Dark Fantasy & BDSM
Date Published: April 21, 2023
When her grandfather wanders off, witch Kate Marshall enlists a handsome neighbor to help find Eli, who suffers from dementia. She doesn’t know Mark Delaney is a magic-using undercover agent trying to bring down a gang of drug dealers with deadly spirit animals.
Soon Mark and Kate find themselves falling in love, even as he wrestles with lying to the woman he’s fallen for. Unfortunately, the gang lord is having them watched, so Mark can’t come clean.
When the gang lord kidnaps Eli and Kate to force her to collude in his crimes, she must trust Mark to help them escape, despite his lies, the risk to her heart and the threat to her beloved grandfather’s life.
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2023 Angela Knight
Kate Marshall hurried along the path as fast as she dared, scanning the surrounding woods for a flash of white hair. Anxiety coiled in a sick knot in her belly. Good thing it was late spring. If it had been winter, she’d have to worry he’d forgotten the way home and succumbed to hypothermia.
No sign of him. Nothing but squirrels rustling through the leaves as courting birds sung from the pines, oaks, and maples looming around her.
Dammit, where is he?
Kate stopped in her tracks, closed her eyes, and scanned again, but nothing glowed behind her closed eyes. No sign of Eli Riley’s Talent shining through the trees. Except…
Wait. Not a glow, but something. She concentrated, focusing until the sense of power grew more acute. It seemed to be emanating from the lake.
Her eyes flew open, and she took off in long strides just short of a run. “Granddad? Granddad, where are you? You’re scaring me!”
Some days, Eli seemed just like the man who’d raised her during those idyllic childhood summers, endlessly wise, skilled in art and magic and the intersection where the two met. On bad days, he became a six-foot three-year-old, prone toward tantrums and violent outbursts. Even worse was the lethal combination of his raw magical ability and his failing memory, which could easily kill him if he made an error with a spell. Which was why she’d panicked when she’d woke up this morning to find him gone.
Eli hadn’t been in the studio crafting something fatal, though his backpack of magical gear was missing. She’d searched the rest of the old Victorian house and its extravagant garden, but no luck.
What worried her most was the lake. Her childhood summer haunt was less than a mile away from the house. Way too close for comfort.
He can swim. Hell, he taught me. But what if…
Flickering light flashed through the trees ahead -- sunlight glinting off the water. The sense of power was stronger now. Splashes sounded, suggesting someone swimming.
Or drowning. Her heart shot into her throat.
“Granddad, dammit!” Kate broke into a sprint, ignoring the thin branches that whipped across her face. “Granddad!” I can’t lose him too. She burst from the trees. “Granddad!”
But when she spotted the swimmer, it was not her grandfather. Not with the long blond hair slicked around broad, bare shoulders that gleamed in the morning sunlight. The man stopped swimming and turned, treading water, wiping a big hand down his dripping face. “I’m sorry, what?”
“Have you seen an old man?”
“No, nothing but couple of deer and about a dozen squirrels.” He started back to the shore, muscular arms stroking the water, sending droplets flying through the arc of a rainbow. “What’s the problem?”
“My grandfather… He’s got dementia. I woke up this morning to find him gone. He comes out here to paint.” Kate raked both hands through her brunette hair, absently plucking out leaves and twigs from her heedless run. “Oh God, he could be anywhere. The road -- he could have been hit by a car. Sometimes he doesn’t remember to check before he crosses…” She started to turn away.
“Hang on, let me get dressed and I’ll help you look.” He waded out of the lake, water streaming down a body like a gladiator’s, all hard, carved muscle. He wore only a pair of black swim trunks and a glowing golden tattoo in the center of his chest, a circle surrounded by sigils. Looked like some kind of protective spell. And he was big, easily six-one. On any other day in any other situation, she’d have drooled.
“Where do you live?” He walked over to a pile of neatly folded clothes. Picking up a towel, he started drying off, muscle flexing in his broad chest.
“In the Victorian a mile that way.” She jerked a thumb over her shoulder and looked away, trying not to ogle.
“Oh, you must mean Eli. I didn’t know he’d gotten that bad.” He pulled on faded jeans despite his wet trunks, then shrugged on an equally faded black T and stuffed his bare feet into running shoes. The shirt’s white lettering read “USAC Academy.”
He was Arcane Corps. No wonder he radiated so much power, she’d felt it a quarter mile away. Kate was tempted to close her eyes and check the glow of his magic, but that would be rude.
He extended a hand, a frown of concern on his face. “Mark Delaney. I’m so sorry about your grandmother.”
A spasm of pain stabbed her, but she forced a tight smile as his long fingers enfolded hers. His skin felt calloused and cool. “Thank you. I’m Kate Marshall.” She studied that tough, intensely masculine face. Beard stubble roughened his square jaw and broad, cleft chin, blond brows slashing over Feral gold eyes. It was hard to tell, but she thought his hair would be honey blond when it dried. His lips were thin and masculine, but they looked soft, kissable. Tempting, despite the nerve-wracking situation she was in.
After a carefully calibrated squeeze, he let her go. “Don’t freak out, I’m going to manifest so I can track him. I’m a Feral.” Golden light exploded around him as his magic became visible in a flare of sparks and whirling energy. A heartbeat later, it coalesced into a huge shaggy figure with a long bullet-shaped head and foot-wide paws. The raw power of the animal spirit beat at Kate’s senses as it towered over her, almost ten feet tall. Mark was only dimly visible in its center, cocooned within it like a man in armor.
About the Author
New York Times best-selling author Angela Knight has written and published more than sixty novels, novellas, and ebooks, including the Mageverse and Merlin’s Legacy series. With a career spanning more than two decades, Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine has awarded her their Career Achievement award in Paranormal Romance, as well as two Reviewers’ Choice awards for Best Erotic Romance and Best Werewolf Romance.
Angela is currently a writer, editor, and cover artist for Changeling Press LLC. She also teaches online writing courses. Besides her fiction work, Angela’s writing career includes a decade as an award-winning South Carolina newspaper reporter. She lives in South Carolina with her husband, Michael, a thirty-year police veteran and detective with a local police department.
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