Authors: Spencer Pape,Cindy
A Total-E-Bound Publication
Wings of the Raven
©Copyright Cindy Spencer Pape 2009
Cover Art by April Martinez ©Copyright August 2009
Edited by Jess Bimberg
This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Total-E-Bound Publishing.
Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Total-E-Bound Publishing. Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.
The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.
Published in 2009 by Total-E-Bound Publishing 1 The Corner,
, Spridlington, Market Rasen,
This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers. This story has been rated
WINGS OF THE RAVEN
Cindy Spencer Pape
To the members of four great
GDRWA, MMRWA, GRRWG, and UWG.
I get something different from each one,
but they all make me a better writer and a happier person.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmark mentioned in this work of fiction:
I stared down at the little plastic test strip in my hand and willed myself not to throw up. The bright pink plus sign might as well have been flashing neon—it burned into my retinas just that vividly.
Holy hell, the shit was really going to hit the fan.
I slumped down onto the closed lid of the toilet in my
apartment. What the hell was I going to do? I needed to tell Will, of course. We might fight like crazy when we weren’t going at it like minks, but he was a family friend as well as one of my business partners, and he deserved to find out he was going to be a father before one of my brothers or cousins did and immediately beat the shit out of him. I had no doubt Will could hold his own against any one of the Maddox men, but there were five of them and they’d all have the same gut reaction, even though Will was their partner and friend. None of them had ever gotten the hint that I wasn’t twelve anymore and didn’t need their protection.
Yeah, because obviously I was doing such a great job of managing my life on my own.
I didn’t cry at the wedding, but I did at the reception.
Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled to see my cousin Evan so happy, and I even liked the bright turquoise bridesmaid gown his new wife had selected for me to wear. I was more than happy to welcome Hannah into both the family and the business I shared with my two brothers, three cousins, and Hannah’s brother Will. I was thrilled to no longer be the only woman in the firm. No, the only problem I had that night was William Tanner Lightfoot.
Ever since I’d joined Guardian Investigations and Security—the company started by my older brothers and cousins, and one cousin’s army buddy—the only partner who wasn’t a relative had been an enormous pain in my ass. Will thinks I should be nothing more than the office manager. Never mind my degrees in forensic psychology—I’m a trained profiler. Never mind the black belt in Aikido, never mind I win the local gun club’s marksmanship awards every single year. And the fact that, as a member of the Maddox family, I’m a guardian, a magical shape shifter, still doesn’t swing it. To Will, I’m just a silly girl, playing at being a detective.
So why was I crying at Evan and Hannah’s wedding reception? Three guesses. Of course it was because of Will.
I don’t cry easily—I really don’t. But sometimes, if I’m completely and totally pissed off, the tears leak out. It’s an involuntary physiological reaction, one that has annoyed me my entire life. And Will knew it, too, damn his hide.
“Now that we’ve got Hannah in the field, you’ll be able to stay in the office more, manage the business end of things,” he said as we danced. It was the official song we were required to dance together as attendants at the wedding.
“Or we can simply accept more clients,” I returned. “Mindy is a perfectly good office manager and accountant—she doesn’t need me looking over her shoulder.”
“I’m just saying, you’re more use there than in the field,” he said, rubbing it in. “Not like you have any real training anyway. You’re too soft-hearted to be an operative.”
Maybe he had a point, but the way he said it just made me see red—and not the burnished bronze of his part-Navajo skin. “Last time I checked, we were both full partners in Guardian.” I carefully restrained myself from stepping on his foot with a spiked heel. “Which means you’re not my boss. I get to pick my cases just like everyone else.”
Now security work and private investigation isn’t usually anywhere near as glamorous as people think. Mostly it’s a lot of boring insurance work, processing security clearances, testing alarm systems and taking pictures for divorce cases. But Guardian had a reputation among certain circles for being able to handle cases of an unusual nature—and by that I mean other people with paranormal abilities were often involved. So, yeah, things sometimes got messy. I’d learned to deal, and I liked to think I was pretty damned good at it.
Then Will really stuck his foot in his mouth. “Yeah, well maybe we should take a vote and revisit that part of the partnership agreement. I don’t think you belong in the field. Ever.”
Thankfully the song ended just then, so I could escape before anyone saw the tears—or the steam that was probably coming out my ears. I was going to kill him, I swore. Just as soon as it wouldn’t ruin the wedding.
