Hot Halloween Heroes Blog Tour Hosted by Felicity Heaton and Indie Romance Books



I have a weakness for hot, badass, alpha males.  Cyril Arisitin is just that.  Here’s a sample of Symphony of Light and Winter.

Hot breath and a deep whisper on my ear sent shivers through me, even though I was held against a hard, heated body. “Don’t you dare scream. I’m not going to hurt you, but if you do something stupid, I will punish you.”

Cyril. If his voice hadn’t given him away, his scent would have. Electricity pulsed through me, even though given the circumstances, I should have been overridden by fear.

The arm coiled around me released, and he moved from behind, steadying as he sat me on the ground. “Stay here and do not move. If you are ever going to listen to me, this is the time to do it.” He ducked down and stared into my eyes as if to say see, it’s me, don’t worry.

He stood, and his attire caused my breath to hitch. His pants were black leather with laces in place of a zipper. The lacing drew my focus to his already attention-worthy anatomy. The black shirt fit tight over his well-defined chest, accented by the leather bandolier holding at least a dozen small knives. His black leather boots rested high on his calves.

He turned to face the threat, his back to me, his body obstructing my view, his size daunting. The planes of his back and buttocks tautened with layer after layer of muscle, each one rippling as he walked toward the blond man.

His silhouette outlined against the black night while he unsheathed a sword from a scabbard he had slung over his back. As he pulled forth the blade, it caught the light and gleamed at the pinnacle of the arch, then finally rested at his side, pointed toward the ground. He stood, turning his head from side to side.

I had forgotten how out of his element he was in custom suits. This was what he was made for. The entire scene seemed surreal, like watching a movie unfold.

His speech was accented. Slow and menacing, he called out to what seemed to be no one. “You are crossing a line you’d be wise not to.”

The air stilled, my breathing the only sound. The other man started toward Cyril. He was not as large, but still a force to be reckoned with. I caught the gleam of the intruder’s sword.

Cyril spoke again. “Nothing here concerns you.”

“Really?” The man’s voice sounded familiar but oddly accented. It had a similar cadence to Cyril’s, but different somehow. “I think it concerns me plenty. I know what you are hiding and you have no right to hide her. What are you up to, Maker? You can’t keep her from us.”


The man waved his free hand, and out of the darkness walked four other men with weapons drawn.

Cyril widened his stance. “Is this what it must always come to? Your childish games are tiresome. Just leave and take your minions with you. You will never get what you came for.”

I panicked. Who were they talking about? No way Cyril could defeat five men, especially given the size of their leader. Cyril might look like the baddest thing this side of hell, but I knew he had been taken out of commission at least once before. My life depended on his survival, and I didn’t like the odds. Thinking of my best strategic position, I crept toward the group. Watching him die again was not an option.

What if he didn’t come back this time?
A spiky-haired man assumed a battle stance. What

happened next was the most horrible yet amazing thing I ever witnessed. Like performing a dance in one continuous movement, Cyril raised his sword and impaled the spiky-haired man with effortless grace. He twisted at his waist, and with the force he used to withdraw the sword from the spiky-haired man’s torso, he followed through and severed the second man’s head. The blood from the end of the sword flew in my direction, peppering my face with spray. I froze, fighting back nausea.

The carnage, only fifteen or so feet away, felt less real than watching a slasher film. Cyril, in his magnificence, made the brutality a riveting art form. Perhaps the darkness played a role in dampening the grotesque scene; if so, I was thankful. Cyril’s majesty held my focus, not allowing me to process anything else. Somehow I managed to remain conscious, but stood mesmerized by the horror.

Cyril ducked to avoid the third man’s blow while kicking the fourth man in the chest, sending him stumbling backward. He brought the sword forth, turned the point toward his own body, and thrust backward and up between his arm and torso, into the third man’s heart. After pulling the sword free in one long, arching swing, he dispatched the fourth man by severing him in half, a testament to his superhuman strength.

Cyril turned to the leader, who never moved during the combat. “Are we done playing now? She is mine, no negotiation.”

“Really? I have more of a right to her than you ever will.” The leader gestured toward me.

Wait. I knew that voice.
Cyril laughed. “You wish to claim her? You can’t.”
“Care to fight me for her?” The leader readied his sword, but

only as a distraction. Before I could register his movement, the man appeared behind me, clutching me to him, a blade at my throat. “What’s the matter, Maker? Afraid I’ll hurt her? As much as I want her, it might be worth killing her to see you suffer. You will never be able to make up for what you did, but the look on your face as she lies dying would be truly satisfying.” The man cupped my breast. “Better yet…” He laughed. The aroma of strong spices, familiar and reminiscent of anise, filled my nostrils.

My heart pounded. Sweat poured off my face, and I implored Cyril with my eyes. Please.

Cyril stood silent. Stoic.

The man ran his nose up the side of my neck and inhaled deeply. “You know, in all these years, my friend, I don’t think I’ve seen you look this worried. You wear it well. You know I’ll be back, you can’t get rid of me, and one day when your guard is down, I will either take her as mine or kill her to keep her from you.”

