Authors: Rebecca Royce
The 13th Guest
by Rebecca Royce
Copyright © Rebecca Royce, 2014
All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher.
This e-book is a work of fiction. While references may be made to actual places or events, the names, characters, incidents, and locations within are from the author’s imagination and are not a resemblance to actual living or dead persons, businesses, or events. Any similarity is coincidental.
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Issued by Musa Publishing LLC, June 2014
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Head Editors: Elspeth McClanahan and Elizabeth Silver
Editor: Helen Hardt
Artist: Kelly Shorten
Line Editor: Kristin Burlingame
Interior Book Design: Cera Smith
r. Amelia Everett had resorted to sneaking onto ferryboats. She had two Ph.D.s, had been published in more journals than she could count, and owned an apartment on Park Avenue with three bathrooms. Yet she’d sneaked onto the back of a ferryboat like a common criminal.
The incident in her office with Daniel must have bothered her more than she’d admitted. How else could she explain what she was doing? Rational women did not do these things.
She pushed her black hair out of her eyes and tried to make herself smaller. As long as she could get out of the luggage storage compartment and off the boat without anyone noticing, she’d be okay.
Drumming her fingers on the floor of the boat, she counted to ten. That’s the advice she gave her clients when they asked how to calm themselves. Of course, she also told them not to get into situations like this.
A burst of light startled her, and she shrieked. The brightness came from a flashlight being shown right in her face. Whoever held the blinding device remained in shadow.
“I knew there was somebody down here.” The man spoke in a low voice. “And now what am I supposed to do with you?”
“Well.” She tried to keep her voice level. Even in this less than desirable circumstance, she needed to remain composed. Fear never solved anything. Still, she shoved her shaking hands in her pockets. “You could go ahead and get that light out of my face so I could speak to you.”
The flashlight went out, but seconds later she got hauled to her feet. Though she still couldn’t see her captor’s face, two things caught her attention. First, he was tall, very tall. Amelia stood at five-foot-ten in her bare feet and he towered over her. Second, he smelled amazing. She took a deep breath, inhaling the mixed aromas of sandalwood and springtime. The combination made her hot inside. If she weren’t worried he’d pull her along and dump her overboard into the Atlantic, she might enjoy being close to him.
They stepped together onto the deck. The light illuminated his facial features. He had high cheekbones that accentuated large dark brown eyes. His hair, also dark brown, had been cut very short on his head. His chin pointed out a bit over thick, full lips covering perfectly straight teeth, visible as he bit down on his lip.
His nose gave his face character. Too large to be called traditionally attractive, it gave him a striking, unforgettable appearance.
“Who are you?” The low baritone voice again.
She smiled, trying to seem nice, like the sort of woman he wouldn’t want to throw into the ocean. “My name is Dr. Amelia Everett. If you let go of my arm, I’d be happy to show you my card.”
“No, missy. I don’t have the slightest interest in seeing your card. What are you doing here on this ship? You were not invited.”
Invited? What a strange choice of words. “Right, well. I’ve been trying to get a reservation at the Wiccan Haus now for six months. As they are never willing to let me book a room or to even discuss the possibility of coming to the island, I had to take matters into my own hands. One way or another, I am going to the Wiccan Haus today.”
Her captor laughed, easing some of the severity of his appearance. “Oh, this is rich. They’re going to love this.” He shook his head. A necklace he wore fell free from where it had been hidden in his black shirt. He grabbed it to tuck it back in, but for a second, a wedding ring attached to a long metal chain swung free.
She’d seen many of her clients wearing rings in that manner. It usually meant grief, mourning of the person who had once worn the mate to that ring. In her business, she had learned to hide her own emotional reactions to things, but even as her face remained calm, her heart went out to him.
He continued, “One of two things is going to happen to you now. You’ll either not get to the Wiccan Haus, and this will all be for naught.”
“Or you’ll get there and you’re going to wish you hadn’t. They’ll interrogate you before putting you back on my boat to go home, if you’re lucky.”
“I don’t think anything needs to get that dramatic. Certainly, we can all work this out like adults. All I’m looking for is a tour of the island, an explanation of how they do what they’re managing to accomplish with their clients—many of whom were my patients before coming here. I want to look around, see if we can figure out a mutually beneficial agreement. I’m sure I have means that can help them.”
