Authors: Dana Marie Bell
First, she ran a pentacle circled in diamonds through the sage to cleanse it, then over them both while chanting.
“To this court Gareth Beckett is bound.
Let King Gareth’s rule be both strong and sound.”
The diamond was a purifying stone, and was considered a powerful binding gem. The symbolism and stone bound Gareth to both his craft and the court.
Next, she picked up a single earring made of garnet. A gem of both protection and destruction, it symbolized Gareth’s power within the court. He would be their protector as well as their bane should they betray the court.
“To this court Gareth Beckett is bound.
Let King Gareth’s wisdom be renowned.”
It wasn’t until Ms. Fletcher slipped the earring into Gareth’s right ear that she realized his ear was even pierced. Gen did
get a similar gem. Hers was not Gareth’s power. This part of the ritual, the gifting of the stones, was solely for the king.
Last, Ms. Fletcher picked up an amethyst ring, the purple stone the symbol of the wizard king. The color of their power, it amplified a wizard’s gifts and would protect the wearer against psychic manipulation.
“To this court Gareth Beckett is bound.
Let King Gareth’s protection around us be found.”
That phrasing was surprising. It invoked Gareth’s protection of the court, not the other way around. She hoped that wouldn’t come back to bite Gareth in the ass.
Luckily, the spell wasn’t wrapped around Gen. She could act if he could not, and for the first time she was grateful she was a warlock and not a wizard. Otherwise, the same spells and gems would have been granted to her, tying her hands and keeping her from protecting Gareth.
Ms. Fletcher placed the ring on Gareth’s finger.
“Lord and Lady, with this ring
I hereby crown Gareth Beckett king.
By the law of three times three,
As I will so mote it be!”
Purple light enveloped Gareth, much like when the Goddess touched Gen, granting Her power to Her Own. Gen’s green light blended with Gareth’s purple, marking them as king and queen-consort before every wizard in the court.
As the crowd politely clapped, Gen knew it wasn’t over. Not by a long shot.
“I hate your ass.”
Gareth grinned as Daniel stepped up beside him. This was the first time they’d had a chance to speak, and he figured Daniel would have plenty to say. “You forgot the majesty.”
“Fine. I hate your ass, your majesty. Seriously. I. Hate. It.” Each word was accompanied by a poke of Daniel’s finger against his arm. “May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your testicles, your assholeness.”
“Why are you wishing me itchy balls?” Gareth plucked a glass of champagne from the tray of a passing waiter, who didn’t even bat an eye at the conversation he was having with Daniel. This was turning out to be way more fun than he’d thought it would be.
“Gee, I don’t know. Maybe it has something to do with moving me to fucking New York without fucking asking me first. Fucktard.”
“Butt munch. You’ll love it here and you know it.”
Daniel made a rude noise. “You just want someone nearby who won’t kiss your ass. I swear, they all look like they’re wearing brown lipstick.”
Gareth kept himself from laughing, but Daniel was right. He’d seen more puckering tonight than the first time Zach made homemade lemonade and forgot to add the sugar. “I’ll admit, my ass is getting sore.” He batted his lashes at his brother. “But I’m the belle of the ball.”
Daniel snorted, but the champagne glass froze halfway to his lips as he stared across the room. “Of course, I can see why you want me here.”
Gareth was startled at the amount of growling coming out of his brother. “What—” Then he saw where Daniel was looking and began snarling himself.
Genevieve had been cornered by three women, a situation that wasn’t in and of itself unusual. His mate had a warmth and gentleness about her that drew others to her. He could see why she’d attract attention.
But Gen looked anything but serene. Her cheeks were flushed, her lips tight. Her chin was up and her eyes flashed. The woman who was currently speaking said something that made Gen flinch, and Gareth’s snarl deepened. “Who is that?”
“I don’t know, but I intend to eat her.”
