The End of Hatred
Etherya’s Earth Book 1
by Rebecca Hefner
Genre: Paranormal Romance
These are dangerous times on Etherya’s Earth…
Slayer Princess Miranda, heir to the throne, has hated the Vampyres for a thousand years. Since the Awakening, she’s fought to protect her people, choosing to be a warrior more than a royal. When a female Vampyre washes up on the shore of her compound’s riverbank, she seizes the moment to take the offensive.
Sathan, King of the Vampyres, distraught at his sister’s disappearance and captivity, agrees to travel with Miranda to resect the Blade of Pestilence, also hoping to change his people’s state of endless war. Although the woman hates him due to the constant raids on her compound for the Slayers’ life-giving blood, he can’t help but admire the stubborn and strong princess.
As their journey progresses, both begin to understand that they are aligned in their hatred of Crimeous, leader of the Deamons, as well as their hope for peace between the Slayers and Vampyres. Determined to fight their growing attraction, they forge a tentative truce. But old wounds run deep and trust is scarce. Their faith in each other must remain strong or all will be lost…
**The Etherya’s Earth series is best read in order, so that the reader can enjoy the evolution of the characters. After all, the author loves a good twist and wants the reader to uncover them organically. However, readers of romance rest assured that each book has its own featured hero/heroine and HEA.
**Only .99 cents!!**
Latimus pulled up to the barrier that surrounded the compound. As the three brothers exited the black Hummer, he addressed Sathan. “Be careful. We’re here if you need us.”
Sathan nodded and walked to the wall. The stones were cool against his palm under the dark sky and silver moonlight. The force-field that Etherya had implemented around the wall vibrated against his hand. Pushing against the rocks, they swung open, and he walked through.
About twenty feet away, he saw a black SUV, the headlights bright. He walked slowly toward the car.
“That’s far enough,” a female voice said.
“Where’s my sister?”
“She’s being held in a safe place not far from here.”
The woman walked forward, and he studied her in what little light he had. Silky, raven-black hair fell straight to her shoulders. Camouflage pants were tucked over black army boots, and she wore a black tank top. Approaching him, he noticed how small she was. Probably about a foot shorter than his six-foot, eight-inch frame.
She stopped about two feet in front of him and lifted her chin, training her gaze on his. He felt a sharp clenching sensation in his solar plexus when he saw her irises. Like wet leaves that glistened on the tree after a rainy day, they were the deepest green he had ever seen.
“You have dragged me here,” he said, regaining his composure. “What do I have to do to get her back?”
“Do you know who I am?” she asked. Her voice was clear and firm, without a trace of fear.
“The Slayer Princess Miranda,” he said.
She nodded and looked down at the grass for a moment. He wondered if she was more nervous than she appeared. Looking back up at him, she said, “I have no wish to hurt your sister. I wish to use her to ask you to help me.”
“Force me to help you,” he said, bitterness lacing his tone.
“If you like,” she said with an absent shrug of her shoulders. “Our people have been at war for a thousand years. We are locked in a stalemate that neither side seems to be able to win. I have come to the conclusion that we need to change our tactics.”
She inhaled a deep breath before continuing. “I’ve grown weary of fighting your people. I wish to form a temporary truce with you so that I can accomplish something of great importance.”
“Right,” he said, his tone suggesting that he trusted her about as far as he could throw her. “And what is it you need from me?”
“As the first-born descendants of Valktor and Markdor, our shared blood stream could release the Blade of Pestilence. Once I have it, I will use it to kill Crimeous and I will return your sister to you.”
Sathan blinked a few times, unsure he’d heard her correctly, and then he laughed incredulously. “Wait, are you serious?”
She stood still and mute, her chin thrust up in the air, waiting for his response.
“You want me to travel to the Cave of the Sacred Prophecy with you, release the Blade of Pestilence and then just let you go on your merry way after you’ve kidnapped my sister?”
“Yes,” she said, as if his statement hadn’t been dripping with sarcasm. “Except that I didn’t kidnap your sister. She washed up on the shore of our riverbank. I actually employed our doctor in nursing her back to health. You’re welcome, by the way.”
