BY: JAMI GRAY
Bitter betrayals and hidden truths forge shattered dreams…
Cheveyo, the most powerful Magi in the Northwest Kyn, lives with one regret—walking away from Tala Whiteriver. When he is sent to broker an alliance with the Southwest Kyn, he recognizes his chance to rectify his mistake, but soon realizes the challenge may be more difficult than expected.
As the youngest Kyn to lead a house, Tala’s a force to be reckoned with, but her role came at a steep price. When an unprovoked attack by the Southwest alpha threatens her position and forces her to face judgement, she finds an unexpected ally in the man who once claimed her heart.
As a series of deadly events unfolds, tensions begin to rise between the Southwest houses, with Tala firmly trapped in the center. Before Tala and Cheveyo can quell the approaching storm, they must untangle a treacherous plot and expose the architects of a devil’s bargain designed to fracture the Kyn. Will Cheveyo and Tala be able to move beyond the confines of their positions and trust their hearts to forge new dreams before the impending nightmare sweeps them apart forever?
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Shadow’s Dream by Jami Gray, Tala Whiteriver is struggling to keep peace between her house of magi and the neighboring pack of werewolves, since the pack’s alpha has become unhinged at the death of his mate. Her former lover and fellow magi, Cheveyo, has come from Oregon to the Southwest to help, whether she wants his help or not. As the two work together to uncover what is going on and who is trying to kill them, their past history comes back to haunt them. Someone close to Tala is out to get her, and she fears that the man who claims her heart is going to get caught in the crossfire.
Well written, fast paced, intense, intriguing, and fascinating, the story will pull you in and grip you by the throat from beginning to end. You won’t want to put it down, and it will leave begging for more.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Shadow’s Dream ~ The Kyn Kronicles ~ Book 5 by Jami Gray is the story of Tala Whiteriver and Cheveyo, the man she has loved for years. Former lovers, Tala and Cheveyo separated when he left her so that she could grow into her power in her position as head of the Southwest Magi. Now he is back in her life, both to help her with a messy situation that has developed between the Southwest Magi and the Southwest Lycans and to rekindle his and Tala’s love. But some powerful, unidentified enemy is determined to kill Tala, and Cheveyo doesn’t know if he is strong enough to protect her, even if she’ll let him.
Fast and furious, hot and spicy, Shadow’s Dream combines suspense, romance, intrigue, and science fiction to create a compelling and captivating story that you won’t be able to stop reading. I loved it.
Many nightmares haunted the most powerful witch in the Northwest, but none as disturbing as Cheveyo’s recent visitations. As the head of the Kyn’s Northwest Magi House, he was quite familiar with the varied forms monsters could take. From the kindly faced next-door neighbor whose horrific secrets were buried in the basement, to the terrifyingly grotesque beings who hid deep in the Kyn shadows, never to step into the light. Dressed only in his sleep pants, he stood on his deck overlooking the Oregon coast, concentrating on the bite of wood against his palms. A particularly strong gust cooled his sweat-soaked skin and triggered a hard shudder. For the briefest moment he considered going back in and getting a T-shirt, but he was locked in place by his lingering night terrors.
A flash of a female’s face, the beloved features lined with pain and fear drove the dread perched in his aching chest to climb into a choking lump that settled in his throat. He shook his head, once, hard, and the features changed into softer, younger curves, this time etched with the more familiar signs of half-hidden disillusionment and hints of betrayal. His fault. He slammed a fist against the railing, using the sharp spike of pain to help push the images aside. He focused on the roiling waves below, crashing into the rocky shore, willing his mind blank. The wind tangled his hair over his face, but he ignored it as he tried to regain his emotional footing.
Deep in his head, where a solid barred door stood guard on the psychic plane, someone knocked softly. Growling under his breath, he ignored it. He was in no shape to handle such an interaction right now. Not on top of everything else. A harsh, bitter bark of noise escaped, only to disappear into the night. If his people could only see him now—his mantel of authority nothing but a thin cloak hiding the Frankenstein patchwork of magical ability and sheer stubbornness—they’d panic. Hell, he couldn’t blame them, not when he was busy doing a little panicking of his own.
Not only did he have his own dreams to contend with, but a bigger threat loomed on the horizon. A threat that three of his people, each one blessed, or cursed, depending on your point of view, confirmed. Since each held the ability to catch glimpses of the future and each had made the almost two hour trek from Portland to Canon Beach to share the details of it with him, it was enough to make anyone a mite leery.
