Vertical Menu

Search

Categories

Deception

Playlist for Retribution (Mystic #4) by @BCBurgessBooks

Retribution Playlist

*Click on the song title to hear it!*

*Contains book 4 excerpts and major series SPOILERS*

Chapter 1: Magic by Colbie Caillat

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

He gave her earlobe a nibble then moved his mouth to the back of her neck, listening as her sigh whispered across his pillow. He reached up, finding her parted lips with his fingertips. Then he trailed his hand down her torso, emitting soft shocks that twitched her stomach and vibrated her aura. When he got to her thighs, he slipped his hand between them, completely covering the smooth entrance to her body. Then a whoosh of magical warmth flowed from his palm, igniting sensitive nerve endings and jolting her awake.

 

Chapter 2: Soulmates by Silvard

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

When the three golden couples entered the suite to find a fourth, their mouths fell open as the door flew shut behind them. Frozen in place, they didn’t say a word. They just stared, their features strained by disbelief; their complexions blanched by surprise.

 

Chapter 3: Burn by Ellie Goulding

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

“We’re not helpless, Quin. We’re the exact opposite of helpless. You and I can do anything we set our minds on. Surely we stand a good chance against anything they can throw at us.”

 

Chapter 5: Once in a Lifetime by Landon Austin

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

“Every free moment we get, I want you in my arms. I want us to hold and love each other like there’s no tomorrow, and I want to treasure each moment like it’s our last. If we have to die, I want to die knowing I held the most amazing woman in the world the way she deserved to be held, that I showed her how much I love and need her, and that I’m happier than I’ve ever been when I’m with her. I want to spend the rest of our lives, no matter how short they may be, showing you these things while touching your soul and letting you touch mine.” He kissed away more tears then found her eyes again. “Will you please let me do that, Layla? It’s all I want. It’s all I need to make everything worth it. If you’ll give me this, I’ll fight every day for the rest of my life.”

 

Chapter 5: Gorecki by Lamb

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

He gasped, jolting as her magic clutched his insides and pulled. Then he exhaled hugely when the force reached the surface of his skin and collided with hers. The atmosphere flashed, and the air filled with heat, a peaceful cocoon delivering magical morphine straight into her pores. This was exactly what she wanted… what she needed. It felt like every wonderful thing he’d ever said to her and done for her had been woven into a blanket that was now wrapped around her body, delivering much needed love, security and hope. It felt like she was nestled in his soul, right next to his heart, right where she wanted to be.

 

Chapter 12: Moonrise Aka Yiruma Moonlight by Study Music Ensemble

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Accessible from the downstairs hallway through a door positioned between the guest bathroom and the stairs, the library stretched into the backyard, with a set of double-doors leading onto the deck, and a huge bay window facing the forest. The furniture combined sublime comfort with the simple beauty of earth tones and solid patterns; and the accessories and artistry were custom-made, each piece unique yet complementary. There were enough shelves in the high-ceilinged room to hold all the books in Layla’s high school library, and every ledge boasted magically-carved designs that varied from shelf to shelf but were repeated often throughout the room and its objects.

 

Chapter 14: A Story to Unfold by BrunuhVille

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

She could summon a fireball and toss it any way she wanted, forming it into any shape she desired while changing its color. She could break a massive piece of earth from the mountainside then break it again and again before juggling the debris. And when she was done playing, she could put the jagged rocks back together and fit them into the mountain like a puzzle piece. She could lift the entire lake into the air then turn it into a cyclone or a sphere or a liquid beast. When she held it over everyone’s heads and threatened to let the floating wave go, some of them actually believed her. Replacing the lake, she grabbed a gust of wind and changed its course, slowing it down and speeding it up. Then she tested her precision by sneakily lifting Brietta’s skirt with a gentle breeze. After adjusting the garment three different times, Brietta finally caught on, and Layla laughed while lifting the skirt a little higher.

 

Chapter 15: It Goes Like This by Thomas Rhett

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

She turned her head, finding his cheek with her lips. “You really wrote me a song?”

“Yes.”

“Why haven’t you already shared it with me?”

“I didn’t write it to impress you.”

“Why did you write it?”

“Because I was lying there, watching you experience your parents’ memories while thinking about how I felt about you, and the words came, but I didn’t finish it that night. I knew there was more.”

 

Chapter 20: Elfin Melody by Silvard

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Layla smiled at Shaylee while motioning for her to come over, and the baby’s aura brightened as she pushed herself to her feet and toddled across the circle. Layla patted the ground in front of her, and Shaylee sat, expectantly looking up with mesmerizing eyes.

Layla leaned close and whispered. “Hi, Shaylee. You have a very pretty name.”

To Layla’s surprise, Shaylee responded, her voice small and adorably sweet. “Ankoo.”

 

Chapter 21: If I Didn’t Have You by Thompson Square

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

“You take perfect care of me, Quin.”

“I wish I could do more, Layla. I want you to have everything you deserve in life, but you keep getting things taken away.”

“That’s when I come to you,” she countered. “I can always count on you to fill the void and heal the hurt.”

 

Chapter 24: Butterflies & Rainbows by Larry W. Rice

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Layla continued her conversation as she gathered every small child in the circle. Then she led them away from it, not stopping until they’d reached a wide open area of lawn. She waved a hand through the air, and eight magical chairs appeared, each of them comprised of rainbows and custom made to match each child’s individual size.

 

Chapter 29: Fotografia by Yiruma

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

The afternoon of introductions was extremely emotional for Layla, but the majority of the emotions were good, and she always found strength in Quin’s arms. She was shocked by how many blood relatives she had, and even after laying eyes on the proof and feeling the tingles run up her arm again and again, she had a hard time believing it. She’d met a few great-grandparents, several aunts and uncles, and many more cousins, most of them bearing a resemblance to either her mom or dad, so she also saw herself in the faces she met. 

 

Chapter 31: Count On Me by Bruno Mars

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Kegan stepped forward and squared his stance, taking on an air of confidence and looking much like the soldier he aimed to be. “We’re aware of the consequences, Quin, but if we don’t help you when you need it most, we’re not the men we claim to be. Out of all the incredible people I know, none of them devote themselves to others like you do. You have this uncanny ability to read people, to recognize when they need help, and you’re always willing to offer it. I’ve turned to you with problems I didn’t even take to my own family, and you’ve never left me to handle them on my own. Now you need help, and I know that’s probably hard for you to swallow, because you’re the man with the answers not the problems. But you’ve finally gotten yourself into a predicament, and it’s a big one, so I’m going to help you resolve it, just like you’ve helped me over and over again.”

♥♥♥

Banning’s posture sagged at her sad voice, but he quickly corrected it. “Because my life will never be the same if we lose this battle. I’m not saying it would be impossible to move on, I’m saying I don’t want to. This is the life I want, just like it’s the life you want. Isn’t that why you’re taking the risk? You don’t want to live without us, so you’re going to fight to keep us, and I’m going to fight to keep you. The last thing I want to do is sit here and surrender what I love to Agro. And I know you understand how I feel, because you feel the same.”

♥♥♥

Brietta’s smile wavered, and she quickly waved a hand to vanish the moisture escaping her eyes. “I don’t want to spend a long and healthy life looking back on this moment and regretting the way I handled it. I know I’m only one person, and I know my being there probably won’t make a difference. But if I don’t do this and you fail, I’ll always harbor guilt for not helping when I had the chance, and I’ll spend the rest of my life with a huge hole in my heart…” She clutched her chest, her voice cracking as her face flexed. “Because I’d miss all of you so much. It would hurt me every day for the rest of my life if I lost you, so my guilt would have despair and pain as constant companions.” She paused, raising Banning’s hand to her cheek as she took a deep breath. “Like my baby brother, I don’t want to live that way.”

 

Chapter 32: Two Hearts by Todd Wallin

Get it on iTunes Amazon

Excerpt:

He moved his hand to her chest and slid the loose cotton of her dress aside, touching the skin over her heart. After counting the organ’s fitful beats for several seconds, he leaned in and kissed the erratically pulsing flesh, focusing on the reasons her heart usually beat, all the love and kindness it portrayed, and he hoped to draw her attention to them as well, help her rediscover the virtuous beauty beneath the anger. He found it every time he looked at her, even in the most tumultuous situations. And when he touched her, when her heartbeat thumped against his flesh, pulsed within his ears, and throbbed along his core, he gained what was hers. All the internal beauty she possessed momentarily became his, and he was, for a sublime moment in time, the man he always wanted to be, the man she needed him to be.

 

Chapter 33: Memories in My Eyes by Yiruma

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

The rainforest blurred and shifted, swirling into a foggy, unreadable mass. Then it took on the form of Multnomah Falls. Artificial water roared down the fake Mountain, warm mist moistened the magicians’ faces, and real birds emerged from the forest, perching on the edge of the lawn as they sang a sweet tune.

 

Chapter 36: Eyes in the Dark by Nox Arcana

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

She struggled against Quin’s hold, her bloody aura enveloping the accused, and they finally looked up, gasping at her huge power-band, the ominous haze around it, and the black chasms staring them down.

 

Chapter 39: I Love the Way You Look Tonight by Larry W. Rice

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

He turned his head and kissed her fingertip. Then he lowered her feet to the floor while waving a hand through the air. The golden room filled with the soft tinkle of piano keys, and Layla looked over, marveling at the baby grand that appeared to play a slow and sweet tune.

 

Chapter 39: Heaven is a Place on Earth by Katie Thompson

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

The music rose to a crescendo, and he danced her from one end of the suite to the other, making her feel like a princess floating across a ballroom. She could be any one of the beautiful maidens in the fairy tales she read as a child. But in her own story, a life more enchanting than even the most magical tale, prince charming wasn’t just a pretty face with good timing. Quin was much more – a strong man with an even stronger heart and the body of a god to hold it; a man who’d steal the moon for her if she asked him to. He didn’t just save her, breathing life into her when she had none; he completed her, balanced her, showed her the good when faced with the bad. No one had ever loved another like he loved her.

 

Chapter 40: Haunted Dreams by Nox Arcana

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

She stood on a vast slab of slick ice, a shrouded moon providing murky light to a scene that reeked of scorched flesh and death. And there, among the chaos, lay Quin, wounded and draining of life. His black shorts were singed at the edges, and his biceps were draped with charred remnants of leather bands. His bare chest was pale as it laboriously rose and fell, and the muscles in his limbs bulged and tragically twitched.

 

Chapter 42: Saying Goodbye by Todd Wallin

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Quin reached out and wiped a tear from Alana’s face. “We’re all sad.”

“I’m sad,” she confirmed, her pout trembling.

Quin’s chest expanded as he brushed his thumb across Alana’s pucker. “I know, angel. This is really hard, isn’t it?”

Alana and Layla nodded at the same time, and Quin swallowed as he glanced between them. “Hey,” he said, “I have an idea. Let’s go for a ride.”

 

Chapter 45: Huron ‘Beltane’ Fire Dance by Loreena McKennitt

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

White fog rolled out from beneath his palm, and a loud thrum pulsed from the clearing below. “I’d say they’re almost ready,” Caitrin noted, smiling up at everyone. “Shall we join them?”

“Hell, yeah,” Weylin agreed, flipping through the smoky opening.

The majority of his family followed him with similar enthusiasm. Then Banning dove in, and Brietta wasn’t far behind as she pulled Kegan along. After glancing in the hole, she turned into his chest. Then she flashed a cheeky smile and fell backward, forcing him to fall with her.

