Breaking the Nexus by Lindsay Avalon Mythrian #1 Publication Date: December 3, 2014 Also in this series: Warrior Unleashed, Waking the Phoenix Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Book One in the Mythrian Realm Series
Throughout history, myths and legends of extraordinary creatures have been told and retold. Fantastic tales of demons and banshees, gryphons and dragons, and of course, magic. Stories that every child grows to learn are nothing more than fantasy…or are they? Beyond the world you see lies a hidden realm, the Mythrian Realm, inhabited by all of the creatures you’ve been told are mere fiction. Only one thing lies between humans and the truth: the Nexus. A magical barrier erected millennia ago to separate the two realms, it has stood the test of time. Until now. For Mythrian Sha Phoenix, magic is nothing new. But when she stumbles upon a portal on the verge of collapse, her fate will forever change. Pulled through the portal into the Human Realm, she lands in the middle of Detective Connor Flynn’s brutal murder scene. Soon it is obvious someone is using blood magic to try to bring down the Nexus. Together, Connor and Sha must work to unravel the secrets before the barrier falls and the realms collide. The Nexus is breaking and all hell is about to unleash…literally.
Foot tapping a rapid little rhythm, Sha tried hard to maintain her composure. This small room with its too big table and uncomfortable chair was making her claustrophobic. She didn’t have issues with small spaces in general, it was the austere walls painted an unimaginative gray and stained by years of use that gave the impression they were closing in. Or maybe it was the fact she hadn’t sensed any Gateways during her transportation here meaning she was stranded for now. Lovely.
She’d tried to study the city as the buildings zoomed by, but it hadn’t been easy. The blow to her head had dazed her more than she’d wanted to admit and everything was just so different from anything in Mythria. Most of the buildings were tall, rectangular structures with little imagination; nothing more than glass and metal thrown together. As fascinating as she found the humans, they lacked vision. Sure there was the occasional structure that was architecturally appealing, but what had happened to the gorgeous facades she’d read about? The intricate stone carvings and detail? It made her homesick for the beauty of her Mythrian cities.
Nice job, Sha. You’re sitting in a box in unfamiliar territory and you’re obsessing because the buildings are uglier than you expected them to be. Brilliant show of prioritization skills. When would that detective get here? The sooner she could convince him she wasn’t a lunatic, the sooner she could tackle the issue of what had caused the Gate to collapse. The only answers she’d come up with so far didn’t bode well for the stability of the Nexus. It was a thought that sent a chill racing down her spine.
“Cold in here?”
She jumped at the unexpected question. Either she was losing her touch or that man had perfected the art of sneaking up on a person. His gruff, baritone voice sent another shiver through her body, though she felt anything but cold. It was surprise, not him, she assured herself. Right and gryphons are cowardly fools. Who was she kidding? The detective was getting under her skin without even trying.
“Uh, no, it’s fine.”
“Good. Did you kill the man in the alley?”
Sneaky bastard was hoping to catch her off guard. She arched her brow at the brazen question. “No. Do I really look like I am capable of killing him?”
“You’d be surprised at the things I’ve seen, Ms. Phoenix. How’s the head? Did you get checked out at the hospital?”
She shrugged. “I’ve had worse.” It was true. As a trainee she’d had the brilliant plan to take on a juvenile Scray demon on her own. It may not have been full grown, but it had been twice her size and at least five time her strength. That was one lesson she never forgot. “And yes, the doctors said I may have a mild concussion. Nothing serious, though.”
The hospital was an experience she hoped never to revisit. Riding in the vehicle—car— had been exhilarating and a vast improvement over the carriages in Mythria that were powered by either magic or beasts. However, once they’d arrived at the hospital, she’d been overwhelmed by fear, desperation, and death. Her empathy wasn’t one of her stronger talents but it was enough to ensure she’d told the doctors whatever she thought would get her out of there fastest. Back home, healers made house calls unless your injuries required multiple intense sessions, so she’d never had to deal with such oppressive feelings. How could people take their loved ones into a place such as that? Increasingly she was coming to realize the Human Realm wasn’t quite what she’d imagined after all.
Fingers snapped in front of her, drawing her startled gaze. “Am I boring you, Ms. Phoenix?”