What a patronizing, cocky little bitch, Sathan thought. Although, he had to admire how she stood her ground against him. His physical dominance over her alone should’ve had her cowering. He tested her will by taking a step forward, closing the distance between them. She stood firm, tilting her chin up even more to hold his gaze, and reluctant admiration for her courage coursed through him.
“You want me to thank you for keeping alive a hostage that you’re now using to negotiate with me?”
“It would be nice,” she said flippantly, “but I won’t hold my breath. So, what’s it going to be?
She stared up at him expectantly, as if she hadn’t just asked him to trek over four hundred miles with her to rescue a weapon from an ancient prophecy.
“No. Now, give me my sister. I don’t know what game you’re trying to play, but you’re obviously physically outmatched here. I’ll give you five seconds to hand her over, or—”
A sharp pain stabbed in his chest, and he gasped. Lowering his gaze to the left side of his chest, he realized that the woman had stabbed him with some sort of contraption.
“It’s a mini-blade-loaded eight-shooter, you fucking bastard,” she said, spittle flying from between her clenched teeth as she pushed the contraption further into his chest. “The blade on the top of the barrel will only hurt, since you fuckers seem to heal like some goddamn miracle. But if I pull the trigger, it will deploy eight tiny bullets right into your black fucking heart. Don’t make me do it.”
Pain coursed through him as well as a healthy dose of anger. And yet, as he looked down on this tiny she-devil of a woman, he felt a jolt of respect. She had gotten the upper hand on him. Bracing himself, he pushed his chest further into the blade. An intense pleasure ran through him when her eyes widened in surprise.
“Go ahead,” he said, daring her. “Shoot me, princess. Let’s see if you have the courage.”
Tiny nostrils flared as she struggled to compose herself. Moments stretched by in silence as they stood locked in a dance of wills. “Well?” he jibed. “Haven’t you the bravery to kill me?”
Stepping back, she pulled the blade from his chest but kept the weapon aimed at his heart, her finger on the trigger. “Just like a stupid man,” she said, disgust lacing her voice. “Killing someone does not indicate courage or bravery. It’s the will to find a peaceful solution that shows one’s true strength.”
Huh. He didn’t expect that one. Not from the princess of the people who were his sworn enemy. He lifted his hand to put pressure on his bleeding wound. “Releasing the Blade of Pestilence will not find you peace. It will lead to more war if you wish to use it to kill Crimeous.”
“Perhaps,” she said. “But like I said, our tactics have to change. If you help me release the Blade, I promise I will return your sister to Astaria unharmed.”
He realized he believed her. Although she was a Slayer and had just stabbed him in the chest, she betrayed a firm genuineness. “And what about your father? The raids we hold against your people? Surely, you cannot ask me to journey with you to the Cave knowing my army will attack your people in another fortnight.”
Her face contorted into a withering scowl. “Yes, of course. How terrible of me to deny you the sport of hunting and killing my people.”
Remembering his earlier visit to the dungeon, he shook his head. “And now look who’s stupid.”
“What does that mean?” she asked.
Choosing not to answer her, he continued. “We’re almost out of rations from our last raid. If we don’t obtain more Slayer blood over the next fortnight, my people will begin to starve. Ruler to ruler, what would you have me do?”
“My cousin, our army commander, has agreed to supply your compound with blood from the injured soldiers we currently have in our infirmary. He will bank it for you daily and deliver it to this spot while we travel to the Cave.”
“Well, you’ve just got it all figured out, haven’t you?” he asked sarcastically.
“It’s better than continuing this madness that’s been going on for centuries, isn’t it?” she asked, her tone just as biting. “Surely, you can agree that it can’t hurt to employ new tactics in this age-old war. I mean, ruler to ruler, right?” She placed her free hand on her hip and her eyebrows jutted up as she waited for him to answer. Snarky little minx, this one was.
“Even if I agreed to your plan, how could I guarantee that my sister would be safe? For all I know, you could have your guards murder her as soon as we leave on our journey.”
“You’ll just have to trust me, I guess.”
“Says the woman holding the eight-shooter to my chest.”
