Dark Magic [NOOK Book]

Overview

Jake Macgregor has his hands full. As San Francisco’s leader of the Paranormal Special Forces unit, he and his team are facing a powerful enemy that threatens to bring down the city. With the weight of the world already resting on his broad, chiseled shoulders, the last thing Jake has time for is romance. So why—after a long, hard day’s fight against evil—are his nights filled with dreams of Cassia?

Cassia is a D’Anu witch whose birthright ensures power and honor beyond her ...

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Dark Magic

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Overview

Jake Macgregor has his hands full. As San Francisco’s leader of the Paranormal Special Forces unit, he and his team are facing a powerful enemy that threatens to bring down the city. With the weight of the world already resting on his broad, chiseled shoulders, the last thing Jake has time for is romance. So why—after a long, hard day’s fight against evil—are his nights filled with dreams of Cassia?

Cassia is a D’Anu witch whose birthright ensures power and honor beyond her imagination. It also forbids the one thing Cassia wants the most: the love of mortal Jake Macgregor. When she intervenes in a skirmish to save his life, the consequences are inescapable—even though the magic they make together is too luscious, and potent, to resist…


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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for DARK MAGIC:

"McCray does a stellar job layering the danger, passion and betrayal. Awesome!" Romantic Times Top Pick (4 1/2 stars)

"Action, romance, suspense, love, betrayal, sacrifice, magic, and sex appeal to the nth degree! Her heroines kick butt and run the gamut from feminine to tomboy and her heroes…well, they’re all 200% grade A male. YUM! Her love scenes left me breathless (and wanting a cigarette) and I’m surprised I have any nails left after the suspense in this last book." — Queue My Review

"Ms. McCray has delivered an amazing story that is sure to leave fans of the series more than satisfied. Simply Magic!" —Wild on Books

"Vivid battles, deceit that digs deep into the coven, and a love that can’t be denied." —Night Owl Romance

"Besides a fabulous finish to a great urban fantasy that sub-genre fans will relish as one of the best series over the past few years; the romance is the one, readers have been waiting to see how it plays out since almost the beginning. Master magician Cheyenne McCray brings it all together in a superb ending to her stupendous saga." —Harriet Klausner

"Dark Magic brings the Magic series to a spectacular finish." —A Romance Review

Praise for WICKED MAGIC:

“Blistering sex and riveting battles are plentiful as this series continues building toward its climax.”—Romantic Times BOOKreviews (4 stars)

“Has an even blend of action and romance, and most of the characters from earlier novels make an appearance. There are quite a few twists to the story, and some things are left unfinished, paving the way for the next novel. An exciting paranormal tale, don’t miss it.”—Romance Reviews Today

“Cheyenne McCray shows the best work between good and evil in Wicked Magic. The characters are molded perfectly…sure to delight and captivate with each turn of the page.”—Night Owl Romance

“A sinfully engaging read.”—A Romance Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429969857
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 8/3/2010
  • Series: Magic Series , #5
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 169,885
  • File size: 409 KB

Meet the Author



New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cheyenne McCray writes the Night Tracker novels and the Armed and Dangerous series, among others. She grew up on a ranch in southeastern Arizona. She has been writing ever since she can remember, back to her kindergarten days when she penned her first poem. She always knew one day she would write novels—she wanted to create worlds that readers would get lost in, just as she had always gotten lost in her favorite books. “Growing up I read, read, and read,” she says, “and grew up to write, write, write.” She has three sons and two dogs. A true Arizona native, she loves the desert and all of the sunshine and beautiful sunsets that go along with it.
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Read an Excerpt


“Jake!” Cassia screamed as images of Jake dying almost blinded her.

No! No, no, no.” Her voice came out in sobs before she gathered the strength of her increased powers and entered the transference to cross the veil between Otherworlds.

Screams still tore at her mind as she flung herself through darkness and appeared next to Jake’s body. Her feet hit wet grass and rain drenched her.

Naked, tattooed men surrounding Jake stumbled back in surprise when she appeared. One of them had been close to driving a dagger into Jake’s chest.

Fury exploded within Cassia.

Fire filled her mind and heart, and flames flew from her fingertips. She shouted to the goddess as she spun in a circle, her arms outstretched as the fire blasted from her body.

