Zurlo, Michele - Torment [Daughters of Circe 1] (Siren Publishing Classic)

BOOK: Zurlo, Michele - Torment [Daughters of Circe 1] (Siren Publishing Classic)
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Daughters of Circe 1

Torment

Magic has always been part of Torrey’s life, but without a mentor, her mastery of nature is decidedly inept. When a werewolf kidnaps her sister and demands payment for mystical medications, Torrey’s life takes a turn for the worse. She doesn’t have the money, and the medication did more harm than good.

At her most desperate moment, a mysterious stranger appears. He presses a piece of paper bearing an address in her hand. When Torrey arrives, she finds another werewolf.

Shade is convinced Torrey is the reincarnation of the witch he loved—the witch his twin brother murdered all those years ago in a ritualistic sacrifice designed to steal her powers. Torrey doesn’t remember. She wants Shade to find her sister and let her handle the issue.

Can Shade convince Torrey of who and what she really is in time to stop her from offering her powers and her life to his brother again?

Genre:
Paranormal, Vampires/Werewolves
Length:
60,624 words

TORMENT

Daughters of Circe 1

Michele Zurlo

EROTIC ROMANCE

Siren Publishing, Inc.

www.SirenPublishing.com

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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK

IMPRINT: Erotic Romance

TORMENT

Copyright © 2010 by Michele Zurlo

E-book ISBN: 1-60601-382-3

First E-book Publication: September 2010

Cover design by Jinger Heaston

All cover art and logo copyright © 2010 by Siren Publishing, Inc.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED:
This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.

All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

PUBLISHER

Siren Publishing, Inc.

www.SirenPublishing.com

Letter to Readers

 

Dear Readers,

 

If you have purchased this copy of
Torment
by Michele Zurlo from BookStrand.com or its official distributors, thank you. Also, thank you for not sharing your copy of this book.

 

 

Regarding E-book Piracy

 

This book is copyrighted intellectual property. No other individual or group has resale rights, auction rights, membership rights, sharing rights, or any kind of rights to sell or to give away a copy of this book.

 

The author and the publisher work very hard to bring our paying readers high-quality reading entertainment.

 

This is Michele Zurlo’s livelihood. It’s fair and simple. Please respect Ms. Zurlo’s right to earn a living from her work.

 

Amanda Hilton, Publisher

www.SirenPublishing.com

www.BookStrand.com

DEDICATION

For Suzy. Always

TORMENT

Daughters of Circe 1

MICHELE ZURLO

Copyright © 2010

Chapter 1

The sky was cloudless, revealing the complete absence of the moon. A gentle October breeze, unseasonably warm, rustled the sparse and monochromatic treetops. By day, they were a riot of flaming color. Now, they blended in, merely a shadow against the dark sky outside the window. But Torrey Quinn was oblivious to the weather and to any other wonders of nature.

A werewolf in human form, fair-haired and ruthlessly handsome, had her unconscious sister slung over his shoulder. He was large even by wolf standards, towering a good foot over Torrey’s five-foot-ten figure. By anyone’s standards, he was one of the most striking men ever created. He would be a majestic wolf.

“Seth, you don’t want to do this.” Torrey’s voice held steady, though her heart beat a million times per minute. She wasn’t sure Seth could smell her fear and hear the mad thumping in her chest. He claimed to be the leader of his pack, but that didn’t necessarily mean he was powerful enough to have senses attuned that finely. After all, there was no moon tonight.

Raising his arm slowly, he pointed a long, thick finger at Torrey from across the room. “Witch, you will pay me.”

Torrey raised her hands, palms out, in a defensive gesture. “I’ll get the money, Seth. I swear I will. Just leave Riley alone. She doesn’t know anything about this. She’s innocent. And human.” The last part, she added for good measure. A human was nothing to a werewolf except for an occasional meal. Seth’s robust form attested to the fact he did not lack sufficient sustenance.

Seth laughed. “If I take you, then how will you get the money to pay me? No, I think your little sister is much better collateral.”

Palms still out, Torrey tried a brief incantation. She was a powerful witch, but untrained and untried. On her best day, any spell more difficult than a simple scrying was a crapshoot. If this worked, Seth would pass out and have total amnesia of the incident. The odds were against her. Werewolves were immune to all but the most potent of spells, the kind that took time, practice, and ingredients.

