Summer Court

A Paranormal Romance

Half a year ago, Samita Madin shared one steamy night with a friend - what she thought would be just a fling with that firefighter her mom didn't like. But she couldn't stop thinking about Slater Reinhard in the weeks that followed. Especially once she realized she'd gotten pregnant from their tryst.

Samita had every intent of staying in Toronto, keeping the baby a secret from Slater. But then demons attacked North America in a massive catastrophe known as the Breaking, which let Hell pour onto Earth. Separated from her family, and injured in a collapsing building, she has no choice but to let Slater protect her - and their unborn baby - from the preternatural onslaught.

But now Slater's one of the preternaturals. He's been bitten by a werewolf since the last time they saw each other. He's changing from a hero firefighter into a monster with urges that he can't control.

A lot of those urges have to do with Samita.

He only needs one glance from Samita to vow he'll get her and their baby through the end of the world. And Slater has every intent of claiming Samita as his mate.

Yes, this will be the last book in the Tarot Witches series. 🙂

Caged Wolf

Book Cover: Caged Wolf
Editions:Kindle: $ 2.99 USD
ISBN: B00K8IIE0M
Paperback: $ 9.99 USD
ISBN: 1497389534
Size: 8.00 x 5.00 in
Pages: 198
Audiobook: $ 14.95 USD
ISBN: B00JQEHBV2

The biker gangs passing through Lobo Norte don’t scare Ofelia anymore. All those men are the same: scarred, homeless, and broken…just like Ofelia. They’ve become a blur of forgettable faces watching her strip. She takes off her clothes, takes their money, and wipes them from her memory instantly.

But Trouble is different. A biker with a wolf tattoo and tortured eyes, he sees beyond Ofelia’s tough disguise to a more fragile woman within. She’s drawn to him like she’s never been drawn to a man before–at least, not since she survived hideous torture at the hands of her ex-boyfriend that left her scarred physically and emotionally. She can’t forget Trouble. And she definitely can’t push him away.

There’s magic between them that neither understands. But maybe if Ofelia and Trouble can find the truth, they can release each other from the chains that bind them to Lobo Norte, to the Fang Brothers biker gang, and to the dark secrets in their pasts…

Published:
Publisher: Red Iris Books
Genres:
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Excerpt:

Trouble barely fit into my twin bed. He was too lanky. His muscular arms and legs spilled off the sides, dwarfing all my furniture, making my bedroom look like it belonged to a little girl.

Somehow, I managed to pile him up on top of my comforter. He was going to get his stink on all of my belongings. I thought that should probably annoy me, but it didn’t.

He began to stir when I wiped him down with a damp rag, but the struggle toward consciousness was slow. Judging by how thoroughly he had been chewed around the shoulders and back, it looked like he had lost his fight against the wolf the night before. It chilled me how similar his wounds were to mine, though they had been inflicted by completely different tools. I hadn’t been mauled by a wolf. My attacker had been something much worse.

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Strangely, Trouble’s wounds—though bloody—looked like they were already halfway healed. The skin was trying to close.

It didn’t surprise me at this point. I didn’t think anything would surprise me ever again.

I took the quiet minutes where he began to rouse to explore the rest of his body: the large wolf tattooed across his chest, the stubble near his navel where he needed to shave his happy trail again, the silvery scars over his ribcage. Those scars were the most interesting. I could only see them if I tilted my head the right way. They were big, too—four long gashes.

I spread my hand over the scar and fitted my fingertips to them. Whatever had delivered that wound had been twice the size of my hand.

My skin brushed his. Trouble’s fist clamped on my wrist.

I sucked in a hard breath, trying to pull back, but his grip was iron. His eyes opened and there was no struggle for consciousness within him now. He was awake. And he looked angry.

If he didn’t want me pawing his scars, then maybe he should have thought twice about falling down on my doorstep. “Let go of me,” I snapped, twisting my hand and jerking my arm toward me. I escaped the circle of his fingers. “You don’t touch me like that. Not ever again. You hear me, Trouble? I’m not a piece of meat for the Fang Brothers to chew on.”

He said, “Cooper.”

“What?”

“Cooper,” Trouble repeated, and it occurred to me that I had never heard him speak before. His voice was pleasantly gravelly. His accent was American, probably western side of the country, maybe even Californian—where I had come from originally. “My name’s Cooper.”

