This Witch Is On Fire
Cassandra Ferguson McKenna, aka the Witch of Devil River, has only one thing to say to her demon-hunting ex: We are never ever getting back together. Sure, Duncan Dalvhani may be the hottest thing this side of the Mason-Dixon line. He's got a body to die for-which is hard to ignore when he skinny dips in her river every day-and swears he loves her. But as a demon hunter, Duncan is the sworn enemy of a demonoid sorceress like Cassandra. Give him another chance to break her heart? Witch, please. But when Cassandra is attacked by a werewolf, Duncan not only comes to her rescue, he helps her take on a band of magic-drunk moonshiners, fire-breathing demons, shifty shapeshifters, and a pet Sasquatch named Sugar. Welcome to Alabama. But when a portal opens up for even more hellaciousness, Cassandra has to admit that Duncan is slowly opening her heart-to a whole new world of unearthly delights . . .
Praise for Demon Hunting in Dixie
"A demonically wicked good time."-Angie Fox
"A not-to-be-missed Southern-fried, bawdy, hilarious romp."
-Beverly Barton, New York Times bestselling author
"A genuinely funny new voice in paranormal romance."-Publishers Weekly
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.64(d)|
Read an Excerpt
It was time.
Duncan watched the cottage across the river for signs of movement, his skin fevered with anticipation. She was beyond those walls. He was certain of it, for her presence was a throbbing pulse in his veins. Soon, the door would open and she would appear, the Witch of Devil River.
"Witch" was an imprecise term — Cassandra Ferguson McKenna was more sorceress than witch, able to channel the power inherent in earth and stone, in the elements and living things. She was a demonoid, the immortal daughter of a fiend-possessed human, and Duncan was Dalvahni, a warrior sworn to the pursuit of rogue demons, or "djegrali," as they were also known.
And therein lay the problem.
His and Cassandra's very natures set them at odds, but the heart counted not the cost. Thus, he lingered near his sweet torment day after day, hoping for a glimpse of her, a starving man scrabbling for crumbs tossed from her table.
Cassandra did not return his regard. She was prickly, his lady, and not one easily to forgive. He had hurt her most cruelly in the past. The knowledge was a wound Duncan had carried lo these many years. It would take time and patience to reclaim her, but he, too, was immortal.
Time, he had aplenty.
He caught a fleeting glimpse of her through the glass panes of the door, and his blood quickened. It was ever thus with Cassandra, this almost painful heightening of the senses, the feeling of being fully alive, a heady mixture of excitement, longing, regret, and desire. Her house was fashioned of clapboards and crowned by a pitched metal roof. Behind the cottage, a grove of heavy-limbed oaks stood sentinel. Situated on a bend in the river, the dwelling afforded a pleasing prospect, and Cassandra could often be found on the porch breathing in the damp perfume of early morning or listening to the bugs singing at twilight.
Duncan's heart gave an eager jerk as the door swung open and Cassandra stepped out of the house carrying a wooden bread bowl. The air hissed, unnoticed, from his lungs and he drank in the sight of her, absorbing every detail with his enhanced vision. Gods, she was lovely, a beguiling mixture of feminine beauty and strength. The air was thick with humidity, and she wore her fair locks in a casual knot on top of her head for comfort. Wisps of the blond silk had come undone and curled at the nape of her neck. She was clad in shorts and a thin cotton T-shirt that molded to the plump curves of her breasts. Her feet were bare. She was ever wont to run around without shoes, he recalled, swallowing at the sight of her bare legs. He wanted to drag his tongue from the bottoms of her feet to her earlobes, and everywhere in between. Her skin would be soft and smooth, and she would smell of roses and summer rain.
She strode purposefully across the porch and took a seat in one of the chairs. Determined and resolute in all she did, his Cassandra. Plopping the bowl in her lap, she began to shell the garden peas in the container, a slight crease between her elegant brows. Vexing vegetables, to cause his lady to frown. The young woman he remembered had bubbled with laughter, but this Cassandra rarely smiled. She had, in fact, become something of a recluse. The blame for that lay at his door, Duncan knew. 'Twould be his pleasure — nay, his duty — to coax her from the doldrums.