Sha felt her cheeks begin to burn. “Sorry, Detective. I didn’t mean to let my mind wander off like that. My brain must still be addled.” A noncommittal grunt was his only response. Things were off to a wonderful start, she thought with a scowl.
Long moments passed, the uncomfortable silence making her want to squirm. Oh, she knew exactly what he was doing. He wanted her agitated so she’d let something slip. They’d been taught a similar tactic during training; lucky for her, she didn’t have any knowledge to divulge. Squaring her shoulders, she met his gaze unflinchingly.
“Wasn’t there something you wanted to ask, Detective? Or did you just want to have a staring contest?” A small part of her liked staring into his eyes, the intense gray seeming to shift subtly, almost like mercury. Intriguing. She filed that bit of information away to examine later.
“You’re hiding something, aren’t you?”
She decided to play dumb. “How can I hide anything when you haven’t asked a question?”
“At first I thought you were as high as a kite at the scene, but you’re more intelligent than I thought.”
Why did it sting that he’d thought she was high? “Is that a compliment or a question?”
“A statement.” He set a rectangular device on the table and a red light began to blink. “I’ll be recording this if you don’t mind. You’ve already been advised of your rights, have you not?” He paused, waiting for her response.
“Yes, I have.”
“Good. You were found in an alley lying in a pool of blood. How did you end up there?”
“I don’t know.” It was close enough to the truth. No reason to mention the bit about falling through an invisible, magical barrier.
“Do you know this man?" A picture slapped down onto the table in front of her showed a man, his skin waxy with a grayish cast and large purple shadows around his eyes.
“No, I’ve never seen him before.”
“Really? I find that hard to believe when we found you within feet of his body. We’re waiting on DNA confirmation, but unless you have an explanation for where the blood in the alley originated, I’d say you and I both know it belongs to our victim here. Let me ask you one more time. Do you know this man?”
Irritation flashed through her body. “As you pointed out, Detective, I was found unconscious and prior to that had never met the guy. I may have lain next to him, but that doesn’t mean I knew him. Who is he?”
“I’m working on determining that. He’s lacking his fingerprints, so it’s not as simple to identify the body. What happened last night?”
“I don’t know. All I remember is waking up, being confused, and being surrounded by strange people. You showed up a short time later.”
“Where are you from?” That man just didn’t know when to drop the subject, did he?
“I’m from out of town.”
“Can you be more specific?”
“A town so small, I’m sure you’ve never heard of it.” Not far from the truth. Fire Falls wasn’t tiny, but it wasn’t huge.
“Do you take me for a fool? Stop lying, Ms. Phoenix. You had no ID on you, no credit or debit cards, no cell phone, and your prints aren’t in the system. Tell me the name of the town; it should be simple enough to verify it.”
“Trust me, Detective, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
His eyes sparked at her words, the irises seeming to shift with increasing speed. If she didn’t know better, she’d think he had some Metallum ancestry. Only the metal crafters in Mythria had eyes like that, but there was no way he could share their blood.
“I’m tired of your games. I have a body in the morgue and two other cases I believe are related to this one.” He pulled out pictures of two other crime scenes and placed them on the table in front of her. “This is your last chance. Answer me now or I’ll have you locked up for obstruction of justice.”
Sha stared at the two other images, stunned. “It can’t be,” she whispered.
He sat back in his chair, studying her. “What can’t be? You recognize one of them don’t you?”
She didn’t know what compelled her to respond, however, she couldn’t halt the flow of words. “I don’t know who the men are, but I recognize those runes. It’s impossible you’d find them here.”
“Three dead guys would beg to differ with you on that one. Where have you seen the runes before?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
Connor’s palms slammed on the table, the sound reverberating through the cramped room. “Enough with the theatrics. Where…have…you…seen…these…
runes?” He punctuated each word with a stab of his finger on the photographs.
“In Mythria,” she blurted before she could stop herself. Mother Night. What had she just admitted?
Nothing is more dangerous than a warrior unleashed. When Sentinels begin dying under mysterious circumstances, the deaths are believed to be unrelated. Only one man sees the truth: an unknown enemy is targeting the elite group of warriors and no one is safe. As a panther Chimerae, Achaius Rilke recognizes the signs of an unpredictable predator. The only person he can trust is Saia Makan, the tempestuous Sorceri who has driven him crazy for years. But when the killer has set his sights on Saia, Achaius faces the hunt of his life.
