Mireille Chester is a fantasy author who loves to spend time in made up worlds filled with magic. She is a firm believer that no hero is perfect and that all villains are burdened with a tiny shred of humanity. While she writes her Adult and YA novels under the name Mireille Chester, she is now writing a middle grade series under the name M.G. Chester.
It's been five years since the Chosen One's war and Hayden's pack has been able to enjoy life once again. Of course, things can never stay calm and they soon find themselves caught up in another epic fight and this time it looks like Ternach might hold the key to winning.
Mortal since losing his powers in the battle of Paradin, Ternach decides to take a trip to Sageden in hopes that Hayden can help him get his magic back. Along the way, he meets Sarah; a woman with a secret and an agenda.
It doesn't take long before sparks are flying and Ternach starts to think that maybe being human has its perks after all.
When he discovers Sarah's secret he needs to make a decision: Does he stay human so he can stay with Sarah, or does he attempt to become immortal again knowing he has what is needed to win...
Ternach reached over and checked his shirt. “I don’t think it will dry very well now that the sun is going down.” He stood and held out his hand to help her stand.
She looked at him as she let him pull her up and tilted her head to the side. “If you miss your magic so much, why didn’t you head to Sageden as you had originally planned?”
He grinned and she had to catch her breath. “Let’s just say I love a good adventure.”
He chuckled. “I’ll tell you all about it when the rest of your pack leaves.” They started back toward the camp.
“What makes you so sure I’m staying?”
“I could almost see your cat ears perk up at the word adventure.” He smiled down at her and laughed when she stuck out her tongue.
“Alright, fine, I was going to ask if you would mind if I stayed.”
“So long as you promise not to beat on me.”
She raised an eyebrow at him. He had to be a good nine inches taller than she was, not to mention that he outweighed her by at least eighty pounds. She’d have to take him by surprise and even then it would be touch and go. He stopped walking and grinned.
“Look at you standing there trying to figure out how you’d get it done!”
“I was not!” She tried to keep the blush from rising to her face but failed miserably.
“How would you do it?”
She smiled crookedly at him. “Well, if I tell you, you’ll know what’s happening when I try, now won’t you.”
He burst out laughing. “I’ll stay on my guard then.” He looked up at the movement farther in the woods and his jaw clenched.
“Sarah, we’re moving on!” called Robert.
She saw Ternach tense and she put a hand on his arm. She saw the dark look harden his features and she knew without a doubt that should Robert do anything to provoke him at this moment, Ternach wouldn’t just lie down and take the beating. In fact, she was positive that in a fair fight, Ternach was rarely the loser.
“I’ll be staying on with this crew,” she called back to him.
“Our orders are to…”
“Your orders, you mean. I volunteer for this shift and now I’ve found something else I’d rather do.”
Robert growled low in his throat. “It’s none of my business who you decide to do, but can I remind you there are quite a few very available shifters around. By the moons, even a dog would be better than this!”
Sarah threw herself in front of Ternach and pushed him back a step. “Don’t! He’s just trying to get a rise out of you so you’ll go after him. After that you’re fair game for the whole pack to join in.” She stood with her back against his chest so she could look at the other man. By the moons, he was solid. “You’re right, Robert! Who I do is none of your business and if I decide that Ternach is the one who should take care of the urge when it strikes me, then so be it.”
Robert grunted. “How can you even stand to have him touching you? He’s human! And even if he hadn’t lost all of his magic, he would still have been a freak!”
“And they say humans are narrow minded,” mumbled Ternach. “If he hits me first, can I hit him back?”
“Of course,” she glanced up and back at him. The white green eyes were full of mischief and she almost screamed with surprise as his strong hands turned her, his lips pressing against hers. She heard Robert growl and tried to pull away but Ternach’s arms wrapped around her and she was trapped. She started to feel lightheaded before she reminded herself to breathe. She tried to stay focused on the attack she was sure was coming from behind her. Ternach’s tongue ran along her bottom lip and before she could stop herself, she groaned. She melted against him and wrapped her arms around his neck.
Ternach jerked as her tongue found his. By the moons, he’d only meant to give her a peck then look up and stick his tongue out at that idiot of a man, but the instant his lips had touched hers he’d realized a peck wouldn’t be enough. His head was reeling. Her fingers laced in his hair and his groan vibrated through both of them. He had to end this now or he knew he wasn’t going to be able to stop. He softened the kiss and pulled away so that only their foreheads were touching. Both of them were breathing hard.
When he trusted himself to look at her without trying to kiss her again, he straightened, his thumb running over her lips.
“Sorry.” His voice was thick.
The corners of her mouth twitched. “I wasn’t aware I’d been complaining.”
The sound of Robert punching a tree made them both look in his direction. He was stalking away, his anger evident in his steps.
“Damn it, I wanted him to hit me.” Ternach reached down and grabbed a rock the size of a small egg. He tossed it into the air a few times before throwing it as hard as he could. Robert stumbled forward with the impact of it hitting the back of his head. He spun around, his face red. Ternach wrapped an arm around Sarah’s shoulder, pulled her close, and gave a cheerful wave. They watched in silence as he shifted into a lion and bound into the woods.
Sarah burst out laughing. “By the moons, that was great!”
Ternach grinned. “Why, thank you.”
She gave him a shove. “Not that!”
He laughed at her blush.
“Well, alright, that too.” She thought of the look on Robert’s face as he’d spun around to see what had hit him and her laughter started again. “Where in the world did you learn to throw like that?”
