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Authors: Ashley Shayne

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BOOK: AWitchsSkill
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“I don’t think your boyfriend is coming. I don’t think he
knows you’re here. That means you’ll be mine soon.”

His voice was slick like a serpent’s and I shuddered as he
stared at me. I really, really hoped Acayo was coming. I also hoped he was
smart enough to take out the wizard first. As soon as he was dead, the circles
guarding me would fail and I’d be free. I glared into Ryan’s eyes and mentally
rehearsed the spells I’d hit him with as soon as I was loose.

No sooner had I finished the thought than the warehouse
plunged into darkness. In the sudden gloom, I couldn’t see anything and I
huddled in my chair and waited for my eyes to adjust. Figures slowly
materialized out of the darkness and began rushing around in the warehouse. I
heard a cut-off shriek and wished I could see. Hoping beyond hope, I put my
palms flat out in front of me and pushed. The wards holding me fell away
beneath my palms and I laughed. I spoke a few words and Ryan lit up from within
like a flashlight. He looked down at himself in dismay but before he could do
anything about it, Acayo was in front of him, his face eerily lit by the glow. Quick
as a flash, Acayo wrapped his hands around Ryan’s neck and broke it as easily
as I’d snap a piece of carrot. Ryan dropped as the light illuminating him went
out, and I cowered in my chair and whipped off a quick shield spell as the
sound of gunshots echoed throughout the building.

Safe for the moment, I reeled off a longer incantation, this
one to warp metal. The gunshots stopped and I heard the sounds of a struggle,
before that too died out and the room fell silent. Footsteps approached and I
looked up to see Acayo standing before me, his bloody mouth twisted into a
smile.

“Well, hello again,” he purred at me.

“I guess you got my message,” I replied as I started to
shake.

He nodded, kneeled before me and took off his shirt,
displaying his magnificent torso. He wound the shirt around his hands and then
snapped the chains off my wrists and ankles with ease. He wrapped an arm around
my waist and lifted me to my feet.

“Time to go, I’d say.”

He strode off to the doorway, half dragging me after him,
and we left quickly. To my surprise, he took me down an alley and to a rather
lovely Ferrari waiting there.

“You drove?” I asked him in surprise.

“It is faster than running, you know,” he replied.

A little embarrassed, I mumbled something and let him hand
me into the car. We made it back to my apartment in short order. Tired and
aching, I pulled my legs up under me and curled into my favorite chair, heaving
a thankful sigh. Acayo quickly checked the apartment before coming to stand
before me.

“How’d they catch you anyway?” he asked in a tone he might
use if he were talking to a child.

“How’d they catch
you
?” I replied, stung. He seemed
surprised and looked at me thoughtfully.

“Good planning on their part and bad luck on my part.”

“Well, same here. That warlock was powerful.” Suddenly I sat
up in alarm.
The warlock!

“You got the warlock, right?” I asked him, fear suddenly
blossoming inside me. “A blond guy, scrawny and pale?”

“I think I may have knocked him unconscious. He’s not dead.”

I stood up quickly, wincing, and hobbled to my door. I
grabbed the piece of charcoal I had sitting there for that purpose and sketched
in a line above my door, muttering an incantation. I finished quickly, once
again blessing my decision to perform a protection spell and leave the last
link in case I ever needed to activate it quickly. Reassured, I returned to my
chair and sagged in relief. I looked back up to see Acayo watching me, his
expression thoughtful. I waved a hand tiredly in his direction.

“It’s okay. He’s not strong enough to break my wards. We’ll
be safe here.”

He nodded, dark eyes intent upon me, and I shivered. Even
through my exhaustion I realized I wanted him, but finishing my protection
spell had taken the last of my strength.

“Please stay here. Tomorrow we can talk. I need to sleep.”

I stood up as I finished speaking and swayed on my feet. Quick
as a flash, Acayo was at my side, one arm around my waist. He looked down at me
for a moment and I found myself falling into his gaze. I sagged a little in his
arms and he swept me up effortlessly. Grateful for his support, I rested my
head on his shoulder and closed my eyes as he carried me to bed. He put me down
gently and I put my head on my pillow, too tired to care about changing.

