Familiar Territory

 

Series: Reluctant Familiar Mysteries
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9991703-3-5
Publisher: Electric Prose Publications

 

Independence is the most important thing to LA…but can she live with herself if her freedom ends up costing her family their lives?

She’d watched a friend succumb to the smothering control of another magical user. She’d made a promise to herself it would never happen to her. For centuries her family has worn the badge of Familiar proudly, serving a long line of powerful Witches and becoming as formidable as the ones they served. But LA doesn’t believe she needs a Familiar alliance to be strong.

Until people she cares about begin disappearing…turning up dead.

Until a powerful and handsome male Witch walks into her life and forges an inadvertent magic bond while trying to save her life.


Now she finds herself in exactly the position she never wanted. But she quickly realizes she can’t save her friends and family alone. So it comes down to losing her independence or watching everyone she cares about die.

Will LA find a way to keep her independence and still save the people she cares about most? Or will her burning need for freedom be the cause of their deaths?


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Excerpt

The stupid cat was going to be the death of me.

He crouched beneath a rusted out cabinet and hissed whenever I moved. Every time I spoke to the bedraggled creature it spat at me and backed more deeply into the shadows underneath the cabinet. All I could see was the glow of his large green eyes. Beautiful eyes. Just about the only attractive thing about the ugly critter.

Including his personality.

“Come on, buddy. I promise I only want to help.”

The cat yowled fervently, ending the long complaint with a hiss that promised me pain if I tried to get any closer.

I sighed my frustration, sitting back on my heels to think. I’d been chasing the recalcitrant feline for almost a week, and I’d been unable to lure it out with any of my usual tricks. The difficult creature had already snubbed kibble, tuna, even a can of delectable anchovies I’d dug out of the back of my pantry. I was at a loss. He didn’t seem in the least inclined to let me “save” him.

I had only one last option and I was reluctant to use it. It was too easy and way too tempting. But it was starting to look like I wasn’t going to have a choice.

Standing up, I quickly glanced around to make sure I wasn’t being watched. The fenced in lot was empty except for me and the cat, and the street beyond the fence was quiet. Most of my neighbors were already at work, and the ones who weren’t were probably still asleep.

The coast was clear.

But was my conscience?

I eyed the cat and earned another hiss for my trouble. That hiss twanged my last nerve. “Okay, fuzzface. That’s it. You and I need to have a meeting of the minds.”

The cat moved slightly forward as if drawn by my angry tones. I was surprised, but then the animal hadn’t done anything I expected so far. It made a twisted kind of sense that he would continue to catch me off guard.

I gave it one more second’s thought and then made my decision. The cat watched me as I walked to a spot several feet away and sat down, crossing my legs and spreading my hands on my knees.

The feline’s intelligent green gaze was filled with anticipation, as if he knew what I was about to do. I don’t know how. Even I wasn’t entirely sure if I was actually going through with it. I only knew I needed to do something or the cat underneath the cabinet would be lost.

So I closed my eyes and focused my thoughts inward, searching for the core of energy that pulsed in my breast. My tentative exploration was all too eagerly received. As I’d feared, the magic flared toward my tentative touch and grabbed hold, surging outward far too fast.

I panicked and clamped it down, gritting my teeth as the energy tried to break free. I barely managed to wrestle the magic back so I could control it. When I opened my eyes again I gave a yelp of surprise.

The cat was sitting right in front of me, its wide green eyes narrowed. I clasped my throat. “You scared me half to death.” I smiled. “But I’m glad you showed up so I didn’t need to use…well…you don’t care about that, do you?”

The cat stared at me another moment and then, when I reached for it, growled and slashed at my hand, ripping several long slices across the back.

“Ow!”

He leapt into the air and took off. Before I could even move, the critter had scampered through the gate I’d apparently forgotten to latch, and disappeared.

“Dammit!” Jumping to my feet, I cradled my bleeding hand, briefly considering trying to go after him. But I couldn’t even see the damnable creature anymore and I had no idea where to look.

“Are you all right?”

For the second time in moments I jumped in surprise. I swung around to find a tall man with dark, nearly black hair coming through the gate.

“I’m sorry to interrupt…” He swung his hands around as if to indicate the area. “…whatever you’re doing here. But I heard you cry out.” His dark silver gaze slid to my hand. “You’re hurt.”

I covered my hand and pulled my pride around me like a shield. “I’m fine.” Starting toward the gate, I gave the sexy stranger a wide berth, determined to keep my distance. Unfortunately, he reached out and snagged my wrist before I could move past. Electricity surged between us, spitting from our fingertips and merging over our hands in a silvery-blue arc. A jagged volt of energy sliced through me, causing the magic at my core to flare painfully to life.

To my horror, my cheeks started to sting and my fingernails burned.

His gaze shot to mine and held. For just the briefest instant, I thought I saw something feral move through the silvery depths but it quickly slid away.

In a panic, I jerked away from his touch, all but running for the gate. He called out to me but I kept going. Whatever he was, I didn’t like the way he’d affected me and I was going to make sure it never happened again. I didn’t even slow until I reached the shabby, careworn brownstone I called home. Diving through the front door, I slammed it shut and locked it, leaning against the cool wood surface as I tried to calm my pounding heart.

What had just happened?

Had I really joined energy with a perfect stranger?

The implications made my stomach tighten with dread. Shaking my head, I pushed away from the door and hurried through the house to the sanctuary in the back. I’d lose myself in work…forget all about the husky-voiced hottie with the intense, silver gaze.

What had happened between us was just static electricity. Nothing more.

That was my story and I was going to cling to it with everything I had. Because the alternative was too terrifying to contemplate.


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