Snippet Saturday – Secrets

How about a scene from HEART OF DARKNESS when Dominic finally learns the secret of his very own past…

Copyright 2011, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, The Berkley Publishing Group

Dominic sent out silent thanks to Simon for suggesting they take his SUV for the drive. The road out to the house had been cleared, but it had started to snow and the curves would have been a lot worse had Tom not kept everything tidy and shipshape.

“Wow, is that it?” She leaned forward to get a better look through the windshield.

Tom had bought the small house on a big plot of land with a mountain view. The river was down a winding path that kept it out of harm’s way when the snowmelt hit and the water levels rose. Right now it felt like home as they approached. The window glowed golden and smoke rose lazily from the chimney.

He parked out of the way. Old habit he supposed. Sometimes Tom’s clients would meet him at the house and they started a trip from there so Dominic wanted to keep the drive clear just in case.

She squeezed his hand and he looked at her, just looking for long moments.

“We’re here.” She grinned but he saw the worry at the edges.

“We are. He’s going to love you. How could he not?”


Meriel let him open her door and help her down. She pulled her zipper up, sealing out the cold. The place was absolutely gorgeous. The house was rough hewn, but beautifully constructed. She had no doubt that the views from just about every part of the house would be fabulous.

“Come on in then,” a man called from the front steps and when Meriel saw him, she looked back to Dominic and did it once more. It was when she went back for the third look that she noticed the warding.


Meriel paused and turned in a slow circle. The place was a virtual impenetrable fortress. This warding was cast one on top of the next. It appeared to be crumbling and weak, but once you took a closer look any witch with a decent amount of talent would be able to see just how good they were. Tangled roots and thorny dead ends.

Tom Bright was no ordinary witch. And he sure as hell wasn’t just Dominic’s foster father. Now the fact that Dominic was full council made sense. It was clear where the magick in his genes came from. Just what it was the man had been hiding wasn’t clear. But it was big and it made her wary.

What he did, however, was look at Dominic with so much love on his face all her suspicions fell away. This man loved Dominic. There was no doubt in Meriel’s mind of this fact.

“Dominic!” He came off the porch and the two men embraced. It wasn’t until they stood back and Tom got a better look that he stopped and gaped. “What have you done?” Accusing eyes moved to Meriel, who startled, looked back to Dominic, who was as confused as she was.

“This is Meriel Owen. She’s my bond-mate.”

“You’ve ascended!” Tom began to pace and Meriel began to examine her surroundings better. She didn’t know what was going on with the guy, but she sure as hell wanted to be able to get away if this went south.

“Why are you acting this way?” Dominic looked back and forth between them. He looked so hurt and surprised, Meriel just took his hand and squeezed.

“Sir, is there a problem?” Meriel bent a little to see past the hands he’d put over his face.

“You need to go. Get away from here as fast as you can.” He looked around, alarm on his face.

That alarm jumped straight to Meriel’s belly.

“What the hell is going on?” Dominic stood taller, his hands on his hips, looking very authoritative. “You’re scaring Meriel and you’re really scaring me. I’m not going anywhere. Not until you tell me what’s gotten you so spooked. Let me help you.”

Meriel ached for him and hoped they could fix whatever it was that has spooked him the moment he saw who she was and they’d mentioned the bond.

Tom threw his hands in the air. “Get in the house. Now.”

Meriel let Dominic drag her into the house as she watched Tom close the wards up tight in their wake.

The house was warm and lived in. Comfortable. Overwhelmingly male. It also smelled really good, though Meriel wasn’t sure her appetite would come back after they found out what was going on.

Tom came into the house and locked the door in his wake.

She turned to Dominic. “Would you like if I went into another room so you two can talk?”

“You’re not going anywhere. I don’t know what’s happening, but you’re not leaving my sight and he’s going to tell me what’s going on.”

“I’m just surprised I guess.”

“Mr. Bright, it’s more than that. These wards around your land are not simple. This is decades of magick on top of decades of magick.”

“How do you know? What do you know about it? Clan witches don’t have the corner on the magick market. Unaffiliated witches can do wards too.”

“I’m Meriel Owen, next in line to run Clan Owen. This ward craft isn’t the work of a man who doesn’t know a lot about magick. It’s not sophisticated, but it’s very good and very strong. And the runes on his skin, those are also some serious protective magick. I’d wager you used some flesh and blood to bond them to his body.”

“My flesh and blood. I didn’t take it from anyone. Freely given and I’ve done no wrong to protect my boy.” Tom spun to glare at Dominic. “Clan Owen. You bonded with the goddamn next in line to a big, giant clan?”

“Yes. So if I’m full council, what’s that make you?”

He scrubbed his hands over his face. “All right, it’s time I guess. Go drop your bags in your room and wash your hands. I made chicken and dumplings for dinner and had planned a bottle of wine to go with. I’m guessing we’ll need at least another bottle to get through the story.”

“I apologize for his reaction,” Dominic said as he pushed the door to his room open. Just as he’d left it, which always made him feel better when he came back home.

“He’s scared. Let’s find out why before we go getting offended or handing out apologies.”

She smoothed a hand over his bedspread and he watched her take in his childhood as she walked through the room.

Leave it to her to see past the window dressing and right into the heart of the problem.

“We’ll get through it. No matter what it is. He’s clearly worried for you. Scared even, at a few points. But the earth here respects him. His magick is accepted by the surroundings. The earth is rarely wrong.”

He hugged her tight and she hugged him back. “Thank you.”

“For what?” She traded her boots for the wool-lined slippers Tom favored for use inside the house.

“For being here. For making me see past all this emotion to whatever the hell lies beneath. It feels like I can get through it because you’re here.”

“I’m really only here for the chicken and dumplings.”

He grinned and took her hand. “You might actually mean that once you taste them.”

When they got back downstairs, Dominic had calmed considerably. Meriel had been the reason for it and he’d been glad she’d been there.

The kitchen was well lit; the table dominated one entire half, sitting in front of the windows fronting the water and the mountains in the distance.

“Perfect timing. Come on and sit. Get some food into you and a few swigs of something alcoholic and I’ll give you the story.” Tom began dishing up the food in large bowls and sending them toward Dominic and Meriel. “I apologize for the reception I gave you.” He looked up to Meriel, who nodded, accepting the apology.

“Just tell me what’s going on. We’ll work through it. Whatever it is.”

Meriel made a soft moaning sound when she got the first spoonful of food into her mouth. “I told you,” he said before digging in himself.

They ate in relative silence for a few minutes, but eventually Tom looked up from his food and sighed.

“You’re my nephew.”

Be Sure to Visit Today’s Other Snippeters!

Rhian Cahill
Mari Carr
Shiloh Walker
McKenna Jeffries
Taige Crenshaw
HelenKay Dimon
Lauren Dane
TJ Michaels
Shelli Stevens

One comment to “Snippet Saturday – Secrets”

  1. Christine
    November 10th, 2012 at 8:10 am · Link

    Looking forward to the next book