The Alpha's Courtship (Werewolf Romance) (Ilie and Soleil Book 1) (8 page)

BOOK: The Alpha's Courtship (Werewolf Romance) (Ilie and Soleil Book 1)
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His lips twisted.

Again.

They went on to discuss Ilie’s undercover mission in Asphodel, which was to flush out the traitor in their midst. The same person, he believed, who was responsible for the setup that almost had killed an entire squad of enforcers – including
Les
Trois Belles Lames.

After, Silviu said finally,
George says hi.

I will contact you with any updates, Your Grace.
The connection between them faded. The pain from the wound over his heart eased, but the agony inside his body had flamed back to life.

George says hi.

He laughed humorlessly.

Poor Silviu. The Duke of Brimstone was possessive, as all demons were, almost selfishly so, but his angelic half forbade him to give in to the greedy need to cage his heartkeeper away. Instead, it forced the duke to be fair and sensitive to those around them---

Even if it meant allowing communication between the other man who held a key to his woman’s heart.

George says hi.

An image started to form, but he savagely ripped it into pieces before the image could complete itself. He did not want to think of things that could never be his – and never was. The Duke of Brimstone had found her first, and he knew, deep inside, that given the choice, she would still choose the duke.

Even if Ilie had found her first, he had a feeling her choice would not have changed.

George says hi.

His jaw clenched.

This would be the last time he’d think of Georgina McCartney as anyone but the duke’s heartkeeper. From here on, he would concentrate on what – who – he had. He would concentrate on the person he was sure truly wanted him.

“I’m afraid your time’s fast running out, Lady Soleil.” Crystal, her former adviser, was never one to waste words, but surely, Soleil thought numbly, she could have done a little better than that?

She collapsed on the couch in Crystal’s office. She had thought the urgency had to do with her work either as an enforcer or a trainer in ANEX, and she wanted to kick herself in the head for it. How cocky she had been to not even consider the possibility that the urgent message could have something to do with her condition.

Swallowing, she forced herself to ask between bloodless lips, “Why the sudden diagnosis?”

“I’ve had a breakthrough last night studying the curse in your system,” Crystal told her. “And we have good and bad news.”

“Bad first,” she said automatically.

Crystal cracked a grin. “You always were a pessimistic little girl.”

She hadn’t been for years, actually, but Crystal’s announcement might have Soleil going back to her old, dark ways.

“The bad news is that the curse has been fashioned after an aneurysm. This means it can be triggered by just about anything, and it’s designed in such a way that we’ll never know until it’s too late. There are no symptoms to know when, where, or how it will happen. It will just happen, and if we don’t take the necessary steps to get rid of it, you will die.”

Soleil clasped and unclasped her fingers on her lap. “I see. It sounds improbable…”

“I know.” Crystal’s voice became harsh. “But nevertheless, it’s true. Virtually anything is possible for otherworlders, Soleil. It’s just a matter of who’s powerful enough to execute what they want.”

Soleil swallowed her arguments. She had never been blindly hateful of otherworlders, something that she knew Crystal found disappointing. But she didn’t blame Crystal for it either, knowing that the older woman’s bitterness stemmed from having her son killed by an archdemon.

“And now, for the good news.”

Soleil didn’t answer, didn’t really trust Crystal’s version of good news since she had learned how to be pessimistic from Crystal herself.

“You can
still
get rid of it by being a heartkeeper---”

She started to shake her head, but Crystal said insistently, “It is the only way, Soleil. The
only
way.”

Her voice was flat. “No.” She knew what Crystal said made sense. Heartkeeping was the easiest way for her to save her life. But
easy
wasn’t always the best…or the right thing to do.

“Just choose any demon---”

“And let the demon die so I can live?”

“We’re talking about demons, Soleil.
Demons, you fool
!”

She had never heard Crystal shout…until now.

“A demon is the reason why you have this curse in the first place,” Crystal snarled. “Your demonic parent unloaded his or her curse on you. That’s how demons are---”

“Not all of them.” She swallowed. “I know you don’t believe me, and that’s okay. But I’m no rookie who hasn’t seen the world and still thinks everything is black and white. I’ve seen its darkest corners. I’ve been there, I’ve fought there, and…”

The image of the marquis flashed in her mind.

And almost as if he sensed her pain, she could feel him inside her mind, a strong and steady presence that told her she only had to say the word and he would break all the spell barriers Crystal erected in her office so he could speak to her.

Soleil swallowed. “I just can’t, Crystal.” She bowed her head. “I just can’t.”

Crystal didn’t answer.

Slowly, Soleil raised her head, and she was aghast to see her former adviser weeping silently.

“You’re like a child to me, Soleil. When I lost my son, training you and ensuring you would beat your curse became my reason to live. Please don’t force me to endure the death of another child.”

