All Eve Carmichael wants is to graduate from college and move on with her life.
But when she witnesses a murder on campus, her life takes an unexpected turn. Especially when there’s no evidence a crime ever happened the next day, and the five men responsible disappeared into thin air.
As she tries to unravel the mystery behind the disappearing homicide, she finds herself on a dark–and familiar path. With no-one else to trust, she seeks the help of an unlikely—but alluring—group of men.
For better or worse, the rocker, the wanderer, the student, the therapist, and the advisor all have a part to play in her destiny. Hopefully they can awaken her to the danger closing in before Eve gets herself killed.
THE ZODIAC CURSE is an enticing new reverse harem urban fantasy world featuring two tandem series – Harem of Shadows by USA Today bestselling author Amber Lynn Natusch and Harem of Light by C.N. Crawford.
EVE OF ETERNAL NIGHT
A Zodiac Curse: Harem of Shadows Novel
© 2018 Amber Lynn Natusch
I felt her magic crushing me in place. Unable to move, I knew death was coming for me. The blade at my throat only confirmed that fact.
She stood behind me, allowing me a clear view of the carnage our war had caused. Bodies lay before me. The bodies of my men.READ MORE
“It always comes down to this,” she said, her voice sweet and sympathetic, belying her true nature. She was savage and brutal—just like me. I struggled against the magic bindings to no avail. “You know there is no escaping your destiny. To try only makes you look foolish.” The dagger pressed harder against my skin, holding me still. “Until we meet again…”
Sadness overtook me as I stared into the vacant eyes of the men I loved—the men who had fought at my side—knowing that I had led them to their fate. Our fate. Then, with a tremendous blow and the sharp bite of steel, darkness took me.
I, too, was dead.
The bass throbbed, reverberating right through me. Red plastic cups riddled the floor—they made a satisfying crunch whenever I stepped on one. But not satisfying enough to distract me from the stench of stale beer and sweat that permeated the air. It was just like every other college party I’d been to, the Groundhog Day rite of passage for any co-ed. I wondered if I’d miss it when I graduated. Then I looked over at some idiot crushing a can against his forehead and knew I wouldn’t.
Like really, really wouldn’t.
I managed to find a spot somewhere off to the side of the humping masses, not wanting to be caught up in the middle of the ‘dance floor’. I was good with not being felt up, some freshman looking at me like he was doing me a favor while he grabbed my ass. I didn’t want to get arrested again, like last time. I didn’t want Jim to have to come bail me out; Jim didn’t enjoy that. Said it made him look bad, and how could I be so selfish, and did I want him to be in the papers again? In truth, I didn’t give a shit. Jim—or Dad, as he insisted I call him—only cared about himself. He’d made that incredibly plain when he left Mom.
Sometimes I wondered why I bothered trying to fit in in a place where I couldn’t. Why I tried to blend in at a school full of kids that had seen my face in the papers since they were five years old, thanks to my A-list actress mother and my attorney-to-the-rich-and-famous father. It was a pipe dream that I clung to for irrational reasons.
But I still couldn’t let it go.
So I stood against the wall of that party with my cup of skunked beer and pretended to enjoy myself. I drank and drank until my shoulders loosened and a smile spread across my face. I even laughed at some asshat when he got totally shut down by a sorority chick. I had to give it to the girl—she laid a verbal beatdown on him that would have made a lesser man cry. Unfortunately for me, my laughter drew his attention. And the one thing boys hated more than being rebuffed was being humiliated about it.
His narrowed eyes met mine across the undulating crowd, and he stormed toward me, tossing bodies out of his way as he did. I hadn’t realized how massive he was until he was towering over me, caging me in against the wall at my back.
I put the edge of the cup to my lips and took a long drink. To the casual observer—of which I was certain we had many—it would have looked like one big ‘fuck you’ to the hulk before me. In reality, it was merely a stalling tactic to buy myself time to think of a way out. Yeah, I could have played the ‘do you know who my father is?’ card, but I loathed it. Unless it was a matter of life or death, I wouldn’t slap that one down on the table.
Maybe not even then.
“You hear me talking to you, bitch?”
Ah yes. My favorite word.
I pulled the cup away from my mouth and looked at it for a moment before chucking its contents right in his face. Smart? No. Warranted? Absolutely.
“My name’s Eve, not bitch. And I heard you just fine. If your feelings got hurt because I laughed at you, then maybe you should up your game a bit with the ladies. That line was lame as hell.”
Anger the likes of which I’d only ever seen in my father’s eyes flared in those of the frat boy before me. I don’t know if he was drunk or high or crazy as hell, but I watched in slow motion as his hand cocked back to hit me. I focused on the size of his fist as it came flying toward my face. I wondered how much it would hurt when it connected.
It’s a reflex to flinch when something comes flying at your face, and that moment was no exception. My eyes slammed shut just before his punch should have landed. When it didn’t, I dared to peek through my lashes to see why. Half expecting to find the woman-beater staring down at me with a smile—like he’d just taught me a lesson—I was shocked to find him lying on the ground face down in some questionable fluid.
Looked like someone had taught him one instead.
“I hope I didn’t steal your thunder,” a male voice said from beside me. I pulled my eyes away from the body on the ground to find a tall, lithe guy standing there, smiling like his life depended on it. The twinkle in his baby blues told me just how much he’d enjoyed what he’d done. I had to give the boy credit—I would not have expected him to lay that guy out without breaking a sweat.
“I was just playing with him,” I replied, my eyes drifting back to the unconscious kid on the floor. “It’s more fun to wait until the last second to strike.”
The hero’s grin grew.
