Impassion Playlist

*Click on the song title to hear it!*

Intro: Dust to Dust – The Civil Wars

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This is the intro song for Impassion. In this book we see Quin trying to secure the dream girl who’s kept a lock on his heart for years, and we see Layla struggling to defy common sense and surrender to a man she just met. Neither of them have ever fallen in love, but by the end of Impassion, they’re no longer lonely.

Chapter 1: I’ve Got To Have You  Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge

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Excerpt:

She turned her head, finding his neck with the tip of her nose, and her lips twitched as his scent rushed her senses. Though her eyelashes remained moist, the tears had stopped, and she owed it to the man sheathing her in consoling warmth. He was good at pulling her out of the dark, succeeding where so many had failed since Katherine’s stroke.

Chapter 2: I’m Yours – Jason Mraz

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Excerpt:

Before Layla could sit beside him, he spun her around and pulled her onto his lap. One of his arms encased her stiff shoulders as the other encircled her waist. Then he softly squeezed, urging her to loosen up. Layla took a calming breath then forced herself to relax, quickly realizing his lap was a fantastic place to be.

He grinned then buried his face in her hair, his aura flaring bright yellow and emerald green. “If this is the kind of help you need, count me in.”

Chapter 3: Return To The Heart – David Lanz (timed w/ excerpt)

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Excerpt:

Looking at them was getting easier. With each passing second, Layla saw more of them and less of her parents. Still an emotionally charged sight to see, but a happier one, unmarred by despair and loss. Her grandparents weren’t lost at all. She’d found them. 

A heavy weight she didn’t know she bore lifted, and her dizzy brain swirled as relief rippled from her head to her toes. The hasty flip of emotion jarred her senses, and her lungs yanked in air as she burst into tears. This time she covered her face with both hands and cried for several minutes. 

When the tearful episode subsided, she cleaned herself up then slowly looked around, focusing on their faces one at a time. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, so she grabbed the box of tissues and passed them around.

She figured there would be a quiet moment while everyone gathered themselves, but as she set the tissues aside, Morrigan pulled her into a tight hug. Layla’s first reaction was to tense, but she didn’t want to disappoint her grandma, so she turned and nervously slid her arms around her waist.

“Layla,” Morrigan sobbed, “it feels so good to hold you.” She leaned back, stroking Layla’s cheeks like she’d never see them again. “Thank you for finding us. We’ve missed you more than words can say.”

Layla swallowed and blinked back tears. “I had no idea how much I was missing.”

“Oh, sweetie,” Morrigan exclaimed, pulling her back in. 

It didn’t take long for Layla to find comfort in Morrigan’s embrace. She was being held in motherly arms and felt as if she belonged there. In fact, she never wanted to leave, but after several seconds of cuddling into loving warmth, she wondered if hugging the others would feel as fantastic. Embarrassed to test the theory, she blushed when she left Morrigan’s arms and faced Daleen.

“Your blush is lovely,” Daleen noted, taking her hot cheeks, “but unnecessary. We would cross the earth a million times for the chance to hold you again.” And with that, she pulled Layla in. 

The embrace didn’t disappoint, and soon Layla was buried in Daleen’s shoulder, floating in a sea of contentment.

“Thank you,” Daleen whispered, smelling and kissing her curls. Then she leaned back and dried their tears.

Layla stared at Daleen’s beaming face with wide eyes, feeling dazed as a smile tugged on her lips, but her nerves flared at the prospect of hugging her grandfathers. The idea was as foreign as the final frontier. But as scared as Layla was to make the journey, she burned with curiosity, so she cleared her throat and got to her feet.

Serafin offered a hand, and she timidly took it, letting him pull her into a strong hug. One large palm urged her cheek to his chest as the other encircled her shoulders, and she hesitantly wrapped her arms around his torso.

As wonderful as a mother’s hug, but completely different and brand new, Serafin’s embrace flooded Layla with another wave of emotion. She choked on a sob, and he rested a cheek on her head, strengthening the sanctuary encasing her. His chest vibrated as his heart thrummed in her ear, and she listened closely, finding peace in its rhythm. 

If she’d known how natural and wonderful it would feel to hold her biological family, it would have saved her a lot of worry. They shared a connection not even twenty-one years apart could stifle. It was right. It was the way it should be. It was magical and perfect and she was home. Katherine had been her home for eighteen fantastic years and three very lonely years, but this was Layla’s home now, and she knew, without a doubt, that she belonged there.

“Layla Love,” Serafin whispered. “You just made me the happiest man on earth.” 

Layla squeezed her response, unprepared to let go, but one grandparent remained. She turned to Caitrin without hesitation, and he happily pulled her into a cozy hug filled with security and love.

What a day! Layla couldn’t believe it. In mere minutes, she’d obtained four loving relatives and was already comfortable with them. Another whoosh of relief lightened her body and mind.

“You’re as sweet as your mom,” Caitrin offered, leaning back to find her face. “Thank you for giving us this opportunity. We could speak a million words and still not express how much this day means to us.”

“I had no idea it would be like this. You guys are more wonderful than I ever imagined.” 

“You’re every bit as wonderful as we imagined.”

