To discover who she is, she must first forgive past sins...

Willow Kallias is plagued by a lifetime of rejection and anger, but when she finds herself imprisoned in a strange realm in an even stranger world, she realizes her old problems are the least of her worries.

Fallen leader, Malachi, rescues Willow only to discover his own life is in danger when a vengeful succubus sets her sights on using him to destroy the realms of Dark World. When the succubus kidnaps Malachi, Willow’s newfound powers are put to the test, and she not only has to save the demon she’s fallen in love with but also figure out how to stop the succubus before the rest of her newly discovered family is destroyed.

The realms of Dark World are still failing, and like the demon queen before her, the succubus is only a pawn.

Dark World is still in grave danger.

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Prologue

Demon Realm, Dark World

Malachi

I rubbed my battle-scarred knuckles over the growing ache in my chest as my best friend, Niki, wrapped his arms around Johnna, his true mate.

How am I ever going to help them?

Johnna wasn’t handling the disappearance of her parents well. Feeling powerless, I watched as Niki tried to soothe her, and I squashed the bittersweet twinge of envy as the two people I cared the most about comforted one another in their grief.

As of yet, no spell had located Gerard and Sabine. To make matters worse, no one’s magic seemed to be working correctly.

“Where are they?” The hurt in Johnna’s voice all but broke my heart. I didn’t think I had a heart left to break.

“I don’t know, imp.” Niki blew out a breath as his yellow cat’s eyes rose to hold mine. “But we’ll find them. I promise.”

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I recognized the granite tone in my boss’s voice. No one would stop the head enforcer from completing his goal. Not finding Johnna’s parents was killing them all. It was also killing Johnna and now, the demon king Lucien.

Discovering Gerard was Lucien’s half-brother was both a gift and a curse all rolled into one. I would give about anything to be able to go back in time and change the chain of events leading up to the queen’s banishment into the Abyss, in order to figure out where she’d hidden them. As far as I knew, time travel wasn’t something to be messed with. Things happened for a reason.

My gaze followed the path of Niki’s fingers as they caressed Johnna’s jawline, disappearing and reappearing under the curly auburn ponytail tied behind her ear. It made me long for a mate of my own, yet I understood the hope of finding someone was futile. I rubbed the deep ache in my chest.

When I made that fateful decision long ago to defy the Almighty’s rules, I had sealed my own fate. Now, I had to live with the consequences.

It wasn’t proper to watch the two in their grief, but I couldn’t turn my gaze away from the glorious torture. Intense burning ran along the thick silver chains crisscrossing my chest and underneath the button anchoring my low-slung, black-leather pants. Johnna was channeling the pain from losing her parents through the metal. Even for me—part demon, part Fallen—the intense pain hurt. And not in a good way. Damn, but she was a powerful mage.

Steeling myself against the pain, I held to my familiar military stance, my legs spread stiffly apart and my arms folded over my chest. “I will find your parents, Johnna. Nobody knows the Nightmare Realm better than I do, and that has to be where they’re being held.”

Niki met my gaze and nodded. “He’s right, imp. The realm is Malachi’s domain. If anyone can find them, it’s him.”

Johnna half turned in Niki’s tight embrace, her blue eyes swollen and red from crying. “You’d better, Mr. Muscles.” Her gaze hardened. “I just found my family, and no one—I mean no one—is going to keep me from them. Not this time. I will turn the Realms inside out before I let that happen, no matter the consequences. Everyone will know what the phrase ‘hell on earth’ means.”

My breath caught in my chest as the burning ratcheted up a few more levels. “Give me a chance to find them before letting your power loose, little blue eyes.” I hissed as the burning moved from the metal and into my skin and body.

Muscles contracting, agony engulfed me as my eyes turned crimson. “Let me find them, Johnna.”

Chapter 1

Baltimore, Maryland

1977

Willow Kallias

“I can do this, Tish. Trust me.” I pasted a pathetically hopeful look on my face and waited. My sorority sister had gone from being one of the most popular people in our class to a loner. As far as I knew, I was now her only friend. Our first semester in college, and so far, nothing positive stood out. We both struggled in our classes no matter how much we studied. The only thing I’d managed to do well was spells.

