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The Soul Bond

The Soul Bond

Rite World: Blackthorn Hunters Academy 3

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A demon hunter seeking to break a curse. A half-demon playing a dangerous game. And a professor that’s the puppet master of them both…

Erin
Everyone at Blackthorn Hunter’s Academy has found out about my half-demon blood, and I’ve become the most hated girl in school. I thought pranks were the worst to come—until people started calling for my head. Rey and I have bound souls, but the bond we share has become a curse. He’s refusing my love, and if that weren’t awkward enough, now he’s my teacher. I no longer want my soul tied to Rey’s. And to break the connection between us, we’ll have to perform a ritual that’ll put the whole academy in danger…

Rey
I made a deal with Professor Crimson. Get rid of Headmaster Randall, and he’ll spare Erin’s life. It’s a mission that’s proving to be harder—and more dangerous—than I ever imagined. Erin doesn’t understand that we can’t be together. It’s far too dangerous, even though my love still burns for her secretly. Going through with this ritual to break our bond might be a mistake…

Sexy, seductive, and sinful, this is one magic academy novel that’ll leave readers on the edge of their seat. This new adult paranormal romance full of demons and dark magic is just one more amazing installment in Juliana Haygert’s Rite World universe.

Blackthorn Hunters Academy (complete!)
Book 1: The Demon Kiss
Book 2: The Hunter Secret
Book 3: The Soul Bond
Book 4: The Shadow Trials
Book 5: The Infernal Curse

Main Tropes

  • Academy Setting
  • Enemies-to-Lovers
  • Forced Proximity
  • Soulmates
  • Forbidden Love
  • Secret Society
  • Found Family/Band of Friends
  • Chosen One
  • Cameos from Rite World Characters

Synopsis

A demon hunter seeking to break a curse. A half-demon playing a dangerous game. And a professor that’s the puppet master of them both…

Erin

Everyone at Blackthorn Hunter’s Academy has found out about my half-demon blood, and I’ve become the most hated girl in school. I thought pranks were the worst to come—until people started calling for my head. Rey and I have bound souls, but the bond we share has become a curse. He’s refusing my love, and if that weren’t awkward enough, now he’s my teacher. I no longer want my soul tied to Rey’s. And to break the connection between us, we’ll have to perform a ritual that’ll put the whole academy in danger…

Rey

I made a deal with Professor Crimson. Get rid of Headmaster Randall, and he’ll spare Erin’s life. It’s a mission that’s proving to be harder—and more dangerous—than I ever imagined. Erin doesn’t understand that we can’t be together. It’s far too dangerous, even though my love still burns for her secretly. Going through with this ritual to break our bond might be a mistake…

Sexy, seductive, and sinful, this is one magic academy novel that’ll leave readers on the edge of their seat. This new adult paranormal romance full of demons and dark magic is just one more amazing installment in Juliana Haygert’s Rite World universe.

Intro into Chapter One

Chapter One

“Are you ready?” Claire asked.

I glanced around the small, loft apartment. We had lived here for a few months during the summer break, but I had grown attached to it. Though the apartment was located on a quiet side of Chasseur Ville, Claire and I had been mostly isolated from the rest of the town. In our loft, there were no classes, no training, no bitchy girls, or cocky guys. There were no demons, no secrets, no battles to be fought.

It had been simple, relaxing, unmemorable.

During the past year of my life, everything had been big, crazy, and surprising. Whenever I could have freaking unmemorable, I would take it.

“Do we need to go back?” I whispered, wishing we could pretend to be normal girls for a bit longer.

So much had happened last semester—I had joined a half-demon army, found out a bit more about the Demon Kissed Queens’ legend, fought a crazy demon set on killing me, discovered I had a half-brother, and fallen in love with the man who was supposed to be my soulmate, but who rejected me time and time again. It made me wonder what would happen with this semester. Because I was a freaking demonic princess, daughter of Brikan, the king of the underworld, nothing would ever be simple, relaxing, and unmemorable for me.