I tried the name out on my tongue, rolling it between my teeth. “Cooper.”

He gave a low growl, rumbling so softly through his chest that I wasn’t initially sure that it was coming from him. Fire sparked in his golden eyes.

There was something intimate about saying his name. Those simple syllables. I felt like he had just shared a secret with me, something dark and illicit that I wasn’t meant to know.

He lifted his hand toward my shoulder, and I jerked in anticipation of a violent touch. He froze at my reaction. Watched me closely. Waited to see if I would move.

After the previous night’s passion, it felt so strange to hesitate now. I didn’t want to fear him. My whole body ached for him, like I had become lost in the desert for days and he was the oasis on the other side of an impassible canyon. I wanted to throw myself across that distance.

But Pops, my grandpa, hadn’t raised a dumbass. I could be a dumbass sometimes, granted, but that was despite his best efforts. He’d drilled as much sense into me as I could take. And Pops’s girl wasn’t dumb enough to allow herself to get bitten twice.

I scooted back on the bed. Just an inch. I might as well have put a whole prison wall topped with barbed wire between us because Cooper’s expression shuttered and anger furrowed his brow.

Dipping the towel back into my bowl of water, I forced myself to concentrate on the ugly flower pattern rimming my dishes, not the pain in my chest that told me to surrender to all of Cooper’s whims.

“Now, here’s how the rest of the morning is going to play out, Trouble,” I said, carefully choosing not to use his real name. “I’m going to clean you up a bit because you’re making a mess of my house. While I’m doing that, you’re going to tell me exactly what happened last night, starting with the moment you came into my bar and ending with your collapse on my doorstep. And if you think you can skip anything in between, you’ve got another thing coming.”

I washed the blood off of his left shoulder. It was a safe place to touch, relative to his abs and everything below that.

He didn’t start talking.

“Well?” I prompted.

When he remained silent, I dared to glance up, meeting his eyes.

His gaze stabbed through me.

My hand had stopped moving and I wasn’t sure when it had happened. My knuckles were brushing his hip. He was so very warm, radiating heat like the sun-baked earth at mid-afternoon. “What are the Fang Brothers doing here?” I asked, but I didn’t manage a lot of conviction in that question.

“This is where they find the new guys,” Cooper said.

My eyebrows climbed my forehead. “The new guys? You mean, the new…” I stuttered over the word. I felt stupid even thinking it. “Werewolves.”

He nodded slowly, like it pained him.

“Are you new at this?” I asked. Another nod. That little gesture chipped away at my resolve and let the maternal warmth come creeping back. Silly to want to protect such a big guy. Probably outright stupid. “Did you know you were going to change last night?”

He leaned forward slightly so that I could wash around his shoulder blade. He didn’t even flinch when I touched his healing wounds. “Yes, but I smelled you, and I couldn’t stay away.”

“Smelled me?”

“You were calling for me with your body.”

Heat flushed my cheeks. Was it possible that he could smell my body when I danced? That I had somehow put some kind of sexy pheromones out into the universe, and that he had responded?

Somehow, I wasn’t surprised by the idea, or even all that weirded out by it. If I were to be honest with myself, I had been calling to him. Not just my body, but my mind and heart.

I’d been calling to him since the first moment I saw him. Maybe I had always been calling for him, even before we met.

The Devil, number fifteen, flashed through my mind again. The grinning satyr, the naked lovers.

I didn’t know what to think about that line of conversation, so I didn’t think about it. I wiped across his chest. Up his neck. Behind his jaw. There was blood caked under his ear but I didn’t see a wound.

He kept staring at me like that as I cleaned him, as if I were saying something immensely interesting, even though we sat in silence together. He didn’t move as I sponged a path from his clavicle down to his abs again. He wasn’t bloody there, but he didn’t protest at my touch, either.

Something about the stubble down there was kinda cute. One little flaw to humanize an otherwise flawless body.

“Why are you smiling?” he asked.

“You don’t seem like a shaving guy,” I said, squeezing the towel out in the bowl. The water was rusty brown.

He shrugged one shoulder. Even that small gesture seemed to take a lot of effort. “It’s one way to…” He struggled to find a word, searching my face as if I might have all the answers. “It’s how I keep control.”