He strode out of the woods to the riverbank.
"I bid you a good e'en, Cassandra." A magical push sent his voice across the broad expanse of water. "And I wish you joy."
At the sound of his voice she jumped from her chair, scattering the pea pods across her feet.
"You again," she said in accents of deepest loathing. Tossing the bowl aside, she stomped off the porch and down the sloped lawn to the water's edge. "I told you to stay off my property. Don't make me get my gun."
Duncan opened his arms wide. "Fire away, milady, an it please you." He pulled off his T-shirt and tossed it aside. "Aim your weapon here," he suggested, patting his chest with one hand, "and put me out of my misery, for I can bear your disfavor no longer."
"I wouldn't waste the ammunition on you." She propped her hands on her hips. "Get out of here, Duncan. How many times do I have to tell you to leave me alone?"
"As many as you like, sweetheart."
"Meaning you have no intention of leaving."
"Meaning I am going for a swim. Care to join me?"
"Not in this lifetime."
"Suit yourself," he said.
Removing the jeans and the undergarment humans called "boxer briefs," he dived into the water. The river was deep and chilly, even after the long Alabama summer, and he swam to the bottom to explore. The floor was sandy and strewn with brown and white rocks. Gardens of green frothy plants waved in the current. A turtle swam past, rolling a yellow eye at him in surprise. An olive-colored fish with a jutting jaw glared at his intrusion and darted away with an indignant swish of its tail.
Surfacing near the bank on Cassandra's side of the river, he found her crouched on her hands and knees, her anxious gaze on the water.
"Worried about me, sweet?" Treading water, he gave her a slow grin. "No need. I can hold my breath a long time."
She scrambled to her feet with an indignant huff. "I don't doubt it, you big blowhard. Go away, Duncan. I mean it."
"Alas, I cannot. I fear I have developed a cramp."
"Bullshit." She made a circular motion with her hand. "Turn around, mister, before I call the sheriff and report you for trespassing."
"You do not own the river."
"No, but you so much as set a toe on my land, and there'll be hell to pay."
Duncan heaved a wounded sigh. "That is no way to treat a neighbor."
Her elegant brows drew together in a scowl. "Neighbor? What are you babbling about?"
"I bought the parcel across the river from you. The owner — er — former owner and I signed the papers a sennight ago."
"Liar. Lucinda Hall's tight as tree bark. She wouldn't sell you squat."
"Your attack on my verity pains me. A Dalvahni warrior does not lie. However, I will admit that your assessment of the lady's character is not unjust. Be that as it may, we have reached an agreement."
"Oh, yeah? How much?"
Duncan gave her a look of reproach. "That is a private matter between me and Madam Hall. I am surprised at you, Cassandra. You were not wont to be so mercenary."
"I meant how much land did she sell you, and you damn well know it," Cassandra said, clenching her teeth.
"A goodly portion. The land between Cain Road and the McCant farm."
"What? That's fifteen hundred acres."
A dull flush crept up her neck and spread across her cheeks. "I don't believe you."
Duncan sighed, "That, my love, you have made abundantly clear. Howe'er, 'tis true, I assure you. Would you care to see the deed?"
"Don't call me — oh, forget it. I can guess how you talked the old skinflint around. You put the whammy on her. That's low, Duncan. Even for you."
"Again, you misjudge me. I did not 'put the whammy on her,' as you so crudely suggest. I made her a handsome offer and she accepted." Duncan floated, arms out, in the water, surveying her through drooping lids. "You are canny with spell craft. If you wanted the land so badly, why did you not use magic?"
"Because I don't use magic to take advantage of norms," she snapped. "That's cheating." Her eyes narrowed at a faint tapping sound from the woods across the water. "What's that noise?"
