blue mountain magick
Below is an excerpt from Blue Mountain Magick.
I'd love to hear what you think of it.
I'd love to hear what you think of it.
blue mountain magick
Abby’s partner Stan was out of the car and halfway to the warehouse door when she caught up with him. “I’ve called for backup,” she said.“We can afford to wait few
Stan wheeled around. “I’ve been waiting. For months. This is the first decent tip we’ve had, and I’m not going to take a chance on losing this guy again. If you want, you can stay out here. I’m going in.”
Abby didn’t hesitate. Stan was the senior detective. He called the shots, and she was the new guy on the squad. She’d worked damn hard to make detective and even harder to win her place in Homicide, so she drew her weapon and followed him through the door.
“You watch the rear,” Stan whispered. Abby kept her shoulder to his back as they moved silently down a long hall past empty offices. At the end of the hall, double swinging doors opened into the dark, cavernous warehouse. Two story stacks of pallets and crates towered in rows. They could see a faint light and hear hushed voices coming from the loading dock at the back of the warehouse.
Stan silently signaled for Abby to approach from the right while he took the left. Crouching low, she made her way to the end of the row where it opened out into the wide loading bay. A dim overhead light showed the open space was empty and quiet. Their suspects had either left or they were hiding.
She spotted Stan moving to take a position behind a forklift just as she saw the muzzle flash behind him. Stan dropped and lay motionless. Her ears still ringing from the shot, she pressed herself back into the cover of darkness and held her breath, straining for the slightest sound.
Abby’s body was rigid, her muscles flooded with adrenalin. She flattened herself against the solid wall of crates. Her lungs filled with the stale, musty air. There was no place to hide unless she moved, but what direction? Sounds emerged from all around – a steady drip from a rusted pipe, the scrabbling of tiny claws under the pallets. She flinched like she’d been slapped when a deep voice boomed out from someplace
“Come on out. We know you’re in here.” The taunt echoed around the open space. It was impossible to
locate the source.
“Your partner’s dead and you’re all alone now, pretty lady.”
They’d been watching all along. She and Stan had walked right into their trap. Abby whispered the
“officer down” call into her radio, silently cursing herself for not standing up to Stan. She’d known better than to rush in, but she’d let her pride overrule her good sense and training.
Backup would be coming, but she didn’t think she had that long. She could make a break for the door next to the loading dock. Her chances weren’t good, but she didn’t have a lot of options. She glanced over at Stan. He wasn’t moving, but he might still be alive. Abby wasn’t going to leave him. Edging along the row, she kept well into the shadows. She didn’t know where the shooters were or how many there were. Taking a chance, she left her cover and darted toward her fallen partner.
With more strength than she should have possessed, Abby snagged Stan’s shoulders and dragged him to
cover behind a stack of crates. She dropped down beside her partner’s too still body and felt for the pulse she feared she wouldn’t find. There was no response. Stan was gone. Wood splintered all around her as their assailants targeted her position. She was pinned down. Her fear flashed into anger and determination as a muzzle flash to the left exposed one of the shooters. She wasn’t going to cower in the dark, waiting to be taken.
Abby inched to the edge of her cover and sighted her target. Concentrating on her shot, she hardly noticed the sharp click made by the slide of a semiautomatic chambering a round behind her. As soon as the familiar sound registered with her brain, Abby spun around to catch the bullet square in her chest. The pain exploded like a dynamite blast as the shrapnel ripped through her body. Her conscious mind had time for one last thought: I don’t even have anyone to miss me.
A silver bell jangled as Steven Kincaid pushed open the door to the tea shop. The small shop was empty, so he stepped around the delicate tables and chairs and pulled aside the chintz curtain that covered the opening to the back of the shop. He jerked his head back just as a large canister of fragrant tea sailed past his nose and
landed gently on a high shelf next to his head.
“Oh, Steven, don’t hover there with that frown on your face.”The two silver-haired sisters didn’t even bother to turn around to acknowledge his presence.
“How do you know I’m frowning?” he said, frowning.
“Because you always scowl when you catch someone using their magick.”
“I’m not scowling,” he said, the corners of his mouth curling into a reluctant grin.
“Yes, you are, dear. Now go sit down and I’ll bring you some tea.” Steven’s aunts waved him toward the front of the shop as fresh-from-the-oven cookies arranged themselves on a china plate.
“What if someone other than me had come back here and seen tea jars and cookies flying through the air?”