“Myghal, Myghal, Myghal…why antagonize me? You know I can end you. Why do you keep trying to anger me? I gave you a pass, but my patience is wearing thin.”

“I have a little insurance now, don’t I? You’re not stupid enough to destroy me. You see where killing Ruarc got you. Do it again and you might kill us all.”

His tongue, hot and wet, licked my neck. Disgust made me queasy. I shrank from the unwelcome sensation, but could not escape his hold. Remembering Cyril’s fangs, I panicked. What if they were all some kind of vampires? God, the nightmare just kept getting worse. The man pulled away from my skin. Cyril’s eyes met mine for only a second, and a whizzing sound like a large flying insect passed my ear.

The man behind me groaned and a warm liquid hit my neck. His hold on me released. Thankful for Cyril’s impeccable aim, I slumped, the man’s crushing weight fixing me to the ground.

Cyril ran to me, pushed the man off, and gathered me in his arms, which in itself was unexpected.

“Are you OK?” He nestled my head under his chin as he positioned me on the ledge of the fountain, stepped between my legs, and ran his hands over my throat and down my back, inspecting me for injury.

I began to shiver, my teeth chattering. Tremors broke out in my limbs. Usually I was able to fight back a panic attack, but I was a bit distracted and, well…hell…this one was justified. Shock set in. All the adrenaline my body had released took hold.

Cyril was covered in blood and something else. In the process of checking for wounds, he transferred the thick red liquid and clear mucus onto my clothes.

He grabbed my hands and squeezed them. “I’ll only be a moment. I need to tidy up a bit. Stay right here,” he said with the concern of someone who might say, “Excuse me for a moment, I left some water boiling. Be right back.”

How could he be so calm? I tried to wipe the thick, clear substance from my hands. As it started to harden, it flaked in slivers like transparent mica, making it difficult to remove from my skin. Strange but somehow familiar. Where did it come from? What in the hell was it? Wiping my hands on my coat proved fruitless, so I wrapped my arms around my stomach, trying to steady the tremors.

He stood and shot me a stern look. “I mean it this time.”

He could have said anything. Almost catatonic, my brain couldn’t process what it witnessed. What the hell kind of supernatural killer was he? Humans simply didn’t move like that, and didn’t rise from the dead either.

As though I needed confirmation, I watched Cyril draw swirling, branch-like patterns resembling the ones on his wrists onto the stones of the garden floor with what looked like a piece of coal or black stone he pulled from a pocket. His sword lay on the ground as he chanted something and reached inside the pocket again, retrieving some type of white substance, and sprinkled it on the bodies. Salt, maybe?

He waved his hand in rhythmic motions, almost like conducting an orchestra. His chant grew louder and the bodies burst into flame. A gust of wind from the rivers blew the ashes into the air and away from us. Cyril only incinerated four of the five men, leaving the one he called Myghal intact. He picked up his sword and blood dripped from the tip onto the ground. He wiped it on his shirt, and then resheathed the weapon and moved the scabbard to one shoulder.

Tears streamed down my face. Cyril knelt in front of me as the muscles under the surface of my skin trembled in a rapid succession. My heart raced in time with my hyperventilating breaths. His face, so close, at first I thought he might be sweating, but then noticed how thick the liquid that ran down his face looked.

The surreal haze masking everything for the past fifteen minutes vanished. Wetness on my neck and in my hair fell in languid drops. Surrounded by death my whole life, I had at least never witnessed a killing blow. The man’s final gurgle reminded me of my wedding night.

Cyril cupped my cheek. Through the horror, his eyes were soft. “I am so sorry. I never intended for you to witness that.”

I shook with unproductive breathing as a light-headed feeling set in.

Cyril’s eyes searched my face. “If you believe for one moment I will tolerate this type of insolence, you are gravely mistaken. We need to clarify a few points if we are going to continue this way.”

He was going to lecture me now?

My brain buzzed from shock. Focus was impossible while immobilized by the trauma of the past fifteen minutes, so I became his captive audience.

With blood dripping from his hair, his words grew fierce. “I’ll never let anyone hurt you. Never! But you will obey me from now on. You will respect that I have more experience, and you will follow my orders. I told you to stay put. You could have been killed and I don’t know if I can bring you back. Do you have any idea what that would do to me? Your reckless behavior must stop. It’s not an option for either of us.”

My stomach churned. My head spun; I tried to register his words. Most of it beyond “you didn’t listen to me blah blah blah” didn’t make sense. Still hyperventilating, the nausea built.

“Do you understand me?”

He searched my eyes for a response, but the one I gave him wasn’t what he expected. I tried to push him away, my element of surprise allowing me to shove him just far enough to duck my head before I vomited directly on his black leather boots.

He let out a low, disgusted groan. “No! Not my…ah…bloody hell! I should kill you myself.”

Wiping my arm across my mouth, I sat up, stared at him, and tried to apologize with my eyes.

He glared at me and kicked his boot against the ledge in an effort to clean them. His eyes narrowed with serious irritation and his brow furrowed. “Come on, you beautiful, disgusting creature.”

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  • e-copy Symphony of Light and Winter by Renea Mason
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