Layla wasn’t sure what all the excitement was about, but it seemed fun.

“Ready?” Quin asked, squeezing her hand.

“I don’t know,” she answered. “But who cares? Let’s go.”

 

Chapter 46: Deep Into The Forest by Michael Nyman

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

It was time to make their way to the battlegrounds.

 

Chapter 49: Arise by Nox Arcana

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Chunks of ice from the failed artillery attack still smashed to the ground when the individual spells started flying, and complete chaos ensued. Agro’s army divided – some remaining faithful to their boss, willing to protect him at all costs, while others drifted away, more concerned for their own safety than his. To add to the confusion, many of the magicians behind Quin and Layla lost their composure and started firing erratic and unorganized magic from shaky hands.

 

Chapter 49: Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys *I couldn’t resist 😉*

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

glowed red like the sun (fixed)

Layla’s eyes snapped open to a murky moon, and while her body was hers again, under her control, it was different. She was different. No longer pure of heart. She was a force to be reckoned with, and it was time for her enemies to pay. 

 

Chapter 50: The Lightning Strike (What If This Storm Ends) by Snow Patrol

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

In the time it took Serafin to place a magical tourniquet over Quin’s wound, Layla had carved her way through dozens of Unforgivables and was scorching another thirty with her flames. And Quin had been forced to lie still and watch every terrifying and heart-wrenching move.

 

Chapter 50: Aura (Alternative Version) by BrunuhVille

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Her touch jump-started his heart, and his eyes popped open, filling with moisture as he stared at her. A smile played on his lips, and one of his hands rose to her cheek, his fingers dipping into her curls as his thumb wiped away tears. “Layla Love… You make me feel so good.” He paused, taking in a shaky breath before sighing. “Always.”

 

Chapter 51: Forever Mine (Cinematic Version) by Marie Hines

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

*This song is Layla’s song to Quin when he’s unconscious (and one of my favorites on ALL the playlists). Since you didn’t see that part in the book, here’s an excerpt from Quin and Kemble’s conversation about it.*

“Well,” Kemble sighed, “the first night was really rough on her. All she did was lie there and stare at you while talking to you and herself and that’s it. She wouldn’t talk to anyone else or respond when we spoke to her. It had us pretty worried, and you would have flipped if you’d seen her like that. Serafin kept checking her head to make sure her brain was functioning correctly, but it was her heart that was broken.”

Quin swallowed a painful lump, and Kemble’s brow furrowed as he went on. “She’d never seen you sleep, Quinlan. How you’ve managed to spend every night with her without letting her see you sleep, I’ll never understand, but you probably should have given her the opportunity, because it freaked her out seeing you unconscious. She kept talking about how perfect and still you looked, but then she’d start talking about how it wasn’t right, you being so sober, and how you weren’t you unless you were looking at her and smiling at her and holding her.”

“Please stop, dad.”

“She got better.”

Quin hopefully looked up. “She did?”

“Yes. Your color was returning to normal by yesterday morning, and Serafin had your side patched up. That’s when she finally talked to us and asked for gum. We were so relieved, we bought the store’s entire stock, and it’s a good thing we did, because she’s nearly chewed it all. Since then she’s been using her time rather wisely. She practiced a song on the guitar, and she read one of Serafin’s medical textbooks, quizzing herself on the human organ and nervous systems.”

 

Chapter 51: Chasing the Sun by Jackie Scott

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

He smiled and leaned in, giving her a soft kiss that took her breath away, and as her heart stuttered and stopped, his did the same. They both froze, leaving their lips together as they savored the moment. Then her heart and breathing resumed, and so did his.

 

Thanks for listening! ~ B.C. Burgess ♥

pro graphic sunshine in my life

Mystic 5 & 6 COMING SOON!

50 days

Playlist for Deception (Mystic #3) by @BCBurgessBooks

Deception Playlist

*Click on the song title to hear it!*

*Contains Deception excerpts and major series SPOILERS*

Chapter 1: Stars by George Winston

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

A rainbow of shiny mist dazzled Quin’s retinas as he awoke in the middle of the night, his mind oddly alert. His head lay on his left bicep, and his right arm cuddled Layla to his chest, her rhythmic breaths pulsing over his pecs. Her aura flowed peacefully, but Quin’s spine straightened under the sting of agitated nerve endings.

 

Chapter 1: Wicked Heart by Nox Arcana

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Agro grabbed Caitrin’s collar and yanked him from his mate’s embrace, pulling him toward the house to the east. They were halfway there when two soldiers emerged from the shadows, shoving a witch and wizard in front of them. Each captive hugged a small child to their chest, doing their best to shield innocent eyes and ears.

 

Chapter 3: Cloudburst by George Winston

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Quin’s vision blurred as his chest filled with fire. He counted the seconds ticking by, and as surely as he watched Layla’s life fade, his own was slipping away. “You can’t do this to me,” he whispered, listening for a breath as he tracked her pulse, its pace dangerously slow. “Come on, baby, just keep breathing.”

 

Chapter 3: Almost Paradise by Benjamin Utecht

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

They were surrounded by a night sky complete with distant planets, a bright cratered moon, and a constellation of her name. She leaned up, sweeping her gaze left to right, and her mouth fell open. Lush, green grass covered the floor, and the furniture and walls had disappeared, replaced by gently rolling hills, dark sky and more bright stars. Layla leaned over and pulled at the comforter, finding the illusion of a grass covered mound where the bed should be.

“Oh my god.” She straightened and found Quin’s eyes. “You have got to be my imagination running away with me. You can’t be real.”

 

Chapter 5: Flight by Silvard

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

He grinned as he pulled her under his arm. “How do you feel?”

“The same way I always feel after playing with fire. It’s like taking a shot of adrenaline mixed with happy gas. Screw energy drinks. We should market post-power euphoria.”

He laughed as he rubbed her vibrating shoulder. “So you’re ready for a race?”

 

Chapter 6: Unity by Todd Wallin

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Layla loved it, too, and her chest filled with warmth as she cuddled into his bicep and ran her gaze over their family. They were so beautiful and happy, and they were gathered for what could very well be the last time.

Alana’s giggle caught Layla’s attention and she looked over, watching the toddler shoot a tiny puff of fire toward the sky.

 

Chapter 7: Wonder by BrunuhVille

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Awestruck eyes frozen open, Layla witnessed blue dragons, white unicorns, and singing mermaids. Then her grandparents took turns making her gasp and gawk at the sky like an idiot. Morrigan shot colorful toucans into Caitrin’s burning trees; and Serafin and Daleen created a miniature Niagara Falls. Every second of the event was exciting and extraordinary, and it forever changed Layla’s idea of a magic show. Smoke and mirrors could never compare.

 

Chapter 9: Night (part 1) by George Winston

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Her lungs froze, a scream building in her diaphragm as she stared into Finley’s eyes, their oceanic depths glinting with pride as his lips pressed harder into hers. Her heart slammed against her ribs. Then her lungs burst with a painful shriek as she pushed, scratched and kicked. He rolled off her, and she scrambled out of bed like a guilty mistress busted by a gun-toting wife.

 

Chapter 9: Everytime We Touch (Candlelight Mix) by Cascada

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Keeping his fingers locked in his lap, he shifted, pulling one leg on the bed so he could face her. “No matter how many lovers are in my past, there’s only one in my future, and I will never betray you by bringing another into the picture. You could walk out on me and never come back, and I’d still devote my life to erasing your fears. If a lifetime is what it takes to earn your trust and prove my commitment to you, that’s what I’ll give.”

She met his shiny stare, her lips trembling as her heart stuttered. “What you’re offering is what I want most, no matter how selfish it feels or how scared I am to take it.”

 

Chapter 10: Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me by She & Him

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

His lips parted hers with a soft kiss, and magical warmth rushed her veins as magical tingles slithered over moist flesh. Her muscles vibrated as her blood pumped faster, and goose bumps stretched from her scalp to her toes.

She swayed as his mouth stilled. Then she opened her eyes and smiled. “Do it again.”

 

Chapter 11: Shivers by Nox Arcana

Get it on iTunes Amazon

Excerpt:

He moved closer, and she fought the urge to back up, trying to appear strong, but she didn’t feel strong. “Leave, Finley. There’s no reason for you to be here.”

 

Chapter 12: Elements (Orchestral Version) by Lindsey Stirling

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Quin’s devastated roar still pulsed through the lawn when Layla’s grandparents shot from Caitrin’s front porch, closely followed by Brietta.

Morrigan caught Quin’s gaze and faltered, losing height dangerously fast, but Caitrin swooped down and caught her, pulling her to his chest as he continued toward Quin.

“She’s gone,” Quin raged, meeting them halfway. “Finley’s gone.”

 

Chapter 13: My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark by Fall Out Boy

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

“I’m not crazy, Layla. Things are very clear for me. This isn’t insanity. It’s determination and preservation. It isn’t selfishness either. It’s claiming what’s rightfully mine while giving you the same. You and I are much alike, but the difference is – I know our worth and the dangers we face, while you don’t know shit. Not about yourself, the enemy, or the world. You have no idea what you’re up against, and worse than that, you have no idea what kind of life you deserve or how to go about getting it. Well that’s fine, because I’m getting it for both of us.”

 

Chapter 14: Veil of Darkness by Nox Arcana

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Every time a plant rustled, a leaf crunched or a twig snapped, her heart lurched and her lungs froze. But he hadn’t come for her yet, and the timber had grown thicker, the tree trunks closer together. Confidence building, she grasped low slung branches and shouldered rough bark, using them to push and pull herself along. It worked well, and she began covering more ground in less time.

 

Chapter 14: Luna by BrunuhVille

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

She found the purple glow of the moon through a gap in the branches, reverently watching as a cloud drifted aside to reveal a bright portion of the orb’s cratered surface. It was the closest thing to a star up there, and really, it was much more inspiring than tiny flashes of distant, burning rock. And it was much more fitting to look at while thinking about her hero. Quin wasn’t a distant star so easily obscured by dark clouds; he was a constant light, clearly visible through the stormiest nights.

 

Chapter 14: Glowing In The Dark by Cider Sky

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Her head snapped to the side, but she forced it to snap back, flipping her gaze to the treetops across the clearing. Her heartbeat quickened, shifting from a sporadic thrum to a forceful throb, and she lowered her eyes to Finley. “You shouldn’t have done that,” she whispered.

 

Chapter 18: Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

“Never, Layla. I’ll never give up on you. I would have scoured this earth until I found you.”

 

Chapter 19: If I Didnt Have You by Amanda Marshall

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

“It’s weird, because I never needed anyone when I lived on my own, and now, I’ve never needed anyone more. I crave everything about you – your voice, your attention, your touch. My god I crave your touch. I look forward to curling into your chest like I look forward to breathing. You’ve made me needy, Quinlan Farrel Kavanagh. Suddenly I’m in need of nothing except for your presence, yet my need is stronger than ever.” 

 

Chapter 20: At Peace by Silvard

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

He carefully sat beside her and looked down, taking a few seconds to examine her uninjured face – her strong and beautiful features. They called his name and spiked his heart rate, propelling a tingle down his spine as he leaned in. Her sweet scent found his senses as her aura parted around him, and his eager fingertips swept across her healthy cheek, caressing its rosy glow. He’d been waiting for this moment for more than twenty-four heart-wrenching hours, and he couldn’t wait any more.

