Silver Silence Q1
 
ArchangelsViper US Cover - Copy

September 2017

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Welcome to the Newsletter

I hope you're having a wonderful August so far. I had a cold that laid me out for a few days, but I'm back up and running and at work on the next Psy-Changeling book. More info to come on that later this year. :)

This newsletter is full of good stuff, including:

▪ A long excerpt from Archangel's Viper
▪ A brand new short story
▪ Details of a sale for Heart of Obsidian (US edition)
▪ Information about my next contemporary release
▪ Details of where you can buy branded merchandise featuring archangels and more
▪ Dates of some upcoming appearances
▪ A special newsletter-only contest
▪ Plus more!
A long excerpt from Archangel's Viper
A brand new short story
Details of a sale for Heart of Obsidian (US edition)
Information about my next contemporary release
Details of where you can buy branded merchandise featuring archangels and more
Dates of some upcoming appearances
A special newsletter-only contest
Plus more!

I hope you enjoy! And remember, if your e-mail cuts off the bottom of this newsletter, click the link to read it in your browser and you'll be able to see the whole thing.

xo
Nalini

P.S. If you didn't get the previous newsletter, click this link to read it.

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Heart of Obsidian E-Book on Sale (US Only)

My US publisher has put the e-book of Heart of Obsidian on sale for the first time ever!! It's currently priced at $1.99.

The sale is for a limited time, so grab it quick if you'd like an e-book copy. I'd also really appreciate it if you could share this sale and entice fellow readers over to the Psy-Changeling side. ;-)

It should be on sale on all the usual e-book stores, but please give it another 24-48 hours if the price change isn't yet showing up at your favorite store.

BAM, iBooks, Kindle, Kobo, NOOK

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News Round-up

Series Merchandise

Exciting news!! Many of you have asked for merchandise related to my series, and we've been working behind the scenes to set up a store, including commissioning some special artwork by the fabulous Eithne Ni Anluain. That store is now open! Before you head off to shop, please read on for a few more notes.

We've priced everything as low as possible (if you've used cafepress before, you'll know they set the base price). This store is not for profit, but for fans. If y'all go crazy shopping and it somehow manages to make a profit despite itself, I'll be donating that profit to charity. So you can splash out with a clear conscience!

The store address is: www.cafepress.com/nalinisingh. Also, we'll be adding items and new artwork as we go. Right now, the store features DarkRiver, Elena, quotes from my books, a certain archangel, and a gorgeous wolf. Have fun shopping and if you run into any problems, Cafepress customer service is great.

iBooks Next Big 50 Promotion

iBooks Australia & NZ have chosen "Archangel's Viper" as part of their Next Big 50 promotion, as a "buzzed about" title! I can't wait for you to read the book!! Check out the preorder for Viper here. (This particular link will only work for Australia and NZ. More links lower down in the newsletter.)

Italian Interview and Short Story Translation

Italian readers, I recently did an interview for the Italian blog Libri e Altri Disastri. They were also given permission to translate Clean and Dirty. Click here to read the Italian translation.

(The English language version of Clean and Dirty is available on the Free Short Stories page of the website.)

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2018 Appearances

Australia

Heads up if you're in Sydney or nearby. I'm going to be attending the Sydney Author Event in April next year. :-) Tickets are now available. SAE is a full day signing event featuring a bunch of authors. There are still tickets available for the morning session. Full details on the event page!

Allegiance of Honor Germany Low Res - Copy

Germany

Love Letter Convention
12. bis 13. Mai 2018
Kastanienallee 82
10435 Berlin

I'm so excited to be returning to Berlin and the Love Letter Convention! Also, how gorgeous is the German cover of Silver Silence to the right?!!!

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Newsletter Archangel s Viper Giveaway 1 - Copy

Special Newsletter Giveaway

As a thank you to my wonderful newsletter subscribers, I'm holding another newsletter exclusive giveaway - the winner will receive a signed advanced reading/review copy of Archangel's Viper plus a limited edition Guild Hunter mug! (International entries welcome.)

To enter, simply email Ashwini (nalini.assistant@gmail.com) with "Newsletter Archangel's Viper Contest" in the subject line.