He shrugged. “I’ve been alive since the beginning of time. What can I say, I’ve been bored a few times. It’s fun to throw rocks at the dragons and watch them try to figure out which earth dragon has done it. You see, the trick of it is to be well hidden behind something and to be far enough away that they can’t smell you.” He grinned. “It took a few thousand years to perfect my aim, but I can pretty much hit anything I want to now.”
She shook her head in disbelief. Other than the eyes, it was easy to forget what he’d been before the war on Paradin. His smile softened.
“It just sank in, didn’t it? What I am? Or I suppose I should say was.”
She nodded but didn’t pull away from him. “I have a couple of questions about that kiss.” She blushed at the memory of it.
“Alright. What would you like to know?” He had no clue where she was going with this.
“You said you’d never had a mate. There’s no way you can kiss like that without having had some sort of practice.”
He smiled. “I’ve never had a mate, but there have been women in my life and about three thousand years ago I was taken prisoner by the Dreygt Witches. No one around here has heard of them; they live two oceans away on a tiny island most people don’t know exists. They, um, well, they were tired of using mortals to satisfy their urges, as you so politely put it earlier, and had decided that an immortal might do the trick.”
Sarah’s eyes were about to pop out of her head. “How did they catch you?”
“Magic and that’s how they kept me as well.”
“How long did they keep you?”
“One hundred and twenty seven years.” He smiled. “Let me tell you, you can learn a lot from four experienced women in that many years.” He blushed at some of the memories that were coming back.
She frowned. “Why did they let you go?”
“They didn’t. I managed to convince them that I would be a good boy and stay if they took off the magical bindings. I think the winning argument was that if I wasn’t busy trying to keep my magic from attacking their bonds on me I could concentrate more on what they’d brought me there to do.”
She seemed about to ask something else but stopped. He smiled.
“Well, I suppose I’m a bit curious as to why you would want to leave that type of situation. I know of a few men who would kill to have been in your place.”
He shrugged. “I missed my home in the Northern Regions and I missed the dragons. I’d go back and visit them from time to time. They’d promised me they wouldn’t try to capture me again if I went back every once in a while; besides the dragons, they’re the closest thing I’ve had to a family really.” He frowned. “You know, it just occurred to me that I’ll never see them again.” He seemed to shake himself mentally and smiled. “Alright, did that answer your question?”
“More than adequately, thank you. Can I ask one more?”
“You lost all of your magic?”
“All of it.”
She blushed. “I thought maybe you’d used magic on me during the kiss to make it feel like that.” She looked at the ground. “It… it was different than the other men I’ve been with.” She wanted to slap herself in the face. By the moons, she sounded like a twit. She was thirty, for crying out loud. It was like he was her first crush and she’d just turned of age. And he was Ternach! What in the world was she doing?
He watched as emotion after emotion passed over her face; shock, embarrassment, disgust, bewilderment, and finally confusion.
“I’m glad you didn’t finish with disgust,” he said softly.
“Oh, well, that was at me, not you.”
He lifted her chin and kissed the bridge of her nose. “Don’t forget, I was just as out of breath as you were.” He took a few deep breaths. “We’d better get back.”
Sarah’s hands were playing along his arms and he shivered. “Alright.”
Neither one of them moved. He ran his thumb over her bottom lip. The last time, no wait, the only time he’d felt like this had been when the three way link between Jasper, Hayden and himself had been blown wide open in the Burrie clearing. The only difference was that this wasn’t what Hayden was feeling for Jasper. This was all him.
He closed his eyes. “I need you to go back to the camp.” His voice was hoarse.
“Ternach! Are you still down here?” Cassandra’s voice caused both of them to jump.
He cleared his throat. “Right over here, Cass!” Thank goodness for distractions, he thought. He took Sarah’s hand and started walking back, but that wasn’t quite enough so he put his arm around her. There. That was better. He looked down at her and smiled as her arm went around his waist. She looked up and blushed.
“It’s a good thing she came along. I think I was about to force myself on you.”
Ternach threw his head back and laughed. In all of his years of existence, he couldn’t remember anybody he’d ever found as amusing as this woman.
“I don’t think I would have complained,” he chuckled.
Peter grinned as they walked back into camp. “Supper’s ready.”
Sarah thanked him and took a plate when he insisted there was plenty for her as well. She glanced at Ternach.
“So what’s this great adventure?”
He grinned. “We’re going orb hunting.” He frowned and reached over to pat her back as she choked on the mouthful of food she had in her mouth.
“Orbs?” She stared at him with wide eyes when she could breathe again. “What kind of orbs?”
Peter reached into his pack and pulled the yellow sphere from it. Sarah blanched.
“Sarah?” Ternach put a hand on her arm in case she fainted. She blinked and slowly looked away from the orb to him.
“I… what does it do?”
Peter shrugged. “Nothing as far as we can figure out. This is the second one we’ve found since the battle at Paradin. A green one was found in Braw’s offices when they were searched.”
“There’s…. There’re two?”
Peter held it out to her and she shook her head.
“Where’s the green one now?” She seemed to have trouble looking away from the orb.
“Marilynn, head sorceress for the Namaels, has it. She’s in Sageden with Hayden at the moment.” Cassandra looked at the newcomer with interest. “Is everything alright?”
Sarah blinked and looked from one curious face to another. She smiled, took a bite of her supper, and nodded. “Everything’s fine. This sounds like a fabulous adventure.” She grinned at Ternach who raised an eyebrow at her.
He shrugged off her odd behavior. After all, he didn’t know her; this could be normal for her. He took a drink of his canteen and smiled. Now, if he could only remember where he’d seen the red orb…