A snow leopard shifter exiled from his pride twenty years ago, Harbin treads the dark path of life as an assassin, driven by a hunger for vengeance, mercilessly hunting the Archangel members who attacked his kin, murdering his mother and sister.
When a new contract comes in and the mark is a snow leopard shifter, he can’t resist venturing into the mortal world on a personal mission to find out why one from a normally peaceful species now has a price on their head. What he finds in a rundown nightclub isn’t quite what he expects—a beautiful snow leopard female that awakens a fierce hunger inside him.
Aya has spent seventeen years living in London, immersed in the underbelly of the fae world, keeping her head down and her tail out of trouble. But when trouble walks right into her life in the form of a sinfully handsome, dangerous assassin, she is pulled into a whirlwind of events that stir up the nightmares of her past but might just give her a shot at putting those ghosts to rest—if she can resist the dark allure of a male she knows is her fated mate.
Can Harbin and Aya resist the passionate fire that blazes between them as they chase the vengeance they both crave? Or will they surrender to their deepest desires?
Marked By An Assassin
by Felicity Heaton
Eternal Mates #8
Erotic Paranormal Romance
October 31, 2015
Some of the books on this site contain material of a sexual nature or graphic violence and are only suitable for adults. By reading the excerpt below you release me as the author of any responsibility.
The mark was a female.
Harbin hadn’t believed his eyes when he had set them on her in the grotty club in the suburbs of London. He had tracked her without ever realising what she was. None of his fae contacts had mentioned the gender of the snow leopard he had been asking questions about, but then he hadn’t bothered to ask them about the sex of his mark either.
He had presumed it would be a male.
Sure, he had tracked and assassinated female marks in the past, but never a shifter. Females of the cat shifter species generally stayed within the boundaries of their pride homes, or at least within the limit of the law, keeping their heads down and tails out of trouble.
What had she done to make someone take out a contract on her?
He had been curious to know the answer to that question when he had discovered a snow leopard had a price on their head, but now he burned with a need to know. It played on his mind, constantly bouncing around in his skull and keeping him distracted. What could she have done?
Normally his marks were mercenaries, murderers or worse, but she didn’t seem to fit any of those roles. Nothing about her said she was dangerous, and nothing he had gleaned from his contacts had pointed towards her being a killer or worthy of the bounty someone had placed on her.
Harbin stared across the room at the female in question, watching the way the vampire at her back pawed at her as they danced. The sight of the vile bastard’s hands all over her caused his animal side to prowl just beneath his skin, restless with a need to separate them and then separate the vampire’s head from his body. He despised their kind. Leeches, all of them.
He sighed as he caught his train of thought and derailed it.
Maybe Hartt and Fuery had rubbed off on him in the years they had been together.
Elves hated vampires with a passion, a dislike that ran both ways, born of the fact that vampires were distantly related to the elves. They were a wretched shadow of the elves, born from the corrupted ones left behind in this mortal realm millennia ago. The vampires had none of their forefathers’ key abilities though, and the elves believed that was the reason they despised them so much. Harbin could understand that. He would be pissed if he discovered his kind were an offshoot from one that could teleport, use telekinesis, didn’t go crispy in sunlight and didn’t have to drink blood to survive.
The vampire slid his hands lower, startling the female, and a growl rumbled up Harbin’s throat, rising from the pit of his belly as it churned with a need to sink his claws into the male.
Her wide eyes held Harbin immobile though, pinned to his stool, his mind filled with a constant cycle of questions.
Some of which bothered him, because for the first time in a long time, he was wondering what the hell he was doing with his life.
That niggling voice had started up the second he had set eyes on the female last night. A barrage of images had hit him, a horrifying replay of entering his pride village to find his mother and sister laying in a pool of blood on the crisp white snow. A rapid succession of memories had followed it, a rush of dark moments, all fragmented and blended together into a mind-numbing stream of pain, terror and bloodshed.
A twisted version of the events that had happened as he had tracked down the bastards who had attacked his pride.
He ground his teeth, his emerging fangs cutting into his gums, flooding his mouth with the bitter taste of blood.
It had all been his fault.
The deaths of his beloved mother and sister.
The deaths of so many of his kin.
Those deaths weighed his soul down and nothing he did lightened the load he carried.
It was his to bear, and he would carry the face of every victim with him until his dying day. He would recount them all whenever he crushed another Archangel member under his boot, giving them the same bloody end they had bestowed upon his beautiful kin.
Harbin closed his eyes and swallowed hard, fighting the pain that rose within him, pouring like acid into the hollow in his chest.