"Workers building a house." He gave her a lazy smile. "For me, on my land. Would you care for a tour? I should dearly love to know your thoughts on the location of my new dwelling."
"You can build it on the moon, for all I care. Barring that, stay on your side of the river, if you know what's good for you."
He widened his eyes at her. "How can I do that, my love, when you are what is good for me?"
She suggested he do something anatomically impossible to himself and stormed off.
Much better, Duncan decided, watching Cassandra stomp back to the house. He'd far rather see her angry than pensive. Sad Cassandra tore at his heart. Cassandra in an outrage delighted and aroused him.
All in all, it had been a productive afternoon. Executing a smooth tumble turn in the water, Duncan swam back to his side of the river.
Cassie swept into the house and slammed the door so hard the glass panes rattled. Ooh, he made her spitting mad. She paced the wide hall that divided the dogtrot in two. The nerve of Duncan, the unmitigated gall. Odious, detestable male. Worlds to choose from and he plunked his preternaturally fine ass across the river from her. Why was he doing this? She'd made it clear they were kaput. He'd shredded her heart into confetti once, and she had no intention of going back for seconds. Fool me once, shame on you, she thought. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Was he gone? She sprang back to the door to make sure he hadn't followed her — naked, no less. The guy didn't have an appropriate valve, and he seemed to take unholy pleasure in pestering her. To her relief, he was headed back across the river, his big, muscular body cleaving the water. He reached the far bank and climbed out, giving Cassie an eyeful of his strong back and sculpted buttocks. The demon hunter was fine, she'd give him that, with broad, well-muscled shoulders that tapered to a lean waist, and powerful thighs and calves. His shoulder-length brown hair clung to the back of his neck in a sleek, wet pelt. He looked over his shoulder, as though sensing her regard, and Cassie jumped back. God forbid he catch her spying on him. Duncan Dalvahni had an ego the size of Texas.
She resumed her pacing. She and Duncan were over and done with. Ancient history. She'd worked hard and now ran a flourishing business. She wasn't the ignorant country mouse he'd known. She would not allow him to fluster her.
But he will, a sly inner voice whispered. Be honest. He already has. You haven't relaxed since you found out he was back in Hannah, and now he's practically on your doorstep. You know what he is. Pushy. Dominating. Aggravating in the extreme. He's bound to make a nuisance of himself.
Drat Lucy Hall, anyway. Cassie could cheerfully throttle her. She'd offered a dozen times over the years to buy the ten acres across the river, but Lucy wouldn't budge. Then Duncan shows up with his smooth talk and laughing eyes, and the treacherous old biddy sells him the whole kit and caboodle. Unbelievable. Unacceptable. Unbearable.
She should leave and let him have it, but Hannah was her home, dammit. Magic ran deep here, and business was good. Most of her customers were kith, the demonoid term for their kind, although she did a brisk trade selling charms and potions to norms. She liked living on the river. She liked her friends and her house. She liked her herb garden.
No, by golly, Duncan could leave. He didn't have ties here. He wasn't from Earth, much less Behr County. If he insisted on homesteading across the river from her, so be it. She would not tuck tail and run. She'd ignore him. Be polite and keep her distance. He could sashay around naked till the cows came home, as far as she was concerned. She'd thank him sweetly for the peep show and go about her business. That should roast his chestnuts.
The Regulator clock on the wall chimed once, and Cassie eyed it in alarm. That clock hadn't run for years. Trouble was coming ... maybe even death. She shook off the feeling of doom. Duncan's arrival had unsettled her. The clock had chimed because she'd slammed the door, shaking the wall, not because of some dire portent. Good grief, Duncan's announcement had her turned every which way but Sunday. She should go for a drive to clear her head. Maybe she'd pay Lucy Hall a visit. Ask her up front if she'd sold Duncan her land.
