Two fallen angels are dead, Tierney’s father is missing,
and Jax refuses to believe they’re soul mates.
As Tierney searches for her dad, her dragon powers begin to awaken—secrets and lies are revealed, and the man she loves abandons her.
The daily battle for control of the beast raging beneath his skin practically paralyzes Jax with dread. What if he hurts someone innocent? What if he hurts Tierney?
Well aware that he’s not worthy of her love—when a monster surfaces—one so vile it makes Jax see red—he does what he believes is the only thing that will keep Tierney safe. But is it? From skin and scale arises a broken beast of sorrow … along with evil and ancient magic. Will they all be strong enough to defeat it?
For fans of Sherrilyn Kenyon, J.R. Ward, Gena Showalter, Lara Adrian, Larissa Ione, Nalini Singh, Dianne Duvall and Christine Feehan.
Keep reading to see an excerpt,
read a Q&A with the author, and watch the book trailer!
Cursed and Hunted Book One
2019 © Sheri-Lynn Marean
Fate is one seriously twisted witch! Dread, darker than any of the snow-laden clouds above followed Tierney as she hunkered over her shiny new Ducati and raced down the highway. Rural Washington was generally filled with greenery, but at this time of year, it was dismal. Just like her mood. A faint mist made the road slick and perilous, but Tierney didn’t care, at least not until she sensed the presence of life. She eased up on the gas and scanned the forest, then grinned as a deer, startled by the roar of her engine, bounded deeper into the foliage.
Satisfied there were no other four-footed creatures ready to leap in front of her, Tierney picked up speed until the forest was just a blur once again. The extravagant purchase of her new bike had been a vague attempt to take her mind off recent events. Though sadly, the rush of adrenaline wasn’t doing the trick tonight. No, escape from the haunting fear would never be that easy.
Nausea churned, unrelenting, as images flashed through her mind on repeat. She’d been waiting so long to find out what other gifts she’d end up with, but her first-ever vision left her terrified. She clenched her teeth and tried to think of something else, anything but what she had seen. Her dad—a fallen angel—surrounded by black-robed figures. Their enemy, the Ilyium, a sect of druid witches bent on annihilating her kind.
They’d finally been found.
Gah! She should be used to the horrors life threw at a person. After all, that’s what brought them through a magical portal to Earth fourteen years ago when she was just seven.
“Mind on the job, mind on the job,” she repeated the mantra now. She’s grown up helping her father who was a private investigator, and at eighteen got her own license. Which was the age for Washington State for unarmed licenses. Well, sometimes she went armed, but she usually used a glamor to hide whatever she was carrying.
Still, while the job never seemed to have any end to the work, she couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Of course, it might have been different if they weren’t so successful. They didn’t need the money, but working kept them busy and appeased their supernatural drive to help others.
It really was a lot of mundane shit. Investigating cheating wives and husbands, business partners … But they also tracked missing spouses, runaway teens, and abducted kids. The satisfaction of finding and bringing home a child to frantic parents helped balance the more horrific cases that ate at them. The ones that drove sorrow into their souls and filled them with anger—the murderers and child molesters where the hardest to bear and sometimes made them second guess their decision to do what they did.
Tierney inhaled the scent of pine as she exited the highway to a tree-lined, rutted track. The sight of fresh tire tracks made her grin. Her hunch just might pay off. It’d be good to close another case.
If Shay’s really here.
Her grin faded as she rode under a canopy of foliage, which blocked the darkening sky. The eerie forest set her dragon senses crawling with unease.
Born of a dracones and a fallen, she’d spent her life in her human form, with the dragon inside her itching to get out. Now that she’d finally turned twenty-one, she was due to go through her awakening. Well, sometime in the next twelve months. Hopefully, and if she survived.
She pushed the fear of her transition aside and thought of shifting into her dragon form at will. “Then I’ll kick ass on a much larger scale.” She chuckled at the pun.
