Authors: T L
Shadow of the Wolf
by Dana Marie Bell
Heart’s Desire Book 1
Dana Marie Bell
Shadow of the Wolf
Heart’s Desire Book 1
Dana Marie Bell
Published by Liquid Silver Books, imprint of Atlantic Bridge Publishing, 10509 Sedgegrass Dr, In-dianapolis, Indiana 46235. Copyright © 2009, Dana Marie Bell. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Liquid Silver Books
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
Christopher Beckett is tired of being alone. His wolf is howling for his mate, and Chris knows it is only a matter of time before his needs override everything else in his life. He casts the spell all the Becketts have used to call their mates to them. What he wants is a woman of an older lineage and power equal to his own. And she has to accept the one aspect that sets him apart from almost every other wizard: his wolf.
What Chris gets is Alannah Evans, a powerful witch of the Evans Coven. The petite, dark-haired woman has no problem with the wolf. What she does have a problem with is the fact that Chris is a wizard. Since wizards and witches don’t get along very well, neither should they, but the sparks flying between them can’t be denied. Chris isn’t taking no for an answer. When it becomes clear that an old enemy has targeted them both, Chris will engage his enemy in a duel that could cost him his life.
Or worse: Lana.
Christopher stared down at his preparations, mentally checking and rechecking each and every one.
All of the runes were aligned properly within the circle, spelling out his intent. The incense was burning sweetly, its cinnamon scent filling the air and making him think of home. The small fire he’d created in his cauldron burned merrily. Colored candles were lit and placed in the proper alignment. A rose for love and an iris for wisdom, stems braided through an emerald ring sacred to Venus and used for this purpose for generations, waited for him to begin the chant. Every item held a piece of the spell. The words would merely cement it, bringing the pieces of his magical puzzle together into one cohesive picture that would send his call out into the world.
Everything was as it should be. Not one single thing was out of place, or forgotten.
He took a deep breath, mentally placing himself in the frame of mind necessary to cast the spell.
This was it, one of the defining moments of his life. His ancestor’s spell would determine the course of the rest of his life. He closed his eyes, concentrating on his perfect mate. She should be of an older lineage, someone born from power, with magic to complement his own. She should be petite.
Christopher had a fondness for women who were smaller than he was. Hair and eye color didn’t matter to him, though he had a preference for blondes. And she needed to be able to accept the one thing that set him apart from most other wizards. That, more than anything else, was important.
He was so very tired of being alone. Not even his brothers could ease the loneliness that had begun to plague him. He fingered the blue piece of paper waiting for the fire and visualized everything he hoped for. Everything his soul cried out for.
He could feel the power building within him. He’d written down his wishes in red ink, the color of passion, ready to be burned in the cauldron.
Christopher reached into the pocket of his purple silk robe and pulled out a wand crafted of oak, especially created just for this ritual. He slipped the sheet into the flames, watching it catch fire before dropping it into the cauldron. Raising his arms high, he began his chant. The paper burned, and he concentrated with every ounce of will he had on the meaning behind the words. Without intent, the words would be useless, gibberish muttered in the dark.
“I call on forces higher than I,
To awaken the dreams that I hold inside.
Venus, grant me the love that I lack;
With this spell my mate attract!
This candle for her,
This candle for me.
When they touch,
United we'll be.
Kindle the love,
Kindle the flame,
When we meet, she’ll know my name.
By the power of earth and fire,
Bring unto me my heart’s desire.
By the power of air and sea,
As I will so mote it be.”
As he chanted, two candles, both red, one carved with the symbol of female, the other marked with the symbol for male and bearing a lock of his hair, shifted slightly towards one another. Christopher fought his smile.
The ritual was working.
Abruptly the candles stopped. He repeated the chant two more times, invoking the power of three, and felt the spell settle in his bones. The last of the paper burned to ash in a puff of red smoke, and Christopher smiled triumphantly.
It had worked. His mate was coming to him. He would watch the candles. When they touched, he would begin scrying for his mate, using the clear crystal globe on his desk to show her image to him. Alasdair would alert him when she came close to his property, passing the detection wards he had in place. Now all he had to do was wait for her. He snorted, amused now that the spell was done. He’d always waited for her and hadn’t known it until the howling loneliness threatened to en-gulf him. It had taken a long talk with his father to show him exactly what was happening, and what he could do to fix it. Once he’d touched the emerald ring, all other possible options were put aside in favor of the one he knew would work.
He needed the other half of his soul to finally be complete.
He carefully extinguished the rose candles, watching carefully until the flames in the cauldron slowly died down. The incense he allowed to burn, enjoying the scent of cinnamon. The runes and symbols he left untouched. He would perform no other works until his mate was at his side.
With a yawn and a satisfied smile, Christopher pulled off his robe and hung it neatly on the peg by the door. It was late, just past midnight, and he was in dire need of a run. He always felt pleasantly tired after finishing a spell, like he’d given both his body and his mind a good workout. Running would ease any last, lingering tension left behind, leaving him pleasantly relaxed and ready for bed.
