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Now a famous singer and the toast of London, Layla believes that Sin is only here to guard her from rabid fans and ardent suitors. However, the truth is far more sinister. Desperate to avoid losing Layla a second time, Sin will face a test of all his powers to defeat an unstoppable foe – and win an eternity with the woman he loves.
Table of Contents
A Preview of Firelight
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St. John Evernight ran full-out, his bare feet hitting the cold, slick cobbles with nary a sound. He did not need footwear, for his skin would never tear, and clunky boots affected his speed and balance. Both of which he needed during a chase.
His prey was just ahead, moving at inhuman speed and agility through the dark alleyway. Too far to catch or get a proper look at. Irritated, Sin put forth the effort and increased his pace, pushing himself to his limits.
Christ but this thing was fast. For Sin had no clue as to its nature; its scent was a strange mix that he'd never before encountered, though it appeared human in shape, which really meant nothing in his world of shape shifters and demons.
The moonless night reduced everything to dark shapes, echoing sounds, rank smells. This was London, after all, a city of foul, coal-leaden fog and evil lurking in shadowy corners.
Breath burning in his lungs, he dashed around a corner, following the slim figure ahead, a dark cloak fluttering behind it like a flag.
Sin stretched his arm out, his silver fingers appearing like glass in the darkness. Almost…
His prey leapt, straight up.
Slate and dirt rained down, clacking and clattering as the thing took to the rooftops.
Sin leapt too, landing lightly on his feet and taking off even as part of the roof began to cave under his weight. Scrambling up the steep slope, he reached the spine of the roof and dashed along the narrow space.
His quarry was getting away. Not bloody likely. He'd seen what it had done, gorging itself on a helpless human before Sin had appeared. He'd taken one look at the cloaked figure huddled over the body, blood thick and redolent on the ground, and attacked. Sin would not give this creature another opportunity to kill again.
Unfortunately, whatever it was he chased was slightly quicker than he was. It chafed.
"Sod it." He halted, sliding a few feet on the slick surface before stopping. The creature kept going, but Sin had had enough. Tearing off his clothes, he watched his prey leap from rooftop to rooftop, its moves akin to a lycan's but slightly off. Hell, everything was off about this thing.
Nude, Sin took a breath and let his wings free. They unfurled behind him like sails snapping in a full wind. And then he took to the sky, his crystal clear skin now invisible to those below.
Gods, he'd never grow accustomed to that first burst of power and motion of flight. No matter how hellish his life got, flying was bloody glorious.
Up he went, his gaze intent on the creature, who was headed for the Thames, near Parliament Bridge. It was slowing, unaware that Sin was still stalking.
With a hard grin, Sin angled his body, his wings slicing through the air, sending a ripple of pure pleasure along his spine. He dove, the wind whistling in his ears.
The tiny form moving along the rooftops grew larger, larger. Sin was almost on top of him when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw another form racing from the opposite direction towards them both. A massive, hairy werewolf.
Collision was imminent, but Sin did not slow or hesitate. His arms wrapped around his prey, noting its slim form, the scent reminiscent of lycan, mixed with blood and something oddly floral. Then the world exploded in a riot of fur, flesh, and snarls as the werewolf hit them both.
They all rolled in a tumble of limbs, wings, and teeth, dropping over the edge of the roof and landing upon the Victoria Embankment with a massive crash. Pavers cracked; Sin's wing did too. He registered the sharp pain with a grunt, lights popping behind his eyes.
He did not let go of his prey. And yet his arms were empty and dozens of tiny black birds flapped around his face, with frantic wings obscuring his sight. They took to the sky, leaving him with an enormous, brassed-off werewolf crushing his chest.
Sin watched the birds take flight and then roared his outrage, letting loose a bolt of lightning—his greatest weapon, and one he still had yet to get under full control.
The were yelped, its big body writhing and launching into the air from the force. It tumbled several feet before righting and leaping to its feet.
When it stood, it was no longer a wolf but a man, as naked as Sin, and glaring bloody murder his way.
"Impudent pup," growled Ian Ranulf, Lycan King and Sin's brother-in-law. "You nearly burnt my cods off."
