Book 4 of The Only Sorceress series
Self-proclaimed sorceress Kora wishes she could concentrate on making her new-age business a success. But between a colony-wide strike of public works spearheaded by the disgruntled Were community and dear ol’ Mum Hecate’s “favors,” Kora will be lucky to get to work on time let alone maintain an unblemished immortal soul.
Mom’s latest task has Kora running afoul of the magical community’s most powerful figures on their home turf. This time cleaning up after a rogue witch lands Kora in the furious clutches of beautiful, high priest Desmond. If that weren’t bad enough, past actions come back to haunt Kora, leaving her with much to answer for, one Hades of a common cold, and no one left on her side.
“Viho.” Desmond paused until the Healer’s attention switched away from the departing witches. “I would be in your debt if you would kindly drive Ms. Walsh’s car to Wipuk Waters.”
No way was I getting in a car with him again. “I can drive it myself, Marino.”
“Hush, Walsh,” he said even as he fetched the keys out of my purse.
I stared, flabbergasted that he felt comfortable rummaging around in my purse. Who did the man think he was?
Once Desmond transferred the rental car key into Viho’s care, he took my left elbow in hand, and then forced me to the door. The manhandling was oddly complemented by my purse hanging from his other arm. I’d save the fighting until we were out of earshot. Saving face with the coalition was more important than setting Desmond straight.
He guided me into the corridor toward the heavy front door, and then on to the BMW parked in the first spot. I let him open the passenger side door and even failed to complain when he switched his grip from my left to my right elbow so he could put me into the seat. But that was as far as it went.
I had plenty of time to grow increasingly pissed off while he walked around the car, stopped to give Viho further instructions, and then finally got in to turn on the engine.
“I’m so furious with you right now,” I said as soon as he’d shifted the car into reverse.
Desmond laughed. “That would be more believable if you hadn’t just saved my life.”
“I saved your life because I didn’t want to spend another two months trying to win over whoever takes your place.”
“How lucky for me,” he said, drawling in what sounded an awful lot like amusement.
The dick was funning me!
My jaw set with an audible click. “You trapped me into joining your coven, Marino. I’m not a witch. I should never have been forced into your coven.”
“You need me, Walsh,” he said in a disgustingly arrogant tone. “You said it yourself. You needed either Maximo or myself to support you so you could stay.” Desmond maneuvered the car out of the parking lot. “After everything that has happened, the only way we could let you stay was to go full out.”
My voice went sour with several sharp punctuations. “Even though I saved six dozen people from dying in New Jersey and another who knows how many in Cary’s place, I’ve got to bow to your stupid customs?”
He faced me as we halted at a stop sign. “I thought you would be happy you were no longer on the fringe.”
I jerked in his direction. “Bullshit, Marino. Bullshit. You didn’t do this for me. I’m not as stupid as I look—”
“You don’t look stupid.” He resumed his forward position. The car rolled into the intersection a second later.
“You made me join your faction so you’d have complete control over me, so you could interrogate me whenever you like without needing the coalition’s authorization, and so you’d be the only vote if it came down to me needing to be punished.”
“How is my vote being the only one a bad thing?”
“Because Viho would have voted unconditionally in my favor! While you—”
“While I am someone you can’t manipulate.”
I folded my arms in front of my chest in a show of petulance.
He glanced over at me. “You think the coalition doesn’t realize that, too? How do you think I convinced them I was the best choice?”
“Because you manipulated them.”
Frustration rose up in him—easily sensed with as extreme as it was. “I didn’t have to manipulate them. They knew I was correct.”
I let out a harsh laugh. “I bet Alina thinks differently now.”
He huffed a sigh in through his nose. But the reminder of Alina must have diverted Desmond’s thoughts because when he spoke next it was in a low voice on a new topic. “How many more secrets are going to be revealed?”
Rather than lie to him, I stared out the windshield.
“I don’t want to make you tell me.” He was almost believable. Almost. “But I am your priest now. I need to know what I’ve taken absolute responsibility for.”
“Maybe you should have found out before you did.” It was an uncooperative, nasty statement I shouldn’t have said. Too late to take it back now.
“Kora,” he said in warning. “I will interrogate you if I have to.”
My entire body went cold and stiff from the memory of being in that spellweaved chair in the pitch-black. The answer I gave him shook out of my mouth. “Then you can kiss my ever saving you again goodbye, Marino, because I’d rather let you die a horrible death than let you put me in that chair again.”
“I don’t believe that,” he said softly.
Desmond’s voice took on hint of confidence. “I heard you, you know. If you truly hated me as you say you do, you wouldn’t have been pleading with me not to die.”
Hera, help me. He heard me blubbering over his ailing body. How embarrassing.
“If you’d died,” I said, “then I couldn’t torment you for what you did to me in that chair.”
The dick laughed at me. “You torment me, Walsh, every day.” He cleared his throat, and then adopted that low voice again. “What other secrets will blindside me?”
Miffed he thought everything was so damn funny, I said, “If I told you, then there’d be no blindsiding fun, now would there?”
Zeus, the man didn’t let up!
I released a martyred sigh. “Remember when I said revealing the answers to some questions could mean my death? I meant it. Okay? So apart from the fact I know a ridiculous number of foreign languages and have visited at least as many countries as I know languages, you know everything I can tell you.”
He went silent. I could almost see the furious workings of his mind.
What I didn’t see was what prompted him to ask his next question. “Did you eat dinner last night?”
Desmond chuckled. “I’ll make steak.”
Good grief. He was going to cook for me.