Read My Soul to Keep Online

Authors: Sharie Kohler

My Soul to Keep

Sorcha's heart slammed against her chest
.

It couldn't be him. She stared at the man before her. No. Not a man. Never that. As long as she'd known Jonah, he'd never been just a man. She trained her face into an impassive expression.

Her gaze scanned the well-carved features of his face. His dark blond hair was cut shorter than the last time she'd seen him. He was just as tall, though, just as lean muscled as she remembered. And despite herself, her stomach knotted and clenched with hot desire.

Here? What was Jonah doing here?

R
AVES FOR THE
M
OON
C
HASERS NOVELS

“Readers are in for an incredible ride.”

—
Romantic Times on To Crave a Blood Moon

“Sparks fly and the attraction sizzles … a delectable escape.”

—Darque Reviews on
Kiss of a Dark Moon

“The interplay between these protagonists sets sparks off the page … dark, deadly, and sexy certainly sums up this hero.”

—
Romantic Times on Kiss of a Dark Moon

“Adventurous, witty, and fabulously sexy—definitely a must-read.”

—Fresh Fiction on
Marked by Moonlight

 

A
LSO BY
S
HARIE
K
OHLER

To Crave a Blood Moon

Kiss of a Dark Moon

Marked by Moonlight

Haunted by Your Touch
(with Jeaniene Frost and Shayla Black)

The sale of this book without its cover is unauthorized. If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that it was reported to the publisher as “unsold and destroyed.” Neither the author nor the publisher has received payment for the sale of this “stripped book.”

Pocket Books
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2010 by Sharie Kohler

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

First Pocket Books paperback edition September 2010

POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

For information about special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-866-506-1949 or [email protected]

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.

Interior design by Jacquelynne Hudson
Cover design by Min Choi; art by Craig White.

Manufactured in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

ISBN 978-1-4391-0159-9
ISBN 978-1-4391-2703-2 (ebook)

For my editors, Lauren McKenna and
Megan McKeever, on our fifth project together.
You never stop making me work for it
.


Thank you” doesn't say it enough
.

 

MY SOUL
             
TO
KEEP

P
ROLOGUE

Rough hands pulled Sorcha awake, abruptly ending the dream that shouldn't have colored her sleep and made a smile slip over her lips. But it always came. It was always there when she closed her eyes and dropped her guard and let hope creep in.
He was there.

Tonight, her mother put a stop to it, tearing her from glimpses of what
wasn't
—glimpses of what could never be.

There was no world without her father, tormenting her every breath. There was no world with just Sorcha and Jonah in it. Such a world was a girlish fantasy.

Danae's hard hand released her shoulder. “Get up. Your father wants to see you.”

Sorcha blinked herself alert. Swiping the tangle of dark hair from her face, she quickly rose, swinging her legs over the egde of the bed. Her father did not like to wait. He didn't like a lot of things. All of which she sought to avoid.

She smelled the wine on her mother's breath as she fell into step beside her and was reminded of tonight's celebration. Her father, Ivo, had claimed yet another pack. Sorcha slept in another strange bed. Ivo had gained more soldiers for his army—almost a hundred lycans swore service to him this day. He would be in a good mood. That was something at least.

Still, she could not stop the cold shiver from scratching down her spine as her mother led her to the room where her father reclined like a great, sated lion on a sofa. Why should he want to see her now? At this hour? Why, when he usually ignored her existence?

A fire crackled in the hearth, casting the room in shades of red and yellow, making the handsome lines of her father's face appear even more ominous than usual.

Sorcha pulled up hard, hanging back on the threshold at the sight and sound of the beast at the room's far wall, fighting his chains, his hunger glittering madly in his pewter eyes. His huge tawny-haired frame pulled at the restraints.

She hated this time of the month when the full moon rode the night. When the air was charged and dangerous, thick with death. When her father seemed the scariest, taking pleasure in tormenting the depraved, soulless lycans subject to him …
and any other hapless soul to fall into his web.

The silver manacles burned into the creature's heavily corded wrists, weaving tendrils of smoky ribbons in the air. Ivo was excellent at capitalizing on his prey's weaknesses. And silver was poison to a lycan.

