Magic and Flames


209 pages
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Stumbling into the world of Enchantment brought Meeka everything she’d been searching for. Peace. Magic. A gorgeous knight in shining armour. Kerrigan knows he should banish her from Enchantment, it’s his duty as the dragon-shifting Enforcer. But one thing stands in the way…his overwhelming desire for Meeka. Can Kerrigan keep Meeka safe as his enemies strive to turn her into a weapon that will destroy all he is bound to protect? Or will their passion override duty? 



Publié par
Date de parution 01 août 2015
Nombre de lectures 2
EAN13 9781771454551
Langue English

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Magic and Flames
Enchanting Love - Book 1
By Lawna Mackie
Digital ISBNs MOBI 9781771454544 EPUB 9781771454551 PDF 9781771454568
Copyright 2015 by Lawna Mackie Cover Art by Michelle Lee All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights un der copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any mean s (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.
Chapter One
Distant thunder rumbled through the darkened sky. The black clouds churned and rolled across the horizon Meeka searched for a reco gnizable landmark. A momentary shiver of panic skittered down her spine. She recog nized none of the trees on the riverbank. She’d gone past her usual turn-around po int. Meeka glanced at the dial on her watch. “Damn, it’s way past noon. Annoyed, she glanced around. “Where did the time go? Exhaling s harply, she scolded herself for forgetting to stay focused. Frustration boiled like the storm that gathered above her. The wind howled, forming white-capped waves. Hungrily, they lapped at the sides of her wooden canoe. Common sense dictated a quick ret urn to shore; it was too dangerous to be out on the water. Still, Meeka coul dn’t help the tiny wish that the water would take her someplace far away from all her worries. At the age of twenty-five, she still loved fairy ta les. Perhaps the soft green moss, sweeping cedar evergreens, and rainbow-hued wildflo wers were cleverly concealing homes of fairies and sprites. Peacefulness seeped i nto her soul. Hidden far within the mountains, the winding stream remained secluded. It was her place, the one refuge in her dreary life. The air w as infused with joy embodied in the smell of warm Earth and soft leaves, a welcome repr ieve from the stench of stale alcohol and ashtrays. Her stomach twisted at the memory of the early-morn ing phone call from her parents. Their slurred words made it apparent they were drunk...again. Unable to stop her thoughts, she continued to let t he canoe drift farther down the stream while she reflected on her early morning mis hap—in particular, the screeching ring of the telephone ruining what had appeared to be a very relaxing morning. In an instant, her thoughts cascaded back in time… For a split second, her eyes closed. Anger and rese ntment clawed at her stomach. Her beautiful world disappeared, replaced by the sm ell of cigarettes and harsh words. The scenario played out the same way every time, bu t sometimes it was worse than others—especially if her parents had been fighting. Heeding their calls, led her home to a cluttered space filled with empty bottles, full a shtrays, and hatred. Each time, she lost a piece of her soul. Meeka groaned in frustration, opening her eyes. She picked up the receiver with a happy “Hello”. Her heart stuttered at the faint hic cup before a familiar voice filled her ear. en’t caught you at a bad time.” HeHello, daughter,” her father slurred. “I hope I hav hiccupped. Meeka swallowed against the cotton in her mouth, he r hands trembling. She wished her hands could slide through the telephone line so she could wrap them around her father’s neck. She knew the sound of those words al l too well. Sad memories washed over her. He’d been drinking again, and she was certain her mom had followed along…
It didn’t matter how many times they drank themselv es into oblivion, Meeka could never rid herself of the painful memories. The curs ing, hurtful words never went away. It always left her wondering how they didn’t kill one another. Most times, he sounded so sweet trying to coerce he r to come to them, but not this time. After the drunken binge, it seemed to be a fo rm of redemption for them. She’d clean the mess, tend to her mother’s cuts and bruis es, and agree with everything her father said… Dad, I’m not going through this again!” —”Now, daughter,” he sneered. “Your mother and I need No!” Meeka yelled, cutting him off. The emotional r oller coaster ride they’d put her through would never end. It had to stop. “I can’t d o this again. I won’t do this again. I’m through with the two of you always being drunk. I’m not coming over. Don’t call me again until you stop drinking.” With tears brimming in her eyes, Meeka slammed the telephone down with shaky hands. How could they do this to her over and over? She’d had enough! If only she could turn off her heart and stop caring. Sinking into the couch with her face buried in her hands, the sob escaped. But the phone rang again, forcing Meeka out the door. This was her way of coping—run away. Escape. Go somewhere. Go anywhere! Just get away from them. A gentle pressure against her leg