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Authors: Bianca D'Arc

King's Throne

BOOK: King's Throne
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String of Fate

King’s Throne

b
y

Bianca D'Arc

 

 

 

 

A woman living in secret, hiding her true nature...

Gina is a medical doctor in New York City. What nobody knows is that she’s also tiger-shifter royalty, living in exile. Keeping her secret has kept her safe, but all that is about to change.

An injured soldier who heals in a way that makes him more than he ever was before...

Mitch is injured and out of the action. He wakes up in a strange place, with a beautiful woman. Normally, not a problem, but this woman is special. She’s a white tiger and daughter of the lost tiger king. She’s too good for the likes of him, but there’s an undeniable spark of attraction drawing them closer and closer.

A love that will make the very earth tremble beneath their feet...

When evil challenges, Mitch will fight to keep Gina safe. A harrowing journey to the side of a living volcano brings secret knowledge and a power none of them ever expected. Will it be enough to prevail?

Only victory will keep his lady safe. And only victory will allow Gina to claim the man she truly loves.

 

 

String of Fate
is a trilogy about big cat shifters and their mysterious society. This trilogy takes place in the same world as
Tales of the Were
and
Brotherhood of Blood
, but follows a different group of shifters in a slightly different part of the world.

 

 

 

Dedication

 

Many thanks to my friend, Peggy McChesney for being such a great sounding board all these years and particularly as relates to
this book. Thanks also to the totally awesome
Anna-Marie Chaconas Buchner
.
You’re both terrific!

This book, as all my work, is dedicated to my family. They have always supported my crazy ideas and stood by me through all my little experiments in living. Thanks especially to Dad for giving me the courage to try new things with my writing and my career, and always encouraging me to “reach for a star.”

 

 

 

 

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

Copyright © 2014
Bianca D’Arc

Cover Art by
Valerie Tibbs

 

 

All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

“Mom, I’m coming home.”

“What’s wrong
, Gina?” The worried voice on the other end of the cell phone call came through loud and clear.

They both knew it was a big deal for Gina to leave her apartment in the city and head, quite literally, for the hills. Her parents lived upstate in the mountains. It had been a struggle to leave home when she was younger. Her father was overprotective in the extreme and it had taken a lot to overcome his objections. Her place in the city was more than just an apartment. It was a way for her to make a stand and declare her independence.

She loved her parents. She really did. But she wanted to be on her own for a bit. She wanted to be out from the shadow of her folks and make her own way in life—just like her best friend, Ellie. They’d left together to seek their fortunes in the big city and hadn’t gone back, except for the occasional visit. And now their freedom had been compromised and the only thing Gina could do was head home, tail between her legs, and ask for her parents’ help.

“Ellie knows about us
, Mom. She knows about shapeshifters. A panther-shifter soldier followed her home and then his partner was injured.”

Ellie was a registered nurse and Gina a medical doctor. It went, almost without saying, that they’d offered their help to the injured man. Gina knew her mother would connect the dots. Her mom had also been a nurse. She understood.

“How badly was he hurt?”

Yeah, her mother definitely got it.

“Really bad, Mom. In fact, I’ve got him in the car with me. He was doing a little better when we left the city, but he’s having some kind of relapse.”

“What happened to him?”
Her mother was all business now.

Gina looked at the giant of a man passed out in the passenger seat. Between he
r and her mother, they ought to be able to do something for the ailing shifter.

“He was poisoned. I gave him blood and all the royal nectar I had on hand to revive him. It seemed to help for a while, but now he’s unconscious again and his temperature is spiking.”

“You can’t give him any more of the nectar. It’s too dangerous,” her mother cautioned. The purple substance known as royal nectar was something used only in emergencies, and then only sparingly. It was one of the secrets of the tiger Clan, produced by a very special branch of a pharmaceutical company they owned. And it was still experimental. “For all we know, the nectar could have reacted with the poison and made it worse.”

“Sweet Mother of All,” Gina almost sobbed. “I could’ve killed him.”

“What are his vitals?” her mother snapped, her professional tone calm. Unfortunately, Gina couldn’t do the same. For some unknown reason, her objectivity was shot where this particular patient was concerned. From the moment she had first laid eyes on him, something about him had sparked a reaction inside her unlike anything she had ever felt before. She still wasn’t sure what it all meant, but she didn’t have time to stop and think about it. Time was running short.

