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K.J. Jackson

The Way You Break, A Creatures of Sin & Savagery Book 1, (EBOOK)

The Way You Break, A Creatures of Sin & Savagery Book 1, (EBOOK)

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Steamy Mythology Fantasy Romance

There are some that want to exploit my powers. There are some that want me dead. Then there is the one that just wants me.

A shadow world exists. One where gods that aren’t quite gods walk amongst us. One I didn’t know about when I woke up by a cold mountain river…soaked…freezing. With pain cracking my skull in two and no memory of who I was or what I was doing there. My only clue is the one man—one hulking, unearthly gorgeous man—sitting on a rock across from me with a scowl on his face and hatred simmering in his blue eyes.

Aiden. A man I’m going to have to depend on if I don’t want to freeze to death.
Begrudgingly, Aiden takes me to his friend’s ranch where I can stay until I get my memory back. On the secluded mountain, mystery soon engulfs me—my new friends, Aiden included, are clearly holding back a host of secrets from me. Secrets that will make or break me. Then a tragic accident occurs and I find out I can miraculously flip back time. That I belong to a shadow world of brutal people with god-like powers that keep the world in balance—people like Aiden and my new friends.

With my new power, a target has been put on my back—both Aiden’s people and their heinous counterparts are determined to have my power, and they’ll do anything to get it. So Aiden has to train me—train me fast to defend myself or my new life will be over before it starts. Which is hard when we’ve been fiercely denying the fiery attraction between us. He’s desperate to protect me, and I’m desperate to remember exactly who and what I am, for if I don’t remember in time, the fate of the whole world will be in jeopardy.

The Way You Break is a reimaging mashup of mythology and demigods in a fantasy romance with forbidden love, multiple POV, myths and legends, fated mates, amazing powers, morally-grey choices, twists, cliffhangers, spice, a kick-butt heroine and a tear-the-world-down-for-her hero. Plus, let’s not forget the delicious, sexy angst.

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{ Prologue }

~ Aiden ~

My thumb pressed hard on the pin, puncturing the picture, marrying it to the wall behind.

A neat hole in the exact top center of the photo, right above the haggard old man triumphantly holding aloft a chunk of the wall. A chunk of broken cement that, effectively, told the world the Cold War was over.

I was done.

This was the last of it.

I was done with more than a hundred years of war. Of killing. Of hunting. Of not knowing where I was sleeping, or where I was waking up. Of constantly questioning what side of right I was balanced on. Of time moving so fast.

A new century was racing at me, and I had only just gotten used to the current one.

I was always moving, always needed somewhere. But it was time to quit. Charlotte needed me here. And I needed it. Needed to stop, if only for a while.

Who I had been for the last hundred years was not who I wanted to be for the next hundred.

I needed that to happen, and this was the start.

I took one step back from the wall, scanning the captured moments.

Neat rows and columns of photos, encapsulating the sins of the past, stared at me. The pictures taken, some by me, some by Triaten at my ongoing request, and some gathered from various magazines and newspapers.

I was going to have to figure out a way to live with the reality of what I’d done, no matter the reasons for doing so.

Certain photos grabbed my attention, as they always did. The vacant dead eyes, half-rolled into sockets. Limbless bodies. The mutilation a single swipe of my blade could cause.

There was nothing to do but face it all now, the photos. I wasn’t going to forget. The one thing I knew was that I wasn’t going to give myself a pass on the past.

On all that I had wrought.

The elders had not taken the news of their best warrior going into retirement well. I hadn’t given them much notice, but they would make do. There were others who could take my place—no matter if it took several working together to fill my spot.

The elders, of course, had screamed and raged and threatened, but it didn’t make a difference. I was done, at least for now.

They had to be satisfied with the fact that I hadn’t fully closed that door. If I was truly needed, I’d be available. But I had made it clear that I would be the one deciding what “need” was. No one would be deciding for me.

Not anymore.

