Authors: Dana Marie Bell
Join me in my circles three.
Grant me your clarity.”
The water in the bowl rippled, a green Hecate’s Wheel appearing in its depths, shining with the pure light of a warlock Own. Her call had been answered, her plea heard. The elements would protect her from adversity.
The quarters called, Gen stepped toward the altar, ready to summon the God and the Goddess to watch over her. She just hoped they heard her as easily as the elements had.
She turned to the altar and picked up a lit candle. She preferred not to use matches or lighters on the altar itself. Instead, the small white candle, bathed in salt water and essential oils and dedicated to the gods, sat waiting, lit well ahead of time. From this candle she would light the golden and silver candles that represented the gods. Lifting the flame to the golden candle, Gen chose to call on the lighter aspects of the God and the Goddess.
“Lord of the Wild, sun's delight,
Hear me now, know my plight.
Your faithful child cries out to Thee;
Join me in my circles three!”
Gen lit the golden candle and waited.
The sun’s warmth filled her as in the darkness horns called faintly. The Lord had heard her.
Gen called upon the Goddess, pouring herself into her cry. She couldn’t call on the Dark Lady this night, not with the moon so full and bright, but she
call on Hecate’s other aspects instead.
“Lady of Magic, beacon of might,
Hear me now, know my plight.
Your faithful child cries out to Thee;
Join me in my circles three!”
Gen held her breath and waited.
The breeze died down. An owl hooted off in the distance, and a dog barked in response. The circles flared bright, even the black one.
Gen closed her eyes and lifted her arms to the sky. Silently, she channeled her Goddess, no longer needing words now that Her presence filled the three circles.
A vision appeared in her mind’s eye, so crisp and sharp she almost felt as if she could reach out and touch her brother Hugh.
And Hugh, bastard that he was, was up to their father’s old tricks. There was nothing she could do as Hugh carved symbols into the black-handled athame, whispering words to the demonic forces he’d chosen to ally himself with.
It was the way of warlocks, the price they all paid for their power. Unlike other magic users, a warlock’s power came from without, not within. A warlock was born in tune with forces beyond their control, and at puberty, when they reached the yearning stage, the seduction began.
Still children when it started, most warlocks fell to the lure of the darker pathways, allowing themselves to be corrupted by the forces that whispered sweet power into their ears. And the dark powers always delivered on those promises. Riches, fame, love, it mattered not what the warlock gave their soul away for. They would attain it, but at a cost.
a cost for a warlock.
Those that resisted, who managed to seek power elsewhere, were few and far between. Some chose to bond with the elements, a dangerous choice if your will was weak. The elements were fickle, and could easily burn out a young warlock before he learned control. Those that survived bonding with the elements became guardians of the earth, doing everything in their power to turn back the tide of man-made poisons that were slowly killing their world.
Or a warlock could appeal to the gods, binding themselves to divinity and risk becoming a warrior bound to the god’s will. If they succeeded, either the Goddess or the God could accept the plea of the young warlock, making them into an Own, though the Goddess accepted more often than the God. Those the gods rejected usually found a bond with an element, or even more rarely, another magic user, such as a wizard or witch.
Those who survived that divine touch, like Gen, pursued the evil that infected the magical world. Gen often found herself confronting warlocks who abused their powers to dally with mundanes and magics alike.
And Gen knew the best way to stop a warlock was to cut them off from the source of their power. If she could find, and bind, the demon Hugh had made a pact with, Hugh would lose his magic and all the benefits he’d derived from his evil pact.
Gen concentrated on the symbols Hugh was carving into the blade, and frowned. None of them made sense. It was like he carved nonsense on the blade. But she made a mental note of the symbols. She would draw them out later, research them to find what Hugh was looking for. If he was becoming a soul-stealer like their father…
The image of Gareth formed next to Hugh, a startling, ghostlike vision that gazed at her with sorrowful golden eyes.
Oh. Oh, Goddess, please no. Please don’t let Hugh be targeting Gareth.
But the vision remained firm, the symbols Hugh carved into the blade taking on an even more ominous meaning as Gareth’s ghost flowed into the blade.
Hugh was targeting Gareth specifically. He wasn’t going after the mates; he was going after the king.
The vision changed, showing her Arthur. Wherever Arthur was holed up was unfamiliar to her, her brother’s quarters cramped and dingy. She began to wonder if he was still even in the country. If not, then Hugh was the clearer threat, so Hugh would be her quarry first.
Gen lowered her arms and thanked the Goddess. Her path was clear, the crossroads left behind. Hugh would be the third Godwin to fall.
And may the gods have mercy on his lost soul.
One day until the full moon. One day, and Gen
Gareth was beginning to seriously worry. If she didn’t appear soon, he’d have no choice but to cancel the Beckett spell and undergo the king ritual without her.
Gareth bit back a growl. His annoyance, mingled with his wolf’s impatience, was beginning to get to him. “Yes, McDorman?”
“I’m sorry, sire, but we’ve received word of a sighting of Genevieve Godwin.”
“Really?” Now didn’t that news make his day? “Where?”
McDorman squirmed. “It seems the lady paid a visit to Vivian Godwin two days ago.”
“Is she still there?” It was a slim hope, but that was all he had to tide him over right now.
“No, sire. I’m afraid there’s been no further sign of her.”
“Shit.” Gareth ran his hand through his hair. “Get Vivian Godwin on the phone.”
“Yes, sire.” McDorman scurried off, muttering to himself.
Gareth knew what was making the little man so jumpy. He’d refused to leave his home until Gen returned, but if she wasn’t here within the next day, he’d have no choice but to fly out to the court to be crowned. McDorman had made it more than clear that Gareth was needed.
