A Ruin of Shattered Secrets – Magic and Marvels Read Online Max Walker

Categories Genre: Fantasy/Sci-fi, Paranormal Tags Authors:

Total pages in book: 96
Estimated words: 88613 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 443(@200wpm)___ 354(@250wpm)___ 295(@300wpm)

Maddox Blackthorne
I was determined to fulfill my best friend’s dying wish: see the lost Moriarty paintings in person.

With two Moriartys in hand, I tracked down the final painting – and walked straight into a deadly trap.

Caleb Forrester, a Marvel detective working a case, was also caught.

He was broody, quiet, and the exact distraction I couldn't afford.

Caleb’s arrival unveiled a centuries-old mystery promising to destroy the world. Cults, stolen paintings, secrets, and a thirst for him I can't deny... the mission might be the least dangerous part of all this.
Caleb Forrester
Whispers of the apocalypse weren't my thing.

Neither was working a job that put me in the path of a dangerous cult.


But then Maddox, the devastatingly handsome dragon shifter, flew into my life. Despite our icy start, an undeniable connection sparked, pushing us together in a desperate hunt for the missing paintings.

The Crimson Ring clearly wanted them just as bad. I’m suddenly faced with a choice: master the power I despise using or watch the cult bring about the end of the world.

The stakes are terrifying, yet with every brush of his skin against mine, I start to crave Maddox so deeply it threatens to eclipse even my fear of the apocalypse.

*************FULL BOOK START HERE*************

Chapter 1

Crimson Chaos


I fucked up. The blood on my hands proved that. So did the dying (possibly already dead, shit) fae lying at my feet. Her ruby-red eyes appeared empty as she stared up at the cob-web covered ceiling. The crimson ring on her hand glittered with a menacing light, swirling as if it contained blood around its circumference.

Fuuuuck, I really fucked up.

The painting I came looking for was to my left. A beautiful thing. A scenescape of midnight black mixed with swirls of pearlescent color. It was held in an ornate golden frame, filigreed with leaves and vines that formed letters. I could have easily reached for it and grabbed it, but the Enforcers currently running up the stairs of the apartment building in my direction would likely have something to say about me flying off with the painting.

Not to mention, it was a fake. There was a tear in the canvas near the top left.


What made things even more complicated was the fact that there was only one exit in this shoe-box sized attic. I could shift into my dragon form and tear the ceiling off this place, which would help with my lack of escape routes, but it would also draw all the attention possible. That wasn’t exactly something I wanted to do. There was a window I could possibly blow out, but it would be a very tight fit, and I wasn’t looking forward to getting sliced up with glass.

The footsteps grew louder. I didn’t have any time to debate with myself.

Glass it was.

I raised a hand and launched a shard of ice. It went directly through the window, shattering it, glass flying outward into the bright blue afternoon sky. I could hear it rain down on the street below. A couple of “what the fucks?” drifted upward. I glanced at the fake painting again and shot another dagger of ice, slicing through the canvas. It tore apart, the image of a charcoal-and-rainbow-painted hellscape seemingly falling apart.

I ran toward the window, but it was too late. The footsteps reached the door. It flung open, the flimsy piece of wood rattling in the doorframe. I turned, ready to cover the floor in ice to hopefully slow them down, but stopped when I didn’t spot the ivory-robed Enforcers I had been expecting.

“Don’t move,” the Marvel at the door said. He held out a hand, where the mind-bending blue threads of mana swirled around his open palm.

The man—handsome, I had to admit… hot, really—looked at the painting and went pale. Then he saw the fae at my feet, and the color returned, anger twisting his features. His eyes darted back to me. “You—how did you—why?”

I shook my head. Now wasn’t the time for explanations. I didn’t owe this (admittedly very hot) man a single thing. He was tall, with just enough muscles and frame to balance him out, with short dark brown hair and arresting blue eyes that nearly bordered on gray, wearing a black V-neck shirt and blue jeans that hugged his lithe legs.

Just my type. Damn.

If this were any other day, any other situation, I would have made some dumb pickup line and have him over to the castle, where I’d devour him like candy. I’d toss those long legs over my shoulder and show him how good sex could really feel.

Today wasn’t any other day. I raised my hand and shot another icicle, this time aiming for the light directly above the man’s handsome head. It hit the bulb and got the man scrambling. I turned and went for my grand escape through the tiny-ass window when this messy situation turned into a shitstorm.

Neither of us had realized that the sound of footsteps had returned. Not until the door swung open again and revealed two figures cloaked in ruby red. They dropped their hoods and revealed sinister smiles, their beady gazes locked on me. It wasn’t their eyes that people noticed first, though. It was the perfect ring of still-searing flesh on their foreheads, enchanted to look as though they had just held the burning brand against their forehead minutes ago, even though those marks had likely been made long, long before, after they had graduated from initiates to full-blown cult members.

The Crimson Ring.

“Maddox Blackthorne,” one of them said, pulling two long blades out from under her robe, their hilts the same blood red as the burning circle on her forehead. Neither of them paid any attention to the Marvel, who had his back pressed against the wall. I kept a sliver of my attention on him. Not because he was a threat, but because he looked so damn threatened. The cocky and ready-to-fight air he had put on earlier seemed to evaporate the moment the cultists walked through the door. “It appears we’re after the same thing here. Why don’t we work together?”