Who knew magic would end up being real? In all of the foster homes I’d stayed at, my last family had been the only one to hint at such a thing.

“Tell me exactly what you plan on doing.” I saw doubt swirling in Tish’s eyes. “I don’t believe in magic, Willow. How can you be certain this will even work?”

“A curse is the only thing that makes sense. You said yourself no one noticed you anymore. And didn’t you tell me your two best friends ignored you—as if you were a complete stranger? Even the teachers here at school don’t call your name when they take roll.” I shifted in the small tie-dyed mushroom chair, willing her gaze to stay connected to mine. “We have to try something, Tish. You can’t continue this way.”

Her huff was loud in the quiet dorm room as she fell back against the side of her twin bed, pristine with not even the hint of a wrinkle in the purple coverlet. “Why haven’t you been affected like everyone else?”

I grinned. “Too stubborn?” I dodged her flip-flop as it sailed by my head. “Seriously? I think there are two reasons. Firstly, I’m your roommate, and living with someone is different than just hanging out. Secondly,” I added as I motioned toward the surrounding objects, “maybe my magic, or whatever we call this ability I have, gives me some kind of immunity.”

Tish closed her eyes and chewed her chapped bottom lip. The girl went through a serious amount of lip balm. I tensed when her eyes popped open, the darkest moss-green eyes I’d ever seen.

“Fine. Do whatever it is you do.” One side of her mouth tried to rise but dropped just as fast.

“Okay, we can do this.” I jumped up and grabbed a plain brown bag from my nightstand and plopped down in front of her, tucking the cute Nike sneakers I’d borrowed from her under each thigh. The only reason she’d let me wear them was because my new sweater matched the red swoosh, and she didn’t own anything that color. Didn’t even own anything with a red accent, so I still had no idea why she’d bought them.

I pulled several objects out of the shallow bag and arranged them between us. This was going to work. It had to work. Next, I plugged in my old fondue pot and set the temperature knob on medium then laid three elder twigs in the bottom to guard against evil.

To get rid of our anxiety, I added three hemp leaves but the moment their cloying scent filled my nose, my stomach lurched sideways. For the curse antidote, I dropped in several stems of scarlet pimpernel. Their delicate crimson flowers added a splash of color to the otherwise dreary mix. I covered the flowers with the small, gnarly mandrake root. A strong smell of freshly tilled earth hung in the air around us, thankfully getting rid of the stench of hemp.

“Okay, Willow. I get the roots and berries routine. I really don’t want to know the rest, though I am curious about the apple juice.”

I popped the lid on the eight-ounce bottle. “Do you want a sip? I won’t need the whole thing.”

“No thanks. What’s it for anyway?”

“Purification. I need a liquid to act as the glue, bonding everything together. And apples are known for their cleansing power.”

“Oh, you mean what my mom’s always yapping—”

“Yep. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” I stopped stirring the broth. The contents’ slow swirl around the pot’s dark, scratched bowl mirrored my own feelings. “You’re lucky, you know. Your mom is totally great.”

“I know.” She laid a hand on my knee for a few seconds. “She worries about you all the time. Because of this stupid curse-thing, Mom’s focusing more on you now.”

“No . . .”

She waved her fingers in front of my face. “Don’t even start. You know it’s true. It’s okay. Really. I’m glad we were picked to be roommates.”

I hated flattery. My cheeks burned, so I knew they were nice and pink. Embarrassment did not go well with fair skin. “I’m glad too, Tish.” I poured the mixture into a cup.

“Will this take care of the moodiness too?”

She knew me well and I was grateful she’d changed the subject. “It should. You’re almost as bad as the crabby old lady who’s always running us out of the library.”

“No. This is different. I’m worse. Last night during dinner, Mom told me my symptoms sounded like menopause but I’m way too young. Women become irritable and moody, uncomfortable in their own skin. She said the hot flashes make the body’s core temperature fluctuate inconsistently, and they can’t get comfortable.”