Rage suffused her, casting a red haze over her vision as she attacked the sparring post. Blood bloomed on her knuckles, but she didn't register the pain. The blows continued to rain down as she embraced the bitter anger. Anything to keep from dwelling on the grief lurking just beneath the surface.
She didn't know who was more deserving of her wrath: the draka who was murdering Sentinels, or Treven for having the audacity to be the latest victim. How dare he let some bastard catch him off guard. They were partners, supposed to look out for each other. Who was going to guard her back now that he was dead?
"Draka," she repeated under her breath, redoubling her efforts to annihilate the padded target in front of her. Nobody spoke the old language anymore, save for a few scattered words or phrases, but the curse seemed appropriate. Any coward who incapacitated a Sentinel before slitting their throat deserved to be called draka.
"Come now, Saia. That's a bit rude to say that to an innocent sparring post, don't you think?"
Wonderful. Just what she needed to make this day even better. What in the Seven Hells was he doing here? The amusement in the deep voice only served to rile her up further.
"Go away, Achaius, I'm not in the mood."
"I figured you could use some company, considering you're missing Treven's memorial. Unless you forgot it was today, of course."
Right, how could she forget? They would light the funeral pyre for her partner of five years, but Saia couldn't bring herself to attend the memorial. She'd said her goodbyes privately and she knew he'd understand. She clamped her lips, battling the wave of tears that welled up. Damn Achaius. She'd been fine until he showed up.
"I didn't forget," she managed, her voice betraying only the slightest tremble. Why couldn't he leave her in peace before she made a fool of herself by bursting into tears? She refused to break down in front of him. Of all the people that had to track her down, why him?
Achaius Rilke could rile her temper faster than anyone she knew, but at the moment he wasn't trying to annoy her or tempt her competitive streak. No, he was being nice to her and that was worse. She didn't need nice, she needed to control her emotions and focus on revenge.
Sighing, she dropped her arms and stepped out of the ring of power used to protect observers of training sessions. When activated, no magic or weapons could leave the circle. Without a word, she walked past the wall of chiseled muscle and grabbed her towel, scrubbing it hard over her face. Working out in the training room wasn't helping to stop the grief roiling inside and she was perilously close to giving into it.
The air shifted and she sensed him moving to stand next to her. Wild energy emanated from him and she knew his panther was straining to be let free. Of all the Chimerae she'd ever encountered, she had only ever been able to sense Achaius' beast. The man intrigued her as much as he infuriated her, challenged her even as he pushed her to the limits of her patience.
He moved closer, warmth teasing the wisps of hair at the back of her neck as he exhaled. His musky scent curled around her, enticing her to lean against his strength. Get a hold of yourself, Saia Makan.
"Please, Achaius, just go away." Exhaustion weighed upon her and she dropped to the bench, her head falling into her hands. Gods, she didn't need this. Couldn't he get it through his skull she wanted to wallow in self-pity alone?
"Contrary to what you may think, I'm not here to give you a hard time, Saia. I'm here as a friend. Let me help."
She lifted her head, her gaze meeting his in surprise. "I don't need your help. I'm fine."
Was that hurt that flashed in his eyes? "You're not, but if you want to be miserable, go for it. When you're done feeling sorry for yourself, come find me. We need to talk. Treven was the third Sentinel dead in less than a month and we've got a serious problem."
He turned, started walking toward the exit, and guilt stabbed her. Mother Night, she was being a bitch and he didn't deserve it. "Achaius, wait. I'm sorry." An instant later his words registered and her blood turned to ice in her veins. "Wait, what do you mean he's the third death?"
Pausing at the heavy door, he shook his head. "Time enough for that later. Come on, I want to show you something first."
Curiosity piqued, she stuffed her belongings into the simple black bag she'd brought and hurried after him. Somehow, the man had managed to pry her mind away from the crushing sadness at losing her partner and, despite her earlier words, she was grateful for the distraction. As he led the way, it was hard not to admire the way he moved, his panther showing itself in the graceful stride of a predator. Oh yes, she was definitely distracted now.
