Description: Witch Kassidy has to fight against a deadly Entity when it threatens her friends and the man she loves. Using her magic to destroy it is going to be easier than convincing sexy cop Sloan that he can love her AND accept her powers.
“Spill it, Kassidy,” Hunter demanded in a low tone. Uh oh. Both men were already in their ‘cop mode’. And despite wanting to, she really couldn’t not tell them. They needed to know the truth before anything else happened. Briana suggested they go back inside. Sloan had done a quick check around and there was no sign of the Twi-ing shade.
Sitting on the sofa, cuddling a now-sleeping Talia, Kassidy took a deep breath and then exhaled slowly. This was going to be hard. “After you left, things looked as though they were going to settle down. The people in the village went back to their normal routines. There were no more signs of any of the changing beasts, and the sorcerer was gone. I had hope for the first time in ages.” She looked at Briana, trying hard to ignore Sloan’s heated stare. “I tried a few spells to see if I could locate your spirit anywhere in the afterlife.” She shivered, remembering the dangerous consequences she’d chanced in doing such spells. “I couldn’t believe that you were dead, Briana. The Sphere had transported back to your world, into Hunter’s care, and I kept thinking that it would still die if you didn’t have control of it. When Hunter reported that it was still living, I knew you had to be alive. Of course, while I was searching for you, your ancestors returned you back to your world, thank the Goddess.”
“Where is this leading, Kassidy?” Hunter asked.
It was Sloan who asked the dreaded question. “How dangerous were those spells you performed while searching for Bri?”
She wouldn’t, couldn’t look at him. The rough anger in his voice was doing things to her insides, because she didn’t know if that volatile emotion was directed at her —or for her.
“Every spell has consequences,” she evaded. “Every witch is aware of that. I knew I was taking a chance.”
“It was so kind of you, Kass, to look for me.” Briana smiled at her. “But, I have this bad feeling you’re going to tell us that the ‘consequences’ had lasting effects. What exactly is a ‘Twi-ing shade’?”
There was no other way to say it, except blurt it out in one breath and hope they —especially Sloan —didn’t kill her on the spot. “It’s an evil entity that attaches to you if you happen to be wandering in the afterlife unprotected. It’s able to follow you back and then follow you anywhere you go. It’s…able to leave death in its path simply by touch.”
She’d never heard half the creative, fiery cuss words Sloan and Hunter spit out. She cringed. Briana had to finally tell them both to shut up. She lowered her head, resting her chin on sleeping Talia’s curly head. She wanted to cry. She’d been dealing with the Twi-ing shade as best she could, never going anywhere around the people in her care, always doing what she had to do by proxy or long distance. But never once had she thought the shade would be able to follow her into a parallel world. The thought of it unleashed here in Briana’s modern world was a nightmare.
“How do we deal with it?” Briana asked. “Are there any spells to send it back?”
Kassidy shook her head. “I’ve tried everything I can think of.” Did she dare mention the only solution that would send the shade back to the afterlife? There was no choice. She couldn’t put innocent people at risk. “The only way to send it back…is for me to die.”
So that’s what ‘dead silence’ sounded like. It was so quiet she could hear her own heart beat. She closed her eyes tight and waited for the outcome. She could just hear Sloan now “Well, if that’s what it takes…”
“Well, if that’s what it takes,” Sloan said in a near growl, “Then we have to think of another way.”
Kassidy choked on the rising emotion in her throat. She jerked her head up and their gazes once again locked. His blue eyes were dark with an emotion she was afraid to try and decipher. Her entire body pulsed in a purely feminine reaction and she tried unsuccessfully to repress it. She was so attuned to this man she knew instantly when he sensed her reaction. His eyes narrowed, a gleam of heat shining, and his sensual mouth curved into a tiny smile. She nearly lost her breath. All this time of being around him and she was just now realizing that he might have feelings for her…just as she did for him. It was too much to take in, especially with the threat now facing them.
“Maybe I can call on the powers of my ancestors,” Briana suggested.
Hunter immediately shook his head. “I’d rather you didn’t do any spells, sweetheart. We’re in enough trouble right now.”
Briana huffed at him. “Sloan can be my anchor. I’ll be fine. What could go wrong?”
“Hunter beating the crap out of me for touching you again,” Sloan muttered. “What are our other options? Can this thing be destroyed?”
Kassidy shook her head. “I don’t think so. It’s already ‘dead’, being from the afterlife. It’s almost as though it’s ‘death personified’; you saw what it did to the garden.”
“Why the garden?” Sloan stood up to pace, his ‘cop mode’ in full force. “Was that particularly malicious or the garden just happen to be there?”
“That’s right. When Sloan and I first saw it, it was actually just hovering in front of the garden gate. Almost as if it was hesitating. Then, it went in and the destruction started. That has to mean something.” Hunter joined his brother in the pacing.
