By J.A. Coffey
Holy shit. Had she just…? Had they?
Mary shook her head. Whatever they’d done, holy was definitely not it.
She willed the room to stop swimming in Cristal and the scent of burnt paper. This was not the party she’d spent hours planning for her ex-employer. It was something much more. There was an undercurrent of danger beneath the tinkling glasses and the photographer’s flash. The piped-in music was garish. To her left, a woman shrieked with laughter. Mary winced. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but something about the night was…off.
She’d wanted a little taste of revenge but not the full buffet.
“What is it, my dear?” Stirling arched his elegant brow. The man was so devastatingly handsome; there was no question she’d followed along with his suggestions. In fact, from the moment sexy Stirling Drake had swept her up in his sleek black car, he’d had her in his thrall. She wasn’t sure she liked it.
Mary wet her lips. “Did we just…do something we shouldn’t have?”
“It depends.” His dark eyes were studying her.
“On your definition of what we should or shouldn’t do.” There were a whole lot of things she wanted to be doing with him and none of them had to do with incantations or candles.
Well, maybe the candles.
His hand went to her knee under the table, and she felt the sway of his words strumming through her body like too much champagne. “From the moment I laid eyes on you, I knew you were meant for me. I think the more important question is what you want to do, Mary.”
He was intoxicating; his presence both piqued and steadied her, just when she was feeling vulnerable.
“I wouldn’t mind those jerks getting a dose of karma.” She jerked her chin at the Pastry Bitch setting out treats at the far table. Treats that Mary had ordered. “But I’m not the vindictive type.”
He laughed, a delicious warm sound that set her thighs quivering. She was certain he could feel tingles pricking his palm as his hand slid from her kneecap to decidedly higher ground. The tip of his finger dipped beneath the elastic of her garter belt and a pulling sensation blossomed in her middle.
“Maybe you are, and you just don’t know it yet.” His dark gaze focused on her mouth.
“No.” She wrinkled her brow and the room righted. “I’m not.”
Stirling met her eyes and his smile grew wider, even predatory as he leaned in closer. His fingers slid another delicious inch up her leg. “So, you have a little fight left in you, Mary. That’s good. You’re going to need it.”
“Fight?” Her throat constricted, in the same rhythm of his fingers stroking up her thigh. “Why would I need to fight you?”
“Not me, love.” He leaned back in his seat and nodded towards the dark shadows gathering in the burgundy velvet curtains behind the Pastry Bitch. “Them.”
By Lena Hart
Mary’s heart dropped at the sight of the dark shadows looming over the Pastry Bitch like menacing claws. They swooped down sharply, and she jumped out of her seat.
The shadows instantly fell away like a black drape, disintegrating into dust. Stirling pulled her back down to her seat as a hush whisper began to travel through the crowd at her sudden outburst.
Mary ignored the curious gazes and rounded on her date. “Why did you do that?”
Stirling cocked a brow. “That was not me, love. That darkness manifested from you.”
What was he talking about? She didn’t have darkness in her. She was a good person—she just didn’t like to be walked all over. Or accused of doing something she hadn’t.
“It appears you hold more power than you realize, Mary.” He smirked. “And you’re more vindictive than you think.”
She stared at him then down at her hands, incredulous. “You’re crazy if you’re saying what I think you’re saying…”
“And what is it that you think I’m saying?”
“That I’m a…witch?”
“A very unseasoned one, but you’ll learn.”
Mary’s heart began to race at what he’d just confirmed. Did she really contain that kind of magic in her?
“And once you grow into your own, you’ll find your path.”
“My path to what?”
“The dark or the light.”
“You mean I’m either going to be good or evil?”
“More or less.”
She shook her head. “I don’t want to be wicked, but I can’t let the Pastry Bitch get away with ruining my career.”
“You want revenge, then take it.”
“I want to have her hair fall out. I want ants to come pouring out of her chocolate soufflé. I don’t want to actually kill her.”
“You can do all of that and more, love.” Stirling leaned back in his seat and assessed her quietly. “But will any of that satisfy you?”
Mary glanced at where the Pastry Bitch stood at the far end of the room, admiring her work as the attendants began to serve her popular dessert to the guests. Mary should have been standing there, too. She’d put in just as much work into this function to make it a success, and that moment of glory had been taken from her.
But looking around the room, it was hard not to let the delight from the guests lift her spirits. She may not get the acknowledgement for it, but she would take pleasure in knowing that she’d been a part of putting those smiles on these people’s faces.
Mary sighed in resignation. To hell with the Pastry Bitch. She would let karma take this one.
“If I have to be a witch,” Mary murmured, “I prefer not to be a green one.”
Stirling chuckled. “I can see you’ve watched too many movies. Witches are actually quite attractive.” He winked at her. “Exceptionally so.”
Mary’s eyes widened. “You’re a—” She didn’t bother completing the sentence. Of course he was a witch. He’d practically told on himself with his impossible good looks—and that blood pen he kept in his pocket. “So are you a good witch or a bad one?”
“What do you think?” he asked, taking a sip of his champagne.
Mary tilted her head to the side. “I don’t know. I have a feeling you’re only good when it suits you…”
“You’re very perceptive. That’s a useful trait to have with your kind of power.”
“Can you teach me to be a good witch?”
He carefully placed his glass down then lovingly ran the pad of his thumb over her cheek. She trembled from the delicate touch.
“I can teach you a lot of things, love. And I plan to. But goodness is as innate as it is subjective. Goodness is having the power to steal every soul in this room but choosing not to.”
She stared at him blankly. “You can do that? Steal souls?”
“Yes.” His dark eyes flashed brilliantly. He leaned down and lightly brushed his lips across hers. “But I’d rather steal your heart.”
As he deepened the kiss, Mary lost herself in his embrace. In that moment, she forgot about everything—and everyone—and concentrated only on Stirling Drake and the sensuous spell he casted with his lips.
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