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Authors: Julie Kavanagh

Loving Lies

BOOK: Loving Lies
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Loving Lies

Julie Kavanagh

Loving Lies

A Books to Go Now Publication

Copyright
©
Julie Kavanagh
2012

Books to Go Now

For information on the cover illustration and design, contact [email protected]

Photoshop design by Bodie Schlobohm

First eBook Edition –May 2012

Printed in the United States of America

Warning: the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes.

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story lines are created from the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously.

If you are interested in purchasing more works of this nature, please stop by

www.bookstogonow.com

Look for Julie Kavanagh’s Other Stories

Jessica’s Diary

Christmas with Mr. Jeffers

Sunside

Night

Loving Lies

Prologue

The lightning bolt when it struck was unexpected, slamming his head into the hard stone floor, but Donovan lifted his blood-wet face, his hand held out in farewell as he watched the slim shape of his wife disappear inside the cyclone of swirling white energy. Nothing could touch her now.

“Warlock… betrayer…” The voice was triumphant, crowing over the other man’s defeat. “I will have you thrown into the darkest pit.”

“It does not matter, nothing matters,” Donovan bent his head, long dark hair hiding his features from the man he had betrayed for the love of a woman -his wife. “She is beyond your reach now. She is safe.” He closed his eyes, conserving the image of his beloved wife in his mind. She would come for him; she would save him. She had promised; all he had to do was wait.

Chapter One

Some years later, in a small English town.

His powerful arms closed around her trembling body as he brought his hard lips down onto hers. She sighed, as though the feeling of being loved was too much for her pounding heart. She would die if he didn’t ……

“Hello? Is anybody there?” Willow brushed her hair from her face and looked up from her romance novel at the chink of the bell over the door. Glancing at the clock, she realised it was late and she should have closed the shop hours ago but this often happened when she picked up one of the books from the shelves. Her friends called her a dreamer, who wanted a world of love and romance that didn’t exist. She didn’t agree, liking the happy-ever
-after e
ndings. It was just a few days until the most romantic day of the year and with the brightly coloured hearts displayed around the shelves Willow couldn’t resist trying one of the new offerings. “I’m sorry, we’re closed,” she called but no one answered.

“Hello?” she called again as a large, dark shape paused at the end of the first aisle of books before moving toward her. “Sorry, we’re closed.”

A very good-looking man stepped out from the shadows of the towering bookcases, his face serious and his eyes darting around. His coat was long and dark, and worn like a cloak thrown carelessly around his shoulders. His dark eyes cast over her pretty face. She didn’t look a day different than the last time he’d seen her and, despite his restraint, his body attuned to hers, their hearts beating to the same rhythm and his hands yearned to touch her skin.

“We’re closed” Willow said a little louder; he seemed to be hard of hearing. “Come back on Monday, we’re closed now for the weekend.”

“Willow,” the man’s voice was as deep as his eyes, his tone as cold as though he stood a stranger before her. A shiver travelled down Willow’s spine as she stared up into his chiselled face, feeling she should know this man but knowing she’d never set eyes on him before. “Have you stooped so low to be peddling witch’s wares?”

“No, the Witch’s Ware is the name of the shop. I thought it was funny at the time because of my surname, which is Wiccan by the way, but there isn’t a real witch here. There never has been, just me, Willow Wiccan. Yes, it’s a silly name but what can I do about it?”

“You are not a witch.” The man’s eyes narrowed and the line of his mouth tightened. Why did she look at him as though he was a stranger? How could any woman be so cold? The man reached forward. Willow barely saw the movement but felt the pinch of his strong hand on her arm. “Come with me. There is no time to waste.”

“No, you don’t understand,” Willow cried as he propelled her toward the front door and the night-filled street. “What is your problem? It’s just a gimmick, a name I thought up.”

The street was deserted, as it should be at that time of night and there was no one to persuade this man to release her. It was just a quiet little town, no violence, no street crime and no need for a vigilant police force. Grabbing hold of the doorjamb, her nails digging into the wood as they passed, Willow held on tightly as the stranger tried to pull her past. He stopped, looking confused as though she was the unreasonable one and he was in the right.

“You can’t do this, let me go!” she protested loudly, hoping someone would come to her rescue.

“The Gathering has been called. I must escort you.”

“What gathering?” Willow held on tighter, digging her nails in deeper. She didn’t know anything about any gathering and just because this man was drop-dead gorgeous it didn’t mean she was dropping everything to go with him although, if he asked nicely, she might make time for a coffee or three.

“You deny knowledge of the Gathering?” The man dropped his hold, taking a breath of disbelief, failing to see the pale hand flash out, which knocked him to the floor. Those self-defence classes hadn’t been in vain.