Plus, she should gain better control of her abilities.
As she often did, Tierney wondered what she’d be able to do after she survived her dragon. Was the detested vision a one-off, or would foresight become one of her gifts?
Though after the terrifying glimpse she’d gotten into the future, she was no longer convinced it would be a gift. How had her mother handled it and not gone insane?
Yeah, some gifts were definitely curses.
Though not all.
As far back as she could remember, Tierney possessed enhanced empathy. When she’d been little it had been very confusing, until her mother showed her how to use her ability to calm or soothe others. It had sure come in handy after the attack on their village.
Memories of that day twisted her insides. Her friend Jaxsaron had been in such a dark place, and thankfully, she’d managed to pull him back into the light. Well, sort of.
Just the thought of Jax set her on edge, and she wished for the days when they had been kids whose only care had been what to play next.
Tierney’s senses detected life once again, only this was no wild animal. She slowed and searched both sides of the dense forest. Sure, she was immortal and healed extremely fast, but it didn’t hurt to be cautious. Then she snorted and gave herself a mental shake when no one popped out of the shadows. Enough with the paranoia already.
She let the rumble of her bike soothe her as the trees thinned out and she entered a spacious clearing. Huh, go figure. The green sedan she’d been looking for, along with an old blue pickup, sat in front of a faded, plank-board hunting shack.
The door to the derelict building swung open as she stopped beside the two vehicles. Daniel, whom she recognized from the investigation files, stepped out onto the rickety porch. His eyes were wide with panic as he held a gun in shaking hands. Really? He had a gun?
Then again, who didn’t these days. But still, the last thing she needed was a gun-toting idiot with no clue how to use the thing.
Tierney set the kickstand and climbed off the bike.
“Who are you? This is private property, you’re trespassing.” Daniel glared at her.
Tierney had to resist the urge to rip the weapon away from him. Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to point a gun at someone unless you plan to use it? She shoved her annoyance aside. His short blond hair and sweet baby face made his attempt to appear menacing fail big time. It would have been comical if she’d hadn’t been in such a sour mood.
The itch to pick a fight was strong, but now really wasn’t the time. With an eye on the nine-millimeter Beretta, Tierney pulled off her helmet, pushed her long black hair out of her face, and strode forward. She stopped a few feet from the shack. “The safety’s on.”
“Wha—?” Daniel glanced at the gun with dismay, before looking back at her with clueless brown eyes.
“Shay,” Tierney called, ignoring baby face as she looked toward the door.
“Leave her alone, go away.” Panic tinged Daniel’s voice.
“Chill, I just want to talk to her.” Though Tierney usually kept her mental shields up around humans—a precaution to prevent her from going crazy over their haphazard thoughts—she now lowered them and accessed her ability to read minds. How did this woman find us? I love Shay, I can’t lose her. Daniel’s thoughts screamed in her head. Tierney tuned him out and zeroed in on Shay inside the shack. Why can’t my parents leave me alone? “Shay, you need to come out and talk, or I’ll tell your parents where you are.”
The door creaked open and a slender young woman with brown hair and doe eyes emerged.
Tierney bit back a smile. The recent photo Shay’s parents had handed over of their daughter depicted a stylish, but shy female.
Shay looked anything but stylish or shy. She wore a tight pink T-shirt, crisp blue jeans, and rubber mud boots a couple sizes too large. Her long hair had been cut into a shoulder-length bob with blond highlights, and there was an air of stubbornness to her.
“Go back inside,” Daniel said.
Shay ignored him. “W-who are you? What do you want?” Her gaze darted around the clearing before coming back to Tierney. Is she alone? Are my parents here? How did she find me? Damn this bra itches.
Tierney fought the impulse to roll her eyes. “Yes, I’m alone. My name’s Tierney. Your parents hired me to find you.”
Anger lit Shays face momentarily before a blank mask slid into place.
