Authors: Lauren Dane
Sensual Magic is a novella that was originally published in the What
Happens in Vegasâ¦After Dark anthology, published with Spice in 2009ânow
available as a digital novella on its own as of 8/15/2016.
Two years ago, William Emery believed in love. Deciding to make his
permanent home in Boston and start a nightclub there, he was locking down funding and
approving the font on wedding invitations. Until he found out his fiancÃ©e was little
more than a faithless gold digger.
Emotionally devastated, he moved to Las Vegas where his younger brother
lived and began work to create the kind of club he'd always wanted to run. And to drown
the memories of his idealism in a sea of female flesh. If you didn't involve your heart,
it never got broken.
Nell Hunter is a witch on the trail of a human who's stolen from her people.
This human is working with a group of mages stealing money and power from the clans and
cabals, relying on the need for secrecy to keep their victims quiet and from going to
the police. But they hadn't banked on Nell. She's a bonded hunter to the court of the
In Vegas, Nell seeks William out, his ex-fiancÃ©e is the woman she's looking
for. The sparks between them fly immediately and while Nell knows they're meant to be,
William has a harder time with it. They come together as bullets and magic fly â nothing
worth having is ever easy.
Books by Lauren Dane
As alwaysâwithout my wonderful husband, Ray, none of this would be possible. Thank you for putting up with a wife under the influence of book deadlines and the messy house that comes with it.
Thanks most righteously go to Laura Bradford, agent and friend. I've rarely come across people who work as hard as she does. She's shiny and a joy to work with, even when she sends me revision notes she says herself contain “a million nitpicks.”
Thank you to Susan Swinwood for giving Nell and William a place to tell their story.
Writers live in their heads a lot, so it takes friends to keep us grounded, laughing through the rough times and kicking our behinds when we get whiny. Megan Hartâbrrrrring me my hoooookah! Anya Bastâyou may eat my candy house except for the peanut M&M's. Ann Aguirre, thank you for listening to me blather daily. Renee Meyerâyou're made of awesome for more reasons than I can articulate in this space.
And to my readersâseriously, thank you each and every one.
n the narrow alley, Nell crouched, turning her face to the stiflingly hot blast of air apparently referred to as a breeze in these parts. She shut out all other stimulus, simply waiting for the magic to come to her. Tendrils of energy hung in the air, spicy and unique to the individual who worked the spell. The taste of it wove through her system. Nell's own magic broke it down, analyzed it, identified the owner.
It was her particular talent. Hunting. Tracking. A family trait she inherited from her mother. Not just a gift, but a calling. Who she was, as well as what she did on behalf of her Clan.
She stood and tapped a finger against her iPod. Music filled her senses, drowning out all other noise. Dio's “Rainbow in the Dark” kept her company as she made a few notes before tucking the pad into the back pocket of her jeans.
Mage magic. The metallic flavor identified it as
Not the earthy tang of her own magic. Witch magic like hers was inherent and came from the earth beneath her feet, from the air around her and the water under and aboveground. Mages weren't born with magic, they traded for it. Most of the time with the kind of creatures best left alone.
It cost a lot to trade for power. It cost in lives, energy, dark
gifts and money, too. This Camarilla was on Nell's shit list because they were in possession of nearly a hundred thousand dollars belonging to the Owen Clan.
The Owen Clanâa circle of witches and the Clan Nell belonged to and worked forâdidn't take thefts of any kind lightly.
And what they took seriously, Nell took seriously. Frankly, this Camarilla, their little name for a group of them, seriously pissed her off. She'd spent the last two months traveling from city to city until she'd finally locked onto Las Vegas. Summer in Las Vegas was not Nell's idea of pleasant and she planned to take her annoyance out in someone's hide.
A man stood just a few feet away, eyes warily scanning the area, body taut, ready to spring should it be necessary. Galen, Nell's partner and the physical muscle to her magical strength.
“Got it?” he asked as he stalked toward her, golden skin rippling over roped muscle. His hair was close-cropped, pale blond against his skull. He slid dark sunglasses up over his eyes, all velvet cool and alluring.
A smile canted the left corner of her mouth. “They're here. We need to get in to see that ex-boyfriend of hers. It can't be a coincidence she's in the same city.”
Galen shrugged, his dark sunglasses reflecting her face. “Dunno, Nell. From all accounts she screwed him over but good. Could be a coincidence. She might not even know he's here.”
Nell rolled her eyes. “Please. How could she not know? That bitch knows where the money is. He's got it big-time. Of course she knows. Right now though, I have a trail, let's follow it to see where it leads.”
Opening herselfup again, she caught the scent of mage
magic and let it lead her. She knew Galen would watch her back.
“Ah, there you are.” Even in the devastatingly bright light of the midday sun, she caught sight of the shine of her quarry's aura.
