About the Book
On sale for a limited time! Just 99 cents at most major ebook retailers until October 14, 2015.Merciless: House of Gravori
A Masters of Seduction Novella
Seeking vengeance for the murder of his brother, Incubus Master Devlin Gravori demands justice from the high court of the Nephilim. But fury and retribution are no match for the consuming desire he feels for Nahiri, the beautiful Nephilim warrior he claims as his hostage.
* * * * *This novella can also be found in the Masters of Seduction Volume 1 boxed set, which is available now in ebook, print and unabridged audiobook.
* * * * *Don't miss four all-new stories in the Masters of Seduction Volume 2 boxed set, releasing in ebook and print on April 27, 2015!
Excerpted from Merciless: House of Gravori
by Lara Adrian
Published by: Lara Adrian, LLC (February 2015)
Copyright © 2014 by Lara Adrian, LLC. All rights reserved.
(Note: Excerpt may contain explicit language and sexual situations).
A gust of hot wind and fine, rust-colored sand twisted like a dervish in front of Devlin Gravori's hard-set face as the hatch of his private jet opened and he prepared to disembark from the long flight.
When he'd awoken that morning, he could not have guessed that before day's end he would find himself several hours away from his island citadel in the Adriatic sea, arriving at this small desert airport in a forbidding corner of the Middle East that had once—long, long ago—been known as Mesopotamia.
Then again, when he'd begun his day, Dev had no idea that his brother had been killed.
The shock of it, the piercing grief, clung to him as it had the first moment he'd learned the news.
Golden, charming Marius...dead.
Dev's fists clenched as the memory of what he saw earlier that day filled his vision. Marius and a human woman, both nude, sprawled together in tangled white sheets that were soaked with sweat and semen and a terrible pool of their combined blood.
The woman had been stabbed through the heart—a certain,instant death for any mortal.
Marius would have been harder to kill.
Just shy of four hundred years old, he had been younger than Dev by several centuries, but no less formidable. They were Incubi, a demon race that fed on sexual energy and had existed for as long as Heaven and Hell had been at war over the souls of mankind.
Devlin and his brothers of the House of Gravori—and every Incubus in the nine other Houses of their race as well—were something ancient and dark, close to immortal.
There were few ways to slay one of their kind, and fewer individuals who would dare.
Whoever had sliced open Marius's throat in the midst of his sexual feeding last night had been aware of one of the surest methods.
If Dev had to guess, the slayer had taken advantage of Marius at his weakest moment, attacking from behind as the Incubus was having his carnal fill of his Thrall.
The human female had been slain with equal stealth and precision, no doubt while Marius was bleeding out. His big body slumped across her from the waist down, the woman had been pinned beneath his dead weight on the bed. A deep puncture wound had gaped at her breast, her fair skin sticky and dark with her life's blood.
The killings had been expert, and nothing if not thorough.
Except for one telling flaw.
Dev carried that evidence on him now, to an unannounced confrontation on what had forever been sacred, neutral ground.
Scraping a hand over his short black hair, he headed down the Gulfstream G650's stairs in his charcoal gray, custom-tailored Italian suit and gleaming leather shoes. He hadn't bothered to change into more appropriate attire for this meeting. If the trappings of the outside world offended, Dev didn't give a damn. He'd been called directly from his corporate office to the crime scene that morning, then had been en route to this swath of arid,heat-choked land within the hour.
Ironic that the lofty audience he sought now should be hidden in a place as hellish as this.
He muttered a curse. Nasty words, spoken in the ancient language of his demon ancestors.
"It's not too late to turn back, Dev."
The calm, deep voice belonged to Ramiel, the captain of the House of Gravori's Watchmen. The dark-haired bodyguard deplaned along with Dev,dressed in black pants and a fitted black T-shirt that clung to his broad chest and massive biceps. Elaborate tattoos declaring Ram's House affiliation and profession wrapped the Incubus guardian's forearms.
Ram shared Dev's bloodline; a distant cousin, but as loyal as any brother. And the Watchman was cool-headed and steady, where Gravori's Master was apt to strike hard and without warning at the first sign of attack.
Like the scorpion that had been the sigil of the Gravoris for eons, Dev's wrath was swift, blinding.
It had earned him the nickname "Devil" Gravori, a reputation that followed him in both his business dealings and in all other areas of his life.
Today, he was prepared to demonstrate the full force of that reputation in one of the most hallowed courts of the immortal realm.
"You don't have to do this," Ram went on. "Not like this."
"The hell I don't," Dev snarled.
The sight of Marius's killing was still raw in his mind.Every detail would be burned into his memory forever. Grief raked him, but it was fury that had put him on the plane and sent him here with a thirst for vengeance.
In the chest pocket of his suit coat, the errant object Dev had retrieved from beneath his brother's body felt like ice resting over his heart. "No one crosses the House of Gravori with impunity. Not even them."
He stared forward, refusing to slow his pace, let alone reconsider where he was heading.
Ramiel grimly strode alongside him, across the sun-baked dirt tarmac, where a local driver in an off-road SUV waited. The vehicle had been hired to take them deeper into the desert, toward a ridge of jagged,haze-shrouded mountains that loomed like a dragon's spine in the sweltering distance.
The driver wouldn't be able to deliver them the entire way.The place Dev needed to go would not be found on any map or road or shepherd's path. For the last leg of his journey, to enter the neutral ground of the Nephilim court, Dev would need to rely on demon magic to transport him.
And hope to hell that same demon magic would get him out again when it was over.
When they reached the idling SUV, Ram paused. The Watchman's face was grave, filled with dread and doubt. "Confronting the Three simply isn't done, Dev. You know that. They are the balance. They have the power to enforce Nephilim law. They have the ear of the Sovereign as well."
"The Sovereign." Dev grunted. "It's been more than five hundred years since the Council awarded the Obsidian Throne to the House of Marakel. Since then, things between the Nephilim and the other Incubi Houses have been anything but balanced. If you ask me, we'd all be better off if we cleared the decks and started over. Beginning with the Incubus seated on the Throne."
Ram exhaled an oath, low under his breath. "For fuck's sake,Dev. First you fly out here determined to demand an audience with the most powerful Nephilim in the realm, and now you stand here talking about treason."
Dev shrugged. "Change is coming, just not soon enough for my liking. The Three are due to step down in a handful of years, and if Marakel does not produce an Incubus heir before long, his House will die out the same way Akana's did."
Ram gave him a dubious look. "Yes, and in the meantime, the Three can—and will—do whatever they please, all in the name of peace. If you won't listen to reason, then at least let me stand with you in front of them today. As captain of Gravori's Watchmen,I'm sworn by blood and steel to ensure your neck stays intact."
"They wouldn't dare," Dev assured him.
Ram's answering gaze was sober. "Tell that to Marius."
Dev didn't appreciate the reminder, even though the warning wasn't without merit. But he wasn't about to let anyone stand between him and the trio of Nephilim priestesses whose hands, he was certain, were somehow stained with his brother's blood. Ram may have pledged his life to Devlin as the Master of the House of Gravori, but Dev's presence here was personal.
And if it turned into a battle, he'd be damned before he let anyone else fight it for him.
"There are worse things than death," Ram murmured. "Prison and torture in the Oubliette, for one."
Although the Watchman was right about that, Dev dismissed the thought of the infamous supernatural prison with a hissed curse.
"I can't let Marius's death go unchallenged, Ram," he said, his tone permitting no further argument. "Someone needs to answer for my brother's slaying. Someone needs to pay, blood for blood." Dev's hand came up to the place where the proof of his suspicion rested, cold against his heart. "I won't leave here without collecting on this debt."