Entries close 10pm NZ time on August 29th, 2017. Open to all eligible newsletter subscribers. One entry per subscriber. No purchase necessary to enter. There will be one winner. Winner will be chosen randomly. Winner will be notified via the email address used to enter the giveaway. Void where prohibited.

Good luck :)

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RH-Out-Now--Destroyed-Him-quote6

Rock Hard - Available in e-book, print and audio

Next Contemporary: Coming November 2017

Guess what? I'm going to have another release in November! If you enjoyed my rugby-playing hero in ROCK HARD, I'm happy to tell you that you'll be getting the story of his brother Sailor in November!

Sailor is a hot gardener, a man who loves rugby and family, and he has the same wicked sense of humor as his brother. His heroine, Ísa, is funny and smart and isn't about to be charmed by a blue-eyed man with sin on his mind.

Release date: November 14th. Preorder not live yet.

p.s. If you haven't read Rock Hard yet, do check it out! I adore this fun, romantic story set in my hometown. :)

p.p.s. The photoshoot for the cover has been completed and the cover is in progress!

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SPA Girls Book Cover - Copy

Writing Book Recommendation

I have a nonfiction book rec for the writers among you, especially those who are self-publishing. Four friends of mine, Shar, Cheryl, Trudi, and Wendy (together, the SPA Girls) have written a kickass book about how to deal with Author Overwhelm. BUT, before we get to that...

Even if the book isn't for you, check out their podcast! It's free to listen to, hilarious and warm and full of great info - I think often, podcasts assume a lot of knowledge on the part of the listener, but the SPA Girls do a really good job of walking newer self-publishers through various subjects. And they have a great time doing it. Seriously, it's highly unlikely you won't laugh at least once while listening.

Getting back to Author Overwhelm, I think this is something that hits every author at some point in their career, and this book deals with the issue in a straightforward and extremely readable way and offers solutions. Check it out! :-)

Currently available on: Kindle

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Archangel s Viper UK cover - Copy

September 2017

Exclusive Extra: Advance Excerpt From ARCHANGEL'S VIPER

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Advance Excerpt From ARCHANGEL’S VIPER

by Nalini Singh

Sliding the sunglasses back on, Venom laughed. He was inside the waiting area moments later. The raw power of him crashed into her. Violently. Despite her earlier thoughts, she’d forgotten just how incredibly strong he was—she knew this was no power play; he wasn’t trying to overwhelm her on purpose.

This was simply who he was: a vampire a hundred times more deadly than the guard outside.

“Damn,” she said with a downturned face. “I was hoping you’d fallen into a crevasse.” He’d mentioned in their last call that he was about to go out on a climb. “Too bad, I guess.”

“I see those little kitten fangs of yours are still just as cute.”

She wanted to hiss at him, controlled the urge only because it would amuse him—and because in the time that he’d been gone, she’d achieved iron control over the most obviously inhuman aspects of her nature.

As for the ugly voice that kept whispering inside her when she was distracted, she’d strangle that, too. “Where’s the rest of your luggage?”

“This is it.”

Rolling her eyes, Holly put her hands on her hips. “Yeah, right. What did you wear for the past two years?” Venom had a suit for every day of the month.

“You don’t know everything you think you know, kitty.”

The world became tinged in acid green.

His smile was slow and satisfied. “There you are.” He took off his sunglasses again to reveal those eyes even more eerie than her own. “Boo.”

Getting her temper in check through sheer teeth-clenched grit, Holly looked up toward the speaker mounted on the wall. “Bye, Trace. Hope you and Andreja have a good day. Oh, I may be arrested for homicide soon. Please come visit me in prison.”

“Adieu, my beautiful girl,” Trace said with cheerful gallantness. “And, old friend, while you may provoke sweet Holly to homicidal rage, it is a pleasure to have you home.”

“It’s good to be back.” Sliding his sunglasses back on, Venom looked at Holly. “You my chauffeur?”

“I’m the woman you don’t want to piss off unless you plan to walk all the way to the Tower,” Holly said before striding out to the car.

Venom paused to shake hands with the guard, then dropped his hold-all in the trunk. Coming around to take the passenger seat, he pushed it all the way back to accommodate his legs. He was whipcord lean, but he had wide shoulders, long legs, a lot of muscle. He could also move as fast as a cobra strike.

