True Refuge
The Refuge Trilogy
Book One
Annabelle McInnes

Genre: LGBTI Speculative Romance

Publisher: Escape Publishing
Imprint of Harlequin Australia

Date of Publication: 21st September 2017

ISBN: 9781489251015

Number of pages: 250
Word Count: 65,000

Cover Artist: Escape Publishing

Book Description:

Book one in an emotional, erotic, dramatic trilogy about a world gone to hell, and the hell we hold inside…

The human race has been all but wiped out, along with our best traits: compassion, empathy, and generosity.

Euan is a survivor. In a dystopian wasteland infused with violence and cruelty, he protects something invaluable. His love for Nick and the solace that comes with the connection keeps him from destruction, and offers him that most elusive and dangerous emotion of all —

But happiness comes at a price and a hunting trip leaves Nick vulnerable to the evil that still infects the world. When Euan returns, he finds Nick broken and bloody, irrevocably damaged in both body and soul.

Now Euan’s only goal is to find a place for Nick to heal, a safe place, a refuge where they can rest, recover and repair their love. When they risk a raid on an abandoned house, they discover the unthinkable, the rarest treasure of all. A woman.

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Chapter One
True Refuge

Euan waited, his
body held rigid in a state of hiatus. His muscles burned, quivering
involuntarily from remaining immobile for so long. The warm breeze rustled the
tussocks that surrounded him, and the seedpods tickled his ears as he crouched
among the native grasses. The morning sky above him was a vibrant blue, marred
only by sparse clouds that meandered across the unlimited expanse with little
concern for the struggle for survival that went on down below. Only his chest
moved as he took each slow inhalation of breath, his eyes remaining focused on
the net that stretched out in front of him.

There was a
movement to his right. A ripple in the stillness. The dry grass stirred and the
brittle stalks crackled in the silence. There was a patter, a lull, a dislodged
stone on the dry earth, and then all was quiet once again.

He dragged in a
breath and forced his broad shoulders to relax. Each fist was clasped around a
rusted tin can, their contents long gone, but the casing still served his
purpose. His large hands held the round metal objects easily, the alloy cool as
it pressed against his calloused skin.
His nose itched
but he ignored it. He narrowed his eyes as the sound to his right reoccurred.
This time, the rustling was prolonged, the animal gaining confidence in its
terrain. Just a few more minutes and then he could pounce.

He cursed when
there was a shout and a clattering of plastic. The creature to his right bolted
in the opposite direction to the snare, disappearing into its underground
shelter. Euan’s hunting partner Lenny had reacted early, scaring the animals
off before he was ready to act.

Sabotaging his
attempts to gather enough food for them to return to camp.


He had no choice
but to jump up from his prone position and beat the tin cans together. The
combined noise created by the empty plastic bottles and Euan’s cans frightened
the game they were trying to catch. A number of long-eared hares bounded before
him, headed towards the net they’d pulled against the boughs of two oak trees
and the pit they’d dug immediately before the mesh to ensure their bait would
be caught.

The two men
moved forward as one. Lenny was exuberant, his movements excessive and
unnecessary. Euan was resigned and his unease grew with every step, until two
rabbits were caught, clouds of dust rising like smoke in their wake.

Euan quickly
discarded his tins and knelt at the edge of the pit. It was an easy thing to
capture the frightened animals by the elongated ears and snap their delicate
necks. Two substantial hares were nothing to scorn, and these were especially
fat from the lack of human and domesticated animal encroachment. But it could
have been more. It should have been more.

Euan rose but
said nothing as he watched Lenny approach the pit. He couldn’t help curling his
lip at stink of old sweat that clung to filthy, threadbare clothing as he
reluctantly handed his prize over to the outstretched hand.

A shudder of
uneasiness was beginning to crawl up his spine. That was the third time his
effort to capture their prey had been foiled. That didn’t take even into
account that the day before Lenny had dragged his heels the entire journey,
keeping their pace deliberately leisurely, despite Euan’s attempt to get this
provisions trip over and done with as quickly as possible.