Chapter 7: Pieces – Cider Sky

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Excerpt:

Just when she didn’t think she could withstand one more second of the exquisite fire, a rush of warm tingles tightened her core then flooded her extremities, exploding from her throat with a breathy moan. For several splendid seconds she quaked around his busy hand, her mind caught in a whirlwind of sensitive nerve endings and heightened emotion. Then his titillating advances softened, letting her melt into the bed.

Struggling to keep his breathing even, Quin rested his forehead on one of her breasts as his mouth steamed up the other. She pulsed around his fingers, but her body was languid and had been for several seconds, so he slowly pulled his hand from between her legs while vanishing the moisture he was dying to taste. He probably could have gotten away with it – licked his fingers clean without her knowledge – but that might have pushed him past the point of no return. 

Chapter 9: Some Kind of Beautiful – Tyler Ward (ft. Lindsey Stirling)

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This is Quin’s song for the first time he has to leave Layla and go to work.

Chapter 9 Excerpt (when he leaves):

Waking up with Layla in his arms made Quin want to quit his job…

Chapter 12 Excerpt (when he gets home):

He wrapped his hands around her waist and picked her up, nuzzling through curls until he found her pulse. After breathing her in for over a minute, he kissed her neck and lowered her feet to the floor. “I’ve missed you more than you’ll ever know. Now, would you like to show me what you learned today?”

Chapter 10: The Lark In the Clear Air – Loreena McKennitt (timed w/ excerpt)

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Excerpt:

Shafts of daylight climbed her legs as she entered a small clearing, thinking she must have the wrong place, because the only thing of note was a round boulder half buried in grassy earth.

The invisible strings pulled harder, and she stumbled forward, scanning the area for proof of her parents’ resting place. She saw nothing, but felt everything. Every emotion possible twisted her insides, and unexplained tears blurred her vision.

As she approached the boulder, the strings gave a hard yank, and she fell, extending her arms to catch herself. Her palms hit stone, and the cords snapped, but the emotions doubled.

Blinking back moisture, she looked down, finding emerald green roses sprouting from the ground and climbing the boulder, which now bore her parents’ names – a golden epitaph etched in gray stone.

Control slipped away, and Layla wrapped the rock in a desperate hug as a mournful wail burst free. At the mercy of grief and violently shaking, she couldn’t think or breathe. All she could do was feel, and she felt broken and lost.

At one point, Morrigan and Daleen tried to console her, but to no avail. Their touch only made her cry harder and grip the memorial tighter. She wanted to sink into it. She wanted to find her parents’ souls and spend one real second in their arms. She wanted to see them so bad. She wanted them to see her. 

Her tears eventually ran dry, and her muscles grew sore and weak, quivering under the stress of dry sobs.

She laboriously lifted her cheek from the stone then studied the gold branding.

Forever In Our Hearts
Rhosewen Keely Donnelly
&
Aedan Dagda Donnelly
Perfect Daughter
Perfect Son
Perfect Love

Layla ran achy fingers across the words several times. Then she looked to the emerald flowers. They’d been joined by sage green and golden peach roses, and after a moment of confusion, Layla realized they corresponded with her grandmothers’ eyes.

She sank to the ground and picked an emerald bloom. Then she drowned her nose and lips in its soft petals.

Daleen was right. Now that the breakdown was over, every second that ticked by eased Layla’s pain. She remained terribly upset she had to sit next to her parents’ grave instead of them, but the unbearable hurt was fading.

She opened her eyes and straightened, laying her rose on the boulder. Then she rested her cheek to stone as she touched her parents’ names. “I love you both so much. Thank you for my life.”

Gasps rang out behind her, and she jolted as she looked at her grandmothers, who were gawking at the ground. Layla looked down as well, and peace flooded her, stitching up a portion of her broken heart. The emerald green roses had multiplied, thickly carpeting the entire clearing.

Layla perceived the phenomenon as a sign her parents had heard her, wherever they were, and that was worth the tears she’d shed on their memorial.

Chapter 13: Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

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Excerpt:

Layla took a deep breath as he reached out. Then she slowly exhaled as he opened the door. He gave her a nudge onto the porch, and her lungs refilled with a gasp as she stumbled to a standstill, pausing on the fringe of a scene that transcended the most fantastic fairy tales.

Surrounded by gorgeous houses and majestic trees, twenty-six glowing magicians mingled on the lawn, their happy voices and cheerful laughter filling the clearing with music so serene it soothed the soul. Wearing dresses or skirts and beaming with unmistakable confidence, the women moved like liquid among muscular men, who anticipated every turn of the feminine current with attitudes as laidback as their carefree clothes. Exuding an air of charisma, mystery and magnetism, not one of them wore shoes, and every move their active bodies made was executed with calm grace. 

Layla found her grandparents, easily picking them out by their bonded lights, which shone a little brighter than the rest of the emblazoned hazes. She smiled and waved at them, and they beamed as they waved back.

Chapter 13: Tip Of My Tongue – The Civil Wars

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Excerpt:

He smiled, and Layla couldn’t help but watch his lips, awash with a powerful urge to be in his arms. She glanced at the family then scooted closer, and he wasted no time wrapping her in a hug.

