Chapter 12 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.
I love forests. Stepping into one is like stepping into another world. They radiate a calm and quiet I’ve never experienced anywhere else. Even if the forest is on the edge of a busy motorway, you just have to walk in a few metres and you can magically escape all the noise.
Many of you are from other parts of the world, and I’m sure the forests where you are differ from those I’m used to in the UK. But I think you’ll still identify with the peace and green beauty I talk about.
Fairfall forest in Luca’s story embodies a lot of what I love about forests. But unfortunately, Belle’s first impression of it isn’t all that great. But then, it is nearly night time, and the forest isn’t used to visitors. So maybe it will make a better impression on her in future chapters. We’ll see.
Enjoy this week’s part of the story 🙂
His gaze dropped to where the curves of her breasts peeked above the square neckline of her dress. And almost as if drawn against his will, he came to her and wrapped his strong hands over hers on the iron bars. Fire blazed inside Belle. His hands warmed hers, and his scent enveloped her, all male and virile, making her tremble. Control! she screamed at herself inside. Dammit! She was the one supposed to be in control here. And dragging her mind back from the goo it had become, she met his gaze.
“And what would you do for me, Belle, if I let you out?” he murmured.
Yes, what exactly would she do? Oh, she knew what she wanted to do, but while her body was more than ready, fear kept her paralysed. The kind of sex she’d always wanted had involved love, and it hadn’t come with the threat of boosting her already crazy magic to deathly levels either. But right now her freedom was on the line, and the only way out was to seduce this dangerously irresistible hunk before her. She licked her lips, and the movement had his gaze snapping there. “What would you have me do?” she whispered enticingly and arched towards him from behind the bars. “I’d do anything.”
“Anything?” He dipped his head until his lips were inches from hers, and her breath caught. “That’s tempting,” he said. “But I don’t have to let you out for that. In fact, I bet you’d be keener to please me with ‘anything’ if I keep you locked in there.”
Damn him! Belle snatched her hands from beneath his and stumbled back. He’d been playing her, seeing how far she’d go. “Well, you’re wrong,” she snapped. “A beast like you is the last person I’d do anything with.”
He growled and tightened his grip on the bars. “Unfortunately, you don’t get to choose, sweetheart. I have need of you, and I’ll take what I want.”
“You can try! We’ll be here till the end of time before I let you anywhere near me.”
“Not the end of time. Just Samhain. You’ll be mine before that day.”
Belle glowered. God, she’d turn him into a stinking Venus Flytrap if she could, because that was exactly what he deserved to be. “No,” she bit out. “No way in hell!”
His smile was cruel. “You forget…” he murmured, “…your precious aunt.”
“Want her to live? Then give me what I want, willingly.”
“You… you…” she spluttered with fury.
He watched her with narrowed eyes. “Why not let your magic speak? Come on. Turn me inside out. You want to.”
Oh, she wanted to all right. But her hands clenched and unclenched into useless fists at her sides. Her magic, as usual, had hiked off into the next universe when she needed it most, and all she could do now was glare at him, hoping looks alone could kill.
But sudden anger darkened his features. “You can’t,” he growled. “You can’t use your power. Why not?”
“None of your business,” she muttered.
“The hell?” His eyes glittered like blue shards. “You’re like a babe in the woods, open to any attack. What the hell is wrong with your magic?”
Belle ground her teeth. The nerve of him. He was the only one who’d attacked her. And now he was raging at her because her lack of magic left her vulnerable? Really? What did he care about it anyway?
But her silence must have angered him more because he gave another impatient growl and waved his hand. An aura of blue light surrounded her and shimmered through her body.
“Hey!” she yelled in protest. But the light faded almost immediately.
“Plants,” he muttered to himself. “But what’s the block?”
He made a small calling gesture with his fingers, and of its own accord, her right hand stretched out towards him. Belle froze in horror as her magic surged like a tide inside her, raced to her right hand and gathered at her fingertips. “No!” she shouted against the familiar sensation of her power about to rage out of control. Anything could happen. “Stop!” And summoning every ounce of her strength, she mentally shoved against his magical hold and somehow, miraculously, broke free. She staggered back. “Don’t ever do that again!” she said, her breathing ragged, and her eyes wild.
His handsome features hardened with silent fury. “If you think I’m letting you back out into the world in this state, then you’re mistaken. You’ll stay here. At least I’ll know you’re safe.” And turning away, he headed for the door.
“Safe?” Belle raged after him. “How am I safe when I’ve been caged up by a beast like you? If you really wanted me to be safe, you’d let me go.”
He stopped in his tracks. “Samhain,” he said quietly, glancing back at her. “It’ll all be over on Samhain.” And striding up the steps, he left the room and closed the door after himself.