Lowering his needy lips to hers, he finally let himself drink. “Layla, my love.”

 

Chapter 23: It’s Your Day by Yiruma

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Layla opened her eyes and gasped, filling her senses with the aroma of sea salt and flowers. They were on a large terrace overlooking the ocean, and not only was the view fantastic, the entire balcony was draped in emerald-green roses. The flowers consumed their romantic perch, twisting around the polished banister and down every rail, and they flowed from above as well, creeping along the windows and wall before spreading out beneath their feet. The floral theme continued to a petal strewn table and chairs, which was set with an array of breakfast options.

 

Chapter 24: Shine by Donavon Frankenreiter

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

A chill swept over her shoulders and down her spine, and goose bumps followed, reminding her of the cold weather. “This dress is inappropriate for the weather. I’m going to get cold.”

“Nuh-uh,” he breathed, spreading magical warmth into her breasts and throughout her tingling limbs. “Not while you’re with me.”

 

Chapter 25: We Are in Love by Cider Sky

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Everyone on the deck turned toward the stairs, scooting this way and that to get a good look, and Layla fought a blush, thankful for the weight and warmth of Quin’s arm around her shoulders.

The herculean wizard jumped off the table and approached with energetic grace, but while he slapped Quin’s shoulder, he kept his gaze on Layla. “We were just talking about you.”

“I heard,” Quin replied. “Something about my damned work ethic.”

“Well you do work too much. So who’s the angel and where have you been hiding her?”

“This is Layla,” Quin answered, smiling at her, and she actually felt an atmospheric shift as everyone snapped to attention.

A few mumbles floated through the crowd, but Quin ignored them, taking the time to kiss Layla’s head before introducing everyone. 

 

Chapter 27: Make It Rain by Colbie Caillat

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Layla grinned, unbothered by the gossip session. Only one woman made Quin feel the way he wanted to feel, and he’d finally found her. Apparently he’d done a lot of searching along the way, but Layla knew she was different than the others, and she no longer cared why. As long as she had what it took to hold on to him, it didn’t matter where it came from.

 

Chapter 28: Candle Light Dinner by Larry W. Rice

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Quin stayed quiet, which spared her the embarrassment of talking with her mouth full, but he kept touching her, which made her forget about food altogether, even if she was in the middle of a bite. Her eyes would close, and only her natural reflexes kept her teeth mechanically moving as she concentrated on his hands… or his lips. Sometimes it was both. 

 

Chapter 28: Alive by Krewella

Get it on iTunes & Amazon *As far as I can find, this version is only available on Now That’s What I Call Music, Vol. 46*

Excerpt:

He was bursting with adrenaline, and the magic was blowing his mind. “Yes, Layla Love, that was very good, but I don’t know how much longer I can stand here, so you better give me my finale.”

She grinned and moved behind him, placing both hands against the small of his back. “Hold out both arms,” she instructed, and he quickly obeyed. 

 

Chapter 29: Falling Into You by Celine Dion

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

He sighed and opened his eyes, and she stared into their dark depths, seeing everything she loved in them. She found herself in them, too. Not just her reflection, but her essence. His eyes were always watching her with unfailing tenderness and patience, seeing her in a brighter light, and every time she looked at them, she found more than before.

 

Chapter 29: Because The Night by 10,000 Maniacs

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

Her wide eyes filled with moisture as her lips quivered, but she didn’t respond, and he figured she was too overwhelmed to talk. He slowly leaned forward, watching her glowing face as his lips touched hers, and for several seconds he held them there, breathing the same air as her while burning the moment into his memory. It would be the most magnificent memory his mind would ever hold, this he knew, and to his ultimate elation, there were more precious memories to come.

He parted his lips around her pout, and that was all it took for Layla’s mood to shift from utter peacefulness to intense anticipation.

 

Chapter 30: The Beginning by Silvard

Get it on iTunes & Amazon

Excerpt:

A smile played on her lips as she fiddled with his collarbone. “So you anticipated tonight?”

He grinned and shifted her around, cradling her across his lap. “Yes.”

“Since when?”

“I’ve been anticipating this night for a long time, but I think you’re asking when I decided to make it a reality.”

“Yes,” she laughed, “that’s what I’m asking.”

 

Mystic themed Valentine’s Day Cards

Let The Mystic Series help you celebrate that special someone with Mystic themed Valentine’s Day cards. Print them for personal use, email them, or share on Facebook. It’s easy to spread the love when Quin’s helping you out!

*A special thanks to The Mysticeers for helping me with this project. Love you hard, Danielle, Angela & Helen!*

eCards

your aura captivated me ecard

lips could calm a battlefield v-day ecard

let me touch you v-day ecard

intrigued by you v-day ecard

wanted to kiss you ecard

every moment like our last v-day ecard

Printable Cards

intrigued by you v-day card example

Click HERE for printable version!

every moment like our last v-day card example

Click HERE for printable version!

every part of you v-day card example jpeg

Click HERE for printable version!

let me touch you v-day card example

Click HERE for printable version!

lips could calm a battlefield v-day card example

Click HERE for printable version!

worth dying for v-day card example

Click HERE for printable version!

your aura captivated me v-day card example

Click HERE for printable version!

Hope you have an amazing Valentine’s Day full of love!

♥B. C. Burgess♥

Playlist for Impassion (Mystic #2) by @BCBurgessBooks

Impassion Playlist

*Click on the song title to hear it!*

Intro: Dust to Dust – The Civil Wars

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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)

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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)

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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)

Get it on iTunes

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

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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)

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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)

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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)

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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

Get it on iTunes and Amazon (full album only)

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)

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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)

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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

Get it on iTunes and Amazon

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. ♥

Vote For Quin in the Paranormal Hottie Face-Off

Quin made it into the third round of the Paranormal Hottie Face-Off on For the Love of Books! One more and he’ll be in the final round! Click HERE to cast your vote for our hero with heart!

round three paranormal hottie face off

Playlist for Descension (Mystic #1) by @BCBurgess

Descension Playlist


*Click on each title to hear the song!*

Chapter 1: The Mystic’s Dream by Loreena McKennitt

The Mystic’s Dream sets an ideal tone for the entire series, and the lyrics can be interpreted so that they strongly apply to the story.

“A clouded dream on an earthly night
Hangs upon the crescent moon
A voiceless song in an ageless light
Sings at the coming dawn
Birds in flight are calling there
Where the heart moves the stones
It’s there that my heart is longing for
All for the love of you

Chapter 2: Japanese Music Box by George Winston

Chapter 3: Church of Trees by Liz Story

Chapter 4: Never Look Back by Zach Berkman

Never Look Back is Travis’ song to Layla.

“And we become who we are when we fall apart,
So don’t you want to..
Start a new day, let yourself go,
‘Cause your head seems to know this is right,
But your heart isn’t sure.

And crash like a wave,
‘Cause a wave needs to crash.
Don’t be afraid, just get on the train,
Take it right off the tracks,
And never look back.”

Chapter 5: Behind the Waterfall by David Lanz

The title and tune of Behind the Waterfall are great for Layla’s drive through Oregon.

Chapter 6: In this chapter Layla meets Quin, an epic moment in the series, so I chose two songs.

Dreamcatcher by Secret Garden

The emotions invoked by Dreamcatcher are perfect for Quin and Layla’s meeting, and while the lyrics are few, they’re beautiful and appropriate for the story.

“Hear my silent prayer
Heed my quiet call
When the dark and blue surround you

Step into my sigh
Look inside the light
You will know that I have found you

Marry Me by Train

Marry Me is a good representation of the way Quin feels when he first looks across the café at Layla. He’s smitten from the beginning.

 “Marry me
If I ever get the nerve to say “Hello” in this café

Together can never be close enough for me
To feel like I am close enough to you
You wear white and I’ll wear out the words “I love you”
And you’re beautiful

Chapter 7: Starry Eyed by Ellie Goulding

Layla’s definitely Starry Eyed when Quin carries her across the beach to watch the sun set behind Haystack Rock.

Take me in, and throw out my heart and get a new one

Next thing we’re touching
You look at me it’s like you hit me with lightning

“So we burst into colors, colors and carousels,
Fall head first like paper planes in playground games”

Chapter 8: Feel Again by OneRepublic

Quin waited so long to meet his dream girl. Now he feels everything he’s been missing.

Heart still beating but it’s not working
It’s like a hundred thousand voices that just can’t sing
I reached out trying to love but I feel nothing
Oh, my heart is numb

But with you
I feel again

Chapter 9: Glow by Donavon Frankenreiter

Glow gives a wonderful description of what Quin yearns to find in Layla.

“Glow, I wanna see you glow
I wanna see your daylight shining all around your
Heart I wanna see you glow, I wanna see your daylight so bright
All around my soul
I wanna see you soar, love, oh, I wanna see you fly
Kick off the world in the dark and just dive, just dive”

Chapter 10: Wrapped Up In Love by Marie Hines

In this chapter Quin shows Layla magic, and despite her hesitancy and insecurities, she’s already wrapped up.

“Wrapped up like a bow
Wraps up the unknown
Twisted, tangled in our fairytale
Wrapped in your arms
Trapped in your heart
Wrapped up in love”

Chapter 11: Dance Me to the End of Love by The Civil Wars

I chose Dance Me to the End of Love for Quin and Layla’s weightless dance because the song is full of passion and hauntingly beautiful. This dance launches Quin and Layla into a lovely romance that faces incredible adversity.

“Dance me to your beauty like a burning violin
Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch, be my homeward dove
And dance me to the end of love”

“Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Oh let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Oh show me slowly what I only know the limits of
And dance me to the end of love”

“Oh dance me to the wedding now, oh, dance me on and on
And dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We’re both of us beneath our love, and both of us above
And dance me to the end of love”

Chapter 12: Lights by Ellie Goulding

In this chapter Quin introduces Layla to auras, and his becomes a beacon of hope for her.

“And I’m not sleeping now, the dark is too hard to beat
And I’m not keeping now the strength I need to push me

You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine it when I’m alone

Chapter 13: Moon by George Winston

You might recognize the title of this one as the song playing when Quin and Layla return to Cannon Beach.

Chapter 14: The Nearness of You by Norah Jones

By this chapter, Layla can’t deny what the nearness of Quin is doing to her heart and body.

“It’s not the pale moon that excites me
That thrills and delights me, oh no
It’s just the nearness of you

Chapter 15: Kiss Me by Ed Sheeran

This chapter finds Quin and Layla sharing their first kiss, an earthshakingly perfect kiss that changes them forever.

Settle down with me
And I’ll be your safety
You’ll be my lady

I was made to keep your body warm
But I’m cold as the wind blows so hold me in your arms

My heart’s against your chest, your lips pressed to my neck
I’m falling for your eyes, but they don’t know me yet
And with this feeling I’ll forget, I’m in love now

Chapter 16: Woods by George Winston

 

Aedan & Rhosewen

 

Chapter 17: Perfect Kiss by Marie Hines

I chose Perfect Kiss for Aedan and Rhosewen’s meeting because that’s exactly what their first kiss is – perfect. They’re happy and carefree, and this kiss seals their fates.

“I love the way you pull me into you and I melt
When you’re holding my hips”

“Oh, we can’t get any better than this
You’ve stolen me with your perfect kiss

“But you would sink to the depths of the seas
Still breathing my name

Chapter 18: Rhythm Of Love by Plain White T’s

This song is for Aedan and Rhosewen’s date to Devil’s Den. Life’s lovely when they’re together, but their homes are far apart and their future is unknown.