“Couldn’t agree more. I think I like your style.” His shaggy brown hair hung in his eyes as he bent closer to me. “You got a name?”
His smile widened. “You need another beer?”
“I need one that doesn’t taste like rat piss. Can you manage that?”
“Do I get to know your name if I can?”
I rolled his deal around in my mind for a second before agreeing. “Sure.”
He winked at me before he disappeared in the crowd, headed toward the back of the house where the kitchen was. For a moment, I wondered if he really didn’t know who I was, or if he was just good at playing dumb. I’d fallen for that trick before, and it had ended in a nasty case of blackmail and a whole lot of legal intervention. I’d take a hard pass on that.
I looked toward the front door, wondering if I could make it out before he returned with a drink—possibly roofied to the hilt, with my luck. That was so not the party I was interested in having. With that in mind, I headed through the crowd, wrestling to get through them as they danced and debauched their way into the one a.m. hour. I was almost to the foyer when a gentle hand landed on my arm and turned me around.
Baby blues held up a bottle of imported beer and smiled.
“Gonna need that name now,” he said, full of confidence. And in fairness, there was no reason for him not to have it. He had that boy-next-door charm, with a bad-boy-when-your-daddy-isn’t-looking attitude. You could see the mischief in his eyes. It begged to be let out.
“Eve. My name’s Eve.”
He looked at me strangely, his brow furrowed while he contemplated something. Then realization dawned in his expression, and his mouth went wide. I braced myself for the conversation I knew was coming.
“You teach in the Middleton building, right? You’re a chemistry TA?”
So not where I thought that was going.
“Yeah… I am.”
“I knew you looked familiar. That long red hair is hard to miss.”
With the touch of someone far more intimate with me than he was, he reached for a lock of my hair that lay across my shoulder and drew it between his fingers. He gently caressed one of the waves, a soft smile on his face. He looked like he was in another world—like his mind had gone to some happy place that I totally envied. Nothing had ever made me look so wistful.
Irritated and bitchy were my two defaults.
“And you are?” I asked, pulling away from him until my hair fell from his hand, and his mind returned to the present.
“Sorry.” He gave his head a shake, knocking his brown hair into his eyes again. It made him look younger than I assumed he was, and I couldn’t help but smile. There was something endearing about him. Something that made me feel safe when it shouldn’t have. “My name’s Fenris.”
“Fenris?” I replied in a dubious tone. “That a nickname or something?”
“Is it your last name?”
His mouth twitched with amusement. “Strike two.”
“Are your parents total hippies?”
That one earned me a laugh. “Wrong again. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, Eve, but you’re a shitty guesser.”
“Well then, Fenris, how about you enlighten me. What’s up with the name?”
He held out the beer for me to take, and I looked at it with suspicion. “You drink. I’ll talk.”
“You first,” I said, nodding at the bottle.
For the first time since I’d met the curious Fenris, his smile fell away completely. “I didn’t mess with it,” he said, sounding wounded. “I would never do that.”
“Then you won’t mind taking a wicked big swig of it, will you?” I leaned closer to him, giving him the same wink he’d given me earlier. “A girl can never be too careful, you know.”
“I guess not,” he said, putting the bottle to his lips. He looked down the length of it at me with a little heat in his eyes before tipping his head back to do away with half the beer. If he’d roofied it, he was going to black out in no time at all. “Feel better now?”
I grabbed the bottle from his hand and took a drink. “Much.”
“So,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck. “You go out much?”
I nearly choked on my beer. “I try not to. I find it hard to keep a low profile.”
“You famous or something?” he asked, taking the beer from my hand to steal a sip.
“Something like that.”
“Or maybe infamous is a better description?”
“I think it is, actually.”
His smile returned. “I know trouble when I see it.”
“So do I.” I turned to leave, heading for the front door. I looked back to find him staring at me, his flirty smile gone once again, a rather dark expression in its place. “Thanks for the beer,” I said, opening the door and stepping outside. I closed it behind me and rushed down the front steps of the frat house, tossing the beer on the lawn. The bite of the cool night air made me wish I’d worn a long-sleeved shirt, but I made do, wrapping my arms around my waist to keep myself warm.
Walking home alone was something I did often, even though I knew I shouldn’t. The campus was relatively safe, but things got a bit dodgy when you wandered off it. That reality had only increased in the last few months. Crime was on the rise—mainly violent ones. Minor road rage incidents had become murders. Muggings were a death sentence. And sexual assaults—well, those didn’t end so well either.
With those thoughts rattling around in my mind, I picked up my pace, looking over my shoulder to see if I was being followed. That nagging sensation females seemed to possess was growing stronger with every step. Danger, it screamed until I stopped and surveyed the area, searching every dark shadow and shrub for someone lurking—lying in wait. But I found nothing at all. Nothing more than a stray cat in a trashcan and a worn-out flag flapping against one of the brick frat houses.
Maybe I was more intoxicated than I thought.
I took a deep breath before continuing on. Standing in place seemed a shitty plan for staying safe. I was almost through Greek Row to the edge of campus and my apartment that lay a couple of blocks beyond when that feeling again could not be ignored.
Like following a homing beacon, I turned to look down a narrow path between the final two frat houses. The second my mind processed the bloody scene, I took off running, fumbling with my phone as I did, but my fingers were too cold and tight with adrenaline to dial. By the time I reached my apartment, my breath was coming in ragged gasps, and my heart thundered in my chest. I locked the doors behind me for fear I’d been followed and shook my hands until I could successfully call the cops.
I had to tell them about the body.
And the five murderers.COLLAPSE