My fist clenched on the rag. “Because you grow fur on full moons.” I ran the cloth over his chest again, watching the water course down his pectorals and become redirected by the natural channels in his abs. I thought about tracing that path with my tongue.

How quickly I was willing to forget the terror of his fangs against my tender inner thigh.

“Tell me how it happened,” I said. “Tell me how you became a werewolf.”

Guess I wasn’t real surprised that he remained silent, but I was disappointed.

The pain in his eyes was palpable. The darkness.

I traced my fingertip around the edge of the scars again, careful not to touch them. “It looks like it must have hurt.”

He flinched. “It did.”

I was done cleaning him. I’d washed every inch that I could touch without crossing my newly discovered boundaries. If I went any farther south than his navel, I wasn’t going to be able to control myself anymore—I could already feel that insane, intense need that had driven me the night before clawing at my gut.

Setting the bowl aside, I dried my hands on my pajama pants. They were patterned with Christmas penguins. Yeah, I wear them year ‘round, even when it’s hot. The penguins are cute. “Is Big Papa your…uh… I don’t know the word. Leader?”

“Alpha,” he said. “Sorta, yeah. It’s hard to explain.”

I guess I didn’t really care anyway. “He was the wolf.”

Cooper nodded.

That meant that Big Papa might have saved me. I didn’t like the thought that Cooper would have hurt me, nor did I like the idea that I might be indebted to the one-eyed leader of his biker gang, but it seemed like I at least owed the man a drink.

“I think maybe next time you know you’re going to change, you stay out of my bar,” I said, keeping my eyes lowered. “I can’t do anything about you and your gang being in Lobo Norte. We need your business. But I don’t need your business on those kinds of nights, so you keep your distance.”

“Then don’t dance,” Cooper said.

I clenched my hands into fists. I’d known that it would come to this—that he was going to be pissed I’d danced for Mad Dog. “Nobody tells me what to do. If you’re going to get all jealous of me, then you need to stay away from my bar every night, because that’s how I make my living. And you can just deal with that.”

“Just not on the moons,” he said.

“Yes, on the moons. On any fucking night I want.”

“You don’t get it,” he said with sudden heat. “I don’t care if you dance for Mad Dog. I don’t even care if you dance for Papa. You dance whenever you want for anyone you want, except on the moons, because that’s how you stay safe. And when you dance, you remember that you’re still mine.”

Those were the most words I had heard him string together so far. And it had been to declare me his property.

I liked the sound of that. I liked it a lot.

Too much, actually.

“I barely know you,” I whispered.

His fingers dug into my wrist and turned it, exposing the tender flesh on the underside of my forearm. Still watching my eyes, still so very careful, he lifted my palm to his lips. His breath was hot on my hand. His stubble grazed that delicate flesh as he drew a line from my pulse point to the inside of my elbow.

Cooper paused at the junction between forearm and bicep. He pressed a warm kiss there. His nose brushed my shoulder as he pulled me just a little closer, leaning forward to place a second kiss on the side of my neck.

“Mine,” Cooper said. “I knew it the moment I smelled you.” His hand cupped my head. A whimper escaped my throat. “And you do smell…amazing.”

Fighting against the urge to climb on top of him made my whole body tremble. I wanted to melt together. Make our bodies one piece. “What does it mean?” I asked, barely able to breathe.

He drew back. Trouble looked…troubled. “I don’t know. I’ve never felt like this. But I’ve never been a werewolf before, either.”

“It scares me,” I said. It just slipped out. I hadn’t meant to be honest.

“Good,” he said. “What is this?”

His hand brushed over my shoulder, and I realized that he was looking at my scars. I pulled away from him.

“Nothing,” I said.

He had to have known I was deflecting the question, but he didn’t bother arguing with me. Cooper stood. He kissed the top of my head—a strangely tender gesture. And before I could think of how the hell I was supposed to react to that, he left.

COLLAPSE

Winter Court

Book Cover: Winter Court
Editions:Kindle: $ 3.99 USD
ISBN: B01759SV7M
Pages: 250
Paperback: $ 13.99 USD
ISBN: 1518798330
Size: 8.00 x 5.00 in
Pages: 340

CEO Pierce Hardwick is testing a cure for lycanthropy. Jaycee Frost, witch and executive assistant, wants to help. But she can’t risk getting too close to her irresistible boss. Ever since that one hot night they shared in the break room—the night before Jaycee realized Pierce would be her new employer—Jaycee has been struggling with her entirely unprofessional attraction toward him.