“My heart beats like a drum
A guitar string to the strum
A beautiful song to be sung
She’s got blue eyes deep like the sea
That roll back when she’s laughing at me
She rises up like the tide
The moment her lips meet mine

Chapter 19: Come Away With Me by Norah Jones

This is Rhosewen’s song to Aedan. Though she doesn’t want to take him away from his family, she desperately wants to take him home.

“Come away with me and we’ll kiss
On a mountaintop
Come away with me
And I’ll never stop loving you”

Chapter 20: Can’t Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley

Is there a better song than this to describe Aedan and Rhosewen’s whirlwind romance? The song is a classic and so beautiful, and Aedan and Rhosewen truly couldn’t help falling in love with each other. He buys her wedding ring in this chapter.

“Take my hand, take my whole life too
for I can’t help falling in love with you”

Chapter 21: February Sea by George Winston

Medea snaps in this chapter, so I chose the intense and tumultuous February Sea.

Chapter 22: I’ll Follow You by Jon McLaughlin

Aedan and Rhosewen get engaged in this chapter, and their commitment is taken to the next level when they bond. They would follow each other anywhere anytime.

“So in the hours of the darkest kind
When it’s hard to find who we are
One can stare into the other’s eyes
Be each other’s light in the dark”

Chapter 23: Lovely Day by Donavon Frankenreiter

I chose Lovely Day for the chapter with Aedan and Rhosewen’s wedding because, despite all the pain and fear they eventually endure, their union is lovely, and in this moment, when they become man and wife, they soar with happiness.

“All is see is sunny skies
Every time I look into your eyes
Here we go again, my friend
Staying together ’til the end

“We’ll just float on top of the
Clouds that cover our skies”

Chapter 24: In this chapter Rhosewen learns she’s pregnant – an event deserving of two songs.

The Things We’ve Handed Down by Art Garfunkel

The Things We Handed Down is for Aedan, who’s full of wonder and hope for his growing family.

“I wonder who you’ll look like
Will your hair fall down and curl
Will you be a Mama’s boy
Or Daddy’s little girl
Will you be a sad reminder
Of what’s been lost along the way
Maybe you can help me find her
In the things you do and say”

Capri by Colbie Caillat

Capri is for Rhosewen, who would do anything to keep her baby safe.

“She’s got a baby inside
And holds her belly tight
All through the night
Just so she knows
She’s sleeping so
Safely to keep
Her growing”

“There is an angel growin’ peacefully

Chapter 25: The Cradle by George Winston

Aedan and Rhosewen don’t know how dire their situation is and spend their days happily pampering each other and their unborn baby.

Chapter 26: Naked As We Came by Iron & Wine

In this chapter, Aedan must come to terms with Rhosewen’s eminent death. Naked As We Came shows the struggle of enduring the heartbreak while absorbing what little time they have left.

“She says “wake up, it’s no use pretending
I’ll keep stealing, breathing her.
Birds are leaving over autumn’s ending
One of us will die inside these arms

Chapter 27: Aedan loses Rhosewen in this chapter, and I feel her passing is worthy of two songs.

Mon Enfant (My Child) by George Winston

I chose Mon Enfant to represent the last lullaby Rhosewen and Aedan share with their unborn baby. The song doesn’t have lyrics, but below is Aedan and Rhosewen’s lullaby.

“Our sweet, precious child,

you’ll soon be in the world.

You’ll bring it so much joy,

our beautiful baby girl.

Mommy and daddy love you,

and wish you all the best.

Just be your precious self,

and your heart will do the rest.”

I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie

I Will Follow You Into the Dark is a bittersweet representation of the vow Aedan makes Rhosewen before she dies.

Love of mine, some day you will die
But I’ll be close behind
I’ll follow you into the dark”

“The time for sleep is now
It’s nothing to cry about
‘Cause we’ll hold each other soon

Chapter 28: Hey Pretty Girl by Kip Moore

Hey Pretty Girl is Aedan’s song to Rhosewen. It follows their entire relationship, and the last two verses bring tears to my eyes.

“Hey pretty girl, you did so good
Our baby’s got your eyes
And a fighter’s heart like I knew she would
Hey pretty girl, you did so good

Hey pretty girl, when I see the light
And it’s my time to go
I’m gonna thank the Lord for a real good life
A pretty little girl and a beautiful wife

Chapter 29: Courage Of The Wind by David Lanz

The sweet and emotional melody, along with the highly appropriate title, made me choose Courage Of The Wind for Aedan’s goodbye to Layla.

Chapter 30: Crystallize by Lindsey Stirling

I chose Crystallize for Aedan’s final journey because it gives a sense of urgency, longing and finality, and I feel it provides a heroic ending to his sad story.

Chapter 31: Night Ride Across the Caucasus by Loreena McKennitt

Night Ride Across the Caucasus symbolizes Layla’s journey through the first book, with lyrics that apply to the discovery of her heritage, the memories she witnessed, her connection to her birth parents, and how this is just the first step in her epic odyssey. There is much more to come!

“There are visions, there are memories
There are echoes of thundering hooves
There are fires, there is laughter
There’s the sound of a thousand doves

“In the velvet of the darkness
By the silhouette of silent trees
They are watching, they are waiting
They are witnessing life’s mysteries

“Cascading stars on the slumbering hills
They are dancing as far as the sea
Riding o’er the land, you can feel its gentle hand
Leading on to its destiny

Take me with you on this journey
Where the boundaries of time are now tossed
In cathedrals of the forest
In the words of the tongues now lost

Find the answers, ask the questions
Find the roots of an ancient tree
Take me dancing, take me singing
I’ll ride on till the moon meets the sea

 

Thank you for checking out the Descension Playlist!

Click HERE to download the book for FREE!

And a special thanks to the readers who’ve inspired my song choices.

*All the above opinions are personal interpretations of the selected songs and do not reflect the opinions of the musicians. The lyrics showcased are incomplete and/or paraphrased. They are simply my favorite lines from the songs.

Release of Retribution (Mystic #4) by @BCBurgessBooks

Available Now!

Retribution

Layla
Enduring brutal attacks and heartbreak, Layla Callaway’s life would be unbearable if she didn’t have a hero willing to fly to the ends of the earth to protect her. Their bond is stronger than ever, but so is the danger she faces.

Quin
Quin Kavanagh’s purpose has never been clearer. He lives to protect Layla and hold a piece of her extraordinary heart, but he’s about to face the fight of his life, and this battle may mark the end of it.

The Enemy
Agro’s hunt started twenty-two years ago – a journey of death, destruction and obsession. Now the prey is within his sights, and he’ll burn the whole world down to catch her.

Stretching from coast to coast and teeming with loathed villains and beloved heroes, The Mystic Series is rich with emotion, magic and intrigue. Whether the reader is laughing, crying or falling in love, they’ll find themselves invested in Layla’s fate through the rich dialogue and emotionally driven characters that weave the web of this fiery tale.

Get your Kindle copy HERE!

Get your Nook copy HERE!

Coming soon to iTunes!

 

 

Trailer & Release Date for Retribution (Mystic #4) by @BCBurgessBooks

September

2nd

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00071]

Are you ready?

Click here for the official trailer!

Preview of Retribution (Mystic 4) by @BCBurgessBooks

Hello amazing readers! Deception has reached 100 Amazon reviews, so you know what that means…

Time for a Retribution preview!!!

But 1st let me say a great big HUGE thank you to everyone who reads and reviews the books. Your input is invaluable and I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know. And if you haven’t gotten a chance to leave your review yet, there are still perks for doing so. When Deception reaches 200 reviews, I’ll release an extended scene from chapter 29. If you don’t know which chapter that is, go… flip to it. I promise you’ll want that extended scene. 😉 Also, when we hit 100 Impassion reviews (20 more to go!), I’ll release Quin and Layla’s meeting through his point-of-view. Okay, without further ado, I give you the prologue and 1st two chapters of Retribution (Mystic 4). Hope you love it!!!

Retribution

by:

B.C. Burgess

♥♥

Prologue

March – Klamath Mountains

The snow came at Guthrie in cold, gray swirls that matched his stormy gaze and the granite peaks slicing through the eastern sky. The fluffy flakes that slipped passed the hood of his crimson cloak clung to his lashes then succumbed to his magical heat, melting into quivering droplets.

Guthrie expected no less of the flight over Ship Mountain, which found itself blanketed in snow six months out of the year, so he didn’t bother cursing nature as he wiped away the moisture blurring his view. The unit behind him, however, started grumbling the moment they began following the Klamath Mountain Range into California.

Noon had come and gone, and Guthrie knew the soldiers were tired and hungry. They usually slept during the day, and they’d been on the move since dawn. But Agro had given Guthrie a mere three days and two nights to collect an army large enough to obliterate the coven protecting their target – a witch more powerful than any other.

Because Agro had already summoned the troops near Oregon – only to slaughter most of them – rallying more would require a trip through California, Nevada, Wyoming and Montana. Then there was the matter of flying back to Oregon. The boss wanted Guthrie back in the Clatsop State Forest before the sun snuffed out the third night, and if the lieutenant found himself unable to make his deadline, he’d be wise to fly in the opposite direction, because those who failed Agro generally failed to draw breath long enough to regret their mistake.

Wiping away another melted snowflake, Guthrie dipped into a ravine and slowed to a hovering stop. According to Agro’s map, a unit of Dark Elite soldiers camped nearby, awaiting the boss’ call.

Guthrie lifted the concealment spell on his body and opened the sleeve of his cloak, letting his snake taste the air. Then he dug into a hidden pocket and retrieved a map printed on a scroll of parchment.

Several soldiers dropped into the gully around him and lifted their concealment spells, relieved to be out of the wind, but Guthrie ignored their sighs as he unrolled the map and mumbled the word Appalachia. Wind whistled along the jagged mouth of the frozen chasm as he scanned the map’s legend. Then he flipped the scroll over and located the correct coordinates. The camp was less than ten miles away.

Tucking the map in his cloak, he glanced at his unit, who wisely kept their complaints to themselves while awaiting their next command. Most of them were experienced soldiers who knew better than to expect a reward for their obedience, but Guthrie decided to throw them a bone.

After ushering Silestra back into his sleeve, he concealed his body and floated toward open air. “We’ll take a break and eat when we reach the camp ten miles south, but then you have a twelve hour task ahead of you.”

“What will you have us do?” Lynette asked.

Guthrie looked at her, a woman as deadly as she was beautiful, a tempting rose with razor sharp thorns… which she’d recently plunged into his sides with whispers of rebellion. “We’ll split up,” he answered.

Lynette scowled, her porcelain skin creasing around her violet eyes and red lips.

Guthrie ignored the look and continued. “A few of you will accompany me to Nevada to fetch Agro’s soothsayers, while the others continue south. There are a few more settlements in California I don’t have time to visit. Now conceal yourselves. A hot meal is less than twenty minutes away.”

With exact coordinates, they easily found their destination and entered the sleepy camp unannounced, bringing down protection spells with predetermined passwords.

A nearby guard jolted to attention and scanned the crimson cloaks. Then he met Guthrie’s confident stare and tried to stand taller. “What’s the meaning of this?”

Guthrie sized the man up then looked around, pinpointing the largest tent. “I’m Agro’s new lieutenant, here on his command.”

