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Authors: Serenity Woods

Two Passionate Proposals

 

 

Two Passionate Proposals

 

by Serenity Woods

 

Two Passionate Proposals

 

Text copyright 2013 Serenity Woods

All Rights Reserved

 

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and
incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events,
locales or organizations is coincidental.

Black Hawke Down

It’s not often a man is sent to assassinate
the love of his life.

Major Cameron Hawke waited in the shadows,
still and silent, icily calm. Almost invisible with his black combat suit and
jet-black hair, he studied the doorway of the motel unit where the
ex-girlfriend he’d hunted halfway across the world had finally gone to ground.
How ironic—and yet fitting—he’d been the first to track her down. Wanted for
murder, and for treason against the British Crown, she’d also broken his heart.
It was only fair he’d be the one to put a bullet through hers.

He touched the space between his eyebrows
and activated his second sight. The midnight scene sprang into colour, the
orange and lemon trees pulsing with a green glow, while smaller, red auras
showed nocturnal animals hidden in the undergrowth. But Hawke kept his
attention pinned to the motel door. The frame glittered with scarlet dust,
illuminated by the protective seal she’d placed on it.

Normally, he would have cursed, knowing any
magical seal set by Imogen was going to be impenetrable. However, the glitter
appeared dim, not as vibrant as it should be, dull patches indicating the seal’s
age. Obviously, she hadn’t bothered to renew the spell, had no doubt thought
she’d be safe for several days. But then she hadn’t known he was tracking her.

The phone on Hawke’s belt vibrated against
his hip and he removed it and dropped to his haunches, keeping one eye on the
door. The message on the display came from headquarters—the New Zealand branch
of the S.U.—the Supernatural Unit of the British Army. They wanted to know if
he’d found her yet.

Hawke studied the text for a moment. Then
he hit reply and quickly thumbed in:
Not yet, possibly in range, LMK when u r
near
. He hit send and slid the phone back onto his belt. He lied easily
enough. Even without the seal on the door, he would have known she was in that
room. He sensed her, knew the pulse of her aura as well as other, ordinary men
knew their girlfriend’s perfume. But he didn’t want to report her as found. Not
yet. He’d be damned if someone else came in and spoiled his moment of victory.
He wanted to take her down himself.

She’d led him a merry dance, no doubt about
that. He’d tracked her across Europe, lost her temporarily in Rome, then picked
her up in Prague. He’d trailed her to India and across the seas to Singapore,
then finally followed her to the other side of the world, to the two islands
comprising New Zealand, adrift in the Pacific Ocean. There, he’d had trouble
pinning her down; she’d left the main cities and holed up in a tiny town in the
tropical Northland, and she’d clearly thought she was safe, for a while at
least.

Hadn’t she guessed he would be sent to find
her? Perhaps she didn’t think she was important enough. She obviously hadn’t realised
practically the whole of the S.U. was on the hunt for her under the orders of
the major-general herself. Then again, it wasn’t often a captain of the S.U.
defected—in fact, this was a first, as far as he knew. And not just any old
captain, but the most powerful nature witch the S.U. had seen in a long time.
To lose her to Chaos was a catastrophic disaster for the Forces of Light. He
wasn’t surprised the whole of the magical army was hunting her.

Hawke stood and crept up to the building.
The unit was one of eight belonging to the motel, scattered in a grassy park
surrounded by mandarins, kiwifruit and lemon trees. Having never been to New
Zealand, Hawke found he liked the tropical palms and the warm, humid weather.
Even now, at midnight in the middle of January, the sultry air caressed him
with warm fingers. In better circumstances, he might have enjoyed the trip, but
now he focussed on the task at hand and barely noticed his surroundings. The
resentment and anger that had boiled inside him since the day Imogen left
stirred once again, and he harnessed those feelings, feeling them stroke their
way through him, heating his blood. Good. He would need every ounce of power he
possessed to fight the witch. He could use the negative feelings she aroused
against her. The thought made him smile.