I fled the dance floor through a glass door to the hotel gardens. They had little fairy lights twinkling in the trees, and it was a balmy, beautiful evening. I scurried through the garden until I found a bench under a tree, pretty much hidden from everything. I let the tears run their course, wiping them away with a napkin I’d grabbed from the bar on my way past.
I didn’t hear him creep up on me—the man has the movements of a damned cat. While my hearing is better than the average human, even when I’m not in my raven form, even I can’t hear the Lightfoot siblings unless they want me to.
“I’m sorry,” he muttered. “I didn’t mean you weren’t any good, but damn it, you have to admit, you don’t have the heart for wet work.”
I tipped my head, conceding the point. He’d held my hair while I puked my guts out after my first fire fight—with a band of rogue wizards, nonetheless. Yale still had lightning bolt scars on his shoulder from that one. Messy didn’t begin to describe it.
Will sat beside me and put his hand on my shoulder. “Come back inside,
He sat so close I could feel his warmth, even through his tuxedo jacket. And I could smell him, damn it. The antagonism between us would have been easier to deal with if the man’s scent didn’t make me wet every time I got within five feet of him. He was infuriating, overbearing, and fucking gorgeous. Life just wasn’t fair.
We turned to face each other at exactly the same moment.
...” he began in a voice much deeper than his usual baritone.
We both broke off and laughed, at least sort of. His was breathy and mine probably sounded more like hysteria.
“Ladies first,” he said. Even in the near-darkness, I could see the wry grin that made my stomach tighten every time I saw it.
I shook my head. “Nothing. I was just thinking we should put this on hold until Monday. We don’t want to ruin the wedding.”
“Yeah, I was thinking the same thing,” he admitted sheepishly. “So shall we declare a truce for now? I’ll promise to keep my mouth shut if you promise not to tell my sister I made you cry.”
I held out my hand, but Will had other ideas. Instead of taking my hand, he put his on my shoulders and slowly drew me forward, until my breasts were flush against his broad chest. He gave me plenty of time to get away, but I was frozen, unable to even breathe in case it broke the spell.
Then, finally, his lips came down on mine. Will is a lot taller than me, so I had my head turned way up to look at him. My eyelids fluttered shut as I tuned out every sensation in the world aside from the exquisite pressure of Will’s mouth on mine.
He kissed gently, but with the same firm confidence he did everything else. Somehow my hands ended up clutching the lapels of his tux, and his had moved around to my back. He pressed forward with his tongue and I opened instinctively, welcoming him into the wet heat of my mouth.
He explored the inside of my mouth hungrily and eagerly, tasting every ridge and crevice. I sucked on his tongue, which elicited a moan that rumbled into my mouth. He unzipped my dress and slid his hands inside as the spaghetti straps slipped down my shoulders. Desperately needing to feel his skin myself, I tugged his shirt free of his pants and ran my hands up along his rippled abs. The warm, solid feel of him made my womb clench with longing.
I don’t know how long we kissed—it couldn’t have been too long, because we still had all our clothes on, mostly, when we heard the cough.
We sprang apart, both breathing heavily. I was impressed despite myself. I hadn’t thought anything alive could sneak up on Will, but I hadn’t counted on another Lightfoot.
“They’re looking for you two,” Will’s grandfather said. Josiah Lightfoot might have been over eighty, but he was still a man who inspired respect and admiration. I’m sure my face was beet red as I tried to catch my breath.
“Shit,” Will whispered so softly I barely heard. To his grandfather, he said, “Thanks, Granddad. We’ll be right in. Give us two minutes.”
“I’ll let them know you’re on the way,” the older man said with a warm chuckle. As he turned to walk away, he added, “Might want to get the lipstick off your face first, son.”
“God, I can’t believe he caught us sneaking off to neck like a couple of horny teenagers.” Will reached behind me to zip up the back of my dress, then stood and tucked his shirt back into the waist of his trousers. I was glad I had on a full petticoat with lots of layers, so my wetness wouldn’t have soaked through to my dress. Wouldn’t that have been fun to explain?
I wanted to point out that we hadn’t snuck out intending to play kissy-face, but I was still busy freaking out about the fact that Will had actually kissed me. Me—Carys Maddox, short and pale with riotous black curls and boring grey eyes. Since Will was six foot six and ripped, with a face that should have been on magazine covers, this was, indeed, a momentous occasion.
And it had been fabulous.
Will pulled a handkerchief out of the inside pocket of his coat and wiped his face. I could barely see the spot of lipstick on his cheek, but even without a mirror, he found it unerringly and took care of it. Sometimes hanging out with psychics can be pretty weird.
