Prequel to Bond Betrayed
Izzy has lived between two worlds her entire life—one filled with magic and darkness, the other populated by mundane humans. She was born into the magical world of the Community. But sexy, forbidden DEA agent Jacob belongs to the other. He has no idea her world even exists.
But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t noticed her. They’ve worked together for the past six months, attempting to bring down her drug-dealing half-brother while driving each other crazy with pent-up desire. But now that it’s time to say goodbye, they both find it impossible to let go.
After one passionate night together Izzy realizes her mistake. She can’t bring him into her world. She has to end things before she gets too attached. When he refuses to leave, she must find a way to guide him through the darkness.
Inside Scoop: In this scorching urban fantasy, ink is thicker than blood.
A Romantica® paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave
Publisher’s Note: This book was previously published elsewhere under this title in 2010, but has been revised for Ellora’s Cave.
She’d almost made it to the next section when a familiar face grabbed her attention. He was wearing tight jeans and a black t-shirt instead of the suit that she’d grown accustomed to seeing him in, but there was no mistaking his smile. Or his lean, muscular physique.
As if hearing her thoughts, he looked up. His gaze caught hers for a second before he began making his way toward her.
“A—” Realizing she was about to call him Agent Phinney, she stopped and shook her head to clear it. “Um, Jacob. This is a surprise.” She couldn’t help but wonder how he’d gotten past the guards.
He smiled rakishly as he ran his fingers through his short black hair. It was a gesture she’d become endeared to over the past six months. “I know, small world.”
“What are you doing here?” She’d expected to see him, but not until the bust had gone down. And, try as she might, she couldn’t think of a single good reason for him to be at the bazaar. Admittedly it was difficult for her to think of anything at all given his proximity. He was so close she could smell the spicy mint of his shampoo and her arm would brush against his chest if she swayed ever so slightly.
“I’m on a date.”
The words snapped her out of her haze. He didn’t seem to notice, though. He was too busy staring at the voluptuous redhead several people ahead of them whose singed fingertips hinted at fire manipulation.
That explained security. With someone like her as a date, they’d have let him through, no questions asked.
“Funny, she isn’t what I’d imagined as your type.” Izzy realized that he could never be hers, not really, but she didn’t like the idea of him being with someone else. Especially when that someone could manipulate fire. In her experience, pyros were one of the more dangerous types. They tended to run hot in all things—including their emotions. “She looks kind of dangerous.”
“Although I do go for the dangerous type,” he whispered with a playful wink, “you’re right. She just happened to be in the right place at the right time—here.”
Hearing his words, a possible reason for his presence became painfully clear. “Wait. Are you checking up on me?”
He looked genuinely hurt. “I thought you knew me better than that. I’m here as backup, nothing more,” he whispered softly.
He’s human, he’s human, he’s human…The warning echoed softly in the recesses of her mind. But as his fingers tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear, it faded into silence.
“I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to you on my watch,” he said.
Being from a rather nomadic family, Chandra Ryan loves to travel and meet people. But she’s found that sometimes, like when you’re stuck inside because of a good old-fashioned Southwestern heat wave, you have to make do. Fortunately for her and her loving family, who don’t like seeing her suffer from cabin fever, she’s found creating new people and places equally as fascinating. Also, you’re a lot less likely to spill your ice tea.
Paolo D’Allesandro has been content living in his older brother Marco’s shadow since they both left Italy for the United States. But he’s getting a little older now and realizing he doesn’t want the same thing as his brother–to be a professional bull rider. He’s never made his own decisions, though, and finds himself having a crisis of confidence.
Savannah Harrington is a grad student working on a thesis. Her topic is adrenaline junkies, and she’s joined the bull riders tour for a few weeks to study the men and their motivation behind willingly taking part in a dangerous sport. She meets Paolo on her first day and both feel an immediate pull. Savannah recognizes quickly that Paolo isn’t happy, though, and tries to draw him out even as the two of them draw closer physically. She can’t stay away from the sexy Italian, but knows the relationship can’t last. After all, she’s going back to school and he’s staying on the bull riding tour to be with his brother while he figures out his next step.
Both Paolo and Savannah wish their circumstances were different, but Paolo doesn’t think he has anything to offer Savannah, and Savannah doesn’t want to pressure Paolo into another life decision that will make someone else happy, but not fulfill him. As her time to go back to school draws closer, they need to figure out how to get their highest score yet–in the game of love.
