After backsliding from witchcraft for several years following her marriage to a normal human named James, Scarlett finds that not much in her life is normal. Because of James she is chased by a jealous master vampire and an incubus who proves to be more than he appears. Scarlett is from a line of ancient witches, and to protect herself and those she loves she must draw on her ancestors spell book that has gotten in the wrong family member hands. After James’ betrayal, she reaches deep for courage to become the witch she knows she was meant to be. But she is not alone. A new lover with a secret, charms and pursues her to claim her lonely heart. Laurence is a werewolf in the midst of a divided pack war. He has made enemies with the master vampire that desires Scarlett’s bloody beating heart in the palm of her hand. He has vowed to protect Scarlett and lead his pack or die trying. Scarlett is in love but has her own plans of dealing with her own enemies. Naturally, their wills clash and threaten the happiness she has just accepted from Laurence. Scarlett has decided, based on her past, becoming a true daughter of her ancestors is more important than anything. But is she willing to choose love over magic again?
“Scarlett!” James jumped up from his position at Monique’s feet. She lay reclining on a big hard looking red leather sofa. She wore only a black lacey push up bra and matching thong with six inch heels. “Scarlett?” His astonished eyes were glued on her as she marched into the parlor. “Scarlett, what are you doing here?”
Oh my stars, she thought on the verge of disgust. Her husband stood before her naked except for a pair of short black boots and a studded collar around his neck. Monique held the leash that was attached to it tightly in her fist. She got to her feet to glower at Scarlett.
“Who are you?” Monique demanded.
“You know damn well who I am.” Keeping her eyes on the woman, she spoke to James. “Get dressed and come home.”
“He is home.”
“Not until he and I are finished. Now, you let go of that leash.”
“Scarlett!” James moved in front of Monique. “You need to leave right now.”
“I told you how this was going to end, James. You will not do this anymore while I am your wife.”
“It’s too late. I’ve decided this is what I want.”
“Maybe, but you and I have a lot of talking to do. You will explain to me what the hell is wrong with you!” She looked him up and down and wanted to scream. “Have you lost your mind?” She looked around him to Monique who was laughing. Sylvia didn’t lie about the woman’s appearance. She seemed almost colorless like those celebrities that bleach out their skin. She appeared to have oiled her entire long and skinny body with baby oil. “I suppose this ghoul is your mistress?”
“Ghoul?” The laughter stopped and she pulled on the leash and James stumbled backward, getting out of the middle. “You dare come to my home and attempt to insult me?” She dropped the lease to step up closer to Scarlett’s face. “But more importantly, I don’t appreciate you barging in here, trying to ruin our evening. As you can see we were in the middle of something wonderful. Now, I suggest you leave, while you can still walk.”
“What?” Did the skinny beast just threaten her?
“Jorge!” Monique yelled and a tall swarthy faced man rushed into the room as if he were on standby. “Jorge, this is Scarlett, James’ wife. Show her out.”
“I’m not going anywhere. James,” Scarlett said then walked over to him and pushed his bowed head back. “Get dressed right now or I swear to God!”
“Scarlett, you need to listen to me. This isn’t what you think. Go on home. We’ll talk later.”
“James!” He bowed his head again and she knocked it back. Yeah, he needed to be ashamed of himself being caught in the middle of whatever they were up to. But what she saw in his eyes was not shame, it was fear. “James?” She turned to look at Monique and then Jorge. They watched her back like a couple of hyenas waiting to pounce. Were they demons, sex demons that kept humans as slaves? “Look, I don’t know what is going on here, but my husband is finished.” She grabbed him by a hand and made to leave. James pulled back. “James, it’s okay.” She grabbed his hand again, and he pushed her with enough force to knock her to the floor. Confused, she scrambled to her feet.
“Damn it, Scarlett,” he said, getting all in her face. He was angry. “For once, do like I tell you. Get the fuck out of here!”
“Wait a minute!” She backed up, shaking her head. If he wanted out of there, he knew she could protect him, so why was he pulling back? “James, I came to take you home. We can get past a slut and her butler.”
