The Bargain Excerpt

Murmurs. Whispers. Papers shuffled. A door opened.
I tried to move, but I couldn’t.
I opened my eyes, but everything was black.
I wanted to scream, but my mouth was full.
I jerked my body forward, but fire roared through my shoulders. Holy shit…I was tied to a chair. Ropes bit into my wrists and my ankles, burning my skin with every quiver and twist of my extremities.
I didn’t have a fucking clue where I was. I didn’t recall anything. My mind spun in relentless circles searching for a memory, a clue, anything to explain where I was or what happened to me. Jumbled thoughts whipped through my brain in rapid-fire succession.
Spring Break.
Mexico.
Dancing in a nightclub.
A Prairie Fire.
An Irish Car Bomb.
A Red Headed Slut.
A Buttery Nipple.
So many others I couldn’t name them all.
One song blurring into the next.
Dancing on the bar.
And him.
Someone ripped the hood from my head, taking a few strands of hair with it. Bright light seared my eyeballs. I squeezed them closed, willing them to adjust to the light. When I opened them again, a bone-jarring jolt of recognition raced through me. I saw him…the guy from the bar. Ryker. Dark, almost black hair, icy gray eyes, straight nose and angular features, enhanced by the careless, dark stubble on his face. What the hell?
He snatched my hair, twisting it around his hand until my scalp stung. One calloused finger trailed down the side of my face almost reverently. I twisted my head to the side, but he yanked me back.
He chuckled, his too lush lips forming a twisted smile. “What’s wrong? You liked my touch last night.”
I screamed, but the dusty rag in my mouth muffled my voice. I tried to spit it out, but my mouth was too dry. Tears erupted from behind my eyes, and water streamed down my face.
What did he want? Was he going to kill me? Did he plan to rape me?
Just like that my stomach revolted. He won’t rape me. He already had me. Images of my dress around my waist, his pants unzipped, my body pressed against a dirty stucco wall, and him moving inside of me flickered through my mind. I gagged and inhaled at the same time. My lungs burned. My heart jackhammered against my breastbone. My ears howled. Black dots clouded my vision. My head rolled forward.
“Calm the fuck down. You’re going to faint.” He ripped the rag from my mouth, and I opened my mouth, preparing to scream, but he moved faster. His hand had slammed over my mouth before I had the opportunity to summon a single syllable.
“If you scream, I’ll shove that rag back into your mouth so hard you’ll lose your front teeth.”
My head bobbed up and down like a bobble head doll.
Slowly, his hand lifted from my mouth, and my mind cleared. I remembered who I am and what that meant. “You’ll regret this. Do you know who I am?”
His lips curved into a smile, not the carefree, sexy smile he used on me at the bar. It made me feel dirty. I wanted to scour my skin for hours. “You’re Hattie Covington.”
I didn’t remember sharing my full name last night. I never shared it. I preferred to be anonymous. My name carried too much baggage, especially in my circle of friends, but Ryker wasn’t part of my circle and he certainly wasn’t my friend. Far from it. He was a random guy from a random bar. “And do you know what that means?” I hissed through clenched teeth. I wanted to sound strong and brave, but my voice cracked on the last word, shredding the illusion.
He tipped up my chin, brushing his finger across my lower lip. I flinched, but he didn’t notice, or if he did, he didn’t care…probably the latter.
“Ah, that’s cute. Do you and your friends really say that?” he mocked with far too much amusement.
“My dad is the Attorney General of the United States,” I yelled.
“And that’s exactly why you’re here.”

Marked by Destiny Free on Kindle Unlimited (Prologue Sneak Peak)

The Tribe of Mil shall come as bringers of new bloodlines unto the children of the goddess Danu. As the land is divided, so shall the powers of the Four Treasures be divided. Only the one marked by destiny, possessing the bloodline of both tribes shall inherit the power of the Four Treasures. Prophesy – The Goddess Danu Sometime around 1700 B.C. Wrapped in a woolen cloak , Kalen, the Supreme Chieftain and Prince of the Tuatha Dé Danann tribe, stood at the top of a hill overlooking the sea. Heavy rain poured on him and his troops, and despite his cloak, he shivered— not from the rain but from a growing sense of dread as he watched Milesian invaders storm the rocky shores.

A single thought echoed through his mind, eliciting a far greater panic than any of the razor -sharp iron weapons threatening to rip through the flesh of his fellow Tuatha Dé warriors. Inis Fail is lost.

Four months ago, heedless of his argument to the contrary, the three Tuatha Dé Kings issued an order to kill the brother of the Milesian king sent to Ireland on a goodwill envoy. He knew it had been a foolish decision, one that threatened the very existence of their race. Kalen wasn’t surprised when the Milesians returned to Ireland a week ago demanding retribution. Instead of taking the threat seriously, the three Kings tricked them into giving the Tuatha Dé a week reprieve, and as the Milesians boarded their ships to await the decision of the Tuatha Dé Kings, the Kings summoned a magical storm to sink the entire fleet . To the Kings’ dismay , the invaders’ magic proved superior, and now they were back, swarming the coast with revenge in their hearts and the one type of weapon that could kill the nearly immortal Tuatha Dé in their hands: iron swords.

