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Authors: Deborah Cooke

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BOOK: All or Nothing
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Yet, even given that, today Lilith couldn't evict Sebastian from her mind. The memory of the evening they'd spent together tormented her. The echo of his last pledge rang in her ears. She had dreamed of him the night before, relived that precious time so vividly that she'd been sure she could feel his hands on her when she awakened in the morning.

But he wasn't there.

Lilith was alone.

Still.

Maybe it was the heat that tried her patience.

Maybe it was this marathon run of celibacy that was getting on her nerves. Lilith had been patient, but immortality alone wasn't a lot of fun. She was tired of being resilient and optimistic. She was tired of being cheerful in solitude.

Lilith was done with the waiting.

And Sebastian was late, but any calculation.

Tarot card reader, astrologist and crystal therapist, Lilith had adopted all the trappings of the occult to mask her Gift. She was reluctant to give any hint of the real nature of her talent, so she blamed everything on the tarot cards. People found it easier to believe that a stack of cardboard cards held the secrets of the future than that Lilith could see the truth in their eyes.

For the fact was that the draught for immortality—when Lilith had ultimately earned the right to a sip—had added an interesting twist to her innate Gift. After drinking that elixir, Lilith could see anyone's match right in their eyes. Regardless of where that lovematch was in the world, she could set anyone on the path to connecting with his or her soulmate.

Maybe it was because her heart had been so full of Sebastian when she had that precious sip.

It was a bitter kind of irony to make her living consoling the lovelorn when she was so lonely herself. Lilith didn't even know how many weddings she'd been invited to attend, mostly because she had in some way been responsible for introducing the bride and groom.

Always a bridesmaid, as the saying went.

The experience was getting old. She'd stopped going stag to weddings five years before, but it didn't make her feel any better. The invitations were bad enough.

Sebastian was taking his own sweet time returning to her, that much was for certain. Lilith remembered the way he had kissed her and her skin heated. She closed her eyes and leaned back in her favorite chair to remember every caress, one more time.

The only time.

So much for promises made on the gallows.

Lilith frowned at the room, and caught the knowing glint in D'Artagnan's eyes. That cat saw too much, and it was a blessing he couldn't talk. He had moved in with purpose two years before, characteristically disinterested in Lilith's opinion of his presence.

She wondered whether the cat knew that she only let him stay in deliberate defiance of
Rom
norms. Cats licked themselves, polluting inside with outside. Cats were dirty in
Rom
terms. Cats were
mahrime
.

But then, Lilith had been
mahrime
herself for a long time. Maybe there was a twisted kind of justice in D'Artagnan's deliberate adoption of her. Maybe they belonged together.

That wasn't the most optimistic thought she could have had.

Lilith wondered why she had any concern with
mahrime
conventions. It wasn't as if the
Rom
and their ideas had anything to do with her. Nope, she was just a witch who told fortunes, not a gypsy at all. She had studied
gadje
witchcraft, learned to mix potions and cast spells, draw circles for the moon and read astrological charts, too.

She was not
Rom
.

She refused to be
Rom
.

And that was that.

D'Artagnan started cleaning himself—always fastidious—and even the sight of his little darting tongue made Lilith fidget.

She had definitely been alone too long.

What was keeping Sebastian?

Lilith picked up her deck of tarot cards, shuffled and considered the riddle of what to do. She fanned the cards across the table and plucked one from their midst, her heart skipping a beat when she turned it over.

The Magician.

A card about making things happen. A card for the creative and the powerful. A card hinting that it was time things got done.

By her.

It was a card that demanded immediate action.

Lilith considered it. Why was she just waiting for Sebastian? In every other area of her life, she was the one to take the initiative and make a difference. She had to admit that it would be a lot more romantic if Sebastian just swept into her life again on his own.

He had promised, after all.

Was his promise a lie?

No. She wouldn't think along those lines. She stood up and went to the mirror. One more time she looked deeply into her own eyes and one more time, she caught no glimpse of Sebastian. Obviously, her Gift didn't extend to herself. Magick was like that.

But maybe some of the things she had learned over the centuries could help.

The thought had no sooner crossed her mind than Lilith was on the way to her kitchen. She checked the calendar and discovered that both sun and moon were right for a love spell.

That had to be a sign that she was on the right track.

Whether her actions provoked a response or not, it was good just to be doing something. Lilith turned on the radio and tuned into the oldies station. The first song made Lilith smile and turn up the volume.

Love Potion Number Nine.

A potion it would be.

Lilith danced as she conjured, a reckless glee making her feel decidedly younger than her many years. Her cauldron was on the stove and the strongest love potion of all time was rapidly being assembled.

If Sebastian was anywhere within the galaxy, he'd get this message. When he showed up, Lilith had several hundred years of creative thinking to put to good use.

Lilith felt her desire heat to a fever pitch with every pinch of this and two petals of that cast into the brew. Anticipation hummed beneath her skin and every passing second added to her conviction that this spell would work. The mixture began to boil and its earthy perfume filled the house.

The yearning was enough to make her knees go weak.

Lilith changed softly before the simmering brew.

“Lover true, come to me,

Through the air or across the sea.

Once we loved all night with style

Come back NOW... ”

Lilith chuckled under her breath as she thought of the perfect rhyme.

