~This is an in-universe piece of fiction for the Aspects series - a new YA sci-fi series - though all of the books featured are real and you can check them out by clicking on the book covers~

It's back to school time once more, which means it's time for our annual Aspects Reading List interviews.

The Aspects protect us from the monsters that roam the wastelands outside our cities but we rarely get the opportunity to get to know the mask-wearing heroes. We sat down with some of the Aspects from Tower 5 to get to know them through their favourite books. Today's Aspect is the Aspect of Pain.

I: So, last year you only brought one book and said that you weren't much of a reader. Given the spirit of these interviews, I hope you've brought more for us this time,

P: I have.

I: Great!

P: I brought two.

I: You know, maybe we should just get on with the recommendations...

Legacy (The Biodome Chronicles #1)

P: I liked this book. You should read it.

I: You know that you're supposed to say more about it, right?

P: It's set in the future. I enjoyed reading about the characters. The worldbuilding was interesting.

I: Really? That's it?

P: I liked the relationship between Oaklee and Fillion through most of the book, but would not want to comment further in case I spoil the ending. That was the one bit I didn't like. I don't like complicated endings, even if there is another book in the series. I'm not much of a reader, after all...

What Lies Inside (Blood Bound Series #1)

P: I also liked this one.

I: Okay, seriously, is this going to happen every year?

P: This one is about werewolves and vampires and forbidden love. I really liked the relationships between the characters. To elaborate on why I liked them would spoil the book, but I will say that I liked how close Amelia was with her best friend, even if there were complicated feelings there. I'm glad that they were still there for each other. This one also had a slightly complicated ending... Maybe I need to stop taking book recommendations from Em when they're the first book in a series...

Join us again next week when we talk to the Aspects of Justice and Vengeance about their favourite books.

~If you want to pick up a free, early copy of the first book in the Aspects series - Love/Hate - you can get your copy here or add it to your Goodreads shelf.~

KINGSGUARD is now here! You can get it by following this link!

Or if you're not caught up on the rest of the Freya Snow series yet, here are the links to do so:

Books 1-6
Book 7
Book 8

But if you're all caught up and are holding off on getting KINGSGUARD, here's Chapter Two for you to read for free.

Click here if you need to catch up on Chapter One.

