It’s been five years since his twin brother Trent was killed and Tyler has been on his own ever since. When he stumbles across Heidi, a human from the other world who’s just crossed over, he vows to get her home against his better judgment. What he doesn’t realize is that to keep his promise, he’ll have to risk his life and the one thing he’s managed to keep to himself since the war… his heart. Still, a promise is a promise and Tyler doesn’t break his. After facing human rogues, packs of Majs, and Zerpanays, he’ll have to decide… can he bear to let go of the one thing that’s managed to bring him back to life?
From the book:
John and Tyler stood, Tyler’s arm pushing Heidi behind them. He felt her hand on the small of his back.
Five men walked towards them.
“Good day,” stated Tyler.
The blond man in the lead nodded. “Indeed it is.”
“Is there something we can help you with?” John frowned as the man nodded again.
“We heard a woman. Where is she?”
Tyler stiffened. “Why do you want to know?”
“We’re rogue hunters. Our job is to find the humans and bring them to our captain.”
Heidi’s hand tightened around a handful of his tunic.
“Well, you don’t have to worry about her. She’s with us.”
“But she’s human?”
There was no point in lying, really. All they had to do was look. “She is.”
“Then she comes with us.”
Tyler growled. “No. She doesn’t.”
“She won’t be harmed.”
“Like hell she won’t.” Tyler’s hand moved to the hilt of his dagger. “She just crossed over. She had nothing to do with Braw or his idiotic plan.”
“But if she gets caught up with a pack of rogues…”
“She’s with us.”
The blond man opened his mouth and Tyler growled.
“You’re not listening to me. She’s with me. I found her; she’s mine.”
Heidi caught a glimpse of the blond man from between her protectors’ shoulders. She was shocked at how pale he looked. His eyes never left Tyler’s. Even the few of his comrades she could see looked uneasy.
“You’re not taking her.” Though Tyler’s voice didn’t sound any louder than it had previously, the tone of it made it very obvious that he meant every word he had just uttered.
“You’d fight a pack of your own kind to keep a human girl?” One of the men at the back shook his head incredulously.
“I don’t care what she is. She hasn’t done anything wrong.” Tyler’s hand was still over his dagger. John’s pose was almost identical to his.
The blond man’s hand moved his blade as well. “Orders are orders.”
“Try not to kill any of them.” Tyler’s voice was only loud enough for John and Heidi to hear. “We don’t need the whole pack after us after this.” John nodded.
Tyler’s free hand moved back so that it touched Heidi’s arm. “Heidi, I’m going to boost you up a tree. Get up high. If anyone tries to reach you, cut them.” He felt her shaking behind him.
John glanced at Heidi then gestured to her with his head before returning his gaze toward the small pack in front of them. Tyler turned, trusting John to warn him if any of the men came forward while he wasn’t looking. His eyes met Heidi’s and he smiled reassuringly. Her grey green eyes were saucers in her head, her skin a strange pale shade of green as she shook with fear. He cupped her face in his hands.
“Heidi.” He bent and kissed her forehead softly. “Just get up in the tree. I won’t let them take you.”
She took a long shuddering breath and gazed into his deep brown eyes. The hard look in them softened slightly and Tyler ran his thumb over her cheek. Could she trust this man? She’d only known him a day. Of course, he’d never shown any indication that he might be a danger to her.
“Heidi, trust me.”
She inhaled once more and nodded. Her heart jumped into her chest at the growl that exploded from John’s throat. Tyler grabbed her by the waist, threw her toward the lowest branch on the tree and ducked under her so she was standing on his shoulders. She lost her balance as he moved sideways. His left hand caught her ankle to steady her. She looked down and caught a glimpse of one of the other men stabbing his dagger toward Tyler’s chest. He managed to deflect the blow with his own dagger but hissed as the other’s blade slid across his side. Without letting go of her leg, he kicked forward and she heard the dark haired man’s breath leave his body in a huff. Tyler turned and placed his hands under her feet, pushing her into the branches.