This last
attempt to undermine his hunting efforts was shining as brightly as a neon sign
in an apocalyptic-induced darkness.

Lenny had
thwarted him on purpose.

Euan watched
with growing trepidation as Lenny tied the rabbits to his backpack with
indifference. They were meant to be hunting to feed six people, themselves
included. Neither of them had eaten since yesterday. His reluctance made no

“I thought we
were waiting for my signal,’ Euan stated, watching with a keen eye for any
indication of ulterior motives.

Lenny blinked.
‘You didn’t make it?’

After a weighted
pause, Euan murmured ‘No.’

The lean man
shrugged, his gaze averted, before he re-shouldered his backpack, the dead
rabbits swinging from their colourful twine.

Euan pulled
himself up to his full height. It had been three years since the collapse of
mankind. Three years of fighting for survival, living off the land, trying to
escape the mayhem of what was left of civilisation. Since then, Euan had lived
his life attuned to his senses, the prickle on his nape and the lead ball that
rolled around in the pit of his stomach.

That lead ball
was now dissolving, morphing into mercury that was poisoning his insides.
Something was wrong, and he knew that the man in front of him, fiddling with
the frayed shoulder strap of his backpack with suddenly shaking fingers, was
the cause.

Fractured Refuge
The Refuge Trilogy
Book Two
Annabelle McInnes

Genre: LGBTI Speculative Romance

Publisher: Escape Publishing,
Harlequin Australia

Date of Publication: 12 November 2017

ISBN: 9781489251640
ASIN: B0746F6KJ6

Number of pages: 250
Word Count: 65,000

Cover Artist: Escape Publishing

Book Description:

They thought they’d found a refuge, but the battle for survival has only just begun...

Surrounded by the destruction of the human race, Euan, Nick, and Kira find solace in one another, making their underground bunker a haven and a home. Sheltered under layers of steel and cement, they should be safe, but danger isn’t always kept outside — sometimes the enemy is within.

When their electronic warning system detects intruders, Euan and Nick must investigate. Outside, they discover the true terror that is approaching, and Euan must make a terrible decision: stay or go. To stay is to watch the only people he loves perish under the weight of pure evil. To leave is to face his certain death to protect them and potentially save humankind.

Despite all his preparation, skills, and strength, Euan knows that each decision carries the risk that he could destroy them all.

The second book in the Refuge Trilogy.

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Chapter One Fractured Refuge

The room was
filled with the pungent scent of fried eggs and coffee. The air was warm. The
climate-control system working at full capacity to eradicate the chill from an
encroaching winter. Dishes were stacked high, men’s socks were squashed in odd
corners and a pair of faded pink slippers lay discarded by an open doorway.

Euan lifted a
ceramic mug that was glazed with dandelions in colours of gold, green and blue.
He took a sip of the scorching beverage and ran his tongue over the burn to his
upper lip. The sting was good; the bitter taste of the brew was better.

His gaze
wandered. Steel beige walls were covered in artworks. Landscapes painted with
muted oils, portraits formulated in lead. Images that captured the essence of
life, the allure of the sky, the wonders of the spirit, the magic of dreams.
Most made by his reluctant hand.

A single
photograph was centred between the amateur drawings. Its position of
significance was no accident. Two children grinned at the camera. Their arms
were wrapped around each other’s shoulder. Smiles as bright as the sunshine
filtered through their blond hair and glinted off their identical blue eyes.
Two beautiful children, unaware of what their future would hold.

Two beautiful
children who were full of hope, full of dreams, full of love and life.

Two beautiful
children. One brother, one sister.

As adults, the
two children would witness the end of the civilised world.