“I like that,” he said.

“What?” she asked.

“You leaning on me,” he answered. “I know it’s hard for you.”

“It’s getting easier.”

“I can tell.”

“I’m sure you can. You pay very close attention to me.”

“Does that bother you?”

“No, but I worry I’m keeping you from things you’d normally do. I don’t want you putting your life on hold for me.”

Too late, Quin thought, burying his face in her hair. She’d already taken center stage in his life, blurring everything around her, constantly distracting him from the rest of the world. She’d grabbed him the moment he laid eyes on her; now nothing else compared. When he wasn’t with her, he was thinking about her, his stomach and chest restless until he returned to her. He couldn’t imagine going on with life the way he used to. It would be an extremely unpleasant experience to try. 

Chapter 15: Voices in the Wind – Silvard

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Excerpt:

She’d never heard anything like it. In all her experience with music, including a New York opera and dozens of concerts, not one tune had provoked such intense emotion, such compelling feelings of peace, security and belonging. The coven’s mesmerizing song could surely cease a war, felling armies with nothing more than fuzzy warmth and chilling goose bumps.

Layla’s heart beat hard, and she closed her moist eyes, letting the melody flood her senses.

For several seconds it was merely a pleasing thrum. Then the baritone voices strengthened, maintaining a hypnotic tempo while adding lyrics.

“Unified ‘til death are we,
sweet connected family.
Our bonds are strong beyond compare.
Our love is pure; our judgments fair.”

As the baritone voices faded, a higher chant sung by the women stole the spotlight.

“Our family holds a love that’s true.
We show our light in all we do.
We are connected, one and all.
Our perfect wall shall never fall.”

The feminine note lingered, tickling Layla’s spine. Then the men joined the women for the final verse, creating the most magnificent harmony Layla had ever heard.

“Keep us safe and keep us strong.
Provide us with a life that’s long.
For each of us, a shelter be.
Bless us all, our family.”

As the final note reverberated on the air, electrifying energy shot from Daleen’s and Serafin’s hands into Layla’s. She gasped and popped her eyes open, but her vision blurred as the thrill vibrated up her arms and throughout the rest of her body.

Chapter 15: Dreams – The Cranberries

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Excerpt:

And that’s how it went time and again – slight nervousness mixed with bubbling anticipation, then a pulse of the heart, a swell of love that stretched the organ’s boundaries. After completing ten out of nineteen, her discomfort disappeared altogether. Her heart thumped with love, her veins pulsed with warm adrenaline, and her brain sped, trying to absorb the wonder of it all.

The line dwindled, and Layla knew the lovely experience was coming to an end. Her magical life, however, was just beginning. 

Chapter 16: Home – Phillip Phillips

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Excerpt:

“I hate that you’re going through this, Layla. You’ve been here less than three days and you’re already dealing with the darkest side of magic. But we’ll figure this out. Then I’ll show you the brightest side. I promise.”

Chapter 18: Song of the Caged Bird – Lindsey Stirling (timed w/ excerpt)

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Excerpt:

When Quin saw Layla’s beautiful haze retract, he froze mid-stride, flipping his gaze to the fingers tugging on her left sleeve.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“I don’t want to talk right now,” she returned. “You should leave.” 

Quin’s hand flew to his chest, gripping his heart as his lungs deflated. It was the first time she’d asked him to go, and it hurt like hell. He took a few tentative steps, and she flinched like he’d thrown a punch.

“What’s going on?” he repeated, searching what was left of her aura – a river of wispy white fog hugging her trembling body. “What happened?”

“Just go, Quin.”

“Not until you tell me what happened.”

“You broke your promise,” she whispered. “You’ve already broken it, and you didn’t even mean to. And that’s why promises are stupid.”

Panic rolled Quin’s stomach as he slowly approached the deck. “What did I do?”

“You’ve made everything harder.”

“I don’t understand, Layla. Please look at me.”

“I don’t want to.”

His fingers curled into a fist as his speeding heart took another blow. “Okay, don’t look at me, but please tell me what’s going on.”

“You were dating someone, Quin.”

Shit. “Where did you hear that?”

“Is it true?”

He dropped his guilty head. “Yes.”

“Then where I heard it isn’t an issue.”

Shit. He didn’t know how to fix this. “None of that matters, Layla. It wasn’t a serious relationship.”

“I understand it wasn’t serious, but if you think it doesn’t matter, you’re sadly mistaken, because it’s mattering the hell out of me.”

“I didn’t expect you to come along,” he countered. “If I’d known you were about to walk into my life, I would have spent every waking minute waiting for you.”

“Of course you weren’t going to sit around waiting for someone you didn’t know was coming. Who does that? But you were dishonest by not telling me about her. I had no idea about her, even when we… even when you…” Her shoulders shook as she yanked in a choppy breath. “That’s not the point. How can you expect me to be okay with this? You’ve put me in an awful position, made me face awful decisions.”

Quin wanted to throw himself at her feet and beg her not to do this, but he knew it would serve no purpose but to make him look insane. Shit. He had to fix this. “I understand you’re upset, Layla. You have every right to be, but nothing has to change. The decisions have already been made…”

“That’s not the point,” she snapped. 