Screams cut above sounds of rain and thunder as her fire burned the men and hit water funnels behind them. The water evaporated and fire engulfed each man that appeared.

Their daggers melted. Smells of burned flesh and burned grass, along with something bitter and sour, filled the air as the men dropped to the ground, writhed, and turned to ash.

She wiped out every funnel- being.

The only man she allowed to live was the one she instinctively knew had been fighting beside Jake. No remorse battled her consciousness for those she had killed. She was not a true gray magic D’Anu witch—those who would incapacitate but not kill. She was fully Elvin, and the Elves had no such compunctions when they fought.

One glance at the man beside Jake told Cassia the man would live. But Jake was close to drawing his last breath.

Fear twisted her insides so hard it felt like her heart was being squeezed between two great boulders. Cassia dropped to her knees and cradled Jake’s head and shoulders. With a thought she transferred them both to Otherworld.

The transference seemed to last too long, a suffocating blackness that she’d never felt before, and Cassia wanted to shout.

She arrived on the warm wood floor in the palace in the trees, at an Elvin being’s feet, the one being who could help her save Jake.

The Great Guardian.

“Please, Mother.” Tears rolled down Cassia’s face as she supported Jake in her arms and looked up at the Guardian. “He’s not meant to die. He has purpose. He is needed for the battles ahead.”

The Guardian knelt beside Jake and Cassia, and studied him as blood poured from his mouth and his chest heaved in hard jerks. His eyes opened and closed like he was trying to focus and as if it took tremendous effort to move his eyelids.

“You have feelings for this man, Cassiandra.” The Guardian looked at Cassia. “But he is mortal. If he’s near to death, we shouldn’t interfere.”

“Mother!” Cassia lowered Jake’s head to the floor and ran her hands above Jake’s body, her sparkling magic flowing in and out of him, telling her how extensive the damage was. Her head nearly spun at the magnitude of his injuries.

“A lung, his intestines, spleen, and liver. This is beyond my skills.”

“You know that with your ascension came power surpassing what you mastered before.” The Guardian put her palms on Jake’s bloody abdomen. “But it will take both of us to heal this human’s wounds.”

Cassia’s breath came in heavy gasps and her heart throbbed in her ears as she placed her hands over Jake’s chest.

Magic beyond magic flooded her veins, heat beyond heat.

He wheezed and coughed up more blood as he looked up at her with glazed blue eyes. Confusion, and something else she couldn’t recognize, filled his gaze.

“I’ll save you, Jake. I promise,” she whispered without allowing her magic to be interrupted. “Mother and I both will.”

“Cassia . . .” Her name died on his lips before he closed his eyes, and his body went slack.

Tears flooded Cassia’s cheeks as she closed her own eyes and focused on his wounds. The ice daggers hadn’t been poisoned, so at least they didn’t have to be concerned about that. With all her concentration, she focused on repairing

every organ in his body. In her mind’s eye, she watched as her sparkling magic combined with her mother’s glowing powers. Organs and an artery began to knit themselves back

together, stopping the loss of blood and allowing them to function as they should.

One by one, every organ, every part of Jake’s body that had been ripped apart, was repaired.

Cassia began to feel light- headed from the drain on her body and magic. Her mind spun as she opened her eyes, and her focus wavered in and out. She continued using her own healing powers on Jake as she watched her mother. The Guardian’s magic flowed strong and pure until Jake’s skin had been sewn together, with only pink scars remaining.

The Guardian’s features were impassive as she treated Jake’s biceps on the right arm, below a tattoo. She erased those wounds as well, leaving only scars. “He will need time to completely heal and will require much rest.”

Dazed and a little disoriented, Cassia looked up at her mother. “Why did you leave scars?”

“To remind him that he is mortal.” The Guardian eased to her feet as gracefully as if water could flow upward. All of the blood that had been on her hands and robes vanished. “And to remind you, Cassiandra.”

Cassia looked at Jake and brushed his dark, wet hair from his eyes, blood streaking his forehead from her fingertips. He looked peaceful yet exhausted, but no longer tortured with pain.

