Sunday, November 2, 2014

"Evernight" by Candace Knoebel

(Night Watchmen Book 2)
by Candace Knoebel

Evernight is the second book in Candace Knoebel's Night Watchmen series. Also available: The Gramm Curse (novella) and Everlasting.

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One lie will change everything.
Faye Middleton has secured the Dagger of Retribution for the High Priesthood, but in doing so, she’s opened the door to more demands set by them. She now has to break the Holy Seal, and soon. Trapped in the alluring Ethryeal City, Faye is pushed to the breaking point trying to discover just what she is truly capable of, even if it means destroying herself in the process.
With the clock ticking down to the war between both Covens, and the truth about her parent’s mysterious disappearance within her reach, Faye is faced with tough choices that will forever change her. Will Faye be able to handle the demands from the Priesthood, and still be able to continue her search for her parents?
But more importantly, can she survive the truth she finds?

By the time we pass through the City Square and stop in front of the Military Compound, I’m sure the news of our arrival has spread because there are too many faces lined up outside the building, all waiting and watching. All staring at the seven of us like we’ve come to deliver salvation. Or maybe a nightmare.
“Move along,” Clara says in one swift note. Only some scatter, heading back to wherever they came from. Clara turns to us and passes out six cards, each with a letter and number on them. “Here are your room keys. You’re all on the third floor. Head up to your rooms and get situated. The hour is growing late, and you’ll be sent for first thing in the morning. Uniforms are provided in your room. Wear them. Arrive on time and sharp. Understood?”
“Anything else, Your Highness?” Weldon asks, not sounding the least bit civil.
She exhales loudly, and walks away from us, leaving us to make the rest of the trip up to our rooms alone.
“Thank the Goddess. Now I can get a damn shower,” Jezi says, tugging at her jumpsuit. She turns to Cassie. “Do you think they sell cigarettes here?”
“They don’t,” Jaxen says flatly. “Looks like it’s your time to quit.”
He doesn’t wait for her to offer a retort, nor does he take the high five Weldon offers either. Instead, he mutters something about leaving and pulls me through the sliding doors and straight for the elevator.
“Wait up,” I hear Gavin say as he jogs after us, but Jaxen presses the button and the door slides shut, closing us off from everyone.
“Jaxen?” I ask, looking up at him.
Longing simmers in his gaze. “I can’t take another second in your presence without doing this first,” he says desperately, hungrily.
There’s no time to think before he grabs me by the waist and shoves me against the elevator wall, stealing my lips with his.
So I don’t think. I simply react.
In his kiss, I know he’s dreamed of this moment over and over again until it’s driven him completely mad. He’s holding me so tightly against him, like he never wants to let go of me ever again, and I think I’ve finally discovered what true love is. It’s this kiss that sizzles like a lit fuse ran straight to my heart. Like dynamite that explodes inside every inch of me, waking every nerve, every sense, every single inch of skin that cries out for him.
It’s been so long… too long, and the excitement of being in his arms again is so breathtakingly overwhelming that I can barely keep from bursting at the seams. He swallows my small cry of pleasure as he slides his hands through my hair, and then down my back, until he’s clutching the fabric of my jumpsuit so tightly I fear he might disintegrate it with his powerful grip.
I skim my hands up his neck and weave my fingers through his thick, dark hair, pulling, tugging, and hoping this moment never ends. As the kiss deepens, he loosens his grip and grabs my bottom. Lifting me up, he pins me between the wall and his rock-solid chest. His kisses move down the side of my cheek, devouring every inch of exposed skin all the way to the arc of my neck, and I swear my body explodes with pleasure.
His starved words brush against my skin. He says my name like it’s a plea for sanity. Admits that being away from me was the worst pain imaginable, and I’m floating in his words as he glides his lips down the curve of my neck and over the shivering flesh of my collarbone. I’m drowning inside of the soft, lingering kisses he plants that feed the fire raising up under my skin.
And God, does it feel so damn good.
When the bell dings, announcing our arrival on the third floor, I barely hear it. The sound is light-years away from us, from this intoxicating tangle of arms, legs, and kisses that we’ve become. But then he pulls his lips from mine, leaving me reaching for more.
My eyes flick open.
He takes my hand in his, guiding me out of the elevator and down the sterile, white hallway. “Come on. Let’s get you to your room,” he says, his voice soft like velvet, yet hard like steel.
I’m so distracted, so deliciously lost in his eyes and his kisses, that I can barely understand what he’s saying. I feel the sun rising in my cheeks as he watches me, waiting for my reply. I replay his words repeatedly until they begin to make sense.
“Okay,” I manage, embarrassed by how easily he unwinds me. It’s only taken minutes in his presence to unlace every wound-up strand of my emotions. Every pent-up thought that’s been weighted down by the fists of politics.