He squeezed his eyes shut and roughly ran a hand down his face, trying to calm his frantic heart. “Then tell me what the point is.”

For a long moment she stayed silent, trembling from head to toe as she wiped her face. Then she took a deep breath and straightened her shoulders. “I’m so grateful for what you’ve done, Quin. You constantly go out of your way to help me, and I really do appreciate it… all of it. And I… I care about you so much, but this thing between us just seems like a bad idea now. We’ll always have the connection we made last night, which was wonderful and I’ll never regret it. But our… relationship, or whatever this is, can’t be good for us. It’s built on dishonesty and drama.” She paused, looking down at her lap. Then she abruptly stood and headed for the north side of her house. “I need to be alone right now.”

Quin couldn’t find the strength to give her space and was right behind her. “I don’t believe that, Layla, because this relationship is good for me.” 

She didn’t respond, and his heart practically burst from his chest as it raced after the angel leaving him. “Damn it, Layla, stop.” 

He grabbed her wrist, spinning her around, and what he found nearly broke him. Swollen lids and red cheeks, and a sad gaze that dropped him lower than he’d ever been. She’d shed a river for him, and no matter how recently she wiped them away, the tears still plagued her. 

He ached to take her face in his palms and kiss the soreness away, but knew it would either piss her off or make her cry harder, so he merely squeezed her wrist. “This isn’t over, and I don’t understand why you think it has to be.”

“Really? You don’t understand? The Unforgivables have already targeted this coven because of one rejected witch. I’m already paying for Medea’s spite, and my dad wasn’t even dating her when he met my mom. All this with you, me and… and Caitlyn, it all happened over a weekend. Boom, everyone’s flipped on their heads, and now I’m the other woman, the witch who came along and messed everything up. I hate the way it feels to be that woman, and I hate thinking about the way Caitlyn’s feeling. I’m sad for her; she’s been tossed aside. And who do you think she’s going to blame for that? This whole damn situation is entirely too familiar; and I don’t want to watch it run its course. I’ve seen what things like this can do to a family, and that’s one part of my parents’ sad history I’m not willing to repeat.” She tried to pull away, but his grip stayed firm. “That’s just one reason why this isn’t good for me, Quin. The list goes on. Now please let go.” 

He held tight, searching for a way to make her stay, but she gave him no choice. Her eyes narrowed and shifted downward, and a sizzling current of electricity shot from her wrist into his hand.

“Shit,” he blurted, stumbling back.

The jolt subsided, relinquishing control of his muscles, and he raised his smoldering palm, flexing fingers around blackened flesh. Surprised and impressed by her power and accuracy, he gawked at the wound. Then he found her eyes, watching a fat teardrop fall to her cheek.

Her face drained of color as she mouthed the words I’m sorry. Then she turned and walked away. Right before rounding the corner of the house, she spoke over her shoulder. “I’m leaving for a while. Tell my grandparents not to worry.” 

“No,” Quin shouted, heart lurching as he rushed forward, but by the time he turned the corner, she was gone.

 

Chapter 19: Make This Go On Forever – Snow Patrol

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Excerpt:

Quin cast a layer of magic around Layla as he carried her home, but the precaution was unnecessary. His embrace was desperate enough to secure ten witches. He’d never been so weighed down with regret and felt dreadful from his head to his toes. Of all the places Layla could have gone, she’d stumbled into a gathering of untrustworthy magicians, including a complete stranger with things to hide. And Quin had no one to blame but himself. He should have toughened up and given her the space she asked for, but it was within her that he found his strength, so her request was crippling. Like the air he breathed, she was vital to his existence. How was he supposed to stay away when he’d surely suffocate without her?

They were almost to the community, so he slid one hand to her head and one to her hip, trying to feel enough of her to last him until next time… whenever that may be. He tucked his chin in, moving his cloak aside. Then he breathed deep, filling his lungs with her heavenly scent. Damn. He’d messed up the best thing he’d ever gotten his unworthy hands on. 

 

Chapter 19: Dreaming With A Broken Heart – John Mayer

(Quin’s night without Layla)

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Excerpt:

His muscles fluctuated as he landed. Then he lowered her feet to the grass and flipped his cloak away.

As expected, her grandparents were waiting, and Daleen and Morrigan rushed forward, pulling her into a shared hug. Layla let them, but she kept her eyes on Quin, whose gaze glittered as he turned to her grandfathers.

“I’m very sorry,” he offered, meeting their stares. Then he dropped his head and walked away.

 

Chapter 20: I Need Your Love – Madilyn Bailey & Jake Coco (cover)

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Excerpt:

Layla’s swollen eyes and tortured mind drifted open early Wednesday morning, but she wished they’d stayed closed. Waking up in her new bed without Quin’s arms around her hurt like hell.

She curled into a ball and resumed her crying binge from the night before. She’d cried for hours, soaking her pillow and chafing her throat, and when at last she drifted to sleep, she dreamed about Quin, sweetly, and that hurt like hell, too.

