Series: Hex Appeal
Book Length: Short Novel (136 pages)
Book Type: eBook
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave Publishing
If lust were flames, there’d be scorch marks across the ages!
If lust were flames, there’d be scorch marks across the ages!
Ardith is a time traveling witch, a member of the Epoch Mages. Draigh is a Sorceri Bounty Hunter. They H-A-T-E each other. When they’re thrown together by the elders to chase an evil rogue witch through time and save the world from flesh eating zombies, they quickly discover that, while their minds may tell them they don’t like being together, their bodies don’t quite agree. In fact, if lust were flames, there would be a lot of scorch marks across the ages!
The council had situated the portal for a protected escape in the case of another anti-witch uprising. It was in the dungeons, separated from the upper floors by several barred wooden doors to keep even the most rabid pursuers at bay long enough for the mages to make it through. In addition, the doors were covered by enchantments tied to the almost non-existent electrical signatures given off by non-magical beings.
Ardith hated the subterranean portal, which was the reason she’d returned via the one in the village earlier that day. She’d been abandoned to die in a deep hole in the earth as a child, by a non-magic stepmother who was terrified of the things she could do with her magics and thought she was a monster. With years and perspective, Ardith now understood who the real monster had been in that scenario and she’d learned to overlook the hatred her differences engendered in some.
Blackthorne had pulled her out of that hole a dozen years earlier, saving her life. Though he’d never explained how he’d found her. He’d only say that the council kept tabs on its own, and that they’d known she was theirs from the moment of her birth.
The scars caused by the terror of being buried alive had never lessened. Ardith was finding it harder to breathe with every step toward the dark, dank caverns below the building.
Sirius licked her hand, whimpering. She forced her fingers to unclench long enough to scratch him reassuringly above the glistening crystal collar she used to keep track of him.
The sorceri clomped down the stairs behind her, seemingly unaware of her plight.
Not that he’d care.
By the time she descended from the last slimy, concrete step, a fine sheen of sweat coated her body and tremors shook her hands. Her breath wheezed in and out of her lungs.
Sirius nibbled her fingers in warning. “I’m okay, boy.”
“What is it, woman? The stench of your fear has been choking me for the last five minutes.”
She glanced over her shoulder, working hard to still the tremors rolling through her body. “It’s nothing. I’m not fond of underground spaces. I’ll be fine.”
He stared at her for a moment and then inclined his head. She was shocked he didn’t offer some cutting remark about her weakness.
“It’s not that much farther now.”
She started off again, her footsteps dragging forward with dread. Sweat ran in rivulets down her brow and between her shoulder blades. The walls seemed to pulse inward, threatening to clasp her in a slimy embrace. Shudders racked her terror-chilled body.
Without warning, the floor tilted, whirled and rushed toward her.
A hard pair of arms scooped her up before she crashed into the slime-covered stones.
“Good lord above, woman. You nearly broke your rock-encased head on the floor.”
Ardith’s vision darkened and churned with shapes. Despite the muzziness that tried to claim her, she was vaguely aware of the hunter’s delectable scent surrounding her, as well as the enticing heat of his big body. She had an overwhelming need to burrow into that heat. It promised to chase away the shuddering cold infusing her body. Despite this need however, Ardith shoved against his chest. “Put me down.”
“So you can kiss the rocks beneath my feet. I think not. Lie still. I can get us out of here more quickly if you’ll stop fighting me.”
Ardith went limp. She told herself it was because of his promise to get her out of the hellish dungeons. Deep down she knew his heat and delicious hardness were just too pleasant to escape.
Not when the alternative was the bowels of hell.
She stared straight ahead. Her hands clenched his shirt so tightly her fingers ached. Cool air washed over her skin and she realized he was running. The rhythmic clicking of Sirius’ nails alongside soothed her and she closed her eyes so she couldn’t see the walls rushing by. He covered the remaining distance to the portal effortlessly, as if her weight were no more than a feather resting on his hands.
Moments later she heard the whoosh of air that told her they’d entered the portal and the world thickened, spinning flecks of minute matter across her skin as they defied time and space.
Suddenly they stood in the bright sunshine. Flowers scented the air.
Ardith took a deep breath, cleansing her lungs of the moldy, subterranean air, and opened her eyes. She looked into his cool, silver-blue gaze and gasped.
For just a beat of her heart, she’d caught him looking down at her with something less than pure hatred.
It must have surprised him as much as it surprised her, for he all but dropped her to her feet.
They frowned at each other for a moment and then Ardith turned away, striding across the meadows surrounding Devil’s Glen, the largest habitation of humankind in the continent once known as America. “Come along, dog. You too, Sirius.”
A massive hand dropped onto her shoulder and yanked her around, dragging her up against a massive, granite-like chest. Ardith gasped in surprise. She hadn’t heard him move, hadn’t sensed him. Despite his size, he’d moved like a wraith—silent, quick and deadly.
Silver-blue intensity seared through her. “Don’t. Ever. Call me that again. Clear?”
Ardith glared back at him, swallowed harder than she would have liked, and her mouth opened to snap something back.
A massive finger pressed against her lips. “Do not speak. You and I both know only poison comes from between those lips. I’m trying very hard not to kill you at this moment.”
Their gazes held, collided. Ardith swore she could smell smoke from the explosive clash of their wills. She refused to look away. Refused to back down. He was her inferior and she would be damned if she’d let him intimidate her as he did his fugitives.
The air thickened with leaking magic. His heat and scent infused his energy, making her traitorous body tighten with need. His finger remained pressed against her lips.
Finally Ardith opened her mouth and sucked the thick finger inside, pulling it deep. His icy glare widened in shock. A beat later she pulled away. “Not everything that comes out of my mouth is poison, hunter.” Turning away, she stalked toward the squat environs ahead. Smiling.
Ardith one, hunter zero.