Read Snake Charmer Online

Authors: Zenina Masters

Tags: #Adult, #erotic Romance, #Paranormal, #Shapeshifter

Snake Charmer (5 page)

BOOK: Snake Charmer
2.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“What is your preferred wild hunt?”

She smirked, “Python or rattlesnake.”

He leaned in and whispered, “Seriously? You eat other snakes?”

“It is the preferred food of my kind. We are referred to as snake-eaters.” She sipped at her lemonade and smiled as the server removed her plates.

“Here I always thought that rodents were the issue.”

“Nope. Other snakes. Unless I am starving, I won’t go after a rodent. Well, if it is in my house, I will take it out, but it is like eating broccoli. It is nutritious but I am not really a fan, though hunting them can be enjoyable.”

He sat back and blinked. “Okay. Good to know. The occasional snake makes it into the spa. You can handle that when we are down there.”

“My pleasure. Do you think your family will tolerate me? I don’t want to be the cause of any rifts between you and them.”

“They already know about who and what you are to me. It took some doing, but they support me in my pursuit of you.”

She blinked. “They know about me?”

“Of course. I have been hoping that you would recover and put distance between yourself and the recovery centre for months, but they wouldn’t let you go. When you announced that you were going to charge here to the Crossroads, there wasn’t any time.” He sat back and drank his water. “When you decide to strike, you move fast.”

“I do. I felt backed into a corner, and when I can’t escape, I strike. It’s in my genes.”

Liander leaned forward and took her hand. “Thanks for the warning.”

She grinned beatifically and ordered some pie.

 

Chapter Seven

 

 

They finished lunch, changed and headed for the Crossed Star. They sat in a booth; she drank red wine and he drank beer. When the music came on, they danced, and it was five hours later that they decided to call it a night.

“Your place or mine?” She smiled and leaned against him, exhausted by the day and exhilarated at the same time.

“Let’s see what Teebie did to our rooms. She was muttering something about us being closer than conjoined twins.” He didn’t seem too upset about the observation.

She sighed, the wine was working its magic on her nervous system and she was tired and relaxed. Yvena pressed her head to his shoulder just as she had imagined doing countless times.

“Do you work out, Liander?”

“Now and then. It keeps me occupied when I get frustrated, so I was working out a lot when I was at the recovery centre.”

She trailed her fingers down his arm and he shivered. “Why were you frustrated?”

“Oh, just a little tail that went all the way up. I am going to have to measure you one day. You are one huge snake.”

“Flatterer.”

He grinned, and the lights from the various buildings made his teeth gleam. “I am a rodent of sorts. There are bound to be some odd moments.”

“Like the fact that you didn’t mention that mongooses eat rats and mice, even scorpions? I will take the snakes, you can take everything else.” She giggled.

“Deal. As you said, while I can eat snakes, they are not my favourite.” He shuddered. “You are the exception, Yvena. I enjoy the taste of you very much.”

She grinned. “Right answer.”

They walked up the path to the Open Heart, and Teebie was there to greet them. “You obviously had a good night. Will you be staying tomorrow?”

Yvena bit her lip. “I think I will be going with him.”

“Excellent. I will let Teal know. She popped by here this evening and left with a wide smirk on her features.”

Yvena sighed. “Of course she did. Well, I will face her tomorrow. Good night, Teebie.”

Teebie’s features softened. “Good night, Yvena. Good night, Liander.”

Liander grinned. “Good night, Teebie.”

They walked up the stairs and into Yvena’s room. To her surprise, it had been extended and his luggage was now inside. “I have heard of magic but that is really incredible.”

He sat on the edge of the bed and removed his shoes. “Has anyone in your family ever gotten the throwback gene of the mages?”

“I don’t think we have tried. Well, that isn’t accurate. I can do a bit with my own skin and venom, but the spells are fairly useless. Mind you, I could probably get a very visible hex for anyone involved in the use or sale of my venom. Maybe a nice curling snake icon on their cheek. I will have to put some thought into this.” She grinned and yawned as she removed her shoes and unzipped her dress to slip it to her feet.

Her bra and panties matched, just for the occasion, and soon, they were both off and in a sad pile with her dress and shoes. She flipped back the bedding and crawled into it.