“They let you drive now?” he said in a wondering tone of voice calibrated to get under her skin. “I leave for a couple of years and miss kitty’s first steps. Did anyone take photos for the baby album I sent you?”

“It’s full of pretty pictures.” Holly bared her teeth at him in a caricature of a smile. “Honor is a little concerned about how I keep drawing you with your head cut off,” she said in a deliberately thoughtful tone, “but an artist must follow her instincts.”

“Oh, Hollyberry, I’m deeply touched that you couldn’t get me out of your head.”

Holly deliberately skidded out of the parking spot before racing out so fast that Venom’s head should’ve slammed back against his seat. Instead, he laughed, lazily bracing one arm against the frame of the open window as the lethal wildness of his scent blew across her skin. “Got that temper under control, I see.”

“Oh, b—” Holly cut herself off before she said, bite me. She knew exactly what his response would be.

“I am looking forward to fresh blood.” It was a liquid sound, his body languid in a way that simply wasn’t human. “Blood hot from the vein is so much better than the cold, preserved stuff. Don’t you think?”

Holly squeezed the steering wheel and tried to think of the calming exercise Honor had taught her in an effort to foster mental and emotional discipline at a time when Holly had been tearing herself apart. She hadn’t needed that exercise for a while. Venom hadn’t been in the city for a while.

Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in—

Blood pulsing in her victim’s veins, drawn to the surface by quivering fear.

—breathe out. In, out, in, damn it, out.

The taste of hot iron on her tongue. Her mouth watering.

Staring at the road with grim focus, Holly refused to give in to the potent—and abnormal—hunger Venom’s words had aroused. She didn’t need that much blood to survive. And she definitely did not want to tear open a helpless mortal’s jugular and bathe in a dark, hot gush of red.

Her stomach clenched, her gorge rising at the images that filled her brain. Horrific, nightmarish images straight out of an asylum for the murderously insane.

“Still fighting the reality that you’re a vampire?”

“I’m not,” she said, her voice holding no indication of her utter terror—because Holly was used to hiding the madness submerged deep within. “I have vampiric tendencies, but I don’t need as much blood as you.” What she craved was a more violent and deadly thing. “I also have other aspects to me that aren’t vampiric.”

“You mean the ability to mesmerize prey? Hate to break it to you, kitty, but I can do that, too, and I’m a vampire. Unlike you, my ability is no longer limited to mortals and very young vampires.”

Holly was well aware he was taunting her. He knew very well what else she could do. “I need food,” she still said, because at least trading barbs with Venom was her version of normal. “That hasn’t changed in the time since the Tower decided Manhattan would be better off without your delightful presence.”

“Stop, stop. I can’t take the effusive welcome.” Unruffled amusement in every syllable, he stretched out his legs. “You still craving samosas?”

“No.” She’d gone to her favorite Indian restaurant three times last week and stuffed her face full of the fried— Wait a minute. “What possible reason could you have to remember that?” she asked suspiciously, the admission about her craving having slipped out during a long-distance training session.

“Because it’s another strange little Hollyberry fact to add to my growing collection.”

“You’re an asshole.” The exchange described their entire relationship, she thought as she continued down the otherwise empty private road that led to and away from the airfield. Thankfully, they merged into a much busier multi-lane road not long afterward. It gave her an excuse to ignore Venom and the prickling over her skin that wouldn’t go away when he was in the vicinity.

“So, what do kitties do on their days off?”

“Be quiet. I’m driving.”

“Is that what you call it? I was thinking more lunatic roller coaster.”

“I don’t see you putting on your walking sho—” She wrenched the wheel all the way to the right as a huge black SUV shoved into her lane. “Jesus!” It hadn’t been a mistake on her part—the driver of the freaking tank was still pushing with unhidden aggression, as if he didn’t have three other lanes to choose from.

And now the bastard was beeping his horn at her.

“Stop the car,” Venom said, his voice ice cold. “I’ll deal with this.”

Holly made it a point to disagree with everything he said on principle, but the idiot in the other vehicle was taking hazardous behavior to a whole new level. He could cause a crash—and most of the other drivers around her probably weren’t vampires who could take far more damage than humans.

She pulled over onto the verge. The SUV screeched to a stop beside her, rather than behind her. “Great, looks like the idiot has road rage issues.” Holly shoved open her door without regard for any marks it’d leave on the SUV’s gleaming finish. The space was narrow, but workable for a woman of her size.