brought her back to the present. Her feline companion, Catz—her one true gift from God—a snow-w hite, fluffy cotton ball with a little pink nose and big, bright eyes the color of sapphires. Meeka stared down at Catz. The furry critter looked up at her with love and compassion. Catz always knew when she was depressed , and never failed to make her feel better. Meeka sniffled, wiping the last of her tears away. “Okay, Catz. I’m done with crying.” Goosebumps formed on her arms. Hoping the sun would come back and the storm would stay away didn’t seem to be working. The bree ze blew a wisp of her unruly, long, sable hair from the confines of her braid. The loos e strand annoyed her. Over the edge of the canoe, her reflection stared b ack. Her hair complemented her violet eyes, dark lashes, and tanned face. In her o pinion, her eyes were her one redeeming feature. Droplets of water falling from the paddle distorted her image, leaving a more accurate picture than the beauty so many sai d she was. Catz sat precariously on the bow, pretending to nav igate. Meeka laughed, certain the temperature change suited her friend “That’s be tter, isn’t it, Catz—cooler for you, my giant snowball. The sky darkened, the grey clouds quickly swallowin g the small patches of blue. Earlier, the blistering sun had enticed her to disc ard the life jacket, something she would typically never do. The unusual heat sometimes made for some violent thunderstorms, but today, she was hell-bent on pushing her luck. In utter defiance, Meeka look up to the heavens. “I ’m not ready to go back yet! So there! Resolutely, she focused on spinning a happy daydream, the shadows of her
thoughts too heavy for the moment. What would it be like? Somebody who loved her, who she could love, she wondered. Meeka snorted with cynicism. Even in a daydream, I can’t believe my knight in sh ining armor could exist. A fairy tale, that’s what she wanted. Didn’t everyone? Shaking herself away from the thoughts, she glanced at the meowing cat before focusing on the shoreline. “Well, Catz, I’m going c razy. I’m thinking about knights in shining armor. They don’t exist, yet here I sit try ing to convince myself it could be possible. The stream narrowed. The trees were taller, and the ir darker green branches now blocked most of the light from above. As she inhale d, the scents of cedar and moss filled her nostrils. The rich, earthy surroundings wove a spell around her, drawing her deeper into the moment. Licking her lips, she could taste the sweetness of the berries that would line the forest floor. She closed her ey es, falling for the magic of the moment, not wanting to pay attention to the black thunderhe ads above. A low rumble of thunder drew her attention upward. “I better turn us around. Wincing at the soft sound of her voice, she felt a flash of guilt at disturbing the silence. Instead of picking up the paddle, she let the craft drift in the current. The forest beckoned mysteriously, the stream and ca noe becoming more shaded with each gentle stroke of the paddle. Catz paced a t the front of the canoe, giving her a warning look. Crack! Thunder boomed through the valley and lightning fla shed across the black sky. The air hung heavy with the smell of rain, and Meek a’s face was abruptly wet. Catz howled, giving a new definition to the phrase pisse d-off, and swished elegantly under the covered portion of the bow. The rain intensified, and a blue veil of water desc ended over her. Thunder crashed above her head. Lightning streaked across the darke ned sky like fire. Tendrils of electricity raced along her body like a lover's caress. “Okay, already. I got the message! Through the ons laught of rain, she spotted a beaver dam ahead in the distance. “Catz, I’ll take the canoe out there by the dam. We can take shelter under the canoe and wait for the storm to subside. Note to self. Don’t be sassy with Mother Nature. The beaver dam loomed ahead, a squat wall of mud an d wood. Meeka swallowed. Willows, driftwood, birch, and poplar were tangled to form a solid mass. A dark head bobbed in the water for a moment before vanishing from sight. When a wide tail slapped the water, Meeka instincti vely ducked, stifling a screech. The echo reverberated through her. Intent on gettin g off the water, she leaned over, the paddle slipping into the rapid current. A hard knot formed in her stomach when the shadows gathered to block the meager sun completely . How the heck did it get so dark?
Crouched on her knees in the canoe, Meeka reached d angerously far over the edge, stretching for a large log she hoped to grab. The sturdy piece of wood would help her get out of the boat. A massive splash close to the canoe caught her off guard. She swung her gaze over her shoulder, gasping when she made eye contac t with a giant beaver. With a gasp, the craft lurched to the side. The canoe sway ed uncontrollably. Her strangled scream preceded the splash of her bod y hitting the water. Her flailing hands scrabbled for purchase on the canoe, only to have it tip and land next to her with a sickening thud. The current swirled around her le gs, dragging her along, and her forehead hit something extremely hard. Her limbs were bricks, too heavy to move. Her eyes closed, blackness beckoning her. The world she knew went black.