Physically, he was much more powerful than Torrey. The chances of him just standing there watching as she gathered ingredients and studied some books was nil.

She repeated the incantation, but nothing happened.

Amusement lightened Seth’s handsome features. “Your magic will not work on me, Witch. I am too powerful.”

Planting her hands on her hips in a show of defiance, Torrey scowled at him and changed tactics. “You told me that medicine would cure my mother! You lied! I don’t see why I should pay you for something that didn’t work.”

Seth shook his head, his mane of blond hair swaying with the movement. “I told you it would prevent her death. She isn’t dead, now, is she?”

Torrey’s face purpled with rage. “She’s in a coma, you asshole, being fed through a tube.”

“Her pain is gone.”

“Evidence of her pain is gone. Her pain is still there.”

Seth scowled. “If there is no evidence, how do you know it’s still there?”

Through gritted teeth, Torrey answered, “Because I can feel her pain when I touch her. It’s one of the perks of being a witch. It’s how I knew she was sick in the first place. I can feel her pain.”

He growled. “None of that is of any consequence. I told you I could prevent her death, not cure her. I never promised she would be as she was before. If you read into my words, then that is your problem.”

In a flash, he was crouched on the windowsill with Riley under his arm. Her head lolled to the side, giving Torrey one last glimpse of her younger sister’s flawless face.

Seth threw an unreadable glance over his shoulder at Torrey. “You have two weeks. When the moon is full, my pack will celebrate the beginning of a new era. If you have not paid by then, your sister’s blood will fuel our ritual. It isn’t as good as a true Daughter’s blood, but it is close enough to boost my power.”

Then he was gone.

Torrey ran to the window, but she knew there was no hope of finding them. As a wolf, Seth could move at speeds undetectable to the human eye. Torrey might not be a human, but she did possess a human’s limited eyesight.

Six floors below, the streets were empty. She pounded her fists on the bare windowsill in frustration. It was all her fault. Everything was her fault. Her mother’s coma was her fault. The fact her sister’s life was in danger was her fault.

Seth hadn’t seemed that bad when she met him. The remarkably attractive, strapping man with blond hair and pale blue eyes wasn’t her type. Or rather, she wasn’t his type. Men as handsome as Seth didn’t look twice at someone as plain as Torrey. With straight brown hair and round brown eyes peeking out from her nondescript oval face, Torrey had never labored under the delusion she was beautiful. “Cute” was the word most often used to describe her.

Riley was the one with the looks and the personality. On Riley, the straight brown hair was alive with caramel and auburn highlights. Her round brown eyes were luminous. When used in tandem with her bright, friendly smile, people flocked to Riley. By rights, Torrey should have been jealous of her sister, but she wasn’t. Riley was her best friend. Though they hadn’t lived together since Torrey had gone away to school at eighteen, not a day went by when they didn’t talk to each other.

That was the reason Riley had come to Torrey’s apartment. With her uncanny ability to sense when something was wrong, she picked up on Torrey’s additional worry and resolved to comfort her older sister. The stress of their mother’s failing health took more of a toll on Torrey than it did on Riley. Their mother was all Torrey had. As soon as she fell into the coma, their father placed the blame squarely on Torrey’s shoulders, which didn’t surprise Torrey in the least. She didn’t defend herself because she knew it was where the blame belonged.

From the day she was born, her father shrank from her in fear and revulsion. Perhaps he had known what lay ahead for Torrey. His powers were insignificant, limited to vague scrying and the occasional flash of precognition. He should have been her guide, her mentor. He had the knowledge but lacked the means to use it for himself.

Seth had arrived not long after Riley, demanding his payment from Torrey. Twenty-seven and a part-time librarian, Torrey barely made her rent. She’d been hoping for a full recovery for her mother. Hillary Quinn would have given her daughter the funds in a heartbeat. Now, she had no choice. Riley’s life was at stake. Torrey had to see Francis Quinn. He couldn’t refuse to help.

Torrey made the too-familiar drive to the hospital on autopilot. Frank would be at his wife’s bedside. Nurses and technicians greeted Torrey as she walked through the meandering halls to her mother’s room, sympathy emanating from them in waves so powerful they nearly knocked her down. She wasn’t empathic, but she could feel strong emotion from others if it was directed her way. It was how she’d always known Frank hated her, even when she was too young to understand the feeling. He put on a good front around other people, and he ignored her when it was just the two of them. Still, it wasn’t until Hillary fell into a coma that his façade cracked.