“I'll make it worth your while.”

She ladled the bubbling green brew into her coffee cup. The last chorus of the song bounced off the kitchen walls. D'Artagnan lashed his tail as he watched from the doorway, his eyes bright. The potion smelled vile.

Lilith held her nose. She closed her eyes. She held her breath.

She took a sip.

* * *

Love Potion #9

is now available in a new digital and print edition.

Win A Book!

You could win a book from Deborah or Claire by entering the monthly contest on her blog. There are two contests—and two prizes—each month.

For the
Reviewer Contest
, you need to post a review of one of her books somewhere online—Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, you name it. It just has to appear on a public site.

For the
Reader Contest
, all you have to do is enter for a chance to win.

To learn more—and enter!—use the links above to see this month's contest posts. You can also visit the
Alive & Knitting blog
, then choose either Reviewer Contest or Reader Contest from the category sidebar.

Good luck!

About the Author

Deborah Cooke sold her first book in 1992, a medieval romance that was published in 1993 under her pseudonym Claire Delacroix. Since then, she has published more than fifty romance novels and numerous short stories. As Claire Delacroix, she has written historical romance, romance with fantasy elements, fantasy with romantic elements and future-set urban fantasy romance. As Deborah Cooke, she has written paranormal romance and paranormal young adult fiction. She also wrote briefly as Claire Cross—the time travel and paranormal romances originally published under that name have been re-released as Claire Delacroix books, while the contemporary romances have been re-published as Deborah Cooke books. She tends to include fantasy and paranormal elements in her stories and likes to write linked series of books. Her stories include a blend of action, adventure, romance, humor and deep emotion.

The Beauty
by Claire Delacroix
, part of her successful Bride Quest series, was her first book to land on the
New York Times
List of Bestselling Books. She has been nominated for numerous awards (as Claire and as Deborah), including
Publisher's Weekly
's Quill Award, and has won some, including the Booksellers' Best Award. In 2009, she was the writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library, the first time the library has hosted a residency focused on the romance genre. In 2012, she won the RWA PRO Mentor of the Year Award for her support of aspiring and new writers. Her blog, Alive & Knitting, includes her weekly column on the changing landscape of publishing called Wild West Thursdays and a post each Friday about her knitting.

She makes her home in Canada with her family, too many books and too much yarn.

Connect Online!

Deborah Cooke's website

Claire Delacroix's website

Deborah's blog Alive & Knitting

Deborah's Facebook Page

Claire's Facebook Page

Deborah's Monthly Newsletter

Book List

Links will take you to the author's website

for excerpts, copy and buy links.

Claire Delacroix titles:

Historical Romances

The Rose Series
:

THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE

THE SORCERESS

ROARKE'S FOLLY

The Moorish Series
:

HONEYED LIES

THE MAGICIAN'S QUEST

The Unicorn Series
:

UNICORN BRIDE

PEARL BEYOND PRICE

UNICORN VENGEANCE

The Sayerne Series
:

MY LADY'S CHAMPION

ENCHANTED

MY LADY'S DESIRE

The Bride Quest
:

THE PRINCESS

THE DAMSEL

THE HEIRESS

The Bride Quest II

(also called The Scottish Bride Quest):

THE COUNTESS

THE BEAUTY

THE TEMPTRESS

The Rogues of Ravensmuir
:

THE ROGUE

THE SCOUNDREL

THE WARRIOR

The Jewels of Kinfairlie
:

THE BEAUTY BRIDE

THE ROSE RED BRIDE

THE SNOW WHITE BRIDE

“The Ballad of Rosamunde”– a short story

The True Love Brides
:

THE RENEGADE'S HEART

THE HIGHLANDER'S CURSE (upcoming)

Time Travel Romances

(Originally published under the name Claire Cross):

ONCE UPON A KISS

THE LAST HIGHLANDER

LOVE POTION #9

THE MOONSTONE

Short Stories and Novellas
:

Amor Vincit Omnia

(digital only)

An Elegy for Melusine

(in TO WEAVE A WEB OF MAGIC)

The Kiss of the Snow Queen

(in THE QUEEN IN WINTER)

The Ballad of Rosamunde

Urban Fantasy Romances:

The Prometheus Project
:

FALLEN

GUARDIAN

REBEL

Deborah Cooke Titles

Paranormal Romances:

Dragonfire

KISS OF FIRE

KISS OF FURY

KISS OF FATE

WINTER KISS

HARMONIA'S KISS

WHISPER KISS

DARKFIRE KISS

FLASHFIRE

EMBER'S KISS

The Dragon Legion Novellas (upcoming)

Paranormal Young Adult:

The Dragon Diaries
:

FLYING BLIND

WINGING IT

BLAZING THE TRAIL

Short Stories
:

The Leaves

(digital only)

Coven of Mercy

Contemporary Romances

The Coxwell Series
:

THIRD TIME LUCKY

DOUBLE TROUBLE

ONE MORE TIME

ALL OR NOTHING

Table of Contents

Cover Copy

Praise for
All Or Nothing

Copyright

Dear Reader

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Author's Note

Excerpt:
Flying Blind

Excerpt:
Love Potion #9

Contests

About the Author

Connect Online

List of Books by the Author

BOOK: All or Nothing
8.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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