Daniel glared at Tierney. Why can’t anyone leave us alone? I won’t let them take Shay. “She’s not going anywhere.”
“Right,” Shay said. “I … I won’t go back.” I always obey my parents. I do everything they want, but for once I want something they don’t. I’m not doing it, not this time.
Tierney knew Shay had likely never defied her parents’ wishes, until now. “You need to talk to them.”
“My dad arranged a marriage for me, and my mother is just going along with it even though she knows this isn’t what I want. Do you have any idea what that’s like, knowing you have no say in what happens to you?” Shay raised her chin. I refuse to marry the arrogant ass they picked out. Geez, the guy thinks he’s God’s gift to women. Besides, I love Daniel.
Tierney sighed. No, she really didn’t have any idea. Her father would never do such a thing, and her mother had died when she was seven, along with her little brother. But she didn’t say any of that. “Not my business, but, you’re twenty, right?”
“Aren’t you old enough to decide who you marry?”
Shay nodded again.
“So stand up to them, or not.” Tierney shrugged. “I’ll give you until noon tomorrow to contact them before I tell them I’ve found you.”
“Ah, all right.” Shay blinked in surprise.
Tierney narrowed her gaze on the couple and chose her words with care, mindful that certain words could bind her to them. “If you run again, I’ll find you, and I won’t be happy.”
“I won’t,” Shay promised.
Daniel pursed his lips but nodded as well.
“Treat her well, Daniel.” Tierney shot the guy a warning look before walking back to her bike.
“Thank you,” Shay called after her. I can do this.
Tierney grinned at Shay’s resolve to fight for what she wanted. It may be her job to find people, but she couldn’t stand overbearing parents who ran their children’s lives for no other reason than to be controlling.
Tierney climbed on her bike, and unable to help herself, checked her phone. No new calls or texts. She put on her helmet and started the Ducati, then with a last glance back at the now empty porch, headed back the way she’d come. Damn it, Dad, where are you? It’s been seven days.
Zander was supposed to be gone only two.
She drove out of the clearing and absently scanned her surroundings. Her feeling of doom returned and she gasped when a sudden eerie cold claimed her. Then everything wavered. Chilled to the bone, Tierney braked hard, set her foot down, and looked around. A faint light circled the ground in front of her as if a flashlight were illuminating the way. What the fuck? She looked up at the darkening clouds.
Like a picture superimposed over another, a bright-blue sky appeared. Light, fluffy clouds floated past, along with the faint silhouette of a bird. The more Tierney focused, the clearer it became.
A large black, ghostlike raven circled above her head once, twice, and a third time. Tierney shivered. Damn thing was watching her. Everything went dark again, then returned to normal—bird gone. Tierney shivered, though she was no longer cold. Fabulous, now I’m imagining things! With a scowl she gave the bike some gas and refocused on the dirt track.
A male voice filled her head. Sami. “Tierney. Where the hell are you?” One of her best friends, he was like a beloved brother.
“Sorry, I’m on my way home. You hear anything from Dad or Jax?” She looked both ways before turning onto the highway.
“Nothing on Dad, and Jax texted. He’s running late.”
No surprise, wonder if he’ll even show. “All right, thanks, Sami.”
Tierney cut the telepathic connection, then groaned when she ended up behind an old, rusty pickup truck. A steady stream of oncoming cars came toward her in the other lane. Finally, when the last vehicle went by, she sucked in a breath, exhaled, and gunned the Ducati.
She blew past the truck and kept going. Acid churned in her gut as she worried over her dad, Sami, and his brother, Jax.
If the Ilyium really had found them, and after her vision she had no doubt, then they were all in danger.
A thousand years their vicious enemy had pursued their kind on Tartaria, killing any and all dracones and fallen they could find, until their numbers had dwindled so substantially, they’d been forced to flee.
There’d been many other worlds they could have gone to, but Tierney’s dad chose Earth for them.
A world filled with humans, and a place where they had to zealously guard their secret.
