The Darkest Touch

By: Gena Showalter

Dear Reader,

Have you ever wanted something you couldn’t have—and shouldn’t crave? Welcome to Torin’s world. For him, every day is a study in denial. He desires contact with another person more than air to breathe, food to eat or water to drink, but it’s forbidden. Well, not exactly forbidden, but definitely disastrous. One second of skin-to-skin contact with him means certain death.

But finally, the gloves are coming off.

He’s never wanted anyone the way he wants Keeley. Spoiler alert: he will cave to temptation, and he will touch her.

Does she sicken? Or is she the only female on the planet immune to his demon?

These are the two questions I have been asked most. Two questions I have refused to answer. I still refuse. What I will admit? I rewrote this book three times in search of the perfect heroine for him. The end result was everything I’d dreamed and more. But more important, Keeley was everything Torin needed—even if he didn’t know it.

Here’s to love, laughter and happily-ever-afters!

I wish you all the best,

Gena Showalter

Over the years I have been unbelievably blessed.

I have met some amazing people and made incredible, lifelong friendships. I’m looking at you, Kresley Cole.

You are gorgeous, brilliant, witty and talented,

and you inspire me in so many ways. THANK YOU!

I’m also looking at you, Jill Monroe.

You’ve been around for all the highs and lows,

cheering me on, offering comfort. You never hesitated to

say yes when I called and said, “Let’s get away for a few days.” Even better—you never hesitated when I somehow managed to book us a honeymoon suite. Twice.

To my amazing editor Emily Ohanjanians.

You aren’t afraid to tell me when something doesn’t work and then guide me toward something better, and I’m so grateful! Remember my first attempt at writing this book?

Well, I’m superglad no one else will have the chance LOL.

And to Naomi Lahn, my contest winner.

You are a delight, and your support is beyond appreciated!

“What’s my sign? Cancer.”

—Torin, Lord of the Underworld


“DON’T DIE. Don’t you dare die.” Frantic, Torin dug through a backpack crammed with clothing, weapons and medical supplies. He’d packed it days ago, blindly filling it with everything he’d thought he might need. There was no mouth guard. Fine. He’d proceed without one.

He hurried to his companion’s motionless form, straddled her waist. Her precious life slipped away with every second that passed. CPR was a last resort, but suddenly her only hope, and because they were locked inside a dungeon, no one else inside their cell, the responsibility belonged to him alone. The guy who’d rarely ever come this close to another person.

Just call me Wonder Doc.

He flattened his gloved hands over Mari’s delicate chest—still, too still. But rather than proceed as he should have, he found himself pausing to savor the rare and extraordinary connection with the opposite sex. So soft. So luscious.

What the hell am I doing? Jaw clenched, he pushed.


Too hard. He’d just broken her sternum and probably several of her ribs.

Guilt pierced straight through his heart, and if the organ hadn’t already been shredded beyond repair, it might have hurt. Sweat trickled down his temples as he pressed against Mari’s chest more gently. Nothing else broke. Good. Okay. He pressed again and again, gradually increasing his speed. But how fast was too fast? What helped? What damaged?

“Come on, Mari.” She was human, but strong. Fragile, but resilient. “Stay with me. You can survive this, I know you can.”

Her head lolled to the side, her glassy eyes staring out at nothing.

“No. No!” He checked her for a pulse, waited...but never felt even the weakest of beats.

As he returned his hands to her chest to start over, his gaze locked on her blood-splattered lips; his mind willed them to part, a cough to escape. It would mean the sickness still plagued her, but sick was better than dead any day of the week.

“Mari, please.” He heard the desperation in his voice, didn’t care. I can’t be the one to kill someone so sweet.

Torin pushed harder, heard another crack.

Hell. He wasn’t some pansy crier, but damn if tears didn’t scald the backs of his eyes.

He’d come to think of this girl as a friend, and despite the numerous centuries he’d lived, he didn’t have many of those. He always protected the ones he had.

Until her.

If not for him, she never would have sickened in the first place.

Again he felt for a pulse. Still no beat.

Cursing, he set back to work. Five minutes...ten...twenty. He was Mari’s life support, the only thing standing between her and death; he would do this however long proved necessary.

Pull through, Mari. You have to pull through.

“Fight this!” But as another eternity elapsed without any change in her, he finally admitted his efforts weren’t doing any good. She was already gone.

Already dead.

And there was nothing he could do to bring her back.

With a roar, Torin wrenched away and paced the cell like the caged animal he was. His arms shook. His back and thighs ached. But what was physical pain compared to mental? Emotional? This was his fault. He’d known what would happen if ever he touched the girl, and he’d lured her closer anyway.

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