Without conscious thought, my finger lifted to trail along the edge of the picture of the ragged man on top of the Berlin Wall. A lifeline for my conscience.

And there were others—similar photos scattered throughout the montage on my wall of death and destruction, though I rarely focused on them. They were there, also courtesy of Triaten. Photos of a family reunited. A young couple engulfed in carefree laughter. The quiet contemplation of an elderly woman feeding birds. A soldier holding his newborn baby.

Photos of a world not destroyed.

Photos my reign of death and destruction had made possible. The good that was abundant in a world not engulfed in mayhem and evil. The good that humankind was capable of, if only given a proper chance.

My hand slipped down to my side and I stepped farther back, still facing the wall.

Inevitably, instinct pulled my eyes to the specific shots of horror in front of me. The beacons of good always drew me in, only to lead me back to hell.

It was time to learn to live with my sins.

{ Chapter 1 }

Thirty-Five Plus Years Later

~ Skye ~

A shard through my skull was my welcome to consciousness.

I wasn’t sure if there was an actual knife wedged into my head—not that it mattered. My head was exploding with or without the carving of brain matter.

My eyes cringed closed as I willed the agony of it away, fighting to return to the oblivion in my mind, the painless darkness I had just left.

But I was no match.

Layer upon layer of excruciating stabs sliced through my muddled confusion, bringing awareness with each burst.

The pain—how could I not be dead? And hell, was that a rock on my chest?

My stomach curdling, I yanked my knees up into my gut, and in that instant, all my senses flooded in—cold, wet, over my entire body.

Not just cold. Freezing.

Sand and bile coagulated on my tongue. The distinctive smell of pine needles. Sharp rocks jutting into my back.

My eyes crept open.

Trees were overhead, green pines and budding aspens, with a cold grey sky above. Birds cawing over the angry rush of water over rocks. A river?

Where was I? Why?

This was not good.

My head rolled to the side. A man sat on a rock, staring at me. What should be unnerving—a surprise—wasn’t.

I blinked to clear the film over my eyes made by my wet lashes. The man had a wetsuit rolled halfway down his tightly carved body—hell, that was a whole lot of muscle. Too much to just be on one man. His dark hair was wet, face unshaven with thick stubble that didn’t quite make it into beard status.
I wasn’t sure what was in his stare locked on me.

Apprehensive curiosity? Anger?

Whatever it was, there was no hint of a smile, no look of concern about the pain my body was in. And no indication he was going to say anything to me, even as my eyes met his.

A long minute passed.

He stood up, his eyes not shifting from me. One step closer. Two. Three.

“Who are you?” His voice a low rumble, the three words came very measured.

Good—he could talk. Too bad that came with his massive figure looming—threatening—over me.

The alarm bells deep in my mind started to clang overtime.

I really needed to get up.

Excruciating as it was, I dug my hands into the stinging rocks and sat up, managing to prop my deadened arms under me for support.

“Me?” Through the haze in my mind, I tried to conjure bravado as I looked up at him. “How about who are you, and what the hell am I doing here?”

He cocked an eyebrow at me. Nothing more.

“Really, dude? I wake up here in the woods—wet, freezing.” I looked down and finally noticed my own body. “I’m wearing a wetsuit, I have no idea how I got here, why my chest feels like it was ripped apart and why my head...” I lifted my right hand to touch the back of my head, and the warm goo that spread across my fingers gave me pause. My hand jerked in front of my face. Hell. Blood was staining my fingertips. “Why is my head split open?”

I looked up at him.

No answer. He just stood there, arms crossed over his chest.

“Nothing? You’ve got to be kidding me,” I muttered.

Words weren’t getting me anywhere, and the confusion I thought I had waded out from had swallowed me whole and was only getting worse. My knees bent so I could get to my feet, but a wave of dizziness stopped me. I had to lean forward, resting my arms on my bent knees as I gasped, head down, trying to get air into my crushed lungs.