“Thank you for coming for me,” I told him softly, smiling up
at him sleepily.

He smiled down at me and I saw a hint of fang before I fell
asleep.

Chapter Two

 

When I woke up, it was late afternoon and I realized with
shock that I hadn’t made any arrangements for Acayo to sleep. He had to be
safely out of the sun or that was the end of him. I jumped out of bed and
stopped in surprise when I looked down and saw I was in my nightgown. I blushed
a little, realizing Acayo must have undressed me. After a moment, I reminded
myself we had actually slept together and he’d seen it all before. I looked
around my room and didn’t notice anything out of place. Curious, I paced the
perimeter of my little apartment, hoping he hadn’t left again. Did he know he
wouldn’t be able to get back in if he had gone?

My fears were eased when I took a moment to really consider
the living room. The curtains were drawn and the contents of the solid mahogany
chest I used as a coffee table were neatly piled on the floor next to it. “Clever,”
I murmured to myself and put on a pot of coffee. Gingerly, I sat at the table
and evaluated my injuries. My back still ached mildly and my headache hadn’t
gone away, but all in all I figured I’d made it out of the situation
surprisingly well. I wasn’t even that tired. After glancing at a clock, I saw
why. I’d slept for fifteen straight hours.

Fortified with coffee, I turned my mind to my current situation,
which didn’t look particularly good. Although I was certainly safe for the
moment—my spell should stop anything short of a nuclear bomb or a stupidly
powerful witch—whoever had sent Ryan and the warlock was still out there. And
probably pretty pissed. There was certainly no point in trying to claim I
didn’t know Acayo and had nothing to do with it now. The successful rescue put
paid to that.
Hmmm.
I turned over possible options in my head. If I
could get close enough to these mysterious masters, I could wipe all knowledge
of Acayo and me out of their minds. But first, I’d have to get past the warlock
and whatever other guards they had. And make them hold still while I spelled
them too.

I looked at my coffee table thoughtfully. Could I convince
Acayo to come hunting with me? Surely he’d prefer not to have these people,
whoever they were, potentially on his trail. I couldn’t ask him until he woke
up though, and I thought I probably had another hour until sunset. I went back
to my bedroom and did a series of stretches to ease my aching limbs before
running a hot bath.

Refreshed and way cleaner, I headed to my bedroom, noting
the pink tinge of the setting sun through the window. Despite the danger we
were in, I couldn’t help but take a minute to ensure I looked amazing for Acayo
when he woke up. I pulled on a tight, knee-length skirt made out of a stretchy
fabric that didn’t restrict my movements. The garment had a long slit up the
back and made my ass look amazing. On top, I wore a fire-engine-red knit
sweater. I tied my hair in a tight braid down my back and took some care with
my makeup. I was just finishing up when I heard a sound from my living room
and, taking a deep breath, I headed out to greet my vampire.

He was standing in the living room and he turned to face me
when I entered, causing my heart to skip a beat. He was shirtless and the
muscles in his gorgeous arms flexed as he stretched up a hand and ran it
through his hair. Abruptly aware I was staring, I looked away quickly, trying
to think of something to say. I barely knew him, yet I’d rescued him, been
rescued by him, had sex with him and then passed out in his arms to be gently
tucked into bed. The situation was outside my experience and I found myself
unusually shy.

“So…am I right in thinking we’re stuck here?” he asked after
an uncomfortable silence.

“Well, not stuck really. We’re safe here. Not so much out
there. But you can leave whenever you want. I’m not going to keep you here or
anything.”

He chuckled and I blushed. On second thought, I’d have a
hard time keeping him here. Witch or not. I could sense Acayo was old and in
the world of vampires, old meant powerful.

“And if I leave, what happens to you?” he asked after a
moment.

“Well, speaking of that…” I hesitated. “I think things will
maybe be a little bad for me now. I think they’ll come for me and I can’t stay
in here forever.”

“And…?” Acayo prompted me when I didn’t say anything more. “I
feel like you’re hovering around asking me something.”

“Well, I can wipe their memories of me—and you, if you want—but
I need to get close enough to them to see them. I could really use your help.”

I looked up at him pleadingly and slowly inched toward him. His
smile deepened as I stopped in front of him and pressed myself against him.