Claire put her arm around my shoulders. “We do,” she said with a smile. Her blond curls were growing, but she didn’t like them when they bounced in her face, so she kept tying a few strands back. “I wish we could stay holed up here too, but we can’t.”

Like me, Claire had suffered a painful heartbreak. She had fallen for Tanner, my half-brother, while he had been possessed by a demon. He had been horrible to her.

“It’s important that we go back to the academy,” she added.

Was it, though?

But I knew it was important. I wasn’t safe anywhere else, not even here in Chasseur Ville, because of whose daughter I was. Even though this place was filled with demon hunters, all of them had either never exercised the occupation or were retired. If King Brikan invaded the village with his princes and legions of higher demons, everyone in Chasseur Ville would die because of me.

At the academy, the students were training to be demon hunters, plus the full-fledged demon hunters were a snap of the fingers away, and moreover, the headmaster was there. Randall had become the first demon hunter many eons ago. He was the founder and headmaster of the Blackthorn Hunters Academy, super powerful with magic that no one else had, and immortal. So far, I had seen him kill a prince of the underworld and a higher demon as if they were bugs under his shoe.

If I wanted to stand a chance against my father, I needed the protection of the academy.

I could see the reason in that, but it didn’t make me want to go back any more.

I let out a sigh. “All right. Let’s go.”

I picked up my duffel bag from the floor and headed out of the loft with Claire. The rest of our things were already inside her car—a small sedan she had gotten as a late birthday gift from her grandmother last year. It was a good thing too. Otherwise, I would have to call my mother to come pick us up, which I seriously didn’t want to do. Although my mother had defended me to the school council when they wanted to kick me out after finding out about my father—they had wanted to kill me, actually—we were still not on good terms. She had offered for me to stay at her townhouse with her at the Dahlia Villa inside the academy, like we had done during winter break, but this time, I couldn’t. So she rented this apartment for me. I ended up convincing Claire to ask her father to let her join me, and surprisingly, he agreed. Which didn’t make sense because her father, Professor Crimson, had been one of the most vocal against me remaining at the academy last semester.

But I was glad he did, because then I didn’t have to spend the last two months alone in here.

After pushing my bag onto the backseat, I sat beside Claire in the front. She glanced one more time to the loft upstairs before turning the engine on and driving away.

I looked out the window, always amazed by the quaint village. It was early Sunday morning and tourists—aka, humans—had probably spent the night doing one of the fun treasure hunts until the middle of the night. The village was quiet. The shops’ owners were probably cleaning and stocking up for more games that night.

While staying at the loft, Claire and I avoided going out much, since news about my heritage had spread and some of the demon hunters in town didn’t like me, but there was one night in the middle of the summer when we joined the fun: on my twentieth birthday. Claire had convinced me to try the treasure hunt. We lost badly, but we laughed a lot while pursuing the clues and trying to figure out where to look next.

I hadn’t felt so carefree and human in a long time.

Any happy thoughts I had came crashing down when we passed through the grand academy gates, and Claire parked her car in the underground garage.

We were there.

I was not ready.

More students were arriving at the academy for the semester. Most were dropped off by their parents, but some were allowed to bring their cars. 

As they exited their cars and hauled their things to the dorms, they glanced my way as if I were a disease to be eradicated. They whispered among themselves, but I heard certain words. They were talking about me, of course, about how they didn’t want me to be here, and how they wished I had been expelled from the academy, or publicly executed.

I hadn’t been there for five minutes. This would be one hell of a semester.

“Ignore them,” Claire whispered to me as we picked up our bags from the backseat and the trunk. “They don’t know what they are talking about.”

“Easier said than done,” I said through gritted teeth.

On purpose, I was slow to take my bags from the car, and when I started walking, I took one step every few seconds. By the time I made it to the stairs, most of the students had already marched away.

But a new crop was driving in.

I sighed and started walking normally before anyone caught up with me.

But I skidded to a stop when my mother appeared in front of me. “There you are.” She clasped her hands in front of herself. I frowned, not entirely happy to see her. She was so stoic, her gestures so cold, her stare so uncaring … there was nothing about her that made me like being around her. With her dark hair pulled into a tight ponytail, her fine pressed suit, she looked like a model for neatness and coldness. “I’ve been calling you. Where’s your phone?”

