Authors: Kelliea Ashley
Tags: #Witches and Guardians
Mending The Veil, Book 1
R. Ann Siracusa
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or
persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Enemy Mine: Mending The Veil, Book 1
Copyright © 2013 Kelliea Ashley
Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde
Editor: Sally Mander
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in reviews.
I’d like to dedicate this book to my pharmacy family. Patrick Duprey, Marc Mahay, and Christy Burk—my favorite pharmacists. Patti Bouchey, Valene King, Tiffany Carr, and Pat Iannacone—my fellow worker bees. They all inspire and support me in this endeavor to live out my dream. Without all of them, Theophyline would never have found her voice.
Montana, June 20, 1978
The heat of the midsummer’s night was oppressive and suffocating. Travis Holt swore as he stumbled over a fallen log, barely catching his balance before coming to a complete stop. Before him was a small clearing lit by the full moon shining through the tall trees. He wiped at the sweat dripping into his eyes as he tried to assess the small cabin sitting smack in the middle of the clearing. It was little more than a shack, but there was a welcome light burning in the window, beckoning him to move toward it.
Travis knew he had found that which he sought. A shiver of dread mixed with the excitement of finally coming face to face with his assignment, his enemy. Hardening his resolve with a forced straightening of his spine, Travis’s hand moved instinctively to cover the rock lying beneath his wet T-shirt. He felt a pulse of reassuring power, a protection and promise of support from his ancestors he never went anywhere without.
“Time to see what this old hag can do for you, Travis.” Taking a reassuring breath, he forced his body to move toward the little cabin. Movement from the trees alerted him that he wasn’t alone in the woods. He’d heard and felt them following him, the demons obviously watching and waiting for him to give them an opening. A wolf howled close by, too close for comfort, and reaffirming his belief that he was being hunted. He risked a look behind him as he moved his feet faster. He broke into a full-out run as something big crashed through the woods to his left.
Light spread over him and the dark clearing, cutting through the moonlight as the cabin’s door was abruptly swung open. Travis glanced back as he stumbled to a halt mere feet from the cabin and the dark figure eerily back-lit by the bright room. All he could do was blink in the light, trying hard to examine the dark figure blocking the doorway. His breath quickened as the figure moved, and he caught the glint of metal in the moonlight. The click of a round being cocked into the chamber of the shotgun rang out in the deafening silence.
“Whoa...easy.” Travis raised both his arms, palms out in the universal sign of surrender. “I’m not here to do harm.” He saw the small move of a head tilting at his words. When the dark one kept silent, he cleared his throat to go on. “My name is Travis Holt. I’m from Denver. I was going to a friend’s home for the weekend when my car died. I was trying to find a house with a phone, but I got turned around in the forest. Would you have a phone I could use?”
“No.” The voice was sharp and low. He wondered for a second if he had stumbled onto the wrong cabin. Then the shotgun lowered. “Come in.”
Said the spider to the fly...
Travis thought as he slowly dropped his arms to move closer to the door. The figure stepped back, letting the light of the room flow over a clearly feminine form dressed in a floor length green skirt and a white peasant top. His breath caught in his dry throat as he got his first clear look at his enemy’s face.
Her skin glowed clear and youthful in the flickering candlelight as it shone over her high cheekbones and elegant nose. Her pursed lips were full and lush. They were the color of berries; ripe and sweet, tempting him to taste of them. He’d been warned that to look into his enemies’ eyes was to give up a piece of his soul. He felt how true that statement was when he stared down into green eyes that sparkled with hidden knowledge. Power radiated off the woman in waves of heat that made his blood chill in his veins with the shock of being in her presence. She looked cool and in control. The only sign that the heat was affecting her was the damp tendrils of brown hair that escaped the loose bun on the back of her head to curl against a stubborn jaw line.
She held his rude stare. The swift lift of one dark eyebrow defined a confidence that should have made him run in fear and intimidation, but he held his ground. Then she turned, leaving the door open behind her as she distinctively gave him her back to move farther into the house. He took one last look out into the clearing and the trees, scanning the shadows and finding what he was looking for. Several sets of eyes glowed blue from the darkness and vanished in the next instant. Travis was no fool. He knew he was about to cross the threshold into, not only a powerful Witch’s home, but also into the role he’d chosen for himself the night long ago when his parents were wiped out by her kind. Twisted his father’s amethyst ring around his finger, he took a calming breath. This path of revenge and retribution would not be waylaid by a beautiful face and a lush body.
Knowing he might not make it out of her cabin alive, he was still determined to take her down with him. Her attractive visage and sexy body didn’t surprise him. Witches used magic to change their forms as they chose. Beneath her curvy figure and youthful face was a blackened soul, dark and dangerous with an evil intent. Smothering his body’s reaction to a hot woman and his apprehension of what she would probably do to him once she realized what he was, he stepped through the doorway, jumping as the door slammed shut behind him.
Rissa Jennings was beyond pissed! She’d come to her families’ cabin in the mountains of Colorado to spend the summer solstice alone. She didn’t want company; not her family, not the members of her coven, and most especially not a man who was obviously a Guardian of the Light. For several decades the Guardians had been infiltrating the North American Covens. They wiped out entire families, raped the women, and tortured innocent children on their evil quest to wipe out her race. Now, she had invited one into her home.