Blood coated her hands, her arms, and her once beautiful ascension dress. The rain- soaked dress clung to her skin and her hair hung in wet clumps. Her body numbed and shook as the power of her fear and anger began to subside. But the dizziness in her head increased.

She was going into shock.

“Ah, my child.” The Guardian’s voice seemed to come from far away and light pressure pushed against Cassia’s head. “It is time for you to rest. Both of you.”

Cassia slumped forward, her cheek settling on the bloodied T-shirt that covered Jake’s chest.

And felt nothing more.

Cassia paced beside Jake’s bed. He had been asleep much longer than she had expected. Her mother had told her that Jake would need more time to recover from the shock his body had taken, but it had been three days. The Guardian said he would need at least one more.

She studied Jake for a long moment, her heart pounding a little faster and the star birthmark beneath her navel tingling.

The Elvin blanket only covered him from the waist down, baring his well- honed chest, carved biceps, and the eagle, globe, and anchor tattoo on his upper right arm. Through the thin blanket she could make out his muscular thighs, and—

Her cheeks burned. From the thickness and length of his erection beneath the soft material, it looked like he must be having a pretty good dream.

Time to change the channel, as Copper would say.

Jake had always reminded her of an Otherworld warrior— proud, fierce, powerful. He had strong, square, and hard masculine features with firm lips and stubble shading his jaws. When open, his eyes were a brilliant blue. But over the past months he’d had an incredible weariness in his gaze. As had nearly everyone in the Alliance.

Kael lay on the wooden floor, but his head was high, his ears alert, as he watched her pace. “The human, Jake, will live, mistress. Why do you look so disturbed?

“I am not disturbed,” Cassia said aloud as she glanced at Kael. She turned her gaze to Jake before meeting Kael’s blue eyes again. “I just—” She rubbed her arms with her hands. “I don’t—” She turned away from him. “Never mind.”

Thankfully Kael didn’t press her. She went to one of the tall, arched windows with ivy winding around the columns of the arches. Weather never changed in the Elvin city, so windowpanes were not necessary.

As she looked over the sunlit trees, she wondered if they were missing something special with no rain or storms in this enchanted place. Along with the occasionally sunshiny days, she had become used to fog, rain, and cold in San Francisco, and in some ways she missed it. Truthfully, she missed it a lot.

With a frown she shook her head. No, she missed what the city had been before the war with the demons. Now . . . nothing would ever be the same in the San Francisco Otherworld she had grown to love.

A hummingbird flitted nearby, drawing nectar from one of the red blooms that were much like hibiscus on earth.

She braced her hand on the cool stone column as she leaned forward just in time to see Daire climb the steps leading to the entrance of the palace. Her throat grew dry. She hadn’t seen Daire since she’d left him the night of her ascension

ceremony.

Cassia glanced at Jake. His jaw was dark and rough with stubble, his brown hair ruffled on the white pillow. Even in sleep, he looked rugged, powerful.

Her breathing quickened before she looked out the window

to see that Daire was no longer on the stairs. No doubt he had entered the palace.

Cassia did not want him to come to her in the same room where Jake was recuperating—she had a feeling Daire wouldn’t be pleased to see her with the human. She slipped out of the room and Kael immediately trotted at her side.

Maybe she was being a coward, but she was grateful for her familiar’s presence.

They moved down a short hallway and continued to the top of the staircase. Below, Daire looked up at her and she met his leaf green eyes. Her cheeks heated at the thought that the last time she had seen him he had been naked, prepared to

lie with her.

“Cassiandra.” His words came out soft but husky. “I would see you now.”

Cassia sucked in her breath and centered herself. She had always taken care to keep her emotions in check, and now should be no different.

But her stomach still twisted as she walked down the smooth wooden steps. The bottom of her white robe brushed the tops of her feet and she gripped the finely carved wooden banister, probably harder than she normally would have.

Kael remained tight to her side. Daire glanced at the wolf, but said nothing.

When Cassia reached Daire, she looked at his eyes, trying to discern his emotions. He was so much taller she had to tilt her head back. He was beautiful with his perfect features, high cheekbones, and the blond hair that hung straight past his shoulders.