He clears his throat and pulls his eyes from mine, forcing them back on the path to our new living quarters. The scent of magic and electricity brim the air. Harsh laughter and a general sense of camaraderie surrounds me as Elites in training filter past us.
“Umm,” he says, trying to form coherent words, “I think this is our hall.” He checks the numbers on the door, going off Clara’s instructions. “And it appears you’ll be staying across from me, and next to Jezi and Gavin. Protected from all sides, the way it should be.”
A familiar, tingly feeling stirs in my stomach at the thought of being so close to him. Being seconds away from his touch. “That’s good,” I say, my mouth going dry.
I count the steps until we reach my room, and my heart leaps in joyful somersaults. My stomach twists in nervous knots. We both know we can’t be alone together. Not without devouring each other. Not without taking back what has been taken from us for far too long.
The door slides open, and he crosses the small, egg-shaped room. There’s a bed in the corner, suspended by metal wires from the wall. A small, metal desktop is also suspended by wires on the other wall, along with a lamp and a rack with freshly pressed uniforms hanging from it. Beneath the rack is an open box with essentials stacked neatly.
I find his face across the room and forget how to breathe. There’s so much pain swirling around his deep green eyes, so much longing that it almost hurts. I want to shut my eyes and pretend that time never escaped us, that no one ever came between us, but I can’t. I’m afraid that if I do, he’ll disappear. That this moment will become another fantasy I created to pass the time in my holding cell.
“Come here,” he says, breaking the dream.
I take cautious steps, stepping out of my mind and back into his reality. Back into his heavenly arms. My hands find his shoulders and, slowly, I slide his jacket off. His hands stay rigid at his side, arms open and waiting for me to show him where this will go. To allow me to explore and take what I want from him.
The jacket falls to the floor, and I step closer, taking in his electric scent. I’m trying to pace myself, trying to catch my breath as my heart slams against my chest. I crave his skin, his touch. My hands drift down to his lean waist, and then brazenly tug his black shirt free from the hem of his pants. I don’t want material separating us.
His muscles clench as he whispers so many secrets in his gaze. Secrets that light my blood on fire. His body quivers under my trailing touch as I slowly pull the shirt over his head and drop it to the floor behind me. Every part of me trembles with desire. Flutters with anticipation.
And I can’t catch a steady breath.
He runs the back of his hand along my cheek, taking his time to enjoy the simple touch. I close my eyes, dragging my hands down the hard, sloped planes of his chest. Enjoying the rippling shudders such a small caress causes him. His fingers rake through my hair until his hand comes to rest along the back of my neck. He pulls me closer to him, demolishing the distance between us.
“Faye,” he says softly. There’s a frenzied edge to his voice that slides over my skin. He tilts my head back, forcing my eyes on his. Desire and love lap around his pupils, brightening the color of his eyes. “I dreamed of you. Every single night,” he admits, his voice breathy and strained. “I asked to see you, every single day, but I wasn’t granted permission. I didn’t know what to do, and it drove me crazy.” His head drops, and his eyes squeeze shut. “I didn’t know what they were doing to you. What you were going through. And it killed me, Faye.” Green eyes pooled in sadness find mine. “Every day, it killed me.”
I reach up and caress the side of his face. Standing on my tiptoes, I kiss his cheek and then, slowly, kiss my way to his quivering lips. His hands find my waist, gripping tightly, pulling me into him as he deepens the kiss. My blood is electric, sending sparks to every part of me. He pulls his lips from mine, and it takes me a moment to open my eyes, to let go of the softness of his touch.
“I could… I could kill them for taking you away from me. For making me feel like I’d lost you all over again. I-I need you… so bad it hurts.”
I’m weightless, suspended only by my beating heart.
“I’m here,” I say bravely, gliding my hands down his chest, all the way to the button of his pants. His eyes squeeze shut as he bites his lip. The pain and yearning is written across his face, and I think I’m going to break in half. Melt away, into a puddle at his feet. “I don’t want to waste another minute guessing. I don’t want to waste another minute period.”
I’m consumed by his fever. But then a knock at the door slices through the air, jolting me on the spot. He groans, and the sound itself drives me wild.
“Yo,” Gavin shouts from the other side of the door. “You ran off like a maniac. This will just take a sec.”
Jaxen inhales and runs a hand through his hair, disheveling it into a perfect mess. He kisses my cheek, walks over to the door, and then presses the button that slides it open.
“You guys want to meet for dinner later?” Gavin asks before the door finishes opening. He takes one look at the both of us, and then smiles a large, knowing smile. “Well, you two sure didn’t waste any time. No wonder you jetted off so fast. Horny Devils.”
“Shove it,” Jaxen says, and then presses the button again, shutting the door in Gavin’s face.