“Anyone else would have been polite and called out for us,”scolded Aunt Harriet.
“Besides, we knew you were coming. I’ve made your favorite cookies,” said Aunt Amelia.
Steven chuckled and reached for a cookie which deftly scooted out of his reach. Giving in to the ladies, he retreated to the tea room. He continually warned his aunts about their careless displays of magick, and they stubbornly refused to listen, but they’d taken care of him through some of his darkest times, and he loved them so much it was hard not to forgive their faults.
The ladies emerged from the back room bearing a man-sized mug of steaming tea and a plate of warm
“Sit with me,” Steven gestured to the chairs on either side of him. When the sisters were settled, he said, “Now tell me what’s got you so worked up. You’ve been bombarding me with your psychic broadcasts all morning.”
“It’s such a momentous day,” squeeked his Aunt Amelia, practically bubbling over with excitement. Amelia was the more emotional of the two and the one most like Steven in both her feelings and her magick.
“It’s more than momentous. It’s your destiny, dear.” Steven’s Aunt Harriet patted his hand and gifted him with one of her rare smiles. It drove Steven crazy when Harriet went all woo-woo. She was a far-seer, but her cryptic pronouncements rarely made sense to him, and it was fruitless to try to get her to elaborate.
Steven downed his tea, took a cookie for the road, and gave each of them a kiss on the cheek. “Can my
destiny wait? I’ve got some errands to run.”
“That’s fine, but stop back by before you go home.” Aunt Harriet rose and gave him a peck on the cheek.
“We’ll have something for you then.”
Just down the street from the tea shop, Abby Jamieson sat behind the wheel of her parked Camaro.
I so don’t want to do this. Abby sighed and drummed her fingers on the steering wheel. I think I feel a headache coming on. Besides, I have plenty of time. I don’t have to do this today. Abby reread the sign on the building in front of her –“Law Offices of Charles M. Jenkins” – as she rationalized away her reason for being there.
She’d driven up from Atlanta, leaving the sultry city behind as she climbed into the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The trip itself had been great. It was one of those glorious Indian Summer days with a clear blue sky and just a hint of fall in the air. The dogwoods, already colored orange and red, were at their peak, and the sugar maples and hickories were just beginning to turn. In the next few weeks the mountains would be
covered with every shade of gold and red.
The tourists would be coming too. The shops and B and B’s would be gearing up for the yearly onslaught
of RV’s and lazy drivers trolling down every backroad looking for another scenic vista or quaint backwoods town. That was Roxburgh, definitely quaint, and it was
home, but Abby Jamieson hadn’t called Roxburgh home for years. She’d left the week after graduation, and she’d never looked back. There had been no reason to
Before getting out of the car, Abby picked up the 9mm Sig Sauer that had ridden holstered in the
passenger seat during the drive. She’d left her service weapon in Atlanta, but the compact Sig was her backup. It had a custom grip shaped for her hand and it
suited her perfectly. She checked the clip and slipped it back into the holster. Stepping out of the car, she clipped the holster inside the waistband of her jeans at the small of her back. It wasn’t the best draw, but the gun wouldn’t show there unless she bent over pretty far, and she’d found that civilians often got nervous if they could see that you were armed. She slipped on a blazer, took a deep breath, and opened the door to the lawyer’s office.
Charles Jenkins’s office was clean but nondescript. The outer office had a desk for a secretary, but it looked as if it hadn’t been used in a while. The door to the inner office was partially open, so Abby called out, “Mr. Jenkins?”
A large man came to the door and put on a big smile when he saw her. “You must be Ms. Jamieson. I’ve been waiting for you. Please, come in.” Jenkins ushered her into his office and got her settled in a worn leather chair before taking his place behind a massive desk. Abby looked around the office while Jenkins dug in a drawer for her file. She read his office like a crime scene.
There were the obligatory bookshelves filled with law books and an old football trophy. Gold-framed degrees decorated the wall, and a framed picture of a pretty wife
and two kids sat on the corner of Jenkins’s desk. The desk was solid wood and it was mostly empty. It looked like Mr. Jenkins didn’t have a lot of business, but he wouldn’t in a small town like this. People with really important cases would go to a lawyer in one of the big
firms in Asheville or Charlotte.
“Cute kids,” Abby said, nodding toward the picture.