Yvena’s head hit the pillow with a thud. A moment later, Liander’s arms were around her and he was exhaling with contentment.

“I hope it doesn’t bother you that I am not making another move tonight, but you need your rest and I want to spend our first official night together holding you.”

“Technically, tomorrow night will be the official night, after we have signed the mating contract. I can wait.” She yawned and rubbed her head against the pillow.

“Thanks for your enthusiasm.” He nipped her shoulder.

“Hey, I have you with me in bed. Everything else can wait until I have the energy to do something about it.”

He chuckled against her ear and settled her more firmly against him. “Agreed.”

 

When she woke, he pressed a glass of warm milk and honey into her palm the moment she sat up. “Where did this come from?”

“I ordered it from Teebie this afternoon. She promised to have it delivered at four in the morning. She was right on time.”

The nightmare of confinement faded from her mind as she sat up with her back against the headboard. “I am hoping that one day I will be able to sleep through the night.”

“You will get there. It will just take time. Knowing what I do, I am amazed that you came out of it as sane as you are.”

“That comes and goes. The panic attacks have gotten further apart.” She smiled and sipped at her nocturnal soother.

“I am very happy, and I know that one day, you will tell me the whole thing.”

“Maybe, maybe not. It is a pretty gory story. The things I saw them do to the other shifters were even worse than what they did to me, and I could only see those in front of me.”

“Because of the restraints.”

“Correct. I saw many of the others harvested to death, carried past my cage. Those lions have a lot to answer for.”

She sipped at the milk and put the empty cup on the bedside table. She felt herself getting a little angry but angry was good, at least it was an option to the numbness that had become her normal state of being.

Yvena scooted under the covers and curled against Liander, tucking herself against his chest. “Thank you for that.”

He sighed and stroked her back. “You are welcome, now get to sleep.”

She smiled and breathed deeply, slipping out of consciousness and into a dream that had nothing to do with underground chambers and agony.

 

* * * *

 

The light faded around them, and Liander led her toward the collection of buildings encased in an adobe fence.

“Morrison? Seriously?”

He shrugged. “What? We can’t all have exotic last names.”

“I am thinking about keeping my last name. First, I am joining a family of mongooses...mongeese—?”

He chuckled. “Don’t worry about that. My family are all minks.”

She jerked to a halt. “What?”

“Yup. Every one of them is soft and fluffy with minimal sharp edges. I am a throwback to my great grandfather.” He got her moving again.

“They are fur-bearing mammals and they live in the desert?”

He grinned. “My parents started the spa before we were born, and as we grew up, we all took up classes around the facility, so the business expanded as the family did.”

“So, I can get a tour of the surrounding area?”

“Of course. I can take you out tomorrow.”

Yvena grinned as they passed through the archway. The interior of the courtyard was cool, and a woman with long brown hair and grey-brown eyes came squealing out of the doors to the reception area.

Liander released Yvena’s hand and caught the young woman in his arms.

“I didn’t think you would actually come home. You were so mad when you left that—”

Yvena gave him a poke on the shoulder. “You were mad?”

“Yvena, this is my sister Wenda. Wenda, this is my mate, Yvena.”

Wenda looked at her with wide eyes. “You don’t look like a snake.”

“You don’t look four footed and fluffy, yet here we are.”

Wenda extended her hand with a smile. “Welcome, sister.”

“Thank you, sister.” Yvena took the hand, and her sister-in-law smiled.

“You are very warm.”

“Give me a warm environment and I am the warmest of creatures. Put me in the cold and I go to sleep.” It was a slight fib, but it was a shifter’s obligation that continued the rumours of their species to misdirect others. She was sure that minks had a few of their own.

“Don’t go out to the desert at night then. It is hotter than blazes during the day, but there is nothing out there to hold the heat in at night.” Wenda’s features were solemn.

“Thank you for the warning.” Yvena smiled at Liander as he put his arm around her. “So, you were angry when you left?”

“It was nothing. I had a disagreement with my sister and it was unresolved when I left.”

“Which sister?” Yvena was certain that she wanted to know which sibling was not a fan of their union.

“Rowena. She is the eldest, and she felt she had a right to tell me who and what I could choose as mate. I informed her in no uncertain terms that when I returned from the Crossroads, we would all be locked to my decision. She threw a bottle of hand lotion at my head and I left.”