Time was running out for the supernatural world of the Kyn. The meager curtain of secrecy keeping their presence from the humans was being devoured by the moths of technology and change. Each of his visitors bore the same message, either the Kyn came together and revealed themselves to the mortal world, or they would, once again, become the hunted. Only this time, thanks to the combination of rising discontent within the Kyn and humanity’s sheer numbers, they would be eradicated.
Yet it wasn’t those grim tidings that dragged him from his bed. Instead, it was the endless question of “what if” driving him outside tonight. Decisions he made all those years ago were coming back to bite him in the ass, leaving him questioning his choices. Unfortunately, his doubt wasn’t limited to just tonight, but every damn night for close to a year since he returned from Arizona. Since he left the woman who held his heart, behind for the second time. Tala Whiteriver.
It made sleeping a fruitless, frustrating pursuit.
Another knock on the psychic door, this one a bit more impatient, had him raking his mist-laced hair back from his face as he turned his attention inward. Manipulating the magic he lived and breathed, he thinned the barrier enough to allow communication, but not enough to allow his visitor a peek inside the mess crawling behind the door. “What, Raine?”
There was a minuscule pause before she responded. “What the hell is your problem, Cheveyo?”
Even without her being physically there, he could practically see her—hands on her hips, a dark frown on her face. “Other than you pounding at the damn door, not a damn thing.”
Her disbelief was palpable. “Yeah, try again, because I’m not buying it.”
The nice thing about communicating on the magical plane was that his ability to project whatever he wanted was nearly infallible. Even to this warrior woman, who thought she knew who she was dealing with. Unfortunately, the time was coming to shatter her assumption as well. Just not yet. He wasn’t ready to deal with the fallout, nor was there a real need for the reality check. Mentally taking a defensive pose—feet braced, arms crossed—he reigned in his impatience. “Then buy this: it’s personal.”
“Fine,” her mental voice all but growled. “But if you’re in trouble, you better—”
“I’d better what?” Her response sparked his precarious temper and, for the first time in a long while, he decided to remind this admittedly lethal adult-child, who she was dealing with. His magic rose in a thunderous wave held in check only by his control. “Remember who you’re addressing, Raine McCord.” He allowed the edge of his power to whip between them, anticipating her explosive reaction, which wasn’t long in coming.
She struck back, not to harm but because, in the Kyn world, it wasn’t about hurting, but dominance, and right now she was having trouble reconciling her perceptions with truth. A truth he’d managed to keep from her and her lover, Gavin Durand, for months now. He let her magic dance with his, making her work for it, but knowing in the end he would win.
When the pressure of her magic finally took a step back, he drawled, “Are you done?”
At her reluctant, yet cautious submission, he buried his smile deep. If she caught the barest whiff of his amusement, she’d go ballistic, and tonight he didn’t have the time or patience tonight to deal with her temper tantrum. Spectacular though it would be.
“What’s happening?” This time her question carried more respect and wariness.
He sighed and gave her the only answer he could, “Change.”
He could feel her turning his response over and over, trying to fit it in with the pieces she held. She was doomed for disappointment, because she was currently missing a few key segments. “When?”
“If I’m not mistaken—” And he wasn’t. “—soon.”
“I really wish you and the rest of the leaders would stop with your cryptic shit.”
Her waspish complaint garnered an honest laugh. “Wish we could, but it’s part of our job descriptions.”
“Why am I not surprised?”
There was a wryness to her mental tone, one indicating they had skated beyond the flashpoint. It allowed some of his tension to slip away. “Because you’re nothing if not intelligent.”
“While you’re hiding your secrets, Cheveyo, you might want to remember that,” she warned.
“If I need you, I’ll let you know.” It was the least he could give her, considering this bond existed because both of them had stepped in to save the other in the past.
“Promise?” Her question was soft, but serious.
“I promise.” With that, he gently closed the door between them.
Alone in his head once more, he drew in the cool night air and slowly let it out. The chaos in his head settled and calmed. He let the night wash through him, taking what Mother Nature offered and letting it sink deep, soothing his ragged emotional edges.
Deep in the house behind him, a phone rang. He took a moment to take another breath and let it out before turning to head inside to answer. His bare feet whispered over the wooden floor as he reached for the cell phone on the kitchen counter. Spying the familiar number, his momentary peace evaporated. “Hello, Natasha.”
As the cabin came into view, a wave of hair-raising deja vu left Cheveyo white knuckling the steering wheel. Strange that such a benign image could make his heart race and leave his mouth drier than the desert. Especially considering he spent more years than he cared to remember facing down both human and inhuman nightmares that would break most minds. Yet this rustic three-room cabin housed his greatest joy and his deepest fear. Neither of which could be allowed to play a part in his current visit because he wasn’t here for personal reasons, he was here for business. Specifically Kyn business. His shoulders braced under the settling weight of his role as the head of the Northwest Magi House as he brought the rental SUV to a stop next to a battered truck.