The mahogany
chair groaned under Euan’s weight. The hardwood supported his spine as he leant
back against the dark timber and stretched his long legs under the coordinating
dining table. His bare foot knocked his companion’s. They shared a small smile
as their skin touched and a spark of fire raced through their nerve endings.
Nick bumped his eyebrows suggestively. Euan’s lips kicked up higher in

The food that he
had just consumed nourished his body as effectively as the steel hull of the
underground bunker protected those he cherished. Surrounded by strength,
wrapped in love, the smile remained on his lips. It was kin to the grin that
was emulated by those two children. He relished a moment of untainted
satisfaction. A glorious bliss that bloomed in his sternum and radiated out
through his muscles and into his limbs, his fingers, his toes.

It was
beautiful. This was beautiful.

He sighed,

Kira’s voice
broke the comfortable silence. ‘Is that coffee finished?’

His hand
remained aloft. He held his breath in his lungs. His gaze moved from Nick to
focus on the petite blonde woman who sat rigidly on the edge of her seat to his
left. The hum of the ventilation system became the only sound in the
underground room.

Across from him,
Nick reached out and grasped the handle of his mug. His features were tight
with trepidation. The muscles around his green eyes were firm as he lifted a
twin to Euan’s mug from where it rested innocuously in the middle of the
mahogany table. His shoulders were tense as he tilted his head to look inside.

His chin lifted
and met Kira’s gaze. ‘Yes?’

The amiable
atmosphere in the room plummeted. Euan let his breath ease out of his chest. He
took a cautious sip.

Kira pursed her
lips. A furrow deepened between her blonde brows. Her knee began to bounce with
the rhythm of exaggerated irritation. The collar of the pale yellow t-shirt she
wore was frayed, stretched, warped. Much like the building tension in the room.
Euan bit back a sigh.

Her question was
directed at Nick. ‘And you’re just going to leave it there?’

Nick’s nervous
swallow was audible. His gaze flickered between a growing adversary and an
inanimate object. He touched his tongue to his upper lip, raked his fingers
through his hair and stared at the lesser of the two threats. His frustration
increased, his irritability brewing beneath the surface. Nick’s predisposition
was to please, to entertain, to love. But every man had his kryptonite. Being
trapped underground, waiting for death’s scythe to slice his soul from his body
would cause even the greatest man to falter. Nick was no deity in that sense.

Neither was
Euan. They were simply two men, two men desperate to please a woman deteriorating
before their eyes.

Eternal Refuge
The Refuge Trilogy
Book Three
Annabelle McInnes

Genre: LGBTI Speculative Romance

Publisher: Escape Publishing,
Harlequin Australia

Date of Publication: 12 January 2018

ISBN: 9781489252692

Number of pages: 250
Word Count: 65,000

Cover Artist: Escape Publishing

Book Description:

They fight for their survival, they fight for their love, and they fight for the human race.

Euan left his home whole, only to return broken, battered, and partially blind. He has endured the torments inflicted upon him by monster and man, but they are nothing compared to the consequences of betraying Nick and Kira. Incapacitated, he has no choice but to concede leadership to the man he considered his enemy, and is powerless as the distance between him and those he loves deepens and grows.

But his recovery time is short lived. The commander of destruction still lurks in the shadows, determined to dominate and control what is left of the human race. The final battle is upon them. They need a champion, a hero for humanity. There is nowhere left to run, and there is only one person who can provide the ultimate catalyst for change: A little, blonde sun-sprite, with crystal blue eyes.

The third book in the Refuge Trilogy.

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Excerpt Eternal Refuge:

Humanity needed
a hero. But they would find no saviour in Euan.

The steel was
cold beneath his fingers. He squeezed the rung of the ladder and the chill bit
into his palms. He tilted his neck to look up. The open portal above him was
the gateway to paradise, to fresh air and open space. Kira’s head peeked over
the lip of the gaping exit and the impossible living fairy consumed his
diminished vision. Her blue eyes glinted with adoration and pride, and her lips
quirked when he glared at her for too long.

‘Do you need
help?’ she asked.

He huffed and
shook his head. It was bitterness that clipped his words. ‘Been in bed for long
enough, sweetheart. Done waiting, done healing. If I can piss on my own, I
don’t need help to climb a ladder.’

