How to Marry a Warlock in 10 Daysby Saranna DeWylde
Middy Cherrywood does. She's got more warlock than she can hex with Dred Shadowins. He isn't just a billionaire playboy and Weekly Warlock centerfold. He's a spy for the High Chancellor, and he convinces Middy to pose as his fiancée for his latest mission. Too bad no one told his mother before she slipped Middy a potion that will make/b>
Middy Cherrywood does. She's got more warlock than she can hex with Dred Shadowins. He isn't just a billionaire playboy and Weekly Warlock centerfold. He's a spy for the High Chancellor, and he convinces Middy to pose as his fiancée for his latest mission. Too bad no one told his mother before she slipped Middy a potion that will make their sham engagement all too real in just ten days.
Dred Shadowins already has his hands full with cursed objects, possessed nuns, and dreams where Merlin makes him pay for taking his name in vain by relating his sexcapades with Nimue. But by the end of the mission, he's convinced his most difficult challenge is the hero's cape Middy's draped over his shoulders. Because he wants nothing more than to give her the one thing he may not be capable of providing: Happily Ever After.
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How to Marry a Warlock in 10 Days
By Saranna DeWylde
Brava BooksCopyright © 2012 Saranna DeWylde
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Centerfold
Midnight Cherrywood didn't feel the least bit guilty as she grinned like the most jaded of lechers over the new centerfold in Weekly Warlock magazine. Even though said centerfold just happened to be one Dred Shadowins, dark warlock and bastard extraordinaire. The dark part had never been proven, but she definitely had proof of the bastard part.
Back at the Academy, he'd called her "Cherry-Would-If-She-Could." He'd dipped her braids in a potion that had turned them into snakes for three days; he'd cursed her fig yogurt to sour if she looked at it; and had compared her legs to those of a horse/mule hybrid more times than she cared to count. It should be a sin for such a nasty warlock to look so good, but she supposed that one man, even a warlock, couldn't be allowed to have everything.
"On your back, woman!" Dred's image demanded, looking every inch the conquering barbarian.
The special thing about the warlock publications was that she could see the articles play themselves out not on the page, but in what mortals would call 3-D. In fact, for an extra subscription fee, the magazine came with a special feature so she could have the likeness of any centerfold act out scenarios. She could feel everything she wanted him to do to her just as if he was there in the flesh.
Middy sighed in expectation of the pleasure to come. She liked it when he was bossy; she'd programmed him that way after a few days of experimenting. She was going to dress him in a kilt later. This magazine was like a real-life Fuck Me Ken doll with none of the messy attachments. He didn't come with the Ducati broom or the mansion, but that was all Barbie's shit anyway. She was the doctor, the lawyer, the astronaut ... he was just the ditzy arm candy.
She'd paid the extra fee for image interaction gladly. Unfortunately, the program wouldn't accept anything that was squick-worthy or that the owner of the image found offensive in reality. The first time Dred had done a pictorial, she'd tried to make him walk around on a leash and bark like a dog. She'd only had success in making him lick her boot and call her "mistress."
Middy found it to be a sad state of affairs when even her fantasies wouldn't do as they were told. She wouldn't argue too much though because for all of the program's recalcitrance to be humiliated, it was more than happy to provide images of dipping Dred's almost white-blond head between her aching thighs.
Dred Shadowins was just arrogant enough to think that every woman in the world wanted to ride his face like a show pony. Middy couldn't blame him though; he really was delicious as long as he had his mouth full.
Yes, Dred Shadowins was going to have a mouth too full of her to be saying much of anything, let alone something hateful. Middy leaned back on her mountain of overstuffed pillows, fanned her hair out behind her just so, and closed her eyes.
She knew it was a sad thing that she had an ongoing affair with a centerfold when the real thing was at all of the same social functions she attended. Of course, her presence at those soirees was more out of duty than any actual desire to go. The Gargoyle War had left many families impoverished and Middy felt the magickal world should support the families of soldiers on both sides, so she organized charity functions and solicited donations.
Middy wished that she could stop thinking about the actual man and just jill-off to his tasty likeness. Not that she wanted the real thing. That would be stupid. Aside from the rumors about his ties to dark magick, he was also one of the richest warlocks in the world. Hell, he was one of the richest people in the world, mortal or warlock, and that made him one of the most eligible bachelors on the planet. He went through women and witches like dental floss.
Middy was amazed at how real it felt when he ran his fingers over her thighs, when he ... When her damned Witchberry went off, vibrating like a jackhammer and interrupting her recreation. She was tempted to put all that vibration to better use. It wasn't as if she could turn it off though. In the magickal world the Now Network meant RIGHT NOW. There was no lost signal, no "reject" button for magickal calls. The vibrating was just to let you know that you needed to be prepared. The chancellors used Witchberries for video conferencing on demand.
Middy closed the magazine and straightened herself, which put her dreamboat on pause. He was still looking at her and licking his chops lasciviously. Thank the Goddess he couldn't do anything else while he was on pause or she'd be screaming in tongues at Chancellor Vargill. He'd get to know her in ways that just weren't necessary for their professional relationship.