“Excuse me, but I am not anyone’s butler,” Jorge sharply corrected the assumption. “I am the master of this house.”
“I don’t care who- ahh!” James slapped her hard across the face.
“Get out of here, Scarlett! You’re making a fool of yourself! Go home and forget about me!”
“What are you saying to me?”
“Woman, look at me!” He backed up off her to let her get a good look. “This is who I am! This is what I desire! My time with you is over. Now, come on.” He led her from the parlor to the front door and opened it. Without another word, he shoved her out and closed the heavy doors in her face.
Absolutely stunned, she stood staring at the house. What the hell just happened, she wondered.
Jorge came out with her purse, and handed it to her meeting her eyes briefly. “Please, don’t come back. There is nothing for you here.”
Coming back to life, Scarlett pushed him aside. “James! God damn you, I’m your wife! You come out of there!”
“Leave now,” Jorge advised strongly. He took her by an arm and attempted to drag her along off the lawn. “This isn’t exactly what you think.”
“Keep off me!” She ran back up to the house intending to re-enter. “James, if you don’t come home with me right this minute!” Monique stepped outside meeting her with a backhand that knocked her off her feet and in the air. She landed spread eagle on the lawn. Out of breath and dazed, she felt strong hands lift her up tearing her blouse. A pale face with ruby red lips and sharp teeth snarled down at her. “Oh my stars,” she moaned. Monique had fangs and was fixing to bite her. “James!” Was he still human, she wondered in horror? “Oh no,” she began to tremble. Monique was a vampire!
“Monique, for God’s sake!” Jorge hunkered down beside his undead wife. “You’re scaring the woman to death.”
“Fear tastes good on a woman,” she said, licking Scarlett’s face where a teardrop fell.
“Please, Monique.” James came forward. “Please, let her go home.” Her head hit the ground with a thud when Monique readily released her. “For you, my darling,” she said, taking him in her arms with a big smile. “Only for you.”
“No!” Scarlett rose, clenching her fists and teeth, seething in shock and humiliation. She stood as her body fired up inside its aura, crimson light filled the night, her eyes glowed white so that no color showed. Her skirt waved with energy that flowed off her, and her braids danced like snakes around her head. Raising her hands, she lowered herself on a bent knee, seeking control of the power she summoned.
“Scarlett!” James stood in front of Monique. “Stop, you don’t understand.”
“I understand a vampire has lured and held my husband spellbound, and tonight it is going to end. Move!”
“Scarlett!” Light from her hands shot through his entire body. He fell to the ground shaking, as if so cold that it hurt. “Scar… Scarlett…” She ignored him, stepping over his body going after Monique.
She’d landed in the bushes on the other side of the lawn after taking the blast that went through James body. It was a hard force, but it wasn’t enough to keep a vampire down for long. Brushing off her clothes, already on her feet, Monique met Scarlett’s approach. Baring her fangs, she braced herself, ready against another burst of light straight from Scarlett’s aura, but she wasn’t prepared for Scarlett flying, getting right on her to knock her to the ground. Monique took a punch in the face. “Damn it!” Scarlett hit her again. “Damn it! Jorge! James!” She finally got her knee up in Scarlett’s stomach, taking some breath out of her. She grabbed Scarlett by the neck, pulling her down to sink her fangs into her throat and sucked her blood. Laughing, Monique raised her head, as Scarlett grew weak. She rolled her over to her back to watch her startled face. Eyes wide, she tried to fight back. Monique easily forced her arms back down. “Idiot.”
“Not now, Jorge. Can’t you see I’m in the middle of something delicious?” She tore the collar back from Scarlett’s throat, and licked at the blood seeping down to her bra.
“Get off me,” Scarlett said, alarmed that she was breathing so hard. Her heartbeat was in her ears. Monique looked her in the eyes again and snickered. She ran her tongue all over her face. Scarlett panicked that her arms and legs were too weak to move. How much blood had Monique sucked? It seemed she was only on her for a few seconds. Being so weak made no sense. She looked Monique straight in the eye. “Get off me,” she repeated holding her gaze. Monique backed off a little before she realized she was about to obey. “I command you, vampire!” Asserting herself, she felt her body coming back to her.
