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Even witches need a vacation.
Everything that could go wrong in Layla’s life has. There’s a murderous werewolf cult, Mr. White is plotting to destroy the world and worst of all—her mother keeps showing up. Her boys aren’t doing much better. Ink’s questioning his place in Layla’s life. Daniel is growing stronger and losing himself in the process. Cal is fighting against the newest addition no matter how hard he tries to make nice. They deserve a break at a private cabin on a lake.
Okay, so they’ll have to put in some labor to help bring the resort up to snuff for the summer season, but a free vacation is still an escape. There’ll still be nights lying under the stars on Cal’s chest, licking s’mores off Ink’s abs by a bonfire, being serenaded by Daniel on a boat ride and snuggling beneath Garavel’s wings. Evil, however, doesn’t take a break.
All the past demons come home to roost as the coven face not only what they were running from, but a lake monster who may not be so mythical after all. In this steamy and heart-racing entry to Coven of Desire, Layla fights to protect her men from demons both without and within.
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Scales Excerpt — Ink’s POV
When we arrived at the house, I anticipated my bond pushing out of my arms. Instead, she lingered, her face pressed to my chest. No sobs erupted from her lips, yet the whole of her being shuddered in anticipation of tears—like the air before a storm’s rumble.
I cupped my hand to the back of her head, gifting her the time she needed until she slipped out, her feet striking the front porch. She dabbed at her eyes and focused on a package left before the door. “Thanks,” was all she said as she picked up the box. “Even more books for Daniel?”
“The dead are not known for wise fiduciary decisions,” I said. Layla stared at me and I shrugged. “As long as they retain two pennies, their afterlife is secure.”
She snickered nowhere save her lips and I, in turn, frowned. Waving her hands, she parted the protection spell that did little beyond masking the house from obvious magic. Just as she was about to cross the threshold, I caught her hand.
“Shall we discuss the woman—?”
“She’s no one!”
“My bond.” I stared her dead in the eye. Even were I a simple mortal, the resemblance and gap in age were obvious. As I was greater, I could see the tendrils of parentage connecting the two.
Layla shrank in place. I swept her into my embrace and plucked the ghost’s spending spree from her hands. She needn’t concern herself with his mess when her own grew exponentially. “I don’t want to talk about it,” she said.
“While I myself am a renowned proponent of secrecy, are you not concerned about how the wolf will react when the truth is revealed?”
It seemed they’d only just repaired matters after their last rift—though both had borne the same brunt of obscuring truths. Now, the lie would rest squarely on her shoulders. And with a Horseman prowling the city, it wouldn’t do well for the wolf to run into the forest in a snit.
“I’m not lying to him, I just…I can’t deal with it right now. You know?”
“No,” I said, shaking my head. “The more painful a subject, the more readily a sin embraces it.”
“Must be nice,” she muttered. “Everything’s a mess. White’s coming, the angel’s dead, the entire universe could get torn to shreds at any second and my mom shows up? She left me and she just… No. I can’t. I’m sorry.” Her heart slowed and her desires slipped from a panicked sunburst to a desolate gray. She wanted nothing more than to receive nothing, a fate worse than death for the sin bound to her. My being shivered, wanting to push away.
Leave her for the wolf to tend to. Or the damn ghost. No doubt he has a litany of poetry on how to soothe maternal wounds. There is nothing for a being created only to take to find here.
I brushed the hair behind her ear, her style from the ball still as springy as the night a week prior. “You may take all the time you require,” I said. Layla lifted her fallen gaze, her eyes brimming with unspent tears and surprise.
“Really?” For a moment, she smiled, but it faltered into a piercing frown. “I didn’t think you liked to wait?”
I chortled at her request. “I’ve lived for two thousand and some years. An hour spent idle here and there means nothing.”
There was nothing to notice, only a sin keeping his meal healthy and protected before the next feast.
“Besides, keeping secrets from Calvin can be delightful fun.”
“Ink…” Layla rolled her eyes, but she laughed as well.
“He gets this furrow on his brow when he’s concentrating with all of his brains. It’s rather delightful, particularly when he’s completely wrong.”
Layla smacked her palm to my chest in a more playful than scolding manner. I felt no pain, as I couldn’t, outside of my brief stint as a mortal. Instead, I cupped the back of her hand, holding her palm above where my heart might linger. No one had ever ripped open a sin to see what was inside.
She flexed her fingers, pressing them deeper into my shirt and the muscle below. A tingle ran against my skin, deepening the tattoo she’d wanted below. It seemed to grow darker at my bond’s whims each day.
Layla stared deeply into my eyes. “Are you okay?”
“Ignoring the great Celestial battle about to commence and rip apart everything in this realm? Perfectly content.”
She bit her lip and breathed slowly. “Are you sure?”
What sort of a question is that? I was myself, as I had been since a Grecian scholar had birthed me from his shame. A sin was unchanging, incapable of being anything other than what they were meant to feed on.
“Thank the moon you’re home.”
I turned from my bond to find the wolf standing at the front door. “Speaking of the mutt.”
He cast an exhausted look my way, then wiped his hands on a towel strategically placed on his belt. As if I didn’t know he wore it to draw attention to his prodigious feature. Calvin dashed down the stairs and swept his hands around Layla. She collapsed into him, though her palm remained on my chest until the last second.
“What is it?” Layla asked. “What happened?”
“I’m going to barbecue that damn winged chicken,” he growled, his wild side shining through.
“As he is made of ebony, that would be quite educational to watch.”
“What’d Garavel do?” Layla focused on the business of keeping her coven of men in order. With the addition of the not-angel, it’d become a twenty-four-hour job.
Calvin muttered under his breath of feathers and ruined meat. I rather doubted the demi-angel attempted to throttle the werewolf’s beefy todger with his wings, so my attention waned considerably. Layla tended to him, as was her wont. I’d been leaving the two to their sentimental lovemaking more and more, hoping it’d smooth other the lingering hurts. Shame there was another lie added to the pile.
“I’m sorry about Garavel, he’s not…”
“I know. I get it. Killed his father, no idea what to do with it. Been there, done that.”
“At least he refrained from vanishing into the woods for weeks to lick his wounds.”
The werewolf glared at me as he draped a protective and possessive arm over Layla. “I’m guessing Ink brought you back from the cemetery.”
“Oh shit, my car!” Layla smacked her forehead and groaned. “I should go back and get it.” She took a step, then paused and shuddered. I knew, as she did, that there was a good chance the problem she refused to face had remained.
Only the mutt was left unaware and forced to guess. “Leave it. I’ll get it later. For now, dinner’s ready. You just have to pick off the burned feather bits.”
Layla rested her head on his shoulder, Calvin holding her by the waist. “I love you,” she said so freely. He returned the sentiment, the two sharing a simple kiss on the stoop of their home.
I’d watched the same scene play out millions of times with only the characters changing. It’d been nothing more than a minor inconvenience, for my hunt was impotent against unflinching love. But the way he brushed his thumb across her cheek, how she leaned her hips ever closer and blinked… I couldn’t turn away, and I didn’t know why.
Layla’s voice startled me. I found my hand clamped over my heart, directly above the tattoo, and stuffed it in my back pocket.
“Are you coming?”
I chuckled and swept to her side. “I didn’t realize it’d be dinner and a show. Olive oil is a delicious lubricant for both eggs and cocks.”
READ THE REST IN SCALES COMING MARCH 14TH