Shock made her rigid as he took her by the shoulders and lowered his mouth to hers. His kiss was smooth, soft, and he ran his tongue along the seam of her lips.

She didn’t respond. She thought of Jake instead. What it would be like to kiss him. Confusion made her mind spin and her body tremble. Sparks crackled at her fingertips and in her belly, startling her.

From somewhere in the palace she heard something shatter.

Kael growled in Cassia’s mind, and she mentally shushed him. Jealous males.

With an intent expression, Daire drew away. He raised his hand and brushed her cheek with his knuckles. “You chose a human over me the night of your ascension.”

Cassia’s eyes widened. “Jake would have died. I couldn’t let that happen.”

“Many humans die in their wars.” He dropped his hand away. “You cannot save them all. What makes this one so important?”

Cassia struggled even more to center herself. “He is essential to this war. It was not his time to pass to Summerland.”

“The gods make that decision.” Daire’s voice took on a hard edge. “It is not up to you.”

Anger rose in Cassia, and she had an increasingly difficult time keeping her tone even. “The gods would not have given me a vision of his near death if they did not intend for me to save him. I am a Guardian ascending now, Daire. You should not forget that.”

Daire studied her long and hard, and she met his gaze without blinking.

He straightened to his full height. “It is true. You have feelings for this human.”

“I’ve known him for a long time.” Cassia swallowed. “He has been part of our Alliance from the very beginning.”

Daire shook his head. “It is more than that.”

When Cassia didn’t answer, he added, “Remember, it is an Elvin male of pure blood who you must mate with to complete your ascension. Or you will lose the new powers you have gained. And the fate of Otherworlds—”

“How could I forget?” she said quietly. “With you and the Great Guardian reminding me constantly, it is as if you believe I cannot think for myself.”

“Twelve days remain.” Daire bowed from his shoulders and straightened. “I will be waiting.”

Cassia watched him as he turned and walked toward the palace doors. He glanced over his shoulder and their eyes met briefly before he strode through the doorway.

Adrenaline pumped through Jake as he and his team moved through the darkness and dry air along a mountain’s rock wall near a small Afghan village. Everything had a green tinge to it through his night- vision goggles.

His men were virtually invisible in their black nightcombat gear. He gripped his M-16 and motioned with a nod to Pacer to take the lead. Pacer’s instincts were usually as right on as Jake’s.

Where the team had deployed in the Bamiyan Valley, religious and artistic developments from the first to the thirteenth centuries were represented in the landscape and archaeological remains.

What his Marine paranormal special ops team searched for now didn’t belong here. It didn’t have anything to do with the natural order in this valley. In this country. No, what they were looking for had to do with dark magic.

The darkest.

At one time, before they were destroyed by the Taliban, great Buddha statues had been carved into the solid sandstone walls Jake and his team now skimmed silently past. Caves had been hollowed out where entire monasteries had prayed and meditated.

Before.

Long before the evil they now searched for had tainted everything near this Afghani village and threatened to spread through the country like a virus.

Jake’s breathing came a little faster as his ops team moved silently through the night toward one of the larger caves. Earlier their reconnaissance team had located the target of their raid—practitioners of such evil that the thought of what they performed was nearly crushing in itself.

Water flowed through a nearby canal, diverted from the Bamiyan River, giving the nearby Afghani villagers the water they needed to survive. To drink. To raise crops.

But if Jake and his special ops team failed—

Even that could end.

The sounds of the water blended with a few goats bleating in the night. The air stirred, brushing but not cooling the sweat on Jake’s forearms.

Jake’s whole being burned as he listened to constant sobs.

The fact that magical healers and seers from around the world were being held as hostages and slaves by the black-magic cult was a constant fire beneath his skin. Hearing their soft pleas only increased his anger and determination.

His team would be in and out in minutes. They’d wipe out the cult and free the hostages.

And they’d do it now.

With a couple of hand signals, Jake had his men break up and move to either side of the cave’s entrance.

The crying sounds abruptly stopped.

An odor bled from the mouth of the cave.

The stink of dark magic.

Like the stench of blood, and something bitter and acrid, like roof tar.

Hair prickled at Jake’s nape. His heart rate spiked.

This is all wrong. Something’s wrong.

Fuck.