“Yeah, they’re bigger now. They live with their mother in Virginia.” File in hand, Jenkins reemerged from behind his desk. “Now, here we go. The last will and testament of Joseph Jamieson.” Jenkins laid out a stack of papers and financial records and a ring of keys. “Oh, by the way, please let me extend my condolences. Your
father was a good man.”
My father was a cold-hearted bastard, and everybody knew it. If he’d been a good man, I wouldn’t have left home when I was eighteen and stayed away all this
time. Instead of voicing her thoughts, Abby thanked him politely. “How long do you think this will take?”
When she got the news her father had died, she’d taken a leave of absence to go home. Since her shooting, she’d been on light duty anyway, riding a desk, still working through PT and mandatory counseling, so she planned to settle her father’s accounts, get rid of his stuff, sell the house, and then do whatever it took to get back on the job, but now that she was actually there, she doubted that getting her
father’s things in order would be as quick or as painless as she’d hoped.
“I already have the ball rolling,” Jenkins assured her. “The will has been filed with the county probate court. You’re the only heir, so it’s pretty straightforward. You won’t even have to appear in court. I just have a few
things for you to sign today.”
As if on cue, a knock sounded on the door behind Abby, and she turned to see a very attractive man
enter the office.
“Ms. Jamieson, this is Mark Cochran. I hope you don’t mind. I asked Mark to come by to witness the documents. You’d need to meet him anyway. Mark’s the president of the bank, and he handled your father’s financial affairs.”
Mark shook Abby’s hand. “Your father insisted on setting up everything so there’d be no problems for you. You’re listed jointly on all his accounts. When you come by the bank, I’ll just need to get your signature.”
“Of course.” She was pleasantly surprised. Mark was definitely not the balding banker type you’d expect to find in a town like Roxburgh. He was tall, around six feet, and good-looking, only slightly older than Abby, probably in his mid-30’s.
He wore his expensive suit well; his body was trim and fit. He must work out. His three-piece suit was a rich dark brown with tuxedo-cut lapels. It looked expensive, probably a designer label. His matching brown silk tie had a subtle stripe, and the collar of his tailored white dress shirt hugged his neck.
Abby assumed he went to the city for his clothes and grooming. They were way too nice for Roxburgh. His hair was a streaky champagne blonde, well cut and styled. It framed his face naturally, falling from an off-center part in long layers that came just to his collar.
He wore a smile, but his face had a serious stillness like a marble statue. There was no softness there, just perfectly chiseled features. His nose was slender and straight, his chin was square. Classical features. Abby’s gaze lingered for a moment on his flawlessly sculpted lips, aware that he was confident in her appraisal. She smiled and turned her attention back to Jenkins.
Between the lawyer’s documents and some that Mark had brought, they signed and witnessed, passing the
papers from one to another, and as Mark leaned in toward the desk, she felt his warmth and breathed in the scent of his rich, spicy cologne.
Jenkins reached over the desk to hand her the ring of keys. “The big ones are the keys to your father’s house. Well, it’s your house now, and the small one goes to his safety deposit box at the bank. Mark can take care of that for you. Now, there’s just one more thing. The arrangements. I can walk you over to the funeral home.”
“Oh god.” Abby barely breathed the words, and the lawyer kept talking without noticing. “Your father
left instructions. He didn’t want a service, just a simple cremation, and, of course, it’s already paid for. We were just waiting…”
“Chuck, give her a minute.” Mark silenced the lawyer. Mark came around Abby’s chair and rocked down on his heels between her and the lawyer’s desk. He took both of her hands in his and met her tear-filled eyes. “Are you okay? You know, you don’t have to do this right now.” Over his shoulder he said, “Go get her some water,” and the lawyer rose and left the room.
“I’m alright. It just sort of hit me. I mean, we weren’t close. I hadn’t talked to him in years.”
“You just haven’t given yourself time to react yet. It’s natural. I guess it was pretty sudden for you.”
“Actually, I grieved for our relationship a long time ago, and I put it behind me. I didn’t expect to feel this now. I’m not really the weepy type,”she said dabbing at her eyes with the handkerchief that Mark had produced.
“You can’t tell your heart what to expect. How about I take you home?”
Jenkins reappeared with a glass of water, and Abby took a sip. “Thank you both, but right now I think I’d just like to get some air, maybe walk around a little.”
She and Mark stood, still close, and his fingers lightly traced her arm. “I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. I’m going to call the funeral home and tell them we’ll be in
tomorrow. I’ll pick you up and we’ll go over there together.”