Waking the Phoenix by Lindsay Avalon Mythrian Realm #2 Publication Date: August 27, 2014 Also in this series: Breaking the Nexus, Warrior Unleashed Genres: Paranormal, Romance
As two Realms collide, the world descends into chaos.
From the moment Sha Phoenix dropped into the middle of Detective Connor Flynn’s murder scene, he had known his life would never be the same. Following her claim to be a Sorceri from the Mythrian Realm, he had received a crash course in the impossible as they had struggled to stop a madman. Unfortunately, despite their efforts to stop the Nexus, a magical barrier separating the Mythrian and Human Realms, fractured. Magic and myth are spilling over into the Human Realm, plunging everything into turmoil. Is their love strong enough to survive the flames of the phoenix? When Sha vanished through a portal in the middle of battle, Connor did not hesitate to follow the woman he had claimed as his. Now in the Mythrian Realm, they join forces with the Sentinels, the guardians of the Realms, to protect the world they love. Will they be able to contain the evil taking control? Or will they perish in the flames of war? This is a continuation of Connor and Sha's story. Book 1, Breaking the Nexus, should be read first.
“I hate you. Have I told you how much I hate you? Because I do,” Sha hissed between clenched teeth, desperately trying to move. The bastard chuckled, keeping her body still despite her best efforts, and trailed his lips along the curve of her neck.
“You don’t hate me, you love me.” His lips hovered over hers, fingers dancing over her clit taking her once more to the edge of orgasm before stopping.
“Yes, yes I do.”
A pathetic whimper escaped when his hand left her and he levered himself onto his elbows, an evil glint in his eyes. “Well, if you hate me, I guess I should leave then.”
Seizing the opportunity, Sha threaded her legs around his and sprang up, forcing his body off balance and onto his back. “You leave and I’ll kill you,” she warned. Connor’s chest rumbled with laughter until she lifted her hips, impaling herself on his cock. Head falling back with a moan, Sha couldn’t suppress the shudders rippling through her at the delicious fullness.
Those fingers of his cupped her breasts, thumbs circling her nipples as he thrust languidly into her. When she tried to move faster, one hand slid down her body, clamping onto her hip and holding her in place. The pressure built to a maddening level, yet she could do nothing to assuage it. Every shallow thrust did nothing but take her impossibly higher.
Sha growled in frustration. “You’re killing me, Detective.”
“So impatient, aren’t you? What’s your rush, temptress?”
Without warning, he flipped her onto her back, his eyes locked on hers, a possessiveness in them that made her toes curl. “Let’s get one thing straight,” he said, voice low with dangerous promise. “You are mine and nothing, not Maestro, not death, and sure as hell not some arrogant wolf will take you from me. Now, who do you belong to?”
Connor’s heart stopped, his throat closing on a shout, his hand reaching for the gun that wasn’t at his hip. Son of a bitch, he couldn’t do anything but watch as the biggest dog he’d ever seen leapt at the woman he loved. A jolt passed through him as he realized it wasn’t a dog, at least not one he’d ever seen in his life. Unless he was hallucinating, something he couldn’t entirely rule out, that thing had more than one head. Three heads to be exact. What the fuck?
Helpless, he raced to her, certain she would have her throat ripped out by those gaping jaws and gleaming teeth. Shock nearly felled him when instead, the creature pounced on her, driving her to the floor and…licked her?
Relief poured through this system, weakening his knees to he had to lean against the wall. Mother of god, it, whatever it was, licked her like a damn puppy.
“You’re kidding me. That thing never fails to try to kill me yet it seems to love Sha,” Aries grumbled.
“May-maybe Xan just has good taste.” The tremulous sound came from the alcove by the cabinet, drawing his attention. Fascinated, Connor watched as Aries gentled his voice once more.
“Come on, Kas. Xander gave his stamp of approval.” The sound of someone hyperventilating was the only response. “Breathe slow. That’s right. I’ll even let you yell at me if you want.”
A watery laugh drifted from the alcove. “I get to do that anyway.”
“Well, now you have my official permission. Will you come out from there?”
Who was this woman and how could she draw such a reaction from a man who normally acted like a pissed off wolf with a thorn in its paw?
Do you know what’s happening, Sha? Don’t think I’m not punishing you for scaring the living hell out of me, by the way.
No idea. And in my defense, how was I supposed to know a cerberus would decide to make friends? Look, he likes me!