He held in the
smirk when she sighed in mock exasperation.

One foot. Two.
He pulled himself onto the base of the ladder and hissed through his teeth at
the pain. Each foot was bound beneath his socks, so there was little risk of
further injury, but the skin remained tender, fragile. The discomfort sliced up
from the healing skin, through his calves and into the base of his spine.

He paused,
breathed. ‘You say a word, and I will tan that pretty ass.’

‘You’ll have to
catch it first,’ she said with a smile in her voice.

He answered her
taunt with a low chuckle. ‘You’d like it if I gave it a try.’

Kira’s tone was
serious when she replied, ‘I would.’

Four steps and
his hands followed. The ache in his shoulder increased as it took on more of
his weight. He blinked, and only one eye responded. The bandages were tight
around his head and his hearing was muffled. His feet stung as if the stones
still tore at his skin, as if the flames still licked at his bones. Rodger and
his parasites had taken so much from him. Stripped him of not just the flesh
from his body, but also his agility, his dexterity.

‘About to leave
this fucking bunker and I can’t hear, can’t see, can’t fucking run—’

‘You’re almost
there,’ she interjected to distract him.

It worked, as it
always did. She was a witch that wove a spell of enchantment, a netting that
drew him to her call. It had been her words that had brought him from the
temptation of death to the disaster that was his corporal self. But if she was
in the realm of the living, Euan would be too.

He moved to
place his palm against another cold rung. Kira’s assessment from above was like
a balm to his flaming skin. She filtered the shroud of despondency that clouded
his thoughts. Under her gaze he would fucking succeed.

But his depth
perception was shot and he missed his target. For a moment he wavered, his balance
precarious. Mortifying images of his broken body sprawled out on the carpet
below while Kira looked on propelled him to alter the direction of his fingers.
At the last moment, he caught the support bar.


‘You’re doing
great,’ she said before the barbs of his self-flagellating thoughts could catch
into his confidence and take hold.

But it was too
late. His self-hatred had embedded its talons deep. His pride had done this.
His pride and his ego. If only he had waited, if only he hadn’t been so selfish.
If he had listened to his heart and not his head, he wouldn’t have risked their
lives. They wouldn’t have lost Ben …
Kira’s hand was
in his vision. In front of his single working eye was the hand of a woman that
was his heart, his humanity. Her long fingers were relaxed, pointed his way.
The offering so sincere and innocent that the grunt that caught in his throat
had nothing to do with the ram-rods of pain that shot through his nervous
system. She had worked so hard to get him here, to keep him breathing, see him
healed, on his feet, and strong enough to climb this fucking ladder without

His gut was a
pit of aggressive vipers. His breath erratic. His heart nothing but thunder and
lightning. That damn throb in his shoulder.

‘You can do it,’
she whispered.

He took a deep
breath and held it. Calmed himself. He nuzzled her palm instead of taking the
offered assistance. When he brushed his lips against her skin, she let out a

‘I’m good,
sweetheart,’ he told her, because he was. He may be less of the man he was when
he had left them in his search for retribution, but he could, would, scale the
ladder to the surface.

About the Author:

From the age of sixteen, Annabelle lived in a youth refuge while she remained committed to her education. She spent two years within a section of humanity that society overlooks.

Her experiences are the foundations that drive her stories and her characters. They fight for their freedoms, have courage in the face of adversity and will ultimately, always aspire for greatness.

Annabelle is privileged to spend her time writing with a backdrop of Canberra’s iconic landmarks and admiring its distinct and captivating change of seasons. Outside of her love for reading, she spends every free moment with her husband, son and her poodle named Serendipity. She drinks her whisky neat and is known to scour the local markets in an attempt to find the best blue cheese available.

Follow Annabelle on Instagram @annabellemcinnes, Facebook @authorannabellemcinnes and twitter @akmcinnes. Sign up to her newsletter at and be a part of the journey.