Venom was already on her side of the car, his speed vicious. But she got out in time to see the doors of the other vehicle slam open and a harsh male voice call out, “Grab the girl!”

Grab the girl?

Hell. No.

Holly kicked the gun right out of the first goon’s hand. The second was flying back against his car before she saw Venom move. The third took one look at Venom and went sheet white. “You’re not supposed to be here!”

Barely hearing the fearful cry, Holly snapped a kick at the first goon’s jaw, slamming his head sideways. But he was strong, a vampire of at least three hundred. He kept coming at her. Holly couldn’t use any of her new abilities when things were moving so fast, had to fight using only the skills she’d learned from Honor and Ashwini and Elena.

All three Guild Hunters, all three used to fighting against stronger, faster opponents.

Holly was smaller than all of her trainers. ’tite Hollyberry. That was what Janvier called her. The kids at school had just said “short.” Holly didn’t care right now. She cared only that the hunters and Janvier—and Venom—had taught her to fight in a way that used her size. She ducked under the goon’s meaty fist and brought up a two-fisted punch of her own into his gut, right in the sweet spot.

His agonized groan was music to her ears . . . right before he was thrown back so hard against his vehicle that he left a person-sized dent in the metal. It matched the dent left by goon number two.

“I had that.” Her chest heaved, her blood hot.

After straightening his unrumpled suit jacket, Venom said, “You’re welcome.” He nudged at one of the crumpled goons with his designer-shoe-clad foot. “This one looks the most alive. Let’s see what he has to say.”

It turned out to not be much.

“There’s a bounty to grab her.” The goon was all but quivering in front of Venom, his pallid white skin flushed and blotchy.

“How much? And who’s behind it?”

“I don’t know. Mike had the details but I think you bashed his brains in.”

“He’ll wake up. Eventually.” A cold smile. “Then he’ll discover the true meaning of pain.”

The goon’s teeth began to chatter. “I swear we weren’t going to hurt her,” he sobbed. “Just take her for the bounty.”

Holly rolled her eyes. “I’m right here, moron.”

Said moron was still frozen in front of Venom—and she knew Venom wasn’t using his ability to mesmerize. “That’s all I know,” the guy blubbered out of a mouth that was swelling up from the gash on his lip. “We stalked her, realized that she was dropping off her sister today and would be driving back alone.”

“Didn’t you get a clue when I detoured to the private airfield?” Everyone knew it belonged to the Tower.

The goon’s eyes didn’t even flick to her as he said, “She drives like a maniac.”

Venom laughed. “In that we agree.” His laugh had the thick-necked goon flinching. “Now, the rest.”

The man spoke so fast his words rolled into one another. “We lost her right after the main airport and, after fifteen minutes of searching, decided to pull over at a gas station, get some coffee, make a new plan. We’d just got back in the SUV when we saw her car fly past.”

And the goons had figured it was their lucky day, too hyped up on the hunt to think about why Holly wasn’t already in Manhattan when she’d taken off so fast that they’d lost her. Not bothering to shake her head at their incompetence, she said, “How were you supposed to contact the person who put out the bounty?”

“I think Mike has an address to e-mail a photo to.” He swallowed, licked his lips. “You know, for proof.”

Going to the goon whose head was crushed in on one side badly enough that she could see brain matter leaking out—gross, but far from the worst she’d seen—Holly searched his pockets until she found his phone. She unlocked it using his thumbprint, then scanned his messages.

© Copyright 2017 by Nalini Singh

Pre-order links

North America (26th September)
Ebook
BAM, iBooks, Kindle, Kobo, Nook

Paperback
Amazon, BAM, B&N, BookDepo, Chapters, IndBnd, PRH,
Powells

Audiobook
Amazon, Audible (to follow), iTunes (to follow)

International
Ebook (26th September)
GooglePlay, iBooks, KindleAu, KindleNZ, KindleUK, Kobo

Print (Aus/NZ 26th September, UK 28th September)
Amazon.uk, A&R, BkTpa, BookDepo, FshPnd, MtyApe, Waterstones

Audiobook (28th September)
Amazon.uk, Audible.uk, iTunes (to follow)

If you'd like more information on the series, you can find excerpts and more on the following pages of the website:

Guild Hunter Series

Guild Hunter Free Short Stories

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Exclusive Extra: Psy-Changeling Short Story

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Author's Note: This short story is one that many, many of you have requested since Allegiance of Honor came out last year. I hope you love. :-)

Rowan

by Nalini Singh

Kaleb glanced once again at the message he’d received from Zachary Quinn. He’d met the other man at the party the DarkRiver leopards had thrown to celebrate the birth of three new cubs, and now Zach was reminding him about their dinner plans. Because that dinner mattered to Zach’s mate, Annie.

