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Cassie Alexander

Break Her: Book Two of The Transformation Trilogy (Special Edition Hardcover)

Break Her: Book Two of The Transformation Trilogy (Special Edition Hardcover)

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Format

Beauty and the Beast meets Howl's Moving Castle

🔥 Slow Burn MF Enemies to Lovers

🔥 Beastly Man x Virg!n Princess

🔥 Agè Gap

🔥 Mentor/Student

🔥 BĎSM

❤ HEA

Synopsis

I wanted her.

She was just two floors away from me here in my castle.

And some piece of her—naïve and inexperienced—wanted me.

The man who was doomed to die at her hand.

I could mostly ignore that fact, now that I was used to her presence, and my intermittent lust. But I wondered if not telling her about it was a bigger betrayal than not telling her about my arrangement with her father. If she did manage her Ascension—and when she found out what that meant—then she would know the truth.

That there hadn’t been a moment, ever since we met, that I didn’t see my death inside her eyes.

I could only hope that the shame of her learning that would be absolved by a second realization: that I had loved her anyway.

Break Her: A Dark Beauty and the Beast Fantasy Romance novel is the second book in the Transformation Trilogy, about Rhaim the All-Beast, a cruel beast mage doomed to die at the hands of the woman he must protect at all costs, and Lisane, the sheltered Princess of Tears, who has been given into his care and who needs him to teach her magic so she can be free—no matter how much it might hurt her.

Read Chapter One

LISANE

I ran to the hallway to stop him, but I was too late—Rhaim had portaled away, leaving me alone in his castle, while he went off to kill my father.

I turned to the wall and pounded a fist upon it, and then groaned. I was still sore from working magic earlier. I put a hand beneath my breast to where my ribs ached—the tub’s waters hadn’t healed me completely, but I was out of magic now.

And I was trapped here, unable to stop his vengeance. I wasn’t strong enough on my own, because my magic didn’t work unless someone else had hurt me.

Rhaim’s name for me was right—compared to him, I was a moth.

Something beautiful, but easily crushed. * * *

RHAIM

I didn’t portal directly to Jaegar’s war tent—instead, I moved from place to place miles away in the surrounding countryside, in the dark, using my magic to pull the wolves that I knew were there closer to the outskirts of the camp and human firelight.

And when I was finished, I portaled myself to a spot in front of Jaegar’s tent. His nightly guards saw me, but none of them appeared concerned—they knew who I was, and by now they were used to the odd comings and goings of other mages—and Jaegar likely hadn’t told them they were going to war with one. I summoned one of the owls that nested nearby to eat the rodents that such a large encampment encouraged, and it came to me, still carrying the gold ring I’d bent around its foot the day before. I pried this object off of it and set it free, waiting patiently for my plan to come together, even as I seethed with the need to act.

Jaegar had thought he’d take Lisane away from me? After having given her to me in the first place?

And all because she had chosen my company over his?

I hadn’t read the letter from her I’d delivered to him, thinking myself above it at the time, but now I wished I had—I would’ve read the sentence where she said she wasn’t returning a thousand times.

As it was—I reached out with my mind and heard several distant howls. My creatures were in their places.

“I call a convocation!” I shouted aloud.

Jaegar’s guards, who’d begun to eye me with curiosity, startled. They had no idea what a convocation meant—but other mages would, and I knew Jaegar’s throne-sworn slept nearby.

Castillion the Spiked came out of the next tent over, shirtless and half-awake. “A convocation? On what grounds?”

“Your king tried to steal from me.” I watched him with glittering eyes, waiting for him to try to deny it. The obvious question would’ve been to ask “Steal what?” but we both knew Castillion didn’t need to guess. He’d been the one to deliver a sleeping Lisane to me two months prior.

There were more howls now, as wolves spoke to other wolves, and I heard the clamor and surprise of men waking to the sound.

“All-Beast,” Castillion complained, after waving his hand toward Jaegar’s tent, sending one of Jaegar’s guards scurrying inside.

“Do you deny it?” I took a broad step forward. My beast hated him to an irrational degree, and I felt its pull inside me, asking to be set loose.

Castillion’s jaw ground and I knew the man hated me back. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he spat.

My eyes narrowed. I knew Castillion was Jaegar’s closest mage—and it didn’t sound like he was lying. My rational, mannish part wanted to gather more information to understand, whereas my beast thought Castillion would quickly confess if he were made to see his own intestines.

Other mages gathered, whomever was at camp and not out on missions fighting the Deathless—the war against the monsters was a round-the-clock operation, seeing that as of yet no one could predict when they’d attack. I heard them murmuring concerns to one another, giving me wide berth, and I saw Sibyi the Rainmaker join their ranks, leaning heavily on his staff, still healing after having recently broken his leg.

I waited until my wolves’ howls reached a crescendo, making it clear that the entire camp was surrounded by creatures loyal only to me, and then with a gesture from my hand, their howling stopped, leaving ominous silence behind.

“You all know I had no interest in the lives of men,” I said, addressing my fellow mages solely, though I knew soldiers beyond them would hear as well. If this camp had just been full of soldiers, I would have killed them all in thoughtless retribution for trying to steal Lisane, but I knew I needed to prove my case to those who were of my kind. “And perhaps some of you know that for years, Jaegar tried to tempt me into his battles, offering what I suspect he offered most of you. Gold, power, opportunities for greatness—things I needed none of, or that I already possessed.”

I saw Castillion’s eyes widen as he realized what I would share next.

