Welcome to the Bewitching Halloween Blog Hop! If you’re just joining in, the hop got started at http://justromance.me. Jump on board for the full blog tour and enter to win fabulous prizes. Join us for an author chat Sunday 7pm EST at Gem’s Place.
So glad you dropped by for the Bewitching Blog Hop. All my witches are out taking care of their All Hallow’s Eve preparations. They left just a wee bit ago, mumbling something about sumpkins and lotions…or was it pumpkins and potions? No matter. ‘Tis of little concern now as they aren’t on the premises. In fact, the only creatures left around here at the moment are some fae and wolf folk. They are demanding a little blog time, so I thought I would allow it. I will turn it over to Devlin and Kiara, my hero and heroine from Blood and Moonlight.
Devlin: “What did you want to talk about a ghrá?”
Kiara: “Nothing. I wanted to share a scene that was cut from the book.”
Devlin: “Aye, but does Moira wish for you to share it? Perhaps the lass has plans for it.”
Kiara: “Well then she had no business turning the blog over to us, did she?”
Devlin: “A ghrá, you make a good point.”
Kiara: “Besides, she left to refill her coffee. She won’t even know. I don’t think any of our guests would tell her, do you?”
Devlin: “You are letting that wicked streak show. You know what that does to me.”
Kiara: “Behave yourself. We have guests.”
Devlin: “Get on with it then.”
Kiara: “Very well. This scene was meant to be the prologue of Blood and Moonlight. It didn’t really add anything to the overall story, so it was cut. While it is unedited, and I do suffer a bit, I still found it fitting for this time of year. There’s blood, wickedness, and death. Hope you enjoy it.”
October 2008, Just outside Lake Tahoe
Trees passed by in a blur as my bare feet pounded against the forest floor and still I wasn’t moving fast enough. Blood dripped from my neck, soaking into my white cotton shirt. The soft evening breeze carried many scents—the strongest belonged to me. They’d find me soon. Wolves could always track blood. Being pack animals, they usually hunted as such, but this was no ordinary wolf or shifter. He was different, but I didn’t plan on getting close enough to figure out what separated him from the others. When I’d first spotted him, he’d been a man, standing alone at the forest edge, now he was in the guise of a wolf and in full hunt mode. I ran and as I did, it occurred to me that more of them could be lying in wait to ambush me. With no idea where I was running to, it was entirely possible I was playing right into the hands of my pursuer, which meant this could go from bad to worse in a matter of seconds.
Despite the cool night air, the shirt clung to my sweat drenched skin. With every bit of blood lost, my strength faded. Focus was a commodity I couldn’t afford to lose.
Why couldn’t I go faster?
The gun at my back provided little comfort. It wouldn’t stop what was coming. My options were limited and becoming more so by the minute. God and Goddess, please grant me a miracle. A break in the trees allowed a glimpse of small clearing. I ran out into the open area, barely big enough for what I had in mind, but it would have to do. Distant rustling of underbrush told me time ran short and I had to act quickly. God I hoped this worked. Words left my mouth in a whisper as I invoked the circle, sealing it at the four points with my own blood. Magic flared like electricity around me, so thick breathing became difficult.
The world swam in earth tones and I gasped for air. Power from the circle pulsed over my skin and quieted. It resembled standing in the eye of a storm. Eerie silence surrounded me and I knew any moment all hell could break loose. A raven emitted a deep, resonating call from its nearby perch and cut through the stillness. What I wouldn’t give to be back in Vegas right about now. This was supposed to be a simple weekend trip home for some Fae politics and a little girl rest and relaxation in Tahoe, but as usual, trouble found me.
I searched the darkness, took in the air and held it. The musky scent, laced with underlying notes of blood and pine just off to my left, alerted me to the beast’s approach. The spell wouldn’t hold. Protection spells were never my strong suit. The only thing I had any luck with, were tapping into visions, and even that was sketchy at best. Hopefully, Reese would make an appearance before time ran out, if she could even find me. Where in the hell was I?
“Oh Kiara,” the deep voice carried through the night. “Come out and play with me.”