Kaleb had met Annie long before he’d ever known Zach. Both of them children, both of them trapped in different ways. Kaleb hadn’t been able to free himself then, but he had been able to help Annie, had used his vast telekinetic strength to lift the train compartment off her crushed leg so that she could be rescued. And she hadn’t forgotten.

All this time, all these years, and she’d remembered.

Not only had she remembered, she’d held the memory close enough that her baby’s name was Rowan Kaleb Quinn. Kaleb wasn’t quite sure how he felt about that. It wasn’t the use of his name that concerned him. It was the impact the connection would have on an innocent child’s life.

He’d even said so to Annie when he first learned of her intention. “Are you sure you want him linked to me?”

“Yes,” Annie had responded, her voice gentle yet immovable. “You will always be a part of our family.”

Now, Kaleb looked across at where the woman whom changelings called his mate—and Kaleb called his everything—sat in the armchair she’d dragged into his office one day. It was very definitely her chair. Even when she wasn’t there, he found his eyes drawn that way, his lips parting to speak to the only person who had ever truly known him.

It helped that he was a telepath who could communicate across vast distances. Sahara never turned him away when he reached for her, whether in person or on the psychic plane. She knew that the twisted darkness deep within him needed her like he needed air. “Zach and Annie are insistent.” He told her about the reminder.

She looked up from her organizer with a smile, her unbound hair dark against the white shirt she’d stolen from his wardrobe and wore with the sleeves folded partway up her forearms. “Why do you sound like you were thinking about pulling out?”

“I keep hoping you’ll change your mind.” He’d do anything for her but social interaction wasn’t exactly something with which he was familiar or comfortable. It was one thing to go to a large gathering like the DarkRiver party. There, he could find a quiet space to himself.

But to go into someone’s home? It would be a far more intimate encounter.

Sahara’s laugh was a warm caress, the midnight blue of her eyes inviting him to laugh with her. “Forget it. We said we were going to go and we’re going.”

Realizing he’d been bested, Kaleb walked over to lean up against the wall beside her armchair. “We have to take a gift, don’t we?”

“Yes. This is the first time we’ll really be meeting Rowan,” she said. “We did meet him at the party, but this will be… more official.”

Kaleb had the same feeling, a sense that this event would be a momentous one in both his and Rowan’s life in some way he didn’t yet understand. “What shall we get?”

Sahara just stared at him. “Why do you think I know?”

“Because you know things like this.” Straightening against the wall, he turned so that he could see all of her. Sometimes he wondered if she knew, if she had any idea of what it did to him to simply look at her and know that she was his, that she chose to be his even though she saw all his darkness, all his mistakes, all his nightmares.

Despite it all… No, not despite it all. Sahara didn’t put limits on her love for him. He could feel the untamed wildness of it like a tidal wave inside his mind, a storm that surrounded him in a love that had defied time and horror and pain and the cruelty of those who’d sought to destroy her.

“I don’t often have—” She stopped herself. “In fact, I’ve never had a reason to buy a gift for a baby.”

Kaleb wanted to trace her lips with his finger. “You seem to have forgotten the triplets. I’m certain we must’ve given them a present.” He hadn’t even worried about it, certain Sahara would take care of that social necessity.

“Of course we did.” She put aside her organizer. “But I didn’t actually have to think of anything myself. I asked Sascha and she said that a number of packmates were getting together to open up a roaming account for the children.”

“A roaming account?”

“For when the cubs grow up and want to go off and explore the world. Usually they’re responsible for themselves during that time—apparently, it’s part of roaming. Being independent, growing into adulthood.”

“Then?”

“Changeling parents are like any parents. They have trouble letting their children go off into the wilderness completely alone," Sahara told him. "All roamers start off with a little fund. Just enough to get them started and cover their costs for the first few weeks. After that, they’re on their own.”