“You don’t have to do that. I can take care of it.”
“Do you have anybody else here in town?”
“Then it’s a done deal. I’ll get your number from
Chuck, and I’ll call you in the morning.”
Abby nodded over the lump in her throat and fled into the sunshine.
As she wandered down Main Street looking in shop windows, her spirits lifted. The tiny downtown looked strangely familiar, as if she’d only been away for a day or two. It was hard to believe she’d been gone for almost twelve years.
This was small town America – the bank with its decorative columns and colonial façade and the drug
store with the soda fountain and café next door. The old two-story general department store where her family had shopped for everything from pots and pans to clothes and shoes was still there, but it looked dusty and lifeless. There was probably a Wal-Mart in the next town down the highway where everyone did their shopping now.
Most of the smaller shops offered a combination of antiques and handmade crafts for the tourists, all kinds of Americana – rag dolls, baskets and brooms, wooden rocking chairs, and anything quilted. Towns like Roxburgh depended on the tourists. This part of Appalachia was approachable, clean and quaint, without the hillbilly remoteness of “Deliverance.”
Abby passed by the furniture store. Hand-crafted wooden furniture was the main industry in the area. Half of the people in town worked at the lumber mill or the furniture plant or in the shops. Her dad had been a manager at the furniture plant, and Abby had worked in the store weekends and summers when she was in high school, saving all of her money for college. She peered through the window to the back counter and pictured the hours she’d stood there daydreaming about making her
escape from this town.
Abby paused at the door of the little tea shop and looked in. Two elderly ladies were working side-by-side at the counter, mixing up teas. Miss Amelia and Miss Harriet. Abby and her mother had been regular visitors to the tea shop when she was little, and the ladies had always been pleased to see them. Going for tea had been their special treat, but Abby had never entered the store again after her mother’s death. Her father had made a big deal of it; she was not to go to the tea shop.
Abby never understood why, but the haunted look in his eyes whenever she brought it up made her drop her questions.
The ladies looked just like she remembered them. They hadn’t aged a bit although they had to be in their seventies by now. The sisters had always looked alike. Each of them had a mass of silvery hair pulled up into a loose bun, and they had dark luminous eyes. They were always dressed in flowery print dresses covered by the soft white aprons they wore in the shop. One was slightly taller and thinner, but Abby was never sure which one was which.
They looked up at the same time and saw Abby standing in the door. “Come in, dear,” one called to
Abby, then turned to her sister, “Harriet, it’s Abby Jamieson. Look how pretty she is.”
Abby blushed and stepped into the little shop. “How do you remember me after all these years?”
“We were expecting you. We knew you would come when your father passed.”
The ladies drew her over to a little table and sat her down. Both of the ladies bustled around her, firing off questions, but not waiting for the answers.
“How have you been, dear?” one asked while setting the table with a linen napkin and a delicate china cup and saucer.
“Oh my, Sister, Abby was injured, but she’s healing now,” the other answered, bringing a steaming pot of
How could they know about my injury?
“You should never go back to the city. Milk or lemon, dear?”
A plate of lemon wedges appeared even before Abby answered, “Lemon, please.”
“You’ll stay here now, where you belong.” A three tiered china server filled with cookies and scones
“Your recovery will go much faster now that you’re home.” Pots of clotted cream and jam.
“Don’t let your tea get cold.” A plate of tiny, crustless sandwiches.
Abby sat sipping her tea, amused by their running dialogue, when she became aware that someone had
entered the shop behind the solid wall of chattering ladies. It was as if the air pressure in the shop had suddenly changed. Without turning around to see who
had come in, Miss Amelia said,“Steven, come in and see who is visiting.”
A powerfully built man stepped around the ladies and Abby forgot how to breathe. She dimly heard an
“Abby, you haven’t met Steven. Steven, this is Abby Jamieson,”said one of the sisters.
The other chimed in, “Abby’s mother died when she was so young. It was heartbreaking…” The ladies kept up their narrative, relating Abby’s life story as if she wasn’t sitting right there, but the sound of their voices receded to the background to create a zone of silence around Abby and the man towering over her.
As he looked down at her, Abby was caught up in his eyes. Eyes so dark, she almost couldn't see his pupils, no that wasn't right. Colored lights sparkled in their depths like party lights twinkling in the dark. And those long eyelashes. Abby loved thick lashes on a man.