Brushing the rain from his face, Kalen’s eyes narrowed as he estimated the number of invaders partially hidden by the storm-darkened skies. The total caused the hair on his arms to stand on end. Knowing he had no choice, Kalen forced all doubts of the future from his mind. He had work to do— a battle to fight and the Four Treasures to defend.

A drumbeat sounded from the Milesian’s ranks as they climbed out of their boats. The most courageous Milesians surged forward with iron swords held high, taunting the Tuatha Dé warriors. They circled in front of the Tuatha Dé’s ranks, daring them to break formation and provoking rowdy cheers from the other Milesians.

“Ignore their taunts. We’re going to make them come to us. Hold firm. When they attack, the magic bestowed upon us by our faithful goddess will overwhelm them,” Mac Cuill, one of the three Kings of the Tuatha Dé and Kalen’s direct superior, shouted as he paced back and forth behind the front line of warriors.

An ominous chanting started from the rear of the Milesian’s formation, quietly at first then gradually growing into a loud rumble. “ I am a buck of seven tines, I am a broad flood on a plain, I am a storm on bottomless waters , I am a glowing tear of the sun, I am a hawk on a crag, I am fair among flowers, I am a deity who sets the head afire with smoke. I am a battle waging spear…”

“The chanting won’t be so inspirational when they’re lying in a pool of their own blood.” Mac Cuill mocked, letting out bubbling laughter. “Perhaps, they should save their energy for fighting instead of squandering it on premature celebration.”

“There are three of them to every one of us,” Kalen said, observing the invaders with growing unease. “Underestimating them would be a grave mistake.”

“We’ve encountered stronger enemies than this one, and we have the Four Treasures on our side. We are invincible.”

Kalen eyed the four separate groups of Tuatha Dé warriors, each flying the banner representing their city of origin in Atlantis and each proudly wielding one of the Four Treasures – the Stone of Destiny, the Sword of Light, the Spear of Victory, and the Cauldron of Renewal. As if sensing the wheels of destiny in motion, each of the Four Treasures glowed and pulsed with preternatural light, almost ungodly in its brilliance.

When the invaders finished disembarking, a cheer reverberated through the Mileasian’s ranks , followed by the bellow of one of their leaders. “Kill them! Kill them all, every last one and this land and all its treasures shall be ours. Their lives are yours to take . Show them their fate.” Like men possessed, they charged forward to meet their enemy, swords raised high.

Overwhelming anxiety caused some of the Tuatha Dé to break formation and meet the onslaught of the invaders.

“Stand and wait,” Mac Cuill hollered, struggling to be heard over the clanging of weapons . “The goddess will not desert us. The Treasures will not fail us. We are the chosen tribe. Don’t be afraid.” The Tuatha Dé shifted back into formation, nervously awaiting Mac Cuill’s command to engage the invaders.

“This is wrong ,” Kalen spat out, no longer able to hold his silence. “We cannot wait for them to slaughter us. Can’t you see their weapons are made of iron? The Treasures are irrelevant. We’re powerless to defend ourselves from this invasion. We should retreat and regroup. The Goddess Danu has forsaken us.”

Mac Cuill speared Kalen with his eyes. “Your thoughts are treasonous. We will be victorious.” Refocusing his attention on his warriors, he yelled, “On the count of ten, charge.” With mounting dread, Kalen turned from Mac Cuill, watching the invaders rush forward.

Mac Cuill’s count floated through the air. “… Three, two, one. Now!”

It happened so fast. Mac Cuill charged forward with the front line of warriors just as the Milesians released a cloud of iron-tipped arrows that glided through the sky, buzzing like swarming bees. As the arrows fell, so did Mac Cuill’s lifeless body along with dozens of Tuatha Dé warriors. And then the tribes collided, killing each other in a relentless fever of screaming, hacking, slashing, and indiscriminate slaughter. Blood covered the once green knoll, coloring it a deep burgundy. Bodies fell in rhythm with the haunting pulse of drummers as if the battle were a choreographed play of carnage.

Hours passed without the Tuatha Dé having any respite from the waves of invaders. Cries of agony faded into the roar of utter chaos. Kalen swung his club with desperation, smashing it against an invader’s head, nearly splitting it open. Sensing something menacing hovering near his back, he whipped around without hesitation, blocking the sword of his next adversary and throwing a dagger into his chest.

When he had a moment of reprieve, he surveyed the battlefield, looking for any sign the goddess had not abandoned them and they would not be forced to share this land with the invaders, or worse, be driven from their homeland, but it was hopeless. A seemingly endless number of Milesians continued to charge the battlefield from the growing fleet of ships floating near the coast. They were doomed to failure, and it was not long before the last living King realized it too.

The last King of the Tuatha Dé blew the horn calling for the remaining Tuatha Dé warriors to abandon the battlefield. Kalen looked around, mesmerized by the carnage of tangled, writhing, and limp bodies and offered a brief invocation to the goddess Danu for mercy and salvation. The surviving Tuatha Dé fought their way through the frenzied mob of invaders and the dead bodies littering the blood-soaked grass to find refuge in their underground stronghold.

Over time, the Tuatha Dé underground stronghold grew beneath the green hills and vales of Inis Fail, eventually becoming a kingdom of its own. Thus, Inis Fail, now known as Ireland was divided between the two tribes and into two kingdoms. The Tuatha Dé, also known as the Fae or Faeries, ruled over the Otherworld. The Milesians, or humans, ruled over Earth’s surface.