Wednesday, October 20, 2021

WARRIOR FIRE by Marie Johnston

Sandeen’s a demon that did the impossible. He busted out of the underworld in his own form and roams the earth. His black wings and curved obsidian horns make it hard to blend in, but he hasn’t survived this long without being crafty. Just so happens, he knows about an empty cabin in the middle of Montana. Solitude. Peace. No need to worry about getting shanked as he sleeps. Until a persistent angel warrior hunts him down.
Harlowe’s world has turned upside down. Her best friend lost her wings because of a mind-blowing secret. Then a hauntingly handsome demon got away from her. All she can do is throw herself into her job and that involves hunting down the demon. Sandeen can’t hide. Forget his downy soft wings and the horns her palms itch to caress, his looks and inability to stay out of trouble will put him back on her radar.
Finding Sandeen was supposed to be the mission. Getting captured by him is an unplanned complication. Softening toward him could cost her everything. Sandeen risks his hard-earned freedom by keeping Harlowe alive, and it’s not long before they learn they have more problems than the growing attraction between them. Harlowe’s not the only one hunting Sandeen.

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Marie Johnston is a RITA® Finalist, and a best-selling and award-winning writer of paranormal and contemporary romance – and an avid reader of them both. ​
Several years ago, when kids started outnumbering adults in the house, Marie Johnston left her job as a public health microbiologist to stay at home. Settling into working part-time and shuttling kids around gave Marie the opportunity to think about what she wanted to be when she grew up. A die-hard science geek, she explored her previously thought to be non-existent creative side after much time spent making snowman crafts and coloring princesses. Having entertained thoughts of writing a book one day then subsequently deciding it would be too hard, she finally put the figurative pen to paper and began to type – and fell in love with storytelling.
The Sigma Menace is the first series by Marie with Fever Claim being her first book EVER. She is humbled by the fact that people are willing to read to her books and looks forward to keeping readers entertained for many years.
Marie lives with her husband and four kids in the Upper Midwest where the summers are gorgeous, the winters are brutal, and spring and fall are luxuries.
Website * Amazon * Goodreads * Bookbub * Facebook * Instagram * Twitter * Pinterest 

A black bird flew into the air only to land on another evergreen tree a few down from where it had originally perched.
Sandeen eyed the bird from the front stoop of the little Montana cabin he was hiding out in and dipped his head. Smart creatures. Humans saw them as pests or ignored them completely. Demons did the same—except when considering whether to eat them.
Not him. He hadn’t survived the underworld by underestimating what he faced. Sylphs were worse pests than black birds would ever be, but the little demons had their uses. On Earth, they slipped unseen through the realm, interfering with humans’ lives until negative feelings in those humans coalesced into damaging thoughts that opened the human up to becoming a host for a higher-level demon.
In the underworld, sylphs were like cats. Ugly, stinky cats that no one wanted to let into their home. Sylphs shat where they ate and then they ate that too. But they had their uses. For a few tasty morsels they didn’t have to scrounge for, the little gossipmongers spilled their hearts out.
A second crow cawed. The first crow answered.
Sandeen flicked his gaze from the first bird to his right, then swiveled to look at the other bird. Each crow perched close to the top of their respective evergreen.
When Boone had lived here, he’d probably read the land a different way. Sandeen had seen the trapping lines the human had used to catch his food, but he had no clue how to use them. Wi-Fi for the win. He’d skimmed off someone else’s service until he’d gotten his own put together. Now he could order his own food and supplies delivered to the middle of Nowhere, Montana.
In the old days, all of ten months ago, he would’ve just found a host with a full fridge. But then he’d have to stay in that host to stay in the Earthly realm.
No longer.
Sandeen ruffled his wings. Both birds stared at him, cocking their heads one way, then the other. The first bird cawed.
“Thanks.” His voice was scratchy. He hadn’t spoken to anyone for months. He didn’t speak bird, but he liked to imagine that the crows hung around him thanks to his own glossy black wings.
It was probably bullshit. It wasn’t like a couple of antelope were going to hang around because of Sandeen’s obsidian horns. The birds were something to talk to, to keep his voice box from going rusty. To make him think he had a place in this realm where, as far as humans were concerned, he was an abomination. He was also evil as far as angels in the realm of Numen were concerned. Yet he refused to return to the underworld, the realm of Daemon. They’d have to drag his dead body through the Gloom first.
The second crow cawed and flew to another tree a little closer to Sandeen. The bird cocked his head at him.
Indeed. Sandeen dipped his head.
He looked down at his clothing. Boone had left quite a few things behind when he’d sold this place to what he thought was a single man who wanted a hunting cabin. The deal had been done online, thanks to a discreet identity Sandeen had constructed, along with a healthy savings account filled with money he’d pilfered from several hosts over the years.
It paid to be prepared.
The brown hiking boots would be fine. His heavy-duty blue jeans didn’t blend into his surroundings, but his wings threw all kinds of shadows around him. Paired with the black hoodie he’d cut the back out of to make room for his wings, he blended well.
Taking another sip of the coffee and grimacing—would he ever get used to this drink?—he opened the cabin door behind him. The hinges stayed quiet thanks to the WD-40 he’d found in the shed. Boone had taken many of his tools but left some essentials behind.
Sandeen set his cup down on the counter. A large knife rested on the island. He hooked it on his pants. Boone had also taken all his hunting rifles and shotguns. Sandeen could’ve used those, but blades would have to do. He didn’t want to risk buying a gun with his fake identity. No need to flirt with trouble.
He passed a ball cap but ignored it. Getting it over his horns was one thing, but his hair had grown thick and shaggy. Since he’d been alone for months, he’d quit trying to trim it. Same with shaving.
In the underworld, he’d been fastidious about his hair, facial hair included. Anything that could be used as a handhold for an enemy was kept short. And in the underworld, every demon was an enemy—including his sire.
Other high-level demons like his sire had underestimated his softly feathered wings for years. Sandeen had let them. Same with his horns.
Sandeen slipped outside and squinted into the sky. The crows had moved closer. The bird on the left tilted its head as it peered into the canopy of the trees. Sandeen flared his wings out and curled them around his body. Their silky darkness cast the same shadows as the trees until he was nothing more than a moving shadow.
He sidled left of the second bird. Hopefully whatever had interested the crows so much wouldn’t have the same advantage as him. Toeing his way through the underbrush, he took his time. Movement in the trees caught his attention.
Ah, so it was as he’d feared. He was being hunted. And, as he’d suspected, it wasn’t his fellow Daemon.
Oh, they were looking for him. But they had no idea this cabin existed and lacked the technical savvy to track his electronic trail, if they could even determine where it started.
But angelic warriors wouldn’t be so daunted. He’d known they would hunt him. He’d given them the nudge they’d needed to help their fallen friend and her human lover, Boone. But he’d also had to show his hand to do it. They wouldn’t let him go so easily.
The second crow flew closer to his cabin, its head cocked in the same direction as the first. Just one warrior. And judging by the long, lithe body and long blond braid, Sandeen knew exactly who hunted him.
His quiet life was about to be upended. There was no way the warrior would leave without knowing who, exactly, resided here. He should be irate. He should be raging at the unfairness. He should be planning how to kill his opponent.
Yet a smile stretched his lips. He’d faced this warrior before, but always while he was in a host. This time, it would be just him. And just her.

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