Bryanna is far from the perfect witch. Shunned by her coven and her boyfriend for her unruly magic, she seeks a new life for herself in a new town—Charmstone.
When Bryanna arrives in Charmstone, Zeke, a demon gone good, is burning with fire over her. Not only has she set his world ablaze, but he’s found one soul he can save. He’s determined to free her from the insecurities that have damaged her soul.
Together they experience lava-hot passion as they weave their way through a tornado of emotions. But when Bryanna’s ex returns for her, Zeke will need to take a stand and hope that their lust leads to a forever love.
Publisher’s Note: This story was previously published elsewhere under the title Whatnots & Doodads in 2011, and has been revised and expanded for Ellora’s Cave.
Excerpt Some Like It Wicked
Copyright © STACEY KENNEDY, 2013
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
A thump, followed by a ga-jug, echoed within the Volkswagen Rabbit, then the car rolled to a halt on the side of the gravel road.
“Oh Blessed Be, this cannot be happening.” Bryanna turned the ignition key and it clicked. She tried again, but she didn’t hear a spark of the engine igniting or a purr from the muffler, she only heard silence.
Dropping her head against her hands resting on the steering wheel, she shrieked in frustration and her throat tightened. But when tears filled her eyes, she straightened up. “No, you will not cry.” Cursing the now-dead piece of junk, she opened the car door, grabbed her handbag from the passenger seat and kicked the car’s silver door shut behind her.
Before the dash-unit GPS crapped out on her, it had indicated she had arrived in the West Feliciana Parish of Louisiana. Now she stood atop a narrow ridge overlooking a river below with blue sky and white clouds above.
The beautiful sight didn’t match her wretched mood. She should enjoy the rich, earthy scents around her, feel rejuvenated to have left the busy city of Shreveport behind and bask in the gloriousness of the nature around her. That was, if she was a good Earth Witch, which sadly, she wasn’t. In fact, her magical abilities were embarrassing at best. But those kinds of chastising thoughts weren’t important anymore. Nothing mattered. Least of all what she could or couldn’t do with her magic.
She strode forward and her long black satin skirt dragged along the ground, making her grumble. The gravel road was slightly damp and the big clouds meant a storm had recently blown through, which only added to the strong scents around her. Rich moss thrived on the forest floors to her right. Birds chirped in welcome, but she didn’t know to where.
Not as if that mattered either. The only thing that did concern her was never turning back and always moving forward. Her life needed to change, which included getting her ex-boyfriend, Layton Brimley, completely out of it.
A man built of romantic dreams—beautiful on the outside, blue-eyed, blond-haired and sexy as sin. But the pretty packaging was deceptive; his soul was tainted with darkness. He was the reason she’d been on the road for four hours now and why she’d never go back to the Shreveport coven.
Above her, a bird squawked and Bryanna raised her hand to protect her eyes, watching the hawk soaring on a thermal. She sighed. If only she was that hawk and Layton was a little mouse she could rip to pieces. It’d be the sweetest revenge.
She focused back on the road and increased her speed. On her third step, her boot caught a stone, causing her to stumble forward. With a yelp, she nosedived toward a puddle and scraped her hands against the rough stones. The dirty water soaked her clothing, plastering her skirt to her skin.
“Oh for the love of magic.” She pushed herself up, wiped her injured hands on her wet skirt and took a cautious step forward, but wobbled. When she glanced down, she noticed the heel of her boot had broken off.
Things that had been bad so far were only getting worse with each passing hour. She’d need four sets of hands to count all the mishaps she’d encountered along the way. Limping forward, she continued on, determined to get to…well, she hadn’t figured that out yet.
As the hawk above her squawked again, she also heard a car approaching from behind and drawing closer with each limp she took. Refusing to look back at the car in fear of embarrassing herself further, she stared at the gravel road when a thump caught her attention. The car’s tire had clearly hit another hole in the road, since when she turned, a splash came barreling toward her.
If she were a normal Earth Witch, she could conjure magic to stop the dirty water from hitting her. Sadly, she was anything but normal. Instead, she braced herself, shut her eyes and waited for the deluge.
Only a second later, the frigid water hit her dead center, as expected.
When she opened her eyes, she discovered her violet-streaked long black hair dripping around her. Looking down at her black corset, she found it completely soaked and dirt particles marred her flesh. “That’s it!” she shrieked to the sky above. “I’ve had enough!”