“I’m taking that as a yes!” Gavin shouts out on the other side of the door. “Eight o’clock. One hour, little bro.” His voice trails back down the hall as Jaxen turns around and looks at me.
He offers a small smile. “Hey,” he says with an awkward chuckle.
I smile back at him. Twist my feet in. “Hi.”
“It seems even in a new city we can’t avoid interruptions.” He walks back over to me.
“Yeah,” I say, blowing out a large breath.
He clears his throat. Runs his hands down his thighs. “Maybe it’s a sign.”
“A sign?” I start to protest, but he shushes me with a long, deep, kiss. His velvet tongue dances with mine, and his hand finds the small of my back, supporting me as my knees convert to jelly. He kisses me with a certain madness, a longing delivered only by the distance forced between us.
Kissing him fills the hollowed ache inside of me. It eases the pain of everything I can’t control. The things I can’t fix. Of missing my parents, and Katie, and all the conversations we’ll never have.
I feel every emotion storming through him, and share the pain of having been stripped of control.
“I can’t get enough,” he says, trying to catch a breath. Holding me like he’ll never let go again. “I promise you,” he says as he breaks away from the kiss, his chest rising and falling rapidly, “this will happen. It’s going to happen. Soon. This—it’s just not the right time.” There’s desperation in his voice. He’s clinging to the edges of sanity. Of strength.
I run my fingers through his hair and plant a kiss on his lips, ignoring the whirlwind spiraling within me. Ignoring the ache that won’t seem to leave me. “When is the right time?” I ask evenly, trying to control my breathing.
The heat between us is intoxicating.
He rests his forehead against mine. Licks his lips and drags in a breath. It takes him a moment to speak, to pull himself back, and I envy that he even can. I envy his strength and how easy it is for him to slip in and out of desire. “When I can take you out like a normal person, learn all the secrets you’ve kept buried within you,” he says, his eyes sparkling with love. “And after we figure out what the hell is going on here.”
His bucket of ice-cold words splash over me.
I know it’s my turn to speak, but I want to make sure what I say is on point, and I can’t do that when I still feel his hands on my skin and his lips on my body. I can’t quell the storm he’s unleashed, breaking open every part of longing that I spent hour after hour shutting off. There’s no way to pretend that I don’t feel his heart beating wildly against his ribcage, wanting to be set free.
“That could take forever,” I admit, hating how this seems so easy for him.
Maybe he senses this because he exhales like he agrees with me. Like he knows it could take forever, and there’s no way either of us could make it that long. “I won’t be able to hold back forever, Faye. You-you’re so damn perfect. So damn tempting. I’m just… you deserve the best. You should be taken out and properly wooed. You should have the perfect night to give yourself to me, and I intend to make that happen. Very soon.”
I bite the inside of my cheek. My insides don’t care about a proper night, but my heart is flattered. My mind understands. I take his hand and squeeze, trying to be glad that I fell for a perfect gentleman. Striving not to be ashamed of my blatant want for this man who drives every inch of me deliciously insane.
“You never cease to surprise me,” I say, the side of my mouth lifting up.
He chuckles. “I surprise myself,” he admits, “because it’s sure as hell taking every last bit of my self-control to keep from exploring every inch of you right now.” He ruffles a hand in the back of his hair. Tries to keep his eyes on anything but me.
My heart swells. “I uh-maybe we should talk about something else then,” I say, my voice strained and shaky.
“Yeah,” he agrees, taking a seat on my bed. He moves back against the wall, takes in a breath, and then shifts subjects. “I can’t believe Clara got us out.”
“I know, right? I never thought for a second it would be her face I saw when we were released. She’s just always been so… so mean and hateful.” Thoughts of being back at the Academy race through my mind. Clara’s open distaste of me. Mack’s mistrust of her. Her thirst for power. It just doesn’t make sense that she would want to help us… at least not from the kindness of her shriveled-up heart.
 “Clara’s ruthless,” he says, the bitterness in his tone leaving a sour taste in my mouth.
I look to him, wishing for once the answer would come easy for me.
“But maybe,” he says, searching my eyes, “maybe we should go along with it for the time being. See what she wants.” He grabs my hand. “I mean, really, what choice do we have? We’re running out of allies. And choices. Mack isn’t here, and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get in touch with him. She’s basically the only person we have on our side in this city—the only one who’s connected to home.”
“I don’t know about her being on our side, but yeah, I think you’re right. We should at least play along for the time being. At least until the Priesthood reveals what they want next from us,” I say.
He leans his head back and closes his eyes. Drags in a breath. “As much as I hate to admit this. Hell, as much as I hate to go along with this, all we can really do is let go, jump in feet first, and hope for the best,” he says on an exhale. “We just have to keep a keen eye out, and we need to be prepared for whatever they throw at us because, really, we’re all we’ve got, and we have to make that work.”
The sad part is he’s exactly right.

