Meriel Owen, next in line to control the largest organization of witches in the country, is asked to investigate the owner of a notorious club reportedly siphoning magic from the font of the Clan. It’s a direct violation of the Clan Code of Conduct, but one look at Dominic Bright and Meriel’s willing to make a deal. One taste of the sexually feral outlaw witch, and she’s eager to go further: he’s her bond mate, a legal conduit into the world of Clan witches and their magic.
Playing by the rules isn’t Dominic’s style, but bonding with Meriel–night after explosive night–is. However, Meriel has unwittingly invited someone else into her world: Dominic’s mother, a dangerous and poisonously influential magic addict whose lust for death and power corrupts all she touches. Now her shadow is closing in on Meriel, her Clan, and the man Meriel loves, and it’s casting them all into the inescapable heart of darkness.
Bound By Magick: HEART OF DARKNESS by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2011, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, The Berkley Publishing Group
Despite how lovely she looked when she answered his knock, it was clear something was wrong.
Alarmed, he moved her into the apartment and closed the door at his back. “Is everything all right?” He looked around for a threat, ready to do harm if he had to.
“No. Not like you think. I just had a disturbing phone call. Work related. It’s all right. Come in.”
He stopped her, his palm at her elbow. “I don’t like shadows in your eyes.” He brushed his thumb over her cheek and she leaned into his touch. It wasn’t a thought before she was in his arms.
“I do feel better now,” she said, her voice muffled by his shirt. He leaned back a little to look into her face. “Really. It was work stuff. I can’t do anything about it at this point.”
He brushed his lips over hers, first as comfort. She was distressed; he wanted to make her better. Then for the pure unadulterated pleasure of her taste. Of the way she felt against him, so totally right in his arms.
She opened to him, tasting like home when his tongue danced its way across hers.
That need only she ignited with such force rolled through him. Deftly, he banded her waist and reversed their positions, backing her into a nearby wall.
The noise she made when he squeezed her luscious ass dug into him with sharp claws. A shiver raced up his arms at the way she responded to him so openly and eagerly.
She arched, stretching to expose her throat to him as he left the sweetness of her mouth and set about kissing across her jawline and over to the hollow beneath her ear.
There was nothing else in the universe but her skin against his lips. The sweet curve of her ass in his hands, the cool, soft material of her dress against his wrists.
Slowly, he used his fingertips to slide the dress upward until he met bare skin and she groaned and then laughed. He tickled the same spot, just below the edge of her panties, where her thigh met the first rise of her butt cheek. She squirmed and he couldn’t help but smile.
“Your ass is ticklish?” He stepped away or he’d be right back on her.
“Technically, it’s that little place on my thigh, just beneath my butt.” She tried to look stern and failed.
“We can cancel dinner if you like. We can stay here and talk.”
“If I stay here alone with you for too very long, I’m going to totally let you get to at least third base and all my resolve to get to know you first will be up in smoke.”
“Fine. Fine. All I’m saying is that third base would be a lovely time. I give good third base.”
She moved her hair aside when he put her wrap on her shoulders. “I bet you do.”
Serious after he sent her a leer, he took her shoulders to hold her in place. “It’s okay then? To take you out? Is there something immediate? Are you being threatened somehow?”
“I have no reason to think there’s a problem here. The call I got was from Rhode Island.” But he had to admit he liked the way her face looked just then. Soft. A little befuddled pleasure.
“All right then. You will tell me about why you looked so upset when I arrived. But I’ll take pity on you and let you tell me after we’ve had a drink and some food.”
She snorted at his imperious tone, but inside there was warmth at the way he made her feel. Safe and protected. Sure, she knew Gage would protect her. Or Nell. Or frankly she was totally capable of protecting her own self. Of all the things in her life, Meriel trusted her magickal ability without question. But it was nice to have this big, slightly scary man on her side, totally willing to protect her because he wanted to.
She smiled and locked the door once they’d reached the hallway.
“How was your day?” she asked to his apparent surprise. “I mean, what does a nightclub owner do during the daylight hours? I always imagined you’d sleep until afternoon in an apartment that would look remarkably like yours actually does.”
He laughed. “And what is that then? What my apartment looks like?”
“Sleek and sexy. You have books. I notice these things. The furnishings were very high quality, well made. A media wall that gave me goose bumps. The apartment of a man who plays all night and sleeps all day.” She ducked her head, blushing.
“Bear with me because I can tell you’re wondering why I’m blathering and being sort of insulting and that’s not what I mean. What I meant was I imagine you’d all be layabouts with naked models everywhere, but I see what you’ve built in that club and I can’t imagine you sleep too very late or you’d never be able to handle it all.”
“Not offended. Flattered in fact, so thank you. I had a late breakfast with Simon. Checked on liquor orders. Looked over a schedule for some DJs who’ll be guesting in the next few months. Signed some payroll. Thought about you. A lot.”
He kept a hand at the small of her back. The heat of him seemed to burn against her skin through the material of her dress. He smelled good enough without any cologne, but just then he had a hint of something on.
She leaned in and brushed her mouth against his neck when they paused at his car.
He hummed and held her a little tighter. “I like that.” He helped her into the car, not surprisingly a deep blue Charger.
“Like what?” she asked as he headed for the freeway.
“Like that you feel free enough to kiss me any time you want.”
She smiled, leaning back against the seat, turning to see him better. “Oh. Well, you’re sort of yummy.”