Then Jaycee receives a magical tarot card, and the message is clear: destiny has plans for her. No matter that Jaycee only wants to achieve professional domination with Hardwick Medical Research. She’s got a bigger job.

And that job might have to do with mating to Pierce Hardwick…

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

As the assistant of one of the most powerful businessmen in the world, I’ve become accustomed to invisibility. Invisibility indicates I’ve done my job well.

I am not Jaycee Frost, executive assistant, graduate from one of those major colleges you’ve heard of before, seeking prestige at the right hand of Pierce Hardwick.

I am the nameless, faceless person who increases the value of Hardwick Medical Research’s stock by making Pierce Hardwick’s life run perfectly.

That’s why it was so strange to get an envelope with my name on it delivered to the office.

My name: “Jaycee Frost.”

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Not “Pierce Hardwick, c/o Jaycee Frost,” or “Hardwick Medical Research,” or the name of a department.

“Jaycee Frost” in calligraphic letters, inked so darkly that they were difficult to read against the black A3 vellum envelope.

I turned it over to search for a postmark, a return address, or any indication of who might have sent it to me. There was nothing beyond my name on the front and a crimson wax seal on the back. The seal was unbroken. Nothing entered my office unbroken—not since the anthrax scare.

What the letter was didn’t matter. It was most likely an invitation to some ridiculous charity event, simply misaddressed to me rather than my boss. The fact it had been delivered in such condition was of much greater concern.

I tossed it into the trashcan and pressed the button for the intercom.

“Felicity, please remind the mail boy that we need all mail screened,” I said. I released the button. On second thought, I pressed it again. “And then fire him.”

My heeled pumps clicked against polished tile as I paced to the espresso machine, flipping through the remainder of Pierce’s mail. There wasn’t much. We had gone digital for important communications, and only inter-departmental notices too private to entrust to even our encrypted servers stubbornly maintained a paper trail.

There were lab results, primarily, and other medical minutiae that Pierce found fascinating. He enjoyed digging into that kind of data even though it was hardly a profitable use of his time. I set them aside for his later analysis regardless.

Ordinarily, I would have taken those results to him directly, but Pierce was already in a meeting. His door was closed—a clear sign that he didn’t want me to intrude.

I could just barely make out the shape of his body moving on the other side of the frosted glass. Even when he was nothing more than a blurred silhouette, I could make out the trim lines of his tailored suit, the graceful motion of his arms as he gestured.

There was no early-morning meeting on his agenda. Pierce seldom came in before nine, and never before me. But there was definitely another man in there with him.

Their deep-voiced murmurs made the walls hum faintly.

I made myself an espresso first. If Pierce wasn’t going to allow me to help him with his morning meetings, then he would just have to wait for his coffee. I was an excellent assistant, but not a pushover.

I pulled a jar of blessed cinnamon and nutmeg out of the cabinet and sprinkled it atop my espresso. The jar’s lid had a pentagram on it, which funneled the full moon’s energy into my spices and gave me a little extra mental clarity through the day. The flavor was lovely, too.

Sipping the hot espresso, I gazed out the floor-to-ceiling windows. The Hardwick Medical Research building was taller than everything else for miles. It gave me an excellent view of the rising winter sun and cars inching over the ice-limned streets.

The day’s agenda buzzed through my mind as I surveyed the city—a place where Pierce and I had created thousands of jobs, and crafted medicines to benefit millions.

There were meetings to come, studies to conduct, pharmaceutical agents to brief. No time to linger over my espresso.

I tossed back the remnants and spun to return to my desk.

The toe of my shoe pushed an envelope across the tile.

“What…?”

That heavy parchment envelope was on the floor between my feet. I was certain that I had tossed it in the trash.

I picked it up. I had been too distracted the first time I touched it to recognize the buzz of magic when I traced the edge of the wax seal. That was why I could read the dark-red ink scrolling my name across black vellum, and that was why it had fished itself out of the trash to demand attention at my feet.

“Ah, I see.” I pressed the intercom again. “Have you fired the mail boy yet, Felicity?”

“I’m doing the paperwork and arranging a security detail to escort him out of the building first,” she said. She sounded nervous.