The guard slowly relaxed and eyed the rest of the travelers. “What happened to Farriss?”

“Good question,” Guthrie returned, heading for the tent undoubtedly housing the camp’s commander. “He went missing five days ago. Wake everyone and tell them to prepare to depart.”

Lynette huffed and crossed her arms. “I thought a hot meal was on the menu.”

Guthrie narrowed his eyes on her, and her arms slid to her sides as she bowed her head. “Sir.”

Guthrie stifled a smirk, wise enough to know Lynette wasn’t submitting. She was merely appeasing him in an effort to get what she wanted, which happened to be his ear, so that she may whisper mutinous plots into it. And considering her outrageous schemes, she probably wanted to build him up in front of the other soldiers, cement him as a man worthy of an army’s obedience and loyalty.

Guthrie found the guard’s curious stare and set him to task. “Have someone prepare breakfast. Everyone will need sustenance for their journey.”

“What journey?” a gruff voice cut in.

Everyone looked over, watching the camp’s commander emerge from his tent as nude as the day he was born. A witch in a skimpy, red slip followed him out, paying little attention to the crowd as she made her leave, and the commander gave her ass a slap before rubbing the sleep from his eyes. His blond hair and beard were in need of grooming, and his puffy eyelids bore witness to his disturbed slumber. But at thirty-two-years-old, he had youth on his side and stood as tall and sturdy as his morning wood. He was also a bonded child and had a thick and solid power-band to prove it.

“Guthrie,” he laughed, tossing his hands up in welcome. “Fuck the Heavens, man, I haven’t seen you in six years.” He threw an arm around Guthrie’s shoulders and looked to the other newcomers, quickly spotting Lynette.  A grin twitched his facial hair and exposed a perfect row of shiny teeth. “Lady Lyn, you’re aging like a fine wine.”

Lynette snorted and rolled her eyes. “You’re full of shit, Token. More like a used mattress.”

“Do I sense some tension?” Token asked, turning his olive-green gaze on Guthrie.

Guthrie left the question unanswered and addressed his unit. “If you want to eat, you better do it.”

The soldiers hastened away, and after a moment’s hesitation, Lynette followed.

“Got any food in here?” Guthrie asked, giving Silestra some air as he entered the commander’s tent.

Token followed him in, magically donning a pair of shorts as he gestured toward a sofa. “Sure. Take a seat. How have you been, man?”

While Token put together a tray of cheese and crackers, Guthrie scanned the impressive expanse of the commander’s opulent quarters. “I’m Agro’s new lieutenant.”

“No shit?”

“No shit,” Guthrie mumbled.

Token set the tray on the coffee table and poured two glasses of wine. “Congratulations are in order then.”

That was a lie, and both men knew it, but they played the roles they’d played most their lives. “Thanks, Toke,” Guthrie replied. “Got any meat?”

“It’s on its way. So what happened to the last guy?”

“Missing.”

“Flee?”

“Probably not.”

“Dead then.”

“Most likely.”

A witch entered the tent with a tray of ham then promptly made her exit, and Guthrie took a few bites before looking at the commander. “Have you heard any news?”

Token crossed his arms over his broad chest, holding his bicep in one hand and his glass in the other. “I know the boss is after a witch. All the commanders received orders to search for her, and I was told to move north. We were about three hours down the coast. I’ve been sending out teams to gather local gossip, but we don’t know anything more than a name and that she’s a bonded child.”

The bonded child,” Guthrie corrected.

Token’s forehead wrinkled as he took a swig. “You’ll have to explain.”

“How old were you when you were brought into camp?”

“Seven.”

“Then you may not remember.”

Token grabbed a piece of ham and sat on the sofa’s armrest. “Remember what?”

“Twenty-two years ago, two bonded children bonded with each other.”

“What? That’s impossible.”

“Most magicians would agree, but I saw them. Their lights were bigger and brighter, and their power-bands put others to shame. When Agro found out about them, he set out to acquire their child.”

“Of course.”

“But he was fooled into thinking the woman died while their child was still in the womb and too young to survive. The father sacrificed his life to ensure Agro believed the lie.”

Token gave an impressed nod and took another swig. “Now the truth’s out?”

“Yes. The witch is alive, and we’ve been on her trail for nearly a month, but we haven’t been able to catch her. When we do manage it, we’re going to have a fight on our hands. Her parents are long gone, but her grandparents and their coven are prepared to die for her.” Guthrie paused, taking the time to chew and swallow a bite. Then he charged on. “And it seems Agro is prepared to do the same. He’ll stop at nothing to get this witch.”

“And that’s why you’re here,” Token surmised, slowly running his gaze over his luxurious abode. “Calling the troops home.”

“Yes, all those I can gather by Thursday night. I also need to make a trip to southern Nevada to buy a couple of soothsayers.”

Token rose from the sofa and moved to the entrance of his tent, moving one flap aside so he could see the soldiers eating breakfast. “And the children? Will they accompany us?”

“No. I need your weakest soldiers to take the children to a camp near Lake Tahoe. The witch’s family wants us to believe her trail leads to the area, and Agro wants them to think we’ve fallen for it. Once the children’s handlers get them settled, they’re to make public appearances and ask blatant questions regarding the witch, so that word will get back to her family that we’ve moved on. Then, once they let their guard down, we’ll move in. Unless the new soothsayers prove useful, which is about as likely as the witch turning herself in. Of all the visions Agro’s yanked from soothsayers over the past twenty-two years, none of them have pertained to the witch or her family.”

Still gazing outside, Token gave a nod. “Lynette seems on edge.”

“That bitch is crazy,” Guthrie replied.

Token loudly laughed as he turned into the tent and grabbed a piece of cheese. “I see your passion for each other still burns.”

“That’s one way to put it. So, how do your soldiers measure up? Anyone worthy enough to lead besides yourself?”

“Lead in what way?”

“Excluding those taking responsibility for the children, most of the soldiers need to head to Oregon, but I need a trustworthy unit to take your map and collect the rest of the troops in California. They have two nights. They need to report to Agro before the sun rises on the third.”

“I have a handful who can handle the task,” Token assured. “What would you have me do?”

“You’ll go with me. When we’re done in Nevada, I need to hit Wyoming and Montana.”

“Shit, man. Are we starting a war?”

“We’ve already cleaned out Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, but Agro’s been on edge and skimmed us down to around seventy soldiers. We’ll be lucky to double it within the time limit he’s given me.” Guthrie ushered Silestra up his sleeve as he stood. Then he downed his wine and headed for the exit. “And yes, Agro’s preparing for war. We’ll either capture the witch or die trying.”

“But it’s one witch.”

Guthrie halted and turned, finding his comrade’s stare. “A witch favored by the Heavens, Token. You’d be wise to remember that from now on. This is no ordinary hunt. The stakes are higher than ever, and the boss is following this one through no matter the cost.”

Token took a long look at his comfortable quarters – a leisure he may never experience again. Then he found Guthrie’s stare and gave a nod. “I’ll see the soldiers to purpose.”

Chapter 1

Cannon Beach, Oregon – Karena’s Royal Suite

 

 The first time Quin awoke to a gold and silver haze floating around him and Layla’s naked bodies, conflicting emotions crashed over him, squeezing his heart as the organ soared. He’d received the most amazing gift life could give – she was tucked into his chest, her warm breath a tingling channel for the peace and desire she instilled in him – and he was beyond grateful for the gift, but wicked talons lurked in the shadows, threatening to swoop in and grab his angel away.

 Everything had changed. The situation was completely different now, but the danger remained and had strengthened. He and Layla would never be able to live a risk free life. Overnight they’d become the most dynamic witch and wizard the world had ever known, and there was no doubt in Quin’s mind they were the only two of their kind, making them a delicacy coveted by every evil magician in the world. And not only would wicked magic users want control over them; common magicians would view them as an intriguing freak show set up for the entertainment of others. The two of them might as well have targets painted on their backs.

 Quin had already considered a life in hiding, and it wasn’t an appealing idea. He loved his family and cherished his home. When his friends had been mentally preparing to someday leave their communities, he’d refused to consider it, telling himself it would take an angel to separate him from his coven. Well, he had his angel now, and he’d follow her anywhere, but she didn’t want to leave either. And who the hell could blame her? She’d grown up with only one person to love and to be loved by. Now she had a whole slew of them, twenty-six people who’d give their lives for her; twenty-six people she’d die for. She’d just gotten her hands on it; of course she didn’t want to let it go.

 He looked down at her long, onyx spirals. Then he watched her peaceful aura flutter around them, holding more ribbons of color than any other aura he’d seen. Twenty-six of the distinguishable cords – those representing their coven – quivered and flowed a little faster than the rest, drawing attention away from the thinner and wispier strands. Then there was the thick band of sparkling dark-brown, which flowed like an espresso river sprinkled with pulsing stars, so bold and so substantial it looked tangible.

 No, he didn’t want to leave, but if that’s what it would take to keep her from harm, that’s what they’d do. The sacrifices would be difficult to make; they’d miss much of what life had to offer, but the emptiness would never compare to what they’d feel if they lost each other. Through all the worry and fear, every second they spent in each other’s arms was a blessed second, and Quin would turn away from the rest of the world in a heartbeat to hold Layla’s breathing body against him.

 Her aura continued to flow peacefully, but Quin knew that would change the moment she awoke and started worrying about the difficult decisions facing them. He despised the notion. He wanted her to wake up and feel the pure wonder of it, not the worry of it.

Taking a chance, he moved his arms from around her and replaced them with magic. Then he carefully floated her further up his body. She stirred, but he had no problem adjusting his spell to her movements. After catching a glimpse of her serene expression, he slowly rolled her over. Then he gently lowered her back to the bed. Her aura picked up speed when she made contact with the blankets, so he quickly formed his body to the back of hers and touched his lips to her ear.

“Layla, my perfect angel, are you ready to wake up?”

 She smiled and stretched against him, then rolled back into a ball, but she didn’t open her eyes or seem fully awake when she mumbled his name.

 He gave her earlobe a little nibble then moved his mouth to the back of her neck, listening as her sigh whispered across his pillow. He reached up, finding her parted lips with his fingertips. Then he trailed his hand down her torso, emitting soft shocks that twitched her stomach and vibrated her aura. When he got to her thighs, he slipped his hand between them, completely covering the smooth entrance to her body. Then a whoosh of magical warmth flowed from his palm, igniting sensitive nerve endings and jolting her awake.

 Her arm flew behind her, frantically searching him out, and he abandoned her thighs to grab her hand. He pulled the inside of her wrist to his lips, kissing it until she relaxed. Then he stretched her hand over her head and placed it in his idle palm.

 His freed fingertips trailed down her arm and side, finding their way to her inner thigh, and with a little tug, she was open to him, surrounding his erection with humid heat. His heart pounded against her shoulder blade as he lowered his lips to her ear. Then he whispered her name as he pushed inside her body, his passage tight and swollen from the night before.

 She cried out, her insides flexing as her hips jerked, and he made to pull away so he could heal her. But before he could free himself, or even murmur an apology, she arched and forced him deeper. A shaky breath lodged in his throat, nearly choking him as his arm flew to her torso, and her wrist slipped from his other hand with ease. She reached behind her, clutching his jaw as she tilted her head back. Then she held his cheek to hers while moving against him in a way that can’t be learned, not by time nor experience. Only instinct driven by pleasure moved like that.

