Garridan's Mate (Etherya's Earth #6.5)
Garridan's Mate (Etherya's Earth #6.5)
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- Alpha Hero
- Badass Heroine
- Frenemies to Lovers
- Paranormal Romance
From USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Hefner
Book #6.5 in the Etherya’s Earth series
General Garridan thrived for centuries without a bonded mate. Born an aristocrat, he relinquished his family’s wealth and privilege to fight in the Vampyre immortal army. Although his father wants him to bond with an aristocrat, Garridan only has eyes for one woman.
Siora is a natural warrior. When the army finally allows women to join, she vows to become the first female battalion leader. Dreams of an amber-eyed Vampyre general have no place in her world, even if he is the only man who’s ever made her long for a bonded mate.
Consumed by her skill and effort, along with her inherent natural beauty, Garridan offers to help Siora secure a leadership position as they near the final battle with Bakari. Although she swears they have no future, he yearns to claim the stubborn woman as his mate. Can two warriors from different paths find love or will fear douse their spark before it’s barely begun to burn?
Intro Into Chapter 1
Intro Into Chapter 1
Garridan, son of Astaroth, stood atop the grassy hill observing the field below. Thick arms crossed over his chest as his eyes narrowed. Several soldiers in the vast immortal army were competing to become squadron leaders in the final battle against Bakari. The long-lost Vampyre royal sibling had a massive army of his own and was intent on defeating them so he could rule in perpetuity. Garridan was determined to prevent that at all costs.
“How’s the competition going?” a deep baritone asked.
“Excellent, Commander,” Garridan said with a nod. “Radomir and Cian have won the majority of the physical contests as expected, with Siora close behind. The three of them excelled at the obstacle courses, the written leadership exam, and the hand-to-hand fights, although Cian did get a nasty black eye that took two hours to heal even with his self-healing abilities.”
“You can call me Latimus, you know?” the commander said, arching a brow under his black hair, slicked back into a tiny tail secured by a leather strap. “We’ve fought together since the Awakening. Although we’re both technically aristocrats, you know I hate the formal shit.”
Garridan smiled into his friend’s ice-blue eyes. “You’re the son of King Markdor and Queen Calla and second in line to the throne. I think you’re a tad more aristocratic than me, but I see your point.”
“Tordor is second in line to the throne,” Latimus said with a firm nod. “Thank the goddess my brother did his kingly duty and sired an heir.”
“Do you think they will have another? Tordor is no longer a child. Perhaps they both long for more children.”
“Perhaps.” Latimus’s eyebrows drew together as he stared across the sparring field. “Miranda’s pregnancy was extremely difficult since Tordor was the first ever Vampyre-Slayer hybrid. She almost died in childbirth, and Sathan is hesitant to put her in danger. But”—he held up a finger—“Miranda wears the pants, so if she says she wants another child, Sathan will have her knocked up before the next sunrise.”
“Said by a man desperately in love with his own bonded.”
Latimus’s lips twitched. “Indeed. I don’t even try to deny it anymore. Lila has me in the palm of her hand. I just do what I’m told and try to be the best bonded mate and father so she’ll let me keep kissing her. So far, it’s working.”
Chuckling, Garridan patted Latimus on the shoulder. “Our great and powerful commander, reduced to the whim of a pretty Vampyre aristocrat.”
“One with a generous soul and selfless spirit,” he said wistfully. “I’ll never deserve her, but that’s never seemed to bother her. I’m one lucky bastard.” Facing Garridan, he asked, “And what of you? I heard rumors you were contemplating asking Celine to bond with you.”
Garridan grimaced. “Did you happen to hear that from Father? He’s been hounding me to settle down for centuries. Aristocrats rarely become soldiers, but I always felt a calling to fight, even when I was young. Since I’m second-born and my brother performs our formal duties, Father let me train. I think your position as commander was helpful in that decision.”
