While she hasn't lived up to her family's expectations, Xandra has come to terms with her latent magic and made a life for herself in Austin, Texas, running a coffee shop where she makes potions of a nonmagical nature. While things aren't perfect, Xandra is happy--until she runs into powerful warlock Declan Chumomisto.
"As the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter—and a member of Ipswitch's Royal family—Xandra Morgan should be a witch of incredible power. But things don't always turn out like you expect... " While she hasn't lived up to her family's expectations, Xandra has come to terms with her latent magic and made a life for herself in Austin, Texas, running a coffee shop where she makes potions of a non-magical nature. While things aren't perfect, Xandra is happy—until she runs into powerful warlock Declan Chumomisto. Xandra hasn't seen Declan in years, and though she's still overwhelmed by his power, she doesn't trust him. And when her own powers awaken one night and lead her to the body of a woman in the woods bearing the symbol of Isis—the same one that has marked Xandra since the day she met Declan—she's filled with a terrible suspicion, soon confirmed: the woman is connected to him. Xandra doesn't want to believe that Declan is capable of murder, but as the body count mounts, and Xandra's own powers spiral out of control, she's not sure she can trust her own instincts...
TESSA ADAMS is a Visiting Fellow of Goldsmiths College and Director of Studies for the Society for Psychology an d Healing. ANASTASIOS GAITANIDIS is Associate Editor in Social Science at the Open University, and a Lecturer for the Society for Psychology and Healing. LARRY O'CARROLL is Programme Co-ordinator of Psychodynamic Studies, Unit of Psychotherapeutic Studies at Goldsmiths College.
Praise for the novels of Tessa Adams: "A sexy and intriguing new world." --New York Times Bestselling Author Nalini Singh
"A steamy, exciting novel." --Fresh Fiction
"[A] first-class, shapeshifting novel...filled with a fiery passion that's hot enough to set the desert sands aflame."--Romantic Times (Top Pick)
"A super thriller."--Genre Go Round Reviews
Praise for the novels of Tessa Adams: "A sexy and intriguing new world." -- New York Times Bestselling Author Nalini Singh "A steamy, exciting novel." -- Fresh Fiction "[A] first-class, shapeshifting novel...filled with a fiery passion that's hot enough to set the desert sands aflame."-- Romantic Times (Top Pick) "A super thriller."-- Genre Go Round Reviews
Prologue I was born on a dark night, under a Dark Moon in a sky turned bloodred with power and prophecy. Some say it was a less than fortuitous beginning to a new life of power, but as I squalled my way into the world, none of those bound to love me were disturbed by it. Why should they have been? Magic was everywhere. It was buning in the wall of flames that surrounded the birthing bed. Bubbling in the vases of sacred water positioned at North, East, South and West. Trembling in the blessed earth sprinkled all over my grandmother''s prized Aubusson rug. Even spinning in the air that whipped around the room in a frenzy. Yes, magic was all around me. How could it not be when hundreds, thousands, of members of our coven were there, gathered right outside the walls of my grandmother''s garden, straining for their first glimpse of the enchanted one. Of me. The news of my imminent birth spread quickly--which was no surprise as it was the most anticipated, most celebrated, occasion the coven had seen in many years. Since the birth of my own mother some two hundred odd years before, probably. After all, it''s not every day that a seventh daughter bears a seventh daughter, let alone does it on the seventh day of the seventh month. In fact, our historians swore that it had never happened before. Tales of my expected power spread until they became a thing of lore. Or even worse, until all those stories--all those whispers--became the norm. The expected. I would be great, powerful, untouchable by nearly all witch standards. It was one hell of a birthright for a scrawny, five pound baby, but my family was convinced I would live up to it. As were my coven, the Council and the entire magical world. And when the sky split straight down the middle, when it was rent in half by the most powerful forces of Heka--of the goddess Isis, herself-- I moved from creature of lore to portent of legend. Lightning spun through the sky like a whirlwind, whipping around and around as it tore through my grandmother''s roof and through the third and second stories of her house until it found me tucked safe in my mother''s arms on the ground floor. And that''s when it hit, lighting up my mother and me--the whole room, really--in a strike of such brilliance that it could be seen for endless miles. It disappeared as quickly as it had come, leaving the two of us untouched--except for the golden mark that appeared on my neck and collarbone. A circle with the outline of a pointed half circle above it, it was Isis''s most sacred symbol--a magical tattoo that nothing could remove and one that no one had been gifted with before me. The legends and the expectations grew. And grew. And grew. Until no mortal could possibly live up to them. Especially not me. Chapter One Winter 2005 My humiliation is complete. I can see it in their faces, in the way some are trying desperately not to look at me while others can''t stare long or hard enough. I can see it in the embarrassed flush on my father''s cheeks and the clenched hands, wandering gazes and tapping toes of my sisters. And, most of all, I can see it in the way my mother''s amethyst eyes have glazed over with mortified tears. In the way she keeps clicking together the heels of her favorite, ruby red pair of cowboy boots--ike if she hits the perfect spot she''ll spiral out of the room just as Dorothy did all those years ago. Too bad there''s never a tornado around when you need one. I try to tune them out, to close my eyes and pretend that I''m