As much as Freya swore that it wasn’t a date - it wasn’t - she spent more than a small amount of time choosing what to wear.
Eventually, she settled on her nice pair of black jeans that made her look curvy, rather than bulky, and a green tank-top that complimented her eyes, and showed off her guns. In all honesty, as much as she liked her muscle, she knew that it could intimidate guys. Girls tended to be fans, but guys were too easily emasculated.
Damon had never been like that, but then, she’d only bulked out as she’d gotten older and switched from favouring a sword to a war-hammer so large that a Final Fantasy character might think it too much.
If her having muscle was gonna turn him off - not that she had any indication that he was ever turned on, she reminded herself - she’d rather know upfront.
She stood outside the pub he had told her, at the time he had told her, with nothing but her leather jacket - matched with black leather Docs - to separate her and the humid night air.
“Hey,” she heard from beside her, causing her to jump. She hadn’t even heard Damon approaching.
“Hey,” she said as the flames in her hand extinguished themselves. She’d gotten used to producing flame inside her fist when she was scared. It stopped them from being seen, while still allowing her to open her palm and cause significant damage if she was truly facing an enemy.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”
She shrugged. “Sorry for being so easily startled.”
He smiled. “I mean, it’s not like I’m any better,” he said as he indicated to the door, allowing her to lead the way inside.
Freya prepped a sound-proof bubble, but she found that she didn’t need it. The pub was quiet enough to go without.
“We can go somewhere more vibrant if you want,” Damon said. “But you always hated loud places, so I figured here would be good.”
“It is, it’s perfect,” she assured him before following him to the bar and ordering a rum and coke treble, thanking the drinking culture in the city for being able to keep up with her Angel metabolism.
Damon ordered a whiskey and coke treble, then followed her to a booth in the corner.
“So,” he said as he sat down opposite her, “tell me everything that’s happened since we last saw each other. I mean, you went travelling. That must have been interesting.”
Freya awkwardly shrugged. “Define ‘interesting’. We had no money, so it was just driving around in a little car. Often sleeping in that same car.”
“You must have gone to some interesting places.”
She nodded. “Pretty much everywhere we could get to easily in a car. But we never stayed anywhere too long.”
“Why did you decide to go? I mean, I never took you for the travelling type.”
Because my girlfriend and I were on the run. “Neither me nor Alex really knew what we wanted to do, and travelling seemed like a fun enough thing to do while we figured it out.” She quickly picked up her drink, downing half of it in one go. Alex was an old wound, but not one she liked to dwell on.
“I’m sorry,” Damon said. “Bad break-up?”
An Oracle told me that she’d die if I stayed with her. “We wanted different things,” Freya told him with a shrug.
“So, what have you been doing since you got back? Are you back at uni?”
Keeping my head down so the Council of Light doesn’t try to kill me again. “I got a job. Like a private security thing for a big company, making sure their documents don’t get stolen and stuff.” She froze for a moment, as she remembered that Damon’s uncle had worked in private security. Technically, that was her job, but she wasn’t sure how well it would match up to the Human equivalent if he started to ask a bunch of questions about it...
“Cool,” Damon said, nodding, seemingly happy with her answer.
“So, what about you?” she asked, before he could ask any questions that she might struggle to answer.
He shrugged. “I’m working for my aunt’s husband. Remember I told you that he ran a huge company and wanted me to take over?”
Freya nodded.
“Well, he has me working for the company right now so that I can learn about how it’s run.”
“And he sent you back here?”
Damon nodded. “There’s something in the city that he needs me to take care of. It’s probably going to take several months to sort out, and we’re talking about me staying here beyond that. I’ve missed England.”
“Said no one, ever.”
“It’s not that bad here.”
“It kind of is.”
“Then why did you come back? Why not go elsewhere when you broke up with your girlfriend?”
She shrugged. “My friends and family are here.”
He smiled. “About as good a reason as any.” He frowned a little. “I’m starving. Do you want food?”
She nodded. “I’m always up for food.”
“I’m just gonna order a bunch of stuff.”
Damon got up, and returned a few moments later with a large plate of nachos and two more drinks balanced carefully in his hands. “There’s more coming in a bit,” he said as he put the plate and drinks down, before sitting back down and scooting over until he was next to her, so close that she could feel his body heat warming her arm.
She felt her face flush, sure that she was bright red, the little effect the alcohol had on her increasing her feeling of attraction so that her heart quickened in her chest.
Damon turned to her, his face particularly close to hers. She couldn’t help but notice that his own cheeks were pink, and she could have sworn that she heard his breath catch in his throat.
He couldn’t like her, could he?
#
Freya wasn’t sure how much it would take her to get drunk anymore, but by the time the pub closed, she was certainly getting there.
“Shit,” she muttered as they left. “I didn’t realise how late it was getting. My parents are gonna kill me.”
“Didn’t you tell them you would be out late?” Damon asked.