"Cherrywood!" Chancellor Vargill's voice reverberated through the little machine.
She had the urge to trill back, but composed herself. "Yes, Martin?"
"Are you busy?"
If that mattered, he wouldn't have called on the Witchberry, the pompous ass. "What can I do for you?"
"The funding for the Gargoyle Masque just fell through. We need donations and we need them now. Who on your contributors list can we hit up to sponsor something of this size?"
The universe was conspiring against her. There was only one warlock who could part with that kind of scratch on a moment's notice. The warlock of her fantasies, Dred Shadowins.
"What do you mean the funding 'fell through'? It doesn't just fall through. What happened?" Middy demanded.
Martin Vargill's face colored and it seemed that his collar was too tight. He shoved a finger between the garrote of the material and his neck before answering. "Chancellor Butterbean was caught, let us say wand out, with Aloe Hugginfroth."
Aloe Hugginfroth was a notorious escort and pariah. Gavin Butterbean's career would implode on itself not because of Hugginfroth's reputation, but due to the fact that it was his wife who held the purse strings. Unfortunately, Ginger Butterbean also knew that the Gargoyle Masque was one of Gavin's favorite charities and she would have snatched the funding right out from under it. The selfish bitch couldn't care less about the women and children she'd be helping, only about drowning her husband's political career. Without the networking from the Gargoyle Masque, he was sure to lose his chancellorship.
"Maybe I can talk to Ginger," Middy said weakly. Even though she knew that it wasn't a viable option, she didn't appreciate the chancellor's loud cackle. He honked like a goose.
"Middy, you need to go see Dred Shadowins. We both know that without him, the Masque will be a no-go this year. Remember the starving kids, Cherrywood."
Middy huffed. Those damned kids got her every time. "I'll call his secretary."
"He's expecting you in an hour."
An hour? One miserable little piss-ant of an hour? Was he high? "If you call the secretary, you can deliver the pitch."
"Already tried, Middy. He wants you."
He wants you. If only that were true. Want in one hand and well ... the rest was obvious. She knew which one filled up first and with the same material that was going to be spewing from his gloriously decadent mouth in exactly one hour.
"Why? Is he high? I know you must be."
"You do carry on so, Midnight. What's the big deal? You pitch our cause all day long. It's your bread and butter. Dred Shadowins is no different. Unless you're one of those screaming debutantes who think he's the bee's knees in Armani because he's rich. I really thought better of you."
"Martin, you are cordially invited to fuck yourself sideways."
"I hope you won't be kissing Shadowins with that mouth."
"So help me, Vargill, I'm going to reach through this phone and ..."
"Fifty-five minutes and counting, Middy." Vargill hung up.
Even being a witch, she wasn't sure she had enough time to make herself presentable and still be on time for her meeting. Why had Dred Shadowins asked for her? He'd probably run out of small animals to kick.
Middy knew she needed to suck it up and go prostrate herself before the almighty Shadowins, anything to get those children into homes. It was worth the blow to her pride to help the children.
She was tempted to put on something frumpy and dowdy to prove to him that she didn't care what he thought. Middy had to admit that she wanted him to see her and be completely taken by her beauty, floored by how kind the years had been to her and, not to mention, the great shape of her ass. Something she hadn't had at the Academy.
She hadn't had this rack back then either; Middy had been a late bloomer. Though bloom she had. She'd gone from a carpenter's dream—flat as a board and never been nailed—to 1940s Hollywood lush. The never-been-nailed part still applied, much to her displeasure. She found that she liked her fantasies more than anything reality had to offer.
In the end, she gave in to her vanity. Middy decided it would take a big enough kick in the taco by swallowing her pride to go see Shadowins. She chose a tight-fitting skirt that came to just above her knees and a feminine blouse. It was work chic, but sexy, too. The black bra she wore beneath the pink silk gave it just enough edge. She may have been a quiet sort of witch, but that didn't mean she didn't know how to dress.
Corralling her hair was another matter entirely. Not that it was ratty, unkempt, or even had split ends. It was just a riot of curls and they wanted to hang where they wanted to hang. There were no mergers or suggested courses of action; it had to be a straight up hostile takeover to get it up into a bun. Even then, it was a loose bun, but she liked how it looked on her with fey little wisps framing her face.
Again, she was thankful that she was a witch or the amount of product she'd have to dump in her hair would be enough to glue a polar bear to an ice cap. She was mostly satisfied with her look and charmed her makeup on.
Not too bad. She looked a little bit like Snow White, but that had always worked for her. It was what she'd dressed as for every Samhain since she could remember. Now, if she could just find her damned broom. The thing had been in the shop twice already in the last three months. She hoped it didn't dump her in Bangladesh. That would not be good for her complexion or the Gargoyle Masque.
She looked at the closed copy of Weekly Warlock and sighed heavily. She'd much rather be dealing with this version of Dred Shadowins. Not only did she have to deal with Dastard Dred, as she'd called him, but she had to deal with her broom. Her broom was a timid little thing, afraid of heights. Pretty much worthless, but every time she tried to trade him in, his bristles quivered tearfully and she couldn't bring herself to do it.