Shaking his head at the childlike enthusiasm, he watched as a slight, fragile-looking figure with raven hair took a trembling step into the room. To his astonishment, what looked like flakes of snow clung to the silken strands, dusting along the folds of the cloak she pulled tightly around her body. Skittish as a new foal, she pressed her back to the wall, ice blue eyes darting back and forth between Sha and himself.
“Xander, come.” The beast immediately trotted to her side at the soft command, sheer adoration in its golden eyes. All six of the eyes, he thought with a shudder. Though the creature was nearly the height of the woman, it treated her with surprising gentleness, rubbing one of its massive against her abdomen.
She took a shuddering breath, then another, before she spoke again. “My name is Kastalia Oracalis. Welcome to my home.”
I’m not dead. The astonished thought circled through Detective Connor Flynn’s mind as he lay on the ground, pebbles embedding their shape in his skin as blades of grass raked him, leaving tiny cuts in their wake.
Part of him marveled at the fact that he hadn’t been vaporized the instant he’d jumped through the chasm in the Nexus. At the time, it had seemed like the best option. Hell, it was the only option. The moment Sha Phoenix, the mysterious woman who’d dropped into his life mere days earlier, disappeared into oblivion, Connor knew there’d be no turning back. The inexplicable bond between them, the driving need to just be with her, wouldn’t allow him to sit idly while the woman he’d come to love vanished without a trace.
There, he’d admitted it to himself. Somehow, in the too few days they’d known each other, the seeds of love had been sewn and he’d be damned if he let some supernatural crap steal her from him. A week ago, none of this was real. Banshees, demons, magic, they were the stuff of fiction. Now, he knew different. Now, he knew it all existed. At least he was pretty sure it existed. Otherwise, he’d gone completely insane and was even now sitting in a nice, padded cell drooling on himself.
Laughter filled his mind. Hate to tell you this, but you’re not insane. Well, not any more than usual. I can’t believe you followed me without even knowing what lay on the other side of the portal.
Relief poured through every fiber of his being at the whisper of Sha’s voice. I couldn’t let you have all the fun, he replied.
“If this is your idea of fun, we may need to revisit the subject of your sanity.”
Connor pried open his eyes, not even realizing he’d kept them clenched so tight his head had begun to hurt. As his blurry vision cleared, he kicked himself for not remaining blissfully ignorant to his surroundings.
“You had to open them sometime, keva.” Sha stepped to his side, brushing her fingers down his cheek in the briefest caress.
“Where are we?” He’d wanted to ask what keva meant, but now was probably not the ideal time for a linguistics lesson. Figuring out where the hell he’d landed seemed a bit more important.
She said nothing for several long minutes as she looked over the precipice on which they stood. Finally, she spoke, the awe-struck words barely audible over the roaring winds that whipped around them.
“Not where, so much as when. This is not a place, not anymore. It’s more a ripple of memory, one few have ever witnessed. This, keva, was the birth of the Nexus.”
He stood there for an eternity, transfixed by the fierce battle waging in the canyon. Though the figures looked like toy soldiers, the song of steel against steel rang clear in his ears. The cacophony of war cries, menacing snarls from nightmarish creatures, the moans of the dying locked in Connor’s memory. A glance at Sha’s rigid body confirmed the tortured souls below would haunt her as well.
“How can this be the birth of the Nexus? How can we be seeing a something that happened centuries ago?”
“More like a few thousand years ago,” Sha said, her tone flat. Her eyes, however, darkened to cobalt, misery swimming in them when she turned to him. “In my studies, they called this a vistria. It is said the earth remembers all, can hold secrets deep within itself. Some can unlock the secrets, but most must wait until the earth decides to reveal a glimpse. They say each person sees the scene differently, each mind processing the memory in its own way. The gods must’ve decided it was time to share this with me. Since you were crazy enough to follow me through the Nexus, our minds joined, extending the vistria to you.”
The concept of the earth, the big planet beneath his feet – assuming Mythria was actually on this planet, a fact he still wasn’t certain of – sharing memories with them was bizarre. Granted, tumbling head first into a magic portal wasn’t exactly an everyday occurrence. He hoped.
“What happens from here?” Connor asked, amazed at how nonchalant he sounded.