“Monique!” Jorge snatched her, pulled her away. He stared down at Scarlett as if amazed. Monique pushed him aside to go after Scarlett again. “Monique!”
Scarlett got her arm up across her neck trying to protect herself from a second bite. Monique bit and tore through the leather sleeve of her jacket yanking it off her in just a second. Scarlett began to glow in white light.
The light grew brighter and Scarlett screamed in mounting fear. How much did it take to get a vampire off her! Then she heard Monique screaming too. She was in pain and trying to kill her before the light took her out. Monique was still too strong. Glowing was going to wear her out before it knocked Monique out. She had to stop.
“That’s it, witchy woman,” Monique said, catching her own breath, lying on top of her, holding her arms crossed over her head. “Just relax, it will be over soon.” She went back to the wound on Scarlett’s neck licking it clean, then sucked from it making it hurt and bleed into her mouth.
“Hurry it up,” Jorge said. “Or at least get off the lawn.”
“Quiet. Blood this good and rich has to be savored.”
“Take her inside, Monique.” He went to pick up James. He was still shivering. “You were lucky you only got half of that first attack.”
“What did you say?” She got off Scarlett’s spent body in a huff going to her husband and took James off his shoulder and carried him in her arms into the house. “Ruby, get him a blanket and some brandy.” When he started asking about Scarlett, she left him to question Jorge over at the piano. “What the hell did you mean, I was lucky?”
“If James had not blocked you, that woman out there on the lawn would have your heart by now.”
“You think so?”
“Yes, I think so,” Jorge replied crisply. “Engaging her was foolish. She nearly took your will. Don’t try to deny it, Monique. I saw you respond to her voice.”
“She is weak, unsure of herself. You saw her give up.” She frowned at him when he did not agree.
“Don’t play with that one, Monique.”
“When have you ever seen me play, Jorge?”
“We’ve had James over two years and he was never compelled to tell us he was married to a witch. And Monique, witches rarely live in a community alone. They work in groups of three or five, or even a whole coven for power. Hell, for all we know she might be one of those Fairlight witches!”
“So what? We aren’t in Fairlight! Besides, no witch except this fool is insane enough to challenge me.” She turned her back on her husband to glower at her plaything. He was gone, no longer on the couch. She ran to the door shouting his name. “Fool!” He was on the lawn helping Scarlett along to her car and still shivering. “James, you get in here!” He hesitated then hurried back up to the house. “Get upstairs!”
“You said you’d let her go.”
“Right now, your wife is the least of your concerns.” She ran into the yard chasing after Scarlett.
“Scarlett, run!” James cried after them. Monique was on her heel just inches away. “Run!”
“Shut up, you fool,” Jorge said from behind. “You are in enough trouble as it is.”
“I got you!” Monique announced, pushing off the ground to tackle her. She had her arms around the fleeing witch’s middle, locked on tight. She hit the ground holding on- to nothing. Scarlett had vanished.
They made the headlines again. And it was worse, two werewolves killed two vampires in a local brawl. A dark male and a white female. Scarlett wondered, Laurence and the blonde? What were they doing fighting in public like that? Vamps were hard to kill so they didn’t care, but a silver bullet could take a werewolf out in minutes.
She folded the paper placing it on the bench beside her and uncrossed her legs to sample the coffee that was too hot to drink a couple of minutes ago. It would do, she smiled to herself. The day was cold, yet she enjoyed it. Her body usually ran warm and a drop in the temperature suited her just fine.
Sipping her coffee, she casually noticed a man she’d seen earlier in the morning at the mall in the food court. Now, he was across the street buying roasted nuts from a vendor? His lips were moving but the vendor wasn’t paying him any mind. And why did he keep touching his ear? Either she was watching too much television, or that man was watching her and reporting back. Well, let him, she thought. She had a million boring things to do today and he was welcome to experience it all with her.
