Bitter Envy, a YA urban fantasy romance, is on Kindle Scout!
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Enchanted Underworld, Book One
Kimber Leigh Wheaton
YA Urban Fantasy Romance
Currently on Kindle Scout
Scarlet Angel—assassin, inquisitor, and overall bane to shifter existence.
Five years ago, my parents sold me to dark shifter lord Uriah Amstead in exchange for a house and a monthly stipend. He took my light magic powers, developed them, warping the light into something darker through means that would make a hardened criminal flinch.
Born an enchantress, I wield the light magic that is a natural constraint to shifter dark magic. But now I use my powers to help Uriah grow his criminal empire. I torture shifters with my light magic, and sometimes I’m forced to kill. Those who think it’s a choice don’t understand the atrocities that Uriah would commit to keep me in line. I always choose the lesser of evils. But even that doesn’t sit well with my conscience.
The faces of my victims haunt me every night. I’ve always coped by knowing the shifters I tortured and killed were evil people who thought they were above the law. Now Uriah has taken even that small comfort from me. Through his orders, I tortured and killed an innocent man. Sure I thought the man guilty at the time, but the damage is done.
In the shifter underworld of sunny San Diego, it can be hard to know whom to trust. But I have to take a chance… because this time Uriah has gone too far.
I am Envy Davis, the Scarlet Angel, and I am through being a pawn.
As I round the corner, my heart slams into an erratic beat. Donovan is leaning against my Camaro, and there’s no Jack in sight. Though the sky is overcast, I consider digging out my sunglasses. But that would be cowardly. I chased away one of Uriah’s hired goons with little more than a flare of magic and a scowl… I can certainly face Donovan head-on without getting lost in his eyes.
When I reach the car, I give him a bright smile. “Hi, Donovan. Something you want?”
“I heard you scared one of Uriah’s henchmen so badly he may have needed clean pants,” he says with a crooked grin. “Are we alone out here?”
“I assume you’re referring to spies?” I ask, not expecting an answer. “As far as I can tell.”
“Let’s get in the car so we can talk.” He walks to the passenger door. “Does Jack sweep for bugs?”
“Mmm-hmm, every morning.” I unlock the door, and slide into the driver’s seat. “Though, with that asinine thug here today… he could’ve planted something.”
Donovan nods but doesn’t say anything as he pulls out a small RF detector from his backpack. I watch in silence as he sweeps the interior of the car for electronic devices. After several minutes, he tosses it back into his bag before leaning back with a heavy sigh.
“It gets so old,” he says, shaking his head. “Can you believe I’ve been sweeping for bugs as long as I can remember?”
“I never really worry about it.” I run my fingers over the leather-wrapped steering wheel. “Jack was shifter special forces for a long time. He’s paranoid enough for both of us. I wonder where he is…”
“I asked for a few minutes alone with you,” Donovan says, pulling one of my hands from the wheel. “He’s lurking nearby, waiting to pounce if needed.”
“So, what’s up?”
“Well, I was planning to take you to see High Priestess Rowena this afternoon. Sound good?” he asks while caressing my knuckles with his thumb.
I bite back a sigh, unwilling to share just how good his thumb feels on my fingers. “Yeah, that’d be great.” My relief from his statement comes out in a slight giggle.
“Did I just hear the Scarlet Angel giggle?”
“I don’t giggle.” Of course another giggle belies that statement.
“I think it’s adorable.” He leans in to rest his forehead against mine. “I feel honored that you’re comfortable enough with me to share the side you hide from everyone.”
My question comes out in a breathy whisper. He’s close enough to kiss… all I have to do is lean forward an inch or two and close the distance. His hand moves to the back of my head, his fingers entwining in the hair at my nape.
“The softer side,” he says, brushing his lips across my cheekbone. “The vulnerable side.” His lips caress my temple. “The side that makes me want to hold you in my arms and protect you from everything… even if you don’t really need it.” He cups my face in both palms. “Why do I feel this way?”
“I don’t know,” I reply in a choked whisper. He just put into words everything I’d been feeling for the last two weeks.
“Since the moment our auras melded together, I can’t seem to stop thinking about you.” He shifts back so he can gaze at me. “At school, at night, my aura constantly searches for yours.”
“Our magic calls to each other… but it shouldn’t.”
“No, it shouldn’t,” he says with a strangled groan. “You’re light and I’m dark.”
“Sun and moon?”
He laughs. “Something like that. Our magic should seek to destroy the other… so why doesn’t it?”
“I’m not the light you claim me to be, and you aren’t the dark you claim to be.” When he continues staring at me like he expects some sage answer, I sigh. “Maybe your Wiccan will know.”
“You ready to go see her?”
The moment I nod, my cell rings—the opening riff to “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” by Judas Priest. Uriah’s ringtone. Jack programmed it in last week as a screw you to the spider shifter. It’s the last thing I want to hear at this moment.