His eyes were matched by long dark hair, warm and rich like the black walnut stain that her father used to use in his shop. His hair fell into a natural part on the right side and he had it tied back, but one silky strand had escaped and fell around to frame his face. Abby suppressed the urge to reach out and tuck it back behind his ear.
This man was huge. His broad shoulders filled his rugged corduroy jacket, and his oxford shirt, tailored to fit his body, showed every ripple of his sculpted abs. His worn jeans hugged his hips nicely, an observation that was inescapable as the front of those jeans hit her at about her eye level.
Abby realized where she was staring and, blushing wildly, she quickly looked away. When she broke her gaze, suddenly the sound returned. The ladies were still talking, setting another place at the tiny table and pushing the big man into a delicate little chair.
He sat down, his smile turning into a deep chuckle at the constant buzzing of the ladies behind him. He
extended his hand across the small table and said, “It’s nice to meet you, Abby. I’m Steven Kincaid.”
Abby reached over and took his hand. His fingers wrapped around hers, and his heat surrounded her. A
sluggish, sensual warmth spread under her skin creating an aching awareness of her body. The rich earthy scent of the forest swamped her senses. She wanted nothing more than to close her eyes and relax into his embrace.
Abby slowly dragged her gaze from their hands up to meet his eyes again. She was mesmerized by the
fireworks in their depths.
Steven was talking to her, asking her a question, and she apologized, “I’m sorry. My mind is drifting
today.” Back in Atlanta, she was the serious one, all business. She had a reputation for keeping a cool head, both on the job and off, but her emotions, which she’d held in check for so long, seemed to be running rampant.
“No problem. I understand. Coming back after being away for so long and being hit with all the memories can be disorienting. My aunts said you hadn’t been back since you left years ago.”
“Yes, Harriet and Amelia are my aunts. They don’t like for me to bring it up. It makes them feel old,” he said winking.
“Of course, Steven Kincaid,” Abby said making a connection. “I’d forgotten that Miss Amelia and Miss Harriet were Kincaids. The big house – the Kincaid mansion – is it still there? It was just across the woods from my house, but I was afraid to go there. Everyone said it was haunted. When we were kids, we’d dare each other to go inside, but I never did. It always reminded me of the haunted houses on Scooby Do.”
Steven’s voice rumbled with amusement, “Oh, it’s still there. I live there now. It’s my home. Would you like to come see it?”
“You live there?” Abby flushed with embarrassment again. I’ve got to stop babbling. My god, I compared his home to a stupid cartoon.
Steven saw Abby’s distress. “You’re right about the house. It was pretty decrepit, but I’ve fixed it up. I think you’d be surprised.”
One of the aunts, Miss Harriet, Abby thought, came over to refresh her untouched cup of tea. She said,
“Steven had restoration contractors and decorators come in from all over. It caused quite the stir, but it’s really wonderful, even better than it was before.”
Amelia added, “Yes, you should go see it. You and
Steven have a lot in common. You were both gone for so long, and now you have both returned to us. Steven had people working on the house for a year, but he’s
only been back for three months.”
“Really? Did you live here before?” Abby asked, confused. “I’m sure I’d remember you.”
Amelia answered, “Oh, my dear, it was long before your time.”
Steven suddenly reached out both of his arms and pulled his aunts in to him. Miss Amelia dissolved in giggles and Miss Harriet looked scandalized as he wrapped them in a hug. They struggled against him and slapped at his hands, loving the attention.
Abby watched their interplay. He didn’t answer the
question. Was he deflecting? He couldn’t be that much older than I am, and that house had been in ruins for
years. Maybe the aunts were confused.
Steven was surprised by the pretty young woman across from him. He was familiar with her family, but
he hadn’t expected to see her back in town. In fact, he hadn’t expected to find anyone of interest in Roxburgh, and that was fine with him. He’d moved there as a retreat, to find a little peace and solitude, away from his kind and their incessant power politics. But Abby was definitely interesting. Interesting enough to make him rethink his plans.
He was so taken with her dazzling green eyes that he’d hardly been able to keep up the conversation. And he was completely distracted by the bobbing of her ponytail. He was deeply tempted to reach over and pull off the band that restrained all that glorious auburn hair, but he feared if he did, he wouldn’t be able to stop himself. He wanted to bury his face in the softness and drink in her sweet, flowery scent.
