Veil of Lies
The heart of a bear loves deep and true…but how much is too much to forgive?
Bear shifter, Armand St. John, learned the hard way that waiting can cost you the one you love. Now getting a second chance at happiness, he’s determined not to make the same mistake again. But will his demands for a commitment have his love running into his arms or drive her away? And will the woman of his dreams avoid danger long enough to realize they were meant to be together? A veil of lies, deception and denial surrounds the star-crossed couple in this ninth instalment of Nicky Charles’ Law of the Lycans.
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A few hours later, Armand strolled down the road that led into town. After discussing possible upgrades to the security system and sharing a few drinks with his friends, he was heading home. Ryne had offered him a ride, however he preferred to walk, the night air clearing the alcohol from his head.
The breeze had faded, not a leaf moved. Moonlight illuminated the path he travelled, the gravel on the side of the road crunching under his feet. As he passed by the cemetery he paused as he always did, his eyes drawn to a well-maintained grave.
At its base, he could see the shadowy outline of the bouquet of wildflowers he’d placed there a few days ago. They were drooping, the brightness of their petals already dimming. Like the woman in the grave, their cheeriness had been destined to fade.
His heart ached at the harsh reality and he paused, hands shoved into his pockets, as he stared at the cold slab of stone that was supposed to remind the world of Lucy’s existence. Her name, date of birth and death. Stark facts that conveyed nothing of her essence. What of her beauty and laughter? Her wisdom and kindness? Her generous heart?
Forgotten. Erased from the face of the earth by a criminal act. She’d been a lovely flower plucked in her prime. While her energy no doubt survived in some new form, it was a cruel twist of fate that she’d been taken so young.
As it often did, darkness filled him at such thoughts and he quickened his pace, wanting…no, needing to exorcise those feelings before they dragged him down into a pit too deep to escape.
He unlocked the back door of the bar and climbed the stairs to his private rooms. Passing the bedroom and small sitting area with its sturdy wooden furnishings, he entered his art studio, put a fresh canvas on his easel and grabbed his paints and brushes.
Dark blues, purples and black, hard-edged shapes that spoke of his grief and torment, bold strokes that spattered paint on his forearms and shirt. He vented his feelings through his brush, unaware of the passage of time, his whole being focused on the creation before him. There was no beauty in the piece, no hope or light, just rage and sorrow and darkness.
Many years ago, when I wrote The Keeping, Armand, the owner of the Broken Antler, appeared in my imagination. He was a simple secondary character, meant to round out the population of Stump River and perhaps provide a bit of humour. I had no plans to use him in another story and the fact he looked like a bear was not intended to mean he was a bear-shifter, or at least it wasn’t until the end of the book when Ryne revealed Armand’s true identity to me!
It was an interesting turn of events, but I tucked it away in the back of my mind, still not intending to include him in future stories. Oh, how naïve I was!
Readers, to my surprise, had become attached to him and upset with me (rather than the villain, Aldrich) for ruining his happy ending. The emails began to arrive, private messages were sent, comments were left on Facebook… I began to realize I had underestimated the impact of the character.
Still, I couldn’t write about him if I didn’t have a story in mind. I mulled over various ideas, but none seemed right and those that had potential required certain other events to occur first. Plus, there were characters who were very demanding about getting their stories told and jumped to the front of the figurative line. Armand, thankfully, was very patient and let me attend to the others, but he never quite stopped hinting he’d like his turn.
Well, finally his time has come, and Armand is getting his HEA. I hope you like it because it was a ‘bearish’ story to write, if you’ll pardon the pun! (It might be a while before Jan forgives me for all the rewrites that were required!)
What Readers are saying…
“I love reading her stories! The world of shifters has never been better described … It is so believable. The characters are great fun and they evolve throughout each book. Love, love love!!!”
Kodi H (Amazon)
“…lots of twists and turns you won't be expecting and will keep you turning those pages. You will laugh, you will cry and you will definitely want to knock a few heads together.”
“Enthralling as Ever. I've read all the books in this series, some more than once, and am never disappointed! Nicky does a great job of drawing you in to the sincerity of the characters and their plight.”
“Nicky once again pulls the reader into her Lycan world. The intricate web between the different shifters is expertly woven as the focus on the Law of the Lycans is maintained.”
S.D.Stevens, Author (Smashwords)