>>>Work-in-Progress: Luca Chapter 07

Work-in-Progress: Luca Chapter 07

Luca Working Preview 07

Chapter 07 sneak preview of my current work-in-progress:
Luca – Book 1 of the Demon Born Series (paranormal romance).
Pre-edit version. May change before publication.

Here’s some witchy fun for you. It’s a beautiful rose and sandalwood love spell by Tess Whitehurst, and it’s excerpted from her book, ‘The Magic of Trees’. You can check it out on her website.

So for those of you eager to attract a soulmate, try this little spell:

On a Friday when the moon is waxing or full, wake up before sunrise and go outside. As the sun rises, anoint your heart, belly, third eye, and both palms with a mixture of rose absolute and sandalwood essential oil in a little bit of sweet almond oil. (Be careful if you have sensitive skin!) Stand facing east with your arms at your sides and your palms open to the sun. Relax as the sun continues to rise, and say:

I now draw beautiful love into my life.
And it nourishes my heart, mind, body, and spirit in every way.
Love, come to me now.
Love, come to me now.
Love, come to me now.
Thank you.

Don’t forget to let me know if you snag your Prince Charming. And in the meantime, read about Belle’s reluctant search for her soulmate in the next chapter of ‘Luca’ 🙂

LUCA 07

Fairfall House hadn’t seen visitors in years, so the grand reception room downstairs had a slight sheen of disuse about it. The marble floor lacked polish. A stray cobweb or two dangled from the crystal-covered gothic chandelier dominating the ceiling. And the gilded edges of the furniture were dull. But none of this seemed to faze the ancient woman sitting bolt upright in one of the gold and red armchairs. Both her hands rested atop her twisted walking stick. Her grey hair was swept back beneath a red embroidered scarf. And her hook-nosed face was turned to the tall window beside her.

Luca slowed his steps as he entered. The Zikani were a little too unpredictable for his liking. They were travellers by choice and usually kept to themselves. A few of the younger ones though were also opportunistic thieves by choice. But the real trouble lay in the hands of some of their elders. Slight the wrong one, and he or she might well decide you looked better as a toad, and hey presto, you’d be croaking at flies in a slimy marsh for the rest of your life. Luckily the daemon half of him was powerful enough to mitigate any such magic—he’d only spend a day or two in the marsh. But a healthy dose of self-preservation seemed to have struck Hanson, and he was trailing at least three steps behind Luca.

The elder turned her dark beady eyes to Luca as he approached and looked him up and down. “Lycan. Young too. Good blood,” she approved in a voice that rasped like a heavy smoker’s.

It was like being a farm animal appraised at an animal auction. The only thing left was for her to open his mouth and check the health of his teeth. Luca suppressed an irritated growl.

“Sit.” The elder pointed the tip of her walking stick at the armchair opposite her.

And holding tight to his polite upbringing, Luca folded his tall muscular frame into the seat.

Hanson shuffled a little closer, his need to back up his alpha seemingly overcoming his misgivings.

“This place is cursed!” The elder’s fierce gaze never left Luca. “Evil!” She whipped her head to the side and hawked a gob of spit smack into the middle of a gold-decorated tile.

Hanson winced beside him.

The elder glared at Luca again. “All the goddess’s power wouldn’t have made me step foot in here. But I owe you a debt of gratitude.”

Luca managed a small smile. “Consider it paid.”

“But it isn’t. A life for a life, or two for the ones you spared.” She gripped the top of her walking stick and leaning forward, regarded him in silence for a moment. “Lycan…” she mused. “In one hundred and fifty years, I have not seen a lycan. Shame you only have a few days left.”

“That would be my problem,” Luca said. “Unless there’s something you can do about it.”

The elder gave a cackling laugh. “Your heart is already stone. There is nothing I can do to bring it back to life. But… I can tell you who can.”

His every sense zinged alert. “Tell me,” he said quietly.

“The creature that holds you in her grip demands blood. Your blood for now. But quench her bloodlust with the beating heart of another, and you’ll be free.”

“Whose heart?”

“Your soulmate’s heart.”

Luca growled low. “I have no soulmate.”

“If that were true, we wouldn’t be talking about this,” the elder said. “But luckily for you, she exists in the human world. Make her heart beat only for you. Make her give it to you willingly. And then sacrifice her heart and escape your fate.”

“Sacrifice? You mean kill her?”

“She must die if you wish to live.” The elder regarded him. “Sacrifice her loving heart beneath the full moon of Samhain, and you’ll break the curse forever.”

Luca stared at her. He had a soulmate, a woman born to be his, to love him, and to bear his children. Cursed as he was, he’d never dared hope for it. But now his mate was being dangled like a key to his prison, and he had to use it. “But… kill?”

“A life for a life,” the elder said. “Her life for yours. For your werewolves’ lives too. This curse won’t spare them either. Save yourself and save them.”

He frowned. “I’m the only one the curse has touched.”

“No, lycan. Your wolves are touched too. They are bonded to you through their hearts’ love and loyalty. And after you, they will weaken and die. Every single one.”

Hell! Luca rubbed his hand across his face. He’d thought his death would free his pack, not drag them into the dark worlds with him. He glanced at Hanson who was standing grim and resolute beside him, looking ready to face any death. And like Hanson, all his wolves would die for him.

But it was his duty to make sure they didn’t.

And jaw set, he turned to the elder. “I need to get her here in time. But I’m tied to Fairfall, and no human from the outside can find it.”

“Then help her find you.” She reached into the folds of her baggy brown dress and pulled out a round black stone that had a large hole in its centre.

“A hag stone,” Hanson murmured.

