This is the 4th and final book in my Dark Desires of the Druids series. Magickers in Victorian England and America: sex, betrayal, murder, mystery, and romance. The Victorians have never been so sexy! I’ll send a PDF copy to one commentor! So comment to win.
Temptations and Treachery:
Lady Isadore Harrington is a well-bred English lady. She’s traveled the world in search of magickal artifacts to help her people and has seen the best and worst of humanity. But she’s never taken time for herself – never done just for herself. Going to Philadelphia as the magicker emissary between England and the Americas, she intends to rectify that.
Then she meets James Blackthorne. Tall, handsome, witty, commanding, he brings out feelings in her she’s always wanted to experience but never has. He makes her want him, makes her forget all else but him. Virginal, but far from naïve, Isadore is tempted to experience everything James has to offer. Cautious by nature, she offers her body to him and discovers all her sexual desires fulfilled.
But the magicker world is far from safe, and Isadore is threatened from many who are jealous and distrustful. Temptations abound, but treachery is never far behind.
James tried not to stare as he helped his guest out of the carriage. She smiled her thanks all charm and beauty. The moment he’d seen her he lost all thought. As he did then, now he traced the lines of her curves with his eyes as she started toward the steps of the house. Shaking his head to focus on the moment at hand, he checked his reaction, and wondered how she could be related to Granv—
“Wait.” Takoda slipped past him, jerking his head at the house. James turned sharply. Distracted, it took him a moment to register the reason for concern.
His cousin, Morgana’s, house lay in darkness. Unusual since they were expected by the servants still in residence. Not a light blazed from the windows. Takoda gestured for them to remain outside as he jogged to the rear entrance. James ushered the ladies to one side of the front door. Still closed, he warily opened it.
“Stay here,” he ordered them.
“I can be of assistance,” Lady Isadore whispered in her proper English voice. The firmness in it wasn’t false modesty, either, he sensed.
James grunted in annoyance, but said nothing to her comment and continued inside. Gathering his magicks to him, he cautiously made his way over the threshold. Bits of porcelain crunched under his feet, the vase that once graced the table no doubt.
He barely heard Lady Isadore and her companion enter, and her assistance went up in his estimation. A small ball of light appeared next to him.
Glancing at Lady Isadore in surprise, James accepted the ball of magickal illumination. It hovered above his hand as he walked further into the house.
It was ransacked.
Overturned chairs and tables, broken chunks of glass littered the room. James noted deep slashes and exposed stuffing on nearly every cushion. He glanced back at Lady Isadore before racing down the hall to Morgana’s former study. Every drawer had been torn from its compartment. Papers covered the floor. The wall coverings ripped to reveal the unpainted surfaces beneath.
“What the hell happened here?” he demanded of the room. Takoda suddenly appeared behind their English guests. “Where are Jacobs and Betty?”
Takoda shook his head, as silent as ever.
“Check downstairs,” James said to him. To his guests he said, “Stay here.”
Without waiting to see if they complied this time, he left the ball of illumination Lady Isadore conjured and rushed up the stairs two at a time. The first room lay untouched, the second merely tossed as if whoever did this ran out of time. Or knew when he’d arrive back with the English ladies.
As James entered the third room, a swell of magick lifted him. He hovered for a breath, suspended in midair. Then it pushed him backwards, sent him flying across the narrow hall to crash into the far wall, smacking his head against the surface, dazing him.
Regaining focus in time to see a large wooden bed post hurling in his direction, he lunged to the side, and burst through a bedroom door. The post smashed straight into the wall he’d just vacated, burrowing past the wooden studs into the cement.
In the darkness, a blur of motion sped past him down the hall.
“Shit,” he cursed while pushing himself off the floor. His vision swam and his head pounded, but he ran after the blur.
The man, obviously a magicker, didn’t bother to hide his exit. As James rounded the curve of the stairway, he saw Lady Isadore’s ball of light bob into the foyer. But she didn’t stand in the hall, her companion did. James saw her move, but not fast enough. The intruder knocked her to the floor with a thud.
Lady Isadore stood in the foyer in seconds, normal grey-blue eyes glowing white as she used her magick to slam the door closed. The intruder turned and used his own magicks to produce a weak wind which slid the broken wooden table in her and her companion’s direction.
Not a very strong attempt, it served to distract her, and she used her magicks to protect the companion instead of ensnaring the intruder. Turning again, the magicker attempted to yank open the front door, but James tackled him.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Lady Isadore grab the other woman and pull her past the archway into the parlor. James wrestled with the intruder and from the ball of light, noticed the man’s face was veiled with magicks. The veil then shifted to a reflection of James’ own face, distracting him long enough for the magicker to break free. A moment later, the room’s chandelier crashed to the floor, sending fragments of bronze and crystal in all directions. The chandelier’s fall gave the intruder time enough to escape out the front door.
With a last look at the door, and fighting the urge to race after the man, James moved next to Lady Isadore.
“Are you all right?” He leaned against the archway, the room spinning around him.
Takoda entered with a light. Jacobs, the butler, looking disheveled moved behind him already lighting the downstairs rooms.
“I have to admit,” she said moving closer to James. Her hair tumbled down her back, her eyes were grey-blue again as they gazed steadily at him. “I hadn’t expected this kind of welcome.”
Offering a weary smile, James’ hand touched the back of his head, but no blood coated his fingers. Looking concerned at his movement, Isadore circled him and moved her gentle fingers onto the back of his head.
“Were you injured?” she asked, exploring his scalp. “What happened upstairs?”
“Just a bump,” he said. And winced as she tilted his head forward. “I caught him snooping upstairs, for what I don’t know.”
The companion—what was her name—said something to Lady Isadore, who answered in the same language. James had never heard it before, but then her fingers massaged his scalp and he forgot about it.
“Morgana’s been out of residence over a year,” he said as her fingers moved over his neck.
“Yes,” she laughed, her breath soft on his skin.
Taking her fingers in his hand, he half turned and smiled. He leaned down to help the other woman stand. Takoda appeared, then, with a cloth wrapped around ice. James started to reach for it, but he handed it to the companion instead.
Snorting in amusement, he looked around the area. Takoda stood to one side, the companion next to him.
“Not the welcome I expected to give you,” he offered. Her hand was soft in his and James rubbed a thumb over bare knuckles. “I can’t let you stay here. Not tonight at least. It’s probably best for you to stay in my house this evening.”
He looked at Lady Isadore who shook her head. She didn’t seemed shocked at his suggestion, but then she also seemed entirely too well-bred for that sort of reaction. “I assure you, that isn’t necessary.”
Jacobs, back in the foyer, said, “We’ll have this place put to rights in no time. Though I fear,” he nodded in the direction of the study and parlors, “the upholstery will have to be redone.”
“That isn’t necessary, either,” she insisted. “Well, yes the upholstery will need to be redone,” she smiled, “but I’m sure we can manage for one night. We’ll be perfectly fine here,” she said to James. “Truly. Irisi and I can put up several protection spells. We’ll be safe.”
Irisi, he thought as he grunted at Lady Isadore. He’d really have to remember the unusual name. “If you insist. But in turn,” he said and wondered when he’d made the decision. “I insist on remaining here for the night. I’ll take the room,” he said to Jacobs with a smile that hurt his head, “with the broken bedpost.”