“I did, but it’s a weeknight. If I go home now, I’ll wake them up, and they have work in the morning. Not to mention that Amy has school...”
“Well, you can stay on my sofa, if you want.”
“You wouldn’t mind?”
Damon shook his head. “It makes no difference to me. Plus, it would save you taxi fare.”
“How would it save me taxi fare?”
“I don’t live far from here,” he explained, pointing down towards the quayside.
“Huh,” Freya said as she followed him.
“What?”
“Nothing. I guess I just kind of assumed you’d be back at your uncle’s old place.”
“Well, it would be kind of big for just me.”
Freya nodded. “Yeah, I know. I guess that I just assumed, since I still live at home and it’s the same place as back in the day, that it would be the same for you as well. Which is ridiculous, since that was years ago...”
“It doesn’t quite feel like it, does it?” Damon asked.
Freya smiled. “Yeah, everyone keeps insisting that I’m an adult now, but none of it seems real. I had no idea what my life would be like when I was a kid, but I don’t think I ever imagined it like this.”
“Living at home like every other millennial?”
“Except for you?”
“Yeah, but I’ve got a rich uncle who got me the job.”
“So you’re referring to your aunt’s husband as your uncle now?”
He shrugged. “‘I’ve got a rich aunt’s husband’ was too much of a mouthful. Not to mention, confusing.”
She smiled. “I guess you’ve known what you were gonna do when you grew up since before we met.”
“Not long before we met,” he reasoned. “And before that, I wasn’t even sure that I’d have a future, so, you know...”
She nodded. “I know,” she assured him, her arm slipping through his in an attempt to comfort him. She hadn’t meant to bring up his father.
“We’re both here,” he said after a few moments, making no attempt to pull away from her. “That has to count for something. Even if we have no idea what we’re doing or where we want to go.”
Freya smiled. “I think that’s the most hopeful thing anyone has said about it. It means more than vagaries like ‘you’ll figure it out’ or ‘it’ll get better’. I’ve missed your optimism.”
Damon smiled back at her. “I’ve missed talking to someone who actually gets it...”
“No one did back home?”
Damon shrugged. “My aunt made sure I had the best education money could buy. I was surrounded by a lot of entitled jackasses.”
“Yeah, I had a few of them on my course when I was at uni. They made it easier to leave.”
“They definitely added something to graduation,” Damon agreed, before stopping outside an old factory building by the river, which had been revamped into hipster flats. “Here we are.”
Freya’s eyes widened. They had walked from the old, going-out-of-business pub, and down through a series of more hipster bars and restaurants, which had eventually evolved into the really nice bars, restaurants and hotels. This was the super nice, expensive part of the city.
She knew that Damon’s family had money, but every reminder was like a shock to her system.
You have money, she reminded herself. She’d had money since she’d started hunting bounties. And yet she’d grown up knowing exactly how much difference a few pennies could make. She had always been so paranoid about growing up and not having anything, that she had never really grasped how to handle having things.
Any spend upwards of a fiver was a serious consideration, despite the thousands sitting in her savings.
If she wanted, she could probably afford one of those flats. And yet Damon having one surprised her.
She followed Damon up to his place, which was right on the top floor. He opened his door to show a minimally furnished flat. The brick walls were exposed, with hardwood floors, and a bunch of black and brown furniture. The sofa he had offered was black, distressed leather, and large enough that even Freya could probably sleep comfortably on it. It wrapped around a wooden coffee table, with a glass centre, forming an L shape. On the other side of the room, there was a large, curved TV, up against the wall.
Over at the far side of the room, a counter separated the living room from the kitchen space, and there was only one door. Freya assumed it led to Damon’s bedroom, and that the only bathroom was an ensuite.
It wasn’t the largest place, but it was the perfect size for someone living alone, and had more than enough style and amenities to assure Freya that it hadn’t been cheap.
“I know it’s small,” Damon said sheepishly as the door closed behind him. “But I liked it. It’s cosy, and a nice change from the places back home.”
“It’s brilliant,” Freya assured him, turning back around to face him.
She hadn’t realised how close he was to her, and she found her nose bumping up against his.
“Sorry,” she managed, her breath catching in her throat.
He glanced down to her lips for a moment, and she wondered if he was contemplating kissing her.
She really wanted him to kiss her.
“Don’t be,” he replied, his own voice breathless.
Freya could feel sparks between them, and would have suspected that her desire was manifesting itself as Energy, if not for the fact that, as a Human, Damon would have been hurt by such a display.
“I’m trying really hard to be a good host right now,” Damon eventually said, his low voice sending shivers down her spine, “but I really want to kiss you.”
Her heart skipped a beat. “I wouldn’t object to kissing,” she confessed.
She wasn’t sure who closed the gap between them, all she knew was that she felt her entire body light up with wanting as Damon’s lips met hers, and she quickly extracted herself from her leather jacket.

If you want to continue reading KINGSGUARD, you can get your copy by following this link!

Or if you're not caught up on the rest of the Freya Snow series yet, here are the links to do so:

Books 1-6
Book 7
Book 8