Gareth grinned savagely and took a step forward, ready to stand by his mate and defend her from the bevy of bitches making her look unhappy.
He needn’t have bothered. Jo and Zach had flanked Gen, Jo giving Gen a huge hug. If anyone could make the old biddies back off it was Zach. Already his spaz of a brother was waving his arms in the air, knocking the champagne out of one of the matrons’ hands. Another woman turned on him and began obviously chastising him, but Zach merely gave her that new, self-confident grin and said something that made all four women back up.
It probably didn’t hurt that his brother chose to light up, literally. Zach’s power as an Own flowed over him, causing him to glow with a faint white light. Whatever those women had said to Gen had caused Zach’s power to come awake enough to warn them off.
“You need to finish claiming her.”
Gareth grimaced. “She has to accept me first. If she doesn’t…” Gareth flinched as Daniel slapped him upside the head. “Hello, asshole. King here?”
Daniel rolled his eyes. “Have you seen the way she watches you? Trust me, she’ll accept you.”
Gareth wasn’t so sure. If she wanted him as badly as Daniel believed, why had she run from him? He had hope, because she hadn’t tried to back away from him once they’d touched the Beckett ring together, but she hadn’t exactly sought out his company, either. “Let’s get over there. If we show a united front they’ll back off.”
“The Beckett brothers always protect their own.” Daniel followed him to where Gen was and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. “Hey, sis.”
Gen looked adorably flustered as she pressed her fingertips to the spot Daniel had kissed. “Hello, Daniel.”
Gareth wrapped his arm around Gen’s waist, pressing his own kiss where Daniel’s lips had been. He loved his brother dearly, but he needed to keep his mouth to himself, at least where Gen was concerned. “Hello, sweetheart.”
The ladies who’d backed away from the show of Zach’s power scowled. One in particular seemed bothered by the way he drew Gen closer to him. “Your majesty, may I have a moment of your time.” She turned on her heel, the statement a demand rather than a request, obviously expecting him to follow her.
Gareth calmly sipped his champagne. “Hey, Zach.”
Zach hugged him, pounding him on the back and nearly spilling Gareth’s drink. “Congratulations, bro.”
Gareth grinned. There was joy in Zach’s voice, something that had been sadly missing when his little brother first went off to the witch court. But Zach had grown a lot since then. He’d come into his powers, removed a powerful curse by himself and mated one of the strongest females Gareth had ever met. The only person who seemed to truly intimidate Johra Yashodar was Annabelle Evans, and he didn’t blame her one little bit. Annabelle intimidated him as well. “Zach.” He pulled back. “Hand.”
Zach rolled his eyes and held out his hand. Gareth grinned. The burn mark that had marred Zach’s palm was completely healed now. The brand that had been burned into his skin was still there, Hecate’s Wheel now a part of his brother’s flesh and a visible reminder of the price Zach had willingly paid to save Chris from death.
“It’s all good now.” Zach flexed his fingers to prove his point.
Jo came forward for her own hug, one Gareth gladly gave. “I made him ditch the glove.”
“She did.” Zach watched indulgently as Jo hugged Gen. “Says I don’t need to hide anymore.”
Jo nodded firmly. “You don’t.” And that made Gareth love Jo even more.
were giving Gen a hard time.” Zach’s easy grin turned hard. “We need to remind them exactly who she is now.”
The brothers exchanged a look, and Daniel waved to someone in the crowd. Gareth wasn’t surprised to find Chris suddenly at their side, Lana tucked firmly under his arm. “Nice party.”
Gareth rolled his eyes as the woman who’d demanded to speak to him returned. “Biddy alert.”
One of the four women gasped in outrage. “Your majesty!”
Gareth raised his eyebrows and tried to stare her down. “Hmm?”
“We need to discuss your choice of consort.” The woman who’d gasped squared her shoulders and tried to give him the evil eye, but Gareth had lived with a woman far scarier than this one could ever be. “Now.”