“Turned off inside my bag,” I said. We weren’t supposed to have our cell phones on while at the academy, and she knew that.

She let out an exasperated sigh. “It doesn’t matter now. Come with me.”

My frown deepened. “Where to?”

Her hazel eyes flamed. “To my office. I’m not asking, Erin.”

I fought the urge to cross my arms. “Are you not asking as a professor—” I glanced around to make sure no one would hear us. “—or as a mother?”

“Does it matter?” she asked, as if I was an insolent child.

Without waiting for an answer, she turned around and marched away, her heels clicking on the stone pavement of the paths between the buildings.

I closed my eyes and tipped my head up to the sun, as if its bright, warm rays could bathe me and keep my frustration in check. It was such a nice, not too hot summer day. And it had already been ruined by several things.

“Here.” Claire reached for my bags. “I’ll take these to your dorm.”

I resisted her. “You don’t need to.” My bags weren't too heavy, but she was already carrying hers.

“It’s okay.” She took them from me. “Just go before she gets mad.”

I snorted. “Doesn't that look like she is already mad to you?”

Claire mouthed “go” as she too turned around and started walking toward the Gardenia building, where the female dorms were located. And I followed my mother to the Aster building, which housed the administrative side of the academy.

Once I was inside her office, my mother told me to close the door and take a seat. Guarded, I did as she asked. I kept quiet, waiting for her to talk first, even though I was curious about what she wanted with me.

Finally, she leaned back in her chair and began, “I know our training sessions didn’t go well last semester. Considering the situation, I think we should still train, but differently this time.”

“What do you mean?”

“We’ve gathered some intel on King Brikan during the summer break.”

That made me curious. “What kind of intel?”

My mother shook her head. “I can’t tell you that, but based on what we learned, I want to change your training. I want to train you with magic. A different kind of magic. It’s dangerous, but I don’t think we have a choice.”

“You’re being cryptic.”

“I know. I’m sorry, but I can’t reveal any more information.”

I crossed my arms. “That doesn’t make any sense. I’m the one he’s after; I’m the one who will probably have to face him someday. You should be telling me everything, so I’m prepared.”

Her hazel eyes narrowed, considering. “I’ll tell you more when you come for training.”

Was that bait to get me to come to training? It was working. “Fine!”

“Good. Then meet me at the top of this building’s south turret next Saturday at midnight.”

I stared at her. Why wait until Saturday? That was almost a week from now. And at midnight, at the top of a turret? It all sounded so suspicious. But now I was freaking curious.

“I’ll be there.”

“Good. Now you can go,” she said. “Classes start tomorrow, and there will be many challenges this semester. Be ready.”

For a moment, my heart squeezed. Was my mother being nice because she was worried about me? But then, as usual, she broke the spell by waving her hands at me, shooing me out of her sight.

Rolling my eyes, I got up and exited her office.

Out through the back of the building, I stopped and stared at the blackthorn tree for a moment. The tall, thick tree stood in the middle of the courtyard, right in the center of the academy. It was black and full of thorns. No green, no leaves. Last semester, it had given me a piece of its enchanted wood, with which I was able to craft a Dawnblade, the special sword the Blackthorn Hunters used to kill demons. But mine was even more special, because there was only one other like it in the rest of the world: the headmaster’s first Dawnblade.

More than that, my Dawnblade was special to me because Rey had helped me forge it. He had even imbued it with his magic.

I shook my head and resumed my walk to the Gardenia building. It had taken me all summer to stop thinking about Rey. I wouldn’t start now because I was back at the academy.

I turned the corner of the Statice building and gasped as something wet and warm washed over me. I halted and looked down at my arms.

They were covered in blood.

My stomach twisted, and horror rushed through me.

What was this? What was going on?

Laughter reached my ears and I looked to my left. A group of students, mostly males, laughed at me. One of them, a tall young man whose name I didn’t remember, held an empty jar, smeared with blood.

“What the hell?” I asked as the blood dripped down my hair and stained my shirt.