The man dropped her arm, and she rubbed it. Why had she gotten cold as soon as he stopped touching her?
“I’m so sorry. Did I hurt you? I didn’t mean to. I’m very strong. I’m not used to humans.”
“To humans? Oh, you’re a paranormal. Of what variety?”
He blinked rapidly. A-ha. She’d surprised him. Whether that proved to be a good or disastrous decision remained to be seen.
He ran his hand over his head, through his hair that looked ever so touchable. “So you know about other beings, things different from humans?”
“Yes, of course. They’re nearly half my clientele.”
He grinned, showing off his straight teeth. Small lines crinkled next to his eyes. She returned his smile, wishing she was the kind of woman who knew how to flirt. Not because it would give her any kind of edge, but because it seemed like it would be really fun to flirt with a man who’s eyes crinkled the way his did when he smiled. Wow, she really did need a vacation. Where had that stupid thought come from?
“You really are something…” This time when he spoke, he sounded gentler.
She wanted him to know her name. “Amelia.”
“What?” He reached to rub her arm where she had patted it before, and warmth infused her again. Maybe she needed to see a doctor.
“You really are something, Amelia.”He laughed. “Right. Come with me. I have something I need to do, and since you aren’t on my passenger manifest, you’re going to have to come with me while I do it.”
“Fine.” She wasn’t going to argue. She’d gotten what she wanted. Maybe she’d get onto the island, and the unnamed man didn’t seem like he wanted to harm her.
Following him, she stared at the Atlantic Ocean. The day had been beautiful when she’d boarded the boat. A big change from New York City to Maine. Maine was at least ten degrees cooler. She tugged her sweatshirt tighter around her while counting the other passengers. Twelve others were on the journey.
Only three of them signaled her internal paranormal radar. The itchy feeling between her eyes stayed relatively cool. But her senses could be off. She hadn’t gotten any alert off the man she followed, and he’d outright told her he wasn’t human.
“Sir?” She tapped him on the shoulder. “What should I call you?”
He stopped moving and turned to look at her. “My apologies. I was raised better than this. My only excuse is that it has been a long time since I’ve had to introduce myself to anyone. I’m Damek Antonov. I’m the captain of this vessel.”
“Right. Damek.” She’d never heard the name, but it suited him. Tall, handsome in a rough kind of way. “So you work for the Wiccan Haus?”
He nodded. “In a manner of speaking.”
That was vague. “Then maybe you can explain to me why they wouldn’t let me book a reservation. I’ve been trying for six months. I’ve sent a lot of business here. But the woman on the phone, who couldn’t be ruder to me by the way, won’t ever let me book a room. She just says no when I ask and hangs up.”
“That would be Myron. If she is treating you that way, I’m sure she has her reasons.”
A dense fog lay ahead. She grabbed onto his arm. Boats had never really been her thing. While others sailed in the Hamptons, she preferred to remain in New York City off the water. Getting onto the ship had been a means to an end. But now she was on a wobbling vessel barreling into the densest fog she’d ever see as she sailed over the Atlantic Ocean.
Maybe this hadn’t been the smartest course of action
“You’re going to be okay. That fog won’t harm you. I promise you.”
Her throat went dry. “Why?”
“Because I travel through it every week. With me at the helm of this ship, nothing will happen to its passengers.”
She watched him instead of the upcoming danger. His words were sweet, but she knew better than to believe a single person, even a paranormal one, could stop the elements of the earth from doing what they were going to do.
A vision of her parents, trapped in their car, screaming as they drove over the cliff where they died filled her mind. Numbness washed over her, and she shook her head. Not now. For this moment, she would keep her focus. Tomorrow would be soon enough to remember.
The fog surrounded the boat and Damek nodded, a smile on his face.
“Come with me.” He took her hand and brought her to the deck on top of the boat.
Two of his crewmembers looked up. They stared at her like she had two heads before looking back down at their charts.
“It went smoothly.” Damek took his seat in the highest chair. “This is Amelia. She stowed away.”