“You can either get in or stay wet. Your choice.”
At the low, velvety voice, Bryanna jerked her head toward the car, looking at back door of the black Dodge Challenger, which was open. Get in the car with a stranger? Or stay in these soaked clothes, with a broken heel on my boot?
The right decision was glaringly obvious.
With her continuing limp, Bryanna approached the car, then settled into the backseat. “Thank you for stopping.” As she leaned against the back of the seat, she noticed she was dripping dirty water along the expensive black leather. “Perhaps this was a bad idea. I’m ruining your seat.”
“It’s only a car,” the driver stated.
Glancing up from her soaked clothes, Bryanna examined her savior. He stared out the front windshield, but then looked at her in the rearview mirror, and she sucked in a harsh breath. It wasn’t his appearance that worried her. His short dark-brown hair, the broad set of his shoulders and even his nicely defined arms filling his pale-blue T-shirt looked incredibly nice. But it was what lay in the depths of his coal-black eyes that terrified her.
“The name is Zeke.” He flashed a grin that, if she hadn’t been frightened, might have been sexy. At her silence, he chuckled, put the car in gear and then drove down the road. “Surprised to see a demon?”
She gulped, stunned speechless.
Demons were underworld creatures, stealers of souls and spawns of Satan. What kind of trouble had she landed herself in?
“Stop the car!” she shouted, blindly grasping for the door handle that seemed to have disappeared. She might have looked down to assist in her much needed escape, but that meant she would have to take her eyes off the demon, which she wouldn’t dare do. “Let me out. Don’t eat my soul.”
Zeke barked a shout of laughter. “I might be a demon by right, but I have chosen a different life for myself. I won’t eat you.” His chuckling faded. “And I’ll even send a tow to get your car later. What’s your name?”
His reply knocked her off her axis and made her pause. Was what he suggested even possible? Could a demon deny his heritage? “Bryanna.” She managed to look away from him and noticed they approached a town. “Where are you taking me?”
Once he passed through the metal gates at the entrance, Bryanna spotted an old wooden sign that hung on a wrought iron stand. Charmstone was carved into the wood with Established in 1839 written below.
As the car traveled down the curvy paved road, shops of all kinds appeared. First, Duncan’s Dungeons, then Scaredy Cat Café and even Little Shop of Potions. The town had a historical feel, with aged stores that only built more character. It didn’t look decrepit, but had an incredible charm. One of those places so memorable that if she left, she’d definitely return.
After Zeke rounded a corner, he brought the car to a stop. Dragging her gaze from the eclectic shops and the few shifters who walked along the street, she exited the car and stared down the street to her right. She then looked to her left, totally mesmerized.
The shops were all huddled together with no sense of organization. They were nothing like she’d seen in Shreveport. It even smelled different here, almost like gingersnap cookies. Every shop appeared to be a little house and each had a different style that somehow made each one special.
“What a charming little town.” She glanced over her shoulder at Zeke and her mouth instantly went dry.
At some point, he had joined her and he was dark, dangerous, but gorgeous. He towered over her, staring down at her in a way that should have sent her running. Instead, she found herself captivated. Her breath caught in her throat as he gave a smile that was as devilish as his evil roots.
He regarded her a moment, giving her a once-over before curiosity filled his dark eyes. “If you’re a witch, why haven’t you,” he waved his hand over her, “changed your clothing?”
At the reminder of her magical flaws, her cheeks warmed. The spell he suggested was, in fact, the simplest of magic. She considered lying to save herself from the embarrassment, but why bother? A demon had no right to judge her. “Because I’m a terrible witch.”
One sleek eyebrow lifted. “How so?”
A breeze filled the air, causing leaves to flutter down from the tree above, making her slightly chilled in her wet clothes. “My powers are on the fritz. I can command the earth element, but when I do, something horrible happens.”
His eyes twinkled. “Show me.”
“That’s not a good idea.” She scanned the area and while only a couple of warlocks stood by the café and a few werewolves across the street, this seemed dangerous. Turning back to Zeke, she admitted, “It’s best I don’t use my magic.”
He closed the distance between them, studying her from head to toe. “But you are a witch.”
To call her a witch was akin to calling a black cat white. “Yeah, that’s the problem. I’m only a half-witch.”
He snorted, folding his arms over a thick chest. “There’s no such thing as a half-witch.”
“Wanna bet?” she countered.
