From the second Marcus was born, he knew a normal life would never be his. He is nothing more than a breeder, meant to sire the next generation of even more powerful witches for the oncoming war. Once he serves his purpose, he’ll die.
Harsh as his reality may be, Marcus still longs for freedom—and perhaps someone to call his own. He never imagined that someone would turn out to be a notorious gargoyle commander.
As the second in command of the great gargoyle army, Michael lives a fast and dangerous existence. When those closest to him unite with their fated mates, he wants no part of it. Action and adventure is all he needs to remain content.
Until he’s captured, stripped of magic, and thrust into a cage with none other than his intended mate.
Thrown together by destiny, both Marcus and Michael must accept their roles as they uncover the very secrets that threaten to unravel all the realms. For only together, can they hope to save the future.
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Michael stumbled as he was pushed roughly into a room. The days since his capture ran together, but one thing he was certain of, he had been moved so many times he no longer knew where he was. The contraption holding his wings down had rubbed him raw in places and blood oozed constantly from the open sores. When he came out of the portal the first time, none of the other males had been in sight and he feared they had been lost within the unnatural darkness. Now, standing in what smelled like a small garden, he hoped this was the last move. He needed to regroup and plan an escape.
“Don’t turn around until you hear the door close. This is the only warning you will get.” His jailer tried to make her voice more authoritative, but he was not impressed. Too weak at the moment to do anything other than obey, he stood still until the door closed.
As soon as he heard the latch click, he yanked the blindfold off and threw it across the room. He blinked a few times before his brain started to comprehend what he was seeing. The room he was standing in was interesting, to say the least, although it was not a garden. A huge window made up one side of the room and a decorative curtain framed it. To his left a huge black box was mounted on the wall with a number of smaller ones under it. A bookshelf covered the wall to his right. The furniture was a dark red and beautiful landscape paintings decorated the walls. The garden smell came from the many plants placed around the room. Michael looked at the couch and noticed the back was low enough for him to sit and drape his wings over the back.
This almost looks like my home, except for whatever those boxes are. The internal sense that had saved his life many times on the battlefield went off and he spun, prepared to fight. No way was he going to be taken anywhere else without hurting someone first. The breath in his lungs left in one giant exhale when his gaze landed on the vision in front of him.
A male, well-formed and well-dressed, and clearly comfortable in his surroundings, stood before him. Wide purple eyes stared at Michael without fear, although the male bit on his plump bottom lip. Michael dropped his arms to his sides.
“Hi. You are the biggest one yet,” the stranger stated.
“Biggest?” Michael was surprised any sound passed his lips. He couldn’t stop his eyes from roaming over every inch of the man in front of him and instantly checked his mouth for fangs the pull was so strong. He tried to adopt a non-threatening stance by taking a step back.
“Biggest roommate.” The vision in front of him smiled, showing straight white teeth and dimples. “You are very large. I wonder why they put you in here.”
Michael swallowed and forced his voice to work. “I have no idea. I imagine they shoved me into the first room they came to.”
“I don’t know about that—we are on the top floor. I guess you can say we’re in the penthouse.” He laughed at his own joke.
“Penthouse?” Michael tried to think if he had ever heard that word before.
“Yes, you know, the best apartment in a building? The place the rich and famous live in?” When Michael shook his head, the male smiled crookedly. “Sorry, it’s just a joke I tell myself to make this better.”
“We all have something that helps us through tough times,” Michael stated. “What’s your name?”
“Marcus.” He stood taller and gave Michael another bright smile.
“Marcus. That’s a very strong name, after a god of war.” Michael walked over to the window, needing space, and looked down at the street far below. “Where are we? The air has a very strange taste.” He opened his mouth slightly and let the air roll over it. “Rotting.”
“New York. We are in one of the best stables of the Queen. Why do you say the air tastes rotten?” Marcus asked.
Michael shrugged. “That’s the only way I know how to explain it. Rotting. Everything is dying here, from the plant life to the people.”
“Humans begin dying as soon as they are born.” Marcus tilted his head. “I don’t see a brand on you. All males here are branded.”
“Like I said, I think they just wanted to get me in a room, fast.” He tried to think back to when he was first brought into the building, but everything was a blur. The last few days finally caught up with him and he turned from the window and made his way to the couch. Stretching out on his stomach, he closed his eyes.
“Are you OK? Do you need anything? Water, juice?” Marcus sounded worried.
“Not yet. I’m hungry but I need to recharge before I can think of food. How long have you been here?”
“Here in New York? About a hundred years.” Michael felt the couch dip close to his feet and knew Marcus had sat down. Somehow, that brought him comfort. “But I have been in a stable of one sort or another for as long as I can remember. I was born in one. My very first memories are of an older warlock who was a like a nanny to me. He was taken away when I turned a hundred,” Marcus stated.
“Stables?” Michael subtly moved his leg until it was pressed up against Marcus’s heat. “I have always wondered, why are these places called stables?”
“That’s what the witches call them,” Marcus said. “I think it comes from the fact that males are kept here and used like stud animals.” He gave a small barking laugh. “Horses in the penthouse.”
Michael’s head started pounding and he knew he would pass out soon from exhaustion. “If you don’t mind, I think I will take that water now,” he mumbled.
Sympathy speared Marcus. He’d never had any type of strong reaction to any of his roommates before, but for a reason unknown to him he wanted to take care of the large gargoyle currently sprawled on the couch. He was beautiful in a very lethal way and his large horns and roped muscles made him look like a warrior from times long past.
“Be right back.” Marcus dashed toward the kitchen. As soon as he was out of sight of the gargoyle, he allowed the comfort of his favorite room to sink in. A few years ago he had asked for a remodel of the kitchen and now it boasted two ovens, a large refrigerator and freezer, a beautiful island, and a stove to die for. The color of the cabinetry, a nice dark wood, offered him comfort and the feeling of being outdoors. Taking a deep breath, Marcus moved to the refrigerator and filled a glass with infused water. Spotting the large steak he had defrosting, Marcus smiled. There is no way one steak is going to feed that gargoyle. I’ll have to think of something else.
Walking to the door of the kitchen, Marcus glanced out and saw his new roommate had fallen asleep, half off the couch. He placed the glass on the counter and went in search of a blanket to keep him warm. As he covered the large male, Marcus took in his features up close. A craggy face with almond-shaped eyes almost hidden under a heavy brow. His lips were plump and a shade lighter than his skin. Two massive horns with two smaller ones directly under them completed the picture of perfection.
Compelled to touch the male but also aware that new captives could be very sensitive, he put distance between them and picked up his Xbox controller. Maybe if he played a while whatever feelings he had for the large gargoyle would dissipate.