What was wrong with her?
Rissa carefully stood the shotgun against the wall next to her small table and turned as the door slammed shut behind him. He looked warily at her.
The man should be frightened of her. She didn’t need to use the man-made weapon to rid herself and the world of his evil.
The tall man stood still beneath her questing eyes, telling her he had some courage to go with his convictions. Misplaced as they were. They’d sent her a unique species of male, at least. He was beyond handsome, with shoulder-length hair popular for the seventies. It had glowed blue in the moonlight as she held him at gun point. She bet many women couldn’t wait to thrust their fingers in those silky locks, but she wasn’t one of them. She didn’t like long hair, much to her mother’s dismay as every male in their coven wore waist-length hair.
No, the only features he possessed that interested her were his dark brown eyes. They were like staring into endless pools of chocolate, thick and sweet. Chocolate, her one true weakness; a habit she needed to kick, and quickly. His body was solid beneath a light T-shirt and cut-off jeans. The worn sneakers on his feet were dirty and scuffed. This was a Guardian who was clearly on a mission to gain her trust and use her to bring her coven, her family down. She couldn’t allow him to succeed, but she could play with him for a bit before she kicked his ass and sent him screaming through the forest.
“You must be hungry. I have vegetable soup already prepared.” She didn’t dare mention that she made triple the amount needed. She’d seen his form walking into her clearing in a vision that morning while she was gathering wood. If her “gift” had been a little more accurate, she would have known he was a Guardian and not a male Witch. Frustration that she couldn’t even trust her premonitions made her voice coldly accusing. “All I have to do is heat it up.”
“I wouldn’t want to put you to any trouble, ma’am.”
“I’m not a ‘ma’am.’ As the soup is already cooked, there is no trouble.”
“Thank you, then. I was a little worried that I might be wandering around in circles out there for the rest of the night.” His grin was charming, but she knew his purpose in coming to her forest. And it wasn’t for innocent reasons.
“No doubt. These woods are not to be taken lightly, Mr. Holt. They are thick with razor-sharp thorn apples, poisonous plants that will make you wish you stayed in the safety of your own home, and animals that would sooner attack you if you stumble into their dens.”
“Good thing I found you then.” His silky voice caressed her like a gentle hand, sending shivers of pure pleasure over her skin and curling her toes against the hard surface of the wooden floorboards. Rissa took a deep breath, anger at his ability to turn her into a simpering female slicing through the lust to make her curl her fingers into fists.
“Is it?” She planted her fists on her hips and stared at him. “You have much to learn, Mr. Holt. It is the most harmless looking and attractive predator who sets her prey at ease before she strikes.” Tilting her head, Rissa watched a flicker of unease dance across his handsome face.
“Of course, you’re right, ma’am. Although, the same can be said for the prey who tempts his attacker in order to lure her in. It is a dangerous game that must be played out to the finish. Keeps one on his toes and adds some spice to life wouldn’t you say?”
“First off, again, I am no ma’am. Secondly, life is spicy enough without playing the fool. You should never have come here.” As she watched, his brows dipped and his lips thinned with a sudden aggression that instantly disappeared.
“I’m sorry to have bothered you. If you wouldn’t mind giving me directions back to the main road, I’ll—”
“No, I wasn’t kidding when I warned you about the animals.”
“The way I smell...” He tilted his dark head and sniffed himself with a grimace. “I don’t think I have to worry about getting attacked.” His sensuous lips pulled up in a boyish grin that had her taking a step back.
Rissa had the distinct feeling that she should open the door and kick him in the direction of the road, but as the thought came to her, she felt a pulse of hot air brush against her neck. The hairs there rose with the energy of magic. A shiver swept through her as she analyzed the magical intentions. Something... someone wanted her to keep him there for the night. She didn’t understand it, but tried never to second guess the magic ones. She slowly eyed his sweat-soaked shirt with a wrinkled nose.
“You do reek, which would attract the beasts in the forest. You’re very lucky they didn’t attack you; if not to eat you, then to challenge you for territory. You must stay and eat.”
“Sorry, I don’t wish to offend you. If you could point me in the direction of your washroom, I’ll clean up before we eat.”
“This cabin doesn’t contain a washroom, I’m afraid. It was built to blend into the forest, not congest it with modern contraptions. You will have to bathe in the river. At least it is a humid night and our path will be lit by the full moon. Wait here. I will get you towels and soap.”
Rissa felt his eyes on her back as she moved to the door of the only bedroom. Turning back she smiled at him, causing a look of alarm to darken his tense features. “Don’t go anywhere,
I’ll be right back.” She was tempted to start cackling like a hag, but thought that might be going over the top just a little. She took her time collecting a towel and her soaps before she cautiously went back out into the main room. He was standing by the table, staring at the oil lamp as if deep in thought. His gaze was wary as he turned his head to look at her.
“I don’t want to put you out, Miss. I was just looking for directions to the nearest road back to civilization.” The boyish grin was meant to put her at ease, instead what it did was make her more determined to torture him before she turned on him.