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Eliza May Brown

Sample of Spellbinder

“I don’t like killing women.”

I stifled my automatic terror and peered across the darkened room to the shadowy figure in the armchair. My fingers started weaving a spell as I tried to control my galloping heart. “I’m glad to hear that,” I said, as calmly as I could, “because I don’t want to die.”

He stood slowly. “There’s no challenge,” he continued, disregarding my words. “It’s too easy.”

I’m a lot of things, but I’m not easy. I flipped the switch and light flooded the room. He was tall, dark, and handsome, just like every gypsy predicted, and he fully intended to sweep my off my feet. Silly me, I hadn’t realized that he planned to leave me for dead afterwards.

He moved toward me. Half of my mind concentrated on my moving fingers, but the other half admired the leonine grace of his movements and the controlled power in his lean body. His straight, dark hair brushed his shoulders. His features were Caucasian, but his skin was two shades too dark to be called white. And his eyes…his eyes were an otherworldly gold, simmering, watchful pools of swirling metal. Those eyes never left mine.

I knew the spell by heart, and the gold-and-quartz charm around my neck grew warm against my skin. “You’re very handsome,” I told him. “Not what I expected at all.”

He quirked a brow, amused. “Thank you. On the other hand, Bianca Fontaine, you are exactly what an evil seductress should look like.”

I blinked. This was a night for surprises. But I needed a few more minutes, so I needed to keep him talking.

Instead, he closed the distance between us. I stood my ground, which seemed to amuse him again. “Are you going to try and seduce me?” he whispered.

I’d encountered other would-be killers in my checkered past, but he’d left the script behind. I wasn’t a seductress, evil or otherwise, and I had no idea what he expected from me. “Would that change your mind?” I asked.

“No.” His fingers climbed my arms to rest on my shoulders.

“You won’t kill me tonight.”

He didn’t respond. I tilted my head to look into his face. He fully intended to kill me, but he didn’t want to hurt me. I could see his intention in his eyes. He planned to keep me talking, then snap my neck when I didn’t expect the blow. A considerate assassin. Who would have thought?

He smiled down into my eyes and I could read my fate in them. He would strike soon, and he wouldn’t miss. He was too confident in his own abilities for me to doubt him.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Dante Malone.” His fingers tightened almost imperceptibly.

“Who sent you?”

He pulled away from me slightly, and a cloud passed over his eyes. It cleared and I saw his resolve firm. “Evil seductress,” he said, more to himself than to me. “She has to die.”

“How did you find me?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“You don’t know, do you? Who are you, Dante? Do you remember anything about your past?”

He didn’t like the questions. Depending on the spell they’d used on him, thinking about it might even be painful. He’d been set a task, and that consumed him. He was going to kill me.

I struck first, swinging my hands up and reaching for him. He expected me to grab for his arms or wrists, so the blow to his chest staggered him. He stepped back and my fingers pressed against his heart, completing the spell.

His confidence poured out of him and he turned pale. “I should have killed you quickly,” he ground out.

“I’m very glad you didn’t,” I said. “But I imagine you were curious about that ‘evil seductress’ bit. I’ve never been good at seduction, I’m sorry to say, but I am a deft hand with a spell.”

He staggered back, lifting his hands now to ward me off. He tripped over the coffee table and fell heavily. “What…have…you…done?” he gasped.

I knelt next to him and peeled back an eyelid to study his rapidly-changing eyes. “I have to tell you,” I admitted, “that this is the first time I’ve tried this spell on a human.” And I’d had limited success in my animal experiments, but I didn’t have to tell him that.

He drew in a ragged breath. “I don’t blame you,” he gasped. He started to shake.

“That’s good of you,” I said, and I meant it. He’d have fought death with everything he had, and he didn’t begrudge me the blow I’d dealt him.

He writhed uncontrollably.

“Not boring you, am I?” I kept my tone light, but I was starting to get worried. Most spells didn’t take this long to work.

He shook his head, but it may have been a convulsive movement and not an answer to my question. He rolled onto his stomach and pushed himself up on his hands and knees, then lifted his face. His skin bubbled and pulsed and his nose pushed forward. As I watched hair sprouted across his cheeks and his body contorted in his clothing. After a long moment he stopped moving and collapsed, exhausted, on the floor.

This didn’t look good. I really didn’t want to kill anyone; it could affect my own abilities. Dante was probably being forced to act, possibly against his own nature. I had no right to kill him, even in self-defense.

Plus, I really didn’t want to kill anyone.

I dropped to my knees beside Dante’s still form. He’d tried to kill me, but it wasn’t his fault. Someone else was using him.

Gingerly, I pulled at the loose pile of clothing and revealed a long, lean, hair-covered body. “Dante?” I whispered.

His head lifted and honey-gold eyes blinked at me. With an effort, he unfolded shaky legs and stood. His dark hair was wiry and coarse, his muzzle pointed.

He eased down on his haunches and sat almost nose-to-nose with me. He’d been a big man, and now he was a big dog.

We studied each other for a moment. I couldn’t speak. And, well, neither could he.

I took a deep breath. “I don’t know how much you understand,” I started, “but you’re under a spell.”

He growled.