Praise for the Book
"Candace Knoebel is a fantastic author. She knows how to give us characters that we can truly love and root for, and characters that we wish were real so we could punch them in the face. She knows how to write a story that makes you feel, and those are two things that are absolutely necessary to make me love a story. And I absolutely love this story! Highly recommended read!" ~ Jaime Lynn
"Ms Knoebel has done it again with this exhilarating and heart-pounding sequel to the fantastic Everlasting. Just as good as book #1, Evernight was an addictive read that I could not get enough of." ~ Yvonne @ The Shadow Realm
"I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at just how amazing this novel was. There was so much going on all the time that there was no way for you to lose focus. You were tied into this story from the very beginning and by the end of the book you can’t help but just sit and absorb the rollercoaster that you just went through. [...] Bravo Candace on another amazing story !!!!! I truly cannot wait for the next chapter in this story." ~ Amy Moyer

About the Author
Candace Knoebel is the award-winning author of Born in Flames - book one in a young adult fantasy trilogy. She discovered in 2009 through lunch breaks and late nights after putting her kids to bed, a world where she could escape the ever-pressing days of an eight to five Purgatory. And an outlet for all the voices residing in her head.
Published by 48fourteen in 2012, Born in Flames went on to win Turning the Pages Book of the Year award in February of 2013. In January of 2014, the last book in the trilogy, From the Embers, was released, thus completing the trilogy. She now works on the Night Watchmen series, while guzzling Red Bulls and pretending to be a ninja on Heelys.

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