Title: Hidden (Five Fates, Book 1)
Author: Amy McKinley
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: November 2, 2015
Cursed since birth, hunted by gods, and desperate for love—Jade never stood a chance.
Half-demon, half-goddess, Jade’s fate makes her a pawn in an epic battle among the gods. Hidden on Earth with her sisters, she successfully avoids the Oneiroi—the dream gods—bent on her destruction until the prophecy, long dormant, awakens a dark shadow within her.
Roen, a reclusive Worr demon known for his battles against the Oneiroi, is called to protect Jade. Together they must unlock their mysterious connection and find a way to beat back destiny. Can she outsmart the prophecy, change her fate, and find love—even when she learns who is connected to her destruction?
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Excerpt from Hidden
Hades kissed his wife, Persephone, one last time before reluctantly relinquishing her above ground, where her mother impatiently waited.
“Behave while I’m gone, Hades.” Persephone traced a pink-kissed nail along her husband’s dark jawline.
He was loathe to shave too often as the rough stubble against her skin excited her. “Six months is ridiculously long,” he murmured against her lush lips. “Find a way to meet me at the meadow.”
Mischief danced in her eyes as she stepped onto the boat which would ferry her along the River Styx, leading her out of the Underworld. “It’s a date,” she purred, blowing her husband a sultry kiss.
That woman slays me. He watched until she was out of sight. Once his bride was gone, his attention returned to his beloved Underworld and the current state it was in.
Hades leapt onto his chariot. A resounding crack split the air as he commanded his four black horses to lead him past boiling lava pits and stalagmites to the deepest, fiery pits of the abyss—Tartarus.
Creatures scampered out of his way. Fallen angels and demons went about their business—lest they draw his anger—as he thundered past. Tormented screams echoed off cavernous walls and pools of fiery despair. His pulse roared in his veins. He reveled at what he was about to see…
The Fates’ curse had begun.
Reining his steeds to a halt, he dismounted, his black boots crunching on a mixture of bones and jagged pieces of rock. Amidst the prisons, the things of nightmares tortured imprisoned souls.
A laugh rumbled up from his gut and rolled out. He threw back his head then ran his hands through his black hair, freeing it from its tie. Pers wasn’t here right now, due to his brother, Zeus’s, acquiescence to Demeter.
Hades ignored the slow burn in his chest at the thought of his wife being gone for six long months and focused on the game of persecuting his brother instead, for he knew a thing or two about Aiesa’s offspring that Zeus did not.
An ear-splitting scream rent the air, snapping Hades out of his thoughts. New souls.
He knew who sent them. Although he benefitted from so many entering his domain, his brother would not be happy.
What a perfect time to pay Zeus a visit.
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Taken (Five Fates, Book 2)
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Forged through a childhood trauma and cursed by the Fates, Layla vows never to be at another’s mercy. With determination and training she evolves into a deadly weapon and quiets her inner demons—until the prophecy activates, shattering her peace. The gods who want her dead converge and the hunt to end her life truly begins. The skills that Layla honed for protection become an unconscious tool for death and destruction, threatening not only the gods but her family.
Entrenched in clan turmoil, Thaull’s life hangs at a precipice. He’s faced with a condition known only to his kind, the soul-divide. If not dealt with, his soul will rip in half and he will turn into an unstoppable, ice-cold killing machine. As he hunts the traitor within his Phantom Warrior clan he worsens. A fragile thread of hope remains. The love of a female, freely given, can save him. Through a premonition of an alluring demigoddess, he gambles his very existence in the chance she will be his salvation.
She will go dark from her curse. He will go numb from his. To survive, Layla must risk trusting another or become another.
It wasn’t a good day. Eerie dreams haunted her. The past had resurfaced and functioning was difficult at best. Unease crawled along her skin, sunk its talons into her bones, and dragged her into the abyss. As a mere child in a trap laid, she’d been unprotected, exhausted, and the Oneiroi had neared. Tactile memories surfaced against her will. Just as before she’d barely escaped the brush of their deadly power. Now…there was no escape.
Images bombarded her, and she squeezed her lids closed. Go away. But they wouldn’t. Sinking into a corner of her shop, back against the wall, she dropped her head into her trembling hands, fisting handfuls of hair. The Oneiroi had been hunting her ever since she was born and wouldn’t stop until she was dead. Jade beat the prophecy—will I?
Once, long ago, she’d inadvertently drawn the Oneiroi, and glimpsed what was to come. Deep in the recesses of her mind, she knew what had begun it all. Her. A pawn by another, she had lured the ones who started her nightmare. The details of that secret she kept to herself, unwilling to bring it to the light of day. She knew the immense power the Oneiroi wielded as they’d approached. It didn’t matter what drove them to hunt her. She feared she wouldn’t survive.
Ever since then, she’d focused on gaining strength and training to attain invincibility. She’d find a way so no one could defeat her. Curling her fingers around her knife, she found its heavy weight comforting.