He deserved the pain. He deserved the exile his father, the alpha of the pride, had given him as his sentence. He deserved to suffer until Archangel no longer existed.
He deserved it because he had been the one to lead Archangel to his pride.
He could kill every member of Archangel, all across the world, but it wouldn’t make a difference and he knew it. It wouldn’t bring his family back, or the other snow leopards who had lost their lives because of him.
Harbin opened his eyes and fixed them on the female, catching her as she broke free of the vampire and started across the busy room.
What was he doing?
Had it really come down to this—tracking and killing one of a breed he had spent the past two decades trying to avenge in his own way?
His stomach turned, sickness brewing there as his mind supplied that he was no better than Archangel if he killed her.
He had hated seeing his kin attacked and murdered, had hunted and killed all but one of the Archangel members responsible to stop them from getting their hands on any more of his species. Now he was going to hunt one and kill it?
He was going to kill her?
Harbin stared at her, cold to the bone and numbed as the world around him dropped away. How far had he fallen? When had he lost sight of his true mission—the task of avenging his people?
That mission wasn’t done.
He had never found the woman who had slept with him, using him for information before drugging him and ordering the attack on his pride.
A fragment of the man he had once been broke through the ice in his chest, whispering to let the snow leopard go and resume his hunt for the Archangel woman.
Whatever this female had done, it would be nothing compared with the sins of the Archangel huntress. That woman deserved death for the acts she had committed.
Images flashed across his eyes, a disjointed layer over the present, distorting and twisting the club into a forbidding yet breathtaking white landscape with the snow leopard female at the centre of it, her short black hair blowing in the frigid wind that scoured the treacherous barren terrain. She turned her head towards him and bright sunlight bathed her face, intensifying the gold in her eyes until they glittered like precious metal. Her soft pink lips parted, flashing a hint of straight white teeth, as she tipped her chin up and stared straight into his eyes.
For a heartbeat, a mere split-second of time that felt like a fantasy or foolishness as it fled, she was more breathtaking than the icy mountainous world around her.
She belonged in that world, a queen of all she surveyed, a beautiful and beguiling creature with whom few could contend.
A majestic female.
The mountains beyond her shook, blurring as they vibrated and rocked the earth, sending snow plummeting down their cragged faces. The air hummed around him. The bright sun faded.
The female dipped her head, raising her hands at the same time, and his stomach revolted when he saw the blood coating them.
He squeezed his eyes shut and shoved the heels of his hands against them for good measure, trying to shut out the horror he knew would come next. His left shoulder burned, the healing wound there threatening to reopen.
He breathed deep as he whirled into her place, staring down at his bloodstained hands. Images flooded his mind, replaying the night before, when he had watched the female for hours in the club before succumbing to a dark hunger that had ruled him, driving him into obeying and feeding it.
A hunger that was rising within him again now, demanding he head out just as he had last night and go on the hunt, using all of his skills to track down the hunters from Archangel that infested London.
It was a need born of the memories that surged within him whenever he looked at the female snow leopard. He had shut out everything that had come before the long dark months when he had hunted Archangel in the aftermath of the attack on his pride, sealed it away inside him and pushed it down deep. All of his softer emotions. Every shred of feeling he had ever possessed. He had thought all of it dead and gone, but he could feel it reawakening inside him.
He could feel it pushing at the walls he had constructed, and if they broke, it would be as if a dam had burst.
He wouldn’t be able to handle the flood.
It would destroy him.
He needed to leave again, had to get away from the female and go out as he had last night, pursuing the cold calm that came in the moment before the kill. He craved it even more now, twitched with the need to bathe his hands in Archangel blood, satisfying his deepest, darkest hungers.
Three had died last night, and he could barely remember their faces.
Only had a series of brief images to remind him of what he had done, the rest of it buried deep within his subconscious, burned from his mind.
Screams erupted in the club and he sensed the swarm of signatures rushing towards him, crowding him and pushing at his control. He snarled through his short fangs, trying to warn them away, needing the space they were consuming in their mad panic.
Harbin flicked his eyes open and they settled on a male clad in black combat gear similar to what he wore when he was carrying out the final phase of a mission.
Only this male was no fae or demon.
He was mortal.
Emotions bombarded Harbin on seeing the two dozen strong mortal males surging through the room, firing on the fae in it with tranquiliser guns and crossbows, or lashing out with their black batons.
He pushed from his stool, his left leg aching under the sudden weight, and growled as he shoved the people attempting to flee away from him, clearing a space around him.
His claws lengthened at the same time as his fangs.
A young male demon went down hard at the edge of the dance floor, a dart sticking out of his left shoulder.