“Shred the paperwork and forget about it. He’s fine.” There was no point in firing the mail boy over a piece of mail that had been magicked to arrive in my mailbox, after all.

Correspondence from my old coven, perhaps?

I glanced at Pierce’s office door. He was still talking to his mysterious guest, and Goddess only knew how long that would take. Unscheduled meetings seemed to be the most time consuming. There would be no harm in reading personal mail while I waited for him.

My thumb slid under the wax seal, breaking it.

There were only two things inside the envelope: a short letter, and a large tarot card.

I read the letter aloud. “‘The wheel of life turns and the Forbidden yearn for a world that no longer exists. Solve the card and you’ll find you can leave this behind and join the rest of us in the mists…’ Hmm.” Forbidden? Mists? If those were magical terms, they weren’t ones that I was familiar with.

The back of the tarot card was patterned with a twisted art deco design, a little too industrial to quite be pretty. The shapes seemed to shift when I turned the card in my fingers. The picture was elaborately drawn, but that didn’t account for the illusion of motion. It must have been more magic.

I turned the card over to examine it.

The Chariot.

I knew The Chariot. It was part of the major arcana—the trump suit of the deck—and it was meant to indicate control in all its forms: being in control of one’s life, collapsing under the pressure of refusing to relinquish control, etcetera.

This was a strange version of the art, though. It wasn’t the Rider-Waite image I was familiar with from early readings with the coven.

There was a man sitting on a chariot, as always, but he was being led forward by only a single sphinx. There were always two creatures. Whoever had designed this card didn’t understand the symbolism well, though everything else was in place, including the square on the charioteer’s chest.

I gazed at his face, which was a hard-edged rectangle with intelligent eyes and sensitive lips.

The charioteer reminded me of Pierce.

And the sphinx—the lioness—she had hair like mine. She was naked, on all fours, fingernails digging into the earth. The entire design was much more sexual than usual.

Strange.

I’d read tarot in the past, just for fun. There was little magic to it. The cards had been designed by a mundane man for gambling centuries earlier, and had since been reproduced by thousands of publishing companies and charlatans for fun. As a method of meditation, scrying, and focus, they were fine. Tarot was not inherently magical, though.

Even so, there was nothing mundane about the strange feeling that came over me when I looked at that picture.

When I shut my eyes, I could imagine kneeling in front of Pierce, harnessed to his Lamborghini as he flicked a whip at my flank.

A man shouted in Pierce’s office, loud enough that the tone penetrated the walls.

My head snapped up. My eyes narrowed.

I stuck the strange tarot card in my desk and was halfway to my boss’s door when it swung open.

Pierce Hardwick emerged.

Even now, after working with him for so long, the sight of him momentarily awed me.

He was a rare kind of man who was even greater than his reputation would suggest. People whispered about how he was as sexy as he was rich, but they were wrong: if raw magnetism could be given a dollar figure, Pierce would be worth far more than his billions. They also called his style “nerd chic” in the tabloids, chalking up his square-framed glasses to fashion, and utterly ignoring the athletic body that slid under the sheath of his perfectly tailored suits.

There was nothing nerdy about the man once he got naked.

The fact that I knew that from firsthand, intimate experience is something I’ve struggled to forget every time I see him, even now, years after that one ill-advised tryst we shared.

I should not have been Jaycee Frost, breathless schoolgirl who couldn’t remember her birthday when her eyes met those of Pierce Hardwick.

I was an executive assistant—the best possible executive assistant—and a consummate professional.

My knees were not shaking as Pierce strode across my office, storm clouds brewing in his wake. A river of fire was not coursing from between my legs to my pounding heart. And I didn’t have to grip the reports tightly in my fists to steady myself.

Pierce carved a path across the office to meet me.

My smile of greeting was practiced and professional. I had spent thousands of dollars to make my teeth as perfect as the rest of my appearance, ensuring that there wouldn’t be so much as a hair out of place. I looked good when photographed behind Pierce. And by looking beautiful, I made myself easily dismissed, forgettable to the powerful men that Pierce met with.

The way that Pierce looked at me, though—I was not invisible, easily dismissed, or forgettable to him.

That was part of the problem.

“Good morning, sir,” I said with chill calm. “I wish you had told me that you had an early meeting this morning. I would have come in earlier.”