He’d spoiled her. Every morning he’d hugged her tight, kissed her head, and summoned her coffee. Now she was lying alone with no coffee. He’d become as much a part of her life as anything surrounding her; now he was gone. 

She wanted him back, damn it. Caitlyn be damned, Layla wanted Quin back. In that moment of lonely desperation, she was willing to deal with every crazy witch in the world just to feel his arms around her.

Blah! He’d made her crazy. She had to get a grip. Quin wasn’t there, and she had to deal with that.

She rolled out of bed and headed for the shower, but halfway across the room something out of order caught her eye. She looked at the coffee table, and found the bouquet of flowers Quin made her the day he introduced her to magic. Arranged in a blown glass vase, the multicolored roses and stargazer lily flourished – a little stick man tied to their stalks with a yellow wildflower. Next to the bouquet, emitting a wispy swirl of steam, sat an oversized mug of coffee.

Layla sank to the floor and started bawling again. Quin still touched her, but from a distance now, and she wasn’t okay with that.

 

Chapter 20: All Of Me – John Legend

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Excerpt:

“You’re nothing like the other women I’ve been with, Layla. The feelings I have for you can’t be compared to the passing interest I gave them. When I first saw you, every relationship I’ve had suddenly seemed trivial, like their only purpose was to prepare me for you. You’re perfect from your head to your toes, your physical beauty surpassed only by your lovely heart, and the package deal will never lose my interest.”

“Quin,” she breathed, pout trembling.

“Let me finish,” he insisted, touching his forehead to hers. “I’m wholeheartedly yours. As long as I’m the man you want, I’m here to stay. That’s one promise I’m not afraid to make, even after the colossal mess I made out of the last one. Nothing else out there calls my name louder or sweeter than you, and nothing will keep me from answering. It’s the call I’ve been waiting for. It’s my peace and my purpose, and now that I’ve heard it, I’d be lost without it.”

 

Chapter 22: Northern Lights – Cider Sky

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Excerpt:

Quin laughed with her, wanting to scoop her up and kiss her all over. When she managed to let go of her insecurities and worries, she had the most amazing spark for life, and it turned him on in ways he never imagined. She was the most spirited witch he’d ever met, innocently and honestly so. When she allowed it, she could be purely uninhibited, and even under full exposure she maintained her angelic shine. For her to bare it all was nothing short of divine. To lay eyes and ears and hands on her when she revealed the depths of her soul was an unparalleled phenomenon. She was a sea of emotions; she bathed in them, but they showered him, dousing him in the realization that she could be as happy as she could be sad. Both emotions grabbed hold and ran away with her, forcing her to ride out the pain or embrace the pleasure. He understood why, and found it to be one of his favorite things about her. She could love, hurt and enjoy life more than anyone else he knew, and while it made for an emotional roller coaster, the benefits were well worth the ride.

She looked at him – her smile brilliant and natural, her round eyes wide and sparkling with vim – and his lungs froze as his heart stopped. He already knew he could spend the rest of his life with her. He’d loved her longer than he’d known her. But at that moment, he realized he was utterly in love with her.

His lungs refilled as his heart began beating, but the organ had grown, and it thumped harder than ever before. This woman held his life in her delicate hands, and he never wanted her to stop clutching him. The fact that he’d known her less than a week didn’t concern him, but it did excite him. What she’d done to him in five short days was incredible, life-altering… heavenly. He couldn’t imagine what possibilities lay in wait. He had to find out and would do everything in his power to make sure he got the chance. That would be his purpose in life – to keep this woman wanting him, and to keep her life from being taken away from him. Nothing else mattered in comparison.

 

Chapter 24: Lights In the Sky – George Wiston (timed w/ excerpt)

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Excerpt:

Quin halted an inch from the ground, hovering as he whispered against her lips. “I’m shielding your mind. Don’t speak.” He quickly cast magical barriers around their heads. Then he laid a finger over her lips.

Layla furrowed her eyebrows, wondering what in the hell was going on and how long she’d have to wait before finding out.

Not long.

She heard them before she saw them. It sounded like flags flapping in the wind, but she understood immediately they were cloaks. She looked to the treetops, watching dozens of silhouettes soar by, the billowing edges of their cloaks catching the cloudy moonlight to reveal blood red velvet.

Layla swallowed a lump and fought tears, unable to look away as at least forty Unforgivables passed, each of them further instilling in her the absurd reality of the dangerous situation. She trembled, terrified of what the wicked witches and wizards had done to her coven… her family.

What was actually mere seconds seemed like several minutes in Layla’s frightened mind, so by the time the last two enemies flew by, she was fighting to keep her spells in place while staving off a breakdown. All she could think about was her family. Their faces flashed through her head as she silently repeated her plea over and over again. Please let them be okay… Please let them be okay… The longer she had to wait to find out, the more labored her breathing became.

Quin urged her lips to his and laid a hand on her heaving chest, but it was a long moment of distressing silence before he whispered. “You have to calm down, Layla. Slow, deep breaths.”

At his voice, the tears broke loose and she choked on a sob. “Oh god. We have to get back. What if they hurt someone?”

“You need to calm your breathing before we go anywhere.”