Sin vanished his wings with a thought and willed the color of his flesh from that of clear crystal to the human tone he'd been born with before standing and dusting off his sore arse. "And you cost me my prey. What the bloody hell were you thinking, Ian?"
Ian's mouth opened as if to retort then slammed shut as he scowled. With a sharp breath, he tilted his head and glanced at the sky, his expression thoughtful. "You know, dear brother, I really cannot say."
Dressed in borrowed clothes, which consisted of a fine lawn shirt, wool coat, and heavy kilt, Sin sat back in his chair by the fire and took a bracing sip of brandy. The liquor burned smooth and luscious down his throat, yet it did little to soothe him.
He had not entered this study in years, and he felt every single one of them acutely. While he'd never called this place home, he'd been welcome here once. And he'd been cast out of here once too.
After a small but irritating debate, Sin had agreed to follow Ian back to his home. They clearly had much to discuss and standing stark naked in the middle of London was hardly an intelligent course of action. And Sin couldn't bring Ian back to his place. No one could ever know where Sin lived. So to Ian's they went. Sin could not leave here soon enough.
"She's visiting Miranda and Archer at their country estate." Ian's casual comment broke their silence.
Sin straightened in his seat and glanced at his brother-in-law, who lounged in the chair across from him. Firelight gleamed in Ian's blue eyes, giving him a faintly demonic appearance, but his elegant sprawl and watchful manner spoke of pure lycan.
They spoke of Daisy, Ian's wife and Sin's sister. Sin had three sisters: Daisy, Miranda, and Poppy. All three of them had cut Sin out of their lives. For good reason.
An ugly sludge of regret and shame pushed through his gut. He tapped it down by force of will and faced Ian without wincing. "Are you going to tell her?" Does she ever speak of me? Do any of them? He couldn't ask.
"I do not keep things from my wife." A lazy smile drifted across his lips. "However, I shall refrain from speaking of it until she is in a… receptive mood."
Sin's mouth twisted at the thought of how Ian would get his wife in such a mood. "Careful, Ranulf, she's still my sister. I'd rather think of her as pure and untouched, if it's all the same to you."
Ian grinned outright. "Warms the cockles of my heart to see you ruffled over Daisy's honor, even now." His open expression shuttered. "What was it that you chased tonight?"
Sin set his glass aside on the small table between them. "I don't know. Which is rare." Since becoming Judgment, he'd studied all manner of beasties. It was his duty to find those who practiced evil and deliver their souls for final judgment. "Its scent was like nothing I've encountered. I was hoping you could shed some light on it."
After all, Ian, as a lycan—a man capable of turning into a wolf—had the far superior sense of smell. Oddly though, Ian fidgeted in his seat, plucking at the bit of lace at his cuffs.
Sin narrowed his gaze as a thought occurred. "You were chasing the thing as well, were you not? Or was that hit meant for me?"
Ian gave him an irritated look, his body tight and almost hunched. Sin had learned early on in his life to read people, and he knew the wily bastard was hiding something.
"I caught the creature's scent from my terrace," Ian said suddenly. "Went out to have a fag—Daisy doesn't like smoke in the house." His expression said it all: he loved Daisy's grousing about cigarettes and the like. "At any rate, the scent washed over me before I had a chance to strike my match. It intrigued me enough to follow it."
Sin leaned forward, the worn leather creaking under him. "You caught the scent nearly a mile out and through all the…" He waved towards the window. "Foul smells of London?"
Ian lifted an auburn brow. "You doubt my word?"
Sin huffed out a laugh. "Hardly. More like, you have my extreme sympathies for possessing such a highly acute sense of smell."
Ian grimaced. "I shall not lie; there are times when it is truly a curse. Ordinarily, I ignore the majority of them. But there was something about this scent." He glanced at Sin, the corners of his mouth turning down. "It was female, a stranger, and apparently lycan. Hardly something I could ignore."
As king of the lycans, Ian would expect to know every lycan that resided in London. But even more troubling was the fact that a female lycan hadn't been born in centuries.