“Why can’t we tell anyone here about us?” Seven-year-old Tierney had asked when they had exited the portal to Earth.
“The humans won’t react well if they find out what we are and what we can do. We don’t need any more enemies.”
“Then why come here?” one of the other fallen had asked, gazing around suspiciously.
Her dad hadn’t answered, but Tierney remembered a conversation she’d overheard between her parents. Her mother had said Earth was where they needed to go.
It had all been good, until last month.
Tierney silently swore when she thought about the two well-hidden, fallen males who’d recently been murdered. The count was now down to seventy-five fallen, and fifty-three dracones in this world, at least that her dad knew about. The recent murders stunned them.
Then they found evidence at the scene that led them to believe either a fallen—or dracones—had betrayed them. He or she might even be helping the Ilyium. Why, they had no clue.
When her dad said he needed to go to Olympia for a meeting, Tierney didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t far and he often went on business trips. But when Zander mentioned he was to meet someone claiming to have information about the traitor, dread filled her. Then everything went black.
Tierney had found herself in a cave. Heart racing, she turned and spotted her dad. Zander was kneeling in a shiny dark pool of … blood?
Fear gripped Tierney tight as black-robed figures, wielding swords, emerged from the walls to surround her father. No! No one heard her. Tierney watched, frozen, as their mortal enemy began to dance and sway, chanting their spells.
As if he sensed her, Zander’s green eyes met Tierney’s. Filled with regret, he stared at her as the leader approached and raised his sharply bladed sword.
Tierney screamed, and when the vision cleared, she found herself on the floor in her dad’s arms. “Holy demons.” Horrified, she pushed to her feet and faced her dad. “You can’t go!”
Zander sighed, stood, and pulled her into a hug. “I love you, but until this traitor is caught, you’re not safe.”
Tierney pulled away, spine stiffening in resolve. “Then I’ll go with you—”
“At least take one of us,” she insisted.
“No.” End of discussion. “But I will be careful.”
“You better,” Tierney said.
With a last hug, Zander left.
Filled with a steadily growing dread, Tierney couldn’t eat, and a recurring nightmare of her vision kept her from sleeping. When she did sleep, images of their enemy swinging his sword at her dad’s head would startle Tierney awake.
So she dove into all their current cases, but it didn’t help.
The night Zander left, Tierney called his phone. He didn’t answer. Then she called the hotel in Olympia where he was supposed to be staying.
Her dad never checked in.
Sami tried to track Zander’s car, but the LoJack was disabled.
His cell went straight to voicemail.
They filed a missing person report with the Olympia PD—whom they sometimes worked with, but Tierney wasn’t holding her breath. The Ilyium had her dad, and it wasn’t like she could tell the police that. Then she’d have to explain that the Ilyium were druid witches who hunted them because they were immortal beings with abilities.
Tierney shoved thoughts of her dad away as her earlier unease, a sense of being spied upon, grew stronger. A quick glance in her side mirror showed a black Escalade hot on her tail. Jackass! Attention back on the road, she gunned the bike and shot forward.
The black behemoth quickly caught up.
Tierney growled. What’s this creep’s problem?
A menacing voice drifted through her head. “Nice ass.”
A chill shot down Tierney’s spine, quickly followed by fury. “Who the hell are you?” Instincts screaming at her to go, to get away, Tierney flat-out refused. She wasn’t a coward and would rather face any threats.
“Someone who’s been waiting a long time for you.”
[Jena] Have you ever taken any trips either inspired by books or to research a book before writing?
[Sheri-Lynn] Only 1, to just north of Spokane Washington where most of my books in my Dracones series is set to get an idea of the layout of the land, the roads, the mountains, etc. It was a quick trip down from where I live in Canada.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It inspires me. 😊
Do you write under or would you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Sure, if I decide to step into another genre I would.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
I’m sure they could, but it might be a very dry read, or while they might not feel emotions strongly, they might be good at pretending, and it could show through their writing.
