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Danel, burdened by a perfect memory and a history of mistreatment, feels useless after losing his hand. When an incident involving his obsession with coffee forces him to intervene in a brawl to protect a barista named Ronnie, he gains a fresh perspective. Ronnie has been captivated by Danel for over a year, and as she witnesses his struggles, she's determined to break through his defenses, finding an unexpected connection in the midst of an alleyway encounter.
- Fated Mates
As the mystical scribe of their dysfunctional family, Danel's
divine gift doesn't allow him to forget anything, and now—with the loss of his
dagger hand—has no way to contribute. When his obsession with coffee lands him
in a back-alley fight to save his barista, Danel sees the world with a
different perspective—a blank slate.
Ronnie set her sights on
Mr. Tall, Dark, and Broody over a year ago. For all the attention he gives her,
she might as well be invisible. Still, when he loses his hand and seems to be
sinking deeper into his inner darkness, she can’t help but want to help. All
she needs is the chance to slip behind the steel wall he erects between himself
and the rest of the world. Who knew that chance would come in the shadowed
darkness of an alley.
Intro Into Chapter One
Intro Into Chapter One
“Large coffee, double-double, and a plain bagel,
lightly toasted, with herb and garlic cream cheese, right?”
Danel glanced up from the wad of bills in his fist and
forced himself not to roll his eyes. The blonde barista at this place was
always way too perky for the hour of the night . . . or morning, as the case
may be. Annnnd she was staring.
What the fuck was she staring at?
Right, she’d asked him a question. “Yeah, right.”
With his order confirmed, she sprang into action and
he tossed a five on the stainless-steel counter. He would never understand it.
These stupid sheep led unimportant, mundane lives, yet most of them didn’t seem
to notice. Some of them, like barista-Barbie here, actually seemed joyous to
wear her sad poly-cotton uniform, scrape together minimum wage, and serve
It made Danel’s balls knot.
Nothing worse than being bombarded with sunshine when
you felt like death. Ignoring the idle chatter-babble splattering over him, he
accepted the takeout tray she slid toward his good hand and made a break for
“Have a nice night.”
Yeah, Fan-fucking-tastic. In three long strides, he was face to face with the
way out. Annnnd that’s when his shit-kickers stalled dead. Damn. He
couldn’t face his brothers coming in from patrol tonight. They’d be hyped about
the demons they’d taken down and he’d be all . . . “Good stuff, sorry I missed
Deciding to put off the awkward nightly ritual, he
hung a louie and headed for a booth in the back corner. He bypassed the rows of
empty tables and eyed the only other customer in the place. A homeless guy sat
reading yesterday’s news, ass-planted in the shadows.
A man who liked his privacy. He respected that.
With his back to the brick wall and a good line of
sight into both the coffee house and the street outside, Danel slid his tray
onto the table and got down to business.
He fought to free his caffeine salvation, but his
cardboard cup sat wedged tight. He had to lay his useless stump of an arm on
the tray to leverage it free. God, if he wasn’t such a java-whore, he’d never
put himself through the humiliation of public display. After liberating his
mug, he set the thing on the table and tugged the black bandana back over what
was left of his dominant dagger hand.
A large swallow of liquid ambrosia didn’t dampen the
anger that festered inside him. Yep, being maimed was his retirement gift after
thousands of years of battling evil. Bound into servitude, he lived only to
save the lives of mindless humans.
Screw the gold watch . . . it would just slip off his
stump anyway. Yep, get your hand lopped off at the wrist, and it’s instant
retirement and removal from rotation. Indefinitely.
He tossed his bagel back onto the waxed paper, his
appetite lost. The question that brain-fried him now . . . if he wasn't a
warrior, who in the three realms was he? Anger management poster boy? A DIY
project waiting to happen? Or just some unlucky asshole who’d given a hundred
and ten percent and been left a cripple. His brothers couldn’t even look him
square in the eye. That was a ball-gnasher on both sides.
His phone vibrated in his pocket and the hum broke
through his wallowing. He set down his coffee and checked the ID.
“Danel, you forgot to say goodbye. I’m hurt.”
“What happened? One minute, I’m changing the targets
and the next, you’re vapor.”
“I had enough target practice for one night. End of.”
The silence on the other end of the phone gave Danel
the scratch. He trapped his phone between his ear and his shoulder and took a long
haul on his coffee. Didn’t help.
Colt cursed under his breath and when the guy spoke
again, his tone rang far too reasonable. “It’ll come, D. You hit the mark every
time. In another few sessions, you’ll be as deadly as a southpaw as you ever
were. Give it time.”
Danel flexed the blistered and bloodied fingers. Man,
his digits numbed up during the hours of abuse he put it through. “With the
rebellion gaining ground, the squad can’t afford me to be on the disabled list.
Tanek’s dead, Kyrian spends most of his time doting on his Darkworld female
and, with Austin’s pregnancy advancing, Zander is only half-focused on the
streets. With me off rotation, that leaves us down four. The front lines are thin, Cop.”