Sin hadn't been thinking about the sex of the creature he'd chased. But now he could recall that, when he'd grabbed hold of his prey, he'd felt the softness of breasts against his palms.
Sin tapped the side of his bent knee. "I thought lycan as well; however the scent was slightly off."
"Because she isn't."
"Are you certain?"
Ian stopped just short of rolling his eyes, which Sin deserved for yet again questioning his sense of smell. "Her scent is close to lycan yet not. It's akin to…" Ian's brow wrinkled. "The difference between a white wine and a red. Or perhaps an apple to a pear."
"So if she isn't lycan, what could she be?"
Ian appeared deflated. "I haven't a clue. It's nothing I've personally encountered before."
While Sin was still in his twenties, Ian was over a century old.
"Why did you tackle me?" Sin had to ask. From the angle of attack and the timing, Sin knew Ian had aimed for him, not the unknown creature.
Ian had the good grace to wince. He looked off into the fire, his shoulders hunching. "I don't know."
"You don't know?" Sin repeated, dubious and more than curious now.
"No." Ian's expression turned mulish, then he caught Sin's gaze and sighed. "Bloody hell. I have no earthly idea. I felt compelled to track the scent. Then I saw you swooping down and…" He lifted his hands as if to convey his utter confusion. "Instinct told me to protect."
"And yet you still do not believe that she is a lycan." Sin softened his tone. "If she were lycan, it would be your duty to protect one of your own."
"No one knows that better than I," Ian said with a snort. For a moment, his aqua eyes appeared completely lupine. "But getting that close, it struck me that she is not lycan. Even more? There is a scent pattern to her that my inner wolf regards as an enemy. Honestly, St. John, I am confounded. I'll have to think on it."
Sin sighed. "Well, whatever she is, she half-devoured a man tonight."
"Christ." Ian ran a hand through his hair. "Do you require assistance?"
Despite his resolve to blot out his personal life, a lump of gratitude filled Sin's throat. He'd betrayed everyone he ever cared for, including this man. And yet Ian still offered help.
"I shall let you know." Because Sin could not bring himself to fully close that door. It was hard enough to stand now, force himself to leave. It did him no good to linger, for he would merely crave what he could not have: family, acceptance.
"One thing," he found himself saying. "Am I dreaming, or did our mysterious creature turn herself into a flock of birds?"
Ian blanched, but he did not appear to be shocked. Sin would have bet his best hat Ian had not wanted him to mention that little fact. "She did," Ian said slowly.
"And aside from the obvious," Sin said, "this disturbs you, why?"
Ian seemed to search for his words. "It is a rare power. One not often seen."
"Perhaps we were chasing a shifter."
"That was no shifter."
"Odd you say so, since she did shift."
"Shifters change into other shapes, animals, not multiple birds."
"Ian." Sin braced a hand on the back of the chair. "Spit it out, man. Why are you bothered by this?"
Those lupine eyes glowed with irritation. "I know of only one being capable of doing such a thing, though I've only seen her shift to spiders. Her name is Lena." A hint of fang dropped from behind Ian's lips. "She is responsible for capturing and torturing Jack Talent."
Jack Talent was Ian's foster son. Once he had been Sin's good friend. Until Sin had disappointed everyone with his betrayal.
"And yet you did not recognize this creature as Lena," he said to Ian.
"She might be disguising her scent. If it is Lena," Ian went on in a silky tone, "I will destroy her."
Sin did not point out that Ian had had the creature nearly in his grasp and protected her instead. Truth was, now that Sin had begun the hunt, he would not stop until he'd won. It was his nature, and his duty. "Not," Sin said, holding Ian's gaze, "if I catch her first."
It was always the same. She came back to herself in stages. First her hearing. The ragged raps of her breath through her lips, the muted thud of her heart within her breast. Then feeling. This was often different, for she never ended up in the same place.
At this moment, something cold, hard, and a bit gritty pressed against her cheek, her side, the swell of her hip. She was lying on something—the floor, if she had to guess. With a careful breath, she opened her eyes. Dusty, dark floorboards greeted her sight, and just beyond, the deep reds of a fine Turkish carpet.