Who are some writers friends you’d like to give a shout out to? Do you feel they help you become a better writer?
Bestselling Author Sherrilyn Kenyon (McQueen) has been a huge inspiration in my writing, and Laura LaTulipe, while she’s not a writer she’s the best editor and has definitely helped and pushed me to be a better writter.
Are you a series writer? Or do you prefer to write standalone novels?
Series definitely. When I write, more characters always pop up and demand that I tell their stories as well.
If you could tell your younger writing self any one thing, what would it be?
Don’t waste so much money on paid promo other than Bookbub, get recommendations from other authors in my genre for editors and don’t hire the one I first hired.
How did publishing your first book change your day-to-day life?
It gave me the incentive to push forward and keep going.
In what ways has your writing style changed since writing your first novel?
I understand the craft better.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
When I got scrivener and vellum to write and format my books myself.
What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A dragon and Wolf.
Have you ever borrowed personalities or traits from real people in your life for the characters in your books?
Some for sure, and others I get from books and tv shows or movies I love.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
11 or so, lol.
What does “making it” as a writer look like to you when you daydream?
It looks like me sitting on my covered porch in my small dream home (nothing fancy, but on the beach somewhere in the Caribbean listening to the surf as I write, while my family relaxes in the sun or swim/play in the water.
What kind of research do you do, if any, before beginning a book?
Not a lot before, but during stuff always comes up, sometimes it’s searching out locations, or mythical beasts, or names, etc.
Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual or therapeutic practice?
No, but it’s definitely exhilarating when the words just flow and inspire you.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I’ve never found it difficult.
How many hours a day do you write?
Not enough. I’m also a Book Cover Designer, so I end up spending more time on that side of my business sometimes.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I play around with names and sounds, often will take a normal name and try changing it until it works.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I’ve been an artist all my life, so I’d probably still be creating and selling my art, and I used to work with horses so I’d continue that as well.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I used to, now I usually only read the first bunch on or just after release day. The good ones make me happy of course. The bad ones, well, I don’t sweat it. I know not everyone is going to like my books and they do have a bit of a dark theme. My characters usually have some sort of trauma, or horrible past, guilt, or fears that they need to overcome.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I love twists and usually reveal them at the end but not stuff that only a few can find.
Do you ever Google yourself?
Occasionally to ensure my books aren’t being offered on any pirate sites.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Find the time and focus.
Does your family support your career as a writer?
Yes, all of them do. In fact, my mother, daughter, and a few aunts all read my books. My dad only got the Clean Versions while I had them, lol as I wouldn’t let him read the steamy versions. However, I’ve discontinued the Clean Versions as it was too much work, so he’s not read any of my latest stuff, but it’s also not his genre to read, so it’s all good. My hubby has been supportive from the start and though he’s not a reader, he has copies of my first few books.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I used to take around a month or so, but lately, as my cover business has grown, and my health has gotten worse making it hard to sit and write or focus, it’s taking me a whole lot longer, hence the unfinished works in progress.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I believe in it, though I have never had much problem with it as I usually see everything in my head like a movie or tv show, so I know what’s going to happen. It’s the sitting down and getting it written that I struggle with these days.
What is the first book that made you cry?
Probably one of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s (McQueen’s) Dark Hunter books.
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
When Canadian author SHERI-LYNN MAREAN wasn’t bringing home stray animals, she used to pretend to race horses around the yard. As a teenager, that dream became a reality when she started working with racehorses. At the same time her love for reading kicked in. No matter where she was, Sheri-Lynn always had a book on hand. She eventually discovered her niche in the vivid and exciting paranormal romance and fantasy worlds. Years later, Sheri-Lynn challenged herself to create her own stories. Inspired by the Authors and TV shows she loved, decided upon immortals who change into dragons if they survive their awakening. Tierney, Jax, and Sami came to life and the Dracones were born.