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Authors: N. J. Walters

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal

Love in Flames

BOOK: Love in Flames
6.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Table of Contents

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Epilogue

About the Author

Look for these titles by N.J. Walters

Also Available from Samhain Publishing, Ltd.

Copyright Page

Dedication

To everyone who believes in the power of love.

Chapter One

There was something special in the air tonight.

That thought popped into Esther Roberts’s head as she strode down the sidewalk toward her friend’s house. The air was nippy, but she enjoyed its crisp, fresh scent. Sucking in a deep breath, she allowed it to fill her lungs.

Leaves skittered across the sidewalk, swirling in the air before falling to the ground. October in Burnt Cove was quite lovely and Esther was glad that she’d moved here to take the job as dispatcher for the Burnt Cove Police Department.

She hitched her purse higher on her shoulder and kept a tight grip on the bottle of wine she was carrying as she hurried along. She didn’t want to be late for dinner with her two best friends, Rhiannon Sparks and Maggie O’Neill.

The three women had met at Rhiannon’s shop, A Touch of Magick. Esther loved to browse the books and gifts that her friend stocked in her store. And the chocolate treats she sold weren’t too shabby either. Esther laughed, admitting that the Belgian dark chocolate was as big a draw as the books.

Maggie was just getting out of her car as Esther reached Rhiannon’s cozy home. “Hi.”

Maggie smiled and waved before reaching back into her car and lifting out a white bakery box. She used her hip to shut the car door and the two of them walked up the pathway together.

“Is that what I think it is?” Esther narrowed her eyes, trying to see inside the container.

Maggie nodded. “Cheesecake, fresh from Clancy’s Bakery.”

Esther barely suppressed her moan of pleasure. She adored cheesecake, but especially Clancy’s cheesecake. The man was a genius in the kitchen.

Trying her best to ignore the cheesecake whispering her name, she made her way up the walkway. Rhiannon had several pumpkins on her front porch along with some stacks of hay, creating a festive harvest display for Halloween, which was only a little more than a week away. As she knocked, Esther admired the decorative corn tied with a ribbon that adorned the front door.

The door opened almost immediately and Rhiannon smiled, ushering them both inside. Esther hugged her friend, squashing the package between them. “I brought a bottle of white wine to go with supper. I didn’t know what you were cooking, but I figured I couldn’t go wrong with this.” She stepped back and handed Rhiannon the bag before slipping off her coat and hanging it on a hook by the door. She watched her friends and smiled as they greeted one another.

Rhiannon, with her short black hair, pointy chin, amazing violet-blue eyes and slender build, reminded her of a fairy. Her friend seemed to have an endless supply of energy and enthusiasm for life, which was infectious.

Maggie was a tall, curvy redhead who rarely smiled. Life hadn’t been easy on her friend the past few years and she was still dealing with a lot of issues.

Both her friends were very exotic looking. She, on the other hand, was average in height, had blue eyes and shoulder-length brown hair. The only thing that wasn’t average was her breast size and that was a tad below normal.

Sighing, she followed the women into the kitchen. The delicious scents filling the air made her stomach grumble. They took turns hosting dinners at their homes, but she had to admit that neither she nor Maggie cooked Italian food quite as well as Rhiannon did.

“Hello, Abigail.” Esther went straight to the cat that was curled up on the low windowsill in the dining area, rubbing her soft, gray head. Abigail purred, taking the greeting as her due.

“I swear that cat is more human than animal,” Maggie remarked as she waited her turn to pet Abigail.

Rhiannon laughed. “She’s got all of us wrapped around her dainty little paw.” The other women laughed, but none of them disagreed. Rhiannon popped the cheesecake in the refrigerator before opening the bottle of wine and pouring three glasses. Esther gave Abigail one final scratch under the chin and wandered over to the counter to pick up a wineglass. “To us.” Rhiannon toasted as she held up her glass.

“To us,” Esther echoed back. Maggie picked up her glass and joined in the toast.

“So, what’s new?” Rhiannon asked.

Esther hesitated slightly. Rhiannon well-honed instincts zoomed right in on her. “What?”

“Ryan asked me out again.” Ryan was Ryan Jamieson, a new firefighter recently hired by the Burnt Cove Fire Department.

“And you said no again.” Rhiannon paused and waited. Her friends were well-aware of her policy never to date firefighters.

“I said no. Again.” She took a sip of her wine and plunked it down on the counter. “I won’t go through what my mother did.” Her father had been a firefighter and he’d died in the line of duty. Her brothers were firefighters as well. She was proud of them and what they did, but she also knew firsthand the toll the job took on family and loved ones. That was not what she wanted in her own life.

“Men are nothing but trouble.” Esther turned to Maggie, not surprised by the bitterness in her tone. Maggie shrugged and rubbed her finger over the rim of her glass. “Neither one of you found your fiancé cheating on you with a supposed friend.”

Maggie had experienced a lot of loss in the past year. Not only had she lost her parents in a car accident and her grandmother to old age, but Esther knew that the parting with her ex-boyfriend hadn’t been pleasant either.

Rhiannon reached out and hugged Maggie. “I know it hasn’t been an easy time for you, but I’m selfish enough to be glad that at least it brought you here. I’d never have met you otherwise and you’re one of my best friends.”

Tears welled in Esther’s eyes and she sniffed. “Stop it you two. We’re supposed to be eating, drinking and enjoying ourselves, not wallowing or getting maudlin.”

Maggie chuckled and raised her glass. “You’re absolutely right. No more bad thoughts.”

That set the tone for the rest of the evening as the women dug into the food, eating, talking and laughing. Esther savored each mouthful of the incredibly spicy, cheesy lasagna that Rhiannon had prepared, along with several slices of crusty garlic bread and more of the crisp white wine.