Sha’s gaze had returned to the unfolding scene and she answered without breaking her unwavering concentration. “Honestly? I don’t know. This is the first time I’ve been chosen to bear witness to this and I’ve never spoken directly to anyone who experienced a vistria. I assume we watch until we’ve seen what the earth wanted to share. I recognize a good portion from things I learned as a child, but there are differences. I can only guess at the purpose of showing us this, especially now that the Nexus crumbles. Maybe to warn of what had been trapped, of what may come?”
A week ago, Connor would never have been able to listen to her explanation with a straight face. Now, he fell silent watching as chaos reigned below, as troops fought fearsome, demonic beasts. They would never win, he realized. The men and women struggling to hold back the advancing forces didn’t stand a chance. Every time they gained a little ground, waves of blood red light rippled outward from a black cloaked figure, bringing life to the fallen demons.
Yet, rather than retreating from the devastating onslaught, the armor clad warriors continued to fight. Why bother when it was so hopeless? It was brave, sure, but a fool’s errand when faced with an entity that literally raised the dead.
Author Lindsay Avalon's Playlist of Bands for the Mythrian Realm Series
Two Steps from Hell
Really Slow Motion
Brand X Music
Two Steps from Hell
Really Slow Motion
Brand X Music
About the Author
Lindsay Avalon is a wife, owner of a devious mini Schnauzer, programmer, and now an author. An avid reader, her amazing husband never seems to mind the multitude of books scattered around the house. However, after listening to the words “I have nothing to read” one too many times, he suggested Lindsay try her hand at writing her own books.
Since she’d never liked writing in school, she balked at the idea until her sister pestered her to participate in NaNoWriMo. It was then Lindsay realized that it was never writing she hated; it was writing boring essays. Creating worlds of magic, mystery, adventure, and romance became her true calling. In 2012, she embarked on the journey to become a self-published author and to bring her crazy ideas to life.
In 2013, Lindsay decided to ask a fellow author about her publishing company, Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly. It was a spur of the moment, impulsive decision, and one which Lindsay is eternally grateful she made. Though self-publishing was exhilarating, being a part of her amazing publishing family gives her a bit of structure in her chaotic existence.
When she’s not writing or spending time with her husband, she’s hiding out from devious bears seeking to thwart her writing efforts, pestering her amazing friends and personal assistant, creating works of art in resin, and a multitude of other things that capture her attention at the moment. You can find Lindsay online spreading insanity across Facebook and interacting with her many lovelies. She loves hearing from her readers and fellow writers!
December 15- Undercover Book Reviews- Spotlight
December 15- Bobbi’s Blog- Excerpt / Spotlight
December 15- Here Is What I Read- Excerpt / Playlist
December 15- Coffee Books & Art- Excerpt / Spotlight / Playlist
December 15- Deborah Jay – Mystery, Magic and Mayhem- Review (Breaking the Nexus, #1)/Excerpt
December 15- Book Junky Girls- Review BOTH
December 15- Indy Book Fairy- Review BOTH
December 16- Breezy Book Blog- Review BOTH / Excerpt
December 17- Jazzy Book Reviews- Excerpt / Spotlight
December 17- Make My Day Book Club- Excerpt / Playlist
December 17- Leabhar Caife- Review (Breaking the Nexus, #1) / Excerpt
December 17- Geeks in High School- Review (Breaking the Nexus, #1) / Excerpt
December 18- Coffee Talk Writers- Excerpt / Spotlight / Playlist
December 19- Book Crazy- Excerpt
December 19- LuLo Fangirl- Excerpt / Spotlight / Playlist
December 19- Warrior Woman Winmill- Review BOTH
December 22- Buried Under Books- Spotlight
December 22- Mes Livres- Review BOTH
December 22- Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock- Review BOTH
December 26- Diane’s Book Blog- Excerpt / Spotlight
December 26- Books Need TLC- Review BOTH
December 29- Eskimo Princess Book Reviews- Excerpt / Spotlight / Playlist
December 30- Vera is Reading- Excerpt / Spotlight / Playlist
December 30- Pandora’s Opened Box- Review BOTH, Excerpt
December 31- LBM Book Blog- Excerpt / Spotlight
December 31- Sweet N Sassy Book A Holics- Review BOTH, Spotlight