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The Cursed -- Alyssa Day

The Cursed
Book 1 of the League of the Black Swan

New York Times bestselling author of the Warriors of Poseidon series Alyssa Day returns with a thrilling new series of paranormal romance and a heated battle between good and evil fought to the death on the streets of New York…

Bordertown private investigator Luke Oliver’s beat is the dimensional fold in Manhattan between the human and supernatural realms. But now a secret from his past—the League of the Black Swan—has surfaced. Because Luke isn’t any ordinary P.I. He’s the Dark Wizard of Bordertown, and he never backs down from a fight.

But this time the fight threatens his life and his heart. Rio Jones, the only woman he loved, needs his help against a deadly menace. Luke pushed her away once before, so she’d never fall prey to the curse that threatens to destroy him. He swore he’d never let her go again.

Luke and Rio, with the help of the newly reformed League, must keep evil forces from taking over Bordertown—all the while battling a passion on the razor’s edge between danger and desire. And going to take everything they have just to stay alive.

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excerpt

Chapter 1

2 a.m.

Central Park, New York, on top of the Ramble Stone Arch
Getting stabbed is hell on the dry-cleaning bill.

Luke Oliver looked down at the silver blade stuck between his ribs and then up at the only person still alive who’d known him back when his name was Lucian Olivieri. “I’d kill anyone else for that, Maestro.”

He pulled out the knife, wincing as it scraped a rib, wiped it on his jeans, and then put it in his pocket.
“You didn’t want it back, did you?”

The other man, his face hidden by the shadows cast by his fedora, laughed. His laugh sounded like rock being crushed beneath a giant’s boots and was just as appealing. Luke suspected the maestro knew it, too, and used it as one of a lifetime’s worth of weapons.

“Consider it a gift. And I was just checking,” the maestro said. “When silver starts burning you like acid—”

“I know the terms of my own curse,” Luke said, cutting off the reminder. Beating back the past. “What do you want? I have a job to get back to.”

“Still doing those jobs? Trying to save the world from your hideaway in the dank, dingy corners of Bordertown?”

It was Luke’s turn to laugh. “No hideaway. A crappy office. And I’m only trying to save one person. The world can go to hell for all I care, but right now I’m too busy to reminisce about old times.”

“We didn’t have any old times. We were on opposite sides. Your mother was a thug.”

“Even enemies have old times. And my mother was an aristocratic thug. Never let it be said that Lucrezia Borgia didn’t do her murdering with class,” Luke countered, as he silently watched a trio of gangbangers, smelling of cheap booze and acrid smoke, saunter underneath the arch while trading raucous and profane insults. Secure in their mistaken belief that they were apex predators in the darkest hours of the night. He wondered briefly what they’d do if he dropped down among them and showed them the face and power of a true predator.

Wet their pants and run screaming for Mommy, no doubt.

“Do you still do it? Hunt the criminals?” The maestro’s voice held only a calm curiosity, as if he were asking about the weather. “Do you feel the pull to stalk them as prey and crush them? Burn them to cinders?”

Yes.

Always.

No.

Never.

Never again, at least.

Luke settled on a nonanswer. “You have one minute to say something relevant.”

The other man pulled an envelope out of his coat pocket and held it out to Luke, and then he said the two words Luke had never wanted to hear again.

“Black Swan.”

Shock knocked Luke back like a crossbow aimed at his heart, and he fell off the arch but recovered in time to land with his characteristic grace on the path thirteen feet below.

The maestro laughed once more and tossed the envelope down through the night air before he disappeared. Luke caught the envelope as it fell, almost in spite of himself. The glossy black-and-red logo was embossed on one corner, as he’d expected—the sinuous arch of the black swan’s neck stark against the Templar cross and mocking him with its elegance.

He needed to get back to Bordertown; back to his office. His client’s missing child was far more important than anything that could be inside this envelope. He’d burn it. Destroy any evidence that the League had ever reached out its slimy tentacles and move on with what was passing for his life these days. He told himself all of that, even as he tore open the envelope right there on the path and pulled out its entire contents: a single photograph.

The moonlight seemed to caress the woman in the photo, highlighting her perfect bone structure, the curve of her cheek, and her wary expression with vivid clarity. The world tilted on its axis, and the edges of Luke’s fingers shimmered with blue flame, nearly incinerating the photo before he extinguished the fire. He stared at the picture—still perfect but for charred edges—and another kind of fire flashed to an inferno inside him. He knew this woman. Her name was Rio Jones, and she worked for the bike messenger service. He’d limited his contact with her when she’d dropped packages at his office. Admired her from afar, but made it a point never to speak more than a few words to her.

She was too beautiful. Too vibrant. Too dangerous to his limited amount of self-control. The last thing he needed was a complication like her in his life. But now the League of the Black Swan was back, and it wanted him to get involved with Rio Jones.

An immortal just couldn’t catch a break.

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