Without a word, both crewmembers stood and walked away.
Her itchy forehead confirmed what she suspected. The crewmembers were not human.
She shrugged. “Chatty, aren’t they?”
He turned his gaze to her. “I think you should hope that the fog doesn’t let you through.”
Amelia’s chest tightened. “Is that possible?”
Damn. If all of this effort didn’t get her to the Wiccan Haus, she didn’t know what would. Her gut told her she needed to get to the Wiccan Haus.
Damek usually loved the trip through the fog. The magic energy flowed through him every time he traveled through it. He loved that his magic helped guide the boat. These few moments were the only magic he allowed himself to use. People got hurt—or worse—when he lost control, and handling his abilities had never been his forte.
But now he dreaded the fog. The second they’d gone through, one of the Rowans would have been alerted that his very hot stowaway had broken onto his boat. Rekkus was going to haul him up by his toenails and dangle him upside down until his head exploded.
Not that Damek could blame him. The first order of business had to be protecting Cyrus Rowan from the people who were after him. His job, as the man who ferried the passengers to the island, made him the first line of defense against potential enemies. Today he had failed. Although he did not suspect the quirky little doctor of going after Cyrus, if Myron, the resident psychic on the island, hadn’t given her a reservation, she shouldn’t be there at all.
Now, either the fog would not allow her entrance to the island and she’d remain on the boat, transported back to the mainland without reaching her destination, or security would handle her. He didn’t much care for either option.
Why did he want to keep this woman with him? He should be itching to get rid of her.
Women needed to be taken care of, loved, cherished, and he wasn’t in a position to do that anymore. Not for anyone.
She touched his arm. “You’re sad. Do you want to talk about it?”
“I’m sad?” He stared down at her. Her touch made him want…and that wasn’t a good thing since he’d never be in a position to
. “Where did that come from?”
“It’s just something I’ve always known, when someone is carrying pain. I’m not all that good at stopping their suffering, not as proficient as I thought. But I can listen.”
Oh hell. The girl had some kind of empathic abilities. He didn’t need that. His sadness—or whatever it was after all of the years he’d been carrying it around—was his own. No one else got to hear about it.
The island appeared on the other end of the fog. He looked down at her. The fog was going to let Amelia into the Wiccan Haus after all.
He stared at her big brown eyes. “Do yourself a favor. Okay? Don’t tell a lie. Not a single one. Speak only the truth. They might yell, scream, whatever. No one will hurt you if you don’t mean them harm.”
“I never intended to lie and I certainly do not expect violence.” She bit her finger nail.
His cock had been at attention since he’d pulled her out of the cargo hold. She was tall for a woman and he liked it, which surprised him. In the past, he’d been drawn to petite women. She held his eye contact well. Her big brown depths were sharp and focused. Although she’d broken the rules coming aboard, she hadn’t tried to deny it or make excuses. She’d simply stated her reasons and moved on to face her future.
Her face was round and makeup free. She didn’t look like a woman who had a high powered job or a fancy degree. Instead, she gave off the impression of being the girl next door, completely without finesse but just natural in her beauty. Although he’d never lived next to any woman with cleavage as prominent and firm as Amelia’s. He wanted to reach out and squeeze one until her nipples peaked. Instead, he turned his head away.
What kind of monster first kills his wife and then forgets all about her to fuck a woman he doesn’t even know? Fantasizing about it was bad enough. He would not allow it to occur.
A woman with her dark black hair and perfectly refined features would never be interested in him anyway. Except maybe as a case study for a paper.
They came closer to the dock. He turned his attention from Amelia and her unattainable hotness to the controls. Most of the trip happened through magic, but pulling in and out required some old-fashioned steering.
He’d done it hundreds of times. In an emergency, his crew could handle it. Still, he’d never docked in front of the entire Rowan family and the majority of the security staff all together before. Usually he got one or two of them, but the whole family?
Fortunately, he performed without destroying anything. Beneath him, the two-man crew ran about helping the departing passengers and collecting the luggage. The Rowans were saying hello to the guests. He never got over the scene. The people coming to the Wiccan Haus would leave a week later changed men and women. They would be relaxed and on the way to healing emotionally.