Author Stephani Hecht
The Night Warden Series
Sometimes even the strongest of love can’t overcome the darkest of evil.
As a Warden destined to protect humanity from supernatural threats, Ari knows that he has to be strong, brave and, most of all, mentally stable. Try telling that to his brain. Ever since he was held as an unwilling blood slave by a band of feral vampires, Ari has been everything a Warden shouldn’t be—scared, angry and unstable. While he tries to maintain a brave front for his fellow Wardens, cracks in his facade are starting to show, especially when feral vampires attack the city and the Wardens must eliminate the threat.
Adam hadn’t felt whole since his fellow Warden, Ari, was kidnapped. Even though they got Ari back, he hasn’t been the same. Gone is the happy, teasing man Adam fell in love with, replaced by a brooding, angry stranger. When Ari must face his past, both good and bad, his instability only increases. Will Adam’s love be enough to heal
Ari’s emotional wounds, or will Ari be lost to the darkness…this time for good?
“The Oracle mentioned that you were having nightmares.”
Anger and a fair share of resentment flooded Ari. “What in the hell business is it of hers?”
Adam paused, his mouth parting in shock, no doubt because somebody dared speak up against their precious Oracle. Well, fuck it. Ari didn’t give a damn who he offended. He had issues with the chick and, if the others didn’t like it, they’d just have to learn to deal.
“She’s worried about you,” Adam said slowly, his brow creased with confusion.
Ari let out a short, bitter laugh. “Oh, that’s rich. Now, she’s worried about me. Yet, she couldn’t have cared less when I was being held captive.”
“Of course, she cared. Why would you think any differently?”
Because she’s omniscient. She could have warned me before the attack. Or at the very least, she could have told you guys where the vampires were keeping me. Instead, she let me suffer in that hell for two years!
Damn, how Ari wanted to scream those words, but even he knew that would be taking his disrespect too far. So instead, he just pressed his lips together and shook his head. “It doesn’t matter.”
Of course, Adam wouldn’t let it go that easily. “It does to me.”
“It’s nothing. Let’s just chalk that little outburst of mine up as another example of why I need to learn how to meditate. I really need an outlet for my anger or my mouth gets away from me.”
Adam moved in closer so they were only a foot apart. He wore his all-black Warden uniform and Ari could smell the leather that padded the arms and legs of the outfit. The only thing missing was the cloak and Warden Insignia pendant.
“Ari, you hardly ever talk anymore. When you’re not on your computer, you’re training. So how can your mouth get away from you?” Adam challenged.
Ari shrugged, even as his mind scrambled for something to say. Fuck! Shit! Damn! Why did this whole social interaction thing have to be so hard? It used to be that he was always in the center of things, babbling away. Now, he was lucky if he spoke three civil words a day.
“I train a lot, because I know things are really hairy out there right now. I want to be prepared,” he finally said.
“That still doesn’t mean you need to push yourself twenty-four hours a day. Everybody needs rest.”
Maybe other people did, but Ari would much rather deal with sleepiness. It sure as hell beat the nightmares…or worse, leaving himself vulnerable to another attack. The only reason the feral vampires had gotten the drop on him and his family that fateful night had been because they’d all been in bed, asleep.
“You’d be amazed at how little shut-eye somebody can operate on when they have a couple cans of Red Bull and coffee under their belts,” Ari replied.
Adam reached out and gently ran the back of his knuckles over the top of Ari’s cheek. “You have bags under your eyes. Not to be mean, but you look beat.”
Ari froze, waiting for the feelings of panic and revulsion to hit him that always came whenever somebody touched him. Instead, all that followed was a warm buzz that traveled through his body before settling into his stomach. In fact, it was all he could do to not to turn into the caress and purr like a cat.
All too soon it was over and Adam pulled his hand back, leaving Ari aching for more and confused to why he’d reacted that way in the first place.