“I’m trying,” she gasped. “I can’t.” Horrible images haunted her as tears streamed down her cheeks. They wouldn’t stop, and her lungs were insatiable. “Carry me.” 

Quin urged her to his chest and wrapped his cloak around her. “If it gets worse, I’m going to stop, so try to relax and steady your breathing. Keep your concealment spells in place until I tell you otherwise.”

She nodded, nearly inhaling his shirt as she wheezed and nuzzled closer, trying to find the security the position usually provided, but it was difficult when such scary thoughts sped through her head.

Quin slowly approached the treetops, trying not to rustle the limbs as his magic swept them aside. He searched the skies, finding nothing of note, so he leaned back, letting Layla rest on his torso as he flew home.

 

Chapter 24: Fade Into You – Sam Palladio & Clare Bowen

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Excerpt:

She wished she could sink into his body. If it felt this good to lie on the outside, it had to be utterly peaceful on the inside. She turned her other cheek to his skin, drying more tears as his pulse echoed in her ear. Then she touched her lips to his heart while sliding her palms to his stomach.

Desperate for comfort, aching to feel a tiny sliver of the virtues he embodied, she stretched her fingers and pressed closer, employing magic to draw him into her. 

Quin jolted as her spell rushed over him, as if gravity had shifted and strengthened, turning his insides toward her palms like a flower turns toward the sun. All his emotions and thoughts were geared toward her, and he could have sworn his heart beat her name as his blood flowed in her direction. The magic was intense and slightly uncomfortable, but satisfying on several levels and definitely worth it. He knew exactly what she wanted, and he wanted her to have it.

Warmth flooded Layla’s insides, soothing sore muscles and lightening her heavy heart. The terrifying visions haunting her head blurred, and she quickly replaced them with memories of cliff diving and flying over the ocean.

 

Chapter 26: Bubbly – Colbie Caillat

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Excerpt:

Waking up together made Layla and Quin forget their worries for a blessed moment, and even though reality returned, staring into each other’s eyes soothed the sting.

“Good morning, angel,” he whispered, kissing her nose.

She magicked her teeth clean and smiled. “You can do better than that.”

“You’re right,” he agreed, rolling her onto her back.

Bracing his weight on one hand, he took her face in the other, flipping her insides with a delightful combination of soft and intense kisses.

“Better?” he asked, flashing dimples.

“Much better,” she approved. “You can wake me up like that any time you want to.”

“You may regret telling me that.”

“I doubt it.” She buried her fingers in his hair then pulled him back to her mouth. “I’m not done yet.”

 

Chapter 28: Sea – George Winston (timed w/ excerpt)

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Excerpt:

Trapped in excruciating agony, Layla was immobile, her body a block of burning steel – heavy, stiff and unable to escape the flaming torture. She didn’t understand how her lungs still worked. Surely they, too, had flattened under oppressive pain. 

Despite how damaged and useless her body was, her brain worked fine, and it sped through her last moments of consciousness, wondering how she’d survived and where she was.

She raised one eyelid, but everything was blurry, so she closed it and concentrated on her sense of touch. A fresh wave of agony washed over her, but she focused through it, realizing she was in someone’s arms. Flying maybe? The cold wind slapping tender flesh told her yes.

Damn. She was on her way to Agro. 

She hurt too bad to work up any real terror, but she wished she could kill the bastard carrying her. He’s the one who brutally broke her bones. 

“It’s okay, Layla,” said a familiar male voice.

She jolted. Big mistake. A scream ripped from her throat as her fragmented body protested. But the scream’s consequences were worse. The shriek twisted her broken face, and her stomach churned. Oh god, please don’t get sick. That would kill her.

“It’s okay,” the voice repeated. “The piece of shit who did this is dead.” He murmured a few profanities then cleared his throat. “I can’t believe this happened.”

Layla searched her pounding brain, trying to figure out who was speaking, but she couldn’t place the voice with a face or name. She opened one eye again, and this time she left it open.

When her vision cleared, she was surprised, confused and relieved to find Finley. His multicolored eyes were trained on her face, and his jaw flexed around thin lips.

Layla closed her eye again, wondering how she’d ended up in his arms. She wanted to ask, but couldn’t. The tiniest movements vexed her wounds.

A different voice drifted to her from a distance, and this one she definitely knew. 

“Son of a bitch.”

She instinctively turned toward the beautiful sound, and another scream vibrated her throat. “Quin!”

“Shit.” He was much closer now. “If you did this to her…” His voice lowered to a deadly growl. “…I’ll kill you.”

“Back off,” Finley barked, tensing around her. “I saved her ass.” 

“Layla!” several women screamed, but Morrigan and Daleen were the loudest.

Layla tried to open both eyes, but only one obeyed. She spun it around until she found Quin, and her lungs stuttered as she reached for his cheek. Tears gathered, blurring the heavenly vision, and a thick lump consumed her throat.

“Quin,” she slurred, pissed she couldn’t form his name correctly. 

His hot breath swept across her face as he leaned close. “I’m here, love. You’re going to be okay.”

He looked away, so she closed her eye. He was the only thing she cared to see. 

“Give her to me,” he demanded.