Before Jake had time to pull his team back, Pacer stepped on a corner of the opening to the cave.

An explosion slammed into every man on Jake’s team.

Pacer’s body was ripped apart.

Jake’s men were flung away from the cave, their flesh burning from their bones.

Excruciating pain tore through Jake as he was flung into the Afghani night.

Jake woke with a jerk and barely held back a shout. Sweat coated his skin, he was breathing hard, and he felt as if he’d been running for miles.

It was completely dark. His hands shook as he brought them to his face and rubbed his eyes.

Shit. He hadn’t had that dream in months. That memory.

Pain sliced his chest as the images of that night pounded at his head over and over.

The smell of magic rushed over him and he automatically reached for his Glock—which wasn’t there.

At the same time he realized the scent now was of good magic, not black. The scent was fresh, like orchids and the smell of grass after a good rain.

“Jake,” said a soft female voice that calmed him. Somehow that familiar voice caused his muscles to relax and his body went limp. “Sleep,” she said, and he faded away.

Goddamn, but he had the mother of all headaches.

Something pulled at the back of his mind, faint images and sounds, but he couldn’t focus on it long enough to grasp what ever it was.

Jake brought his fingertips to his temples and rubbed them before dropping his hand to his side and opening his eyes.

His gaze wavered in and out as he tried to focus.

A blond woman. A smile. Fingers lightly brushing hair from his forehead.

“You’re finally awake.” Cassia’s voice, soft, lilting. “I was beginning to wonder if you would sleep the week through.”

Jake squinted and Cassia’s face came more clearly into focus.

She sat in a chair beside the bed and she looked like an angel. Sunlight shone through the strands of her golden hair so that she almost seemed to glow. Her turquoise- colored eyes studied him intently.

He glanced from her to see that he was in some kind of room with ivy crawling on the walls and through arches. The walls were a shade that wasn’t white. Wasn’t blue, wasn’t green. Something different. Simple wooden furniture was tucked against walls and in corners. The bed had such a soft mattress that he could happily close his eyes and go back to sleep.

The scent of magic surrounded him.

Jake mentally shook his head. What the hell?

“Where am I?” His voice came out even, his tone controlled. “What’s going on?”

Cassia continued to look at him in that same calm, mysterious way that had always driven him crazy with the desire to shake her. Or kiss her.

She gestured toward the windows, where he could see tree leaves glittering in the sunlight. “You are in the City of the Light Elves, in Otherworld.”

He blinked. No way had he heard that. “I’m where?”

“Otherworld.” She rested her hands in her lap. “You don’t remember anything?”

Jake squinted, and didn’t have to reach far for memories of the attack in the park. He winced at the images and flinched as he remembered sensations of daggers stabbing him in his gut and chest. Another man had been driving a dagger toward his heart—

A female voice cut through the mayhem. Fire. Fire surrounding them. Crackling. Smells of burned hair and flesh, and that horrible musty, sour smell.

He brought his hand to his chest to find he was naked beneath the covers. He felt rough skin, like scars. Scars where the wounds would have been. “I should be dead.”

“You weren’t meant to die.” For the first time Cassia looked a little rattled. “I couldn’t let you.”

Jake scooted up in bed, the covers falling to his lap and baring his chest. He looked down at the thick pink scars and brought his hand up to touch them. He felt no pain except for the memory of the agony of the daggers driving into his flesh, piercing deep inside his body.

An odd sensation stirred in his gut as he returned his gaze to hers. “You saved me?”

“The Great Guardian and I, yes.” Cassia maintained that calm expression that still made him want to grab her and rattle her. Maybe kissing her would do just that.

Instead, he squeezed his eyes shut and pinched the bridge of his nose before looking at her again. More memories, these more vague, came to him—rain, thunder, pain, and Cassia cradling him in her lap before he was thrown into a spiraling sensation followed by complete blackness.

“But you came for me,” he said with no doubt in his mind. “Not the Great Guardian.”

Cassia didn’t say anything.

Why did she come for him?

“What happened to the rest of those Stormcutters?” Jake asked as he thought about the fire circling them and the smells.

“Those funnel- beings?” She cleared her throat. “I eliminated them.”