“Damn it!” Kerrigan roared in pain when his hammer smashed his thumb. Lifting his head, he listened to the growing ruckus of the alar m shredding the silence. Tossing aside the hammer, he kicked it across the floor, hi s ears ringing. “Alarm off!” His bellow drowned out the annoying screech. His stomach dropp ed as he thought of some poor creature perishing. A legion of beavers known as th e Secret Keepers ensured nothing got past them into the Enchanter’s world. Keeping E nchantment safe often led to casualties of the four-legged variety. The construction of his library was the newest addi tion to Kerrigan’s huge home. He spent endless hours adding to his house, when time permitted. Using magic would have been much easier, but never as enjoyable. A large sigh escaped as he stared down at the thumb nail already turning purple. He placed his tool belt back on the floor and made his way down the ladder to stride through the house, heading to the back door leading to the tunnel. With a wave of his hand, the massive door opened, and he stepped throu gh an ancient carved archway just high enough to accommodate his six-foot-five f rame. The intricate tunnel twisted up and down around many corners and ended at a thick, iron-strapped oak door. Enchantment existed in a dimension parallel to the Upper World, or “Earth,” as some called it. It was believed there was only one way to enter and exit Enchantment, both of which led to death, unless, of course, you were a beaver, or had the magical abilities of the beaver. Enchanters made up most of the population of Enchantment, and thrived happily there, being hosts to many magical abilities. Enchantment was just that —enchanted. Kerrigan entered the neatly kept home without knock ing. Todd stood in the center of the kitchen, his hands tangled in his fur. “We have a problem,” he stated without even turning to look ac ross the spacious room at Kerrigan. Kerrigan rubbed his tired eyes. He had been working too many long hours, and now his impatience showed through his abrupt tone. “I g uessed that when the alarm went off. I suppose we have yet another animal from the Upper World trapped in the dam?” “I…I think it’s an animal.” Todd’s weak croak settled over Kerrigan. He bit bac k a sharp retort. “What was it this time? Did you get it off the dam?” “Well, you see. That’s where the problem began. I w as above, scouting, when I saw a large shadow on the water beside the dam. I neede d to get it away from the lodge because I knew the alarm would go off. Unsure of it s identity, I swam up to take a look, and that’s when it happened.” Todd frowned, his dark eyes darting to meet Kerrigan’s. Annoyed, Kerrigan snapped, “What happened? Spit it out.” Before the words finished tumbling from his mouth, he felt ashamed by his anger. “I’m sorry, Todd. Please just get on with it.”
“It fell in the water.” His tail thumped a nervous tempo against the floor. Kerrigan knew most animals from the Upper World die d when they entered the water by the dam. The strong undertow pulled everyt hing down. He ran a hand through his hair. “What did you do with the body?” Todd tugged at the fur on his paws. “Well, actually …there are two bodies, and they…well they…almost died, but didn’t.” Sheepishly , he continued. “When the larger of the two fell in the water, I swam away, my intent b eing to watch from afar, but I realized it must have been hurt before hitting the water. Th e current pulled it down, and I followed. Blood—or something like blood—came from i ts head, so I swam closer. That’s when I heard the other noise. The contraption they were floating in had turned upside-down in the water, and the other creature seemed to be caught inside.” His voice dropped into a whisper, and he looked terrified. “K errigan…it spoke to me.” Todd thrust his little paws up, and shook his head quickly. “No , wait. It yelled at me. I didn’t think Upper World creatures could communicate with us. I always believed them to be unable to speak our tongue.” Kerrigan frowned. This was going to be a doozy. This story wouldn’t end well. “The little one from the floating thing told me if I didn’t do something to save its master, I’d live to regret it. Can you believe that ! The tiny creature actually threatened me! I swam closer and…well…before I tell you the re st, promise me you won’t be mad,” Todd pleaded. Todd never hesitated with his decisions, and Kerrig an had great respect for him, but a combination of sleep deprivation and frustration boiled over. “I’m already mad, Todd. Finish the story, pronto, or you’re going to have a bad case of Itchits!” Kerrigan stifled a shudder at the thought of the tiny insects that lov ed fur-bearing creatures. Their spiky legs and incessant chatter had been known to drive an animal mad. “You wouldn’t. I’m sure I raised you better than th at,” Todd said with an indignant gasp. “Don’t test me. Get on with it.” “Okay. Okay. The little one shrieked at me, begging me to save its master. I continued to swim closer, and the large creature lo oked a lot like an Enchanter. The little creature swam with desperation and attached itself to the larger one. My heart broke when I heard the whimpering. Kerrigan, you we ren’t there. You don’t know what it’s like! I couldn’t watch them die, so…I cocooned them.” “You did what?” Kerrigan roared. Paddy Beaver entered the kitchen, paws planted on h er sides. “You two keep your voices down! I won’t have this bickering in my hous e. We have two very sick guests, and they need rest. Kerrigan, I’ll not have you thr eatening anyone in my house— especially your father.” Looking from the shame-fac ed Todd to the dumbstruck Kerrigan, she waddled to the table and sat down. “B ehave yourselves.” Kerrigan remained silent. Paddy had such an air of confidence and genuine care that few ever questioned her authority, including K errigan. Enchantment beavers were very similar to their dist ant cousins in the Upper World, with the exclusion of size and magical abilities. P addy and Todd, the eldest of the clan, were well- respected in the land of Enchantment. So ul mates through and through, they