“How is it to bathe in demon blood?” the guy asked with a snicker.

My stomach turned. This sticky red substance covering my arms and clothes and hair was demon blood?

“It’s appropriate,” a girl muttered, smiling.

“That’s what you deserve,” the first guy said with a snicker. “Mongrel.”

The others laughed.

And I fumed.

It was one thing to insult me, to walk by me and bump my shoulder as if I was a nobody, but to throw blood on me? That was a new low.

I curled my sticky hands into fists, ready to punch the guy’s teeth out. Instead, my magic flared up.

It was okay. I would burn his ass and he would cry in pain for the rest of the semester.

I took a step forward and—

An arm appeared in front of me, blocking my way.

“What’s going on here?”

My magic faded from my veins as I stared at Rey standing a few inches from me.

The other students grew serious.

“Nothing,” the guy said, his voice low.

Rey snatched the jar from the guy’s hand and sniffed at it. “Demon blood. You’re in big trouble, Tom.”

That was the guy’s name. Tom. I remembered seeing him in second-year classes before, which meant he was a third-year student now, like me.

Tom sized up Rey. “Just because you’re a professor now doesn’t mean you can boss us around.”

Rey’s body went rigid. “You want to bet? As soon as I walk away, I’ll report you to the headmaster. I bet he won’t appreciate his students harassing each other.”

“I can’t get in trouble again,” a girl whispered.

“If you don’t want to get into trouble, I suggest you never do something like this again,” Rey said. “Now, get out of my face before I change my mind.”

The students scurried away.

And I stood there, completely at a loss for two reasons: One, Rey had let them walk away as if they had teased me with mild curses, and two, I was suddenly left alone with Rey at the edge of the Gardenia building.

Letting out a long breath, Rey turned to me. “I should have written them up.”

I swallowed my shock and braced myself. “Why didn’t you?”

Rey’s gray eyes met mine. What a scene. I was there, dripping with smelly, sticky blood and standing in front of my perfect man. As a professor at the academy, Rey was dressed in a black suit—clothes similar to the male students’ uniform, but without the tie. And instead of a white shirt, Rey’s was black.

And underneath that shirt was the mark of the twin soul bond. The same one stamped an inch above my left breast.

Rey and I shared the soul bond. He was my soulmate. But he didn’t want anything to do with me.

I took a step back, in need of space.

Rey’s brows curled down. “Things are already on shaky ground with the half-bloods being outed. Classes haven't even started yet and people are already causing trouble. If I wrote them up now, it would only make everything worse.”

“So what? I deserved being splashed with demon blood? And called … what was it that Tom said?”

“Mongrel,” Rey muttered.

“Yeah. That word. I know it means a mix of races, but why did it sound so dirty coming from his mouth?”

“Because it’s supposed to be a derogatory word for half-bloods.”

I shook my head. “Hell, I had just arrived and things are already exploding.”

Rey’s eyes turned a dangerous silver. “What is it? What else happened?”

What did he care? “It’s none of your business.”

He stilled once more, lifting his chin. He was so freaking handsome, even when looking at me with his usual coldness. My heart squeezed as I took him in—the sharpness of the angles of his face, the full lips, the bright eyes, the dirty blond hair that had grown a little since the last time I had seen him. The square set of his shoulders, the tall, lean frame of his hard body.

This handsome man was my soulmate.

But he didn’t want me.

“You’re right,” he said in a low voice. “It’s not.”

Why did those words hurt more than I expected?

My head raised high, I walked past him and into the Gardenia building. I passed some female students, and they all stared at me. Some were quiet, but others either gasped in horror, whispered nasty things, or laughed as if it was funny.

Dying for a shower, I headed into my bedroom. Thankfully, Claire had dropped my things in there, but she was gone, probably organizing her things in her own bedroom.

All I wanted was to throw myself on my bed, hug my pillow, and fight the tears that burned behind my eyes. But because I would get my bed dirty, I simply sat down on the floor, curled my shoulders forward, and let a few tears fall.

What a great first day back. I couldn’t wait to see what the rest of the semester had in store for me.

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