The Hunter’s Vow

It’s the end of the Academy as we know it…

Grim Lockton is the biggest, roughest, and surliest member of our monster hunter team. And he hates me.

From the moment I set foot on Wellington Academy’s campus, the brutally fierce hunter has kept me off balance with cutting insults and cryptic taunts, his pale gold eyes full of withering disdain. To him, I’m nothing more than monster bait.

Despite his sneers, I can’t help watching Grim, wanting to understand him…get close to him. And maybe I hope he wants me, too. That the bone-melting heat I feel building between us is real.

Wrong on all counts.

With a shocking betrayal, Grim launches a winner-take-all monster war that threatens to destroy everyone I’ve come to love at Wellington Academy. But there’s more to Grim’s story than he’s ever shared, and when the truth comes out, it shatters everything I thought I knew about monsters, the academy—and Grim himself. Now, I just can’t quit my savagely beautiful monster warrior…

So I’m going to have to save him instead.

**THE HUNTER’S VOW is book 4 in the Monster Hunter Academy series, an urban fantasy romance with one heroine on an impossible quest, four smokin’ hot hunters-in-training who’ve got her back…and every other part of her…and way too many monsters to hide in a closet. Keep your blades at the ready and dive in!**

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Read an Excerpt

PROLOGUE: Grim

Kill her.

The orders were clear, direct. They always were. I was to find and kill the woman who’d defied possibility. Who’d escaped the most powerful magicians in two realms, vanishing into the night without a trace, never to return. Five years after her disappearance, every other magical means of tracking her having failed, it was my turn at the hunt. I was supposed to unearth the bitch from her squalid hole, murder her in the night, then bring back the evidence of my kill and toss it before my masters like the prized beast I was.

They owned me, after all.

They believed they’d created me.

That all their years of imprisonment and torture had finally honed me into the perfect killing machine, ruthless and obedient, filled with hatred for anything but ripping creatures apart.

They weren’t entirely wrong. Fulfilling a vow so old, I’d long ago forgotten its details, I’d walked for generations in their filth, mired in the stink of their ambition and pride. I’d pushed aside what it was to feel the open sky above me, the warmth of a sun not proscribed by their magic or their rules.

By the time they sent me on the hunt for the woman who’d defied them, I already carried a dozen unhealable scars. Other scars, they couldn’t see. My mother and father, skinned before my eyes, trophies from their first wave of terror. My people, gutted and scattered before we’d learned to fight back, reawakening old alliances and unearthing ancient lore.

I didn’t hunt with my people, though. I was the sacrifice on bended knee, bowing beneath the magicians’ rod and flame. And I had vowed to accept any charge of my masters, obey any order, until the time was right for us to strike these dark invading bastards dead. Every last one of them.

So at my masters’ command, I went into the forests and picked up a five-year-old trail laced with magic and unexpected wards—wards I knew at once that no magician could break.

I could break them, though.

And I did. I found the woman who had so betrayed my keepers. An ordinary woman, with the barest flare of magic within her, for all that she carried protections from far beyond the bounds of her simple world. I didn’t care. I was proud. Relieved. Ready for the kill.

Driven and tormented by the twisting spells that bound me, I leapt at the chance to cement my position with my enemies, to bring us that much closer to the final war. I tracked the wretched creature, following her mysterious wards and the trailing perfume of the plants she carried with her that had no place in her forested idyll. I raced faster and faster, and finally, her scent in my nose and mouth and the fever of death in my eyes, I broke through the canopy of trees to take her—

Only…she wasn’t there.

Instead, a fierce and furious child stood in that clearing, waiting for me. A little girl of five years old, her dull iron knife held high, her eyes blazing with a pure and desperate power that unleashed a torrent of emotion in me so intense, I froze in place. This girl was magic. She was fire. She was every treasured memory ever made and every hope for a future yet to be born. She was the harbinger we were waiting for. The promise of the ancient oracles.

She also wasted no time.

She attacked.

We came together in a jolt of magic that ripped open our flesh to the bone, scored our skin, and mixed our blood, a fury of slashing knife and claws and teeth. With every cut, she tore through me. With every strike, I claimed her. I could not, would not kill her. But I would mark her, through and through. Mark her so deeply that she would never be anything other than mine.

Then I left her. Bleeding, battered, delirious. Close to death. But she wouldn’t die, I knew. She was the harbinger. She would fulfill the prophecy.

So I watched. I waited. Lying to my masters, feeding them lies and possibilities, eventually convincing them to let me set foot upon the hallowed grounds of Wellington Academy. I gained the trust of young magicians I had sworn to destroy. I learned their ways, their dreams. And when I felt the keening cry of the girl whose blood ran through my own veins, mourning the death of her beloved mother, I knew it was time. I pushed her, just a little, to come to this city of dark magicians and lies.

After that, the plan was simple. I would betray the now grown-up harbinger. Bend her to my century-old plan to free my people once and for all. With her as a lever, a weapon of perfect and powerful force, I would fulfill my vow. I would use her, kill her, if necessary. I would make the final sacrifice, no matter what it took.

But then I fell in love with her.

Monster Hunter Academy Series