Ever so slowly, she lowered the weapon to her side. “I don’t want to hurt her. I’m sure you understand that if you hurt me, she will be immediately killed. I am trusting you not to harm me until I have the Blade in my possession. After that, once you return to your compound and I return to mine, we can assess how…cooperative we’ve been toward each other and chart a course forward.”
And just like that, Sathan thought, the world had gone insane. The Slayer princess was standing in front of him asking for a truce so that they could work together to rescue the centuries-old blade that her grandfather used to kill his parents. Fucking insane.
But what was even more insane was that he was considering it. After all, he had become frustrated with the current state of events as well. This cycle of endless war and destruction had them on a constant loop with no end in sight. What if he could actually work with the princess to change the course of history?
“Your father is on board with this plan?” he asked.
Studying her, he narrowed his eyes. “I am intrigued by your proposal but I need to discuss it with my brothers. If we are going to move forward with this, I would ask that you turn my sister over to me and trust that I will keep my word. How am I supposed to trust you if you do not trust me in return?”
“Good try, but no fucking way,” she said, shaking her head. “This trust thing is going to go one way and one way only. You’ll trust me to keep her alive and you’ll earn my trust by helping me.”
“She is an inexperienced female not used to the world outside our walls. I worry for her health—”
“She’s doing just fine. All you men think that we women just sit around waiting for you to let us live our lives. Your sister is strong and has already threatened to kill me about a hundred times. She’s got more spirit than I’ve seen in half our soldiers. I don’t wish to hurt her, and I won’t as long as you help me.”
His heart warmed at the thought of Arderin putting up such a brave fight against her captor. “I need twenty-four hours to discuss with my brothers. I will meet you back here then.”
“No,” he said, lowering his hand from his now-mended chest. Self-healing abilities really were amazing. “The fact that I’m even considering your plan is making me doubt my sanity. I need to discuss with my brothers, who are my closest advisors. If you can’t grant me that, then we are at an impasse.”
“Fine. I’ll give you until sunset tomorrow. I’ll be here. Don’t be late.”
With one last look at the impertinent little princess, he turned and exited through the wall. His brothers were going to think he’d gone mad for even considering this. Of that, he was sure.
The Elusive Sun
Etherya’s Earth Book 2
Lila, a high-born aristocrat of the Vampyre kingdom, was betrothed to Sathan, King of the Vampyres, for a thousand years. The betrothal, declared by the goddess Etherya, was deemed unbreakable. Although she cared for Sathan, and loved him as her king, secretly her heart yearned for his brother. When Sathan falls for another, Lila ends the betrothal, terrified at what her life will become now that she won’t be queen.
Latimus has loved Lila since they played together on the grassy riverbank as children. Knowing that his brother was the better man, he never begrudged his betrothal to the woman he secretly loved. Now that Sathan has married another, Latimus becomes aware of Lila’s feelings. Determined to push her into the arms of a worthier man, he believes that a war-torn army commander such as he could never offer her the life she deserves.
As the war against the Deamons rages, Latimus fights for his people, protecting them against the evil Dark Lord Crimeous. When Lila suffers a brutal attack, Latimus is shaken to his core. Determined to avenge her, he acknowledges the emotion that has always burned for her in his blackened heart. But Lila has moved on and as the war ensues he worries that it might be too late to claim her…
Early the next evening, they were set to depart, and Lila gave Yemik a warm embrace. Latimus watched her from the train. She’d been cold to him during the hour that led up to the departure. Maybe she’d finally realized that he would never allow himself to be with her in the way that she needed. Feeling extra grumpy, he scowled at her as she entered the train.
“I’m going to sit in the next car with the soldiers while we ride to Lynia,” she said, her chin held high. By the goddess, she was so regal.
“Fine,” he said, clenching his jaw as she breezed past him.
Minutes passed as he fidgeted on his tablet, missing her smell. She always seemed to use some flowery shampoo on her long hair, and it drove him wild. Finally, they arrived at Lynia, and she bounded from the train to meet the compound’s governor, Breken.
After they embraced, she greeted the female reporter and cameraman, and Breken walked them from the platform up to the surface.