The elder held the stone out on the flat of her palm, focused on it for a moment, then extended her bony hand to Luca. “Touch it.”

“Sir, perhaps…” Hanson faltered.

Luca studied the shiny black stone lying on her wizened palm. Well, he’d set the plan in motion, so now it was time to see it through. And reaching out, he laid his fingers on the stone’s smooth surface.

It burned like fire beneath his fingertips, and he snatched back his hand.

But the elder seemed entirely unconcerned with the heat. She muttered a few cryptic words and blew across the stone. The hag stone glowed and turned a slow circle on her palm. Then floating an inch into the air, it spun faster, round and round, until it was whirling like a dervish with its shiny black brightening to crimson red. Suddenly, an intense red light pulsed from its sides and shot out in all directions like a blazing tidal wave.

Luca blinked as the light passed through him and Hanson and then streaked towards the ends of the room. When it touched the white walls, it disappeared. The room returned to normal, and Luca looked back at the elder.

The hag stone was black again and peaceful in her hand. With a satisfied smile, she pocketed it. “That will bring her.”

* * *

Belle unhooked the red polka-dotted apron from behind the kitchen door and put it on. Curiosity urged her to check out what Aunt Dee and Lilah were scrying for in the dining room next door. But she didn’t want them to think she was desperate to know.

Some cooking would help put her mind at ease. What she needed was music, fresh ingredients from the fridge, and a warm kitchen all to herself—her perfect recipe to unwind and forget about crazy plants and unwanted soulmates. She switched on the digital radio, and humming and swaying to a peppy jazz tune, went to root through the fridge for veggies that could go into a hot chicken broth.

But she was making her way back to the kitchen worktop with her collection when she stopped in her tracks. The potted crocus Aunt Dee kept on the windowsill was swaying to the music with her.

Belle stared at it, tempted to take it and deposit it in the dining room with Aunt Dee and Lilah. After today’s commotion in Sweet Blooms, the last thing she needed was an excited plant in her vicinity. But the crocus merrily fluttered along, whipping its delicate purple petals from side to side in jazzy ecstasy. And despite herself, Belle smiled.

It was such a funny-looking little thing. And besides, if she went into the dining room with it, Aunt Dee would think she was snooping, and Belle wasn’t about to drop to that level. And humming again, she turned away from the plant and busied herself with her vegetables.

‘I can feel it!’

The disembodied peep had her whipping around.

For a moment, she could have sworn she’d heard someone talking, or… squeaking. But the only other sound in the kitchen was the music. With a shake of her head, she turned back to the carrots.

‘Ooh! I feel something too!’

Belle dropped the carrot and glared at the crocus. The voice had sounded like an excited fly drunk on helium. But the crocus’s thin petals fluttered and danced on. She was turning away again when suddenly one purple flower stretched up like a trumpet and squeaked, ‘This is it, Lilah. I think we’ve found him this time.’

Belle gaped at the plant.

‘Are you sure?’ Another flower squeaked beside the first. ‘I hate it when these things lead to a dead end.’

‘Not this time. This feels different,’ The first flower peeped. ‘There… point the ball there,’ it ordered in an excited squeak. ‘It’s a forest.’

‘How come we never saw that before?’ the second flower asked.

Belle yanked off her apron and burst out of the kitchen and into the dining room.

Lilah was sitting at the table with her fingertips resting on the scrying ball. And beside her, Aunt Dee was peering intently into its now cloudy interior. They both looked up, startled, when Belle charged in.

“You said you weren’t looking for my soulmate,” she said, glaring at them.

“Where you eavesdropping?” Aunt Dee asked. “It makes me think you might be more interested in finding your man than you’re admitting.”

Heat rushed to Belle’s face. “I happened to hear you,” she said through clenched teeth. “And you’re breaking your promise to not look for him.”

Aunt Dee gave her a haughty look. “Firstly, I made no such promise. And secondly, we might have been looking for my soulmate, not yours.”

That could be true. Belle shot Lilah a questioning glance.

“Oh, yes. That’s exactly what we were doing,” Lilah said, bobbing her head up and down a little too enthusiastically. “In fact we—” Her words ended in a yelp, and she snatched her fingers from the scrying ball.

Bright red light pulsed out of the ball like a signal flare. It blazed for a second and then dimmed before shining ferociously once again.

“What in heaven’s name?” Aunt Dee peered closer to the ball, which was now flashing like a red beacon.

“Don’t touch it!” Lilah warned. “It’s hot.”

Aunt Dee gasped. “Do you see that?”

“What?” Belle asked, stepping closer.

“Oh… nothing.” Aunt Dee immediately straightened. “I must have been mistaken.” And taking the scrying ball’s black cloth, she threw it over the glass surface, hiding it.

“How can it be nothing?” Belle asked. “The ball’s still glowing. Look.” She pointed to where the thick black cloth was doing its damnedest to not turn red under the force of the light pulsing through it.

“Ball’s not working,” Aunt Dee muttered. “Best take it back to your house, Lilah.” And standing, she tentatively gripped the ball’s wooden base and scooped it up, black cloth and all. Then with a quick smile for Belle, she hurried out of the dining room. “Don’t wait up for me, dear,” she called back over her shoulder.

Lilah rushed after her, shooting Belle a grin as she passed. “Exciting times,” she trilled. And then they were both out of the house with the front door slamming shut after them.

Belle squeezed her eyes closed in frustration.

Exciting times?

As soon as the red light had flared in the ball, the uneasiness that had plagued her all these weeks had exploded inside her like a dam bursting its walls. These weren’t ‘exciting’ times. These were ‘oh-God-what-the-hell’s-going-to-happen-now’ times.

To be continued next week…

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