“I can’t stop to get any readings right now. We’re on the run.”

“From what? Gina, do you want me to get your father on the line?”

She thought about it and arrived at the conclusion that
, unfortunately, this was serious enough to involve her dad.

“Yeah
.” She sighed heavily, not looking forward to explaining herself. “You’d better get him. He needs to hear this too.”

Gina waited, listening while her mother found her dad and they both came on the line together.

“Kitten, what’s wrong?”

Just hearing her father’s deep voice reassured her. He was so strong, so steadfast. Nothing could harm her with her father around. At least, that’s the way he’d always made her feel.

“Hi, Daddy.” Her voice almost broke, but she held it together. She had to tell her dad everything that had been happening. He needed to know.

“Your mother said you’re bringing an injured man here.” His tone said he was both surprised by her breach of their tight security and curious.

“Not just a man. A
tigre d’or
Royal Guard.” Shocked silence met her statement. “His name is Mitch. His partner, Cade, is still with Ellie.”

Ellie had been Gina’s best friend since they were kids
attending the same rural grammar school. Ellie was completely human and hadn’t known about shifters until meeting a panther shifter named Cade. When he had asked for her help with his unconscious partner, Ellie hadn’t refused. She’d put the injured man in the small guest room in her apartment and called Gina.

Mitch had
gone into convulsions in Ellie’s guest room and started to shapeshift. His hands and feet had become paws and there had been no way to hide the truth from Ellie any longer. Gina only hoped that after this was all over, Ellie would forgive her for keeping so many secrets for so very long.

The truth was,
Gina and her parents were tiger shifters. In fact, they were the rarest of the rare—the royal
tigre blanche
, or white tigers, who were blessed by the Goddess in order to rule over all tiger shifters. Or so the story went. Gina’s dad though, had stepped down from his throne so long ago that Gina barely remembered the ice palace and the traditional seat of power. Her parents lived in seclusion. Exile. All due to the political machinations of her uncle.

Gina had grown up on the isolated acreage
her parents owned in the mountains of the northeastern United States. Her father and a few of his most trusted Royal Guards and their families had chosen to settle there after fleeing their homeland. The place was a fortress and larger than any of the surrounding homesteads. The terrain was rugged, rocky and not really suited to farming. Her dad had been able to buy up most of a mountaintop and installed his Guard in snug homes all around the perimeter.

When it came time for Gina to go to school, the Guards’ children had gone with her and they’d all made friends among the human population of their small town. The best way to protect themselves, her father always said, was to fit in. He and her mother still spoke English with a charming accent, but Gina had done all her schooling in the States and she looked and sounded like an American.

She’d gone to college nearer to the city and then on to medical school, with her parents’ blessing—and a few of the Guards’ kids who were around her age. They were her own little Royal Guard, though such a thing was never spoken aloud. But Gina knew her father worried for her safety and had been training the other kids to fill their parents’ roles as protectors for his daughter.

Part of that training had been in hand-to-hand combat. To keep their skills sharp while in the city, most of the shifter youngsters had taken classes at a very elite
, human, martial arts dojo run by a trusted human man who had been mated to a shifter. He knew all about the shifter world and still mourned the loss of his wife. His name was Harris and he’d been one of their most trusted human contacts, but as it turned out, even he wasn’t safe from their enemies.

“Sensei Harris’s
dojo was attacked and burned to the ground,” Gina continued her explanation. “That’s when Mitch was hurt. He and Cade were there for some kind of big meeting between the
pantera
Nyx and Harris.”

Gina didn’t need to explain that the Nyx was the queen of the
pantera noir
, the black panther shifters. If things had been different, Gina’s mom would still be the Tig’Ren and her dad would still reign as Tig’Ra, king and queen of the
tigre d’or
, the golden-tiger shifters.

“S
o Ellie brought the Nyx’s Guards to you?” her mother asked, sounding surprised even though Ellie lived one floor below Gina in the same apartment building.

“Not at first. She called me when Mitch started convulsing and asked me to come down to her apartment and take a look.” Gina had enjoyed living just upstairs from her best friend. She doubted they’d ever be able to go back to their carefree lives now. Too much had happened.
Too many secrets had been revealed.

“She didn’t warn you they were shifters?” her father wanted to know.