“A day before I joined your ranks, Jaegar made a bargain with me. He had Castillion deposit his daughter, Lisane, outside my castle, for me to do with as I please, and I have fought for him ever since.”

There were gasps at this. Castillion stepped forward, the spikes he was named for rippling across his naked chest, metal piercing through his skin, and my beast longed to answer his challenge. “Rhaim!” he shouted.

“I let her think you dead, rather than a disappointment!” I snarled as the howls outside of camp started up again, louder, closer, as I summoned the wolves to me.

Castillion shot a spike out through one palm, where he could use it like a sword.

“Rhaim called convocation!” Sibyi shouted. “He’s not done talking!”

“Indeed,” I agreed. And if Castillion attacked me now, I would have the right to kill him—and in the unlikely event he survived the attack, other mages would shun him for the rest of his days. So I slowly turned and made sure my voice would carry. “I have been side by side with many of you. I have saved some of your lives, to be sure, and at least a thousand Deathless have been murdered by my hands,” I said, and raised an arm into the air, clawing my fingers into a fist.

“And yet,” I said, finishing my circuit, to face Jaegar who had finally emerged from his tent, “And yet—yesterday he betrayed me. Sent men to attack me at my castle. To try to take what is mine back.”

“I did no such thing,” Jaegar proclaimed.

I laughed harshly as the wolves I’d called in raced through the camp, scaring the circle of lesser mages who kept the camp safe from the Deathless. I could see through the wolves eyes as the men they encountered jumped back in terror. “Have you no honor?” I asked Jaegar.

Helkin, Jaegar’s son and Lisane’s brother, ran up—and he had somehow known to put all of his armor on. “He has more honor than you do, monster!”

No. I wasn’t monstrous, yet—but I soon would be. “You gave her to me,” I growled, my deep voice going rough as I started to change, my bones bending and pushing out into my far more frightening form, half again as big as any human could be, covered in muscle and short dark fur. “She is mine.” I laid claim to her, even as my mouth crowded with teeth. “And anyone who tries to take her from me will be punished.”

I snaked my head around to include everyone else who was near. I wanted them all to know. Now that Lisane was within my castle, and within my grasp—

“I am never releasing her,” I snarled, and then focused my attention back on Jaegar. “Ask him the truth of things. He knows she is happy.”

Jaegar’s spine was made of steel—and I knew he was where Lisane had gotten her stubbornness from. But I still had his ring in my palm, as proof of having delivered Lisane’s letter. All the men here would recognize the markings on it, even though it was bent, if he made me show it to them.

He stared me down. “Happy—no,” he said, and then took a deep inhale. “But she does want to stay with you, All-Beast, for now.”

And it was my turn to seem unbothered, even though I was. My beast didn’t care if Lisane was happy, so long as she was his—but the man in me took the news of her unhappiness like a blow, even as I understood its cause.

I had hurt her.

Many times now, on purpose. That she was willing to be hurt didn’t change that fact.

The first of my wolves reached the center of camp, leaping in to sit by my side, calmly panting with his tongue lolling out, as more wove through tents to join him. Nosy soldiers on the perimeter shouted and shirked back, while Jaegar and Helkin’s guards crowded closer. I didn’t want the wolves to get injured, so I hadn’t told them that they should be angry—yet—as they circled me.

“Father, how can you say that?” Helkin gasped, whirling to look at the man.

“She wrote me a letter that Rhaim was so kind as to deliver recently.”

Helkin appeared horrified by this, and I began to guess the truth of things. Lisane hadn’t lied to me when she’d told me she’d wanted to stay . . . and Jaegar wasn’t likely lying about his ignorance, now that he was confessing the letter’s existence, and as much as admitting to our bargain, before the whole camp.

Which left Helkin and his friend Vethys, Lisane’s former betrothed, whose corpse was now feeding fish in the Azurlean Sea. I took a step toward the boy, as the wolves nearest me took to snarling. Castillion leapt in front of him, his spike-sword out.

“Where is your friend?” I asked Helkin, jerking my jaw up. “The one your age, with the purple cross on his breast-plate?”

“I don’t know,” he lied—but I could scent his fear with my own nose and the noses of the surrounding wolves.

“Well, if you don’t know, then I certainly don’t know, either,” I said, and gave him a menacing smile. Let Vethys’s people come to Jaegar and wonder what happened to their floating battleship and child. Let him explain to them that I killed every single man aboard, including their son—because his own son had sent him to me. “But let me ask you this—do you truly want her back, or do you just not want me to have her?”

Helkin didn’t answer.

If my beast were left alone with him . . . the wolves nearest me began growling, matching his mood.

But I needed to become a man again eventually and face Lisane. If she were already unhappy now, discovering that I had killed members of her family would not endear me further, no matter how richly they deserved it.

I turned away from him and spoke to my fellow mages first. “Do not trust the soldiers or your king,” I said, before sneering up at Jaegar. “Our bargain is broken.” And then I addressed anyone who could hear me. “Anyone else who dares trespass against me, to try to take what is mine,” I said, snarling as the wolves did, “will never know peace again, not even as a corpse, because once you are dead I will have jackals shake your body apart and vultures strip your bones.”

The wolves began a raucous howling, punctuating my curse from both inside and outside of camp, and I joined them, my beast’s voice every bit as wild as theirs. I had thought I’d portal elsewhere after this, to bide my time until I was in full control of myself again, but decided against it. I didn’t want to leave the wolves in danger here among the soldiers—I put Jaegar’s ring in my mouth, and raced out of camp with them on all fours.

I wanted everyone present to see me for who I truly was—no man, but the All-Beast.

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