The title of the 4th Lash Series book is named Revenge. Containing much less history than its predecessor, War, the newest installment of the series, Revenge, focuses on my weresnake protagonist's search for the demon Hex, whose treachery years ago lead to the death of Lash's best friend and former employer, the vampire Abraham Hamilton. With the help of old friends from previous installments in the series like the ex-soldier and weresnake Dieter, the elegant yet ruthless vampire Devlin, and the wisecracking and deviant demon Shaker, Lash begins his search only to be blocked at every turn. It is not until he joins up with the young werewolf, Morwen, that Lash begins to uncover some of the truth.
The previous books in this series had romantic elements, beginning in the first book with Lash's first love, Mara. He's had other subsequent relationships as the years passed. All of them combusted over a short time, leaving Lash despairing that any woman is ever going to love him, or that they could be trusted at all. So its that much more surprising to him when he finds himself falling for Morwen in the space of a few months.
Morwen is as damaged as Lash, when it comes to the opposite sex. Brutal treatment by one man in particular, Rocks Valentine, has left her emotionally scarred, and fearful to let any man get too close. When Lash learns of this and witnesses her terrible nightmares firsthand, he vows to make Rocks pay for what he's done to Morwen. After wreaking bloody revenge in Morwen's name, Lash arrives with proof, hoping her nightmares will stop. But how does one offer up such a gift to a woman he cares for, especially when he's always been more of a fighter than a lover? See the excerpt below!
Dieter's eyes flicked to the bag. “Since when do you bring back trophies?”
“She needs to see it,” I said curtly.
A flicker of understanding dawned in his eyes. Then he smiled. “Good luck.”
It was in his voice that he thought I hoped to bed Morwen with the head as my payment. It infuriated me that he thought I could be so crude and thoughtless. The old Lash would have decked him. But part of me knew that on some level, he was right. I hadn’t picked Rocks to test myself at random. And I hadn’t brought Morwen the head just hoping her nightmares would stop. But I wasn’t going to admit that, ever.
“Thanks,” I said gruffly, then pushed past him.
A search of the woods provided just a lot of wolf tracks. Finally, I sat down on a log and had a smoke, trying to think of how to offer the head to Morwen that wouldn’t bring her to the same conclusion Dieter had made. Nothing came to mind except, “I did it for you.” But that also carried expectation, that I wanted something in return, didn’t it?
Stymied, I picked up the head in a sack, and walked out of the forest into the graveyard, following the tracks. Why was the damn woman always out here in the cold? At least it gave me extra time to try out a few possible intros for my present.
“He’s dead. He can’t hurt you.” No, that’s too personal. She’ll know I know what happened to her.
“I killed him for you.” No, too much expectation.
“He’s dead. Are you feeling better?” Too stupid sounding.
I walked for an hour, circling the cemetery, getting madder and madder because I couldn’t think up the right words to say. Finally, I gave up and turned back towards Hayden. When I made it back to the house, I slammed in the front door only to find Morwen waiting for me.
“Do you want something to eat?” she asked with a smile. “I’ve got a few trout baking—”
I opened the sack and threw the head down at her feet. She looked at it horrified, then back up at me.
“Merry Fucking Christmas,” I hissed at her, then stalked past her. I heard her following, but I didn’t care. I went into the kitchen, and got some raw meat out.
“I cooked you a pie,” she said. “It’s on the counter.”
“I’m a snake,” I said meanly. “I want meat, not pie.”
“It’s a mincemeat pie,” she amended. “Heavy on the meat.”
I took my meat and headed to the dining room. Morwen followed me.
Screw it. She could stare at me while I ate.
“Whose head is that?” she asked a few times. When I didn’t reply, she just waited patiently, watching me.
“Rocks Valentine,” I said, when I’d finished. “You talked about him in your sleep, when you were nightmaring.”
Morwen shook her head. “I never talk in my sleep. You never said—”
“One time you did.”
Her eyes widened with understanding, and a flush ran up her throat, suffusing her face. “You killed him on that alone?”
“He hurt you and now he’s dead,” I hissed. “He wanted you to know he apologized profusely, of course.” I chuckled. “Not that that saved him any pain, that fuck—”
She actually looked appalled. “How could you do this?”
“This is who I am,” I said with a sneer, taking the plate to the sink and leaving it there. “Now be a good little wolf and clean up the mess.”
As I went to leave, Morwen threw the dirty plate at me, missing me only because I ducked instinctively at its approach. It hurtled over my head and slammed into the wall, breaking into shards. I whirled and faced her, meeting her bared fangs and animal gaze with my own.
“I thought you’d be happy!” I yelled at her, trying hard not to lisp around my growing fangs. “What the hell does it take to make you happy?”
She growled at me. Infuriated, I went after her and she melted into wolf form, snapping at me. Furious, I left her and stalked away, up to my room, slamming the door. A few minutes later something hit it, startling the shit out of me. Then Morwen shattered that door, too, her grey furry form bursting through the remains to land on all fours. She went to morph to human and I tackled her, slamming her small frame to the floor.
“What do you want from me?” I shouted at her, grabbing her newly formed wrists.
“Forgiveness,” she said seriously.
“For what?” I said, loosening my grip a little.
Her tone was contrite, her yellow animal eyes fading to be replaced by her human ones. “For all of it. For the mixed signals and the nights you held me. For my reaction at you killing that bastard who raped me. I should have kissed you instead of freaked—”
I let go of her arms and went to kiss her. But she scrabbled at the floor, jerking away.
I moved back at once, letting her put several yards between us. She sat up, bringing her knees in and putting her arms around them.
“Why do you always run when I reach for you?” I said wearily, sitting down on the floor.
“Because I’m afraid,” she said in a small voice.
I lay down on the floor, exhausted. “Don’t you think I feel the same way?” I hissed very softly. “You haven’t been the only one with a lover…um, sex partner who was less than nice.”
“I know that.” She rubbed her eyes. “I’m just scared. I tell myself not to be, that it’s okay. But as soon as I smell your excitement, I’m scared again.”
I helped her up, then sat there on the bed with her. “No one told you we have to be anything more than coworkers,” I said. “I’m not pushing. I didn’t bring you Rock’s head to make you grateful. I did it to kill what he did, so you can let go of your pain.” I pushed a few of her long braids out of her face. “I want you to smile, instead of cry.”
She looked at me, staying silent. In a few moments, she came into my arms and I hugged her.
“Do you want to try again?” she said in that same tiny tone.
I didn’t reply, I just kissed her. This time, she let me.
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