“She didn’t know. Not until I was already there. The men sniffed me out right away, of course. As soon as I walked into the apartment and I scented them, I knew my cover was blown, but I couldn’t let Mitch suffer. He was in really bad shape, so I gave him my blood and he rallied, but it caused some partial shifting while his body fought the poison.”

Gina was one of the rare
st—a truly universal shifter blood type—which meant more among shifters than it did among humans. Her blood could actually heal others—shifters and humans alike. Giving Mitch a few milliliters of her blood had been a last-ditch effort to save his life and totally unorthodox as far as human medicine went. Ellie was a nurse and Gina a doctor. Only their lifelong friendship had gained Ellie’s cooperation when Gina had performed the radical procedure.

“Ellie saw?” That was her mother’s worried voice and Gina could almost see the
anxious expression on her mom’s face.

“Yeah. That’s when I had to tell her. Mom, you should have seen her. Once she accepted the idea, she was fierce when the
pantera
Alpha tried to dominate the situation. I don’t think he realized what he was in for. Ellie hasn’t got a submissive bone in her body.”

Her father
chuckled, setting her at ease though she knew she was bringing trouble to her parents’ doorstep.

“Cade and Mitch are both Royal Guards. Cade is keeping an eye on Ellie
. They stayed in the city to deal with the ongoing problems there. I promised to take Mitch to safety and look after him. We decided to split up so I could have a shot at keeping my secret from the rest of their shifter friends who’ve been called in for backup. Cade and Mitch know, but Cade promised to keep quiet for now. Mitch is with me, so he’s not about to tell anyone. Especially not in the state he’s in. I couldn’t hide my true nature from them…or from Ellie.” Her voice was subdued as she remembered those tumultuous moments.

Keeping secrets from Ellie had been one of the hardest things Gina had ever done. Telling her best friend she’d been lying by omission all these years
had been even harder, but it was good to finally clear the air between them. Gina just hoped Ellie could forgive her when this was all over.

“You think any of them will give us away?” Her father’s voice was gruff.

“Not Ellie. I trust her with my life. Cade tried to convince me that we were needed in the Clan, but I think he understood that was a decision for us to make—not for him to force us to make. I don’t think he’ll tell anyone anytime soon. He was focused on his Nyx. Someone is after her in a big way.”

“They you’re better off out of the city.”

“I thought so too. Cade arranged for an escort to meet us at the city limits. Since the Nyx is in transit too, they’re stretched pretty thin. There was only one car with one
pantera noir
Guard in it as escort and we had to split up at the last rest stop on the interstate. He suspected we might have a tail and he thought the only chance we had of making it through to the house in secret was if he peeled off and took the tail with him.” She tried not to let her anxiety about the entire situation come through in her tone. “He called a little bit ago to tell me the tail had taken the bait and he was leading him well away from us. He was really sorry there wasn’t anybody else available to escort us, but he thought we would be okay.”

“Did this
escort know who you are?” her father demanded.

“No. Cade
kept his word and kept me out of it. All the escort knew was that I was a shifter doctor transporting their injured Royal Guard.”

Her father grunted. “Then I might forgive them for deserting you, but if anything happens—”

She cut into his angry words, wanting to calm him. “We’re almost home and there’s nobody on this road for miles. I don’t think we’re being followed, but Mitch’s condition worries me. I’m sorry for bringing this problem to you, but the only place I could think of where he could heal in safety is at home. He’s way too vulnerable right now.”

“He can’t come to the house,” her father was quick to say, crushing her hopes. “Take him to the old line cabin off
Miller Road. I’ll call the Millers and tell them you’re coming. They’ll help you get to the cabin. It’s stocked and defensible. Nobody can get to you there except on foot. We’ll come to you when you get there.”

Relief surged through her at his ready offer of help. “Thanks,
Dad.”

“Drive safely, kitten.”

 

Gina was bone weary when she finally pulled into the dusty drive near Miller Road, named for the
tigre d’or
family who lived there and had built the road. They were loyal to her father. Mr. and Mrs. Miller were both former Royal Guards who understood better than most why her father had chosen exile over the danger of ruling the Clan that was his by right.

Gina’s car would be left behind at the Miller homestead, hidden in one of their barns. Mr. Miller greeted her as she drove up beside the house and she saw he’d gotten two big snowm
obiles ready. At this time of year, they would be the easiest way of getting out to the old cabin that straddled the edge of her parents’ land and the Miller’s homestead.

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