She was so touchable. Her skin was pale and creamy, and was currently sporting a pretty blush. The
fact that she was embarrassed by the thoughts she was having about him was almost irresistible. Her tongue flitted out over full lips. Not Angelina full. A little pouty, but just right.
He ran his eyes over her body and watched her shiver involuntarily. A little muscle. Not skinny. Nice
curves. Under her blazer, her silky red V-neck pullover dipped deeply enough to reveal the swell of her round breasts. She was sitting, but he’d bet her clingy jeans would reveal a great backside.
She’s a nosy little thing.Steven smiled at the thought. Abby was curious about him, but she hadn’t volunteered any information about herself. Steven figured he could find out whatever he wanted to know pretty easily. His aunts seemed to know a lot about her, and he was sure that they’d engineered this little
meeting. Abby was evidently the “something special” they’d promised earlier.
Was she his destiny? He didn’t think so. He’d had his destiny a long time ago. Fate had dragged him over the coals and left him burned and bleeding. But his aunts had something in mind, and he was sure they’d let him know soon enough. As much as he loved them, Steven was always suspicious of their motives. Meddling and scheming went right along with breathing in his family. But for now, Abby was interesting enough to keep him going along with their game.
Abby was uncharacteristically willing to stifle her inquisitive nature and enjoy the company. She would have gratefully traded places with the ladies. She warmed at the thought of his arms wrapping around her, pulling her close, dropping his lips to hers.
His lips. The only word that came to Abby’s mind was Wow. His top lip made a perfect heart-shaped bow, and his bottom lip was full and very kissable. She pictured herself sucking his lip between her teeth and giving him a little bite, something she’d never even thought about in real life.
Lost in her reverie, Abby watched his smile broaden, revealing a deep dimple on the left side of his face. She smiled back, pleased at his reaction until she realized he was amused by her all too apparent fantasy. Color stormed across her cheeks, and the air seemed to turn syrupy, too thick for her to breathe. I’ve got to get out of here, immediately, before I do something really stupid like faint or tear off my shirt.
Abby abruptly pushed back from the table. She fumbled with her purse, trying to find her wallet to pay for the tea, at the same mumbling a“Thank you” to the ladies and a “Nice to meet you” to Steven and “I’ve got to go” all jumbled together.
Steven released his aunts and stood across the small table, grinning at her. He motioned at her attempts to extricate her wallet from her purse. “Don’t bother. I’ve got this one.”
Awkwardly backing away, Abby said, “Well, thanks. I’ll see you.”
I’ll see you? Is that really what I said? Abby shook her head. For all the bravado she could muster on the job, when it came to social situations, she was a mess. What a nightmare. Could this get worse? Without looking, she backed out the door onto the sidewalk and turned directly into the arms of Jake Walker, her old high school boyfriend. Evidently it could get worse.
Jake gripped both of her arms just below her shoulders and sneered, “Well, look who’s here, Princess
Abby, or I guess it’s Detective Abby now.”
Great. Small towns. Everybody here is up on all the details of my life even though I’ve hardly given them a thought in the last decade.
“That’s not a very warm greeting for an old friend.” He wasn’t much larger than she was, but he had always been cocky and sure of himself, especially around girls.
“I guess I don’t hold many warm feelings about you.”
Jake had been her one and only excursion into high school dating. She’d wanted a boyfriend, but every date with Jake ended up in a grappling match and an argument with him wanting more and her drawing the line. She’d had no interest in getting knocked up and
being locked into this town, so she finally called it quits. Jake wasn’t used to being rejected, and he’d spread ugly rumors, but he seemed to have forgotten that part.
Jake stepped in close, too close, and breathed in her ear “I remember when we created some heat together.”
You would remember it that way.
Abby tried to turn away, but Jake held her left arm trapped in his powerful grip. He’d obviously grown from a spoiled teen into an overbearing bully, and he was pushing all her limits. The panic that had plagued her since her shooting was barely contained. She had to act. Instead of struggling against Jake’s hold, she smoothly reached her right hand behind her back under her jacket while she stepped in toward his chest.
As she moved in close, he smiled, misreading her intentions, until her whispered order registered in
his small brain. “You will let go of my arm, now.”
“Or what? You’ll shoot me?”
“Exactly.” Abby smoothly brought her arm up from behind her back and jabbed the 9mm into Jake’s ribs. They held their tense embrace for a few seconds. Jake glared at her, too proud to move, but too scared to find out if she was bluffing.