“You killed the bastards?” Jake stared at her. “Gray witches never kill.”

“I am not a gray witch,” she said, her voice quieting.

“What—” Jake began, but she cut him off by holding up one graceful, delicate hand.

“You need to sleep now, Jake.”

She started to stand, but he stopped her when he reached for one of her hands and squeezed. Currents of electricity shot through him. The same currents he’d felt every time Cassia had touched him in the past.

“ ‘Thank you’ doesn’t seem like enough,” he said as she squeezed his hand back.

“I’m happy you’re going to be okay.” She smiled such a radiant smile that his heart beat faster.

Shit. Why did he want to draw her onto his lap and hold her? Hell, he didn’t even trust her. She’d deceived the D’Anu witches in the past—she could still be deceiving them with everything she did or said. She’d just admitted to not being a gray witch.

So what was she?

There’d be time to sort all of that out later. Right now other questions had to be asked and answered.

Jake cleared his throat and released her hand. “How long have I been out?”

“Three days.”

“No fu—friggin’ way.” Jake started to climb out of bed but Cassia put her palm against his chest and frowned.

Tingles radiated from her hand, straight to his cock, which decided to harden so much his balls ached. Jake gave another mental curse. He glanced down to make sure the covers hid that little fact.

Cassia was surprisingly strong as she braced her palm on his skin and kept him from getting up. “We repaired your internal organs, but they have needed the time to heal completely. Nothing can do that but rest.”

His whole body jumped like a live wire, and not just from her touch, but from the need to get back to work. He had a lot to do to make his city safe again. Too much to do. He couldn’t stay in bed. God only knew what was going on back in San Francisco.

As Cassia removed her hand from his chest, Jake clenched his fists. “How is the man who was with me at the park? How is everyone else in the Alliance? Have there been any more battles with Darkwolf and those Stormcutters?”

“Rhiannon sent word that David Bourne is fine. His wounds were simple for the D’Anu to heal.” She leaned away from Jake and straightened in her chair. “I’ve let them

know you are all right, too.”

When she eased back in her chair he got a good look at her for the first time. White robes parted at the slender column of her throat, separating far enough down that her cleavage was exposed, showing the gentle curves of her breasts.

His mouth watered and his cock ached. He adjusted the covers to better hide his erection and mentally willed it down.

A stab of guilt hit him in the chest, in the same place as one of his new scars. Christ. Cassia turned him on big- time, but he had no business having thoughts of taking her down to the mattress, sliding between her thighs, and being inside of her.

He should be thinking about Kat. He should be thinking about getting back to San Francisco and making sure she was okay—and that she wasn’t getting herself killed by trying to cover news stories involving the insanity in the city.

Jake looked over Cassia’s left shoulder to avoid her eyes and sucked in a deep breath. The fact that she wasn’t even human should be enough to squelch any other erotic thoughts about him and this beautiful half- Elvin woman.

Or was she half Elvin? She wasn’t a gray witch—so was she even a witch at all? She could be half dragon, or a friggin’ shapeshifting eggplant. What did he really know about Cassia?

Nothing but the fact that he’d seen her in battle with the D’Anu witches and watched her become the person all of the witches turned to for help and guidance. She had gone from pretending to be an inept apprentice witch to their leader.

That, and she baked one hell of a mean cinnamon roll.

“Another battle has been fought.” Cassia’s voice jerked his attention back to her. She held her hands in her lap again, her expression calm. “Casualties on both sides.”

The word casualties hit home, and any lustful thoughts and odd feelings he’d had vanished in a snap.

Fury rode him at the news of members of the Alliance dying.

This time he did manage to sit up in bed and swing his legs over the side, but kept the blanket over his lap. Her calm expression made him grit his teeth. “Who?”

“I don’t know.” Cassia sighed. “But the leaders of the Alliance are certain there’s a leak. A traitor.” She shook her head, her long, blond hair swinging with the movement.

“Every time the Alliance goes on a mission, Darkwolf knows and attacks.”

Jake let out a string of curse words and slammed his fists against the mattress to either side of him. “I’ve got to get back.”

“One more day.” She studied him intently. “You need one more day to heal enough to be safe outside the protections and energies of the Light Elves.”

