Authors: H. P. Mallory
|The Witch Is Back|
|Jolie Wilkins |
|H. P. Mallory|
|Bantam Books (2012)|
The witching hour has arrived in bestselling author H. P. Mallory’s captivating and sexy new novel, starring the most dazzling denizen of the undead, Jolie Wilkins.
Funny and feisty witch Jolie Wilkins is back—or rather, she’s back to her humble beginnings. Propelled into the past to her old Los Angeles fortune-telling shop, Jolie has no idea she possesses extraordinary powers, and she definitely doesn’t remember becoming Queen of the Underworld. But at least she has two incredibly sexy men vying for her affection: Rand Balfour, who looks very familiar, though Jolie can’t place his gorgeous face, and Sinjin Sinclair, who is tall, dark, and perfect . . . except for the fangs.
Yet despite her steamy love life, Jolie can’t shake the sense that something is not quite right—like she’s stuck in a déjà vu gone terribly awry. As both men race against time—and each other—to win Jolie’s heart, the fate of the Underworld hangs in the balance. And Jolie’s decision can either restore order or create an absolute, drop-dead disaster.
From the Paperback edition.
H. P. Mallory
is the author of the Jolie Wilkins series as well as the Dulcie O’Neil series. She began her writing career as a self-published author and after reaching a tremendous amount of success, decided to become a traditionally published author and hasn’t looked back since.
H. P. lives in Southern California with her husband and son, where she is at work on her next book.
Mallory / THE WITCH IS BACK
When the phone rang at ten minutes to seven, I wasn’t surprised. Nope, I figured that Sinjin Sinclair, the most handsome and charming man who had ever stepped into my life, had probably just come to his senses and realized he didn’t want to take me out for dinner after all. Maybe he’d suffered from a slight brain freeze the night before when he’d been awaiting roadside assistance at my tarot-card-reading shop, and that was why he’d asked me out.
So when he phoned to say he was lost, I was surprised—not so much that his navigational skills were lacking but that he actually wanted to go through with this. Okay, I know what you’re thinking—that I must look like a troll, or something equally heinous . . . Well, I’m not a troll by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m also not the girl who stands out in a crowd. I’m more the girl next door—or at least I live down the street from the girl next door.
Okay, I’m probably being a little too hard on myself because I have been told that I’m attractive and I know I’m smart and all that stuff, but I’m still nowhere near Sinjin Sinclair’s league.
But back to the phone call. After Sinjin said he would be at my door shortly, I hung up and then stood in the center of my living room for a few minutes like a space cadet, gazing at the wall until I’m sure I looked like a complete and total moron.
But while it might have appeared that nothing much was going on in that gray matter between my ears, appearances can be deceiving. Thoughts ramrodded my brain, slamming into one another as new ones were born . . . What am I doing? What am I thinking? What do I possibly have to talk about with a man as cultured and refined as Sinjin Sinclair? Moreover, how am I going to eat in front of him? What if I choke on an ice cube? Or I sneeze after taking a mouthful of salad and spray carrot chunks all over his expensive clothes?
Jolie Wilkins, calm down, I finally said to myself, closing my eyes and taking a deep breath. You are going to go on this date because if you don’t, you’re never going to forgive yourself. And, furthermore, Christa will most definitely murder you.
I inhaled another deep breath and forced myself out of my self-inflicted brain coma, starting toward the mirror as I took stock of myself for the umpteenth time in the last hour. Christa, my best friend and self-proclaimed fashion advisor, had left twenty minutes ago after chastising me about my current getup. Yes, she’d tried to force me into what amounted to shrink-wrapping, complete with stiletto heels that were so narrow, they could double as weapons. Then, after that attempt had failed, she’d tried to get me to go with a flame-red corset dress that was so tight, I couldn’t walk—and breath- ing was out of the question. So yes, I’d defeated the raunchy-clothing demon but I couldn’t say I felt very good about my victory.
I sighed as I took in my shoulder-length blond hair and the fact that the curl Christa had wrestled into it only minutes before was already gone. It could be described as “limp” at best. My makeup was nice, though—Christa had managed to talk me into a smoky eye, which accented my baby blues, and she’d also covered the freckles that sprinkled the bridge of my nose while playing up my cheekbones with a shimmery apricot blush. She’d lined my decently plump lips in a light brown and filled them with bubble-gum-pink lipstick, finishing them with a pink gloss called “Baby Doll.”
There was a knock on my front door, and I felt my heart lurch into my throat. I took another deep breath and glanced at my reflection in the mirror again, trying not to focus on the fact that I was anything but sexy in a black amorphous skirt that ended just below my knees, black tights, and two-inch heels. Even though my breasts are decently large, you couldn’t really tell in my gray turtleneck and black peacoat.
Maybe I should have listened to Christa . . .
Another quick knock on the door signaled the fact that I was dawdling. I pulled myself away from my reflection and, wrapping my hand around the doorknob, exhaled and opened it, pasting a smile on my face.
“Hello,” I said, hoping my voice sounded level and even-keeled, because the sight of Sinjin standing there just about undid me. A tornado was rampaging through me, tearing at my guts and wreaking havoc with my nervous system.
“Good evening,” the deity before me spoke in his refined, baritone English accent. His eyes traveled from my eyes to my bust to my legs and back up again as a serpentine smile spread across his sumptuous lips.