“No,” Finley shot back.

Quin sucked in an angry breath, and Finley’s hard muscles shifted like rocky terrain.

“She’s in bad shape,” he added. “If I hand her to you, it will hurt her.”

“Shit,” Quin hissed.

His breath found Layla’s face again, and he spoke so tenderly, they could have been back in her bed, sharing a perfect moment over coffee. “You’re going to be okay, love. You’re almost home.” He paused, taking a slow breath as his caress moved from her forehead to her curls. “I’ll make this right, Layla. I swear.”

Tears rolled from her swollen lids as she tried to say his name, but it was hardly a squeak.

He sucked it in as he softly touched his lips to hers. “I’m so sorry, baby. So sorry. I should have been here.”

He backed away and took her hand, keeping it to his lips as they flew the rest of the way home.

 

Chapter 29: Nightfall – David Lanz

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Excerpt:

Layla watched as he moved to the spot beside her, and she couldn’t help but smirk at how long it took him. “Tell me another one,” she demanded.

Quin propped his head on one hand and found her bright eyes – magic pools lacking the slightest variance in color. No other shades of green, just liquid emerald. “Another what, love?”

“Another reason why you’re here.”

“Ahh.” He softly ran his forefinger down the bridge of her nose, over her lips, and across her chest, stopping it on her heart. “I’m here because I love the way I feel when I’m with you, and because I feel like hell when I’m away from you.” He looked to his hand and tapped his finger in time with her pulse. “I’m here because I’m dying to touch this heart in every way possible, and none of those ways can be accomplished from a distance. That’s just a few reasons,” he concluded, finding her stare. “There are more.”

“Those are good reasons,” she approved. “You can scoot closer.”

“I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You won’t.”

He cautiously moved closer, but she wasn’t satisfied.

“No, Quin. I want to feel you.”

“There will be time for that later.”

“Says who?”

“Me. I’m not leaving your side. You won’t be able to force me away.”

“I’m not going to try,” she mumbled. Then she turned her head, squarely meeting his gaze. “You’re really not going to hold me until I’m better?”

“I’m sorry,” he refused.

“Fine,” she huffed. “Here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to close my eyes and think about you holding me, and you’re going to fix me. And you need to hurry, because my imagination isn’t as good as the real thing.”

“I’ll do my best to hurry the process along,” he agreed. “I’ll need to tear your dress some more.”

“I have a better idea,” she said, looking down, and her dress disappeared, leaving her nude aside from a simple pair of white, cotton underwear. She looked at his torso, zapping his shirt away. Then she closed her eyes and relaxed. “Okay, heal away.”

Quin slowly scanned her body, which lay perfectly still – no nervous gasping, no insecure fidgeting, and her smooth skin barely blushed. “It seems you’ve come out of your shell,” he whispered, trying to calm his heart rate.

“I guess a near death experience will do that,” she replied, peeking at him with one eye. “Does this change your mind about holding me?”

“No,” he answered, finding her face. “You’re beyond beautiful, and I would love to hold you, but I’ll not hurt this perfect body of yours.”

“What if I lose the underwear?”

“No, Layla. I like the underwear, and stop trying to tempt me. It won’t work right now.” He ran his palm between her breasts, stopping it on her black and blue ribs. “When you feel better, you can try again, and I promise it will work.”

“How well?”

“What do you mean?” 

Her mild blush intensified as she pulled his hand to her left breast, centering his palm over her nipple. “I’m ready, Quin. I see no reason to wait. I love what I’ve found in you, and I want more. I want it all.”

He lowered his lips to her cleavage and breathed deep, filling his senses with her bare and aroused flesh. “I want you to have it all, Layla.”

“You’re not answering my question, Quin.”

He sighed and laid his ear to her heart, listening to its healthy beats. “Not tonight. It’s been a bad day, and you’re going to be sore for a while. I don’t want you feeling anything but pleasure when we make that move.”

Her lungs deflated as her breath swept into his hair, followed by her graceful fingers. “You’re right. I don’t want anything ruining it. I want it to be perfect.”

“It will be,” he vowed, sliding his hand to her ribs. Then raised his head and gave her a kiss. “Now try to relax and let me heal you.”

She obeyed, and he worked on her for several hours, healing damaged flesh and bone. She fell asleep when he was halfway done, and her peaceful aura soothed him as he continued making her well.

Once the bruises were gone, he floated to her feet and gently ran his hands along every inch of unveiled skin, looking for spots he might have neglected or never knew about. The process took a long time, but he didn’t mind. He’d do anything to make her feel better, and touching her body was a pleasure, not an inconvenience. 

Convinced he’d mended her as much as he could, he floated to the spot beside her and eased onto the bed. He laid his hand over her heart. Then he counted its beats while watching her profile.

He loved her more than he ever thought he could love someone. He loved her the way he always wanted to love someone. Now it seemed he was but a breath away from losing her. It had almost happened, in broad daylight, right on the coven’s property. How could he keep it from happening again? One thing was certain, whether she liked it or not, he was on a hiatus from work until she was out of danger. His own life no longer mattered. It was hers that meant everything.