“I don’t think I can do it alone,” I whispered.

My heart raced as he raised a hand to push my braid off my
shoulder. He trailed the hand gently down my neck and I shivered.

“Well, if I have to help save your life, I’ll need my
strength, won’t I?” He tilted my head to the side and looked down at me,
waiting for permission. I nodded and he bent his mouth to my neck and bit.

Almost instantly, the pain turned to a great rushing
pleasure and I gasped and sagged against him. His arms came around me, catching
me before I fell, and he twisted me around to lay me across the coffee table. He
lowered himself on top of me, still sucking my blood through the wounds he’d
made. Before I knew it, he had my skirt around my hips and his pants down. He
spread my legs in one smooth motion as my energy flagged. With effort, I pushed
against his chest and he moaned and released my neck, licking the wounds and
pushing his hard cock inside me at the same time. I yelped and lost myself in
the sensation. The throbbing warmth left behind from his bite pulsed in time
with his in-and-out strokes as he slammed into me again and again. I clutched
him against me and tried not to pass out. I moaned and shuddered as I came then
heard myself whimpering as he pounded into me a few more times before
stiffening above me.

I think I must have passed out for a second because the next
thing I knew, I was reclining on my couch with my legs stretched out on Acayo’s
lap. He either noticed the change in my breathing or saw my eyes flickered, because
he continued with our earlier conversation as if we’d never paused to have mind-blowing
sex.

“So we need to get close to them. They came to watch the
torture when Ryan and his goons were trying to get me to give them the secret. I’d
recognize them again. But I don’t know where to find them.”

I paused for a minute before speaking as I tried to get my
thoughts together and distract myself from his amazing body and fabulous cock.

“Well, Ryan said his masters run this town and that means
only one thing. The Galloway twins. I didn’t know they’d started dabbling in
magic though. Hiring warlocks, kidnapping vamps. They’ve definitely changed.”

“What were they like before?”

I considered the question thoughtfully.

“Honestly? They were always bad news but not like this. I
would have thought they’d have been content with their strip clubs and bars. As
far as I knew, they had no idea the supernatural world even existed, much less
had the juice to start pulling off stuff like this.”

“So they’ve discovered there’s a supernatural world and have
decided to claim their piece of it.”

Acayo’s voice was grim and I reflected that the supernatural
world probably wasn’t very pleased about greedy outsiders having that
knowledge.

“Apparently…yes. But I can make them forget all about our
world and us. We just need to get close enough.”

He eyed me closely and in a rather bloodthirsty manner. I
got the impression he wouldn’t be too upset if some dreadful “accident” befell
the Galloways. I considered protesting, telling him that violence wouldn’t be
necessary, but I held my tongue. I wasn’t too proud to admit I’d rather they
ended up dead. Especially since they’d be hunting me if we failed in our
efforts to eradicate all knowledge of other realms from their evil little minds.

“You know where they will be?” he asked, his eyes still
intent.

“I do. They have a club downtown. They’re always there.”

“Will the building be protected?”

“Magically? I don’t know. It wasn’t last time I had to cast
a spell at that club but things seem to have changed. I think it’s best to
assume it is.” I’d spent a fun night there, drinking and flirting with the
bartender before the man upon whom I’d been paid to cast a spell had shown up. His
girlfriend was tired of his wandering and had paid me to make him unable to
perform when he was cheating on her—or on anyone, actually, though he’d do just
fine if he was single and only participated in frivolous sexual relationships.
The gig went off without a hitch and the only hint of magic in the place was
mine.

“And you can get us in?”

“I think so. As long as the warlock they sent against me is
their strongest magic user, then yes. Through the outer ward at least. You’ll
need to keep the guards busy while I find the warlock. The Galloways will be in
the center and as long as the warlock’s alive, I’ll have a very hard time getting
at them.”

“Won’t they just keep him inside the circle then?”

“I doubt it. They’ll want him outside to work his spells.
What use is hiring a warlock if he can’t protect you and himself? Besides, they
may not realize what’s happened yet and they probably won’t expect us to attack
so soon. I think they’ll protect themselves this way though. Especially since
we’ve escaped twice and they know we know they’re after us.”