“Damn,” he mumbled, trying to maintain his sanity, but he hadn’t expected such a carnal reaction. She’d yanked away his control in more ways than one, leaving surrender his only option.

His twitchy fingers came to a rest on her collarbone, and his forearm kept her close as her lungs and hips quickened, spurred by an oncoming wave of pleasure.

He sharply inhaled, and her palm slid from his jaw, her rapid breathing in sync with her flexing core. Her breast cuddled his arm as she found his hand. Then she locked their fingers together and squeezed. His chest deflated as he firmly pulled her closer, and she used magic to keep it that way as she arched and undulated, welcoming deepened thrust with pulsing insides.

 Her head rolled, gliding moist and parted lips across his cheek, and as her breathy exclamation floated over his jaw, intense tingles erupted, making him feel as light as air as they pushed him over the edge. His chest rumbled as he buried his face in her hair, drowning his senses in her heavenly bouquet. Then a rush of relief launched him into a fit of spasms.

 Several sensational minutes passed before their muscles melted into sated mush, and they both sighed as fulfillment replaced urgency.

He remained submersed in curls, and after a deep breath, he mumbled into them. “You’re amazing.”

 She wiggled, moving her neck closer to his lips. “You’re the perfect alarm clock.” 

 He laughed, and shivers shot through their bodies.

“What could I do?” he breathed. “You looked stunning sleeping in my arms, so beautiful and bright. When my naked angel tempts me, I bite.”

 “Tell you what, feel free to wake me up anytime, because apparently temptation is the root of all that’s wonderful.”

 He laughed again, and it included a combined twitch. “You’re heavenly,” he whispered, blindly finding her cheek, “in so many ways.”

 “I can’t believe it’s like this,” she replied, turning her lips into his palm. “Each time it gets better, which is crazy, because the first time was insane. I mean, how are we ever going to get anything done?”

 He laughed yet again, a little harder this time, and tingles shot through their bloodstreams, turning his laugh into a groan that muffled into her neck.

 “See?” She’d won her debate. “Productivity has become impossible.”

 “I’m okay with that.”

 “We’re going to have to be. We’re pathetic when it comes to controlling ourselves, and neither of us wants to change. We’ll just have to surrender and live the rest of our lives like this.”

 “I’m okay with that.”

 She kissed and nuzzled his palm. “Me, too, but I think we should figure out a safe way to drink coffee. We don’t want to burn ourselves.”

 He hugged her tightly and took a deep breath. Then he removed himself from her hair and body.

“No,” she protested, quickly rolling over. “Don’t go. I don’t want coffee. I want you.”

 He smiled as he scooted closer. “You got me, love, forever. But we need coffee if we’re going to keep up this regimen.” He brushed her hair from her face as he glanced at her aura. Then he found her shiny, emerald eyes. “It’s also one in the afternoon, and I need to call your grandparents to check in.”

 “Oh.”

As she processed the comment, her brow wrinkled over her cute nose, so he reached up and smoothed it. “What’s on your mind, Layla?”

 “Are you going to tell them we bonded?”

 “Not over the phone.”

 “Then how will we do it?”

 “Well, I guess we should have them come see for themselves. They won’t believe it otherwise, and I’d rather not leave the inn until we’ve talked to them.”

 Layla’s mouth fell open as her eyes widened. “You’re going to invite them over like it’s no big deal then let them walk in on this shocker?”

 “I’ll ask them and my parents to visit; tell them we need to talk. And yes, they’ll have to just walk in and see it.”

 “Oh,” she murmured, biting her lip. “You’re calling them now?”

 “Do you want me to wait?”

 “I don’t know. It’s kind of scary.”

 “What’s got you scared, angel?”

 “Well, it’s like I’m a teenager about to tell my parents my boyfriend knocked me up or something.”

 He laughed and caressed her pout. “It’s nothing like that.”

 “Kind of. I mean, we’re basically saying hey, we had sex, and now we’re committed for life. We understand it’s going to be hard. Will you help us? If that isn’t eerily similar, I don’t know what is. Besides, I’m scared they’ll get really upset. The last time they walked into a situation like this, it was the first step in a disastrous journey that ended with the deaths of their children. How will they see anything other than bad memories when they look at us?”

“Okay,” Quin soothed, “I see your point, but you’re forgetting how much resilience your grandparents have, how much appreciation they have for life, and how much love they hold for you. Yes, they’ll be scared and worried, but above all, they’ll be happy for us.”

 “Maybe.”

 “No, Layla Love, not maybe. They know what it’s like.”

 Layla stared into his eyes – into his soul and all the sincerity it held – and his reassuring words soaked in, loosening her tight stomach while allowing for a smile. “It’s perfect, you know.”

“Yes it is, and it’s nothing like a teen pregnancy, no matter how you spin it.”

 Her smile stretched. “But the analogy sounded good, right?”

 His dimples appeared as he kissed her grin. “Yes it did. You are witty with your words, my love, and you make me smile.”

 Her expression softened as she moved a forefinger to one of his dimples. “I love your smile, Quin. It makes my life better.”

 “Your smile is like a shiny star, Layla, and I’m not the only person who treasures it. Your grandparents will need time to process the shock and worry, but in the end, they’ll want to celebrate your happiness. So, should I invite them over now, or wait? Either way I need to call to check in.”

 “I guess now. They’re going to know eventually…” She paused, eying him as her lips twitched into a sly grin. “Just like when a teenage girl gets pregnant.”

 He laughed and lightly tickled her neck. “You’re sticking to that analogy?”

 “No,” she giggled. “I just wanted to see your dimples get deeper.”

 His grin widened as he gave her a kiss then another. “I’ll call them while I get your coffee.”

 “Okay,” she agreed, pretending to examine her fingernails. “I’m going to go take a shower.”

 “Oh yeah?” he laughed, recognizing her game, but instead of calling her out, he took it a step further. His fingertips slid down her back and over her butt. Then they were between her thighs, softly stroking her opening before pressing inside.

She gasped and gripped his bicep, wiggling against his hand like an attention starved feline, which was crazy, because she’d just gotten off!

He moved closer, wedging her between his hand and hips so she couldn’t move. “Hold still,” he whispered. “I’m healing you.”

This was not what she thought he was doing, and her eyes narrowed. “Tease.”

He flashed an ornery grin as his fingers inched deeper, meticulously healing sore flesh along the way, and her eyes rolled back despite her attempt to pout. By the time he was satisfied with his work, she was fighting the urge to scream at him to stop healing her and start doing her!

“Listen,” he insisted, taking her cheek in his free hand as his fingers slid away. “If I want to keep making love to your body, I need to take care of it. We’re a blessed breed, but our bodies bruise and break as easily as anybody’s. They can’t keep up with us without a little help. Now go get in the shower,” he added, giving her butt a soft pat, “and I’ll bring your coffee to you.”

 She cocked an eyebrow, trying to read his expression while wishing his hand was back between her legs. “Is coffee an analogy in this case? Because that would be lovely.”

 He laughed as he pulled her into hug and buried his face in her hair. “Take a long shower, my love, and I’ll meet you there.”

“Mmm… That sounds much tastier than coffee.” She playfully bit his neck then pushed on his shoulders. “Hurry up and make your phone calls, then come get clean with me.”

 Following one more kiss, he rolled out of bed and headed for the parlor, and Layla boldly watched him go, surprised by how unabashed she was to do so. Her embarrassment from the night before seemed unreasonable now… and downright foolish, because he was fine as hell, with a tight and muscular backside, and a well-endowed front that made her ache with need. They’d finally had sex, which was supposed to release the tension, but her desire burned hotter than ever.

With tremendous effort, she shifted her attention from his gorgeous body to his aura, and her eyes widened. The haze covered a bigger area than before, the colors were bolder, and his power band was almost twice the size of her grandparents’ power bands. “Your power band is different,” she noted. “It’s much bigger.”

 “I know,” he replied. “You should see yours.”

 She foolishly looked down at herself, like she’d actually see it, and of course she couldn’t. But she could see shiny, golden swirls and silver rivers, which seemed lost without Quin beside her. The silver strands usually looped around both their bodies, like they were trying to tie them together, but with him out of reach, the glittering bands repeatedly stretched out then curled back in, as if beckoning him. She’d never seen anything like it in another magician’s aura or bonded light, not even her parents.

 Quin had been out of the room for about five seconds, and Layla could feel his absence – an unsettling sensation that started small but got stronger every second he was gone. She crawled out of bed and walked across the room, gauging whether or not the amount of distance between them made a difference. Her heart lightened as she drew closer to the parlor, and by the time she turned and pressed her back against the wall, her anxiety had nearly disappeared. Suddenly and without conscious reasoning, she understood why – he was standing on the other side of the wall, testing their new bond the same way.

 He quietly laughed, and she smiled as she rested her head against the soft wallpaper. “I already miss you, Quin.”

 “Me, too, love, but you know what this means, right?”

“What?”

“We’ll always be able to find each other, even when there are obstacles in the way.”

“How about we just skip the losing each other part, huh?”

He was silent for a moment. Then she felt a spike in his energy, in the soothing warmth she experienced when he was nearby and loving her. “That’s the sweetest deal I’ve ever been offered, Layla. I’d die to keep you within reach.”

She turned and pressed her palms to the wall, knowing in her gut he was doing the same. “Then that’s the deal.” An emotional lump had captured her throat, but she forced it down, replacing it with the humor, peace and pleasure he brought into her life. “Now go get my coffee and come finish what you started.”

 

Chapter 2

 

 Quin bypassed breakfast on the balcony, serving it on the kitchenette’s bar instead, and Layla didn’t mind losing the ocean view, because she had a better one sitting beside her. He’d thrown on a pair of shorts after their steamy shower, but his chest was bare and mere inches from her roaming hands. She wore a robe, but only because she didn’t want crumbs in her lap. Getting fully clothed seemed unnecessary since the layers would soon be stripped away.

 She took a bite of apple and laid her head on his shoulder as she chewed, but when his hand slid inside the front of her robe, her chewing stopped. “You’re going to make me choke.”

“If I do, I’ll save you then start pureeing your food.”

“Eww…”

“Then don’t choke,” he laughed, keeping his hand on her chest.

Obviously he had no plans to remove it, so Layla concentrated on chewing and swallowing, a task that had come naturally for two decades.

“Does it bother you?” he asked.

Her eyes widened as her head jumped from his shoulder. “Are you reading my mind?”

He laughed and pulled his hand from her robe, moving it to her curls instead. “No, but I see your aura more clearly than I see others, and when I’m close to you, I can sense your emotions.”

“So what did you sense?”

He intently studied her for a moment, like he was trying to decide what he wanted to say, and when he finally got around to saying it, he pulled her close for the delivery. “I’ll tell you, but I want you to do something for me.”

“Okay,” she agreed, and what a silly request it was. She’d do anything for him.

“I want you to work on being more open and vocal with me.”

“Oh,” she breathed, stunned by the request. Guess it wasn’t so silly.

“I know you’re not used to expressing yourself out loud,” he continued, “but that needs to end with me. Please.”

“Okay,” she agreed, feeling guilty.

“Thank you,” he returned. Then he kissed her head and gave her some room. “So, I get the sense I make you feel dependent.”

Layla grabbed a piece of blueberry muffin and stuffed it in her mouth, trying to ignore how buttery and delicious it was so she could consider his interpretation. “That’s a good way to put it,” she decided, “a nice way, because what I really feel like is a child. And that muffin is incredible.”