“As you know, we’re not as formal here as the other compounds. Our main house only has six rooms and, unfortunately, we can’t house you there. We’ve arranged for you both to stay in one of the cabins out by the wall. It’s only a ten-minute walk from the town square, and we’ve installed a phone in each cottage that can contact the main house’s servants at any time.”
“That’s perfectly fine,” Lila said, smiling up at him. “We appreciate your hospitality.”
The next several hours were consumed with her diplomatic activities at the main square until dawn was fast approaching.
They exchanged pleasantries with the townspeople and bid good night to Breken. Hopping in a four-wheeler, one of Latimus’ Lynia-based Vampyre soldiers drove them to the cabins. The soldier deposited Lila’s massive bag into her cabin, and she disappeared inside.
Settling into his own cottage, Latimus realized that he had finally succeeded in pushing her away. The thought should’ve been comforting. Instead, he felt empty. After prepping for bed, he lay on the king-sized bed, reminding himself that he lived in a world of his own making. He was doing what was best for her.
During their time at Lynia, the hours had bled into each other as he guarded her, always in the shadows. She dazzled the men and women of the compound with her glowing smile and kind disposition. He longed for the trip to end, so he could forget the sway of her hips as she walked and the glistening of her fangs as she’d spoken to him in the moonlight at Naria. She’d been so cold and aloof with him since they left Naria, it unsettled something in him.
As he stood outside his cottage during their last night at Lynia, he heard the door of her nearby cabin close. Straining, he heard Lila talking on the phone.
“Thank you, Sathan. I think it’s what’s best for me right now. Although I miss everyone at Astaria terribly, I just need some space.”
There was a pause, and then, “Absolutely. I’ll let him know. I will. Talk soon.”
Moments later, the click of her cabin door sounded, and he felt his eyebrows draw together. What was she discussing with his brother?
Restless, he entered his cabin to pour some Slayer blood into the metal goblet that sat on the little table beside his bed. Soft knocks sounded on his door, and he opened it, knowing he’d find her.
He was only wearing a pair of sweatpants and watched her eyes dart over his naked chest. Lifting her gaze, she said, “I need to speak to you.”
Opening the door wider, he let her breeze past him.
“I’m not going to back to Astaria. At least, not tonight. I’ve already spoken with Sathan, and he’s approved my stay here. I need a few weeks to clear my head after the trip. He asked that you leave two Slayer soldiers behind to guard me.”
Latimus slowly sipped from his goblet, processing her words. “It’s not safe for a lone female to stay behind in an unprotected cottage on our smallest compound.”
“As I said, two soldiers will be stationed outside my cabin at all times. I’ll be perfectly safe.”
“I don’t like it. Crimeous has many spies. I don’t want you left vulnerable.”
Her perfect nostrils flared, and twin splotches of anger appeared on her cheeks. “Well, it’s not your choice. I’ve already spoken to Sathan. You and the other two Slayer soldiers are set to depart in three hours. I’m exhausted, so I’m heading to bed early. I just wanted you to know I wouldn’t be with you.”
She walked past him toward the door, and he grabbed her arm. “Lila—”
“Don’t touch me,” she said, shaking off his grip. Fury swam in her gorgeous eyes. “You’ve made it abundantly clear that you want nothing more than to be free of my company. Well, here’s your chance. Safe travels home.” Stalking toward the door, she shut it behind her.
Latimus looked to the ceiling, praying for patience, irritated by her regal haughtiness. Lifting his phone from the table beside his bed, he called his brother.
“Latimus. I trust Lila told you of her plan?”
“It’s not wise to leave her here alone, Sathan. She’ll be exposed. Especially as an aristocrat on a laborers’ compound.”
“I want you to leave two of the Slayer soldiers with her. They’ll be able to protect her.”
Latimus pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and index finger, annoyed. “I don’t like it.”
“Sorry to hear that, but it’s her choice. I’ll see you when you arrive at dawn. Arderin is excited to see you.”
Sighing, he shook his head at his brother’s stubbornness. “Fine. See you in a few hours.”