He stroked the doorway from the top of the
frame to the bottom. A silvery light radiated from the places he touched and
spread to the edges, eating away at the sparkling red seal. Within seconds, he
dispelled the charm.

Hawke put his palm above the handle. As a warlock
skilled in the lore of metal, he had no trouble forcing the door to unlock.
When the mechanism clicked open, however, he paused. A seed of doubt lodged in
his chest—the first bit of hesitation to enter his mind since he’d been given
this mission. Had she changed since he last saw her over six months ago? What
would he feel when he finally faced her? Could he really kill the one woman in
his life he’d truly loved?

But it had all been a lie, he told himself
fiercely. None of it had been true. All the time they’d been dating, she’d been
working for Chaos, waiting for the moment she could betray them all to the dark
forces. He’d only been a diversion for her, and she’d discarded him without a
second thought or a backward glance. He owed her nothing.

The resentment and anger built in his solar
plexus and he welcomed those feelings, drawing on the emotions to expand his
energy. His hands grew hot, his blood thickened with magic, and the taste of
metal flooded his mouth.

Pushing down the handle, he moved quickly
into the unit.

He stepped into a small, pitch-dark living
room. His eyes already used to the darkness, he scanned the room, found it
empty, and strode quickly to the corridor at the other end where the bedroom
door stood ajar. He didn’t stop to think. His assassin’s instincts kicked in,
and he went into autopilot. He thrust the door open, gathering the energy in
his solar plexus and holding out his hand toward the figure lying on the bed.

Molten lead scorched down his arms and
pooled in his hands, forming bullets that cracked out the ends of his fingers.
As the bullets moulded, however, the woman on the bed moved, awoken by a sense
more honed than her hearing or sight, and as his fingers sparked, she hurled
herself off the side of the bed. The bullets thudded into the mattress, missing
their target by inches.

“Fuck!” He’d lost the element of surprise.
His success had depended on catching her unaware; now he’d have to face her
head on. There had been a time when he’d thought himself more powerful than
her, but that was before he’d known of her involvement with Chaos, and now he
wasn’t so sure.

The witch rolled to her feet and, as he
gathered the energy within his hands to fire again, she held out her palm toward
him. Her ball of lightning hit him squarely in the solar plexus, and he gasped
as it thrust him back against the dressing table, knocking him off balance.

His hands curled and his middle fingers
touched his thumbs, forming circles of metal that he threw at her, but she
waved her hand, a caress that turned the manacles to brightly coloured flower
petals that floated to the carpet.

Her fingers traced a pattern in the air and
thin vines snaked up his legs, anchoring him to the floor. He ripped his feet
away, slicing at the vines with white-hot blades that fell from his hands.
Anger burned within him, and he built a sphere of energy between his palms.
Before she could raise her power again, he fired another round of bullets at
her. She ducked behind the bed, but not before he heard a squeal; at least one
of them had found its target this time.

He leapt onto the bed. She cowered on the
other side, and he held out a hand toward her. She glanced up at him, and his
gaze locked on her face, pale as milk, eyes wide with pain. A memory shot
through him of her lying beside him, eyes gentle after their lovemaking,
laughing at something he’d said, and he faltered. The molten lead that had been
gathering in his hands fell onto the bed in a shower of ball bearings that bounced
and rolled onto the floor.

Damn it! Cursing, he started to summon his
energy into a glowing ball of razor-sharp blades, but she’d seen his weakness,
and she rose before the weapons left his hands. With a twist of her wrists, she
turned the blades into dandelion puffs that floated away to the ceiling. She
laced another pattern before her, and vines traced up his body and down his
arms.

He started to build his energy again, but
she moved her hands and pulled his feet out from under him. He fell backward
onto the bed, narrowly missing banging his head on the wall, and collapsed onto
the pile of pillows. The vines moved across him, snaking rapidly over his torso
and legs and up his arms. He cursed, scattering more bullets in her direction,
but she twisted out of their way, no doubt sensing victory. His hands were
wrenched above his head, and he looked up to see vines wrapping around the
headboard, pinning his arms and hands flat against the wooden slats.