The tone of his voice left no room for argument. Heidi scrambled as high as she could and glanced down. She fought the urge to scream as the dark haired man lunged at Tyler. Her self-appointed guardian knocked the man’s dagger to the side. Tyler’s elbow connected with the man’s nose, quickly followed by his knee as Tyler brought his opponent’s face down to meet it. The Maj dropped to the ground and Tyler turned his attention to the blond man who had been leading the pack. Heidi looked around for John and found him backing away from two well-built men who had obviously seen more meals in the past little while than he had. She caught her breath as he pulled his dagger and threw it with such speed she wasn’t sure he had until one of the men advancing screamed in pain. He fell to his knee, his hands grabbing at the hilt of the dagger that had impaled itself in his foot and pinned him to the ground. John pulled a knife from the side up his boot and aimed it at the second man’s chest. The latter paused, looked up at the tree, and shook his head in disgust as he held up his hands in surrender.
Heidi let out the breath she’d been holding. Obviously, one lone human girl wasn’t worth dying over. She turned her attention back to Tyler.
“Tyler! Behind you!”
The last man in the pack had been sneaking around while Tyler had been focused on blocking punches and kicks from the blond man. Tyler turned so he could keep an eye on both of them.
“Come on, now. She can’t be worth this,” mumbled the blond man.
“If that’s your take on it, you’re more than welcome to walk away.” Both of them had a black eye. Tyler’s cheek was starting to turn blue and the blonde’s lip was bleeding. Tyler glanced to the second man, a shorter, stockier red head who was staring at him with confusion. “What are you looking at, then?”
The red head shook his head. “I’m sure I know you.”
Tyler frowned. “No, I don’t think so.”
“By the moons, Jim, could we cut the small talk?”
Jim put his dagger back in its scabbard at his side. “Luke.”
Tyler blinked. “That’s my father’s name.”
Jim smiled. “You look just like him. You’re one of the twins, yeah?”
Tyler nodded but refused to drop his guard. “Tyler.”
Jim turned to his pack mate. “You’re on your own, Chris. I owe his father my life.”
Everyone’s attention turned to the man John was keeping in the sights of his knife. He shrugged, obviously flustered. Chris’ eyes widened at the sight of John’s second opponent sitting a still as possible, his foot still skewered to the ground. His groans of pain were loud in the sudden quiet of the campsite. All eyes were on Chris. He ran a hand through his hair and swore under his breath.
“Why don’t we just put the blades away and get that dagger out of your man’s foot?” Tyler relaxed, though Heidi was sure his guard was still up.
“You won’t try anything?” Chris looked at Tyler.
“The last I checked, you had us outnumbered.”
Chris raised an eyebrow at him and looked around. Tyler grinned, though the smile didn’t seem to reach his eyes. The first man he’d managed to knock out moaned and clutched his head.
“Did we get her?”
Chris growled. “No, we didn’t get her.” He put his dagger away. “Get up, Brad.”
Brad sat up and squinted open one eye to look around. His gaze fell on the man with the dagger in his foot. “Bloody hell, did more of them show up?”
“No.” Jim smiled. “Brad, do you recall Luke of Howel?”
Brad frowned. “Was that the one with the pretty mate named Mel? She nursed you back to health, yeah?”
Jim nodded and Brad turned his attention back to Tyler. “I should have recognized you. You look the mirror image of your father at your age. You move like him, too.” He grunted. “It explains a lot, then.”
“What did I miss?” Chris was obviously getting impatient.
“If you’d seen his father fight, you’d have thought twice about trying to take the girl.” Brad stuck dagger in his belt. “I’m out, Chris. I was there the day Luke risked his life to save Jim’s and if it hadn’t been for Mel, he wouldn’t be standing here now.”
Tyler looked up and gestured to Heidi to come down. Jim and Brad went to tend to their friend. His scream of pain as they pulled the dagger from his foot startled her and she slipped from the last branch on the tree. Tyler steadied her as she landed.
Tyler glanced down at Heidi’s hand, which was red with blood. He lifted the hem of his tunic to reveal the cut along his side.
“It’s fine. It’s barely bleeding.” He smiled reassuringly at her. John looked over to them from where he was apologizing to the man he’d stabbed in the foot. Tyler went to his packs and found the herbs he knew would dull the pain and quicken the healing for the man’s foot. He walked over and handed them to Jim.