Kaleb had never had family except for Sahara, felt as if he was hearing about an alien culture. “I’m happy to pay the suggested amount into Rowan’s roaming account.” It would be a simple solution to the problem of what to get a being who didn’t yet speak and couldn’t make his wishes known.

Sahara bit down on her lower lip. “I don’t think that will do,” she said, frown lines forming on her brow. “It has to be more personal. Rowan and you will always be connected. As you are to his mother.”

The only woman in the world with whom Kaleb had an indelible connection was Sahara. For her, he’d burn down empires and destroy civilizations. Except she kept asking him to save them and so he had to turn away from the darkness and attempt to walk toward the light. He knew he would never be a creature of that light, but he was comfortable walking in the gray.

“Do we need to call one of our friends?” It felt odd to say that even now, to acknowledge he had friends who’d find it nothing extraordinary should he contact them for assistance; they’d also provide that assistance without hesitation.

“No.” A stubborn set to her jaw. “We’re two intelligent people. We should be able to figure this out.” With that firm statement, she got up and went over to his desk, taking a seat in his chair.

Walking over to behind the chair, he played with her hair as she brought up the Internet on the transparent screen of his computer. Like Kaleb, she never used the interactive immersion feature built into the Internet—they already had one data network in their heads, didn’t need another.

As he watched, she typed in “baby gifts.” Pages upon pages of results followed. “Maybe we should just buy the one at the top,” Kaleb suggested. “It’s clearly highly ranked.” It looked to be some type of a plush creature. “Why is it purple and orange and pink?”

“Babies have strange tastes.” Sahara turned both hands palms up, her shoulders rising at the same time. “Sascha and Lucas’s child is incredibly attached to a plush toy wolf. According to Lucas, it’s unnatural for a leopard. But when she loses it and starts to cry, he finds it for her anyway.”

“That still doesn’t explain what we're looking at. How can it be good for a child to believe in orange and pink and purple creatures with three tails and seven eyes?”

“How do you know they don’t exist?” Sahara shot him a grin. “It’s about the imagination—but I don’t think that gift will do. It looks like the most recent popular toy. You need to give Rowan something more classic, something that will last.”

They spent the next two hours going through the listings, discarding most of the suggestions. Kaleb would’ve picked five or six items by then if not twenty. But as it was, he’d ’ported in another chair and now sat beside Sahara while she scowled at the computer screen. “You have to take this seriously, Kaleb.” She glared at him when he began to play with her hair again. “It’s important.”

“He’s an infant. We could give him a potato and he’d find it as interesting as he would that creature with seven eyes.”

Sahara held his gaze, the emotion in the midnight blue changing to something deeper and far more poignant. “You understand giving gifts that matter,” she said softly. Her fingers went to the charms that hung from the bracelet she wore almost every day. The only times she took it off and left it in their home was when she might be doing something that could cause damage to the bracelet.

“That’s different.” That charm bracelet was about Sahara and everything about Sahara was important to him.

“You saved a child’s life.” Sahara reached out to run her own fingers through his hair in a caressing stroke. “And because you did, that child grew up into a woman who fell in love and had a child with the man she loves. And now she’s honoring you by giving that child your name as part of his. It’s important.”

Kaleb still didn’t truly understand until Sahara dropped her shields and let him twine around her on the deepest level in an act of trust that always, always destroyed him… and he began to get a glimmer. Rowan’s life was now tied to his. For the rest of Kaleb’s own life, part of him would be monitoring Rowan’s health and status.

Because Rowan Kaleb Quinn was part of his family.

“How about this?” He brought up an image they’d scrawled past without really noticing several pages back—except that Kaleb’s brain noticed everything.

Sahara looked at what he’d chosen. And her lips curved. “See? You understand.”

*

Two days later, Kaleb teleported himself and Sahara to the location for which Zach had given him the visual. It brought them in right in front of Zach and Annie’s home. Surrounded by woods and with the scent of pine redolent in the air, the graceful house was clearly very much a home; neat flowerbeds by the front, a pebbled pathway, warm-hued curtains in the windows, and an outdoor furniture set that looked to have been lovingly handmade. “They really shouldn’t have given me such a close visual of their home.”

