag.
For the first time in months, my heart was light and the city of Erania lay behind me.
“I have another blanket if you require it.”
I reined in my ursus and glanced over my shoulder. “Then what will keep you warm?”
The male who rode straight for me shifted in his saddle to free the thick fur wrapped around his waist. He wore black leather pants, a white silk shirt and a heavy overcoat trimmed in fur. He was as pale as the snow banked around us, and even the thick ridges of scars crisscrossing his face failed to dull his beauty in my eyes. His sow bumped noses with mine when he pulled even with me. Our mounts were twin sisters, both as black as pitch. Both unimpressed to be a part of our frozen caravan bound for the southlands.
He wiggled his eyebrows at me. “The love of a good female?”
I wrinkled my nose. “I do love you, Edan, but I fail to see how that will warm you.”
“I said a female.” He grinned and tossed the fur to me. “Not a spoiled little girl.”
I rolled my eyes. “And who, dear brother—”
He clamped a hand over my mouth. “Hush.”
I startled then gave him a slow nod. He released his grip after a quick glance around us.
We shared dangerous secrets now. Leave it to me to be the one who spilled them.
If we were to play at being husband and wife, I would do well to act my part.
“I’m sorry.” My exhale left a plume of white fog between us. “I forget.”
Edan took my hand and kissed the top of my glove. “You weren’t designed for treachery.”
“And you were?” I regretted the words the instant they left my mouth.
Our former master had trained Edan in the art of duplicity, to be a pawn for his machinations.
That we were no longer slaves did little to alter the parts of our pasts still chained to our hearts.
“We are what we are, Marne.” His smile faltered. “Nothing can change that.”
“What are we then? Slaves to our pasts or masters of our own fates? I no longer know.”
A shrill whistle sounded behind us. I twisted in my saddle to see who had raised the alarm. Asher.
Of all the males who could have volunteered for this detail, why had he lifted his hand?
Asher ran his boar hard. From here I spied the white foam rimming its jaws. He barreled past his fellow guards while barking sharp orders over his shoulder. He sped for us, yanking on the reins and spraying snow across my face when his ursus slid over the ice in front of ours. His mount blocked the road.
Asher’s eyes were chips of black ice, bleak and frigid when he inclined his head toward me.
The heat that flash of his regard ignited in my belly made me shift miserably on my mount.
Dismissing me in the next instant, he addressed Edan. “The risers have spotted us.”
Edan set his jaw. “Are you not as concerned for my wife’s safety as I am?”
I flinched at the word. How the title of wife grated on my nerves. Lies beget more lies…
“If I weren’t concerned for Marne,” Asher said, “I would have let the risers catch us and—”
The steady rumble in Edan’s chest made Asher bristle.
“Do not take such reckless action again.” Edan’s gaze slid over me, over the snow I had swiped from my face. Fine powder dusted the blankets covering my lap. “Marne has a delicate constitution.”
Working his jaw over what he might have said, Asher spared me a sharp glance. “I apologize.”
“I understand your urgency.” I dared smile at him. I could not help myself. “Please, continue.”
A Veil of Secrets Copyright © 2014 by Hailey Edwards. Used with permission of Samhain Publishing.
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A cupcake enthusiast and funky sock lover possessed of an overactive imagination, Hailey lives in Alabama with her handcuff-OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA carrying hubby, her fluty-tooting daughter and their herd of dachshunds.
Her desire to explore without leaving the comforts of home fueled her love of reading and writing.
Whenever the itch for adventure strikes, Hailey can be found with her nose glued to her Kindle’s screen or squinting at her monitor as she writes her next happily-ever-after.
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