Table of Contents
Vowed in Shadows
took me on a dark and sexy and intense ride with two complex, compelling characters.”
New York Times
bestselling author Nalini Singh
Praise for the Novels of Jessa Slade
Forged of Shadows
“Dark, dangerous, and spiced with passion, this is a wellwritten tale that will grab your attention from the very beginning.”
âRomance Reviews Today
“The wordplay is riveting and the story line is fast and action-packed.”
“The only thing I can say about this series is WOW! Ms. Slade brings the fight against evil from the dark and into the light. This story is so exciting and action-packed that I had a hard time putting it down. I ended up reading it in one night. I can't wait to see what comes next for this great new romantic urban fantasy series.”
âNight Owl Reviews (5 stars)
“[A] heady mix of philosophy and religion . . . serves as part of the framework for this excellent series and sets it apart from the pack. . . . Be first in line for book three,
Vowed in Shadows
âBitten by Books (5 tombstones)
“For readers who love J. R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood, the Marked Souls series will hit the spot.”
Seduced by Shadows
New York Times
bestselling author Gena Showalter
“Slade's debut presents a dark and dense supernatural conflict with high stakes in a world where demons and angels possess humans and use them as tools in the unending fight between heaven and hell . . . [a] rich crossover urban fantasy.”
“A beautiful and inventive new series start, with plenty of action and wonderful characters!”
âErrant Dreams Reviews
“A gripping, suspenseful story, with some hot romantic interactions thrown in for good measure.”
âSan Francisco Book Review
Seduced by Shadows
blew me away. . . . Slade creates a beyond-life-or-death struggle for love and redemption in a chilling, complex, and utterly believable world.”
âJeri Smith-Ready, award-winning author of
Also by Jessa Slade
Forged of Shadows
Seduced by Shadows
Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
First published by Signet Eclipse, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, April 2011
Copyright Â© Jessa Slade, 2011
All rights reserved
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
eISBN : 978-1-101-51376-7
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To whom-/whatever is in charge of dreams come true: Hey, thanks.
Each book is a new journey. Special acknowledgments go to my editor, Kerry Donovan, who brings clarity when I've lost my path, and to all the wonderful people at Signet along the long road from story to book, and also my agent, Becca Stumpf, for her unflagging enthusiasm at every step. I lift a glass half empty to the Beach Brainstorming Babes, who've never found a turn that can't be made twistier with the addition of more Kahlua. Much love to my family and Scott, who've been with me all the way.
And first, last, and always, my fervent thanks to the readers who've joined this wild ride.
“Hot as hell in here tonight.” Nim unzipped the oversized rifle case. “Just the way we like it.” She set aside the ammo box, and from the padded case, she lifted the sleek weight. “Ready to knock 'em dead?”
The boa spiraled up her arm and across her shoulders as she settled in front of the mirror. The fine mosaic of scales ran as smooth and cool as water against her sweaty nape, and Nim sighed with pleasure. “Yeah, Mobi. We need them live and squirming.”
The thump of music coming from the stage made talking in the dressing room a chore, and the dancers rarely bothered. Which suited Nim fine. So she recoiled when Amber tottered over on her platform heels, bare breasts arriving easily a full second before the rest of her, and thrust her scarlet lips toward Nim's ear.
“He's here again.”
Nim unlocked the ammo box and rummaged through her makeup. “Who's here?”
“That same guy.” Amber snapped her gum impatiently. “Captain Hook.”
“Oh. Him.” Nim's hand shook. She reached past the
Viva Las Showgirls
semifinals invitation ticket and grabbed a fat eye pencil to give her traitorous fingers something to do. When she stared into the mirror, her pupils were wide with adrenaline.
She wasn't fooling Amber either. “Yeah, him,” the girl sneered. “Everybody knows Captain Hook had a thing for cold-blooded reptiles. Didn't end so well for him, though. Wonder if he knows what he's getting this time.”
Nim spun in her chair to face the other dancer. The boa lifted his head, and his forked tongue stroked the stagnant air.
Amber retreated a step. “Did you get colored contacts? That's a wicked purple.”
When Nim simply stared at her, Amber scowled again and teetered away.
Nim turned to the mirror. After a moment's hesitation, she looked up. Her irises were the same muddy blue-green as always. Swamp-water eyes, her last ex-admirer had called them, to go with her dishwater brown dreadlocks.
How weird that Amber's description echoed the dream she'd had a couple of nights ago. The violet eyes had belonged to a man, though. Mesmerized by his beauty, like something that should be in a museum behind glass, not exposed to a careless touch, she'd half fallen in love.
Then his irises had turned all eerie white, except for hundreds of swirling black specks, and he fucked her, his hand fisted in her dreads, until she screamed and woke herself up.
Very weird. Quitting her tranqs cold turkey had probably been against medical advice for exactly such a reason, but she didn't want the antidepressants making her fuzzy for the final round next week. She needed to be sharp if she was going to ditch this hellhole for the lights of the Vegas Strip.
She outlined her swamp-water eyes in pitch-dark kohl. Almost right . . . She layered on purple shadow, thick and disturbing as a day-old bruise. Perfect.
When she finished her prep, she waited behind the blackout curtain, where the glaring stage lights failed to reach. Her gaze shot unerringly to the first table just beyond the stools drawn up to the counter at stage left.
Yeah, there he was again, just as he'd been all week, angled to keep the whole of the club in view, one knee drawn up with his boot heel hooked on the base of the bar stool. Like a cop. Or a thug.
He faced the stage. Staring at her? Her pulse quickened pointlessly. No way could he see her past the glare. Out in the audience, the club was too crappily lit for her to make out his features. Usually she didn't give a rat's assâand, thanks to Mobi, she knew a lot about ratsâwho was out there, staring.
So his face was in shadow, and the garish gels washed out the color of his hair, but his body . . . that was on display for every girl in the place to assess.
Not too tall, judging by the length of thigh in his close fitting jeans. Good jeans too; no rips in the knees. Nice to see some guys still bothered to dress up before going out. No one had gotten a long look at the bulge in his pants, so maybe he rolled with a fat wallet; maybe not. Certainly he hadn't spent any of it for one-on-one attention. The other girls had bitched about that all week while they triedâand failedâto poach him.
Of course, nobody bitched where he might hear. Nim studied the imposing breadth of his shoulders filling up a dark gray T-shirt. His biceps bunched across his chest where he'd folded his arms, blatantly displaying the reason no one bitched aloud.
Nim clicked her tongue. A cripple with any manners would wear a long-sleeve shirt, never mind the sticky heat of August in Chicago. But no, Captain Hook sat there with the honest-to-fuck metal hook instead of his right hand, shining front and center for the whole world to flinch from. Nice. She didn't know much about prosthetics, but considering that the Russians had ways to make fake diamonds even bling experts couldn't ID in a lineup, he might have found
less gruesome. Maybe he was hoping for a mercy dance.