Shaking her head, Sahara slipped her arm through his. “Well, if you decide to indulge in any megalomaniacal urges, let me know so I can beat some sense into you.”

Sometimes, Kaleb wondered why Sahara wasn’t scared of him. The answer, of course, was that she knew every corner of his battered soul, knew better than anyone that he’d cut off his limbs before he put a bruise on her. “You have the gift?”

“Safe and sound.” Rising on her toes, she kissed his jaw. “I love you, Kaleb.”

He’d almost become used to those words and to the emotions that rippled down their mating bond. “Good,” he said. “I would definitely turn megalomaniacal if you stopped.”

Sahara laughed with unhidden delight.

That was when the door of the house opened and Zach walked out, Annie following with the baby in her arms. She wasn’t using her cane today, her balance appearing to have improved since the party.

Zach’s handshake was firm and welcoming. “It’s good to have you here. Welcome to you both.”

“Thank you,” Kaleb replied, while Sahara smiled.

“We thought we could sit outside,” Annie said, “since the sun’s out.”

Kaleb nodded—he’d much rather be outside. It felt less confining, even though he knew the feeling was nonsensical: he was a teleporter, wasn’t confined by anything. Not anymore. Once, he’d been a child trapped by psychic chains, but he hadn’t been a child for a long time.

It was after they sat down that Sahara handed over Rowan’s gift. “We spent forever choosing it,” she admitted. “We hope you like it. And that Rowan does, too, when he’s old enough.”

Zach had taken Rowan by now, so it was Annie who accepted the small envelope and opened it to retrieve a thin electronic card.

“You have to put it into an organizer,” Sahara said.

Kaleb teleported in a spare he had at home so that Annie didn’t have to get up. She blinked before her shoulders began to shake. “Well, that’s definitely handy.” She slipped the card into the organizer’s slot.

Stars filled the screen, a galaxy that slowly disappeared as the program zoomed in and in. Until in the center was a single pulsing star. Below it were the words: Rowan’s Star.

Annie gasped. “Oh, this is wonderful.” Her eyes glowed as she turned the screen toward her mate. “Our baby has a star named after him.”

“He’s going to get all the girls.” Zach’s grin betrayed his own pleasure.

Rowan yawned at that instant, raising his fist before settling down.

Catching Kaleb’s gaze, Zach held out the infant. “Would you like to hold him?”

Kaleb knew the socially approved response was to say yes. It was what people did with things like babies and kittens and cubs. But while he had accepted a certain responsibility for Rowan Kaleb Quinn, he felt no compulsion to hold that small life in his hands.

Annie laughed. “You’re looking at him like he’s alien,” she said, no insult in her tone.

“Here.” Sahara held out her own arms. “I was hoping to get a chance to hold him.”

As Kaleb watched, she snuggled the child to her breast, her gaze on the baby’s sleeping face. “He’s beautiful,” she said to Annie and Zach, her fascination with the tiny being in her arms clear.

Kaleb found himself reaching for her mind. Does it matter?

Sahara’s telepathic voice wrapped around him like a soft vine that didn’t attempt to strangle, just to caress. No, she said, it doesn’t matter. I know that if this child was in danger, you’d do what it took to protect him. Wouldn’t you?

Yes. He didn’t have to think about that. In his darkest hours, he’d thought of destroying the entire PsyNet, but even then, he’d spared the children. Because he’d been a child once and he’d been innocent. Sahara had been innocent. A child didn’t have a choice. The sins of their fathers were not theirs.

That was what Sahara told him often. Because his own father had been a monster.

Then, Sahara said, that’s all that matters. She looked up then, her gaze holding his in a cage without walls, one he never wanted to escape. You don’t have to hold babies and you don’t have to understand why it is that so many people want to, you just have to be you. A man who will step in front of danger without hesitation to protect this child. That’s enough. That’s you. And that’s who I love.

© Copyright 2017 by Nalini Singh

If you'd like more information on the Psy-Changeling series, you can find excerpts and more on the following pages of the website:

Psy-Changeling series

Psy-Changeling Trinity series

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Shield of Winter Japan Part I - Copy

Shield of Winter Part I (Japan)

Next Newsletter

The next newsletter will be out September 26th .

Take care and happy reading!!

~Nalini

 
 
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