Where Darkness Lives

By: Alexandra Ivy

To Don, who kept me sane with plenty

of fresh cheese and much-needed comfort when

I was drowning in snow . . . love ya!





CHAPTER 1


Sophia was a female who took pride in being idolized by her fellow pure-blooded Weres.

Why shouldn’t they worship her?

Not only had she managed to produce a litter of four healthy daughters during a time when the Weres were hovering on the brink of extinction, but one daughter, Darcy, had managed to mate with Styx, the King of all Vampires, while another daughter, Regan, had wed Styx’s most trusted vampire guard, Jagr, and a third, Harley, had landed Salvatore as a mate, the current King of Weres.

She was literally choking on royal sons-in-law.

And if that wasn’t enough, her fourth daughter, Cassandra, had been revealed as a prophet, the rarest of all creatures. Although she was currently missing, dammit to hell.

Sophia took equal pride in her reputation as being the “bitch of all bitches.”

It was a reputation she’d worked hard to earn and the primary reason why she’d hesitated before she’d returned to Chicago to purchase the sprawling brick house in the chi-chi neighborhood near the shores of Lake Michigan.

She didn’t want anyone thinking she’d become all mushily maternal in her old age. Okay, she might be secretly delighted that her daughter Harley was expecting her first litter of children. And there might be the teeny-tiniest desire to settle into a lair near her family.

It wasn’t like she was going to sit around knitting booties.

Hell, she’d just opened a high-end strip club with the finest male Were dancers to be found in the Northern Hemisphere. Sophia’s Menagerie would soon be known as the one and only destination for women of discerning taste.

Human or demon.

And of course, she’d already managed to cause a stir among her snotty neighbors.

Without undue vanity she knew she was drop-dead gorgeous.

Her hair was a curtain of pale gold satin that tumbled to the center of her back. Her face was heart-shaped with fragile features that were dominated by a pair of pure green eyes. And her slender body, which was currently attired in skintight leather pants and barely there halter top, could (and often did) stop traffic.

But it was the smoldering sexuality that heated the air around her, along with the predatory hunger in her smile that made the men trip over their tongues when she was near.

And made women detest her on sight.

The flutter over her arrival had definitely added a spice to her move to the stuck-up, overly pretentious gated community.

And earned her an enemy.

Sophia shook off the unwelcome thought as she stomped across the tiled floor of her foyer to yank open one of the double oak doors that was framed by high arched windows.

“Go away,” she growled.

Ignoring her warning, the tall, raven-haired Were attired in a black Gucci suit with a white shirt and blue silk tie brushed past her.

Salvatore, King of all Weres, looked like royalty with his arrogantly handsome features and golden eyes that glowed with the power of his wolf. His hair was slicked into a short tail at his nape, and his lips curved into a sardonic smile.

“Is that any way to greet your favorite son-in-law?” he demanded, folding his arms over his chest.

Sophia planted her hands on her hips, not about to be intimidated. Salvatore might be her king, but she’d already gone above and beyond when it came to duty to her people.

She was done taking orders.

“Have you found Cassandra?” she demanded, referring to her missing daughter.

Salvatore grimaced. “Not yet.”

“Then you’re not my favorite son-in-law and we have nothing to discuss.” She motioned her hand toward the still open door. “Ta-ta.”

“Cristo, Sophia.” Salvatore frowned, his Italian accent more pronounced than usual. “Why will you not be reasonable?”

It was a tediously familiar argument.

“By reasonable I assume you mean, ‘Why won’t I be a good girl and allow myself to be incarcerated in Styx’s dungeon? ’”

The king snorted. “Hardly a dungeon. I might not like the leeches, but not even you can deny Styx’s lair is the finest piece of real estate in Chicago. It makes most museums look shabby.”

It was true.

Styx and Darcy’s lair, which was only a few miles to the north, was a sprawling mausoleum filled with acres of marble and gilt and priceless works of art.