“I didn’t tell you for a reason.” Pierce was always prickly in the mornings, and even more so when I didn’t arrive in time to meet him with a double shot of espresso. “I want you to meet an old friend of mine. His name is Rage.”

It was only then that I took a chance to study this “friend.”

I’d been anticipating Pierce to meet with an allied CEO, most of who were entirely interchangeable rich old men.

This man may have been rich, and he was certainly male, but there was nothing interchangeable about him.

Rage was tall, muscular, longhaired. He wore leather as though he was taking a break from a BDSM dungeon to have breakfast with my boss. His chest and stomach were covered in tattoos, though I could only see some of the ink sticking out of his sleeves and the neck of his shirt. I had seen the man naked on several album covers, so I could easily summon the memory of his tattoos no matter how clothed he was.

Rage was the lead singer of a band called the Forbidden. He had been big for decades, ever since his teenage years, and produced so many award-winning albums that he likely picked spinach out of his teeth with a Grammy.

He was well known among witch circles for being one of us: a skilled practitioner of the craft.

His appearance settled one mystery of the morning. He must have left the tarot card and poem for me. I should have realized he’d be involved as soon as I’d read that line about the “Forbidden.”

“An honor to meet you,” I said, shaking his hand.

“Pleasure is all mine,” Rage said. He tried to let his grip linger, which I’m sure he thought would be seductive. To be fair, it probably was seductive to many women. I didn’t allow it.

“How do you prefer your coffee?” My smile remained fixed and professional. Whatever game he was attempting to play with that tarot card, I wouldn’t engage. I was better than that.

“Irish,” he said. “But I don’t have time for that today. I was just…leaving.”

Rage gave a significant look to Pierce.

Wordless communication passed between them.

“I’ll see you soon,” Pierce said.

I held the office door open. Rage slunk outside. Felicity was waiting to take him downstairs, her cheeks a brilliant shade of pink, hands fluttering over the buttons on her blouse’s collar, as though she were considering flinging off her clothes so she could jump on him.

Rage’s gaze skimmed over me one last time, from head to toe.

And then his eyes flicked to the desk drawer where I had hidden the tarot card, though there was no way he could have known where I had hidden it.