It was a quiet and withdrawn Soleil that came back to the marquis’ side. She expected him to demand what was wrong, to threaten to have ANEX burned down, but instead he did something she did not expect at all.

He did not ask.

He did not say a word.

He simply drew her to his side, his arm around her, while he held the reins with his other hand and drove her home.

Rain started to fall midway and she welcomed it. Rain splashing on the ground, coupled with the sound of hooves clobbering the stony ground, drowned out all else, including the sound of her tears.

Get rid of it by being a heartkeeper.
Crystal’s words rang in her ears.

The other woman made it sound so easy, and maybe it was for Crystal, because she cared nothing about the lives of demons.

She thought about her family, remembered Aurora crying silently, Fleur talking excitedly about wedding plans, and her father earnestly offering a dowry to the marquis. They had all been happy. Relieved. Grateful. Because they knew about her curse, and they had thought she would die.

But then the marquis had come, wanting to marry her, and they had thought their prayers were answered.

But they weren’t.

She might still die, and she just didn’t have the courage to tell them that.

“Lady Soleil…”

“Yes, milord?” Even as she answered him, she didn’t open her eyes, didn’t stir from the warm, safe haven she had found in his arms.

“I was serious earlier.”

She stilled.

“I wish you to marry me and be my heartkeeper.”

She wondered why he was asking her this, and for a few moments, she used all her skills to sense if he was lying to her. But he was not, and she felt instantly ashamed for even having a single moment of doubt.

This was Ilie Marcovici, one of the men chosen to be the Duke of Brimstone’s Galeré. Demon or not, the half-angel duke would not have trusted the marquis if he was not honorable.

And more than that---

Hadn’t she always known he was good?

Hadn’t that been the reason she had resisted for so long to meet him?

But fate had intervened.

Shouldn’t she take that as a good sign?

She heard herself ask, “Why?”

The marquis answered slowly, “You must know the answer to that. Heartkeeping is what ensures we do not completely turn.”

“And that’s it?”

“Should there be another reason?”

“You can have another woman as your heartkeeper, can you not?”

“Yes,” he allowed. “It’s true. But we also know any woman is different from the one that fate chose for me.”

The answer was more than she had hoped for, but…she wanted more. Was it silly and foolish of her to want everything?

“What answer do you want to hear, milady?”

She didn’t answer him.

Soon enough, they had reached her home, and he walked her to the door, holding an umbrella for her like an ordinary, courteous gentleman. She invited him inside, hoping he would refuse, but he didn’t.

She led him to the parlor, asking him to wait while she changed into something dry. By the time she came down, she had made her decision.

The marquis was crouched down in front of the fire, staring into the swaying flames like it was a beast he had lived with since birth. He had untied his hair, and the sight of those white-gold locks made her memories feel surreal.

Who was she to have touched those locks?

Had it really happened?

He looked up, his silver eyes instantly finding hers, and what he saw in her gaze made him slowly stand up. “You’ve come to tell me of your decision, have you not, milady?”

She nodded.

“Then what is it?” His voice was cool, giving nothing away, but his silvery eyes had turned feral, making her wonder absently if he would really take no for an answer.

“I will be your heartkeeper…if you fall in love with me.”

The other half of Ilie and Soleil’s story, The Alpha’s Ever After, is now available.

Dear Reader,

Thank you for reading
The Alpha’s Courtship.

I know it’s not your ordinary kind of paranormal romance, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that you enjoyed it and are looking forward to reading the next installment of their story.

For those new to my work, you might be interested to know that Silviu Draghici, the Duke of Brimstone, has his own story told in The Demon Duke and I
.
Their story takes place before
The Alpha’s Courtship
and will give you a better understanding of the kingdom of Chalys, and more importantly, you’ll also find out other essential facts about heartkeeping.

The Master and His Soul Seer Pet
is another series connected to this, and even better it’s actually available on Kindle Unlimited right now. This is the story of a powerful vampire – as you read the story, you’ll eventually discover his connection to the Galeré – and his human pet. And yes, I do mean
pet,
but I don’t want to ruin things for you. Let’s just say that this series is one of my hotter reads.

Until our next journey,

Marian Tee

P.S. Please consider leaving a review of my book. It would mean so much! And if you do, I’d love to thank you personally for it. Just let me know either by
emailing me
or dropping me a line via my
website
,
Facebook
,
Twitter
or
Instagram
. You can contact me for anything, though. I love hearing from readers, and I do take the time to reply to every message, just not right away when I’m under a deadline.

P.P.S. Please do
sign up for my newsletter
if you haven’t yet. This way, you get to stay updated with my latest releases and enjoy exclusive excerpts, cover reveals, and surprise giveaways.

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BOOK: The Alpha's Courtship (Werewolf Romance) (Ilie and Soleil Book 1)
3.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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