We went back in, stopping in the restrooms to check our faces and hair, then walked together up to the front, where Hannah was getting ready to throw her bouquet.
I hung back, feeling silly up there at thirty-two years old. One of Hannah’s teenage cousins caught the bouquet, and there was much cheering and laughing.
My brother Rhys caught the garter. I think because he was thinking of something else and forgot to duck. He made a nice show of flirting with the gawky young girl, managing to be sweet instead of creepy. If I had to pick a favourite in my family, it’s Rhys. We’re the two who don’t quite fit the mould. Will had blended into the woodwork, avoiding the garter like it was toxic waste. But he stood next to me a little later as the bride and groom cut the cake, and then even later as we waved them off, their limo trailing more tin cans than a soup factory.
“Are you staying here at the hotel?” he asked.
I shivered, and he had his jacket off and around my shoulders before I could blink.
“Yeah.” I snuggled into the jacket and leaned against a potted palm in the circle drive. Everyone else began to disperse back into the hotel or off to the parking valet, and soon, we were alone. “I’m up on the sixth floor. How about you?”
“Also sixth floor. I’ve never had a sister get married before, so I didn’t know if I’d be wanting to drink or not.” He gave me that wry smile again, and I swear, my knees actually buckled. If his arm hadn’t gone around me, I’d have fallen into a turquoise heap on the concrete. “Come on, I’ll walk you up.”
He took my arm, and I felt the warmth of his touch all the way to my core. My bones went soft and my nipples peaked, rasping against my bra. I’d have been embarrassed by my body’s instant and total reaction to his touch, but I’d heard that same deep, rough note in his voice that I’d heard in the garden, right before he’d kissed me.
Of course I peeked down at the front of his trousers as we crossed the lobby to the elevators. I’m only human—most of the time. Then I swallowed hard as all the moisture in my body immediately went south. He was interested, and he was big. I tried not to stare at the prominent bulge in his pants while we waited for the elevator. Instead I looked up into his face, and that was even a bigger mistake.
Will looks a lot like his Native American ancestors, with his brown-black hair, high cheekbones, and dark bronze skin. One thing he gets from his Romany grandmother, whom I’d also met this weekend, is his vivid, emerald green eyes. They can flash with fire or go cold as green ice, but I’d never seen them go dark jade before, glittering and dangerous. I live in a family of men who can shape shift into actual predators, but I’d never seen one of them, even in combat, radiate the level of intensity I saw in Will’s eyes in that moment.
We made it into the elevator before he was on me, pushing me back into the wall while his mouth ravaged mine. There was nothing soft or gentle about the kiss this time. This was all about domination and possession. Goddess help me, I loved it. If my legs had been free of the dress, I’d have climbed him like a tree.
He put both hands flat on my waist, then slid them up to rest just below my breasts. I’m a little flat, but he didn’t seem to mind. Will smoothed his hands up over my curves, which were pretty much armour-plated in my padded long-line bra. Pressing hard with his thumbs, he rubbed my nipples, making me moan into his mouth.
The doors dinged open, and Will grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the elevator at almost a run. With his other hand, he fumbled in his pocket, pulling out the key card just as he got to his door. When he opened the door, he pulled me inside, then slammed the door behind us, rattling the picture on the wall above the bed.
The room wasn’t big—it was only a few steps to the bed. I kicked my high heeled pumps off on the way, and Will tossed his jacket aside, missing the dresser by inches. His bowtie and cummerbund followed, while I pulled the silk flower out of my hair. Then I turned so Will could unzip the gown. When it fell to my feet, I kicked it aside and turned to watch as Will pulled his shirt over his head and dropped his trousers and boxers to the floor.
Oh, gods, he was everything I had imagined. My mouth literally began to water. As tall as he was, it was easy to be fooled into thinking he was skinny, but in reality, those long, lean muscles were perfectly honed machines. His chest was hairless—I didn’t know if he waxed or if it was just a result of his Native American heritage. All I knew was I wanted to kiss every inch of that smooth bronze skin rippling over his eight-pack abs and rock-solid pecs, all the way down to where his cock stood at attention amid a tuft of inky hair. It was long and straight, lined with a road map of dark veins, and the head was oval, and flushed a deep purple with his arousal. A tiny droplet of pre-cum beaded at the slit. I was already soaked, but I creamed even more from just looking at him and anticipating how that was going to feel all up inside me.