“Hmm…” His fingers trailed from her hair to her throat then lower. “I don’t see you as a child.”

“I know,” she assured, pulling his palm to her heart.

“It’s the way the men in my life treat women,” he added. “It’s the way I was raised to be. I know you’re not helpless. I take care of you because I want to, because it makes me feel good.”

“I know,” she repeated, keeping her eyes on his, which seemed to be pleading with her to understand and accept.

“Then back to my original question,” he whispered. “Does it bother you?”

“No, Quin. I love how you take care of me, but it’s still new. I need to adjust.”

“It’s not all on your shoulders, Layla. I can adjust, too. If you need a sense of independence, just tell me, and we’ll figure out a way to give it to you.”

“Thank you.”

He laughed and drummed his fingers on her heart. “You’re silly. Don’t thank me for this.”

She smiled as she pulled his palm into a kiss. Then she placed it on one of her breasts before attacking the rest of that muffin.

Once they’d eaten enough to stay nourished, he carried her to the sofa. Then he showered her in teasing kisses before leaving her there so he could clean their breakfast mess. She pouted as she watched him walk away, but the TV remote was nearby, so she reached for the distraction.

“I wouldn’t bother with the TV,” he said, refilling their coffee mugs. “They’re almost here.”

 Layla jolted upright, her stomach flipping as her fidgety fingers dropped the remote. She stood, thinking she might get dressed. Then she sat, deciding there wasn’t time. She played percussion on her knees then turned her attention to a fruit basket on the table. Apples and oranges hopped around in the air before peeling and slicing themselves. Then a plate flew from the kitchen and smoothly landed on the coffee table. The uniform pieces of fruit arranged themselves on the plate as the rejected peels and cores zoomed to the trash. Then a fresh flower arrangement appeared on the table.

 Quin laughed, and Layla looked up, watching him approach with their coffee. He placed the mugs on the table. Then he sat on the sofa and pulled her onto his lap. “That looked like a fun way to fidget.”

 The moment he touched her, her heart rate slowed and her muscles relaxed. She remained nervous, but the need to act was gone. “It makes a big difference when you touch me.”

He smiled and pulled her palm to his cheek. “It’s the same for me, and it will always be that way. We’ll never get over that feeling.”

 She watched him kiss her wrist, remembering the unease she felt when they were in separate rooms. “So how do bonded couples leave each other’s sides?”

 “They don’t unless absolutely necessary.”

 Her eyes widened. “So you and I will never be apart?”

 He soberly looked over. “I sincerely hope not.”

 “What about your job?”

 “We’ll figure something out.”

“I guess we have a lot to figure out.” Her gaze fell to her lap as her mind flipped through things that would need to change. His career was on a perpetual hiatus, he’d have to move in with her, and any future plans he’d made would have to be rethought. His life had been flipped upside down overnight.

 “Stop, Layla.”

His stern voice had her head snapping up. “Stop what?”

“Stop thinking I’m making big sacrifices, because I’m not. You’re my life, just you. All the other things are accessories, and I don’t need accessories if I don’t have my life. Do you feel like you’re missing out?”

 “No!”

 “Then you must know I feel the same. We’re bonded, love. We’re on the same wavelength. We have been this entire time, but now we have proof, and not just emotional proof.” He waved a hand through the gold and silver haze around them. “We have visual proof of how much we love each other and how much we need to be together. What you feel, I feel, so if you’re concerned I’m missing something, search yourself, because if I’m missing it, you’re missing it.”

 “Is that really how it works?”

 “Yes, angel. I’m only as happy as you are, and you’re only as happy as I am.”

 She pulled his fingers to her lips. “We make each other very happy.”

 “Yes we do,” he agreed. Then he leaned in for a slow and sweet kiss. “They’re here.”

 “All of them?”

 “Yes, your grandparents and my parents.”

 Her heart sped up, and he quickly placed a palm over it. “It’s okay, love. This is good news.”

 She buried her face in his neck and took several deep breaths, trying to draw strength from his sturdiness. “Right… good news.”

 He quietly laughed, and it soothed her until someone tapped on the door.

“I love you,” he whispered, softly kissing her ear.

 “I love you, too,” she returned. Then she took a deep breath and pulled her face from his neck. “Okay, let them in.”

 He kissed her cheek while mentally telling their family to come in, and she blindly clutched his hands, her eyes glued to the foyer.

 When the three golden couples entered the suite to find a fourth, their mouths fell open as the door flew shut behind them. Frozen in place, they didn’t say a word. They just stared, their features strained by disbelief; their complexions blanched by surprise.

 They eventually inched further into the room, taking in the details of the new bonded lights and changed auras, but only sighs drifted from their parted lips as their wide eyes searched and searched again.

 Finally, Cordelia and Daleen left the others and rushed forward, putting a small dent in the tension. Quin’s mom sat next to him on the sofa while Daleen knelt at his feet. Then they both took him and Layla’s hands, but they still didn’t speak. They just stared, their auras vibrating and pulsing.

 Morrigan soon followed, and she didn’t speak either, nor did she sit. After getting as close to Layla as she could, she laid her hands and lips on the top of her head and squeezed her eyes shut.

 The three men remained frozen, staring at the newly bonded mates in shock, but after a long and emotional moment, Serafin broke the heavy silence by clearing his throat. “How did this happen?”

 Quin looked away from Layla and raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

 Serafin lifted a hand his throat and cleared it again. “Just yesterday, when everyone saw you around town, you weren’t… you weren’t… bonded.”

 “No,” Quin confirmed. “We bonded last night.” He smiled at Layla, remembering, and she smiled back, her eyes shiny with comprehension.

 Caitrin stepped forward with stiff shoulders and a wrinkled forehead. “Are you telling us… Are you trying to say…” He huffed as his nostrils flared. “Are you saying last night was the first time you had sex with each other?”

 Layla buried her face in Quin’s neck, and he wrapped her in a hug while meeting Caitrin’s stare. “Is that so hard to believe?”

 Caitrin’s chest expanded as his face reddened. “Yes! You’ve been sleeping in her bed for over a week. And I’ve never seen such a strong connection between two people without a sexual relationship present. Never.”

 Quin shrugged as he stroked the back of Layla’s neck. “I won’t pretend it wasn’t a challenge, but I can control myself, particularly if her well-being warrants it. And I think this golden light surrounding us would explain our connection sans sex. If this wasn’t so unbelievable, I’d say we should have seen it coming.”

 Caitrin scowled and started pacing. “I might have seen it coming if I’d known you hadn’t consummated the relationship.”

 “Are you suggesting I should have filled you in on our sex life?” Quin returned. “There’s no way I could have predicted this. I realize our relationship has been intense from the beginning, but what else would it be when someone like her is involved? She’s perfect in everyone’s eyes, not just mine, and nearly every wizard in the world would trip over themselves to give her what I’ve given her. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it was leading to this, so why would I concern you with our sex life?”

 “You wouldn’t,” Caitrin conceded. “But never in my wildest dreams did I believe you hadn’t bedded her already.”

 “You have to give him credit for willpower,” Kemble mumbled.

 Caitrin halted and looked over. “Insanity is what most wizards would call it.”

 “She was dealing with injuries,” Quin cut in, “and daily drama. You know what, this discussion is pointless, and it’s embarrassing her. It doesn’t matter when it happened or whether or not we saw it coming. What would you have done if you’d known, Caitrin? Tell me to leave her alone? No. And even if you had, do you think I would have listened? Nothing was going to stop this from happening. Now let’s move on.”

 Silence captured the room once more, and its occupants barely breathed, slowly pulling in air heavy with contrasting emotions. An invisible game of tug-of-war was taking place. Happiness and love battling worry and fear. Everyone felt it, even as they struggled with their own internal conflicts, attempting to secure a victory for optimism. Some had an easier undertaking than others.

 Kemble eyed his son’s aura as he moved behind the sofa. Then he laid a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. “The silver cords in your auras – I’ve never seen anything like it. They’re connected, circling both of you.”

 “I know,” Quin replied. “And they’re not in our auras. They appeared with our bonded lights. We can see them.”

 “Really?” Caitrin asked, moving in for a closer look.

 “Yes,” Quin answered. “We hoped one of you could explain them.”

Caitrin looked at Serafin, who shrugged and shook his head, so the subject was brushed aside as Caitrin continued pacing. “What are your thoughts, Serafin?”

Serafin ran a hand down his face then mumbled into his palm. “I don’t know, Caitrin. This is… this is so many things. I don’t know where to begin.” He pulled his hand away from his mouth, but only to move it back to his forehead. “I don’t understand how this happened. It should be impossible. Of all the unbelievable things that occur in the magical world, this is something no one ever thought they’d see.” He dropped his hand and looked over, watching the back of Layla’s head with glistening emerald eyes. “Sweet Layla, we must beg your forgiveness. We’re so happy for you. I know we’re not properly expressing it, but we’re… overwhelmed.”

 Layla pulled her face from Quin’s neck and found her grandpa’s stare. “I understand the feeling.”

 Caitrin’s gaze snapped to Quin. “Did you perform an anti-fertility ritual?”

 A collective gasp echoed through the room. Then everyone held their breath as they watched Quin. Everyone save for Morrigan that is, who held her breath, but kept her face buried in Layla’s hair.

 “Yes,” Quin answered, and when they didn’t exhale, he expounded. “I swear, there’s absolutely no way she’s pregnant.”

 Layla returned her scarlet face to his neck and quietly giggled, and everyone breathed.

 Quin laughed at them then touched his lips to Layla’s cheek. “You just saved everyone from suffocation, my love. What was that giggle about?”

 She stayed hidden as she answered. “That was the second time you’ve had to swear I’m not pregnant, and I think you used the same words and everything. It’s not really funny, though. I don’t know why I laughed. It just felt like a moment that needed a laugh.”

 He smiled and played with the tips of her hair. “You’re very intuitive, angel, because the moment did need a laugh.” He dropped her curl and looked up. “We understand the situation is fragile, and we’re well aware of the difficulties we face, but there’s no point in standing around uptight about it. That’s not going to help anyone. So get yourselves something to drink and find comfortable seats. Then we’ll figure out what to do next. Layla and I are worried, but we’re happy, and we’d prefer it if our union didn’t have rainclouds constantly hanging over it.”

 “You’re right,” Cordelia agreed. “This is a blessed union.”

 “Yes,” Kemble added, giving Quin’s shoulder another squeeze. “Now we must keep you safe so you can enjoy it.”

 “It’s my number one priority,” Quin assured.

 Kemble cleared his throat and pulled his hand away. “Of course it is.”

 Layla left Quin’s neck and looked at Daleen. Then she tried to look at Morrigan, but everywhere her head went, Morrigan went. Layla finally tilted her head all the way back, forcing Morrigan to leave it. Then she flipped her gaze between her grandmas, the only two in the room who hadn’t spoken. “Are you two okay?”

 Daleen reached out with a shaky hand and touched Layla’s cheek. “We’re so happy for you and Quin, darling, but we’re also worried. I’m sorry we aren’t able to express how happy we are, but you must know we understand how beautiful and special this is.”

 Morrigan ran a hand down Layla’s hair as her lips quivered. “We can see how happy you are. Now we just need make sure you stay that way.” She was obviously fighting an emotional breakdown – tears sparkling in her peach eyes like morning dew.

