Author: Lexi Ander
Series: Darksoul #1
Release Date: September 4th 2017
Word Count: 120,000 words
Cover Artist: Kirby Crow
If Sūnder Alārd was born female he would have been cherished for being faeborn—born with magick—and his birth celebrated. Instead, his L’fÿn mother insisted on his death. Only his Panthrÿn father’s desperate escape through the forest saved him.
With most Chándariāns uneasy in his presence due to rumors he is doomed to become a darksoul, and unlikely to find a mate because of it, Sūnder has nevertheless carved out an honorable existence as a warrior and commander. Serving as a bodyguard and chaperone, Sūnder accompanies the Chándariān prince to the annual mating festival on Earth, and when the prince is injured, he can’t help but be fascinated by the tongue-tied nurse who attends them at the hospital.
At sixteen years of age, Gabriel St. Baptista came home to discover his parents had taken off into space, leaving him behind to look after himself. Gabe never recovered from the unexpected desertion, and keeps everyone at arm’s length to avoid the pain of being abandoned again. However, after meeting Sūnder, Gabe finds himself unable to resist the bond between them and breaks his carefully crafted rules to spend time with the Chándariāns, regardless of the fact that Sūnder will soon leave. Scared by what he feels for Sūnder, Gabe can only hope his heart won’t be too broken when Sūnder returns to Chándaria.
But deceit and treachery surrounds them both, and when Gabe saves Sūnder’s life, it sets off a chain of events that could either tear Gabe and Sūnder apart… or give them both exactly what they want.
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The bark of the tree he hid behind exploded. Valiant flinched, hunching his shoulders to shield his fragile burden. Splinters lodged in his exposed skin, thankfully leaving the babe unharmed. His energy flagged, but if he pushed himself a little harder he could reach the field where the rest of his knights awaited with the hovercrafts. Panting heavily, he pushed off the tree and ran as fast as he could. If not for the fragile treasure in his arms, Valiant would have taken to the trees where, as a Panthrÿn, he’d make better time. Not that speed mattered. The Jade Forest belonged to the L’fÿns, and they were far more familiar with these woods than he. Instead, he relied on his battle-honed reflexes to keep him ahead of his persistent pursuers.
He ducked and spun left, the next stunner blast missing him as his keen hearing saved him once again. Had his bodyguards all fallen to the L’fÿns of Nellá? He heard people following him but couldn’t risk stopping to verify whether the pursuers were his Panthrÿn knights or L’fÿn. The babe he clutched to his chest had been silent since Valiant picked him up. Had the newborn died, making his precipitous escape through the Jade Forest unnecessary?
Valiant could hardly believe he ran from his wife and her people. L’fÿns were a peaceful race, the arranged marriage between his family and the L’fÿns of Nellá an age-old tradition that had begun with a peace treaty centuries ago. Valiant hadn’t fallen in love with Tālia, but he’d been fond of her and valued her friendship. That she became pregnant within the first season of their nuptials had been a sign from the Gods. On the eve of the birth, they’d left the capital of Wūxbury and traveled to Tālia’s homeland so the babe would be born near the forest, as was L’fÿn tradition.
All had gone well, or so Valiant thought—he’d been pacing anxiously in the hallway—until the child was born and wails of sorrow were raised within Tālia’s chamber. Her attendants burst from the enclosed room, jostling him in their haste to leave. Certain the newborn had passed through the veil—for what else could cause such a commotion?—he rushed into the birthing chamber to… discover the boy alive, whole, seemingly hale, and… on the floor? Alarmed, Valiant bent to pick the child up.
“No, Valiant, don’t touch it,” Tālia choked out, her hand held up beseechingly. Grief ravaged her delicate features, her cheeks painted with silver tears as she lay in the bed, propped up on a mound of lavishly embroidered pillows. Her cornsilk hair was bound high on her head, the loose tendrils plastered to her sweat-slick coral skin attesting to the strain of childbirth.
Ignoring her plea, Valiant lifted the babe, cradling him carefully in his arms as he fought the anger he felt at his son’s treatment. The boy’s unusual gaze caught and held his. Brilliant, royal blue eyes were each red-ringed, the vibrant crimson color matching that of his already thick mane. Like both his Panthrÿn and L’fÿn parents the child was smooth-skinned, but darker than Valiant had expected, considering his mother. Some called L’fÿns “The Golden” because their skin tones were vibrant coral hues and their hair some shade of white, gold, or bronze, although a small portion of the L’fÿn population—dròw—were between a dark gray and deepest black in color. Other than the child’s skin tone, pointed ears, and the slightly tilted angle of his L’fÿn-shaped eyes, the babe’s more prominent features were all Panthrÿn. The retractable claws, rosettes on his torso, ridges down the bridge of his nose, and long tail all favored Valiant’s side of the family.
The inherent power of an alpha emanated from his son, which pleased Valiant mightily, but he also felt something else within the boy, something unexpected. Surprised, he glanced at Tālia, stating proudly, “He has magick.”
Tālia cried harder.
“I don’t understand.” Valiant sensed nothing wrong with the babe, so why were Tālia and her household filled with such sorrow? “Why do you weep so? He is a beautiful child who shall clearly grow into a powerful male.”
“He is faeborn.” Tālia’s voice broke, and she stifled a sob.
Tālia had spoken glowingly of the treasured faeborn children, coddled and spoiled, given everything they wanted. For an L’fÿn dròw to be called faeborn, magick must rest within them at birth. Instead of being born with an L’fÿn’s light-colored hair, faeborn were crowned by brilliant hues found only in nature. These children grew to become healers, druids, or rangers, occupations of great importance because they were the only ones other L’fÿns trusted to broker peace and settle disputes. How was their son’s magick not wondrous?
“This is an incredible thing,” Valiant argued. “How can you be upset at such good fortune?”
Tālia shook her head, her copper eyes glistening with unshed tears. “He is a dròw male. Faeborn should only be female, never male. Faeborn males crave violence, blood, and war. He— It is an abomination. Father shall fetch the High Druid. She will deal with it.”
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About the Author
Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.