up in my room, practicing, instead of standing here in the middle of my Kas Djedet--my magical coming out party--making a complete and total ass of myself. If I can do that, if I can just forget my audience of legions, then maybe this once I can find a way to make the stupid spell work. The fact that it never has before is utterly inconsequential to me now. Everything is, except making fire. Please, Isis, just this once. I beg of you. There''s no answer, but then I didn''t really expect one. Except for the day I was born, Isis has been notably absent from my life. You''d think, by now, I would have learned to stop asking. Still, I concentrate on the spell as hard as I can, repeating the words over and over again in my head like I''ve been taught. The charm itself is child''s play--or at least, a certain kind of child. But I''ve never been able to do it. Never been able to do anything when it comes to magic, no matter how much I study or how hard I try. Why I let my family talk me into believing tonight would be different, I''ll never know. Maybe because I wanted to believe it as much as they did. Still, I''d warned my parents, weeks ago, that this party was a bad idea. Told them that I was going to fail. That I absolutely, positively could not do what they so desperately wanted me to. They''d refused to listen. "You''re simply a late bloomer," my mother told me. "Your powers will unlock on your nineteenth birthday and you''ll do fine. Isis knew what she was doing when she marked you. Trust me." "You''re just nervous," my dad concurred. "Once you''re up there, the magic will come." "Performance anxiety," my oldest sister, Rachael, commented with a smirk that was a long way from sympathetic. "Good luck with that." Still, despite her amusement, it was obvious that she hadn''t expected me to fail either. But then, why would she? No one in my family fails. At anything. And certainly not at magic. There hasn''t been a latent witch on either side of my family tree for seven generations. And if there was going to be one, it certainly shouldn''t be me. After all, with my birthright, I should be loaded with power. Showered with it. It should be leaking out my pores and lighting up everything I touch. Instead, it turns out that seven is not my lucky number. I can''t do even the most basic spell. I try again. Nothing. Again. Nothing. In the audience, someone clears his throat, coughs, and the small amount of concentration I''ve been able to muster shatters. I glance around--I can''t help myself--and once again see the shock, the horror and disgust, rolling off the witches and wizards gathered in my family''s ceremonial ballroom. Even my own family looks ashamed, like they can''t believe I''m one of them. It''s the last straw and more than enough to get me moving, to have me jumping off the circular stage set up in the center of the room and zooming out the French doors that lead to the patio. Behind me, my mother shrieks my name. In a booming voice, my father demands that I return to the ballroom at once. But I''m running full out now, scrambling to get away from the pity and the revulsion radiating from so many of the guests. They''ve come from all over our territory, all over the world, to witness the Kas Djedet of the youngest, and supposedly most powerful, Morgan daughter. What they''ve witnessed instead doesn''t bear thinking about. No, I tell myself, nothing can make me go back there. Not when the joke that is my nineteenth birthday party is still in full swing, and maybe not even when it''s over. My black designer cowboy boots, bought by my mother especially for tonight, pound over the hard, packed earth as I flee my yard for the safety and comfort of the peach orchard behind my house. The sweet scent of the fruit tickles my nose but I''m too busy sprinting down row after row of trees to notice. The only thing clear in my head is the need to get away. I don''t come to a stop until I''m at the lake at the very end of my family''s property. It''s my thinking spot, the place I''ve been coming to brood and cry and reflect since I was a little girl. As far as I know, I''m the only member of my family to come here, and if I''m lucky, it will be the last place they think to look for me. Frustrated, fuming, I yank off my eight hundred dollar boots--which are supposed to help me channel magic and instead have only aided in channeling mortification--and hurl them, one after the other, into the lake. As they sink, I feel an incredible surge of satisfaction welling up inside of me. The first satisfaction I''ve felt all day, all week. All year. Screw magic, I tell myself as--mindless of the Dolce & Gabbana party dress I''m wearing (again courtesy of my mother)--I sink down onto the moist dirt surrounding the lake so I can dangle my feet in the water. Being a latent witch isn''t the worst thing in the world. It just feels like it now because of the party. Most days, it''s actually a relief not to be able to practice magic. After all, who needs the hassle? The responsibility? And who actually wants to touch all those gross potion ingredients, anyway? A couple of tears roll down my face and I brush them impatiently away. I will not feel sorry for myself. I. Will. Not. Feel. Sorry. For. Myself. It''s stupid and useless and utterly selfish. My life is better than a lot of people''s, even if it doesn''t feel like that right now. Leaning back on my elbows, I gaze up at the beautiful night sky above me. And repeat the admonishment again and again, until I almost believe it. I lay there until the heat of the summer night sinks straight through the cold brought on by nervousness and humiliation. Until my arms fall asleep from resting so long in the same position and my neck gets a crick in it for the same reason. And still I don''t move. I can''t. I''m transfixed by the idea of what comes next. Or, to be more specific, what doesn''t. What am I supposed to do with my life now that it''s clear, once and for all, that I am never going to follow in my family''