“Bullshit,” he growled.

Cassia stood and looked so calm that this time Jake did get up. He grabbed her by her shoulders. He didn’t care that the covers that had been covering him fell away, leaving him naked.

He knocked that calm expression right off her face as she glanced down at his body before looking up at him when he shook her. He stared directly into her eyes. “You will take me home, now.”

She jerked out of his grip, but her cheeks flushed pink.

An angry glint lit her eyes that he’d never seen before. Good.

Her shell needed to be cracked.

As a matter of fact, that shell needed to be cracked a lot more.

Jake caught her delicate face in his palms, spearing her silken hair with his fingers at the same time. Without pausing to think about it, he brought his mouth to hers and kissed her so hard and fierce she gasped. He took advantage of her parted lips and forced his tongue into her mouth, exploring her, letting her know he was in control of this moment.

He heard a loud smashing sound, like something fragile had crashed to the floor.

It felt as if sparks were igniting in his belly.

Cassia grasped him by his upper arms and clung to him, her fingers digging into his bare biceps. She remained stiff and unmoving. But he didn’t stop his exploration of her mouth, tasting her, teasing her, provoking her to return his kiss.

And then she finally fell into the moment, taking everything he gave. She made soft little moans that sent zinging sensations straight to his cock as she kissed him back. Her kisses were tentative, almost like she didn’t know what she was doing. Innocent, pure. As if she had never been kissed before.

God, she was sweet.

He heard a cracking sound behind him as she moaned louder and leaned into him. Her hands moved from his biceps, over his shoulders, until she linked her fingers behind

his neck.

As he slid his hands to her waist, he brought her tight against his naked body and his huge erection, and she gasped again. This time he heard a much louder cracking noise behind him. Was Cassia doing that?

Who cared? He resisted the urge to part her robe and see exactly what she was wearing beneath it—if anything.

He kissed her again, letting all the frustration and anger turn into passion and desire.

Something itched at the back of his mind. He shouldn’t be doing this.

Why? God, why?

He’d wanted Cassia for a while. Maybe since the day he first saw her out of her goofy- witch- apprentice disguise.

He just hadn’t admitted to himself, until now, how badly he wanted her.

She tasted so, so sweet. Of honey and desire. The knocking at his brain grew louder as reality hit him.

He jerked his head back, breaking the kiss. He could barely catch his breath as Cassia looked up at him with a dazed expression.

Kat. He’d been dating Kat for a year.

He was an idiot for kissing Cassia.

He couldn’t do this, couldn’t cheat on Kat. If he was going to let anything happen between him and Cassia, he’d have to break off his relationship with Kat first.

Why was he even thinking about breaking up with Kat and becoming involved with Cassia? Just because right now she was sending his hormones into major overdrive?

Shapeshifting eggplant . . . remember? You don’t even know what she is, much less who.

But, God, he’d wanted Cassia for so long. He didn’t need his cop instincts to tell him she wasn’t exactly what she’d made herself out to be. But then, who was?

Everyone had secrets. Even he did.

The memory of his failure in seeing that dark magic trap coming dug at his gut like a jagged dagger. They’d been set up by an Afghani leader who happened to be a warlock as powerful as Darkwolf had been before this thing with Darkwolf’s double god powers.

Jake sucked in a deep lungful of air as Cassia pulled out of his arms and stepped back. It was as if an incredible spell had embraced them and now shattered, the shards scattering across the room along with his lust.

And what ever had broken while he’d been kissing her.

The expression on her face—he’d never seen her look like that. Her eyes wide and filled with confusion, desire, and maybe a little fear? Her usually smooth hair was wild where he’d slid his fingers into it, her normally fair cheeks had a high blush to them, and her lips were reddened and swollen from his kiss. She took another step away from him, clearly dazed.

Jake almost smirked. Perfect, calm, serene Cassia had just had the wind blasted out of her sails.

He mentally sighed.

Reeled himself back in like a veteran cop hauling an eager rookie back in line.

Down, boy.

Okay, he was a shit. He really needed to apologize. First to Cassia for acting like an ass, then to Kat for kissing another woman while he was still supposed to be dating her.