It was vaguely familiar. Another breath and it rushed back to her. A stateroom. She was on a luxury liner, on a deck that served the upper echelon, though given the dirt that had accumulated on the floor, it was more show than substance. She was traveling, nearly at her destination. The ocean ought to be a safe haven. But she knew now it wasn't.
Rising slowly, she winced at the various aches and pains shooting through her body. And then glanced down. Sweet butter, she was nude. And cold. She rubbed her arms and stood on wobbly limbs.
She stumbled towards the bathing room, thankful that, despite the unswept dust on her bedroom floor, the chamber had a lovely, deep tub with taps that delivered piping hot water.
Watching the water fill the tub, she sat on the edge of it and shivered. It was strange how she could remember that waking this way was not an uncommon occurrence, and yet she could barely string together a proper thought beyond the need to get warm and clean. She could not even remember her name, which ought to cause her fear, but it did not.
Soon. Soon it will all come back to you. She knew she'd heard that refrain numerous times before.
So she relaxed, sank into the filled tub, and let her body soak up the water's warmth—her head lolling to the side, her eyes closed in quiet bliss. It was not until she'd reached for the little cake of soap, scrubbed her body and face, and rinsed clean that she noted the water's now pink tinge.
Blood. Her face and neck had been covered in blood. Only now did she recognize the faint metallic taste on her tongue and in the back of her throat. As if she'd been drinking it down. Hot, thick, wet. A fine shiver ran through her. So very delicious. And that was enough to have her scrambling from the tub, her shin banging on the edge as she fell out of it and onto the hard tiles.
She barely made it to the privy before being sick. Blood. So much blood.
Exhausted, she slumped back, her shaking hand to her mouth. Always waking up with blood on her skin. What was she?
Memories surged forth. She was Layla. Layla Starling. The world saw her as an innocent heiress and a talented singer. But she knew the truth. She was a monster.
One might think being an immortal was a blessing—never grow old, never grow sick, never die. At one time in St. John Evernight's life, he'd considered it a blessing too. He would be around long after the simple humans who surrounded him were nothing but dust. They could stare all they liked at his "strange" hair and frosty green eyes. They could gossip and speculate about him until they lost their voices. It didn't matter. He was untouchable, and they were but fragile sacks of blood and bone.
How naïve he'd been. Because living forever merely meant a lack of escape from the desolation of regret and loneliness. He knew now that he could walk down Jermyn Street endlessly, see the sands of time shift and rearrange before him, and never be a part of life.
"Brooding, Mr. Evernight?"
Sin almost jumped at the sudden sound of Augustus's voice by his side. Damn, the blasted man loved to startle him. He gave Augustus a passing glance. Dressed in conservative brown tweed and a bowler hat, the angel appeared every inch the English gentleman, save for his dark coloring that marked him to be from Southern climes.
"It's really quite the trick, popping up like a soap bubble whenever you choose, Augustus. You must teach me how one day."
The man's mouth twitched. "With your luck, you'd pop up in the middle of a parliamentary session."
Yes, Sin had abominable luck. Or perhaps it was more a matter of making abominable choices.
"You're brooding again," Augustus remarked.
"I'm not brooding. This is simply my face."
Augustus snorted but remained silent as they walked along, past Trafalgar Square and down Whitehall.
"Care to tell me why you called me here?" Sin asked when they came upon the grounds of Westminster. For the past year, Sin had been in Rome, soaking in the warmer temperatures, drinking espresso in cafés along the Piazza della Rotonda, under the shade of the ancient Pantheon. He'd eaten simple but delicious food, and listened to the rapid fire of Italian, and felt… well, not peace, but a measure of contentment.
Until Augustus had sent for him last month with a message to "sit tight" until Augustus could meet with him. Returning to England sat like a stone in his gut. But he would obey. Augustus was his mentor, and the man who'd given him salvation. The price was a lifetime of servitude. To be fair, his role was for justice, not evil, which was a nice change of pace.
A massive dray rattled past, kicking up dust and sending a fug of stale manure into the air. They hurried past the cloud and headed for Westminster Abbey. Sin hadn't planned on visiting today, but here they were all the same. He wondered if Augustus somehow had led him to their usual meeting place or if Sin had merely headed that way because of the man's sudden arrival.