For dessert, they each devoured a huge slice of the New York style cheesecake that Maggie had brought. She’d have to spend an extra hour or two on the treadmill to work off this meal, but it was so worth it.

Abigail sat on the windowsill as they ate, overseeing the proceedings, but took herself off to another room when they started laughing and generally getting loud.

“What we need is to get laid.” Rhiannon’s pronouncement stunned Esther. Her friend wasn’t the promiscuous type, none of them were, but they were all healthy women with a normal sex drive.

As if her friend’s words had reminded her body of that fact, it stirred to life. Her nipples tightened and her sex began to throb. The image of a naked man with wide shoulders and abs of steel popped into her head. His hands would be slightly rough. A working man’s hands. She could almost feel the pads of his fingers skimming over her heated body, drawing moans of pleasure from her as he went.

In her fantasies, the man had no face because he didn’t exist except in her imagination. Lately though, she’d caught glimpses of her fantasy man and he looked a lot like Ryan Jamieson. Too much, in fact. She’d obviously been alone for way too long.

Esther squirmed in her seat, trying to ignore the fact that she was creaming her panties. “How much wine have you had?”

She set her own glass of wine aside as she tried to remember the last time she’d had sex. It had been long before she’d moved to Burnt Cove. She winced when she realized it had been well over two years. Where the heck had the time gone?

Rhiannon seemed to think about her question, squinting at the now empty bottle. “Enough, but not too much.”

“You’re crazy.” Maggie raised her glass in salute before sipping.

“No.” Rhiannon shook her head. “Esther needs some guy to get her mind off Ryan. You need to get your mind off your ex-fiancé.”

“What about you?” she asked her friend.

“Me?” Rhiannon laughed. “I just need to get laid.” That set the three of them off into peals of laughter. Esther couldn’t believe her business-minded friend was saying such things. As far as she knew, Rhiannon hadn’t dated since she’d moved here.

“No, really,” Rhiannon continued when she finally caught her breath. “What we all need is one or two nights of hot, sweaty, grinding sex. It’s good for you.” She nodded decisively. “It’s a medical fact.”

Esther shook her head, marveling at Rhiannon’s thought process. Only she could convince herself that it was the right thing to do for medical reasons. Although, perhaps her friend had a point. All these repressed feelings couldn’t be good for a body. A vibrator was fine, to a point, but nothing replaced hot, sweaty sex. She began to perspire just thinking about it.

“It’s fine in theory,” Maggie began. “But it’s not that easy to find a good man that you’d want to do—” she motioned with her hand, “—that with.”

“Sex, Maggie. Sex.” Rhiannon stood and began to clear the dishes from the table. “And there are ways to attract what you want.”

“What? We should cast a spell or something?” Esther teased her friend.

Rhiannon rinsed the dishes and stared piling them in the dishwasher. “Why not?”

“Come on,” Maggie stared at her. “You don’t really believe that works, do you?”

Rhiannon froze, her hands poised in midair. Taking a deep breath, she faced them both. “I do believe. I’m a witch.”

“Of course you are.” Esther nodded. “It was obvious the first time we met.” Rhiannon looked fey and obviously had a different way of viewing the world.

Rhiannon dragged her fingers through her short, black hair as she made her way back to the table. “No, I’m not Wiccan.” All humor fled as she raised her arms above her. The air began to stir and a breeze began to blow around them. “I’m really a witch.”

Esther blinked and Maggie gasped as the candles flickered out, plunging them into darkness. Esther held her breath as she waited in the dark, wondering what would happen next. She could hear Rhiannon mumbling and then the overhead light came on. She blinked, staring at her friend.

“How did you do that?” Maggie asked.

“I’m a witch. Not a very good one,” Rhiannon added honestly. “But I come from a very long line of them.” She chewed on her bottom lip, her agitation plain. “Say something,” she pleaded.

Esther was still trying to figure out exactly what she’d seen and felt. She wasn’t sure what she believed, but something had sure as heck just happened. “So you can really do stuff. Like in
Bewitched
?”

Rhiannon wrinkled her nose. “Not quite like the television program. That’s fiction. But my family does have skills.”

Esther nodded slowly, trying to assimilate it all. Whether she believed or not was irrelevant. Rhiannon believed she was a witch and that was all that mattered. She’d known the other woman for almost a year now and really liked her. In spite of her fey appearance, Rhiannon was incredibly grounded and practical. Beyond that, Esther trusted her. If her friend said she was a witch, then she was a witch. She had no idea just what that entailed, but it didn’t change how she felt about her. “Okay.”

“Okay?” Instead of reassuring her friend, her answer had only seemed to upset Rhiannon further.

“Yes, okay.” Esther stood and began to finish clearing the table, needing to do something to work off the adrenaline surging through her body. She was still a bit freaked out by the whole wind-blowing-out-the-candles thing. “My family isn’t exactly without its oddities.”

She scraped a plate, letting the debris fall into the garbage before setting it down on the counter. Opening her mouth, secrets of her own came spilling out before she could stop herself. “There’s a legend in my family of a great love that was cut short by a fire that killed one of them. It’s said that they will be reincarnated at some point in the future and find one another.”

“That’s so sad,” Maggie sighed.

“It is.” Esther picked up the plate and rinsed it with brisk motions. “There’s even a journal that has been handed down through the women in the family for generations. It was started by my however-many-greats grandmother.”

“That’s incredible.” Rhiannon looked as if she wanted to say something else, but refrained. Esther was glad. She had no idea why she was telling them this. It wasn’t as if she believed in the legend. Not really. And she certainly didn’t want to talk about it.

BOOK: Love in Flames
6.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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