The door to her mother’s room was open. Torrey paused just outside, gathering her courage. Even if Frank hadn’t been in the room, entering it would have still been daunting. Tubes and wires ran from her mother to a ventilator, a heart monitor, and an IV. There were several other machines she couldn’t identify, but they added their voice to the chorus of beeps and blips filling the room.

Frank sat in a chair by the window, his head bowed in prayer. When Hillary first became sick, the two of them had turned to religion for solace. Torrey knew what magic was present where people gathered to celebrate or revere anything, so she did not begrudge her parents their sudden devotion, though it brought her no relief.

Torrey waited, not wanting to interrupt as she watched her father’s fingers move down each bead of his rosary, his lips moving with each prayer’s words. Prayers were not different from her incantations. Humans lacked the necessary power to make them work. That’s why they gathered in large groups, congregations. It sometimes lent their incantations potency.

Except for the periodic beep of the machines and the hushed, sibilant swish of Frank’s lips, the room was silent.

Then Frank’s eyes opened, and he looked up at Torrey, tired and wary, yet full of derision. “What are you doing here?”

Used to his callous treatment of her, she ignored his tone. “I came to see you.”

“I don’t want to hear your apologies, Torment.”

She winced at his use of her original name. Hillary had been livid when she saw her daughter’s birth certificate and realized Frank had filled in the wrong name when she wasn’t looking. Her mother legally changed the name, but Frank didn’t concede the issue. He used that name whenever they were alone together. In company, he shortened it to “Tor.”

For a witch, the first name given held all the power. Hillary wasn’t from a magic family. She didn’t understand that her action meant nothing beyond the symbolic.

“I didn’t come to apologize, Francis.” It was a small consolation that he flinched when she used his given name. Taking a deep breath, she said, “I need your help.”

Shock and disbelief crossed Frank’s features. At fifty-six, he remained a passably handsome man, the kind to which people were invariably drawn. Riley inherited the vivaciousness of her looks from him and the shapes of her features from their mother. Torrey inherited the plainest combination imaginable of her parents’ features. She wasn’t ugly, but being the plain one in a family of attractive people wore on one’s self-esteem.

“You can’t be serious.”

She hadn’t disclosed to Frank the extent to which her mother’s condition was her fault. Even though he blamed her, he did so for a different reason. Conveniently forgetting his refusal to train her, he felt she should be able to cure Hillary’s cancer. He never missed an opportunity to throw it in her face.

There was no easy way to say it, but there were ways that would save her a repeat of the verbal lashing she was giving to herself. “Riley is being held for ransom. I need twenty thousand dollars. I know Mom has the money.” She had the remaining five thousand in her savings account. She had been saving for a car. Her Tempo was over twenty years old, and it wasn’t going to last the coming winter.

Frank’s jaw dropped. He stared incredulously at Torrey. His venomous whisper penetrated her defenses. “What did you do now?”

“He said he could stop Mom’s cancer.” Frank had to strain to hear her.

“Who?”

“A werewolf. He gave his name as Seth, but I doubt it’s his real name.” Names were power for werewolves as well. Her magic would be much more potent if she could use his given name.

Slowly, Frank rose to his feet and closed the distance between them. His hand rose, flying through the air before Torrey guessed his intent. In twenty-seven years, he had never touched her, not in anger, not in love, not for any reason. He slapped her as hard as he could, but she held her ground.

Shocked, Torrey froze, ignoring the stinging on her cheek. She locked her eyes to Frank’s.

“I named you well. You have brought nothing but torment to this family from the day you were conceived. It’s not enough that you ruined my life and now your mother’s. You had to do this to Riley. Of us all, she is the only innocent person.”

Two tears escaped despite her best efforts to hold them back. “I wouldn’t ask you for the money if there was another way.”

“The wolf will not release Riley. A blue moon is thirteen days away. He will use her blood to boost his influence. She may not be what you are, but she does have some extraordinary, if understated, powers.” He shook his head at her, moving back to slump in his chair. “All these years, wasted. I should have abandoned you. I should have killed you. A lifetime spent in prison would have been worth it to keep Hillary and Riley safe from you.”

BOOK: Zurlo, Michele - Torment [Daughters of Circe 1] (Siren Publishing Classic)
9.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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