Magic, mayhem, and motherhood… a witch’s work is never done, but Sabrina draws the line at the Fae.
After almost two decades as a practicing witch in Cloudburst, Colorado, Sabrina Foxglove is done with men, magic, and the fertility rituals of High Beltane. She’s dealt with all three before and ended up with a young daughter and no partner. Twice. She’s looking forward to a magic-free May Day, with nothing more exciting than making brownies for a kindergarten class and decorating a May Pole. She definitely doesn’t have time for a handsome, Fae-touched man.
After almost two centuries as the human chamberlain to the Fae’s Summer Court, Darius Winterbourne is a man accustomed to getting his way. So when the Summer Queen tasks him with finding a witch to perform the annual rituals and strengthen the ancient warding magicks, he figures it should be easy. He doesn’t expect Sabrina’s hardheaded refusal, her untrained abilities, or his attraction to her. With less than a week to Beltane, he must gain Sabrina’s trust before he loses his home, his position…and his heart.
Darius chuckled, sitting forward to lean his elbows on his knees.
“As you command, my lady.” He inclined his head. “My petition is the same as last night. Beltane is a week away. The Summer Court has chosen your fair little town as the location where they shall perform the healing ceremonies to strengthen the wards, and you’re the only witch here who can perform the rituals correctly.”
“That’s debatable,” she mumbled, but he didn’t seem to hear her.
“Come now, Lady Foxglove, you must understand what a great honor this is. The opportunity to serve the Court in this way is not offered lightly.”
Sabrina snorted. “I thought I’m the only witch in Cloudburst who could correctly perform the rituals. It doesn’t sound like selection so much as desperation. I’m the only one you know of here, so I’ll have to do. Right?”
His patronizing smile never slipped. “They would not have chosen Cloudburst were it not for you.”
“Baloney!” She grimaced and flicked one hand. “Got oceanfront property to sell me in Arizona, right? Nice try. Tell them to visit Sedona, then. I’m sure the Vortices are in need of a good realigning.”
Darius’s smile began to fade and he took a breath to say something as the waitress appeared beside him, her gaze fixed on his handsome visage. Sabrina smiled, grateful for the interruption, and ordered hot coffee and a blueberry scone. Gather your wits, because this guy will run all over you if you let him. Darius’s ridiculous demands to host the Summer Court of the Fae ranked up there with cleaning out the sediment trap in her shower. Yeah, not going to happen.
Darius turned his brilliant smile on the waitress and she fluttered and simpered, twirling one lock of hair around her pencil with a giddy smile. Sabrina sighed, hoping the girl wouldn’t forget her order. Darius played up the charming, handsome, and virile male. She suspected women fell all over themselves to attract his sparkling gaze.
At last, the girl flounced away, her hips swinging in invitation, and Darius watched her retreat with a satisfied smile on his face. Sabrina shook her head in bemusement. You’re just mad because he doesn’t look at you like that.
Why the hell would she want him to look at her favorably? She wanted nothing to do with men. Selfish, manipulating, responsibility-avoiding bastards. Darius fit in just right. She bet he’d slept with more women than the flakes of snow falling outside the coffee shop windows.
Yeah, but think of how experienced he’d be.
She stifled a groan.
Darius’s gaze fastened on her like a magnet and he cocked his head in inquiry.
Crap, he can’t read thoughts, can he?
“Where were we?” His question accompanied a smug smile.
“You were just getting ready to suggest the Court should go to Sedona for Beltane.”
The warmth in his smile dimmed and she countered his hard look with lifting her chin. He spread his hands with mock regret, but his eyes remained chips of jade stone. “Would that I could, my lady, but once the Court has determined the place for the rituals, it cannot be changed. I’m afraid it’s Cloudburst, or nowhere.”
He sighed. “Listen to me, Lady—”
“No, you listen to me, Mr. Winterbourne.” She used her best mommy-voice. “I have a family, school obligations, and a job right now. I don’t have time to entertain the Summer Court for Beltane. I have to bake brownies for my daughter’s kindergarten class, for goodness sake. I have no place for the Court, in my life or in my house, and besides, I haven’t done the High Beltane rituals in four years.”
“I’m sure it will only take a little brushing up—”
“I don’t want to ‘brush up’ on the rituals. You’re not hearing me. I. Am. Not. Doing. The. Rituals.”
Darius’s expression solidified into impassiveness and Sabrina crossed her arms over her chest in mute challenge. She wouldn’t be pressured into having sex for the Fae. She’d given up on the complex rituals after her ex Tommy left, and it suited her just fine. No male of any race, particularly one claiming to be from the Sidhe, would convince her to open up the hideous box of memories associated with Beltane. Not to mention threatening pregnancy.
Goddess, it’d be like running straight into the past.
Suddenly, Darius’s face softened and calculated compassion slid into his eyes. Sabrina had seen such a look on Tommy’s face enough times to know what would come. He’d play on her compassionate side just to get what he wanted.
Here we go.
“I understand your frustrations and life’s complications.” He smiled sympathetically. “It won’t take any extra time. These rituals are ingrained in you. They’ll fit within your schedule seamlessly. I’m sure we can work something out.”
Sabrina seethed. How typical. Doesn’t listen to a thing I say. Doesn’t care about my needs or my priorities. Just figures a little charm and he’ll get his way. Bastard.
Fighting to keep her anger under control, Sabrina clenched her hands into fists and stood. Spinning to leave, Sabrina collided with the waitress holding her order. The girl squeaked as she dumped the hot coffee down Sabrina’s belly. Searing pain accompanied the deep brown stain and Sabrina gasped, jerking back. She lost her footing and toppled over the chair she’d just risen from.
Oh glory! Her head slammed into the edge of a nearby table and brilliant points of light shot across her vision as pandemonium erupted around her.
“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry!” The waitress set down her tray and reached for Sabrina.
Sabrina hissed as agony flooded her awareness. She yanked her sweater away from her skin and tried to focus through the ringing in her head. Tears blurred her eyes as she struggled to breathe, her ability to inhale momentarily curtailed. The waitress tried to mop up the coffee on Sabrina’s belly with her bar towel, but she succeeded in only irritating the reddened skin.
Sabrina moaned and writhed away, batting futilely at the other woman’s hands as her head swam from the lack of oxygen. A shadow loomed over her, darkening her fading sight.
“Breathe, Lady Foxglove.” The rich voice penetrated her addled brain and she looked up into teal green eyes filled with concern.
What did he say? She frowned and shook her head in confusion.
“I said breathe. Remember to inhale.”
I can’t… Sabrina’s mind raised the white flag and surrendered to the darkness.