“Want me to wait here?” The question came from the man sitting in the passenger seat and held no judgment. An admirable feat considering the situation.
With a studied deliberateness, Cheveyo relaxed his grip on the steering wheel, forcing his tension back. “No need.”
The other man undid his seatbelt, letting it retract as he shifted in the passenger seat. “You sure?”
Staring through the windshield, Cheveyo pondered Chay’s question. The younger man was here as Cheveyo’s bodyguard. Not because Cheveyo couldn’t take care of himself, but because it was a political necessity created by the fallout from his last visit. Of course, fallout out might be over simplifying things a bit considering the bodies left in his wake, one of which belonged to the mate of the Southwest Alpha. Despite the fact that she tried to kill Cheveyo, he couldn’t quite squash his twinge of guilt over his part in her death.
A sigh came from Chay. “Not sure how many times this can be said before you listen, but this mess here, it’s not on you.”
If Chay could so easily follow his thoughts, then Cheveyo was slipping. He grimaced and blew out a hard breath. “I’m listening, Chay.”
“But you’re not hearing.” Chay settled with his back against the door, his arms crossed over his chest. “Tomás’s mate was a nut job, Cheveyo. Something which seems to be an epidemic down here.” The last was added under his breath.
There, then, was the judgment and, for some odd reason, it scrapped against Cheveyo’s temper. “She was a grieving mother,” he snapped, glaring at the other man.
Completely unruffled, Chay’s dark gaze remained rock steady as he continued, “She raised a Soul Stealer and came damn close to killing you, just to protect her dirty little secrets.” A hard edge snuck into the last couple of words and added a baleful light to his eyes. “I may not have been there, but Gavin and Raine didn’t pull any punches when they brought me up to speed. You came here last year with Raine to help a fellow magi leader uncover who was killing her people. You did your job, and now Tomás is out for blood.”
“She was his mate,” Cheveyo muttered, knowing there was no real way to refute Chay’s statement.
“And now he’s as crazy as she was,” Chay shot back, his frustration finally breaking through. “Look, what happened then and what’s happening now is not on you, it’s on them. It’s not safe for you here. Hell, even Natasha didn’t want you to come back.”
“It’s not her call.” Something he made crystal clear during his last exchange with the Northwest’s Demon Queen and the other two heads of Kyn houses.
Chay gave him a hard look. “Because of the shared visions?”
“Partly.” There was no arguing with the fact that when a shaman, a high-ranking witch, and an oracle all shared the same damn dream, you needed to pay attention. A point he explained in no uncertain terms to the other Northwest leaders.
“And the other part?” Chay pressed.
He held Chay’s dark gaze. “There was no other choice. Warrick couldn’t come because Tomás would see his arrival as a threat to his pack—”
“Not to mention he holds our alpha directly responsible for his mate’s death,” Chay cut in unhelpfully.
Ignoring his comment, Cheveyo went on, “There are so few Fey here that sending Carys would do nothing to resolve the situation, and Rio specifically warned Natasha to stay the hell back.” And it would be beyond foolish to ignore the Southwest Amanusa leader when he warned his Northwest counterpart to stay away. Not to mention that Natasha’s absence from Portland would not only be noted by the wrong people, but very likely exploited.
Chay’s lips tightened. “I could take care of this myself.”
“That isn’t the issue.” Since Chay was one of the highly skilled, covert Kyn warriors known as Wraiths, Cheveyo had no doubts about Chay’s ability to hold his own. But justified or not, Cheveyo couldn’t shake his sense of responsibility for the current unrest among the Southwest Kyn.
“Then explain to me what is,” Chay demanded.
Chay canted his head as a shrewd light flared to life in his eyes. “Can’t or won’t?”
Holding his gaze, Cheveyo bit out, “Won’t.”
“It’s personal.” Cheveyo wouldn’t give him more than that. Couldn’t, actually, because his other, deeper, reasons were locked down tight. If everyone would stop digging at him, he wouldn’t have to waste time repeating himself.
Chay continued to study him, his face carefully blank, his thoughts hidden deep. “Can you do this?”
It was a question few would dare to ask Cheveyo, because questioning a Kyn leader could be detrimental to your health. But Chay was one of the privileged few, so Cheveyo answered, “Yes.”