I couldn’t move, but I made sure to keep his rubber-clad feet in view. But he made no movement as I sucked air.

Long moments passed and my breaths reached my lungs, the dizziness passing. I popped my head up, the exhale on my lips audible as I took in my surroundings. Trees, trees and more trees. A mountain river in front of me. The rocky clearing we were in looked to have no path in or out.

What in the hell was I doing here?

I looked up at him, desperate for something solid in my head other than the wisps of thoughts fleeting in and out of my brain in chaos.

“Can you stand? Walk?” His voice had a rasp in it. Low and impatient. “We need to move before sundown.”

“Sundown...move?” The thick fog of confusion turned into cream soup. I shook my head slowly, attempting to not aggravate the vicious pangs throbbing through my skull. “No, no, no. Wait. I’m not going anywhere until you tell me who you are and what I’m doing here.”

Annoyance clear on his face, he sighed. “You don’t remember?”


“Okay, here’s the short.” He bent down to my level, balancing on his heels in front of me. He didn’t hide the fact that he was closely studying my face. “You came into my shop a few hours ago, wanted to kayak this river. I asked if you’d ever kayaked before, and you said yes. Once we were on the river, it was obvious you’d never been on the water in your life, and with the river in spring run-off”—his thumb pointed over his shoulder back to the swirling water behind him—“you were out of control before we even began.”

He stood up and looked back upriver. “And around the last bend, you flipped and didn’t right. I went in after you, and now we’re here. Kayak-less.”

“No. Impossible.” I shook my head, my voice a whisper. “I hate water—I would never get in a pool, much less a raging river.”

He shrugged. It was obvious now that he was pissed he was in this situation. Pissed at me.

“Wait a second.” Alarm shot through my body as I stared up at him. “Why don’t I like water?”

“What do you mean?”

My voice pitched higher as the base of my confusion began to take shape. “I hate water, I mean, I really, really know I hate water...but I don’t know why.” I gasped for air as my stomach tightened with an invisible gut punch. My fingers tightened into balls as I stared at the ground, my choked words barely audible. “Who the hell am I?”


I looked up at him, imploring. “Who am I?”

His head tilted to the side and he suddenly looked just as confused as I was. And less pissed off.
He knelt down in front of me again. “You’re telling me you don’t know who you are?”

I shook my head.

“You don’t have any memory of coming to the shop, getting on the river?”


“Anything before that? Anything at all?”

I paused, closing my eyes, and tried to conjure up some memory to grasp onto. Anything. A silent minute passed. My eyes stayed closed as I spoke, trying to grasp onto those tiny wisps of thoughts floating around in my skull. “No, I don’t—I don’t think anything is there—vague faces, odd pieces of conversation...random places...and a train?” My brow furrowed as the image of being close to a moving train appeared. For the tiniest of seconds, I felt like I could grasp onto the memory, but then it slipped and was gone. “It’s a mess—things, people, are in here, but I...I don’t know who they are or what any of it means.”

A heavy blanket of horror clasped over my chest and my eyes opened. “This is deep shit I’m in, isn’t it?”

A sympathetic half-smile cocked his chiseled face. “Yep, I’m afraid it is.”

At some point when my eyes had been closed, the man’s look had shifted from perturbed wariness, into cautious compassion. I liked the compassion a whole lot better.

He stood up. “I hate to rush you, but before we can tackle your mind, we need to tackle getting out of here. The kayaks are long gone downriver, so we’re going to have to hike out of here before you freeze.” He offered his hand down to me.

My head swiveled. Only thick woods surrounding us. Choices were none.

So I reached up and grasped his hand, instantly struck at how warm it was. I didn’t quite trust this man—I didn’t even know who he was—but his strong hand enveloping mine managed to be a warm comfort. A shiver shot through me, convulsing my body, and I suddenly realized how cold—freezing—I was in comparison to his hand.