After a half hour of browsing in the local bookstore and finding nothing that interested her, she turned and found herself looking into the chest of a man. Startled that he’d sneaked up on her, she gasped in surprise. Was that how he did it? The uncanny way he was showing up at the oddest moments. Was he having her followed?
Of course, he wasn’t. Why would he? “Laurence.”
“Now, that is encouraging,” he smiled, showing off his pearly whites.
“It’s been a couple of months since we’ve seen each other, and you still know my name.”
“Well, you aren’t really so easily forgotten.”
“You’re looking good.”
“Thanks.” She appreciated he didn’t look her up and down when he admired her body. “So do you,” she said. All recovered and hot as ever.
“So, how are things with you?”
“Okay, I guess.”
“Does that mean you and your husband have worked things out?”
“We’ve divorced. Cost a lot of money but it’s done.”
“I filed a few days after we- talked last.”
“Scarlett, that’s wonderful,” he remarked giving her an enthusiastic hug, which soon turned into an embrace. “Isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it is.” She hugged him back enjoying being held again and feeling the strength of him. It was hard to believe he’d nearly died and they never shared who they really were to each other. “Laurence, so much has happened since-” She didn’t believe it. Looking past Laurence’s body and out the bay window of the book store, she saw the man from the mall and the park running across the parking lot from the direction her car was parked. She ran to the front entrance to get a look at him, but he was already in a car leaving. Closing her eyes, she tried sending her mind out within reach of his. It was tricky when you didn’t know the subject, and he was traveling. “Damn it.” Why hadn’t she thought to try something when she first made him in the park?
“Something wrong?” Laurence asked, trying to see what she saw in the parking lot.
“Wrong?” She glanced at him briefly, then shot out of the door running to her car. She could tail him and get his license plate number.
“Scarlett!” Laurence had her by the arm preventing her from getting in the car.
“I have to go.” She pulled her keys from her coat pocket.
He wasn’t going to let her leave until her tailer was long gone. Again she wondered about his intentions. “Why do you need to know why? What’s it to you?”
“I’m-” he backed up. “I’m concerned is all. The way you bolted out of the library seems somewhat manic.”
“Manic acting people don’t belong behind the wheel of a car.”
Oh brother. She blinked at him then took a deep breath. “Thank you, Laurence for the concern. But I was merely excited from recognizing someone I wanted to catch before he got away.”
“Forget it. I’m sure I’ll run across him again.” He got in front of her car door, clearly blocking her from getting in and leaving. “What are you doing, Laurence?”
“I don’t want you getting in that car.”
“Why not?” He moved toward her and she refused to back up. He didn’t scare her.
“Please, Scarlett. For once don’t run away from me.”
“I’m not running. I have things to do.”
“Things that can’t wait?”
“What do you really want, Laurence? Just cut to the chase and tell me. I’ve had enough games and intrigue mucking up my life.”
“Scarlett, you know what I want. You aren’t married anymore, so what’s the problem now?”
“My marital status isn’t the only thing in my life that has changed. I have more to concern myself with now. A horny investigator is the least of them.” There. That should do it, she thought moving around him trying to get to her car. Only, he moved with her, real swift like and ended up between her and the car. “Get off my car.”
“Why don’t you trust me?”
“Why can’t you take no for an answer?”
“Because I don’t believe no is the answer you really want to give. I believe you are just as horny as I am.”
“Who says I’m horny?”
“Your eyes,” he said. Surprising her, he put an arm around her middle and moved off the car up against her, rather than pulling her to him. “And your body,” he continued in a husky half whisper. “Your mouth can lie, but not the eyes and body. Desire isn’t just a feeling, Scarlett. It’s a smell.” He sniffed at her lips then kissed her lightly. “The proof is in your taste.”
“Laurence-” She pushed at his arms going around her, they felt like bands of steel. His chest wouldn’t give way to her either. He was going to kiss her whether she wanted him to or not. Relaxing, she received his kiss, her arms slid up his chest to his neck. His strong arms held her tenderly with quiet passion. It felt real between them, but how could she trust it? She barely knew him, and what she knew was dangerous. “Why are you acting like this?”