She moved slowly into the room, her bare feet sliding over the cold rock floor until she reached the edge of the rug. A quick glance around confirmed her worst fear. Jonah was missing. A sick feeling coiled through her. He was probably patrolling, rounding up rebel lycans who resisted Ivo.

She bit her lip. She always felt safer when her father's second-in-command was around. Even if he served her father, he always treated her with kindness. No surprise he invaded her dreams. He gave her what her own family never did. There was humanity in him. Even if he was of the same species as her parents.

Errand completed, Danae glided past her, dropping down and curling around Sorcha's father like an elegant cat. Ivo pressed a kiss to her mother's arm, stroking her like a fine pet. Looking up, he fixed his steely gaze on Sorcha.

“Your mother tells me today is your birthday.”

Sorcha blinked. They'd never cared about her birthday before. A birthday, she'd learned over the years, ceased to matter to hybrid lycans who
could live a very long time—if not forever. Even if this was only her thirteenth birthday, the passing of a year had never mattered to them. They never cared about anything except amassing their army of lycans.

Sorcha nodded, distracted. Her gaze drifted to the snarling lycan battling his restraints. She watched him in rapt horror. His muscles and sinews bunched and twisted beneath the hairy dark flesh. The pewter eyes drilled into her through the steam of his smoldering flesh, his hunger reaching out for her. She swallowed tightly, almost imagining those wet teeth sinking into her flesh, tearing her apart …

Her eyes ached from staring at the lycan, but she couldn't blink, couldn't look away. As though that split second might be all it took for him to break free to devour her.

“Sorcha,” her father snapped. “Look at me.”

She swung her gaze obediently to her father.

Ivo waved a hand impatiently. “Come closer.”

She inched deeper into the room, watching in disgust as her father fished a piece of raw meat from a bowl and tossed it to the lycan. The creature lunged for it like a mad dog, shoving the scrap of flesh into his mouth and devouring it without chewing.

Ivo chuckled, watching her more than the
pathetic creature chained to the wall, prisoner to his sick amusements. In that moment, she felt little different from the beast. They were both captives to her father's will, prisoners to his whim.

“Your mother tells me you are now thirteen.”

“Yes.”

“Yet you have not transitioned.” He cocked his head, the firelight gilding his dark hair. “Why is that?”

“I don't know,” she whispered, the pulse at her neck growing twitchy, an anxious staccato, jumping against her skin. She glanced over her shoulder to the door, longing to escape.

“A little old, aren't you?”

Sorcha shrugged helplessly.

“I have no use for a daughter who is, in effect, human. If you're not one of us, you are useless and weak.”

She bit back the retort that she would never be like him even if she did transition. She would make certain of that.

Ivo stared hard at her, his eyes cruel and penetrating, deepening her impulse to flee. The only problem was that she would never make it two feet before he pounced on her.

“Maybe you have not been given the proper impetus, hmm?”

“W-what do you mean?” She swallowed,
despising the tremor in her voice. She wanted to be brave, wanted to act as though she wasn't frightened of her own father, even if it was a lie.

Ivo stood, his hand wandering across the table littered with the remnants of their dinner. His fingers hooked around a slim knife. The blade flashed in the firelight.

“You understand the nature of our race. We are not like our unfortunate brethren.” He gestured to the lycan at the wall. The creature's ugly snarls dulled to background noise, blending with the howling winds outside. “Our race possesses control, free will. We determine when we will and will not turn.” As if to drive home his point, his face flashed, blurred into sharper lines. His eyes blasted ice, a pale glow twisting where his pupils should be for a mere moment before fading to black again. “That said, intense emotions can push us over the edge. At times …”

She sucked in a sharp breath as he stopped before her and raised his knife, examining it as if he found some truth etched there in the gleaming blade. Something no one but he could see.

“Pain, for example. Pain can prompt a dovenatu to turn.”

Before she could react, before she could think, her father lashed out and brought the knife down in a hissing swipe.

She cried out, jumping away, but too late. She slapped a hand over her bicep. Blood seeped between her fingers, warm and sticky as syrup. The lycan went wild, spitting and snarling, scenting the coppery flow, straining against his chains with no thought to his sizzling flesh.

Sorcha bent at the waist, a pained breath escaping through her clenched teeth at the burning agony of her arm.

Her father circled her with slow steps. “No?” he murmured. “Nothing? Do you feel it? The turning? The heat building inside? The strain in your bones …”

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