A few more seconds ticked by before the tension in the SUV faded and Chay’s arms dropped as he shifted in his seat. “Fine, then I’ll wait right here while you explain your impromptu visit.”
Grateful for the reprieve, Cheveyo followed his lead. “Scared, Chay?”
“Of accusing the Southwest Magi Head of not being able to keep her house in order?” Chay’s lips twitched. “Merely exercising caution.”
A small humorous huff escaped as Cheveyo shook his head. “Wise man.”
He reached for his door and shoved it open before stepping out into the late afternoon sun. He stood next to the SUV, his gaze scanning their surroundings. The light drifted through the ponderosa pine painting the ground with dappled patterns. A breeze carrying the promise of rain tried to push back the blanketing heat as Arizona’s monsoon season sought refuge in Flagstaff’s higher elevation. He shut his door and moved around the rental SUV, noting the sense of stillness hovering around the cabin. He stopped by the hood, at tradition dictated, waiting for the typical greeting—the rush of canine welcome followed by the occupant’s appearance. When neither happened, unease crept over him. Something was off. He took a moment to determine what was wrong. Turning back, he caught Chay’s attention through the windshield.
The thump of the passenger door rippled through the yard, then Chay stopped at his side. “Want me to knock?”
“Might as well, her truck’s here.” But Cheveyo wasn’t sure it would do any good. No one was here. Not Tala Whiteriver or her furry shadow, Ash. The quiet was too deep, too still. Chay move up the steps to the door and knocked.
As the seconds ticked by with no response, Cheveyo’s waning patience and growing disquiet turned brittle. This wasn’t right.
Heeding instincts honed by decades of experience, he tapped into the magic that made him Kyn, thinning the protective barrier until the world shifted and took on a sharper, clearer edge.
The cabin was no longer still, but surrounded by a luminescent glow, the tell-a-tale sign of a complex ward. Not unexpected considering Tala’s strength. Thankfully, there were no signs of intrusion or violence. Some of the tightness in his chest loosened.
Since he had no desire to clash with her protections, he called Chay back. “She can’t be far, let’s take a walk around.” Because standing here and waiting wasn’t working for him.
Chay came back down the front steps, a frown marring his lean face. “You feeling it too?”
“Yeah, problem is, I can’t pinpoint what’s behind it.” Cheveyo waited until Chay stood at his side and kept his voice low, “You getting anything?”
When Chay shook his head, Cheveyo couldn’t hide his grimace and silently cursed. If whatever triggered his internal alarms could elude two highly powerful witches, this already complicated situation was quickly graduating to completely screwed. Or maybe it’s just an excuse not to face her. He ignored the snide voice, acknowledging that not even a year had passed since his last trauma-inducing visit. Not nearly enough time to forget what once hunted here. Or the havoc it left behind.
Together, he and Chay walked around Tala’s cabin, all senses on alert. As they came to the wrap-around deck at the back, faint canine barks drifted to them. Not the friendly variety, but the deeper, warning sounds of trouble.
Exchanging a look, they took off, weaving through the trees and running through the surrounding forest. Despite the rush of air through his lungs and the heavy beat of his pulse, Cheveyo couldn’t miss the sharp yips interspersed with deep growls growing in frequency and volume as they drew closer. When a sharp feminine cry rent the air, Cheveyo’s heart stopped for a breathless moment in recognition. Tala! Having no idea what waited ahead, he locked her name behind his teeth and dug for more speed. A whisper of the earth’s natural magic swept over him, lending speed to his passage as if Mother Nature shared his sense of urgency. At his side, Chay kept pace.
There was another deep, evil sounding growl quickly answered by a different, aggressive snarl. The warning yips changed to threatening rumbles, and Cheveyo gathered his magic close. There was a pained yelp followed by a short scream full of frustrated rage, the echoes of both leaving Cheveyo swearing under his breath. Every hair on his skin stood on end as the unmistakable energy of magic rode like lightning through the air as a powerful spell was cast.
“Shit.” The muttered oath came from Chay even as the sunlight flashed off the blade in his hand as he leapt over a fallen log.
Cheveyo didn’t bother agreeing, too worried about what they were running toward. Abruptly, they broke through the tree line and rushed into a small clearing. Cheveyo rocked to a stop horror rushing through him. In front of him a damning scene unfolded, shifting the situation from challenging to perilous.
Tala Whiteriver, the leader of the Southwest Magi, was crouched over a wolf, her fist wrapped around the hilt of a knife sunk deep into the furred chest of Tomás Chavez, the alpha and leader of the Southwest Shifters.
© 2018 by Jami Gray