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Shadowbound Sample

Allesha knew what dying felt like. She had experienced the agony as muscles degenerated, and believed that nothing in the world could be as frightening. That was before she met the stranger in the nightclub. He offered her wine that smelled of summer, until she raised it to her lips and tasted the foulness beneath. When she looked up the stranger’s face had sharpened.
“Dance with me,” he murmured. Allesha stared at his outstretched arm, and was struck by the conviction that her admirer wasn’t human. Nonsense, she told herself, but the thought would not be banished. The stranger held her gaze, with eyes that shimmered where they caught the light. They were slitted like a cat’s. Her mind whirled from the alcohol, unable to process the sight of his shifting features.
“What are you?” she whispered.
He drew her closer, so that his breath caressed her throat. “I am Fae,” he confided in a velvet voice. She shivered at his touch.
“And what do you want?”
His smile was feral. “Everything.”
Her drink had been drugged. That was the only explanation for what she’d seen. But that confidence dissolved the following morning when she rounded the corner outside her house to see a golden eyed woman tormenting an infant in its pram. Allesha braced herself for the mother’s outrage, but the woman simply hushed the child, even when long fingered hands clamped across the baby’s nose and mouth.
That was when she understood. Monsters shared their streets, but normal people couldn’t see them. She took an instinctive step forward and then forced herself to stop. There was nothing she could do. Golden eyes met hers as the infant stilled, and the woman gave her a terrible smile.
“Humans are such fragile creatures,” a voice behind Allesha murmured. She spun around, to find the stranger from the nightclub watching her. The sharp features that had impressed her at the club were more pronounced than she remembered. His smile was faintly mocking. “They are so easily extinguished.”
“Why are you here?” Allesha demanded, in the steadiest voice she could manage.
The stranger’s smile widened. “To save you from a lingering death,” he told her softly, “if you are willing to make a bargain.” His words took a moment to register and she felt a poisonous hope stir within her.
“You can stop my disease?”
He produced a wooden box. “This fruit was grown in my realm. It has healing qualities that your human doctors can only dream of.”
“And what would this cure cost me?”
He told her, in a voice that was smooth with promise. In the distance the mother let out an anguished wail. Allesha hardly noticed.