He tried to get closer to Cassia again, but the sudden change in her expression stopped him cold. The look on her face shimmered from vulnerable to a dangerous fury he had never imagined she possessed.

Streams of gold magic flew from one of her hands and the light zipped across the room. A crack split the air like a shot and a wooden table collapsed.

Oh, crap.

All thoughts of shapeshifting eggplants left his head and he wondered if she was going to toast his nuts like Rhiannon had done to Keir when she’d met the D’Danann warrior.

Only maybe Cassia would fry Jake’s right off. He almost crossed his legs at the thought.

But then all signs of Cassia’s magic faded. She took a deep breath. Her expression shifted back to that vulnerable look she’d been wearing before.

Jake’s heart melted faster than one of those Stormcutter’s ice daggers on hot asphalt. He wanted to hold her, reassure her. His emotions twisted so quickly that he’d never felt more confused in his life. In fact he’d never felt so much of anything, period. Not since Afghanistan.

A low growl came from the doorway and Jake jerked his gaze from Cassia’s to see Kael, Cassia’s huge white wolf familiar.

Hair prickled along Jake’s nape. If Cassia didn’t fry his nuts, her wolf might just eat them.

Jake drew his attention from Kael back to Cassia and opened his mouth to apologize.

Before Jake could get a single word out, Cassia turned and fled.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 15, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Cheyenne McCray brings it all together in a superb ending to her stupendous saga

    Although accepted as an equal by the D¿Anu witches and treated as a sister, Cassia has hidden her royal Elvin blood from everyone. However, her time of hiding is over as she must return to her elf realm as the daughter of the Great Guardian must become a Guardian. She understands her duty, but feels strongly she must help her friends in their upcoming battle against the new ¿God¿ warlock Darkwolf and knows she will miss the human MacGregor with all her heart. <BR/><BR/>San Francisco Police Department chief of Paranormal Special Forces Jake Macgregor is a bit taken aback that Cassia, whom he is attracted to, is not human, but he does not care though he knows anything between them is short lived. If his dice wins against the overwhelming odds, she must leave to fulfill her regal role as a Guardian; if they lose he does not want to think of the hell they will all be in. Still Darkwolf comes before their hearts.<BR/><BR/>This is excellent on two levels. Besides a fabulous finish to a great urban fantasy that sub-genre fans will relish as one of the best series over the past few years; the romance is the one readers have been waiting to see how it plays out since almost the beginning. Master magician Cheyenne McCray brings it all together in a superb ending to her stupendous saga.<BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic Conclusion to a Phenomenal Adult Fae Series!

    This was the last installment to Cheyenne's Magic Series. I enjoyed this installment, even though it was somewhat predictable. This story focuses on Cassia, the D'Anu witch, whose past has been a mystery from the beginning. Cassia, Jake McGregor and the rest of his special forces unit, the Drows, Tuatha D'Danann Warriors, Mystwalkers, earth-bound fae, the rest of the D'Anu coven and a last minute addition to the Alliance, The Light Elves, all work together to try to defeat Darkwolf; who has successfully robbed and killed Ceithlenn and Balor of their magic and is now a powerful god-warlock. There was plenty of action, suspense, intrigue and of course magic. This series was a great adult dark paranormal romance fantasy series, that help curb my cravings to read books geared for adults that involve the fae. All-in-all I will miss the series but I'm glad I gave it a chance. I highly recommend this series to dark urban fantasy readers with plenty of patience to skip through the many unnecessary sex scenes and overly emotional parts. If you don't mind sifting through those parts, the plot is fantastically-creative.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Really Enjoyable Paranormal Romance

    This was a really enjoyable read - the erotic parts interspersed with the romance and each character had their own voice. Perfect for escaping into alternate realities and paranormal creatures while enjoying erotic romance. The best erotica I like is romantic erotica, and I enjoy adding in the paranormal (witches, elves, demons, vampires, werewolves, etc).

    Very sexy and fun read! I'm reading all of her stories now.

    This is great entertainment, not in-depth literature...(the leading man is kind of a conventional character, and most of the various "scenes" leading through the story are to get from one romantically sexy part to another) but if you know that going into it, then you'll enjoy it even more if that's what you want to read. I recommend it.

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