Chapter Two

Willow ran; her feet fleetingly fast over the cobblestones and
q
uickly turned into the alleyway which led to her tiny flat. If she was quick, he’d never know where she’d gone. Once home, she locked the front door, drew the curtains and sat on the old, comfy sofa while she contemplated her next move. She could phone the police but he’d done nothing more than grab her arm and tug her to the door of the shop-
-d
id that count as assault? He hadn’t hurt her, to be fair; he’d been quite gentle. It had to be mistaken identity or someone had put him up to it.

Helen.

Yes, it had to be Helen. Her best friend knew of her love for steamy romances and had set her up with a tall, dark handsome stranger and a plot full of romantic intrigue. It was the sort of thing she’d do with her endless round of useless blind dates although this was the best so far even if the method of delivery left a little to be desired.

Willow laughed softly- all that nonsense about being a witch. Helen had outdone herself this time but she could redeem it all by giving Willow the handsome stranger’s telephone number… unless he was some kind of gigolo and had been paid for the night. Willow raised a hand to her mouth; she could easily believe it. He was too handsome for his own good with his piercing dark eyes and long black lashes. His mouth was hard and thin making her picture what he’d be like to kiss. How wonderful would it be to watch that man smile, a touch of tongue tasting his lips … She sighed again; she should go back, tell him she’d guessed Helen’s prank and he would grin and offer to buy her a drink. It didn’t matter, if he was a gigolo, she wouldn’t mind buying the drinks if she could stare into his sexy eyes and, if it led to other things-- darker sensual things--then that was okay too. From what little she’d glimpsed, he had a long lean body and she wondered how he would look sprawled across her tiny double bed with his….

“Why did you run?”

Willow yelped, leaping to her feet and grabbing the vase of cut flowers on the side-table, ignoring the sloshing of water over her hand.

“How did you get in here?” She held the vase as though it was a weapon and she turned on the man standing in the doorway. She could see the astonishment on his face even though the only light was the beam of the street lamp through the drawn curtains.

“The door was open.” He waved a hand at the door she’d locked. It was still locked. How the Hell???

“I locked that door,” Willow stated calmer than she felt. She couldn’t believe she’d been fantasising about him and he’d followed her, forcing his way through her locked door and was standing there surprised that she’d tried to escape him. “You better get out before I call the Police.”

But he didn’t move, except to note the movement of a small animal, which left its bed in the corner, its green eyes lazily appraising the situation before sitting down in between them to watch.

“You have a cat,” the man said as though it was the most important thing in the world.

“Yes, I have a cat,” she confirmed.
Was h
e allergic to cats? Wouldn’t that be just her luck? The first good-looking man in a million years to take any notice of her and he didn’t like cats.

“Of course you do,” the man muttered, confirming something in his head.

“That doesn’t make me a witch,” Willow raised the vase higher. “Owning a cat doesn’t make anyone a witch. I like cats; that’s all.”

“My apologies, I should have realised.” The man bent his head and Willow wanted to tell him it was okay, and if they were quick, they could catch last orders at the Red Bull, before she realised he was talking to the cat.

“You’re apologising to my cat,” Willow stammered, barely noticing the man step forward and remove the vase from her hands before replacing it on the table, out of her reach.

“Willow Wiccan, meet Nicodemus,” the man said as a flash of white light flickered around the room, surrounding the black cat, twisting and changing its shape until a tall, slim dark-skinned man stood in its place.

“Nicodemus…? That’s Fluffy,” Willow gasped, staring at the naked young man until he reached forward to snatch a pretty pink cushion from the sofa.

“Hello Willow,” the naked man grinned, white teeth flashing, the cushion now concealing his masculine parts from her eyes.

“You’re Fluffy,” Willow stammered, staring at the man who stood where Fluffy had been sitting.

“Only in cat form,” the young man smiled again. “You can call me Nico.”

“But you’re a cat,” Willow muttered, “and you sleep with me!”

“On your bed, outside of the covers, no skin touching,” Nico was quick to state, his eyes warily watching the expression of the other man.

“Find some clothes to put on,” the stranger’s eyes had turned hard, his voice cold and Willow wondered at the sudden drop in temperature in the room. It was early August; the day had been pleasant enough, should it really be mid-winter in here? Nico’s smile melted faster than an ice cream in a heat wave and, with a click of his fingers, Fluffy returned. “Shoo, cat, out you go.” The stranger moved menacingly toward the animal, his hands waving in the air urging the black cat toward the plastic cat-door in the bottom of the front door.

“That was Fluffy, my cat,” Willow slumped on the edge of the sofa, her eyes wide and her mouth gaping open. “I don’t understand…” She didn’t understand, not a thing and the trailing off of her voice betrayed her addled thoughts.

“Nicodemus is a shape-shifter. Obviously, someone believed you important enough to assign him to ensure your well-being,” the man’s voice was cool, offering a peace she’d felt she should recognise. Again there was that feeling that this man was very important to her heart and her soul but she didn’t know why.

