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Marked by Sin (The Gatekeeper Chronicles #1)
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In an alternate London, where ancient Hindu gods rule, one woman holds humanity’s fate in her blood-stained hands…
Adopted by Brahma Corp’s Assassin Guild and raised as one of their own, Malina Hayes is about to make her fiftieth kill. After bringing down forty-nine of London’s worst criminals, this latest job shouldn’t be a big deal. But if Malina is successful, she’ll receive her first milestone mark. Ascension in the ranks, better pay, and a swanky flat in Soho all sound like very good reasons to make this kill count.
But fate and destiny have different plans for Malina. Seconds away from receiving the coveted milestone mark, Malina is torn away from the world she knows and thrust onto a new path—one where the purity of her soul will determine the very fate of mankind. Trouble is, Malina’s kill orders were a lie. The targets she assassinated were innocents, and each one has left a terrible stain on her soul.
Stains she must now remove, at any cost.
Atoning for the blood of fifty victims is no mean feat, especially for someone who has spent their entire life killing. But if Malina fails, the lock on the gates of the underworld will crumble to dust. And we all know what happens when a legion of demons is unleashed upon the world…
Especially when they have their sights set on you.
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Amrit – Ambrosia of the gods. Any who drink it will be granted immortality.
Apsara – Water nymphs who used to grace the god Indra’s court with their beautiful dancing
Garuda – A large, legendary bird created by the gods to hunt and kill naga. He is the only one of his kind.
Ghandava – Winged male nature spirits. Some have the body of a horse. Renowned for their musical ability, they also graced the court of the gods.
Indra – Vedic Deity, God of the first heaven. God of lightning, thunderstorms, rain, and river flows.
Kubera – A sect of supernaturals hell-bent on reopening the gates of the underworld
Naga – Snake shifters who were once hunted by Garuda for the crime of stealing amrit from the gods
Narada – Vedic Sage and messenger god
Narak – Hell
Shaitan – Demon
Varuna – God of the celestial ocean and the underwater world
Yaksha – Wolf people born from the union of Shaitan and man
Yama – Lord of the Underworld
“You bitch,” the bouncer yelled, clutching his nose and stumbling back into the club door. Blood gushed between his fingers, unable to be contained by the meaty hand covering his face. “I’ll have you arrested for this!”
“I don’t think so.” I pulled a handkerchief from my dress pocket and calmly wiped my knuckles. Punching a six-foot, two-hundred-pound gorilla in the face probably hadn’t been the best idea. Men didn’t like being shown up by a woman, and he’d hold a grudge against me until the end of time for humiliating him in front of the long queue of people waiting to get into the club.
But then, if Mr. Tall, Dark, and Thuggish hadn’t wanted his face rearranged, he should have kept his hands off my assets.
The head bouncer strode out of the club entrance and took in the scene. “What the—” He hauled his colleague up by the collar. “What the fuck did you do?”
The bouncer glared at him. “She broke by nose,” he said thickly.
I wiped the blood off the top of my dress. “He grabbed my arse.” Good thing my outfit was black, or I would have done a lot more than break his nose. This dress had been expensive.
The head bouncer, Bunty, shook the guy. “We do not grope the patrons.” He shoved him away. “Get the fuck out of here. You’re fired!”
The now unemployed bouncer stumbled away, still covering his mashed-up nose. “Fuck you!” He turned his furious gaze on me, as if he were thinking about giving a little tit for tat.
“Don’t even think about it,” Bunty growled, stepping toward the guy. “I’ll have a constable here before you can blink.”
The ex-bouncer’s face blanched, and he turned and legged it. Several of the waiting patrons protested loudly as he barreled through them, and a woman in a white fur stole shrieked as he got blood on her. I smirked. Served her right. The cow had been looking at me earlier as if I’d been the troublemaker.
Bunty sighed, scratching the back of his bald head. “Sorry for the violence, Malina. He was a new hire.” He held out a hand, gesturing for the bloodied tissue I clutched. “I’ll get rid of that for you.”
“Thanks.” I handed it over, offering him my sweetest smile. “Don’t worry about it, Bunty. Wasn’t your fault.”
His shoulders relaxed. “Have a fab night, Malina.”
He stepped aside to let me enter the club.
I checked my coat in with the gum-popping, kohl-abusing attendant, then slipped through the elaborate arch into one of the hottest spots in London. The noise enveloped me with its varying cadences. The clash of competing perfumes masked the heat of body odor. My heightened senses went into overdrive as I worked to control the overload. This was background noise, nothing more. The scents and clamor dulled enough to bear. What I wouldn’t give for takeaway food and Saturday night television—my go-to activity when not on the job. But my life as an assassin made it way too easy to disconnect from the world. Socializing was the only way to stay grounded, to pretend I was normal.
As if slitting throats wasn’t just a regular day on the job for me.
I pushed through the throng of writhing, bopping bodies—the bass beat traveled up my limbs to settle in my head like a second pulse—and scanned the room for my friends. Whatever Carmella and Aaron had planned, it better be worth missing my favorite game show. Breaking free of the worst of the crowd without being fondled was a feat. Carmella’s silver-blonde head came into view as she leaned over the bar. Her skirt rode up, exposing tanned thighs as she spoke to the bartender. A nearby group of guys nudged one another and ogled.
My friend peeled herself off the bar. “Malina!” She threw her arms around me in an overexuberant gesture, enveloping me in a cloud of Gucci Rush. My nose twitched in reaction to the overpowering fragrance, and I held back a sneeze. Carmella would kill me if I sneezed all over her dress.