To touch a Dark One is death.
To talk to an immortal is suicide.
Yet, I've been marked by both.
And the King of the immortals.
My life is no longer my own.
And now I know the truth, my life was never mine to begin with.
It was theirs.
It's always been theirs.
"Ethan, a word?" Alex stood.
"Sure." Ethan kissed the top of my head and left the room while Mason started rummaging around the kitchen; pots and pans clanged together, and then he pulled out a giant piece of steak.
"I hope that's not for me." I pointed.
"Protein…" He threw the steak into the pan. "…feeds the blood, which feeds the mate, which, in turn, feeds you."
"You gonna start singing Circle of Life?" I joked.
"Circle of life?" he repeated.
"Cassius is king."
I looked helplessly to Stephanie, who was trying to hide her smile behind her hand.
"Have you seriously never watched Lion King?"
"Werewolves are scared of TV," Stephanie said with a soft laugh.
"And sirens are afraid of the dark," he fired back, while she shuddered. "I'm not afraid of the TV. I just don't see the point in sitting in front of a flat box and watching people make fools of themselves."
"He'd rather be the fool." Stephanie nodded and winked in my direction.
"Mason…" I walked over to him and put my head on his shoulder. "How about I eat the steak and we watch Lion King?"
"Dances with Wolves?"
Stephanie snickered loudly behind her hand.
"Wolves do not dance," Mason growled.
"Oh, we know." Stephanie nodded. "I've seen it once. Don't care to see it again."
"Too much whiskey." Mason kissed the top of my head. "Eat the whole steak, and then we'll talk about King Lion."
I sighed helplessly and went to sit at the table while Mason cooked.
Stephanie gave me a side hug. "Eight tomorrow morning, alright?"
"Bed." She shrugged. "It's been a long night." Her eyes misted again.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
"Yeah." Her voice cracked. "Like Alex said, we get emotional. Can't help it."
It felt like she was lying, but I was human, how would I know? I nodded and turned my attention back to Mason, who'd started searing the steak.
"So you cook meat but refuse to eat it?"
"I'm a vegetarian." He smiled. I'd never realized how pointy his teeth were on the sides. Maybe that's how he'd been able to bite into me before Ethan had mated with me.
"Your teeth say otherwise." I pointed. "Flat means vegetarian. Pointy means carnivore."
Mason rolled his eyes. "I didn't say it was natural for me to be a vegetarian."
"Okay… so why?"
He let out a heavy sigh. "Meat made my mate sick… for one reason or another. It gave her headaches. She only ate fruits, vegetables, nuts." He flipped the steak. "So I learned to like other foods."
He went very quiet, his eyes focusing in on the steak. "Now…" His voice was hoarse. "I honor her with my every meal."
My throat clogged with emotion.
The fact that he honored her at all — but with every single meal — killed me. How did he survive that? How did he live every day having known true love? And know he may never experience it again — living forever?
"Don't pity me." Mason let out a gruff growl. "It makes it harder."
"Sorry," I whispered. "So pinecones, huh?"
He laughed. "Yes, well, it's an acquired taste."
My heart picked up speed, and then I smelled him. Ethan entered the room, briskly walking by me, kissing my head. "Steak almost done?"
"I'm a perfectionist." Mason held up his hands. "Let the juices seal."
Ethan scrunched up his nose. "Her blood tastes better than that steak."
"Yes, well, her blood tastes good because she's living. She's living because I feed her."
"Werewolf has a point," I teased. "Besides, if I eat my whole steak, we're going to watch Lion King!"
"Whose king?" Ethan tilted his head. "What lion? Mason's a wolf."
And that's how I ended up spending my evening between a vampire and a werewolf, eating steak and watching a Disney movie while they argued over the animal kingdom, not to mention the lion's choice in song.
It felt right.
Like I'd finally found my place.
I had no idea that the security I felt was about to get ripped from me, from the very people I'd put my trust in.
Author Interview with Rachel & Ashley
A: PNR is a departure from what you normally write, what inspired you to try it?
R: I wasn't getting bored with what I was writing but I wanted to do something that would stretch me a bit...I've always loved reading PNR and thought, okay, I need to challenge myself and try this, it may suck but thats okay.
A: What was the hardest thing about writing PNR?
R: World building. I tend to get bored over small details but its a necessity when you are writing something like PNR.
A: Which of the characters in The Dark Ones is most like you?
R: Oh wow, I have no idea! I'd like to think I put a little bit of my personality in every character. I have a lot of Alex's sarcasm, Mason's protectiveness, and maybe even a little bit of Ethan's fear.
A: How has being a mom changed your work?
R: I'm completely unable to just pick up the computer and write whenever I feel like it, haha I live by the nap schedule, die by the nap schedule but in a way it's been really good for my focus because I'm forced to use my time wisely. I think being a mom has also made it so that my books are more emotional...
A: For someone new to your writing, what book of yours would you recommend reading first?
R: Man, that's so hard because I really do write in so many genres! I never know what to recommend to people...Hmm, possibly Elite or Capture ;)
A; Tell me a bit about your writing process...
R; I always have to have music playing, I build my playlist as a I write and make sure that only THOSE songs are specific to the book I'm currently working on.
A; Any authors you would want to co-write with?
R: I tell her every day lol but I'd love to write with Lauren Layne, we both have such crazy schedules so I'm not sure if it would work anytime in the near future but it's a definite must on my bucket list.
A: What is your pay it forward book? (The one you tell everybody they HAVE to read).
R: The book I always tell people they have to read thats NOT mine would be Heather Lyons Fate series, just obsessed. And out of my books it would be Ruin.
A: If you could have anyone write the story of your life, who would it be and what would the title be?
R: I'd probably have y sister, who's also an author, write my story, she' do it justice and the title would be...flaws haha no but seriously it would be something similar.
A: Favorite motivational phrase/quote.
R: "Do it afraid"
A: What is next in your pipeline?
R: Right now I'm working on the second installment in a two book series that releases this next year as well as the next book in the Eagle Elite series.
About the Author
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.
She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!
Want to be kept up to date on new releases? Text MAFIA to 66866!
You can connect with her on Facebook www.facebook.com/rachelvandyken or join her fan group Rachel's New Rockin Readers. Her website is www.rachelvandykenauthor.com .
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Van-Dyken/e/B0054TW5AA/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1407369649&sr=8-2-ent