He sat down next to her, their knees touching and his hands resting on the top of his long thighs as she looked up into his eyes. But he masked any emotion, hiding what he was thinking, what he was feeling from her. It was a habit of his; he didn’t trust many people and he didn’t trust her, but she didn’t know how she knew it except that was truth in her heart. She sat studying him and, although he was uneasy beneath her scrutiny, he sat without comment, awaiting her next question.

“Fluffy is a shape-shifter?” The question wasn’t what he’d expected but he knew the important one would come; it was inevitable and he couldn’t avoid it no matter how painful.

“Nicodemus is a shape-shifter, Fluffy is a cat,” he corrected her, as he in turn appraised her. Her eyes were a brilliant blue, a sign of her true heritage. No amount of lies could ever conceal that.

“Who are you?” she asked. The question was expected but he swallowed as though he regretted the need for it. Shouldn’t she know who he was?

“My name is Donovan, Lord of the Northern Quarter.”

“Are you a
s
hape-shifter too?”

Donovan sighed; they both heard the anguish in the sound, both wondered at the pain. He shook his head as his eyes narrowed and he lifted his face to stare
into her e
yes as he answered.

“I am a warlock.”

“You’re a witch? Oh, this is too much!” Willow leapt to her feet; this was a joke gone too far. Helen had a lot to answer for. The trick with the cat was good; she still couldn’t work out how it was done. Must be some trick with the light but enough was enough. She was fed up with these games and it didn’t matter how fine he looked, she wanted him out of her flat. “I think you should leave now.”

“I believe it is time for you to sleep,” Donovan moved quickly, his strong arms reaching out to collect the woman as she succumbed to the strength of his spell. He gazed tenderly down at her serene face --her eyes closed and her mouth just as sweet as strawberries in June. He strode to the small bedroom before laying her on the neatly made bed, a hand brushing her dark hair from her face.

“She sleeps?” Nicodemus was back although remaining in the form of the black cat; he was quicker on four legs should this man prove dangerous.

“I thought it was prudent considering the circumstances,” Donovan sat on the bed beside the woman and, although he no longer touched her, his dark eyes raked over her face.

“So what happens now? Why are you here?” the cat moved a little closer, his green eyes watching and pointed ears listening for any sound of danger, his whiskers twitching.

“I am assigned to bring her home.”

“Assigned by whom?” The cat sat looking with his cat eyes but a strange, almost human expression crossed his face.

“Lord Colson is still my master. The Gathering is less than a week from now; she cannot hide any longer.” Donovan spoke but neither of them believed the words; Colson had more to gain if this woman missed the Gathering than anything. Both man and cat knew her journey home could result in her death.

“Are you no longer Donovan the True but now merely Colson’s lapdog?” The cat spat, black fur spiking along his back, his tail puffed up to twice its size
b
ut if Donovan heard the insult, he’d chose
n t
o ignore it.

“I have never forgotten how beautiful she is. For seven years, I’ve kept her image true in my mind, in my heart. I waited for her, endured everything Colson could throw at me. I waited because she promised she would come. She promised.” Donovan dropped his head as his hand reached out to hold one of hers and cradled it. It was so small and delicate against his which was cut with pale scars, wounds he bore stoically, scars he considered fair payment for her shelter. “She looks as though she doesn’t know me. How can that be? I am her husband and she is my wife. How can any woman be so cruel? I never knew how painful a woman’s lies could be.”

“Nothing is
as
it seems, Donovan.”
T
he cat was no more; the young man sat on the floor, his nakedness no issue between them. “I have been here for these past four years and not once has she mentioned the Kingdom nor has she uttered a word of magic. I really don’t think she knows anything about that time.”

“You would speak up for her, Nicodemus. I believe you were as liberal with your thoughts with your last charge,
--
did that not lead to your curse?” Donovan stood, dropping Willow’s hand back
o
nto the pretty pink cover as he moved to the door.

“That was a silly misunderstanding. The lady’s husband mistook my natural attire for advances toward his wife. I, of course, had no intentions in that direction whatsoever,” Nico raised his arms in defence of the insinuations rumoured about him.

“Have a mind of where you sit in your natural attire. I do not deal in curses, shape-shifter. My sword is sharp and, until I deem it otherwise, this lady is still my wife.”

The man waited only until the shape-shifter shimmered back to cat form and had vacated the room before he turned back to the sleeping woman. She looked so peaceful, so beautiful in slumber and he yearned to feel the softness of her body against his once more. For seven long years he had been deprived of her warmth, her loving touches. He refused to deny himself any longer.

She snuggled against him as though she remembered her place in his bed, the curve of her bottom inching into the hardness at his groin as his arms snaked around her sleeping body. She smelled of sweet vanilla, a favourite he remembered and she softly sighed as his warmth embraced her. He could take her now, enjoy the caresses of her body but this wasn’t how he wanted to remember her. He wanted the love, the abandonment she had offered him in their marriage bed, the kisses and the way her lips had travelled along his body. He wanted it all and yet for now, perhaps forever, this sleeping embrace was all she could give him.

BOOK: Loving Lies
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