“This should help.”
Jim nodded and went to work bandaging the foot. “You’ve even got the same character as your father,” he said without looking up.
“The day he saved my life, my pack had come upon three cats in the Blue Woods. I managed to end up under a lion. Luke had been in the area and heard the fighting. He got the lion off of me, but kept the others from killing it afterwards. Its pack had run off and when it shifted back, we all noticed the man had a cut along his side. You dad tossed him a sack of herbs and told him to leave. That’s when your mother came out of the woods and they proceeded to take care of me.”
Tyler smiled. “Your pack just let the man leave?”
Brad grinned. “We were all too shocked by your father’s gesture to do much of anything.”
Tyler excused himself as he looked around for Heidi and found her leaning back against the tree she’d been in, her arms wrapped around herself.
“Are you alright?”
Heidi shook her head and let him pull her in a hug. He rested his chin on her head and rubbed her back.
“It’s all fine, now. They won’t try to take you. You didn’t get hurt, did you?”
She shook her head again.
“This is just a lot to take in?”
She nodded. Tyler took her hand and led her back to the fire. He wrinkled his nose at the sight of the burnt eggs.
“I guess we’ll be eating bread after all,” he mumbled and she couldn’t help but smile.
Tyler wrapped a blanket around her shoulders and sat beside her. He looked up as John joined them.
“It looks like your bloodlines are paying off. They’ve decided to leave Heidi with us.”
Tyler grunted. “She would have stayed with us regardless.” He grinned at his friend. “Great throw, by the way.”
John shrugged and took a piece of bread.
“Tyler, can we have a word?” Chris motioned for him to come see him.
Tyler stopped at the feel of Heidi’s hand on his leg. He smiled down at her. “No worries.”
Chris waited until they were standing side by side, looking back toward the fire and Heidi.
“I’m leaving her in your charge.”
“If she goes rogue, it won’t matter who your parents are and how well liked they might be; I’ll hold you responsible and make sure you’re held accountable.”
Tyler looked the elder Maj in the eyes. Whatever Chris saw, he frowned.
“Alright, Chris, he’s all set.” Jim and Brad shook Tyler’s hand. “If you remember, try to tell your father we say hello.”
Tyler nodded. He stood and watched until the small pack had made its way out of sight before letting himself relax and heading back to the fire. He caught the piece of cheese John lobbed in his direction.
“We need to get out of this area.” He frowned and looked at Heidi. “We also need to find you some clothes. There’s no denying what you are when you’re dressed like that.”
John nodded. “I know a couple of sisters that live not too far from here. Mina is about the same size as you.” He glanced at Tyler. “They’re cats, mind you.”
Tyler raised an eyebrow. “They live here?”
John nodded. “They were travelling after the war and decided they liked it down here.”
John shrugged. “I’m not sure what your take is on them. It’s never come up.”
“Do you want to know why my father let that lion go all those years ago?”
His friend nodded.
“It’s because he was raised by tigers.” He grinned as John’s eyes widened into hazel saucers. “My aunt and uncle are tigers. I have no issues whatsoever with cats in general. Now, would these sisters live anywhere near Growlen?”
John nodded. “About five days out.”
Tyler smiled. “Well, then, I think the plan is to find these sisters and head to Growlen so we can top up our supplies. While we’re there, we’ll try to find someone who might be able to point us in the direction of a cross stone.” He dug into his pack and found a clean dark green tunic.
Heidi took it as he handed it to her.
“Put it on and tuck it in. It might help you blend in a bit until we can get you some clothes that fit.” He watched as she pulled it over her head. “The closer we get to Growlen, the more packs we have a chance of running into. Try to stay calm and act as though you belong here.” He smiled.
John kicked dirt over the fire to put it out before they headed off in search of the Namael sisters.
About Mireille Chester:
Wife, mother, author. That pretty much sums it up. :) I am a fantasy author who loves to spend time in made up worlds filled with magic. I am a firm believer that no hero is perfect and that all villains are burdened with a tiny shred of humanity. While I write my Adult and YA novels under the name Mireille Chester, I am now writing a middle grade series under the name M.G. Chester.