I twisted the piece of paper between my fingers and shook my head slowly. “When this is over, remind me to find a cure for menopause.”

“Willow . . .” Tish hesitated, staring down at her fisted hands. I waited for her, seeing the struggle on her face as she tried to figure out what to say. “What’s inside me is angry. These aren’t just uncomfortable feelings. I’m fighting back horrible, horrible anger. Not aimed at anyone, but everyone.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

She shrugged. “I was afraid I’d push you away too.”

Tish was the strong one. The tough girl. In four months of living with her, I remembered seeing rare amusement and anger but never tears—until now as they filled her eyes and overflowed onto her cheeks. My heart clenched. I pressed my lips together hard to stop their quivering. The last thing we needed right now was two blubbering ninnies.

I cleared my throat a couple of times, but the feeling of thick molasses remained. “Are you ready?”

Tish nodded and wiped her wet cheeks with the backs of her hands.

I lifted the cup and savored the comfortable warmth spreading through my cold fingers. I handed it to my best friend. Who was I kidding? My only friend. Without any family, I’d latched on to my friendship with Tish like a water-starved fish. I untwisted the limp piece of parchment and read the spell we’d found in one of my teacher’s old journals. I didn’t want to stumble over any of the words and screw this up.

I glanced at Tish worriedly. My teacher, Melinda, owned the Wiccan store next to the college campus. When she found out I’d done this level of spell without her knowledge or help, she was going to be furious. But if this worked . . . Maybe, just maybe she’d understand and forgive me. She could also ban me from her store, definitely the more probable outcome.

“Are you sure about this? Really sure? We have time to find a true spell caster.” I couldn’t stop the words as they tumbled out of my mouth. “Tish, if something goes wrong . . . If I can’t do this right . . . Maybe we should wait and do this with Melinda.”

“No.” She closed her eyes. Her nostrils flared as she tried to control her emotions. “You’ll do fine. Let’s get this over with. I’m ready to be curse-free.”

I inhaled, willing the butterflies in my stomach to disappear. “Okay. Drink slowly while I say the spell.” I stared at her tense face a few seconds longer, squashing the last bits of unease from my mind. The paper fluttered in my hands as I slowly read the words. “We assemble at this shrine, Mother Darkness and Father Divine. Mine the scourge and mine the kiss, mighty Queen of the Night. Hell’s dark mistress, Heaven’s king, work your holy unity. No more know ye slavery. With the mystery of rebirth—be ye free. So mote it be.”

Nothing happened. Waiting seemed an eternity, but time deceived. Didn’t it? We had too much hope built up in this for it to fail.

“Tish?” I waited for an answer. Her eyes remained closed, and her face seemed more relaxed, no longer twitching or grimacing. But as I peered closer, my butterflies returned stronger than before. Something was wrong.

Her facial muscles drooped and her full mouth relaxed until it hung open. Listening to her shallow wheezing, my chest started to ache, expanding to real pressure as the blood flow gushing through my vessels kicked into overdrive. I couldn’t breathe, each gasp of air painful, as if my lungs couldn’t open up enough to draw in any oxygen. My skin started to burn in waves, cascading from my scalp down to my lower legs and back up again.

What had I done?

COLLAPSE
Reviews:mauireader on Amazon wrote:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Page-turning, paranormal romantic mystery!

This is the second book continuing the mystery in the Dark World. It is well done with enough details from the first book making it a stand-alone read. Another fun, fast-paced story with great witty dialogue and realistic characters. The story flowed really well with a good plot.

Krystyna on Amazon wrote:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

You really don't want to make her angry. You won't like her when she is angry.

Terrific plot and I loved the way mythology, the Bible and human fears are woven into a read that uses it all. Tremendous!

Dawn M. on Amazon (Canada) wrote:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

......🤯.....

Book 2 follows a new couple and thier journey is EPIC, we do see our first book couple a bit as well! I'm excited to see how book 3 wraps this fantastic story!!!!😍