Spirit Within Excerpt:

He nodded. "We are together. We are alive."

She reached up, and he froze, his breath still. She touched the scar on his cheek, the bump on the bridge of his nose, the scar at the rise of his lip. Brushed the line of his jaw with her thumb. "Exactly. Exactly. Don't go, Ty." The needy, desperate words burst from her. "I beg of you. I beg--"

His hand fell away from hers. He stepped back from her touch, his head turning and eyes closing. "Do not. Sunshine, never. I am no master of yours, no parent or judge."

"What? Do not beg? Do you think the word, the feeling of prostrating my pride, is the slightest difficulty for me?" A disbelieving snort pulled from her. She put her hands on her hips. "I respect you. I honor you. You are the spirit that dwells within me, and the better part of it besides. I have no shame in begging before you. It is a pale echo of what I did to survive. And in this, to stop you from this rash decision of honor, I will beg, and beg, and plead, until you listen. I cannot watch you go to your death, for it will kill me, too."

She waited and he breathed deep, once, twice. When he seemed to calm, she explained clearly what she'd hinted at in the meeting with Quor. "I fear if you go, the last decent part of me will die with you, leaving only the shadows. They'll grow, and feed on each other. I'm not a darkmage now. I have no craving for others' pain." She stepped into him, feeling her words bounce off his stubborn, stiff jaw. "But to lose you, I would become one. Not only would my rage have no boundaries without you to mark them, but the disgust and disdain I feel for everyone else," she nodded to a giggling woman and her looming man a short ways away, "even them, for not knowing the touch of evil, for not understanding that they aren't real, won't ever be real until they're stripped like we were... Oh yes, Ty, I fear. I would want them to taste it. I would want to show them the truth of it, to make them suffer and see-"

His head turned, gracefully. His lips met the edge of her ear, softly. His words fell into her building fury, darkly. "I want to kill them for you."

She stood with a whisper between her and her man, in the bright sunlight, with the river behind them, surrounded by a cliff and a mountain and allies. But with his words, she was alone in the dark. She didn't misunderstand. He wasn't talking, as she had been, of the stupidly innocent, untouched society around them. He was talking about Monster, and his minions.

She whispered back. "I want to kill them, too."

"I need to, Sunshine." His breath blew in a hot rush against her, sizzling her throat. "I ache with it. It's bitter in my blood."

Her hand captured the tight blade of his cheek, held it. "We can help. There is a secret to be worked out, of how to reach past their block on the Six. You can aid the fight against them here, without ever returning."

"I want to feel his spine in my beak. I want my fingers wrapped in his intestines. I want to rip off his cock and shove it down his throat." His chest worked furiously, brushing against hers, yet he stood like a statue, feet braced.

"I know." She pet his cheek, the warm skin of him sizzling her fingertips. "I know, Ty. But who will hold me when I'm lost in memory? Who will take down my rage, by merely meeting it with his own? Who else can I trust enough to love, body and soul?"

He tipped his head so his lips were against her palm. "Do you love me?"

She lifted her chin, putting her lips on the underside of his jaw. "I think so. I think trust and desire blooming where it had died, and the wish to learn to laugh again, might just be love."

Nuzzling her hand, his lips drifted a caress away from her fingertips. "Desire?"

"Stop pulling back from me." She pressed a kiss to the hollow of his throat. "I trust you. I desire you." Her hand pushed at the side of his face, slid into his hair and pulled on the back of his neck.

Following her lead, his lips turned and bowed down to hers. "Ty, I need you to remind me how to live. Without you, I am dark."

More Reviews:

A reader review from Elise:

"I love Mima's Within series, and this was no exception. Powerful and really visceral."