“If it was me, I would have been prepared from the moment
they first attacked me.”

“Yes…but they’re not you. They aren’t used to this. To us. And
if my guess is correct, they probably think they’ll be safe in the wards no
matter what happens. I’ve yet to meet a warlock who wasn’t entirely full of
himself and I bet you anything this one told the twins he was the hottest shit
in town.”

Acayo leaned over me, moving his face closer to mine, only stopping
when he was about an inch away. He looked intently into my eyes.

“You better be right,” he told me softly.

Without warning, he leaned in, kissed me fleetingly and then
leaped to his feet, carrying me up with him. He put an arm around my waist as I
reeled, my head swimming. He steadied me gently and frowned down at me.

“Are you sure you’re ready for this? I took more blood than
I meant to.”

I shrugged off his concern and straightened my skirt before
going to an ornate Japanese cabinet that contained dozens of small drawers. I
unlocked the cabinet with a word and pulled out a small vial full of a vitality
potion. I steeled myself and swallowed down the contents with a grimace.
Ugh.
Shit tasted vile and even worse, since I made it, I knew exactly what was in
it. Believe me…the knowledge didn’t help. Making faces the whole way, I rushed
to my coffee pot and poured a fresh cup. I gulped it down desperately, not even
minding that the brew had turned thick and stale. I paused to savor the feeling
of quicksilver energy spreading throughout my limbs. Sighing in delight, I
stretched up on my toes. I spread my fingers and little sparks flew out. Acayo
watched me with interest.

“I wonder if you taste differently now,” he mused. “All
jacked up on witch juice.”

“Dunno,” I replied happily, bouncing on my toes. “And now
isn’t the time for you to find out. Wait a second while I pack a bag and then
we’ll go.”

My vitality potion packs one hell of a punch. I only use it
in emergencies because I could probably easily become addicted to its effects,
which include boundless energy and optimism. I scurried back into the living
room and packed my travel bag—a canvas hold-all with a ton of pockets—from the
cabinet with unnecessary haste. I ran through incantations in my head, careful
to leave off the last syllable. I didn’t need to speak a spell to cast it and
though magic generally needed concentration and intent, it wasn’t impossible to
accidently cast a spell during a mental rehearsal. And with the spells I was
rehearsing, I really, really didn’t want that. I finished up and turned around
to find Acayo watching me with a slight smile on his face.

“What?” I asked him, somewhat defensively.

“Oh, nothing. It’s just that I rarely see humans, even
special humans like you, so jazzed for a fight. You’re almost whistling.”

“Ahhh. Yes, that would be the ‘witch juice’, as you called
it.”

“Good stuff?”

“You could say that, yeah. Anyway, are you ready? Let’s do
this.”

Acayo nodded and we went to the door. I put my arm out and
held him back.

“Wait,” I said, then spoke the words to drop the wards while
I reached out to rub a break in the charcoal line over the door.

I nodded at Acayo and he swept out ahead of me, moving so
fast his image became a blur. I waited inside the door and out of sight until
he returned. He nodded to let me know it was safe and I followed him outside
and hurried to my car.

The short drive passed in silence. I was too tense to speak
and Acayo didn’t seem interested in conversation. I parked down a dark side
street and got out of the car. Acayo warily followed, standing on the pavement
a moment, looking around him watchfully. I found a dark doorway that suited my
purpose perfectly and moved into it. I beckoned him over and pulled his shirt
up, placing my hands flat on his smooth chest. Despite my worries, I felt my
pulse quicken as his muscles flexed beneath my hands.

“Really?” he asked, raising an eyebrow and giving me a
sensuous smile. “I don’t think now is quite the right time.”

“No, no,” I replied, blushing. “I need to do a spell. To
disguise us. Nothing else.”

“Nothing else?” His smile deepened and became wicked.

He put his hands around my waist, slid them down over my
ass, pulling me against him. I felt my resolve weakening as his cock started to
harden against me.
Maybe we have a few minutes…?
I thought
optimistically. And then, cynic that I am, I had a mental flash of us being
caught in the backseat of my car like two adolescents, failing utterly in our
plan and possibly being killed. The idea was enough to make me shiver and regain
control of my raging libido.

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