She nodded in his direction and Galen moved to flank them. The mage, a low-ranking minion from the feel of his magic, stood leaning against a concrete pillar bracketing the entrance to the escalators up and over the Strip. Middleaged, slightly balding, his vitality leaking from him and speeding his aging process. Stealing magic instead of letting it move through you tended to eat you alive.
Flipping two buttons of her shirt open, Nell shook her short curls out and approached, spilling sex with calm selfassurance. His head snapped up, his attention snagged.
Close. Nell sidled up to him, standing so near her lips touched his ear. “I have a room just across the way.” Confidently, she walked past and up the escalators, knowing he'd be right behind her. And he was.
* * *
Three hours later, fortified with some information, a shower and a change of clothes, Nell slid onto a padded bar stool and raised a brow toward the bartender.
He moved to her with a smile. “What can I get you?”
She looked him over. They sure did have some pretty people in Las Vegas. Everyone working in the bars and restaurants in the upscale casino/resorts on the Strip looked like an ad from a lifestyle magazine.
She considered the way he looked, the openness of his expression. He was young. Twenty-three maybe. His dark hair was tipped into fashionable little spikes. A band of barbed
wire was inked into his very solid biceps. His eyes were slow and very interested.
One tip of her chin and a murmured word or two and she could go in the back with him right then and fuck. She could rip his sexy low-rise jeans open and suck his cock. Shove him to his knees and press his face into her pussy. It would beâ¦thrilling. Unlike her, but perhaps that was why it seemed so alluring.
Or maybe it was because she felt as if she'd jump her skin. Anxiety, no, expectation coursed through her as sure as the beating of her heart. It grew every day. She'd been patient with it until the last week or two, but it rode her now until it distracted and annoyed her. She wanted to fill the uncertain space within, wanted to pull deep emotion into herself for just a short while, so her jangled senses would have something else to soothe them.
But she had the sense it would leave her feeling even emptier once it was over. Still, what did it hurt to flirt a bit? Nell leaned toward him, canting her head and sending him a seductive smile. No magic, just her. “What do you suggest?”
He leaned a hip against the counter and one arm on the bar. “Well, now, let's see. What do you like?” He definitely flirted right back.
“I like lots of things. I like it strong.” Her resolve to just let it go began to slip from her fingers.
“Do you like it slow and building up to strong? Or hard right off?”
She laughed then, settling more comfortably into the high-backed stool. “Oh, it's hard to say until I get to know the drink. I do like staying power. Can you give it to me?”
His bottom lip caught between very white teeth for just
a moment, sending a shiver through her. “I might be able to deliver.”
Someone at the other end of the bar called a name and her pretty bartender reluctantly tore his gaze from hers. “I'll be back with something strong with staying power.”
But before the bartender returned, Galen entered the bar and motioned her to a booth in the far corner. Reluctantly she moved to sit with him, noting the bartender's shrug and wink.
A waitress delivered a tall glass just moments later. “Strong and hard,” she said and Nell laughed.
“Just how I like it. Send my thanks.” She put a bill on the tray and Galen ordered a beer.
“Nell, you're notâ¦You seem a bit uncontrolled this week. First today with the mage and now with the bartender? This isn't you. What's going on?”
She looked at Galen, followed the planes of masculine cheekbones and hardened jaw. She'd used a lot more magic than normal that afternoon on the mage. Had broken into his shields and spilled her magic through him until he sweated and begged her to touch him. It wasn't as if she'd have harmed him, but she knew the magnitude of her abilities and took an oath not to abuse them.
“It won't happen again. He was weaker than I'd expected. I overcompensated.” All she said was true. “And with cutie over there?” Nell jerked her head toward the bar. “I didn't blow him, I just flirted.” She paused, sipping the drink. “I've been patient. Waiting. It's coming and it has been for a while now. But suddenly I'm restless, Galen. I'm itchy in my own skin.”
“Last time I saw her back home, Meriel told me to keep an eye on you.”
“You know, how fair is it that Meriel is pretty much the total package? I mean, she's beautiful and smart, she's full-council. All those perfect genes.” Nell snorted a laugh.
“Nice, too. Even if her judgment is poor in choosing you for a best friend.” Galen took a few pulls from his beer.
Meriel Owen was Nell's best friend, lead counsel to the Clan and Edina Owen's oldest child. Also unlike Nell, Meriel was a full-council witch. Meaning there was a bondpartner who'd bring Meriel into the full power of her magic, like a key in a lock. Once she was fully bonded, it was highly likely she would take over the leadership of the Clan.
Nell wasn't full-council. She was powerful, yes. Good at her job. So much so the Clan gave her free rein in most situations. She was paid well and in general, life was good. But something was missing. And as she'd told Meriel on the phone that very morning, whatever it was, she had the feeling she'd find it there in Las Vegas. Or at least would be led to it.
“I called the club the ex owns. He'll see you tomorrow afternoon. We've got suites set up at the Liege and our belongings have been sent over. With what our little friend told us this afternoon, I think we can do some digging.”
“All right. Party pooper. Let's go on over, get room service and start digging.”