Harbin’s blood burned, his heart labouring as he struggled to get enough air into his lungs. He shook with a need to unleash his snow leopard side and tear through the room, the urge stronger than it had ever been, fuelled by the constant awareness of the weaker female in the club with him.
His gaze sought her, locating her as she broke free of the throng of people to his left and made a run for it. She was agile and swift as she darted through the people, and he silently willed her to make it unseen to the main exit where a large male he recognised as a fellow shifter was stumbling into the club, shaking his head as he tried to rid it of the lingering effect of whatever dart the hunters had used on him.
They should have plugged him with more than one.
The big bear roared as he tore off his t-shirt and Harbin cursed him as all the hunters swung towards him.
Two males spotted the female.
Harbin pushed off, unable to ignore the pressing need to protect her.
One of the hunters hit her with a dart in her right thigh. She stumbled, a high shriek leaving her lips, but kept running, limping towards the bear as he started to shift. The second hunter pursued her.
Harbin growled and hobbled faster, cursing himself now. He needed to shift, his cat form being his stronger one in this situation, but he couldn’t when his tibia was still healing. The shift would break the weakened bone, leaving him in a worse condition than he was now and making it impossible for him to fight.
The second male caught the female as she slowed, the drugs taking effect, and Harbin flinched as the hunter dealt a blow across the back of her head with his baton. She crumpled, hitting the floor in a tangled heap.
Pain pierced Harbin’s right arm and hip, but it felt like little more than a brief sting as memories surged in response to seeing the female go down.
They rolled through him, ripping an agonised howl from his throat as he stumbled forwards, blinded by the pain and the fury, filled with a hunger to destroy every Archangel hunter he could see.
This was his fault.
He had hunted down Archangel members, all of them too young to have had anything to do with the attack on his pride. He had needed the kill though. He had needed the serenity of shutting down his feelings and focusing on a mission. He hadn’t thought it would trigger an attack on the fae community, but it couldn’t be coincidence that Archangel had targeted the very club where he had been seen two nights in a row.
Someone had witnessed the attack and survived to tell the tale.
Archangel had come after him for retribution and now innocents were being dragged into a living Hell again because of him.
The male grabbed her by her arms and hauled her into them, slinging her over his shoulder.
Harbin growled weakly and kept pushing forwards through the emptying club.
Several of the hunters left, carrying unconscious fae in pairs. At the exit, three were attempting to handle the bear shifter. Five darts stuck out of his bare chest and a nervous hunter embedded a sixth before a braver one dared to approach the slumbering brute.
A sudden sinking sensation washed through Harbin as he realised that the hunters were leaving, taking his quarry with them. His stomach squirmed, his instincts telling him to flee while he had the chance, to save his skin and escape whatever nightmare awaited the poor bastards at the hands of the Archangel hunters.
He pinned his feet to the floor and scrubbed a hand across his blurry eyes, trying to see the female as his body battled the effects of the drugs.
She hung limp over the shoulder of the hunter, her head lolling around and arms swaying with each measured step he took.
It would be easy to turn away, to slink into the shadows and wait for the tranquilisers to wear off. His body was already purging them, too strong for the puny doses they had used on him.
Shook his head.
Not only because he had gotten her into this mess, but because he didn’t know which facility Archangel would take her to and he would lose her if he let the hunters take her now. He might never find her again and he had promised Hartt that he would carry out his part of the mission.
He had vowed that he would remain close to her until Hartt and Fuery came to finish the job with him.
He had to keep that promise if he was going to keep his reputation as one of the best assassins in the guild. He had never lost a mark, and he wasn’t going to start now.
Not even when it meant placing himself in the hands of the hunters he despised.
He scanned the room and spotted a lone male hunter at the back, struggling with a large unconscious male. His gut churned, every instinct he possessed screaming at him to run in the opposite direction. He couldn’t. He had to get caught too.
A small part of him, a piece of him that refused to die now, whispered that his reasons ran deeper than a need to keep tabs on his mark and fulfilling his part of the mission. He wanted to get caught so he could ensure that she was unharmed by Archangel. He didn’t want to let her be alone in that terrible place.
He needed to be there too.
Harbin roared and hurled himself at the young hunter.
Find out how to enter the Marked by an Assassin international giveaway (ends November 15th) and be in with a shot of winning a $75, $50 or $25 gift certificate at her website, where you can also download a 4 chapter sample of the novel!
Other Books in the Series
About Felicity Heaton
Felicity Heaton is a New York Times and USA Today international best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books. In her books, she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! If you’re a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.
If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling Vampire Erotic Theatre series. Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the new Eternal Mates series.