“It’s Uriah,” I say, clenching the phone to the point of pain.
“I suppose it wouldn’t be good to ignore it.”
“Yeah, prob’ly not.” After swallowing around my dry throat, I answer the call. “Envy.”
“Ah, my precious Angel, I have wonderful news.” Uriah’s voice oozes syrupy saccharine.
I flinch from his words. Wonderful news for him is always devastating for me.
“So impolite, little one,” he says with a dry chuckle. “All work and no play… well you know the rest.”
“I have tons of homework, Uriah.” The lie rolls off my tongue. Lying has become so easy, almost second nature. The realization makes me sad. “What do you want?”
“Someone has become too meddlesome for his own good,” Uriah says in a flippant tone, like he’s commenting on the weather rather than torture. “Not only that but this particular individual crossed a line last night when he raped Mickey’s fourteen-year-old daughter. No one crosses my people. An attack against them is an attack against me. Kill him.”
“That’s an order I expect to be obeyed,” he says in a much harder voice. “Don’t make me regret my decision to waive punishment for your earlier transgressions.”
“N-no. I-I mean yes,” I stammer as childhood traumas resurface at his words. “Please contact Jack with the info, and I’ll get right on it.”
“Tonight, darling Angel. I want Alfonse Dupree dead tonight. He’s one of Heinrich’s scientists. It shouldn’t be too hard for you. The man is closing in on the millennial mark, so I doubt he has much fight left in him.”
He disconnects the call. I stare at the phone clutched in my hand in silence. Another assassination. Is this one legit, or will I kill another innocent man? What choice do I have? It’s this criminal or something so much worse. Hot tears prick my eyes as the memories threaten to surface.
So many lost lives… all because I said no.
“Envy, are you okay?” Donovan asks, breaking my trance.
“Um, yeah. Fine.” My light sniffle betrays my true emotions.
“I’ll call my father. Maybe he can shed some light on this Alfonse Dupree.”
“I’d appreciate that.” Not that I have a choice either way. It’s him or… well I simply can’t deal with the alternative.
“Father, what do you know about one Alfonse Dupree, works for Heinrich?” Donovan puts the phone on speaker, and his father’s voice fills the car.
“Bottom feeder. Scientist willing to experiment on children,” Tiberius says in a booming voice. “Rapist, murderer, Nazi war criminal. He’s been a blight on our society for over nine hundred years… or so he says. In fact that lunatic claims to have created the Black Plague in his laboratory and unleashed it across Europe.”
I’m struck silent for a moment as I contemplate the atrocities this madman committed. How many innocent souls died at his hands? “What a relief,” I finally manage to blurt out.
“Who’s with you Donovan? No don’t answer that. Scarlet Angel—assassin, inquisitor, and bane to shifter existence.” His blunt words make me flinch. “You were supposed to go see our high priestess today… I suppose that’s off the table now.”
“No one is more disappointed than I am, my lord,” I reply, trying to control the rising anger. Yelling at Tiberius won’t help my situation at all.
“So I guess Uriah is having you play judge, jury, and executioner tonight then?”
“No, sir. Just executioner.”
“As you can imagine, based on what happened with Alexander, Envy is a tad reticent to follow Uriah’s orders without confirming the intel,” Donovan says, cutting through an awkward silence.
I close my eyes as a wave of nausea washes over me. Alexander was innocent, and I killed him. His poor family… how can I ever atone?
“Well, you can sleep easy tonight, Scarlet Angel,” Tiberius says, his voice mocking. “Dupree is a perfect target. Our government protected him after Germany fell in World War II. He’s as bad as they come.”
“I never sleep easy.” My voice is hard, grating. “I always choose the lesser of evils. But even that doesn’t sit well with my conscience.”
“Such the little philosopher.”
“Father, stop mocking her!” Donovan snaps at his father. “We’ll talk about this later.”
“You bet we will, son,” Tiberius replies in a deep baritone. “Now, Envy, I want you to meet with High Priestess Rowena tomorrow afternoon, no matter what… or I refuse to speak with you further. If you pass her tests, we’ll meet for dinner at Jake’s.”
He disconnects the call before I can comment. I really wish I didn’t need his help, but I can’t afford any pride right now.
About the Author
Kimber Leigh Wheaton is an award-winning, bestselling YA author with a soft spot for sweet romance. In addition to writing, she works as an editor for two publishers, as well as select indie authors. She is married to her soul mate, has a teenage son, and shares her home with three dogs and lots of dragons. Kimber Leigh is addicted to romance, video games, superheroes, villains, and chocolate—not necessarily in that order. (If she has to choose, she’ll take a chocolate covered superhero!) Winner of the 2014 Rising Star Award at the BTS Red Carpet Awards in NOLA & a Silver Medal for YA Mystery/Horror in the 2015 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards.
Author Links:Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/URgwH