Restless, he packed his things and cleaned the various weapons he’d brought with him. An hour before dawn, he knocked on Lila’s cabin door. After a minute, she opened it, her eyes swollen with sleep. By the goddess, she was breathtaking, even upon waking up. How was that possible?
He pushed inside and lay several weapons on the wooden table that sat by the door. “This is a Glock, this is an AR-15 and this is a TEC,” he said, pointing to the various objects. “I’m going to show you how to use them and leave them here with you.”
“I need some additional peace of mind that you’ll have protection. Don’t fight me on this.”
“Okay,” she said, her throat bobbing up and down as she swallowed. Her thin arms were crossed over her silky white robe, thrusting her voluptuous breasts toward him. Reminding himself of his purpose, he set about showing her how to use the weapons.
Fifteen minutes later, it was time for him to depart for the train. He’d already informed the two Slayer soldiers that they were to stay outside her cabin and guard her at all times. Looking down at her, he was enveloped by a wave of sadness. Unable to lie to himself, he realized that he would miss her terribly.
“Be safe,” he said.
Left with no more words to say, he pivoted and stalked from her cabin. He and the two Slayer soldiers rode the four-wheeler to the platform and departed for Astaria. Sitting on the train, he rubbed his hand over his chest, cursing his heart. If he didn’t know better, he would think it was broken.
The Darkness Within
Etherya’s Earth Book 3
Arderin, princess of the illustrious Vampyre kingdom, has always marched to the beat of her own drum. Motivated by a calling to heal others, frustration consumes her since her brother, King Sathan, doesn’t understand her desire to study medicine in the human world. Moreover, the son of the Dark Lord Crimeous has moved onto their compound and he seems obsessed with driving her absolutely insane. Hating him for his sharp tongue and dark nature, she tries to squelch her unwelcome attraction to him.
Darkrip has been enthralled by Arderin since the night he knocked her unconscious and sent her down the river, prompting the end of the War of the Species. Never has he met a woman more beautiful and passionate. Frustrated by her dramatics and consumed by his desire for her, he vows to stay away. For the son of Crimeous, with his malevolent blood, could never have children or a normal life.
When Crimeous threatens both their lives, forcing them into a shared captivity, they do everything they can to escape and survive. As their connection grows, so does their attraction. Knowing they have no future together, and the consequences of furthering their relationship would be disastrous, they forge ahead in the conflict against the Dark Lord. But the Universe is fickle and can muddle with even the best laid intentions…
The Reluctant Savior
Etherya’s Earth Book 4
Evie, daughter of virtuous Princess Rina and malicious Deamon King Crimeous, is a woman torn in half. The first centuries of her life taught her fervent lessons about pain and suffering. For ages, she suppressed her mother’s noble blood, crafting a reality where she was drifting alone, needing no one. Until an ancient prophecy calls to her, possibly creating a purpose for her squalid existence.
Kenden has commanded the Slayer army for a thousand years. Strong, cunning and loyal, he longs for the day when Crimeous has been defeated and he can settle down to build a family. Focused on conquering the Dark Lord, he is stunned when Evie makes a brazen demand that must be fulfilled before she chooses to fight with them.
Although incensed by Evie’s ultimatum, Kenden has never desired a woman more than the flame-haired vixen. Though she stirs his ire, he also has a deep well of compassion for the beauty who suffered so much trauma centuries ago. Together they train and by night their connection grows, building toward the moment when they will battle her father. But, in the end, Evie has a choice and struggles to espouse righteousness over malevolence. For when one’s worst fears are exposed, the evil is so much easier to embrace…
Rebecca Hefner grew up in Western NC and now calls the Hudson River of NYC home. In her youth she would sneak into her mother’s bedroom and raid the bookshelf, falling in love with the stories of Judith McNaught, Sandra Brown and Nora Roberts. Years later that love of a good romance, with lots of great characters and conflicts, has extended to her other favorite authors such as JR Ward and Lisa Kleypas. Also a huge Game of Thrones and Star Wars fan, she loves an epic fantasy and a surprise twist (Luke, he IS your father). One day, over a decade ago, she began writing her own stories and recently mustered the courage to leave her corporate medical device sales job and become a full-time author.