Authors: Ella Frank
Copyright © 2016 by Ella Frank
Edited by Mickey Reed
Cover Design © By Hang Le
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except
for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Also by Ella Frank
The Exquisite Series
The Temptation Series M/M
Masters Among Monsters Series
A Desperate Man Series
Co-authored with Brooke Blaine
Neda’s Waterfall - 31 BC
GO. YOU MUST go now…
Isadora Nikitas winced as her bare feet dug into the jagged rocks, those words repeating over and over in her mind. Her breathing was choppy as she curled her fingers around one of the boulders to haul herself out of the water. When it pierced through the flesh of her palm, she bit her bottom lip to keep quiet, refusing to make her location known.
The sun was starting to set, casting a crimson hue over everything the fading light touched. In the distance, anguished cries of the one she’d left behind—Daphne—could be heard.
When she paused to look over her shoulder at the woman she’d known her entire life, her breath caught. A man much larger than they were was dragging Daphne from the water. But, instead of screaming for him to stop, she scratched and kicked at him, brave as always.
It was in that moment that Isadora reversed course, determined to go back and help Daphne, whom she’d been parted from in their haste to leave. Several loose rocks splashed into the water, and as she hurried back to the barbaric scene, her eyes met with Daphne’s, the message in them clear.
Run. Run before he comes for you too.
Isadora looked at the man, barely recognizing him even though she had known him since birth. Dimitri—her own brother. And he was in a rage. His fingers were snarled in Daphne’s blond hair, and his voice was murderous as it echoed around the ravine.
“Pórni̱! Whore!” he barked as Daphne’s chiton, weighted down by the water, fell from her hips.
Isadora pushed through the swirling currents, her tangled skirts impeding her speed. When she finally made it to the bank, she crouched down to pick a rock up.
Daphne stumbled backwards as Dimitri hauled her farther from the water, and then she tripped over the chiton and he brought her to a standstill. She reached for the fingers ensnared in her hair and cried out again when he roughly angled her head back towards him.
Isadora’s breath left her on a rush as she watched Dimitri remove a dagger from the leather strap at his waist.
No. There’s no way he’s going to hurt her.
But as she watched the horror unfold, Isadora knew she was wrong. Her brother wasn’t going to hurt Daphne—he was going to kill her.
Without hesitation, she hurled the rock as hard as she could, hoping to cause damage. But she was too far away, and when it landed against her brother’s arm with a dull thump and fell to the ground, she knew that nothing was going to save them from his wrath now.
He slowly brought his eyes up and pinned her in place. Her feet were ankle-deep in the water as he brought the dagger up beneath Daphne’s chin. Isadora could see Daphne’s lower lip quivering, but instead of pleading with her fiancé for her life, her eyes found Isadora’s and she shouted, “Always burn brightly, my Isa! Ego zo kai petheno mesa sti floga sou! Now, go! You must go now!”
I live and die inside your flame.
Those words caused her heart to break in two, and Isadora was torn between fleeing and racing over to free Daphne. That’s when a grin ripe with evil twisted Dimitri’s lips. Then he drew the blade across Daphne’s pale throat, spilling her blood without a care for the woman he’d just ended, and Isadora let free a mortified scream.
Tears streamed over her cheeks as she staggered backwards into the water and her brother dumped Daphne’s twitching body to the ground. She had no time to grieve, but all she wanted to do was collapse in a heap and mourn what she had lost.
When her brother stepped over Daphne as if she were no more than a washed-up log, Isadora ordered herself to move. She could grieve later, but right now, she had to move. Otherwise, she would share the same fate as Daphne, whose blood was running in rivulets through the dirt.
Diving under the cool surface, she swam for her life, making it across the gorge in record time before hauling herself out of the water. She dug her knees into the hard shale of the rocks and cringed as she climbed and clawed her way over the highest peak. When she got her feet under her upon the grassy top, a splash of water met her ears as her brother pulled himself out of the ravine and started up the same path she’d taken.
As the sun set and the eerie darkness of night enveloped her, Isadora tugged her wet skirts up so she could make a run for it. Her feet carried her through the dense foliage spread out before her, and the cracking of branches gave her away with every step she took.
She cursed, yet she had no other choice than to continue. Either that or lie down and die. As she pushed a large branch out of her way, the tall reeds sprouting from the ground brushed her calves. Leaves smacked her chin and cheeks, and she shut her eyes to protect them. If she could find something to hide behind, then maybe she would stand a chance. That thought soon vanished, however, when a large hand clamped down onto her arm.
Pulled to the left, she swung her free arm out in an effort to hit her assailant. Thinking it was Dimitri, she let out a scream of terror—until a palm clapped over her mouth and a person by her ear said, “I am here to save you. Stop fighting me.”
She couldn’t stop the air bursting from her mouth in pants as panic from her known stalker turned into fear of her unknown attacker.
As if the man behind her had read her mind, he whispered, “I will not harm you. You need not fear me. But you must trust me. And you must do it now.”
Her heart was hammering beneath her breastbone, and she knew she didn’t have much of a choice. She breathlessly replied, “Se empistevome. I trust you.”
The next thing she knew, everything faded, and she woke up somewhere else entirely.
Present Day—Elias’s office
BETRAYAL. THE KIND that broke and violated one’s confidence. Isadora remembered it all too well. And it was currently clawing its way free of the vault-like hole she’d shoved her humanity into the night Diomêdês had turned her.
She tried to pry her eyes open, but the task seemed close to impossible. They were heavy as lead. Clenching her fists atop the arms of the chair she was bound to, she forced her lids to part the tiniest of cracks, and the low light from the lamp on Elias’s desk made her wince.
How long had it been since he’d left her alone in his office? Ten minutes? Thirty? An hour? She’d tried counting the infernal ticking of the clock as she’d drifted in and out of consciousness, trying to use it as an anchor to keep her alert. It had been no use though. The poison from the silver filigree in the chair had seeped through the pores of her skin, and its venom had caused a fiery trail throughout her veins.
She’d tried to convince herself that she would find a way out of her current situation. That she would break free and hunt Elias down like the no-good dog he was. But, as time ticked on by, she was more than aware that that possibility was becoming less likely.
Isadora lifted her head and tried to open her eyes in earnest.
She heard her name again as if it were drifting all around her, attempting to make its way into her subconscious yet not quite getting there.
Where are you,
ómorfo mou koritsi
Diomêdês. Her Ancient. The one who’d given her eternal life. He was summoning her—a summons she was not to ignore.
Forcing her eyes to obey her command, they fully opened this time, and she winced from the strain of it. The poison had made it to her eyes, and it stung as if someone had thrown acid in them. Once they had adjusted to the burn, the door behind her opened.
She tried to focus on her surroundings as the blurry figure of a man walked around her and across the office floor. Lounging back against a heavy, wooden desk, he crossed his arms and eyed her.
Elias—he’d returned from wherever he’d disappeared to.
The force of attempting to raise an arm and break free slammed into her and she slumped back against the chair. Then, right before she passed out, she could’ve sworn she heard her name again. Only she wasn’t sure if it had been a summons from her maker or if it had been from the one who now claimed to be her master.