He'd like to think the latter. It did not sit well with him having another control his actions. Not since a certain evil fae had kept Sin as a blood slave for years. Even now, the memory made his stomach turn.
Not a soul acknowledged them as they walked through the abbey and into the cloisters. Here, a rare bit of sunlight peeked through the constant cloud cover and cast lacy shadows along the walkway. The sound of their boot heels clacked out a steady rhythm as they strolled along.
"Layla returns to London tonight."
At the mention of her name, Sin's heart stilled within his breast. He'd tried his best to ward off all finer feelings, to remain numb, detached from life. And yet he could not, for the life of him, remain immune to Layla Starling. His childhood friend. The one woman who could take his breath, his reason, simply by laying eyes upon her.
Stuffing his shaking hands into his trouser pockets, Sin forced himself to keep an even tone. "So then I am to begin watching over her?"
God, but he did not want to. It would be agony, staying so close to her and never being allowed to show his true feelings. And yet a thrum of anticipation went through him at the mere prospect of seeing Layla once more.
"Are you ready?" Augustus asked, though his expression told Sin he fully expected an affirmative answer.
So Sin told him the only truth left to him. "I will not fail her."
Layla Starling had not been in London for over a year. She'd been touring the continent—Paris, Vienna, Prague, Austria, Venice. After a while, the cities began to blur, and no matter how luxuriously appointed the hotel rooms were, they did not feel like a home.
She longed for a permanent home. But she'd never really had one. Augustus, her guardian, had always kept them moving, never settling in one place for too long. It had changed something in her, made her into a restless vagabond. So, really, she couldn't quite fathom why she longed to remain in one place now. Perhaps it was loneliness.
She felt it keenly now that she was an adult. Augustus's company, while always a comfort, was not enough anymore. She hadn't any friends, only employees. Ones that looked after her newfound career as a singer.
For her entire life, Layla possessed a love for singing. It was her joy, the soaring power of freedom and love and sorrow all rolled into one. She sang and she was alive, wholly and completely. Even better, she sang, and people stopped to listen. It seemed only natural to take to the stage. A dream made reality.
Only reality was not a dream. She felt drained. Her throat hurt constantly, and her body battered. Layla had sent her manager and her assistant on holiday, cancelled all further performances, and took the first steamer back to London where Augustus lived. Now she wanted nothing more than to find her room in Augustus's newest town home and sleep for two weeks solid.
And as the fine carriage turned into the circular drive, rocking slightly as it took the corner, she nearly wept with relief. Home. At least for now.
A footman dressed in crisp black awaited, opening the door as soon as the coach halted. Gathering her skirts, Layla stepped down. She ignored the strange, sweet scent of the man, unnerved that she knew it was the rich blood running through his body. Since hitting womanhood, Layla had smelled the blood of others and found it… tantalizing. The older she became, the stronger her sense of smell.
The stronger she became. As it was, she had to watch herself or she'd snap the stem of any wineglass she held. Yet another reason to take a holiday. Her gloved hands began to shake as the faint smudges of a memory began to sharpen in her mind.
No. She would not think of the waking up on the stateroom floor, or of Venice. Of The Incidents. Her fingers curled into a tight fist. But they still felt cold and slick, as if old blood lingered on her skin.
Frowning, she alighted the stairs. She needed to talk to Augustus. He would make sense of this. He always seemed to know just the right thing to say.
A butler waited for her at the front door, letting her in with a nod. "Miss Starling, I am Pole, at your service."
Another oddity about Augustus's household; he never employed the same people for very long. It did not matter how well they did their duties; he simply liked new faces.
"Hello, Pole. Is the master in?"
"He and the gentleman are waiting for you in the drawing room, Miss."
In a breath, Layla deflated. She had little patience to entertain or make nice with a visitor. But she knew without doubt that Augustus was aware of her arrival. To slink off now would be unforgivably rude.
Squaring her shoulders, Layla followed Pole.
She spotted Augustus first, standing by the mantel, his lean frame silhouetted by the fire crackling in the hearth. His coal black hair glinted in the flickering light of the gas sconces flanking either side of the fireplace. His skin was smooth and golden.