Opening the back door, he quickly reactivated the wards against intruders. He stripped off his pants, shirt, shoes and socks, and laid them carefully on the glass topped table on his stone patio. With a sigh of relief, he allowed the change to take him, shaking his coat in primal joy. His mate would be here soon, and he would no longer be a lone wolf.
He ran into the darkness of the woods, unaware that the two candles had begun to inch closer together.
Lana banged her head repeatedly against the steering wheel of her car, muttering under her breath.
She turned the key for the umpteenth time with a swift prayer to the Lady. Again, nothing happened, not even the grinding sound of the starter. Her poor little Beetle had up and died in the middle of the night on a deserted highway, with a thunderstorm threatening to break over her head.
Wonderful. I get to be a cliché. It wouldn’t be the first time her car had broken down, and it probably wouldn’t be the last, although she could honestly say this was probably the worst time her car had ever chosen to stop running. I really should just give up and get a new car. Kerry, her best friend, had mentioned it that night at the bridal shower, but she’d once again brushed off Kerry’s concerns over the clunker Lana drove. Usually when the Bug died on her she was able to get it up and running again with a quick call to Triple-A and a stop at the mechanics, not an option in East Bumblefuck, PA at two o’clock in the morning. Keeping the Bug running was usually a labor of love.
Nothing quite like unrequited love, is there? She knew she wasn’t out of gas; she’d filled up just before leaving the small town the Naughty Nights Club had been in. It couldn’t be the alternator.
She’d just replaced that. And the starter was only six months old. The car had died while running, so it couldn’t be the battery. Could it?
Lana wasted a moment wishing Kerry had followed her, but her friend had been flirting with a very hot male stripper, and Lana hadn’t wanted to interrupt. If she’d known that the small spike of un-ease she’d felt just before heading out would lead to a broken-down car in the middle of freaking nowhere, she would have plastered herself to Kerry’s side. And no matter how badly she wanted to, she couldn’t just “zap” the Beetle no matter how much she might want to. She stood a good chance of doing even more damage that way. “Fixing” anything mechanical usually ended in a disaster of epic proportions, especially since she had a bad tendency to get angry when it didn’t work. Anger and witchcraft just didn’t mix well.
And why the fuck had Kelly, Kerry’s twin, picked some place so far off the beaten path to have her bachelorette party anyway? Who heard of a male strip club so far out in the boondocks? Kelly the Crazy, that’s who. She just hoped Kelly’s fiancé didn’t get wind of the lap dance Kerry had bought for her, because odds were good it wouldn’t be Kelly who got into trouble. Dennis and Kerry got along about as well as dogs and fleas. Kerry lived to annoy the straight-arrow Dennis, and Dennis tolerated Kerry only for Kelly’s sake.
One thing she could say about the man, he did love Kelly more than anyone or anything. That, and the happiness she saw in her twin’s eyes, made Kerry much more pleasant than she could be towards the man. The last guy Kelly had dated hadn’t fared nearly so well. She’d put an entire fifteen ounce bottle of Jean Naté after bath splash into the man’s Listerine.
It had gone downhill from there. Kerry had the pictures to prove it.
A shock of thunder caused her to jump. With a sigh, she pulled out her cell phone. Hopefully she’d be able to get a tow truck despite the storm and the late hour. Hell, if Kerry was still available, maybe Lana could pry her away from the prime beef she’d been plastered to long enough to lend a hand.
She flipped the phone open and stared at the distinct lack of phonage. How could the battery be dead? The stupid thing was plugged in! Lana made sure to keep it in the car charger… She fumbled around, finally finding the end of the cord in the pitch black car. Well, shit. The plug was loose in the outlet. It may have been in the charger, but it sure hadn’t been charging.
Isn’t this the part where the spooky music is supposed to start?
With a weary groan, Lana opened her door. The heavens opened up above her, pouring rain down on her outstretched arm, soaking it in seconds. Oh yeah. Cue the music. All the night needed was a scary black figure at the end of the road.
She glanced back, unable to help herself. Road clear.
Reaching into her back seat, she pulled out her umbrella. It refused to open. When she finally forced it open, the wind plucked it right out of her hands and sent it flying into the dark, wet night.
Lana glared up into the storm. “Are you trying to tell me something? I mean, you’ve got my attention!”
Lightning, quickly followed by thunder, answered her.
No car, no phone, no umbrella, and a nice long walk back to the strip joint in the pouring rain.
Maybe I should stay put and wait for a cop. Isn’t that what they say to do if your car breaks down?
And isn’t that what I’d be yelling at the screen right now?
Of course, I’d also be thinking that the poor girl was pretty much toast either way. Especially if this was the beginning of the movie, cause that would mean I wasn’t the heroine. She wasn’t the heroine. Whatever.