Catastrophic Attraction - Eve Langlais Page 0,1

from birth that everything on the outside could kill them. Even the very air.

But not everyone believed that. Political dissent emerged from those who questioned the status quo. In the Emerald Kingdom, the Wasteland Rats—also known as “those damned raiding bastards”—weren’t willing to live by Enclave laws. On the contrary, they wanted to bring the Enclave down. Yet when the queen died, there was a fight over who would rule the Wastelands.

And they still weren’t safe. They needed a home. A place they could live free.

Emerald wasn’t the only domain to struggle. In the Sapphire Kingdom, tired of the oppression, a man who could have been a highly ranked Enclave member emerged from the squalor of the marshes.

A nobody.

A water rat who decided he wouldn’t allow someone else to tell him what to do. And as he fought back against a system that treated people like vermin, he found himself an unlikely leader.

Then a ruler.

It was only a small step after that to declare himself king.

Chapter 1

The nudge of a cold nose woke him.

“Sachi,” he grumbled, turning away from the cat.

His feline had no concept of boundaries, or time. If she wanted a scratch, it happened now. Forget the fact Roark might be sleeping. If Sachi decided her ears required a good scrub, she had no problem waking him up. As a matter of fact, the first time he met her, she’d burrowed her way under his blanket in the marsh and almost got stabbed for it.

Imagine his surprise to find a kitten snuggled close. She’d seemed so sweet and innocent with her big eyes. As she grew into a sleek feline, she also turned out to be bossy.

The odd thing was she didn’t keep nudging at him. Usually Sachi kept poking at Roark until he yelled or scratched her damned belly. Not this time. With his attention on her, she walked away, jumping lightly from the bed to the floor. He might have fallen back asleep except for one thing. The pure silence. A home was never completely quiet. A castle even less so.

Roark waited in his bed, listening for any kind of sound. The usual hum of the electricity running through the batteries of the various appliances in his room was missing. Not uncommon at night when items were shut down to preserve power sources, but on top of the quiet of the machines, there was an absence of people. No shuffling of the guards in the halls who insisted on standing watch outside his door. It could be they slept. Could be they were being super quiet.

Not likely. Men in armor tended to creak. Since he didn’t sense anyone in his room, he got to his feet and padded across the floor, noticing the heaviness in the air, the thickness of it stifling and dulling his senses.

He reached the door and paused for a listen. Not even a huff of breath or a gentle snore. He eased it open and peered outside. The guards watching his room were slumped to the floor, chins slack, drooling away as they slept. Their captain would take issue even though he’d wager they didn’t sleep naturally.

He eyed the stairs that wound one floor higher in the tower and cast out his senses only to run into that thick cloak of silence. The mere fact it existed meant he had to check.

He didn’t bother putting on shoes or even a shirt. Nor did he grab a weapon. He had no need of one. He mounted the steps quickly, and the moment he made the final turn, his gaze settled on the door. Flanking it, two more sleeping guards. The portal was slightly open, which shouldn’t be the case. Not this time of night. Not that room.

Panic clutched him, and he ran, his feet slapping the floor. He managed to deflect the sound lest he give warning. The unnatural state of the guards became glaringly obvious, as they didn’t move despite the fact he toppled one in passing.

He reached the doorway knowing his advisors would yell at him for not requesting assistance. But he wasn’t a king who relied on others to act for him. He also wasn’t a coward. He took a breath and charged in.

Roark halted so abruptly he almost teetered. He froze at the sight of the stranger cradling his sleeping daughter in their arms.

Oh, like fuck. The room filled with an ominous shadow that pushed against the miasma that demanded he sleep. That kind of mind trick didn’t work