had witnessed much together. Their ability to keep Enchantment secure from the Upper World meant survival for all the residents of the h appy dimension. Paddy and Todd had raised him from a baby, and alwa ys treated him like one of their own. Kerrigan had been abandoned, so the Beav ers were the only family he had ever known. He’d grown up in this home, or lodge, as beavers ca lled it. But the Beaver’s lodge did not represent a typical beaver’s home. Magic ca me with many benefits, including a kitchen, dining area, many bedrooms, and of course, the large lagoon. The Beavers’ role in Enchantment revolved around this spectacula r body of glistening clear water surrounded by large, flat, iridescent rocks and lus h foliage under a magnificent domed ceiling. The pool of water was the gateway to the Upper World. Kerrigan pushed aside his thoughts and focused agai n on the matter at hand. “I’m sorry if I seem gruff, but you know how serious thi s is. Enchantment hasn’t had a foreigner in hundreds of years. How am I going to e xplain this to the Council?” Todd scratched his head. “Nobody needs to know they ’re here. The one creature does look like an Enchanter, and the little thing c ould be any critter made by magic here in Enchantment.” Kerrigan started pacing with Todd and let out anoth er sigh. “The Council will eventually sense the presence of a foreigner. We do n’t even know why or how they discovered us. They could be dangerous.” He crouched down, peering into Todd’s eyes. Fear an d worry stared back at him. Kerrigan knew as well as Todd that the Council woul dn’t show compassion or leniency for Todd’s decision. He’d have to think of somethin g to save his father’s hide. “Todd, never in over a hundred years have you made this type of decision. I know the pain and suffering you see in every animal that falls into the water above. Why did you save these two? Is your job becoming too much to bear?” Todd’s fearful expression turned rigid and proud. “You know I take my job seriously, Kerrigan. I have been a Secret Keeper for centuries . Yes, I broke the law, and I can’t tell you why I felt compelled to save them. But let’s no t forget, the little one can speak. I think they were meant to find us. Or maybe I was me ant to find them.” Paddy, who was listening in silence, got up from th e table, “Kerrigan, perhaps you should take a look at the two? They are still aslee p, and the larger one is injured.” “Yes, I suppose I should. Which room are they in?” Paddy pulled bandages and supplies from a drawer. “ I put them in your old room. Let me finish getting what I need here, and I’ll co me with you. While I don’t think those two would hurt anyone, it might be a good idea to p lace an entrapment spell on the room. We can’t let them wander about, should they w ake up while we’re not here.” “Don’t worry, Paddy; nobody will be leaving this lo dge without my knowledge.” Paddy stopped and gave Kerrigan a cross look. “You know I hate when you don’t call me Mom!” “Sorry, Mom. The job makes me so…formal, I guess.” A slight smile lifted the corners of his mouth.
“You and your father work too hard. Do you know tha t?” Paddy scowled, leading the procession down one of the hallways. Kerrigan had long since outgrown the height of the ceilings in the lodge. Enchantment was host to many creatures, but Enchant ers were—for lack of a better word—short. Kerrigan resembled his biological fathe r, he was told, with long legs, muscular build, piercing blue eyes, and a hard, defined jaw. Kerrigan knew he didn’t fit the picture of a typica l Enchanter, but Paddy and Todd had ignored the obvious and took him in as one of t heir kits. Each year, he grew stronger, smarter, keener, and seemingly more cold- hearted by the day. Only Todd and Paddy could see through his brusque exterior. To Enchantment, he was the Enforcer, or Keeper of t he Peace—a warrior of sorts— not an easy job when magic came into the picture. T he use of black magic made the Enforcer’s job difficult. The three continued through the home, and Kerrigan couldn’t help but reflect on the fond memories he would always have of this place—Pa ddy’s constant fussing to ensure he was properly cared for, and Todd’s concern the c oddling would keep the boy from ever leaving home. Kits, or children that belonged to beaver families, left home after a couple years, but Kerrigan wasn’t a biological kit. The adjustment had been difficult for Todd and Paddy. Kerrigan paused, his fingers tracing over the joint s on the wall from the times Todd had raised the roof to accommodate his height. The dome-shaped ceilings blended into the closets and drawers carved into the walls, maki ng the most of the limited space. Unease filled him. If his two softhearted beaver pa rents had chosen this room for their unexpected guests, the two Upper-Worlders mus t be tall. A long time had passed since Kerrigan had been back in his old room, and h e wasn’t quite sure how he felt about strangers, never mind non-Enchanters, sleepin g in his old bed.