Murder has brought Talon, Master of Guardians, as well as Zia, his witch and Master of Witches, to Chicago. The manner of death appears to be a suicide, but Talon is far from ready to close the case. To avenge the Guardian linked to his past, he agrees to take on the assignment, and find her killer.
As they dive deeper into the investigation, they find themselves entering a world where BDSM is the norm. A lifestyle that Zia is uncomfortable with and, rattled by this new development, she is more than ready to return to the Otherworld. But their investigation quickly takes an unexpected twist when they discover that they’re not only hunting a killer but also someone who is controlling supernaturals in Chicago.
Their mission not only brings danger, but also forces Talon to deal with decades old guilt that corrodes his soul. Every event that unfolds only deepens his fight and pushes him to face an ultimate choice—what is more important—his duty to the Otherworld or the witch he holds closest to his heart?
Duty. Honor. Morals.
It all escaped Talon as he watched the vision in front of him in horror. The woman’s light brown hair draped over her face, but not enough to conceal her identity. She was no stranger to him. Her face held a bluish tinge, the rosy color he remembered she once held on her cheeks was now gone. Her eyes shone with terror as her body trembled in fear. However, nothing stood there to give reason for her fright; no one around her caused her panic. Talon scanned the simple living room a few times over, yet discovered nothing except the putrid scent of Whitlyn’s death.
A gasp returned Talon’s focus to Whitlyn. She now rested on her knees. Her breath strained as her chest rose and fell in heavy movements. Confusion stole his thoughts. “Am I missing something?”
“No.” Zia, Master of Witches, murmured. “Why is she dying?
“Very peculiar,” Zade, Master of Vampires, added.
Whitlyn fell down on her side, her breathing rapid and forced. As much as Talon wished he could intervene, he held no power. Whitlyn had already died. The vision was a moment from the past conjured by the Earth Witch, Haven who belonged to the Council’s Guard.
Within a few short minutes, she took her last breath, and the vision settled on the same one Talon had entered on; the humble home in Chicago with Whitlyn lying dead in the living room.
He glanced at the young witch, Haven. Her innocent blue eyes in her heart shaped face were wide, as she twirled one of her brown curls in her fingers. He regretted having her here in the first place since the matter had become entirely private. But her magic to recreate scenes was a must to locating the offenders. “You’re finished here.” He lowered his tone. “Do not speak word of this to anyone.”
“I understand,” she said in her high whimsical tone. “Be safe.” Then she turned on her heels and left the house to return to the portal that would carry her back into the Otherworld.
Feeling beside himself, Talon looked at his witch. Zia’s long strawberry blonde hair flowed around her flawless skin and her stunning crystal blue eyes shined in a way he’d never grow tired of admiring. “Do you make sense of this?”
Zia shook her head. “Do you think she did this to herself?”
The thought, too horrible to even imagine, was one Talon didn’t think possible. He bent down and brushed the hair away from the guardian’s face, and his heart clenched reminding himself of their past agreement; one that had been forged centuries ago.
At the time Whitlyn lived in the Otherworld, she’d proven herself one of the greatest female warriors. But the battles wore on her. She wanted a life without death and violence. Knowing the stakes it cost the Otherworld to have her gone, she offered a solution, presented herself to bear Talon’s child.
Now, the woman who gave him such a gift had lost her life, and it sickened him. “I cannot fathom she’d take her own life. She doesn’t seem the type.”
“But you haven’t seen her in well over twenty-nine years,” Zade countered, his dark eyes questioning, as he brushed his hand over his equally dark hair.
“That’s true,” Talon agreed. “It’s quite possible she could’ve come into hard times.” He’d always suspected Whitlyn’s offering to him came from the duty she owed to the Otherworld, but he also believed the solution a viable one. It gave back to their forces, while it allowed Whitlyn to live in peace in the Earthworld among the humans and leave her position as part of the Council’s guard.
But what happened?
“If you’ve done this to yourself, I’m sorry you didn’t trust in us to come home and get you the help you needed.” Talon placed his hand on her forehead and her cold skin chilled his palm. His heart bled. “If someone has hurt you, it’s my promise that I’ll find out who and deliver their punishment.”
Silence filled the room, and Talon appreciated it. His thoughts ran rapid with whats and whys. Finally, after a long moment, Zade cleared his throat, bringing Talon’s attention to him. “I note a strange scent around her, but I cannot place it.”
As guardian, Talon didn’t have the enhanced scent capabilities Zade possessed as a vampire; only impeccable warrior skills. He couldn’t smell anything unusual here. Inhaling deeply for good measure, he sighed, unable to catch a trace of it. “I’d suspect whatever you’re scenting is what caused her death.”
“Odd, to say the least,” Zia said.
Talon agreed with a nod. Clearly whatever Whitlyn had either taken—or been given—claimed her life. However, the question remained, what was it?
After a squeeze of his hand on Whitlyn’s frigid flesh, he closed his eyes and an entire world of guilt rest upon his shoulders. He’d find out what happened because he owed Whitlyn that, and so much more. She’d given his life meaning with the gift of his son. Gave him something he never thought he’d have as a Master. An oath he’d taken long ago to always put the Otherworld first. A personal life wasn’t in the hopes and dreams of a Master of the Otherworld. His role centered on keeping the Earthworld protected.
“Do you want me to go and get Kyden?” Zade asked softly.
It was true his son, Kyden, was part of their Guard and should be involved, but Talon hesitated. The secret of his birth hadn’t been kept from Kyden, but his son never discussed it with anyone. Talon equated it to the fact that his mother didn’t exist in Kyden’s eyes; to disown one’s duty to the Otherworld was the gravest of all betrayals. Talon never harbored ill feelings toward Whitlyn for her choices. The battles could be trying at times, and she sought refuge from all the death. He never judged her for those wishes.
Talon’s pause was more centered on the uncertainty about how Kyden would respond to the sight of his dead mother. So many unresolved emotions surrounded Whitlyn. Too many in Talon’s own soul to even make sense of now. Determined he only had one choice, he shook his head. “Leave him out of it.”
“Talon!” Zia exclaimed.
Her curt tone matched her unhappy expression. Even with her grimace, though, she still exuded beauty. “All Kyden knows of his mother is that she wanted a life away from danger. Those are the reasons she gave birth to him and left, never to return. We’ll handle the assignment, find out what happened to Whitlyn, and I’ll tell him once it’s resolved.”
“You will tell him though, yes?” Zia urged.
“I will.” Talon’s heart ached, for Whitlyn and for Kyden. Even though he had no relationship with Whitlyn and there had never been love between them when they spent a month together producing Kyden, he respected her. The time they’d shared was a wonderful memory.
“What do you want to do?” Zia asked.
Talon considered. In most cases, they used trackers who worked for the Council; werewolves who hunted out the killers by scent. But there was no killer here to find. He sighed. “Let’s take her to someone who can identify this unknown scent lingering around her.” He gathered the lifeless Whitlyn in his arms. He might have only given her a passing thought over the years, but her death would be vindicated.