“I don’t believe you get to make demands of my son, Evelina Zimmerman.”
Gareth hid his smile as his mother stepped next to Gen, his father at her back. This pack of bitches had no idea who they were messing with, but they were about to find out. Edward and Marjory Beckett were not the type to fool around when it came to their children. “Mother. You look stunning tonight.” He kissed her cheek before clasping hands with his father. “Dad. Nice monkey suit.”
“Gareth.” His mother’s long-suffering sigh was full of affection.
His father merely winked. “Thanks, son.”
“I’m afraid we cannot accept one of
as our queen-consort. Surely you can see that, Marjory.”
His mother’s attention returned to Evelina’s posse of women. “My son is king.” She nodded regally before turning her back on them. “Gen. You look lovely tonight, my dear.”
Gen, her expression politically serene, accepted the hug Marjory gave her. “Thank you, Marjory.”
“You may call me Mother, dear. All my daughters-in-law do.”
From the confused expressions on Lana and Jo’s faces, it was news to them, but they backed Marjory up with smiles and nods, presenting a united front. Or back, considering none of them were facing the four who’d been giving his mate a hard time.
“Thank you, Mother.” Gen’s cheeks had taken on a rosy color, and the corners of her mouth had turned up. She was pleased, and his wolf rumbled in contentment.
“This isn’t the end, your majesty. We plan on lodging a formal complaint.”
Gareth ignored the voices behind him. They didn’t matter. Only his mate, and her happiness, could hold his attention for long. He bowed over Gen’s hand. “Dance with me?”
That pleased blush darkened, her hand trembling in his. “Of course, Gareth.”
He led her onto the dance floor, ignoring the rumbling of the quartet who’d given her a hard time. From the mutters, they didn’t like Gen calling him by his given name.
Too bad. His mate could call him whatever she wished, so long as she was happy. He’d answer to Monkey Boy if it made her smile.
He’d never tell her that, of course. That was just asking for it.
So he led her in their first waltz together, enjoying the way she moved gracefully in his arms. They weren’t by any means professional ballroom dancers, but they managed to twirl around the floor without causing any damage to themselves or those watching. It was a good thing Gareth had snuck in some lessons with his mother once he found out he would be the king. They’d both known formal balls would be in his future from now on, and he hadn’t wanted to make an ass of himself.
Gen danced like she’d been doing this all her life. She probably had. The Godwins had been a prominent wizard family before the shit hit the fan.
“Don’t let them get to you.”
Gen’s serene expression turned confused. “What?”
“Don’t let what anyone else thinks bother you. You’re mine. They can go fuck themselves.”
She blinked up at him. “I can understand their concerns. Gareth—”
“Nope. They don’t get to treat you like shit because your dad was a fuckhead.” She giggled, and he felt ten feet tall. “You hold your head high, and if anyone gives you shit, remember that it’s good to be the queen.”
“Queen-consort,” she corrected hastily.
He huffed, dipped her, and took a moment to run his nose down the long, elegant line of her neck. The urge to fuck, to bite, to mark her so no one could ever take her from him roared through him once more. “Mine.”
Her nails scored his neck, but her head tilted back submissively. “Yours.”
If only he could believe that, he’d be a very happy wizard.
“You realize how unacceptable your presence is here, do you not, Genevieve?”
Gen froze, halfway to the elevator that led to the private rooms she now shared with Gareth.
rooms. The thought had her blushing furiously. Gareth had made it perfectly clear that this was Gen’s new home, and that no one could take it from her. They’d have to go through the Becketts first.
No one sane wanted to face off with the Becketts. Their reputation had been assured after Chris dueled Cole, and had soared even higher after Zach defeated her father. Having an Own, even one who was a witch, had given them a certain cachet. Add in the fact that Gareth was now the wizard king, and pissing off the Becketts was very low on the wizardly to-do list.
Of course, Vivian Godwin never did anything by halves.