Middy found her broom hiding from her in the back of the shoe closet. She knew she was lucky to have found him because the back of that thing led to another dimension. At least, that's what the sock gnome had told her when she'd caught him stealing one of her thigh-highs. She'd threatened him with dirty gym socks; they never wanted those. For good reason, she supposed.
Middy soothed the broom out of the corner and got him ready to go. She hopped on him sidesaddle because he had traditional sensibilities, not at all like some of the newer models who were more than happy to have witches' thighs clamped tightly on both sides of the steering shaft. And she wondered then if Aloe Hugginfroth's broom could apply for hazard pay. That, too, could possibly have been a black hole to another dimension.
Chapter TwoThe Appointment
Shadowins Towers were located on the mortal side of Kansas City, Missouri, because Dred liked to be in the middle. He found that the middle was always the easiest road to travel and he could veer off to either side at a moment's notice. This applied to politics, business, magick, and women. He especially liked to be in the middle with women, in the middle of two women if he had his way.
And he usually did.
He wasn't sure what perversity had caused him to demand Miss-Cherry-Would-If-She-Could bring the pitch for the Gargoyle Masque. Dred already knew that he was going to give her the money. Even he couldn't resist all of those sad-eyed, snot-nosed little creatures who were oddly endearing with their pleas for help. He wouldn't go so far as to say that he liked other people's spawn, but they were interesting in their own way, and unpredictable.
He was also aware that at times, he was indeed a twisted bastard. Of course, that hadn't stopped him from making his demands when Vargill had called sniveling about Butterbean's dumbassery. How in the name of hell he'd gotten caught with that slag Aloe Hugginfroth was beyond him. It wasn't that he hadn't had his turn with the talented witch, because he had. All warlocks had their share of vices, but that didn't mean they needed to be displayed like Solstice lights on a tree.
He hadn't really thought much about Middy Cherrywood since their days at the Academy. Dred had been such a spoiled little shit, and now that he thought about it, he wasn't sure that much had changed where he was concerned. He'd realized that plenty had changed with Middy when he'd seen her a month or so ago at a luncheon and damn if she wasn't mouthwatering. Of course, there was the fact that her panties might be the only ones that he hadn't been in as far as the magickal world was concerned. He was running out of new dishes to try and she was most definitely a dish.
He'd always thought Cherry-Would-If-She-Could, but now he wondered if Cherry-Had, and if she would again with him? Dred knew that she was going to be a challenge and that whetted his appetite for more, much more.
He knew she would be prompt so he waited for her in what they called the Broom Closet. It was a small room where magickal folk could travel back and forth between the mortal and magickal worlds unmolested.
Dred wasn't disappointed. She arrived with one minute to spare looking like she'd just crawled out of his bed. Her lips were plump and pink, as if she'd just been kissed thoroughly, and her hair was slightly mussed. Wait, no. If she'd just crawled out of his bed, her hair would look like she hadn't brushed it in years and she wouldn't even be able to sit a broom. He flashed his trademarked Shadowins's smirk. That was how she was going to look tomorrow morning.
She was going to be wearing that same berry-pink silk blouse, but it would be buttoned wrong. They usually missed one or two after a night with a warlock of his prowess. He'd bet that the tail of the blouse would just skim the tops of her thighs and would be an enticing invitation to see what else she had to offer in that exact shade of pink.
Middy leaned over as she dismounted her broom with the ladylike comportment that the Academy had beaten into her head. He remembered the days when a broom could buck her if she even looked at it too long. Dred caught a glimpse of a lace-edged, black satin bra as she shifted.
He was instantly hard at the sight of the soft swells of her creamy breasts over that naughty black lace. Dred wondered if she liked how that silk felt like against her bare skin, if it taunted her nipples and, further, what shade of pink they were.
Dred decided then that pink was his new favorite color. Especially when her cheeks flushed the same hue. He would have to endeavor to keep them that way.
He extended a hand to help her from the platform and she looked at it like it was covered in the Ebola virus. Dred looked down at his hand again to make sure that it wasn't in any way offensive. No, it wasn't covered in griffin shit, ... He'd been petting them before her arrival, but he knew he'd washed his hands. There would be no stealing of corporate secrets here; his griffins would rip out the hearts of anyone set on espionage against Shadowins holdings.
"May I, Miss Cherrywood?" It had been really difficult not to call her Miss Cherry-Would-If-She-Could. He knew that the epithet would light her on fire and her eyes would flash and those tasty blouse gnomes would heave and ... It would be like a sensual storm for his senses, getting her knickers in a knot.
She was flustered again, but she took the hand he offered and stepped down beside him.
"I didn't expect you to meet me yourself," she said as she smoothed her skirt with one hand. Middy tried to pull the other one back, but he wasn't inclined to let go.
"I can't have you wandering these secret halls, now can I? The griffins might think that you were up to no good."
"No good? I'm not the one who has been accused of unpleasantries," Middy replied calmly.
Excerpted from How to Marry a Warlock in 10 Days by Saranna DeWylde Copyright © 2012 by Saranna DeWylde. Excerpted by permission of Brava Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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