by: Melody Winter
Series: (Ascent, #1)
Publication date: October 25th, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Romance
Athena Harrow is about to turn twenty-one, but there will be no celebration. What is there to celebrate when the world is ruled by demons?
She hates the darkness the demons brought with them and longs for the light to return to the world—a world she only vaguely remembers. The people in her forest village blindly accept the life the demons forced upon them, even tolerating the yearly ascension ceremony where all the girls who have turned twenty-one are either sent away to serve the Master Demon or left in the village and forced to procreate.
But Paymon, the assigned village demon, selects a different role for Athena, a role that pits her against the village. While she adapts to her new life, Erebus, a younger, more powerful demon, arrives, and Athena must play a dangerous game with his emotions in return for information about the demon’s reign of darkness.
As Athena’s dreams of restoring the light begin to fade, her life with Erebus takes an unexpected turn, and this time it’s her life being put to the test.
Set in the forest around Buttercrambe in North Yorkshire, England, INIQUITY explores the frightening, darker side of romance and the uncontrolled emotions it can unleash.
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“Well, well, well.”
I held back a cry as I was tapped on the shoulder and then held firmly by a hand. I was spun around and my hood pushed away from my face.
The man grinned as I was revealed to him. “Athena!”
I recognised him instantly from his tall hat and his long grey hair.
“Sebastian.” His name slipped from my lips as a rush of air.
He slipped his hand into mine and held it with a firm grasp. “What are you doing here?” He looked around me, peering into the background of the tavern. “Is he around?”
“It’s just her.” Giselle beamed at me and then Sebastian. “You owe me, Seb. Don’t disappoint.” She wandered away from the bar, shooting him a flirtatious smile over her shoulder.
“Just us then,” Sebastian said. His lips were shaped like those of a woman, too perfect a pout for a man. His skin was smooth, pale, as if never exposed to anything but the darkness. And he smiled, sickeningly so.
I tried to pull my hand away from his, but he only tightened his hold. He sidled next to me so his body was touching mine. I could feel the heat of his body through our clothes, and I shifted away, jerking my head backward.
“He’ll be here soon,” I said, hoping that somehow Erebus would find me. I didn’t allow myself to think that he was still at the village and didn’t even know I’d run away.
“Really? Well then, I think we need to get moving pretty quickly.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you.”
My raised voice caught the attention of other demons in the tavern, and several of them looked my way.
Sebastian sniffed and then leaned toward me. “You’ll do as I say. Now, I have no idea why you are here without Erebus, how you managed to escape his compelment, but I do know that it’s not safe for you to be alone. I’ll look after you.”
“Until Erebus arrives?”
He sniffed again, grabbed my arm with his free hand and, whilst still holding me in a tight grip, twisted my wrist.
I gasped as pain shot up my arm.
“I’m not like Erebus,” he said, giving my arm another sharp twist. “I don’t go all lovesick when I meet a human. I don’t tolerate disobedience.” He bent his head to my level and stared into my eyes. I looked away, quietly satisfied that they weren’t black—I wasn’t feeding him anymore than I did Erebus. “But I’m curious about you. What’s so special that it’s got him putting you before anything and everything else, huh?”
I cocked my head to the side, my bravado winning through in a moment when my head was telling me to be quiet. “That’s for me and him to know. Not you.”
Before I had chance to even recognise that he had released his tight grip, the hard palm of his hand met my face. I was knocked sideways and stumbled to the floor.
“Hey!” One of the other demons in the tavern sprung from his chair and came to my assistance. “What’s your problem?”
“Back off, Cresil.” Sebastian stepped over to me and bent down. He gripped my chin, and I scrambled to my feet as he lifted me from the floor. Other demons were showing more interest in the unfolding events, but I didn’t see any of them as my means to escape.
Sebastian must have also noticed their attention. “Do any of you know who this is?”
A sickening feeling churned in my stomach. What would their reaction be when they knew? Erebus had told me that news had spread about me being intended as a wife for the Master. Was I about to see what that meant to them?
“Seems Erebus, the mighty demon, can’t control his wife!”
The pub fell silent. Every demon and vampire turned my way and greedy sets of darkened eyes and crimson ones surveyed me.
“Yes.” Sebastian gloated as he twisted my arm behind my back and forced me to face the shocked and more than interested demons. “This is the woman who should have been sent to our Master. She was categorised as a wife for him.”
The demons chatted to each other, disapproving noises, ones of excitement, whispered words behind raised hands. But it was hard to tell their overall reaction—it was too mixed. I tensed in Sebastian’s hold, and swallowed the sour taste in my mouth. What would they do, what would they say? I shut my eyes to block out the unwanted stares, and silently screamed for Erebus. I needed him. I wanted him, no one else. Where was he?
Melody Winter lives in York, North Yorkshire, England with her husband and two sons. When not dealing with football, rugby, and a whole plethora of ‘boy’ activities, she will be found scribbling notes for her stories, or preparing for another trip to the nearby beaches at Scarborough and Whitby. With an obsession for anything mythical, Melody revels in reading and writing about such creatures.
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