“Um,” I managed, meaning to add a How are you? to the end of it, but somehow the words never emerged.
Sinjin arched a black brow and chuckled as I debated slamming the door shut and hiding out in my room for the next, oh, two years, at least.
“You look quite lovely,” he said, with that devilish smile as he pulled his arm forward and offered me a bouquet of red roses. “These pale in comparison.”
My hand was shaking and my brain was on vacation as I reached for the roses, but somehow I did manage to smile and say, “Thank you, they are really beautiful.”
The beauty of the roses didn’t even compute, though— my overwhelmed mind was still reeling from the presence of this man. Man didn’t even do him justice; he seemed so much more than that—either heaven-sent or hell’s emissary.
He was wearing black, just as he had been the night before. His black slacks weren’t fitted, but neither were they loose—in fact, they seemed tailored to his incredibly long legs. And his black sweater perfectly showcased his broad shoulders and narrow waist. Even though his body and intimidating height would have been worth writing home about, it was his face that was so completely alluring.
Sinjin’s eyes should have been the eighth wonder of the world. They were the most peculiar color—an incredibly light blue, most similar to the blue-green icebergs you might find in Alaska or the Alpine waters of Germany. They almost seemed to glow. His skin was flawless, neither too pale nor too tan, without the kiss of a freckle or mole.
His hair was midnight black, so dark that it almost appeared blue. Tonight it looked longer than I remembered. The ends curled up over his collar, which was strange considering I’d only met him the day before and I could have sworn he had short hair. But the strangest thing about this enigmatic man was that I couldn’t see his aura . . .
I’ve been able to see people’s auras for as long as I can remember. An aura is best described as a halo-type thing that surrounds someone—it billows out of them in a foggy sort of haze. If someone is healthy, his or her aura is usually pink or violet. If someone is unwell in some way, yellow or orange predominates. I had never before met anyone who didn’t have an aura at all or whose aura I couldn’t see. And what surprised me even more was the fact that I hadn’t noticed his missing aura the first time I’d seen him . . . Of course I had been pretty overwhelmed by his mere presence—and that dazed feeling didn’t seem like it was going to go away anytime soon.
“May I escort you?” he asked as he gave me another winning smile and offered me his arm.
I gulped as I tentatively wrapped my hand around his arm, trying not to notice the fact that he was really . . . built. Good God . . .
“Thanks,” I said in a small voice as I allowed him to lead me outside.
“Are you forgetting something?” Sinjin asked as he glanced down at me.
“Um,” I started and dropped my attention to my feet, attempting to take stock of myself.
Shoes are on, purse is over my shoulder, nerves are present and accounted for . . . the only thing I’d forgotten was my confidence, which was currently hiding beneath my bed.
Sinjin stopped walking and turned around. I followed suit and noticed that the door to my modest little house was still open—gaping wide as though it was as shocked as he was that I’d forgotten to shut it.
“Oh my God.” I felt my cheeks color with embarrassment. It had to be pretty obvious I’d completely forgotten how to function in his presence. I separated myself from him and hurried back up my walkway, shaking my head at my inattention. Anxiety drumming through me, I closed and locked the door behind me.
“Shall we try this again?”
I jumped, shocked that he was suddenly right beside me. I shook the feeling off, figuring that he must have been trailing me all along. But still, there was something . . . uncanny about it, something that set off my “Spidey” senses. I blamed it on my already overwhelmed nerves.
“Yes,” I said with an anxious laugh as he offered his arm again and I, again, took it. This time we made it to the curb, where a black car awaited us. So angular it almost looked like a spaceship, it was the same vehicle he’d been driving the night before when he’d gotten a flat tire and had asked to use my phone. He opened the door for me and I gave him a smile of thanks as I seated myself, glancing over at the steering wheel where I recognized the emblem of a Ferrari.
A Ferrari . . . seriously?
I had to pinch myself. This just wasn’t real—it couldn’t be real! I mean, my life was composed of TV dinners and reruns of The Office. My only social outlet, really, was Christa. Men like Sinjin Sinclair with...
“Mallory’s writing is fun, and her protagonist is smart, giving this book an edge. The author does a great job of keeping the pace until the final pages, where twists are turned and questions answered. Keep your eye out for more in this entertaining series.”
—RT Book Reviews
“Mallory’s strong-willed, sharp-tongued, and extremely fallible heroine; an unusual take on necromancy; and a surprising ending make this an enjoyable read.”
“I was immediately sucked into the story from the very first page.… A perfect novel to start with if you haven’t read the rest of the series because the author gets you caught up to date on what has happened so far.”
—Night Owl Romance
“Light, fun, and interesting as well as drama filled and suspenseful … The ending of this fabulous book will leave you wanting more and I am so excited I found a new author to look out for! Go grab this series today and be prepared to laugh your butt off.”
“H. P. Mallory is amazingly gifted.… All of her characters, both primary and secondary, are memorable, and the story is humorous and engaging. It held my attention from page one.”
“This book in three words: Thrilling, Witty, Amazing! Now that I gave you 3 words to describe this book, let me give you a few more. This book is an emotional roller coaster ride that will take you through twists, turns, action, romance, danger and mystery. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, H. P. Mallory hits us with an ending that we never saw coming! UNPUTDOWNABLE.”