 Layla watched her for several seconds then reached out with both hands, taking one of Morrigan’s and one of Daleen’s. “I understand why this is hard for you, but the situation is different. I’m different.” She paused and looked down, staring at their delicate fingers as she swallowed a lump. “Please don’t look at me and picture my ill mother. It makes me sad to think that’s what you see when you look at me.”

 Every heart in the room constricted under the weight of her blunt honesty, and Morrigan’s mouth dropped open. “It’s not like that, sweetie. Of course we see you.”

 “I know you do,” Layla assured, “but you also see her. I can tell by your faces, your auras and your touch. I’m sure if I were looking at me through your eyes, I would see the same thing, but I’m asking you to try to stop, because it’s not doing anyone any good. It just makes things harder, and it makes everyone sad. She wouldn’t let you get away with it if she were here.”

 Morrigan and Daleen took a long look at each other. Then they breathed deep and turned to their granddaughter.

 “You’re right,” Morrigan conceded, leaning over to kiss Layla’s head. “Rhosewen would tell us to leave and come back when we were ready to see the glass half full.”

 “Well don’t make me kick you out,” Layla playfully warned.

 Morrigan stole one more whiff of Layla’s hair then straightened. “I can hear Rhosewen as clearly as I hear you.”

 She kissed Layla’s hand then let it slip away, but apparently she wasn’t strong enough to handle this one on her own, because she immediately fled to Caitrin, who welcomed her with open arms.

He lifted a palm to her cheek as he worriedly searched her face, and she reassured him with a small smile. “Help me get everyone coffee?”

“Of course,” he agreed, taking her under his arm. Then they headed for the kitchenette. “Does everyone want some?”

Mumbles of agreement floated through the room as six more seats were summoned to the table, and within seconds the golden family was gathered with fresh coffee in hand.

 Caitrin summoned a pipe and lit it with a flaming fingertip. Then he passed it to Morrigan, who took a pull before passing it to Daleen. Layla curiously watched the exchange while sniffing the air, but every time someone exhaled smoke, they waved a magical hand and swept the fumes away.

When Daleen passed the pipe to Serafin, who also partook, Layla raised an eyebrow at Quin. “What are they smoking?”

 “Cannabis,” he answered, as casual as ever, like they were passing around tea and cookies.

 Layla flipped her stunned gaze to Kemble, who took his turn before passing the pipe to Cordelia.

 “Are you serious?” Layla asked, turning back to Quin.

He smiled as he tucked a curl behind her ear and smoothed her wrinkled brow. “Yes. It’s a natural relaxant; eases stress and helps us think calmly when emotions are high.”

 “Do you smoke it?”

 “Sometimes.” He slid a forefinger down her nose and lightly tapped the tip. “You’ve never tried it?”

 “No. I’ve seen people smoke it, but I thought it was bad for you.”

 “Smoking isn’t good for your lungs, but we’re healers, so that’s not an issue for us.”

 “It’s also illegal,” she pointed out, and several people in the room laughed.

“We don’t live by the government’s rules,” Quin returned, accepting the pipe from his mom. “And the law doesn’t make much sense in the first place. Luckily for the hexless, state legislatures are catching on. Medical marijuana is legal in Oregon.”

 “It is?”

 “Yep.”

 “Hmm… So you guys wait until I’m bonded into the family to spring the drugs on me?”

Again, several people laughed, and Quin smiled as he wiggled her nose. “You’ve seen Caitrin smoke it.”

“I have?”

“Yes, and you’ll see it again. Most magicians smoke as often as they drink.” He paused and held up the pipe. “Would you like to try it? Few people could benefit from its calming effect more than you. You’ve had a shitty week.”

 “Um… I probably shouldn’t. I don’t know how, and I don’t want to be stupid.”

 “It won’t make you stupid, Layla. I promise.”

 “I’ve seen people smoke it, and they’d get goofy.”

 “Do they look stupid or goofy?” he asked, motioning to the others.

 Layla looked at them, noting their auras were more peaceful than before, and their expressions held calm amusement as they watched her and Quin’s conversation. “No, I guess they don’t, but they’ve done it before. It might be different with me.”

 “It’s your choice, love, but I promise it would merely relax you.”

 Layla stared at the pipe, thinking it would be an interesting experience if nothing else, and the relaxation he spoke of was tempting. “I don’t know, Quin. I feel weird about it.”

 “How about I help you, and you just inhale a small amount?”

 “How would you do that?”

 He stared at her face for a moment, then her aura. Then he winked and tucked the stem of the pipe in his mouth. Layla watched closely as he lit the weed and sucked, and when he pulled the pipe from his lips, he pulled her to them, kissing while releasing half the smoke into her mouth. His mental voice invaded her head, telling her to inhale as he deepened his kiss, and she lazily obeyed, so wrapped up in him she practically forgot about the herb. The smoke hotly entered her lungs. Then it rolled from her nostrils, but she was concentrating on the softness of his lips and tongue, so she barely noticed.

 The weed… or his mouth… or a combination of the two, made her melt, and he enhanced the experience by blindly passing the pipe along and wrapping her in a warm hug. A long and blissful moment passed before he pulled his lips from hers. Then he searched her eyes and aura before kissing her nose. “How do you feel? Stupid or goofy?”

Layla’s lips twitched with humor as she wiped his taste from them, trying to separate her reaction to his kiss from her reaction to the weed. Both had been instantaneous, but while his kiss had been powerful, the herb had a more subtle effect, and neither had been unpleasant. She just felt more at ease with everything, a little tingly… and hungry for his mouth. “No,” she assured. “Stupid and goofy aren’t in the list.”

 “Relaxed?”

 She grinned, and it was probably a goofy grin, but it had nothing to do with the cannabis and everything to do with the throb between her thighs. “Sure.”

His dimples deepened as he glanced at her aura. Then he stole one more kiss before summoning her coffee from the table and heating it up. “Good. Lean back while we figure out our next move.” He carefully passed the mug over then looked at Caitrin. “Let’s start with the most pressing issue. Agro. He’s tiptoeing around now, but that won’t last forever.”

 Caitrin took Morrigan’s hand and leaned back in his chair. “No it won’t. We tried to lead him to Lake Tahoe, but judging by the fit he threw on our lawn Saturday night, it doesn’t look like he took the bait.”

“How long do you think we have before he makes his next move?” Quin asked.

 Caitrin shrugged. “He’s probably still nursing soldiers back to health and trying to replace those he slaughtered on our lawn. We might get another day or two of peace before he shows up… we might not. He’s too volatile to predict.”

Quin closed his eyes and nodded, and Layla studied his features, knowing he was contemplating decisions no one should ever have to face.

“What do you think Agro would do if he saw Layla and me?” he asked, opening his eyes.

An uncomfortable beat of silence passed as everyone traded glances. Then Serafin leaned forward to answer. “He won’t dismiss the situation, but that’s the only certainty I can offer.”

“Let’s hear the guesses,” Quin insisted.

“The guesses,” Serafin mumbled, resting his chin in his palm. “He’d probably be disappointed at first, but then he’d realize all the ways your union could benefit him. He’ll no doubt want what the two of you have to offer, but it’s hard to say which path he’d choose or how he’d go about walking it. He isn’t getting any younger, so he may break his own rules and try to force you both into his troops, or he may gamble on longevity and deem your offspring a higher priority. Either way, the results aren’t pleasant.”

“What about the rest of the magical world?” Quin asked. “What do you think about them seeing us?”

Everyone shifted as Serafin responded. “There would be negative ramifications, a lot of them, but dealing with them is worth considering since the alternative is quite heartbreaking.”

Layla straightened and looked at her grandfather. “What alternative?”

“A life in hiding, and not just from the Unforgivables – from everyone. And not just for a while – forever. No social life in the magical world, and no public appearances near coven populated areas, which is just about every beautiful location in the world. It would all have to end if you choose to keep your status a secret.”

“Even if we conceal our auras?”

Serafin frowned and gave a shrug. “Of course that would help you maintain your anonymity, but every time you step out with hidden auras there’s a chance something will have them snapping free, so you’ll be taking a risk no matter where you go. Besides, constantly concealing your auras isn’t an ideal option. I know you handle it well, but over time it will start to wear on you. Prolonged concealment can bring a magician down to a level that’s difficult to recover from.”

Layla sent her untouched coffee to the table and tucked her face into Quin’s neck. “And what are the negative ramifications that would accompany an open life?”

“You’ll be under constant scrutiny,” Kemble predicted.

“And treated like objects,” Caitrin added. “If word travels, which it likely will, they’ll come from miles away to see if it’s true. Oregon will swarm with foreign magicians asking questions about you.”

“If word travels,” Serafin noted, “you could have more than curious eyes headed your way. Every greedy magician in the world will want a piece of you. Agro would be a drop in the cauldron if the world was alerted to your union.”

Layla’s chest felt heavy and tight, pressing on her lungs and making it hard to breathe. “Are there a lot of magicians like Agro?”

“Yes,” Serafin answered. “Agro’s currently the top terror in the states, but there are a few groups based in other countries that are trouble on all accounts. And if there was any truth to Finley’s claims, one of them already has you on their radar.”

“So those are our options,” she mumbled. “Stay hidden from everyone and everything, or face a life of constant scrutiny and lurking danger.”

No one answered, so they might as well have said a big fat yes.

Layla moved her mouth to Quin’s ear and whispered. “I’ll be right back.”

She unfolded herself from his lap and flew to the bedroom. Then she numbly walked to the bathroom and seated herself on the vanity. She needed to think, and she didn’t want to do it with her loved one’s voices bouncing in her head, so she stared at the mirror and contemplated her and Quin’s options, as pitiful as they were.

She laid her hands in her lap and stretched her fingers, thinking about what she was capable of. Why were the two most powerful magicians in the world being pushed around? It wasn’t fair, and she was already sick of it. She and Quin hadn’t hurt anyone, yet they were being punished, and it seemed there wasn’t a damn thing they could do about it, which was ridiculous considering they held more power than anyone. She didn’t want people to fear her; she didn’t want to revel in her power and hold it over people’s heads. Nor did she want to live in fear. And she shouldn’t have to, damn it. And Quin shouldn’t have to give up his home and the life he’d made for himself simply because he’d gained uncanny power. If anything, the increased magical ability should expand his opportunities, not limit his options.

She raised her hands, watching summoned flames ripple from her flesh. Then the fire turned to ice as she grasped it in her fists, letting the cold sink its teeth into her joints.

She was done hiding. She and Quin deserved a happy life, and while they might find contentment hidden away with only each other to love, they’d miss out on the world around them. Her parents didn’t die so she could live a life severed from the world. They died to give her a full and free life, and she wasn’t going to let it slip away so easily. If someone was going to get it, they’d have to rip it from her cold, dead hands.

♥♥♥

Thank you for reading the preview of Retribution – due to release in September. To stay up to date on the latest news, make sure you subscribe to my BLOG and NEWSLETTER, and follow me on FACEBOOK!!!

Vote Quin in the NA Crush Tournament @BCBurgessBooks #VoteQuin

The incredibly handsome and charming Quin Kavanagh is competing in NA Alley’s NA Crush Tournament. Check out their post to see an AMAZING Quin video, some yummy pictures, and of course, don’t forget to vote for Quin! Today (Tues. 25th) is the one and only day to vote, so hurry!

Click HERE to vote for Quin!!!