“I’m thankful he allowed you to join the army. You’re one of my most cunning and loyal soldiers.”
“And I’m pretty good at combat, I think?” he joked, rubbing his chin.
Latimus breathed a laugh. “You are. We’ve fought so many skirmishes side by side. Thank the goddess the War of the Species ended and we vanquished Crimeous. Once Bakari is defeated, we will hopefully secure peace for the immortal world. Do you wish to wait to settle down until our conflict with him is over?”
Garridan kicked the ground with the toe of his black boot and shook his head. “I’m not in love with Celine,” he said softly. “She is a wonderful female and should bond with someone who can love her in all the ways she deserves.”
Latimus’s brows lifted. “I see. Does this mean you’re in love with someone else?”
Pursing his lips, Garridan gazed over the broad field, his eyes landing on the woman who consumed his every thought. She was sparring with Cian, expertly wielding her sword as the much larger male attempted to fight her off. White fangs glinted in the sun as she sliced and swung the weapon through the air, the metal clanking each time it connected with her opponent’s sword.
Garridan had no rhyme or reason for his uncontrollable desire for her. By all accounts, they were opposites in every way. He, the second-born of wealthy Vampyre aristocrats from the sprawling compound of Valeria. She, a feisty lowborn female from a farming village on the outskirts of the laborer compound, Lynia. Her firm, curvy body and broad shoulders were perfect for carrying the bales of corn her father harvested from the fields that surrounded her small family home. She’d told him of it once, when they’d had a small moment of reprieve—and when she’d somehow forgotten, if only for a short time, that she detested him.
“Ah,” Latimus said, slowly nodding. “I see.”
“It is nothing,” Garridan said, straightening his spine. “Siora is just another soldier to me.”
Silence stretched between them before Latimus cupped his shoulder. “My friend, you are a terrible liar.”
He scoffed and elicited a sigh. “Siora seems to think I’m a misogynistic snob who doesn’t believe women deserve a place in our army.”
“That’s not even close to true,” Latimus said, bristling. “You were one of the first to support allowing females to join the combat troops. Where did she obtain that notion?”
“She is a talented soldier, and I push her. She finished a clear and resounding third place in all the physical trials we’ve held over the past week and finished first on the written exam. There is no doubt she will secure one of the squadron leader positions.”
“Our first female squadron leader,” Latimus said, reverence in his tone. “My mother would be proud.”
“Yes. Siora thinks I single her out because she is a woman, but that isn’t true. She has the potential to become a multi-squadron lieutenant one day, and I push her because I want her to excel. But she’s exceedingly stubborn and often antagonistic, which I see as her greatest drawback.”
“Perhaps she is antagonistic because she desires you as well.”
“I never said I desire her,” Garridan muttered.
Latimus gave him a droll look. “You didn’t have to.”
Sighing, Garridan rubbed his hand over his face. “Desire has no place in our army or the conflict with Bakari. I will train her and help her succeed, and then she will become squadron leader. That is my main focus. I’m tired of being consumed by war and wish for our people to live in peace.”
“As do I, my friend. Hopefully, it will happen in the upcoming battle. I’m going to join the troops in their sparring session. Want to join me?”
“I’ll stay here and continue observing. I’ll record my notes this evening before heading home. We should be able to announce the new battalion leaders next week.”
“Fantastic,” Latimus said, fangs flashing as he gave a salute and began trudging down the hill.
“Don’t let Cian kick your ass again!” Garridan teased, chuckling when Latimus lifted his fist and extended his middle finger as he trailed toward the troops.
Glancing at Siora again, he noticed she had knocked the weapon from her sparring partner’s hand and now held the tip of her sword against his neck, waiting for him to call mercy. Damn, she was fierce. Tamping down his admiration, he reminded himself he needed to focus on observing all the soldiers, not just the one who always drew his gaze with her masterful skill, gorgeous body, and piercing ice-blue gaze.
A warrior will stop at nothing to claim his mate.