Belle rushed to the bars and grabbed them with a cry. But she was well and truly alone in the cold grey prison. Samhain was over a week away. Was he really going to leave her down here until then? And in the answering silence, her right arm tingled as the mix of his magic and hers faded away. She rested her forehead against the iron bars and closed her eyes. He was powerful. And what he’d done with her magic was terrifying. If they ever consummated their mate bond, her power was sure to storm out of her control ten times worse than ever before. She shivered even thinking about it. No way could she ever allow that to happen. She could never be so vulnerable. She could never lose her heart to Luca Barone.
* * *
He didn’t trust himself. If the bars hadn’t been separating them, he’d have had her under him on the floor of that cell, and to hell with waiting or willingness. Luca closed his eyes and silently groaned at the memory of holding Belle in his arms when she’d jumped from the wall. She was perfect. The way her slim curves had fitted against his body… She was made for him. Him alone. And damn him, but he wanted more.
The night wind chilled his tense body and tight muscles, but it couldn’t temper the fire raging inside him for Belle. And opening his eyes, he dropped his gaze to the glowing white rose in front of him. More petals had fallen, and the flower was a mere half of what it had been. Being out here was dangerous, so close to the rose, so close to her, but he hungered for a fight tonight. Anything to strip this burning need for Belle from his mind.
God damn this accursed mate bond.
If it had been mere sexual need, he might have withstood it, played it on his terms. Sex had always been a brief physical pleasure, nothing more. Belle, though, felt different. She had an innocence, a vulnerability that all her bravado posturing couldn’t hide. He raised a hand to his chest and found the faint beat of his heart. She touched him… here… where he didn’t want to be touched.
The crypt loomed tall and dark behind the rose, its stone columns and walls impassive like the frosty gates of hell. Luca studied it. In reality, his heart was long dead and buried somewhere in it alongside his parents’ bodies. His heart was just a memory. How had Belle even reached it?
Stealthy footsteps suddenly sounded from behind, creeping through the overgrown garden. Luca frowned and without turning, tipped his head back slightly to sample the night air. Werewolf… several metres away still. A trained hunter. Not making enough noise to alert another wolf, but enough to alert a lycan’s senses. And uncertain… wary as he approached. Ready to fight if needed.
The steps came closer.
“Hanson,” Luca murmured.
Hanson’s footsteps stopped. “Sir?” he asked carefully. “Are you..?”
Luca turned. “Still sane.”
“That’s a bloody relief.” Hanson dropped his guard and came forward. “Forgive me, sir, but you shouldn’t be out here.” His grey gaze darted nervously over the rose and the crypt. “It’s too close to… her.”
“Strangely, my wolf is calm tonight.” Luca breathed in a chestful of air and turned back to the rose. A suspicion niggled that this new calmness was due to Belle’s presence in Fairfall, but to admit that was to give her too much power over him.
But Hanson seemed to be of the same mind. “This mate bond is indeed powerful if it can calm your wolf.”
Luca shot him a questioning look. “How do you know it’s because of the mate bond? You’ve never experienced a soulmate.”
Red tinged Hanson’s narrow cheeks. “Well, I… I was aware of the bond your parents shared. It was impressively strong.”
Luca regarded him. There was something Hanson wasn’t telling. But he focused on the rose again because whatever it was, right now it wasn’t important. Belle was his immediate concern. “I have to be ready to do what needs to be done,” he muttered. “I’m running out of time, Hanson. Samhain will be on us soon.”
“Yes, sir. Hard as it is to stomach; it must be done. One cannot help but wish, however, there might be another way.”
“Keep sentiment out of it,” Luca growled. But his warning was more to himself. He had to squash this craving, this need to know Belle more. He had to keep their mate bond purely physical. “How deep does this damn bond go?” he asked in frustration. “I can make her give herself to me, but how deep will I fall?” He shook his head. “I will not lose myself to this.”
“A mate bond is only for life,” Hanson offered tentatively. “Theoretically, after the… um… ‘sacrifice’ on Samhain, you’d be free to live and mate again.”
Free. Luca felt inside himself and revelled in the strange and unfamiliar calmness of his wolf. This is what ‘being free’ felt like. And it felt so good. A tiny voice in his head reminded him that he was enjoying this small slice of freedom because of Belle. But he pushed it away. If he did what he was supposed to do, he could be free like this forever. “Samhain,” he said with a resolute nod. “It’s the right choice.”
“I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore,” Hanson admitted. Luca looked at him, and Hanson cast a regretful glance downward, but then gathered himself. “But it must be done. For all our sakes.”
Luca nodded. “And no one else knows about this?”
“Just you and I.”
“Keep it so.” He scowled at the rose. “She’ll stay locked in the cell until she realises there’s no other way out but to accept me.”
“Willingly, sir,” Hanson said. “The key, I believe, is that she must give you her heart willingly. And I fail to see how that can happen if you keep her prisoner. You must woo her.”
That was dangerous. He was already thinking about her too much. Luca considered his options. It was the man in him who was susceptible to Belle; the beast was not. So that was the part of him she needed to see from now on. Purely physical. Purely beast. She must never touch the man’s heart again.
“All right,” he said on a dark growl. “I’ll woo her.”
To be continued next week…