Katie's Hope (Chapter One, page 1 of 20)

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Three weeks later

The dream took shape as it did every night. Even when she knew she was dreaming, she couldn't wake herself up or shake the fear that this time, Rhyn wasn't going to come.

Katie stood between the assassin and the demon. Her choices were plain: Death or Hell. Bad or worse. Screwed or screwed. One of them was taking her to his underworld. The other would kill her. As the two stared each other down, she wasn't sure who had the better chance of winning: Gabriel, an Immortal sworn to serve Death, or Darkyn, the leader of all the demons in Hell.

Her hand went to her neck, where the name of her Ancient Immortal mate, Rhyn, had been until he broke their mating bond two days before. Desolation unlike anything she'd ever felt made her want to sink into the ground and stay there.

A shadow blocked the hot Caribbean sun, and she looked up to see Rhyn in his pterodactyl form circling above them. She gasped, hope racing through her as he dove toward the ground, switched to his human form in mid-air, and landed hard on the stony island's ground. He met her gaze, and her body bloomed with warmth in response to the possessive gaze that swept over her from head to foot before his eyes settled on the demon. Evaluating each other, the three creatures stood in tight silence before Rhyn spoke at last.

"What the fuck are you doing here, Darkyn?"

"Half-breed," the demon leader sneered. "Negotiating with Gabriel over who gets your former mate."

"Death ordered her dead-dead," Gabriel said. "And Death always wins."

"Brother, I'll kill you both if either of you tries to take her," Rhyn replied. "You have a contract on her, Gabe?" The assassin nodded. "Let me guess, Darkyn, the Dark One, ordered this."

"We'll just say he doesn't disagree with me."

"All right." Rhyn drew a knife from his boot. Katie watched, her optimism fading. "I'm challenging you, assassin, demon. You can have her when I'm dead."

"Rhyn, no!" she cried.

"I can handle it," he said.

"Rhyn-- " She started forward, and Gabriel held out an arm to block her. Furious and terrified, Katie planted both her hands on his arm to push it away with no success. "Back off, Gabriel. It's not like I can run anywhere!"

"Two minutes," he warned. "By Immortal Code, Darkyn and I are obligated to accept his challenge."

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