As he analyzed and sorted his emotions, trying to put everything into perspective, he eventually landed on a prominent and dreaded concern. Finley – the wizard who somehow managed to be in all the right places at all the wrong times.

Quin didn’t trust him. Mostly because the guy lacked manners and had an ego the size of Alaska, but Quin couldn’t deny his concern about losing Layla to the twice bonded male. She had no interest in Finley now, but he’d weaseled his way into their community, which would give him plenty of opportunities to win her over. And that was exactly what he planned to do.

Not for one second did Quin believe Finley accidentally stumbled upon his equal. How he managed to discover and locate Layla, Quin didn’t know, but he was sure their meeting on the beach wasn’t an accident. Finley had a plan. He intended to use his unusual status to convince Layla they were made for each other. And if the two of them weren’t as different as night and day, Quin might believe that was the case. They were probably the only twice bonded children on earth, and the fact that they were male and female of the same age was an intriguing coincidence.

Coincidences were rare in the magical world, but it had to be just that. No way was Layla fated to be with Finley, and Quin had faith she’d see that as clearly as he did. She was sweet, happy and humble, while Finley was rude, antagonistic and arrogant. But if Finley preyed on her naiveté and somehow convinced her their union would serve the greater good… well, if Layla was anything, she was good. Her life meant little to her when compared to others.

Her aura swirled faster, so Quin summoned a fresh cup of coffee onto the nightstand and pulled the blankets over her body. She mumbled his name when she stirred, and his heart soared. He’d give anything to keep his name the one on her lips.

She rolled onto her side, finding him with soft palms. Then she smiled and opened her eyes.

“How do you feel?” he asked.

“Perfect,” she answered.

“Liar,” he accused. 

Her smile stretched as she took a moment to focus on her body. “I’m a little achy, but nothing like earlier.” She paused, pressing her fingers to her brow, cheek and jaw. “You’re a miracle worker, Quin. If I hadn’t lived through it, I’d never know these bones were broken.”

She seemed sincere, so he wrapped one arm around her waist and pulled her against him. “Tell me if I hurt you.”

“I will.”

He rolled onto his back, taking her with him. Then he lowered the blankets to her hips and trailed a finger down her spine. “How’s this?”

“Perfect,” she approved, nuzzling his pecs.

“Are you cold?” he pressed.

She crossed her arms over his chest and rested her chin on them. “Stop fussing over me.”

“No,” he refused, tapping her nose.

“I thought you couldn’t tell me no,” she countered.

“I can when it’s for your own good,” he explained. “Besides, I want to fuss over you. Are you going to tell me no?”

“Maybe,” she answered, moving her arms out of the way. Then she showered his chest in kisses, talking between each sweet caress. “Someday… I’ll be the one who gets to fuss over you… and when you tell me to stop… I’ll look at you and say no… And if you argue… I’ll say it’s your own fault… You shouldn’t have told me no that one time.”

He laughed for the first time since that morning, and it felt wonderful.

“Mmm…” she murmured, kissing closer to his throat. “That’s what I needed – your laugh. It makes me feel much better about life in general.” She buried her face in his neck and kissed his pulse. “This feels fantastic, Quin. It’s exactly what I wanted earlier. Consider your promise fulfilled.”

He stopped tracing her spine and wrapped her in a hug. “No.”

“You’re getting good at telling me no. Should I be worried?”

He smiled into her spirals. “No.”

“You’re starting to sound like a broken record,” she laughed. “I’ll have to come up with a question you’ll say yes to.”

“There are a lot of them, so it shouldn’t be too hard.”

She raised her head and grinned. “Does it feel fantastic for you?”

“Yes. It feels perfect.”

She puckered and wiggled her lips. Then her eyes sparkled as she dipped her head and softly nibbled his ear. “How about this?”

“Yes.”

Her lips trailed along his jaw. “And this?”

“Yes.”

She found his mouth and sucked on his bottom lip, smiling when it slipped from her teeth. “And that?”

“Yes.”

She kissed him deeply and for a long time, coming out of it breathless. “And that?”

“Yes,” he assured, grinning hugely.

She laughed as she shook her head. “You’re still a broken record.”

“I’m not broken,” he disagreed. “Not when I’m holding you. When I’m with you, I’m a whole man.”

“I don’t ever want you to be broken,” she whispered.

“Then don’t break me,” he returned, “because you hold all the power.”

“I don’t hold all the power, but I’m confident I have some of it.”

He watched her eyes for a long moment. Then he tucked her head into the crook of his arm and rolled onto his side. “Hey.”

“Hey back.”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too, Quin.”

“And I love that as well. I want us to love each other forever.”

“Sounds like a dream come true,” she approved.

“If it ever changes for you,” he whispered, leaning closer, “or if you feel it slipping away, I want you to tell me, because I’ll do anything to keep you. Anything. If the love can be saved, I’ll save it.”

 

Bonus Song

Conclusion: Interlude – Morrissey & Siouxsie (Click on the title to find the song on YouTube; MP3 unavailable for purchase)

♥♥♥

Thank you for listening to the Impassion playlist! And a great big thanks to those who inspired some of my choices. You know who you are. ♥

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