“Because it’s almost like I can’t help it. And I know you want me too.”
“Laurence, just because I’m divorced doesn’t mean all systems are go. I have issues, and people I have to deal with.”
“We all do, Scarlett. Look, all I want is a shot with you. Give me some time for a quiet meal, a stroll through a museum-”
“A quick roll in the hay?”
“Actually, I was thinking about an afternoon of slow tender loving. I know I pushed things just now. But I’m not trying to force you.” He eased up and let her back out of his arms.
“You are so strong. I couldn’t move you.”
“I’m sorry. That was wrong of me, but I wasn’t letting you get in that car acting frantic over some guy that got out of here in a hurry. Is something heavy going on with you?”
“Do you need help?”
“I can handle my own problems.”
“Is it your ex?”
Hearing the serious edge in his voice, she got the feeling there was more going on than him wanting to spend time with her as a woman. He had a whole secret life that he wasn’t willing to share with her, yet he was talking about being honest. How honest was he presenting himself as a regular guy when just the night before he killed a couple of vampires in public? What kind of world was he involved in? What did he want from her? An afternoon, he said.
“You like me, right?”
“Then why can’t you spend a little time with me? How much longer you want me to beg you?”
“You aren’t begging, you’re demanding.”
“Come on, now. What’s really the problem?”
“I don’t know. I guess I’m out of practice and- and I’m older than you.”
“I’m not a cougar.”
“I’m not a kid. I’m thirty three.”
“I’m forty.” And I’m going to look this age for another twenty years. And she was a little uneasy because he was a werewolf, and knowing that she still felt like she could trust him. Which was the problem right there. Her judgment of character sucked.
“Okay, now what else you got? Seven years difference ain’t doing it, sorry. Come on, loosen up. Just spend this afternoon with me and see what happens.” He put an arm around her and ushered her across the parking lot. He opened the door to what looked like a brand new Cadillac.
Without a word, she climbed in as he held the passenger door open for her. While she smoothed her skirt across her knees, she knew he checked out her legs before closing the door. Sitting beside her, he grinned starting the car.
“Wait,” she said, stopping him from putting it in gear. “Uh, I married young and before that I never dated much. I mean, if this is a date-”
“Just be yourself. All I want you to do is relax. Forget about rolling in the hay.”
“That’s kind of hard since you put it out there.” And doing it with a werewolf concerned her. Would he be able to control himself and keep from going animal? That night on the highway, he sure seemed in control of himself. She was a bloody mess from Monique’s attack and he handled her just fine without struggling not to eat her up. All he seemed to have on his mind was getting her away from the others. She jumped a little when he touched her knee. The backs of his hands were fuzzy with soft hair.
“You really are nervous, aren’t you?”
“Okay,” he said. “Look, I’m not kidnapping you. If you don’t want to be alone with me, we can take a walk or something.”
“No, it’s all right.”
“How about we just run those errands of yours and not worry about anything. When we’re done, we can see where we are.”
“You don’t want to go to the grocery store with me. I have to stock up on everything.”
“As a bachelor, I have to take care of the same sort of stuff you do. Normally, I’d do it on a Sunday morning, but a Thursday afternoon with a lady I’m crazy about is so much better.”
“Laurence,” she smiled, dropping her eyes down to her lap. “You don’t have to say things like that. You just met me.”
“Is that what makes you nervous?”
“I’m just out of practice.”
“That’s all right,” he said, reaching out to touch her cheek. “Whatever you do is okay with me. Scarlett?”
She looked up from fussing with the uncooperative seatbelt. He reached across her tugging on the strap, he stopped as if to gauge her reaction, he was practically on top of her. And it felt right, she wasn’t afraid to be alone with him at all. Not of the wolf inside him or the manly man that was setting her heart to racing. With a quick boldness, she kissed him briefly, holding his face in her hands.
“Was that okay?” she asked.
“Yeah.” She kissed him again, giving him time to join in, lengthening it out to build into a passionate embrace. Pulling back, he took a deep breath. With shaking hands, he put the car in gear. She was watching him now and she thought with a smirk that he was now the nervous one.