The steady tapping across the river continued, tightening Cassie's nerves until she thought they would snap. Duncan was building a house. Across the river from her. They were going to be neighbors. Even if she never saw him, she'd know he was there, lounging in his new digs, smug in his Duncan-ness.
She had to get out of here. Now, before she spontaneously combusted.
Mind made up, Cassie marched down the hall for the back door. Her favorite cowboy boots were sitting under a cane-bottom chair, and she snatched them up and shoved her feet into the worn leather. Grabbing her purse off the hall tree, she flung open the door and stepped onto the back stoop, swaying as a feeling of dread engulfed her. She wrapped her hand around a porch post for balance and peered into the gloom. Something was off. The stand of oaks that protected her property were whispering in alarm. Everything else was silent. No doves cooing in the underbrush. No bugs cajoling the coming of night in symphony. She stood there for a long moment, trying to pinpoint the danger. The perimeter of her property was set with spell lines to alert her to danger, and an invisible barrier across her driveway screened her visitors. If anyone or anything crossed the magical line, bing. Bells rang in the house and garden to let her know she had company. Letting her eyes go slightly unfocused, she checked the wards around her place. The spell lines were intact. Nothing seemed amiss. Lord, she was being fanciful. Silly to let an old clock spook her.
She'd parked her truck near the garden to unload some bags of fertilizer. Draping her purse strap over her shoulder, she left the porch and started down the drive. She'd almost reached the Silverado when the werewolf attacked.
The beast charged out of the trees on all fours with a heart-stopping growl. It was a young male, no more than nineteen or twenty, from Cassie's best guess, and he'd half-shifted. Moth-eaten patches of reddish-brown hair covered his body, vicious claws tipped his large paws, and his snout bristled with sharp teeth. He was hunched and misshapen, and the skin peeping through the blotches of fur was a sickly gray. A pair of furry wolf ears sat atop his elongated head.
Cassie yanked on the door handle of the truck. Locked. The werewolf pounded down the driveway in a blur of motion, spewing gravel and dirt as he ran. Foam flecked his slathering jaws, and his eyes burned red with madness. How had he gotten past her security system? She must remember to run a spell check tomorrow.
If she lived.
She scrabbled in the side pocket of her purse for her keys, her heart doing a rapid tattoo against her ribs. Her fingers brushed a pen, a lipstick, and a wadded receipt. No keys. The werewolf was closer now, so close she could hear his labored breathing. She risked a quick glance at him and shrieked. He was almost on top of her, his black lips peeled back, exposing his deadly fangs. She whirled to run back to the safety of the house. Too far. She'd never make it. Desperate, she swung back around and whacked the werewolf on the nose with her purse, putting all her strength behind the blow. He yelped in pain. Hurling the purse at him, Cassie dived headfirst into the bed of the truck. Murmuring the first protection spell that popped into her mind, she bounded to her feet. Below her, the werewolf was tearing her abandoned handbag to bits. His head jerked up and he spied her standing in the truck. With a howl of rage, he leapt at the vehicle, his head and shoulders punching through Cassie's hastily erected ward. For a moment, he dangled there, back legs sawing at thin air, his sharp claws gouging the side of the Silverado with a metallic screech, then the shield collapsed and he fell into the bed of the truck. Surging to his feet, paws sliding on the slick liner, the werewolf fixed his eerie red gaze on Cassie.
"N-nice doggie," Cassie stammered as the werewolf raised his hackles and rumbled low in his chest. "There's a good boy."
The beast pounced with a snarl. Cassie screamed and threw her arms in front of her face, bracing for the agony of slathering jaws tearing at her flesh, and heard a dull thud at her feet. Something hot and wet splashed her skin. Lowering her arms, she saw the werewolf's severed head lying on the floor of the truck. Blood spurted from the neck stump and pooled on the polyurethane bed liner. The malformed body twitched once, twice, and went still.
Excerpted from "Demon Hunting With a Sexy Ex"
Copyright © 2017 Jean Webb.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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