“Layla! Oh, gods…what happened?” Kepri fell to her knees before her.
Layla’s head jerked. A whimper escaped her lips when her sister’s hand lightly brushed a strand of her hair away from her face. She wasn’t ready to be touched, not yet. Hate this.
How had Kepri arrived and she’d not realized? Layla’s grip stiffened on her blade, needing its grounding reassurance.
“Layla…talk to me.”
All she could do was stare; her body didn’t want to respond, aside from the shaking. Her corner seemed the safest place, and words…they were too difficult, her throat too constricted. Her sister’s eyes were saucer wide and concern swam in their depth until… That look.
“Okay, sweetie, time to get up. We’re going to do what you always do and maybe a stiff drink on top of it.”
Inside, Layla recoiled as Kepri helped her up, draping her arms around her, buffeting her against the world. I can do this. It wasn’t real. I’m no longer a child.
Kepri forced her to choose several throwing knives from the weapons wall. Leading her out in the fresh air, she tucked a blade in Layla’s empty hand. “Okay, let ’er rip. Oh, what the hell.” She grinned widely, winking. “I’ll go first.”
The loud thunk of the knife hitting the wooden round secured against a tree registered like a balm on Layla’s brain. She ran her thumb over the smooth steel, flipping it, testing its weight before she, too, let it fly. Each throw worked to seep strength back into her body, as did the stiff bourbon laced with ambrosia Kepri forced on her.
Minutes ticked away. Layla kept silent. Her sisters all worried and continued to barge in on her solace here in her glen, thinking she should be surrounded by others, or at least them. She cringed inwardly; generally she loved their visits even though her privacy was precious to her. Well, today they were right to worry. Didn’t mean she liked these rare occasions witnessed.
“So…are you ready to talk to me?” Kepri pressed, flipping a riot of long, blonde curls over her shoulder.
Shrugging, Layla threw a few more times, automatically retrieving the knives before answering her. “No. It’s the same as always.” They know that. She leveled her sister a warning look before facing the target again. “And I don’t want to talk about it.”
Kepri’s voice quieted as she spoke. “Layla, she can’t get to you.”
Why? Why were her sisters compelled to talk about it, or check up on her for this reason? “Look, Kepri, I realize that, all right?” Struggling not to slip back into the place she’d just fought to get out of, she worked to explain what Kepri didn’t quite understand. “She used magic on me. She was in my head, and at times it’s like she never left.”
Kepri looked as if she was about to say something, but thought better. Shock. They all needed to realize she wasn’t going to talk about it. So much easier with Zayden. He just accepted her, scars and all. He didn’t push.
Layla scowled as her sister moved closer. Why did she have to be so tall? Kepri’s height annoyed her too. Feeling small sucked. Shifting her focus, she launched her knives again. With each progressive strike, her hands shook less, her confidence returning.
Thankfully, her headstrong sister kept quiet, giving her the space she needed. Soon, the sounds around Layla lost their edge, as did the intensity that ground on her nerves; the cool morning breeze acted as a balm. The moodiness of the glen was replaced with a crisp, beautiful day. She inhaled the first full breath in unrestricted lungs and glanced at Kepri with the beginnings of a smile until her sister opened her big mouth and asked about the order she was waiting on.
“Seriously, Kepri? I’ve got a lot on my plate right now.” Pressing her lips together, Layla walked to the target and yanked out the knives before she faced her sister once more. With the activation of the curse and her past riding her hard, she didn’t need one more thing to worry about. Her sister coming around, risking herself, wasn’t what she wanted.
Layla motioned to her workshop. “They’re in there, completed. Look, sis, I can’t take on any more right now. I’m swamped. You need to hold off and really, I prefer filling orders for Shoeld, not this realm.” Wary of the backlash of her stubborn sister, she crossed her arms and tensed for the potential verbal barrage.
“Listen, I’ll cut you some slack since you’re obviously going through—” Kepri motioned to Layla’s entire being. “—something. But I need the medieval pieces you craft for my collections. They aid all of us. Each connection I establish is a possible step in the right direction toward an answer in breaking the curse.”
“You can’t be certain of that.” Layla scrunched her nose at Kepri’s self-absorption. “I get that they help you to talk with more people, which in turn connects you to even more ancient artifacts, and you scry for answers.” Answers I need. “Come on, Kepri, you are not the only one looking.” Layla took a step back, rubbing her forehead. “I’m sorry, I get that it helps you, but I need a break.” Silence met her apology.
With a curt nod, Kepri gave a tight-lipped smile.
What she really needed was Kepri to stay away, aside from figuring out the change she sensed inside her; she worried about who was coming.
About The Author
Amy McKinley is a freelance writer and author of the Five Fates Series. She lives in Illinois with her husband, their four talented teenagers, and three mischievous cats. You can find her at www.amymckinley.com