The door swung shut, and he was gone.

~~~

It had never been my job to know everything that Pierce was doing. There were happenings at Hardwick Medical Research too classified for even me to know about, such as military contracts or even business with foreign governments. Typically I had no trouble shutting those things out of my mind.

Whatever had gotten Rage worked up in Pierce’s office was too interesting for me to pretend I hadn’t heard it. Too interesting, and too personal, since it had resulted in that magical tarot card tucked in my drawer.

My curiosity warred with my urge to respect Pierce’s privacy.

I brought his double shot of espresso to his desk. He watched me cross the office, eyes narrowed, hands steepled in front of his chiseled features.

The mail that had been delivered that morning was spread across his desk. All of it except the tarot card. He’d moved one lab result to the center of the blotter and been drawing on it in red.

“Problem with the results, sir?” I asked, handing him the cup of espresso.

His right eye twitched when I called him “sir.” Pierce had made it clear a thousand times that he’d prefer less formality between us. “It’s fine. Everything here looks fine.” He shoved the papers into a pile. “What do you know about lycanthropy, Jaycee?”

I concealed my surprise by tidying his papers.

Pierce knew that I was a witch. I had never attempted to make a secret of it, and I had even consulted on establishing the wards that protected the corporation from magical onslaught. But he had made it clear that he preferred all things preternatural and medicine not to intersect. The pharmaceuticals we developed were purely science.

“It’s regarded as a curse,” I said. “The people who are bitten change twice a month, on the new moons and the full. They turn into killer monsters that can only be stopped with silver bullets. Or so I’ve heard. Werewolves are a dying species. Few remain. I’ve never encountered one.”

“I’ve been working on a cure for those who are still around,” he said. “On the side. Not officially.”

Now my curiosity was too strong. Pierce had started out in biosciences, but he didn’t do much hands-on research anymore, despite his insistence on getting elbow-deep in reports for his favorite project of the month. “Is your friend Rage a werewolf?”

“No, but he’s got friends who are. He’s got a personal interest in curing lycanthropy, and whatever Rage has a personal interest in, I do too.” Pierce sat back in the chair with a sigh, ripping the thick-framed glasses off his face. “Rage is the reason I have all of this.” He waved the arm of his glasses at the office. “We went to college together. He was my first and only angel investor.”

“Generous classmate.”

“I owe him big time, but my cures keep failing,” Pierce said. “Nothing is working. Now Rage tells me we’re out of time. A friend of his, Graham—he’s an aging werewolf, and the transformation is killing him. Rage has worked up some magical ways to delay it, but those are failing, too.”

“I could inspect the spells Rage has put into place,” I said. “I may be able to help.”

“It’s still only a delay. We need to be able to cure werewolves.” He glanced at his watch, pushed his chair back. “Cancel everything on my agenda for the day. Everything tomorrow, too. And call the chopper.”

“Yes, sir,” I said. “Where should I tell the pilot to take you?”

“Rage’s mansion, up on the coast.”

My lips thinned. I was a witch, so of course I knew that tonight would be the new moon. It was no coincidence that Pierce was rushing to Rage’s house—and all his werewolf friends—on a night like this. “You’re going to attempt to administer a new cure yourself.”

“I owe him everything, Jaycee.” Pierce moved toward his coat rack.

I stepped in his path. “I’m coming.”

“Jaycee,” he said. His hand rested on my wrist.

My heart skipped a beat.

I gazed at the place that our skin touched, and those memories I did my best to push into the back of my mind came raging to the forefront.

The way that he had ripped my blazer open, buttons pinging against the wall.

Pierce’s hot mouth sucking my nipples into peaks.

His fingers scraping up my thighs, seeking the band of my underwear.

I hadn’t been working for him when we’d had that encounter. I had been executive assistant at another company, which Hardwick Medical Research had been in the process of buying. Pierce hadn’t had a clue who I was or that he would inherit me during the transition. And I hadn’t recognized him without the glasses, especially since I’d been at least two bottles deep into my wine drinking for the night.

Pierce was used to being treated reverently, like corporate royalty, so he must have been confused when I’d pushed him into the closet at the office Christmas party. Confused or not, he hadn’t protested when I’d forced him to sit against the shelf while I stroked him to hardness through his slacks.

And then he’d probably been even more confused when I showed up to the official meet-and-greet the next day, perfectly coiffed and hiding my hangover behind a pair of sunglasses.

One night. One intense, smoking night together before we’d ever worked together.

Biggest mistake of my life.

As I’ve said, I was a consummate professional. I didn’t sleep with coworkers. I certainly didn’t sleep with my bosses.

Of course, as Pierce had later pointed out, we hadn’t done any sleeping at all on that night.

He had a good sense of humor about it. But I always steered the conversation away from that night whenever he brought it up, just to be safe, just as I always called him “sir” or “Mr. Hardwick” to properly distance myself from him.

We’d had a fantastic working relationship for the last four years. We were a team. The best damn team.

Even so, when he touched me, it was hard not to think about how he had felt moving inside of me. Even drunk on wine, I had committed rolling that condom over him and guiding Pierce’s cock into my body to permanent memory. I remembered the taste of cognac on his lips and the scrape of his stubble against my chin.

I especially remembered the low groan he’d given when he’d spent himself—easily the most delicious sound I’d ever heard.

Pierce’s fingers were still on my wrist.

I drew my hand back.

“You need me,” I said.

His eyebrow arched.

I cleared my throat. “You need help if you’re going to administer experimental treatment to werewolves. Lycanthropy is likely to be as magical as it is physical. It’s not as though we’re trying to annihilate cancer. You need a witch. I’m the best witch at the company.”

A smile slanted across his mouth. “You’re probably the only witch.”

His fingers slipped across my inner wrist, as though feeling for a pulse. Or else I was the one drifting toward him, and he was just responding.

Either way, it wasn’t professional.

“Dennis, the mail boy,” I said. “He’s a witch.”

Pierce’s smile faded a fraction. Fierceness sparked in the warm brown pools of his eyes. “Dennis? You know Dennis very well?”

“I know everyone in this building well.” It helped ensure Pierce didn’t need to know them. “Dennis wouldn’t be able to help you on the trip. I would. I’m coming to help you test the cure on the werewolves.”

“Okay,” Pierce said. He whipped his jacket off of the hook. “Get in the helicopter.”

COLLAPSE