With his hands bound and fingers
outstretched, he couldn’t cast. He was defenceless. He swore and fought with
all his strength, but the magic twine was as strong as his steel rope, lashing
him to the bed. He swore again, loudly and violently, trying to use his brute
strength to rip out the vines, but only succeeding in giving himself rope burns
and a couple of wrenched muscles.

He stopped struggling and glared into the
dark corner of the room where she stood. To his right, an outside lamp
illuminated the pathway and slanted in through the glass sliding doors, casting
a pool of silver between them across the bed. His stomach twisted with anger
and fear as she walked toward him into the light. He’d seen her split daemons
apart, forcing branches and thorns through skin and muscle, ignoring their
screams until she’d dispatched them back to the hell from which they came. He
knew what she was capable of.

She stepped forward until the light
completely illuminated her. Her voice, when she spoke, was quiet with
disbelief.

“Cameron?”

Hawke stared at her. Her right hand pressed
against her left shoulder, and blood oozed between her fingers. Against her
black vest and shorts, her skin looked as white as the sheets on the bed. Her
hair, which was the yellow of ripe corn in the sun, now looked pale as
moonlight, and it curled well past her shoulders, untouched by any form of
scissors for the past few months. She’d lost so much weight he barely
recognised her. Her lips were bloodless, her eyes wide and dark in her pale
face. She looked like a hunted animal that had learned to survive in fear and
darkness.

His gaze traced up her figure, lingered on
the whiteness of her skin where the vest dipped between her breasts, paused on
her soft, pale lips, her dark eyes. She was still the most beautiful woman he’d
ever seen. But she’d given herself to Chaos; she had let her heart be infested
with blackness. She was pure evil, and she’d already broken his heart once. He
wasn’t going to let her do it again. Hatred burned within him, although with
his hands bound he couldn’t focus it. He cursed himself for the moment of
weakness leading to this moment.

He wasn’t going to get out of his bonds by
force. He was going to have to find some other way. He saw the confusion in her
eyes, the vulnerability, and suddenly he knew what to do.

“Hello, Imogen.” He smiled. “Found you.”

*

Captain Imogen Williamson—for that was how
she thought of herself, although the S.U. had withdrawn her rank—stepped back
into the shadows so she could hide her reaction from the man on the bed.

She surveyed him from the privacy of the
darkness. Her heart thumped against her ribs, the surge causing the wound in
her shoulder to pulse. She ignored it, too shocked by his arrival to worry
about the pain.

Was it really him? Her brain refused to
believe what her eyes were seeing. How could he be here, in New Zealand,
thirteen thousand miles away from where she’d left him? And yet, it was him,
clearly. Her eyes scanned the body she knew so well. Broad shoulders, narrow
waist, long legs, all encased in padded black armour, his well-muscled arms now
pinned tightly against the headboard. He wouldn’t like that. His eyes glittered
with anger, pools of molten silver in the light from the window. His black hair
was longer than she’d seen it before; although short up the back and sides, the
top didn’t stand up in its usual spiky bristle but rather slanted across his
forehead, covering one eyebrow. The energy spilling from his muscular body
washed over her like a liquid. He was like a chained panther, straining at a
leash. She could feel the heat of his blood coursing around his body from
across the room, making her burn. His sheer power made her catch her breath.

She wanted to run up to him, to throw
herself in his arms. But the wound in her shoulder throbbed, reminding her of
his betrayal.

“They sent you to kill me,” she whispered.

He said nothing, twisting his hands, trying
his bonds. She felt a brief bite of fear. She’d seen what his power could do,
how he could create bands of steel to tighten around a daemon’s head until its
brain burst, the way he could form tiny daggers to slice off a monster’s skin
in inch-wide strips, how he could pour molten metal into a creature’s mouth,
burning it from the inside out. The bonds held, though, keeping his hands above
him, containing his magic, while his eyes searched for her in the darkness,
sweeping like the beam from a lighthouse.

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