Rogue Within Excerpt:

The talky-talky about all his wrongs went on forever. Finally, it got through to Donte, where he waited in the center of the council chamber next to the Bear Alpha, that Dom was repeating himself. Donte focused. Oh, he was talking to him.

"What do you say?" The leader looked a little heated. His searing black gaze reminded Donte of their conversation the night before, and of Dom's request to reign his attitude in.

So it felt terribly fantastic to thrust that attitude quite a bit higher. "Lots of lies floating around here."

Growls rumbled through the room. Dom stared him down. His black gaze had a red sheen in the depths. What the Council leader wanted him to say, Donte had no idea. Not that he would have said it.

"Surely you can do better than that. Your life hangs in the balance."

"My life was useless from the moment the Council declared I had to choose which part of my soul to kill. And I said no." His lips pressed together, his version of a smile nowadays. "You wasted me then and you'll waste me now."

Wolf surged to his feet again but Dom motioned with a slash of his hand. The man stayed still, radiating fury.

Dom folded his arms. "The clans are our life. We will sacrifice individuals to hold the clan, hold our mates and younglings. You have walked a hard road, but many before you have found happiness and peace in the same decisions. You chose your unrest when you refused to join one of the elemental brotherhoods. Our ways are not lies. They are controls that work for the whole, so that we are not at war amongst ourselves, or lost to our dual nature."

Donte shrugged.

"So?" Dom arched a brow. "Tell us more of these lies you hear."

Donte gave them the truth instead. "Our beastspirits can ride our human body."

The round hall erupted with men stepping forward, waving their arms.



"Piss and Ash, he's sick!"

The calls came faster and he lost the words, but not the sense of revulsion that swept the room. A few men turned their backs on him, as if looking at him sickened them. Inside Donte's mind, Bear lay down on his side, tired of the human drama.

Dom didn't really restore order, he just called out over the crowd. "We've identified you take pride in your ability to slide from rogue and back again. But you know the lack of reasoning in a beastspirit is not something we'll ever allow among our families. If we functioned on instinct alone whenever we had a whim to do so, we'd be animals."

"No, we wouldn't." Fucking close-minded, tradition-bound weaklings. Bear grumbled, his muzzle wrinkling with displeasure that showed his massive fangs to Donte's interior sight. Donte fisted his hands and twisted the manacles on his wrists. "We're not animals. We're truxet. My bear is not a wild bear. He is a beastspirit, with his own power, soul and thoughts. He's more than instinct. He's me."

The Groundbear called out over the mutterings of the shocked crowd. "You invent cloud tales to justify your behavior, stories to soothe your guilt. Next you'll be telling us there's no reason we shouldn't punish you for focusing on your own souldance and seeking out your own match."

The fucker was a dangerous bully and he didn't need to be even thinking about Moriko. Donte bared his clenched teeth at the Alpha and the man started for him, but his Shield was there to push him back.

"I needed a key to a City and I found one." The memory of Moriko's yes was still tender and didn't belong next to this public acknowledgment of callousness. But Bear hummed with pleasure anyway.

"Brute! Selfish defiler!" The cry rang out from the owl Shield.

Unwisely, Donte gloated. "I've got a woman with bigger balls than you have to sponsor me, and that's no lie."

Alaric's strike came from behind Donte, as he'd turned away from the man to face the Groundbear Alpha. And even with the blow coming from behind him, he still managed to block it. The hit was so weak it barely stung his arm.

Donte batted the old man's arm down and met his rheumy, snapping gaze. Lowering his voice to private levels, he whispered to the leader who had sent Donte into exile as a distrusted lone alpha. "You're one of the lies here, old man. That you're a source of strength for bears is a big fat group lie, and I've got no shame in saying so. You've got no power to rebuke me so keep your hands to yourself."

Alaric snapped the chains but Donte never even moved.

"Quit rising to his bait. He wants us off-balance." The man speaking wasn't known to Donte, even by sight. He wore the sash of the Marten, but he was young, sleekly muscled. Well, well. At least the minor clan had had the guts to overturn their elderly Alpha. Maybe the bears would shortly follow their lead.

The Marten continued. "You say you wanted a key to a City. That means you imagine some sort of future for yourself."

Donte inclined his head. "My life goal of the past year has been met. I hindered them at every possible turn and got out. From my information, you know of the four left, you know every cranny of their lair, and the spells they have to defend it. You know their travel routes, their supply tactics, and more details of their grand plan. This is why I went against the wolves who challenged me on my return. This information was worth my life and theirs. You don't like my existence, but I've told you how to defeat them."

Deliberately, he paused, letting the horrible reality of that perk through their brains. It got quiet pretty quick. They didn't like being reminded of the devious final battle the darkmages had set in motion. "Give me a chance to prevent that final solution. I can get to them. You can worry about your old rules or you can let me go." After all, he was still their pet. The darkspell still slimed through his ribs, seeking obedience.

Wolf slammed the table with both fists, bouncing a mug and an inkwell several paces down the length of wood. He tossed back his head and howled. It was long and beautiful and echoed by the coughing, rib rattling roar of the Sandcat. Donte's ears were ringing at the end of it.

The snarling fight that passed between Dom and Wolf went on for a boring amount of time. Donte was impressed that it stayed verbal. Eventually, Dom got most of the Alphas and their Shields in the room to step back against the curved walls. He sat, although Wolf didn't. Tremors ran through the man's body, and Donte knew when he took whatever bodily damage they deemed necessary for the wolves' lives—as if there were any suitable punishment besides death—the clan Alpha would want to deal it himself.

"Tehll uss whaat you'rre thinkinng." Dom's voice had the distinct sibilance of a lizzeed to it, but no one seemed to notice. They were probably passing it off as a sign of the high emotion in the room. More lies they told themselves.

Donte's feet were going numb but he did not shift his position. Legs apart, hands clasped at middle, shoulders back. "I'm already a loss to you, but I've got more experience with darkcraft than anyone else, and the means to access them. I'm a strong weapon." Donte stared into Dom's gaze, letting the weight of his knowledge aid him in holding the thing's stare. It was hard. His neck was tight as he uttered the fateful words, careful not to make it a request. "Name me your bone-shield."

A moment of utter silence bloomed in the room, stopping whispers, growls, and breath.

Alaric yanked on his chains, succeeded only in rattling them, and spat, "Arrogant!"

The room erupted. Donte stood still throughout, waiting, but the minutes spun on as people gestured and gathered, shouting. Eventually, Dom motioned to his assistant Aidan and the white wolf came and took Donte's chains from Alaric. Donte was led from the room. Well, he'd made his case. Now if only Dom would stop pretending their opinions mattered, they'd be on their way.

More Reviews:

Just Erotic Romance Reviews (L.T. Blue)

"The main characters Donte and Moriko are engaging and their past makes for interesting reading. ... There is sexual chemistry between Moriko and Donte before they complete their bonding and it continues as the story progresses."

TwoLips Reviews (Tangie)

"I thought she was a strong kick-ass female. She fought for both her people and her man. I loved the relationship between her and Donte; she helped Donte fight for not only his honor but also for the two of them. She forced him to live beyond vengeance. This was a well written story."

The Romance Studio (Susan P.)

"This is a gripping story of pain and sacrifice, love and loss. Part of a complex series, this story can be read on its own but I don't recommend that you do. The author has woven an intense and dark tale that comes together with each book and creates something more than the sum of its parts. The relationship between Donte and Moriko is as disturbing as it is beautiful but nothing less would work for these two. ... If anyone is looking to start an epic fantasy series, I highly recommend beginning this one. It's a thrilling ride but not for the faint of heart."