“Right. Thanks for giving me a heads up.”

Their little trio walked into the building, and Wenda went to the phone, dialling a few extensions and speaking softly into the receiver.

“Mom and Dad are with clients, but the others are on their way. Shall we go into the social space?”

Liander nodded and he kept his arm around Yvena as they walked through pristine halls and into a large open space dotted with couches.

“Let’s wait here. They will be along in a few minutes.”

Wenda brought in some water with bits of fruit bobbing in it and set the tray with eight glasses on a low table.

Yvena took the glass that was extended to her and got a bit of foreboding about the type of food served at the spa.

With wide eyes, she looked at Liander. “No coffee?”

He patted her thigh. “We can go into town to get you coffee.”

“If you don’t want to see me in a zombie-like state of desperation for caffeination, then yes.” Her smile was bright as she sipped the water.

“Noted.” He squeezed her knee lightly and sat back as two eager and one suspicious Morrison came in to meet her.

Yvena rose to her feet and shook the hands of her new sisters and brother-in-law. They were a little nervous about meeting her, but she kept a friendly smile on her features and even Rowena managed a small smile and a word of congratulations.

Yvena was surprised to meet her husband’s twin, Liana. The resemblance was bizarre.

Liana looked at her with the same concerned empathy and gray eyes that Liander did. “You look very tired, Yvena. Are you not sleeping well?”

“I am working through some things.” She smiled and sat next to Liander again.

The group of Morrisons stared at her, and she sat in the curve of Liander’s arm. “Ask what you like. I know there must be questions.”

Rowena sat straight. “Lian said you are a cobra, is that true?”

“King cobra, yes. Different genus.”

The siblings shifted and gave each other small telling looks.

Liana cocked her head. “Why did Lian have to quit his job at the recovery centre? Was it your requirement?”

Yvena looked at the older couple standing in the doorway and focussed on her audience. “Liander was my keeper. He kept an eye on me during my recovery, and it would have been unethical for him to pursue me while he was still employed there in any capacity. Once he had drawn the line between keeper and lover, he could meet up with me again.”

Brian asked, “Did you agree to meet with him at the Crossroads?”

Yvena shook her head. “No, I was planning to go there once I was released from the recovery centre. I told him of my plans when I was being discharged, and we said goodbye.”

Liander’s parents came into the room. His mother smiled, “Perhaps you could tell us all why you were there in the first place. That is causing more consternation than anything else.”

Yvena grabbed Liander’s hand and gave it a squeeze. “I think you had better sit down. It is a bit of a tale. Even Liander hasn’t heard it all; he only saw the aftereffects. Now that he is stuck with me, he might as well here the whole thing.”

 

Chapter Eight

 

 

“I am sure that you are aware of the stolen shifters who were taken for harvest.” She sipped at the fruit water and fought not to gulp in the strawberry.

The family nodded.

Yvena looked toward the open door. “Will we be interrupted?”

Mr. Morrison shook his head. “They are all in the meditation centre for an hour.”

She sighed. “Well, as I was saying, there was a group of young male lion shifters who were paying for information leading to certain exotics who could be used in human mage-craft. I have been donating my venom for years and I am guessing that the source I provide the venom to leaked the information to those seeking a snake of my kind.”

“Donating your venom?” Rowena blinked.

Yvena nodded. “I don’t need it and it can create two powerful spells. One is the revenge spell that is commonly known; the other is a vision of the person who caused a premature death. Both spells can be expensive, so by donating my venom, I could bring a little information and closure into the families who needed that knowledge.

“Anyway, I was at home preparing an order for one of the shops that stocks my cards and there was a knock at the door. I ignored it because I wasn’t expecting anyone and the lock was forced. I heard footsteps coming up the stairs, and I went to the door of my studio. Before I could react, I was struck on the head, and while I was dazed, they dragged me out, stuffing me into a van. The crush box was waiting.”

BOOK: Snake Charmer
2.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Sally James by Lord Fordingtons Offer
Caring Is Creepy by David Zimmerman
Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon
The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
A Lady's Guide to Rakes by Kathryn Caskie
Friend Me by John Faubion
Work Song by Ivan Doig