Soul Deep, book 4 of The Soul Series
Recovering mage Tars Suinn has done some terrible things—like cursing his best friend to be a dragon for a thousand years—all in the name of a love that wasn’t real. He’s not seeking redemption that he doesn’t believe he deserves, but has spent much of the last decade trying to make up for his past.
Ke’an Oliviera’s ability to breathe underwater wasn’t enough to allow her to save her fiancé from drowning. But it’s been 15 years, and her attraction to Tars makes her think she’s finally ready to move on. Until someone begins stalking her with unsettling reminders of her past.
Tars hasn’t had feelings for a woman like this since…no, he never has. He’s terrified he’s more capable of causing harm than nourishing a real relationship. But he can’t leave Ke’an vulnerable to her stalker. As their feelings for each other grow, Ke’an wonders if they can build anything new as long as Tars remains lost and afraid.
Thanks to their extraordinary abilities, they’re enlisted to help face a global threat in the form of a billionaire mage with delusions of ascendancy (and ties to Ke’an’s stalker). In trying to save the world, can they find themselves…and each other?
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Ke’an’s legs wobbled, so she pulled the chair around and sat. “I don’t need you to explain that Tars is your enemy and you’re not risking your lives for him.”
“It’s not that simple.” He faced her. “He’s not the man who was my enemy anymore.”
She squinted against the sunlight. The hand repeatedly balling into a fist and releasing belied his statement. “Because of the work he’s done?”
“Actually, the shelters and programs and foundations? That’s the real Tars. Way back in our original lives, when we were kids and he found out he was going to be a mage, he immediately started talking about all the ways he could use it to help people. As Tars Suinn, billionaire businessman, he channeled more into good works than into his conglomerates. They were a means to an end, mainly in trying to win Alexa over.” He sighed. “Tars has always channeled his obsessive nature into doing good things, with one exception. And he never harmed others, Ke’an. Only the people he loved.”
She shivered, but didn’t look away. “That sounds like a warning.”
“It is.” He looked back out across the city. “At a distance, we’ve started to regain some of what made us friends. I forgave him a long time ago. But he’s unable to forgive himself, and I’m afraid of what that will do if he lets himself care for you.”
She rose to stand next to him. “That is a struggle for him. He has already tried to pull away several times. He doesn’t think he’s worthy of me.”
A small smile stretched the skin on her face, feeling strange and out of place. “I don’t measure people’s worth that way.”
“Not a bad answer.” But he didn’t smile back. “I think you misunderstood my reticence about going in after him. It’s not about being unwilling to risk our lives for him.”
“I would understand that, though.”
He shook his head. “It’s the opposite. My instinct is to charge in and get him out. Ke’an, he was my brother.” His jaw clenched, and he turned to stare out over the city, arms folding across his chest. After a moment, he faced her again. “For the first time in a thousand years, he feels like that man again.” He blinked, and she was sure she saw moisture glisten before it was banished by pure testosterone.
“So you don’t want to go help him because you want to go help him?”
He laughed. “I don’t want to operate out of emotion. Any kind of emotion. So we need to do this by the book. Okay?”
She nodded. “Okay.”
“You coming back to help us plan?”
“In a few minutes.”
He patted her lightly on the shoulder and turned to go.
“Ryc?” When he stopped, she said, “Thank you. I’m a stranger to you, and what you shared was very personal.”
“Does it help?”
Her laugh had a hint of desperation. “I don’t know.”
He slid the screen door aside, smiling knowingly. “I’ll see you over there. Take your time.”
Tars doesn’t have time.