Too bad he was filled with the sense that Gen needed him far more than the court did. His wolf paced beneath his skin, eager to shift and hunt down his mate wherever she was hiding.
Gareth whipped around. “Yes?”
“I have Ms. Godwin for you.”
Gareth held out his hand. Once the cell phone was placed in it, he held it to his ear. “Ms. Godwin. It’s a pleasure to speak with you.”
“Yes, your highness.” The woman sounded sour and full of disapproval. Whether that was for him or for Gen remained to be seen. “I understand you had a question for me regarding Genevieve.”
The contempt that dripped from her tone when she said Gen’s name filled him with anger, but for Gen’s sake he had to hold on to his temper. This woman might be his only key to finding Gen. “Yes. I’d like to know where she is.”
“I do not know, nor do I care. I have disowned that entire branch of the family.”
Disowned. Shit. Gen wasn’t there anymore. “Why did you disown her?”
Silence, as if Vivian Godwin was surprised by the question. “She is a warlock, your highness. What more reason could I need?”
“She’s an Own, and your niece.” If this was the welcome his mate had received from her own relatives, he could imagine how the court would react to her.
“She’s a warlock. You, of all people, should understand how dangerous and unstable a Godwin warlock is, your highness.”
He blinked. “She’s tied to the Goddess, Ms. Godwin, not a demon. She aided my brother—”
“Ah, yes. The witch.”
Gareth bit back a snarl. No one should ever speak of his brother with such amused disdain. After everything Zach had been through and the sacrifice he’d made to save Chris, Zach should be treated with nothing but respect. “You have a problem with my brother?”
Either the woman didn’t understand the threat in Gareth’s tone, or she didn’t care. “It seems such a shame that a lineage as old and uncorrupted as the Becketts has such a stain upon it.”
“Said the pot to the kettle.” Gareth hoped this woman planned on remaining in her cave, communing with her bats or something. Because if she showed up at court he was going to bite her ass off. “By the way, how
Davis, Cole, Hugh and Arthur?”
“At least Davis had one thing right. It should have been a Godwin on the throne, not some flea-bitten, cursed almost-mundane.” And with that, Vivian Godwin hung up on him.
“I don’t think she likes me.” He handed the phone back to McDorman, who stared at in shock.
“Sire, she’s very powerful in the court. She could cause you problems with some of the other families.”
“She can try.” Gareth smiled.
From the expression on McDorman’s face it was a little more feral than he’d planned. “Yes, sire.” The man fidgeted with the phone. “If Lady Genevieve was turned away by her family, where else might she go?”
Gareth shook his head. “She’s an Own, and she’s probably hunting down her brothers.” Alone. God, even knowing she was made for this, the thought of Gen facing Hugh or Arthur, or both, by herself gave him hives.
He’d felt her strength when she drove the darkness off of him. Their souls had twined around one another. While he had no doubt she was capable of doing what needed to be done…
But, dear gods, she looked like a Disney princess, not a fierce warrior battling against evil. Gen had shining, innocent blue eyes framed by pale blonde hair she wore cropped to her chin. She was thin, so thin a stiff breeze could lift her off the ground. He could hold both her wrists in one hand. And the prim way she dressed and spoke made him want to rumple her up, get beneath that princess exterior to find the woman underneath.
He hadn’t felt that way the first time he saw her. He’d snarled, and snapped, and tried to drive her from Christopher’s home. In his defense, she was a Godwin, an enemy of their family, and he’d thought he was protecting his brothers and their mates.
Maybe that was why she hadn’t come. Maybe she was resisting the pull between them because he’d done nothing to indicate that his attitude toward her had truly changed.
But there was one family member she felt comfortable around. “I need to call Lana.”
He took the phone back and began dialing. Lana and Gen had become tight, even more so than Gen and Jo, Zach’s mate. Jo would be the next person he called. Maybe one of the mates knew where Gen was holed up. “Lana Evans.”
McDorman’s eyes went wide. “
Evans? Granddaughter of Annabelle Evans, the head of the Philadelphia witch coven?”
“The one and the same.”
The ringing stopped, and a warm, feminine, very familiar voice spoke. “Hello?”
Gareth grinned at the sound of his future sister-in-law’s voice. “Hey, Lana.”
“Gareth! Is it good to be the king?”
He chuckled. “It would be better if my mate were here.”
“You cast the spell?” Her excitement was coming through loud and clear. Lana’s generous heart was just one of the things that made her perfect for his brother.
“I’ve got the spells set up, but we’ve run into a problem.”
“What do you need?”
Gareth knew if he asked both Chris and Lana would come running. “I need to find Gen.”
Silence on the line. Did Lana know that Gen was his mate? “Tell me you didn’t cast the spell at a specific person.”
“I didn’t cast the spell at a specific person.”
Lana sighed. “Gareth.”
“Why does everybody assume I’m a moron?” He didn’t feel any better when Lana giggled. “I know better than to target that kind of spell at a single person. That doesn’t mean Gen isn’t my mate.”
“What are you going to do if some stranger shows up in response to the call?”
That thought hadn’t even occurred to him. “It won’t be a stranger. It will be Gen.” He knew that the way he knew his wolf. Nothing less was acceptable. “Look, that’s not why I called. I need to know if you know where Gen is.”
“I have no idea.”
He closed his eyes against the sudden shot of fear. “I need to know she’s safe.”
“I have a bad feeling that she’s in trouble. Please, Lana.”
“In that case I wish I could help you. But I don’t have a clue. The only thing I know is she was planning on going after her brothers, and she thinks you hate her.”