He’d approached me while I’d been on my way to rendezvous with Reese and caught me completely unaware. My hands were laden with shopping bags and I’d failed to sense the threads of tightly controlled power that made him what he was until it was too late. His glamour far surpassed my own. Thankfully, his cockiness gave me the few seconds I needed to run. Power built in the air, pressing against the barriers of my circle. White light flashed in the thick of the forest with a crack like lightening. No longer in wolf form, the man stepped into view.
Tattered clothes hung from his body, revealing far more of the man than I cared to see. Between that and the huge production he made out of licking my blood from his partially clawed hand, it was difficult to look at him. The ability to control the change so distinctly was a testament to the power he held.
“Neat party trick. Halloween is still a week away. Still time to perfect it.” Being locked inside my own protection spell made me cocky, but the circle could fail and I wasn’t sure I wanted him to test its boundaries. Luckily, he was too busy indulging himself with my blood.
“Tasty. The blood of the Morrigan women always has been, but yours is truly a delicacy. I wonder…was my brother able to indulge in its taste before you killed him? Your blood is intoxicating—layered and so full of power, even for a Fae. He truly would have enjoyed it.”
A moan escaped him and it truly unnerved me, as did his discussing my blood as though he were at a wine tasting. He locked his eyes with mine and I realized what set him apart from other shifters I’d encountered—the irises of his eyes were similar to the Fae in color. It made my stomach turn. “You say Fae like it is a disgusting thing to be.”
“It is, if you are one of the pure ones. Not quite as powerful as those who are…more.” Another lick took care of the last bit of crimson on his hand and he regarded me carefully. “And you my dear clearly fall into the latter category. How intriguing.”
He reached out, as if to test the boundary of the circle, but withdrew. Apparently not so brave after all.
A ghostly chuckle emanated from him, sending chills up my spine. “Smart little one aren’t you? Using your own blood to cast the circle is more than I gave you credit for. You weren’t so quick thinking a year ago when my brother scarred that pretty body of yours and Riona—well she just didn’t have the time before I caught up to her. I will not underestimate you like my brother did, Kiara. If you escape this night, it will only be by my death. Know that there are others who will find you and send you to join your mother.”
“Depends on who’s doing the dying.”
A silver dagger flew past my head and embedded itself into the front of his chest. His eyes widened and as he dropped to the ground outside the circle, Reese walked over and knelt down beside him to retrieve the blade from his body.
“I left you alone for two minutes with strict instructions not to leave the parking lot.”
“Would you have preferred I let him catch me?”
“Of course not. Don’t get your panties in a bunch.” She sheathed the weapon, stood and slowly looked me over. “Lost your shoes I see.”
“If I’d known I’d be running through the woods I wouldn’t have worn the Jimmy Choo’s.”
“You lost the Jimmy’s?” She grimaced and then glanced down at the lifeless body, nudging it with the toe of her boot. “What a waste of life. Wonder what he was after?”
“I guess I could have interrogated him while he feasted on my blood. It just didn’t occur to me.” Following her gaze, I looked at the fallen man. “And he’s not going to answer any of our questions.”
“Not bloody likely in his current state.” Reese smiled.
The man who’d taken my mother’s life no longer walked among us. A little piece of knowledge that should have brought me a modicum of peace, but things were rarely ever so easy. His parting words troubled me and though the wolf’s lifeless body lay at my feet, I had the sneaking suspicion this was far from over.
Devlin: “Well I didn’t really enjoy that at all. That man had no business licking your blood. Guess I should be thankful Reese was there to keep you safe for me.”
Kiara: “You didn’t even know me then.”
Devlin: “Wouldn’t have even had the chance to know you if Reese hadn’t saved that sweet arse of yours then. How’s that?”
Kiara: “Hard to argue that point. Well, I hop you all enjoyed your stay. There is still plenty more for you to see. Lots more Bewitching to be done. If one of the witches, demons, or ghouls managed to pull you out of the tour line, you can find your way back by going to JustRomance.me. Enjoy the rest of your tour. Now run along before Moira sees what we’ve done.”