Witch BloodBy: Anya Bast
To James, who is my heart
Many thanks to Lauren Dane, Megan Hart, and Jody Wallace for reading through and helping me iron out the wrinkles. Every writer needs people to give them the unvarnished truth about a book. I value you all very much.
Thanks to Brenda for being her wonderful, caring self. Who would have thought that our strange first meeting in the eighth grade would have developed into a lifelong friendship? I’m so glad it did. I’m a better person for knowing you.
HOW TO CATCH A WARLOCK 101. ISABELLE COULD teach that class.
Club music thrummed through Isabelle’s body. Eyes closed, she swayed her hips, dancing more to the ebb and flow of the subtle emotions around her than to the beat. Intoxicated by the sea of euphoria and lust, she allowed the seductive, primal weave to free her for a few blessed moments.
The trap she’d set for the warlock also trapped her.
A man’s hands grasped her waist. A lean, muscular body pressed against hers from behind. She knew that touch, those hands and the subtle, woody scent of his expensive cologne. It was the warlock she hunted. The one who thought she was a woman just like any other. Her eyes came open, the moment of serenity vanquished by his presence.
Anyone able to see her face would’ve glimpsed revulsion pass over her features before her lips curved into a coy smile. She snuggled back into Stefan Faucheux’s arms. He rocked her back and forth, changing the sway of her body to the beat of the music. Luckily, Stefan had no empathy. He couldn’t sense how much she abhorred his touch.
Somewhere nearby a camera flashed, then another. Paparazzi. The media fawned over Stefan, an ultrarich playboy. Any woman he dated was a source of particular interest. Isabelle had managed to stay on Stefan’s arm longer than most. She was the mysterious red-haired, green-eyed woman about whom no reporter could find much information. Isabelle had paid a lot of money to ensure that was so. She’d worked hard to make certain she interested Faucheux for a while, too. A lot of planning had brought her to this night.
Of course, the photographers didn’t know she was a witch and Stefan a warlock. Those were secrets best kept from the non-magickal population. That was the only thing the Coven and the warlock-controlled Duskoff Cabal could agree on. The non-magickals greatly outnumbered the magickals and, historically, showed a lot of bloodthirstiness for those perceived to be different.
Stefan moved his body with hers in a teasing semblance of sex that made her stomach roil. Soon, this would all be over. That was the only positive thing about having to suffer his closeness.
Isabelle pasted a smile on her lips and closed her eyes again. She thought of deep, rushing streams furrowing their way through the earth, the recesses of the ocean, where the water lay still and silent, the gentle eddies and ripples at the edge of a lake. Her power rose in response to the mental stimulus, just a little. It bled off a bit of her stress, blunted the sharp edge.
Stefan’s arms tightened around her and he nuzzled her throat. More cameras flashed. They’d be on the front page of every tabloid in the country by tomorrow. She’d probably be touted as pregnant and making plans for a wedding. The Lady only knew what stupidity they’d come up with.
And then the other story would break. The darker one. The far more violent one.
Soon, she assured herself. Tonight. Because she was not a woman like any other and today was no ordinary day. It was time Stefan Faucheux paid for his sins.
Emotion welled in her throat for a moment. She’d barely had time to grieve. These days she was running on rage, sorrow, and little else.
Use it. Don’t let it use you.
Immediately, the sudden swell of vulnerability faded into cold resolve. It was a lesson she’d learned long ago and learned well. She’d had lots of practice stuffing away her pain, transforming it into a far more effective force. Her emotion had become a well-honed weapon.
He leaned into her, spoke into her ear loud enough for her to hear over the pounding music. “Time to leave, ma cherie.”
It was, indeed, time.
Anticipation coursed through her, leaving a tingle of sweetness that warmed her more surely than Stefan’s skill with fire could ever do. Stefan was a fire witch, one of the more powerful of those she’d encountered. Though he couldn’t claim the title witch anymore, not technically. He’d betrayed the Coven, broken the rede too many times to count. Now he was a low-down, dirty warlock.