He never aged. This was simply fact. Layla recalled the day he'd sat her on his knee in her nursery and told her that he, unlike other men, would never have a gray hair upon his head, and his skin would never wrinkle or sag.
"It is simply my nature, child," he'd told her then. "As much a part of me as are the freckles upon your little nose."
Because she'd been a girl of merely five, she'd accepted his story. It was only when she'd grown older and understood more of the order of things that she'd begun to realize there was nothing natural about it at all. It did not, however, alter her affection for the man she thought of as her father. But she feared. Deep in her heart she worried that, while Augustus remained unchanged, she would grow old and eventually die. Who would look after him then? And why did he not age? She'd always been too afraid that she'd upset him if she asked.
Now, she simply gave him a happy smile. "Augustus, it is so good to see you again."
Layla moved to cross the room and embrace her guardian when she caught sight of another man, standing just to the left of Augustus. He'd been clinging to the shadows as if not wanting to be seen. But it was too late; her attention lit upon him and she promptly froze, the blood draining from her cheeks then rushing back with a force that made her skin prickle.
She had not laid eyes upon that face since she was fifteen years old, when this man had been no more than a youth himself. And perhaps she ought not recognize him at all. But there was no forgetting those eyes, green sea glass, surrounded by long, ink-black lashes. Or that strange, unearthly hair that had caused the boy such trouble—shiny black with red tips, as if his very hair was aflame.
He used to shear that hair right off his head, hating the sight of it. Only to despair when it grew back thick and full in a fortnight.
And here he was, standing in her parlor, his pale green gaze so potent it made her knees weak and her breath short.
Happiness fluttered in her heart. "Saint?"
Until then, his expression had been stoic, a frozen mask she knew he often wore among strangers. That had hurt. But at the sound of his nickname, the firm curve of his lower lip kicked up at one corner, and his eyes grew warm, the pale green darkening.
"Hello, little bird." His voice was much deeper now, carrying a resonance that spoke of power. "I wondered if you would remember me."
"Remember you?" A small laugh left her, as her heart did that fluttering thing again. "Not a day goes by that I don't think of you in some small way."
- "The emotional impact in FOREVERMORE is just as explosive as the supernatural action elements. Kristen Callihan cleverly navigates the intricate relationships and paranormal hierarchy she's created in this Darkest London world to create a thrilling story and divine romance. FOREVERMORE is a triumph of paranormal curiosities and delights, as well as a sensual romance on a grand scale. Kristen Callihan does a superb job of tying up loose ends in FOREVERMORE and giving the satisfying ending that these amazing characters deserve. Although I'm sad to see this series end, I can't wait to read the next Kristen Callihan book."—FreshFiction.com
- "Top Pick! 4 1/2 Stars! Brilliantly crafted with a myriad of twists and turns and startling revelations readers won't see coming, this gripping tale is difficult to put down and even harder to forget, as readers become invested in the character's lives and conflicts. Like the rest of the series, this is a keeper."—RT Book Reviews
- "This was my first Kristen Callihan book, but it will not be my last. Sin is a marvelously drawn, wounded warrior, and Callihan's plot brims with richness and depth."—Bookpage.com
- "A satisfying conclusion to an unforgettable paranormal series."—Library Journal
- "[A] perfectly paced, tremendously sexy romance set against a beautifully wrought backdrop."—Sarah MacLean, Washington Post, on Evernight
- "Callihan's dazzling fifth Darkest London historical paranormal is the best installment yet. This top-notch series just keeps getting better and better."—Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Evernight
- "Dark, dangerous, and totally enthralling."—Library Journal on Winterblaze
- "Callihan has a great talent for sexual tension and jaw-dropping plots that weave together brilliantly in the end."—Diana Gabaldon, New York Times bestselling author
- "A dark, delicious tale of secrets, murder, and love, beautifully shrouded in the shadows of Victorian London."—Hannah Howell, New York Times bestselling author of If He's Dangerous on Firelight
- On Sale
- Jun 28, 2016
- Page Count
- 432 pages