Playing by the rules isn't Dominic's style, but bonding with Meriel--night after explosive night--is. However, Meriel has unwittingly invited someone else into her world: Dominic's mother, a dangerous and poisonously influential magic addict whose lust for death and power corrupts all she touches. Now her shadow is closing in on Meriel, her Clan, and the man Meriel loves, and it's casting them all into the inescapable heart of darkness.
“Please, have a seat,” he said as they entered and he closed his door.
“I’m Dominic Bright, I didn’t properly introduce myself out there.” He bowed slightly, remembering he had some manners.
She waved a casual hand. “I know who you are. I’m Meriel Owen. We both know who the other is. Now, care to explain why you’re drawing from our font without permission?”
Up-front, this witch. He should just get it over with. He knew it. He needed to pay his dues or whatever. But the flavor of her magick all around him made him crave more. He wanted to spar, to whet his appetite for her.
“The wards here are for the good of all. I can’t see why you’d begrudge me that tiny bit of power.” He shrugged, spreading his hands out to appear reasonable.
She exhaled, clearly annoyed. It only spurred him on.
“Begrudging.” She rolled her eyes. “Really, Mr. Bright. If we begrudged you, we’d be teenage girls.” She shrugged. “Certainly we wouldn’t be powerful enough for you to be concerned when you shoplift from our font.” When she cocked her head, her hair slid forward, red, burgundy, threads of gold glinting in the light. He wondered what it would feel like. Before he reached to find out, he busied his hands with a pen.
“You’re using our magick and you haven’t asked. Clearly the nature of this place mandates strong wards to prevent exposure. And you know our position on exposure. So while Clan Owen is certainly sympathetic to your problem, the bigger issue remains.”
Yes, he knew the prevention of exposure was paramount to their people. And yes, he tended to agree that keeping what they were on the down low was a very good thing.
“Lastly, you’re a businessman, Mr. Bright. If I had a drink here, I’d have to ask for it and offer some sort of payment for it.”
“Or be so f***ing sexy a Lycian prince buys you one.”
She smiled and he felt a corresponding tug in his groin. She shrugged and went on, “We all have our little bonuses in life. But in any case, you get my point. The font exists to be used by all witches within this clan. We don’t quibble with another witch using it. But there are rules and even an outclan witch knows to ask.”
He didn’t like asking any more than he liked rules. Damned witches and their rule obsession. Plus, he knew he’d have to give them information about himself, an in to his own magickal signature. He didn’t like anyone having knowledge about him that they could use.
Perceptive brown eyes looked into his. Reading him. Knowing. Saw through the outer façade, right into his soul. He didn’t like that she got him so well, much less the fact that he’d known her all of twenty minutes.