Crucible of Fate

Crucible of Fate Change of Heart, Reading order: 4


A Change of Heart Novel In the secret city of Sobek, Domin Thorne is making his way as the newly chosen semel-aten, the leader of the werepanther world. He aspires to make sweeping changes—he’s set goals for himself and the people he chose to bring with him, modeling his reign after that of his friend, Logan Church. But Domin may have set too lofty a goal: his normal leadership style isn’t working. While juggling a homesick Crane, a moody Mikhail, a bullwhip-wielding Taj, servants with murderous intentions, a visiting ex, and a mate on a dangerous goodwill mission, Domin has to figure out his new role alone. He also must determine how to deal with a conspiracy, all the while falling hard for a man who, for the first time in Domin’s life, reciprocates that love. Whether Domin is ready or not, Fate has stepped in to teach him a lesson: internal threats are just as dangerous as external ones.


Chapter One

IT MADE no sense, and they were all tired of hearing me ask the same questions. But until I had an answer I understood, how was I supposed to simply accept it?

“What did your father tell you when you became a semel?” I inquired of every single tribe leader who visited Sobek.

They all regarded me oddly, the last one being Maroz Amadu of the tribe of Serabit from Giza. He was confused.

Yuri translated. “Specifically, he wants to know what would happen to you if you failed as a semel. Where would the people in your territory go for help, if, let’s say, you decided that two panthers of different races couldn’t be married in your territory.”

“But that’s absurd,” he said to Yuri. “It doesn’t matter who you—”

“The sekhem of the semel-aten is hypothesizing,” his yareah, Hesi Amadu, remarked.

Apparently we needed our mates to do the talking for us.

“Oh, I see.” He plastered on a smile. “Well, I was told that if I was not a good ruler, that the panthers in my tribe could contact the semel-aten, and he would hear the case against me and pass judgment.”

“Exactly.” I pointed at him, then whirled around to face Yuri. “You see?”

He crossed his thickly muscled arms across his wide, bulky chest and fixed me with a stare that made me question my sanity. “What do I see?”

“I was a bad semel.”

“‘Was’. Past tense. What does—”

“So does that mean no one ever reported me to Ammon El Masry when he was semel-aten? That seems odd, doesn’t it?”

“I don’t know. How would I know?”

“And therein lies my question.”

There was a soft clearing of a throat behind me.

Pivoting, I found Maroz and his mate still there. “May we go to the grand salon now, my lord? We’re both famished.”

“Oh yeah, go ahead,” I said, waving them away. “Sorry.”

Maroz grabbed his mate by the hand and tugged her away from me quickly. They all ended up doing that, concerned about my state of mind, I was certain.

“Okay, so what now?” Yuri asked, stepping in front of me.

“It’s what I was told as a new semel, what Logan was, what we all were.”

“That the semel-aten would come get you if you were bad,” Yuri paraphrased. “Right? Like the bogeyman?”

“Yeah. And if that’s true, if millions of panthers are supposed to be calling me or e-mailing me and complaining—where is it?”

“What? You’re asking if there’s, like, a command center or something for all this correspondence?”

“That’s exactly what I’m asking. I mean, who checks to make sure no panther is ever seen?…

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