“Talking to this thing is out of the question, right?” Sloan glanced at Kassidy.
“I’ve never got close. It’s been terrifying enough just knowing it was my shadow every moment.” She couldn’t even begin to tell them about all the horrifying moments she watched the shade’s actions knowing she couldn’t do a thing about it.
Sloan glanced out at the approaching evening. “Where does it go when it’s not right on your heels?”
Kassidy couldn’t look at them. “Actually, it’s here. It just goes invisible when it’s not ‘death touching’ something…or someone.”
Hunter cussed up a blue streak. He stomped over and yanked his daughter out of Kassidy’s arms. “Damn it, you could have told us that. What the hell are you thinking, putting Talia in such close proximity to that thing? Briana, take her upstairs.”
“Hell,” Sloan muttered in a low growling voice, “Stop acting like this is her fault, Hunter. Remember the reason in the first place that caused this damn thing to attach to her. She was looking for Briana.”
Tears swam in her eyes. She knew Hunter was right; she shouldn’t have endangered Talia. But it touched her heart that Sloan was ready to defend her. “I’m sorry. I really didn’t think it could follow me into a parallel world. I’d never noticed it with me on all the other times I’ve been here.”
“That’s odd,” Briana said, coming back into the room. She’d handed Talia over to Cynthia who was now putting the little girl to bed. “Why now? I wonder if it had anything to do with Talia’s wording of her spell to bring Kass over? Which isn’t a good thing —she doesn’t remember her own spells yet.” She glanced nervously around the room. “Just how intelligent is this shade, Kass?”
“Intelligent enough to pick and choose when or what it wants to kill.”
Hunter turned to Briana, his voice cold. “Our daughter is forbidden to say any more spells. This is too dangerous, Bri.”
“At least until she’s old enough to understand the consequences,” Briana said. “Stop glaring at me, Hunter. She’s part witch, and you should be use to that by now.”
Sloan choked out a gruff laugh. “Yeah, right. Easier said than done, honey. At least we can hope that with Kassidy’s children they’ll be a bit more stable in their talents.”
“Sloan, that was mean.” Briana grimaced at him. “It’s not my fault I have a glitch and my poor baby might have inherited it too.”
Kassidy’s heart raced with Sloan’s words. Just the thought that he had been thinking of her with children made her insides want to melt. She groaned inwardly. Why did it take this dangerous moment in their lives for her to finally admit she was falling in love with the darn man? How bad was that? They lived in parallel worlds. And she was a witch. He tolerated Briana because he loved her, but he never hesitated to complain about Kassidy’s witch status. She just couldn’t understand him. One minute he was complaining about her, and the next he was defending her. And in between it all, he was always watching her with those heated eyes that seemed to want to devour her.
This wasn’t the time and place for those thoughts. She groaned again. “Briana, we have to get me home. Now. The shade will follow me.”
“No.” Sloan glared at her. “I’m not letting you go back to Inverness-da with that thing following you. We’ll find a way to fight it here, on our ground.”
“It’s obvious that guns won’t work,” Hunter told him. “So, got any suggestions?”
“What about a trap?”
“Sloan may have the right idea,” Briana snapped her fingers. “If we bait him into a magical trap, maybe both Kassidy and I can spell cast him back into the afterlife.”
Kassidy shook her head. “He would sense —scent my magic on the trap. You’d have to do it, Bri. And we’d have to use the perfect bait.”
“Don’t even suggest it,” Sloan ground out angrily. “You are not going to be the bait. Damn it, Kass, are you crazy?”
She wanted nothing more in her entire life than to have his arms around her at that moment. She wanted to lean into his strength, his hard body, and feel safe. She wanted to know, for once and forever, if he felt the same way about her that she did for him. She was so tired of all the mixed signals. “It’s my fault he’s here, Sloan. I should be the life force he goes after.”
“Only one problem with that,” Hunter told them. “He’s not touched you, Kass. Your death isn’t on his agenda. Maybe his touch is random, or maybe he does it out of curiosity, or any other emotion. But, he hasn’t attacked you in all the time he’s been with you. Someone else will have to be the bait. Me, or Sloan.”
“No!” Kassidy added her protest to Briana’s loud one. She knew her face had to be as pale as Briana’s was. She looked into Sloan’s eyes, silently pleading with him to think of something else. The thought of anything happening to him…!
“Sorry, baby.” Sloan murmured the words before he broke eye contact. He turned to Briana. “Think you can conjure up a magic trap without burning down the house or something, Bri?”
“One of these days,” Briana muttered under her breath as she sent him a scathing look. “I’m going to make you two men eat your words.”
“Deal. This okay with you, Hunter?”
“Damn it, no. But what other choice do we have?”