Adam Michaels and his brother Cage, both lion-shifters, not only run Pantheros & Co Carnival, they are the stars. Making a home for his crew of misfits and outcasts was Adam’s dream. Cage was his most desperate rescue, and after a profound loss, Adam worries that Cage’s grief will drive him toward a brutality he can’t come back from.
The last thing either lion-shifter expected was Madeline Granger. She might be the answer to Adam’s prayers, in more ways than one, if he can get Cage to look past his pain. But, can Adam and Cage see Madeline as more than a substitute Clary? And can Madeline rescue two kings drowning in their own sorrow?
The men from her dream. The one with the shorter hair was Cage, the other Adam. How was it possible? They were dream lovers, not flesh and blood. As they headed toward her with graceful strides, Maddie had to stop herself from swooning. “Cage and Adam,” she whispered.
“Damn it, miss. I told you to come back tomorrow,” a baritone voice boomed from behind her—the dwarf who’d tried to stop her before.
“It’s alright, Carl,” the pale-blond, Adam, said, waving the bad-tempered man out.
The dwarf snarled and mumbled a barely audible rant as he stormed out of the tent.
The bearded man, Cage, approached her first. Maddie quaked at the mere size of him. He had to stand at least six or seven inches over six feet tall, and his broad shoulders and wide chest cast a long shadow that covered Maddie in darkness. His face was a spectacular array of chiseled lines, a strong Roman nose, and a square jaw—just like in her dream. His eyes shined like mirrors when he tilted his head and caught the light from one of the kerosene lanterns. “Do we know you?” He thinned his wide, masculine lips.
“No,” Maddie squeaked out. She steeled her courage to speak again. “I… Shoot.”
Adam, just as tall, just as broad, but his face—more heart-shaped than square and his lips were narrow, but full—had an open curiosity. “You called us by our given names.”
Maddie gulped. “Maybe I read it on a program or something. You all were in my town a while back.”
“We don’t use our real names, girl,” Cage said. He pointed to a yellow sign near the tent entrance. “The Lion Kings” was spelled out in large, swooping red letters. Maddie could hear the growl reverberating in his every word.
Gooseflesh raised on her skin and she began to shake. In the dream, she’d thought of them as her lion kings… and they had called her Clary. A pet name? Some kind of endearment maybe?
She hadn’t seen them when they carnival had come to her town, or at least she didn’t think she’d forget two spectacularly gorgeous men if she saw them. But how else would she know they were called The Lion Kings? It still didn’t explain how she knew their names. She rubbed her arms trying to stop the tremors in her muscles.
“You’re scaring her, brother,” Adam admonished.
“It’s not you,” she said. Suddenly, both men were outlined by a halo of light, and Maddie’s tongue, fingers, and feet began to tingle. Her lungs constricted in her chest as if a large fist held her in its grasp. Her skin began to itch and burn and tighten until she thought it would split. Her legs wobbled. She dropped to her knees, still fighting whatever was taking her over. She could hear voices, too many to make out words. An insectile buzzing filled her head.
“What’s happening?” Cage reached out to steady her.
She had the sense that if they touched her she would be lost. If the man made contact with her skin, she would lose her battle—she would rip apart. “Don’t touch me!” Maddie shouted “Don’t,” she pleaded as the halo grew in size, engulfing the men in its hazy illumination. Adam put his hand on her shoulder while, simultaneously, Cage grabbed her elbow.
Maddie’s eyes rolled back until she plunged into darkness. I don’t have Cage and Adam’s night vision. While my abilities give me the gift of sight, it doesn’t extend to actual eyesight. The note had said to come on my own. It was a matter of life or death. Marlena and Darren’s shouts cut through the stillness of the evening when I pass by their trailer. Warmth creeps into my cheeks in a slow flush. They aren’t fighting…
“Girl,” Maddie heard as she felt someone shaking her by the shoulders. “Are you okay?”
Dazedly, she found her voice. “Marlena and Darren are at it again.”
“What?” Cage asked sharply. “They’re at what again? And how in the world do you know Marlena and Darren?”
Maddie blinked. “Who?”
“You just said their names.”
“No, I didn’t.” Maddie had a vague recollection—a form of deja vu. “Maybe. I don’t know.” She’d had waking dreams before, but nothing so immediate as this one. Not since Madame Divine. Her feet and legs felt boneless, and she gazed at the two men holding her—Cage’s almost orange-brown eyes, the color of a setting sun…Adam’s midnight blue eyes with a stripe of gold around the outer edge. Even though she was still a virgin, she remembered what it was like in her dream when Adam had entered her body, when Cage had latched on to her nipple. Her body seemed to shiver from the inside out.
Then everything went black.
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