“I’m sorry I don’t have anything to help you warm up—everything went with the kayaks.” He pulled me up. “The best I can offer to help warm you up is a strenuous hike up the mountainside, through thick woods, with wetsuit boots on.”

I wasn’t sure if he was joking, or if his words were serious. Didn’t matter. At this point I would take any crumb and was just happy his demeanor had softened toward me.

“Before we start, I need to check out your head.” He grabbed my shoulders and turned me around. Whoever he was, even through my wetsuit, he had the warmest hands.

He separated the matted hair on the back of my head, plunging through the half-unraveled braid with his fingers, trying to find where the cut was. He found the spot and poked and prodded until his finger jabbed too hard.

“Ouch.” I yanked away from him.

“Sorry—it doesn't look too deep. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a horribly sharp rock you banged into underwater. You probably have a mild concussion, but you should be able to move fine.”
I looked over my shoulder at him, having to crane my neck extra awkwardly for his height on me. “Why didn’t I have a helmet on?”

“You did. You must not have tightened it well. It looked like it fell off right away when you flipped. You said you knew what you were doing so I didn’t check it.” He nodded up and down my body. “How’s your balance? Dizzy?”

Not sure, I took a couple steps. “Fine, I think.”

“Okay, well, if you feel dizzy, or things go out of focus, let me know.”

He turned and looked up the mountainside. “The hardest will be this portion.” He pointed to the thick swath of evergreens in front of us. “We’ll have to cut through these woods about a half mile—it’s going to be steep—and then we’ll run into a trail that will take us another few miles to a friend’s ranch.”
He spun to look at me and I shifted uncomfortably under his gaze. It was clear he was taking a moment to assess my face. Looking for answers, I imagined. But what his questions were, I didn’t know. The only thing I did know was that I didn’t have any answers handy for him, only questions of my own.

“Ready?” he asked.

I shrugged, but managed a small smile. “Yes, but just one question first.”


“I’m sorry I don’t remember, but what’s your name?”

He didn’t answer right away, and I could tell he was taken aback by the question. Odd.

“And why so surprised by my asking?”

A low chuckle escaped him. “Well, truthfully, you couldn’t have cared less about my name earlier, so I never told you.”

It was my turn to be surprised. “Really? That seems so rude.”

“It was.”

“Well, at least I didn’t forget it.” I grinned. Glass half full and all.

He couldn’t help but return a wry smile, his head cocked to the side. “I’ll give you that. My name is Aiden.”

“Aiden.” I let it roll around on my tongue. “Hmmm—old world and strong.”

I studied him, really for the first time past my initial cursory glance. Dark hair curled onto his forehead and partly down his neck. The short dark grizzle of facial hair made it obvious that this man was used to living in the outdoors but would still make it to shaving occasionally. The stubble didn’t hide his strong chin or facial features.

It was his eyes that made me pause. A blue so dark and rich, they looked molded straight from the deepest swathes of the sea. The smooth blue was only interrupted by few random flecks of silver. Those sneaky glints of silver held my gaze. Held it for too long.

A bird cawed, jarring me, and I blinked and looked away, embarrassed at the extended time I’d been studying him. Thankfully, he said nothing. Didn’t even crook an eyebrow.

I gave him a quick smile. “The name suits you. I like it.” A poor attempt to cover my gawking with the only handy words I had, even though I knew he could care less about what I thought of his name.

"Thanks. Ready?"

He held out his hand to me. I took it, way too quickly, but I didn’t care. The warmth and security that came through his grasp was irresistible in my current beaten-down state.

He started walking toward the tree line, and I followed, my feet stumbling over the rocky shoreline. The wetsuit boots I had on only offered a thin layer of rubber between my feet and the craggy ground. Sharp rocks dug into my soles. This wasn’t going to be fun.

My feet stopped right before we stepped into the thick of the forest. Aiden looked over his shoulder at me.

“Aiden, I...” My question trailed off, my gut afraid to ask it.

He didn’t even let a second pass. “Your name is Skye.”

And he squeezed my hand.

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