The side of his mouth curved. “Go on.” He leaned against the wrought iron lamppost and waved her on, which flexed the muscles in his biceps. “I’m not worried. Show me.”
She cleared her throat, a little stuck on the sight of his flexing muscles, before she gave herself hell for looking at a demon that way. Focusing off him, as well as realizing he wouldn’t relent until he saw her flaws for himself, she focused inward. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
He winked. “Little witch, you couldn’t hurt me if you tried.” Pointing toward himself, he tilted his head. “Demon, remember?”
There was that.
Besides, even if she had perfect magic, she still couldn’t injure him; exactly why witches feared demons. Although this demon wasn’t typical, was he? With that thought on her mind, and not wanting to prolong the moment, she shut her eyes. Years had passed since she called to her element and she wasn’t confident earth would respond.
Perhaps some of her agreement had been because it almost felt like the final act of defiance. Her magic had been wonky since birth and her ex, Layton, had been right—her spells only caused trouble. Now she was free of him and could conjure magic whenever she wanted. That was, when alone and not for anyone to witness her mishaps.
Warmth began to fill her veins, instantly reminding her of how intimately her magic touched her, bringing forth a world of guilt. Abandoning her element had been the hardest thing she’d ever done. But what else was she to do?
As a heat wave rushed over her body and settled into her chest, happiness spread through her equally as powerful. The earth element appeared as elated as she was to reconnect. When the breeze picked up and turned into a stronger wind, fluttering her hair, she concentrated on her clothes. She pictured each article of clothing in her mind and switched that piece of clothing with something new.
With a skirt and corset strong in her mind, the blast of heat in her veins burned wicked hot until it vanished and the wind returned to a gentle breeze.
Only a second passed before Zeke burst out laughing.
She snapped open her eyes, caught sight of him staring at the ground and then she followed his gaze. The moment she spotted the tiny round glass jar, she groaned. “See.”
“I do see.” He picked up the container, pulled out the cork and lowered his nose to the glass. “It smells like vanilla with a hint of almonds.” After he closed the jar again, he smiled at her. “Is it skin cream?”
“Sure is.” She lifted her chin, forcing herself to remember he was a demon and had no business judging her. “As I told you, my magic never comes out right and always gives me these thingamajigs.”
She gave a firm nod. “Yup, all kinds of weird whatnots.”
“Well, Bryanna.” He offered her the container with gentleness in his gaze that made no sense coming from a demon. “Must be incredible skin cream since your skin is beautiful.”
With burning cheeks, she accepted the jar, unsure if she should thank him or ignore him. She chose the latter, considering he was a demon, after all. Sure, a sexy demon with a wickedly charming smile, but nonetheless, a demon.
She deposited the cream in the garbage bin beside the lamppost and when the glass container clanged against the bottom of the metal garbage bin, she finally looked at Zeke. He stared at her intently and she became trapped in those same confusing eyes; so dangerous, yet tender.
When he chuckled, her attention drifted down to his curved lips, making her wonder what it’d be like to kiss a demon. Would he be gentle? Or would he be a devil between the sheets?
The second she realized it hadn’t been a passing thought, but intense curiosity, she gave her head a hard shake for even going there.
What was wrong with her?
“There’s a store close by that should suit you.” Zeke’s voice had deepened, his eyes glinting dangerously. “I’ll buy you whatever you need to replace your clothing.”
She bit back a curse, seeing he wasn’t blind to her regard of him. Her most private thoughts always showed on her face. She had to work on not being such an open book. “I don’t need your money. That’s one thing I do have.”
In fact, money was the only thing she had, not that she’d tell a demon that. What she didn’t have—what she longed for—was everything that truly mattered: love, acceptance and perfect magic.
She had lived without the important stuff for twenty-five years and she couldn’t do it any longer. Those desires made her leave everything she knew behind in Shreveport in search of a new life.
And now here she was, in Charmstone with a demon.
About the Author:
Stacey Kennedy writes romance that sometimes gets very naughty. She’s an urban fantasy lover at heart, but she also enjoys losing herself in dark and sensual worlds. She lives in Southwestern Ontario with her husband who gave her a happily ever after. Together, they have two small children who can always make her smile, and who will never be allowed to read mommy’s books. If she’s not plugging away at a new story, you’ll find her camping, curling up with the latest flick, or obsessing over Sons of Anarchy and Games of Thrones.
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