Steven appeared in the doorway behind her. “Abby, do you need any help?”
Jake spat out “Bitch” under his breath and wheeled away down the sidewalk leaving Abby standing with her gun in her hand. Steven raised one eyebrow but didn’t comment.
With steady hands, Abby holstered her weapon at the small of her back. “Don’t bother. I’ve got this one."
Holding herself together, Abby calmly crossed the street, got in her car, and locked the doors. Only then did she allow the panic she’d suppressed to break through. Tremors swept her whole body, and her heart pounded in her chest. The scar on her chest burned with white hot pain. He hands clenched the steering wheel as she fought to take in a deep breath and regain control over her traitorous body.
The doctors had told her it was likely she’d have symptoms of PTSD after all she’d gone through. The
first time it had happened was on the firing range shortly after she’d returned to work. They’d been running an urban pursuit simulation, and she’d frozen when the first bad guy target popped out. Her breath wouldn’t come, and she’d felt like she was drowning. Her fingers had gone so numb that she almost dropped her weapon. She’d humiliated herself in front of the other detectives.
And now, this. Within minutes of entering town,she’d been panting like a schoolgirl over two different men and she’d pulled her weapon on a third. That was some serious overreaction.
Abby closed her eyes and went over the techniques her psychologist had suggested. She concentrated on
relaxing her muscles. One by one she loosened her fingers until her hands fell into her lap. She gradually slowed her breathing, counting through each breath until her heart stopped pounding and returned to a normal rhythm.
Her control was getting better, but coming back home was throwing too much at her. She needed to
refocus. The plan was to settle things as quickly as possible and get on with her life. Not to ogle the local men. Sucking in a breath, she gathered up her riotous emotions and tucked them away at the back of her mind. That was a skill she’d mastered early in her life. However, taking out those feelings and dealing with them was something she needed to work on.
Steven stood in the doorway of the teashop as the panic and frustration coming from inside the Camaro broke over him like a giant wave, engulfing his senses. There was no reason for him to be feeling her emotions so strongly. Sure, he was attracted to her, but he hadn’t established any kind of connection with her. Hell, they’d
hardly touched, yet every thought, every instinct commanded him to run to the woman and comfort her, to enfold her in his arms and absorb all of that fear.
He was stunned at the intensity of his response. He’d locked down his heart a long time ago, and nothing had gotten through the walls he’d built. He could love his aunts and enjoy his few friends, and while he’d felt affection for the women he’d taken to his bed, he never opened himself up to them.
Steven strained against the compulsive need to protect this woman he’d just met. Finally he breathed easier as he felt Abby’s panic subside. He still wanted to go to her, but he sensed her embarrassment over her perceived weakness, so he held back. He didn’t know Abby well enough to intrude on her at such a private moment, and he didn’t intend to get to know her that well anyway.
After a few agonizing minutes, the Camaro backed up and pulled away down the street. Steven turned to find his aunts watching him. Aunt Amelia’s look was full of love and sympathy, and maybe a little disappointment. Harriet glared at him in reproof.
“She doesn’t need me to save her, and you both should know I’m not in the saving business anymore.”
Angry and unsettled by the whole event, Steven stalked out of the teashop and headed for the solace of his home.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. If you'd like to leave a comment, go to the contact page. I'd love to hear from you.
Meet the Characters
Hi, My name is Abby Jamieson. I'm a homicide detective with the Atlanta PD, or at least I was until I was shot, and then my father who I hadn't spoken to in over a decade died, and I had to go home to the backwoods town where I was born. It took me a long time to get over the feeling that I wasn't good enough, and now, here I am again, back where I started, only this time I have a case of PTSD, a crumbling ego and a bad temper. What's not to love?
Speaking of love, I've been there, done that, and I'm not in a rush to visit that pain again, but this Abby Jamieson is getting under my skin. My name is Steven Kincaid, and although I look like your average thirty-something, I'm actually pushing 200, and I haven't hit middle age yet. As you might have guessed, I'm not exactly human. I'm descended from an ancient race of powerful beings who draw on the energy of the Earth to wield various powers. Over the millenia, we've been persecuted as witches, and now we keep a very low profile. Having magick is fine, but my people are generally manipulative, malicious, and a bit in-bred, and I try to stay as far away from them as possible. That is, except for my aunts. They raised me, and I love them to death. I came to Roxburgh to have a little peace and quiet, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.
My name is Mark Cochran. I've been in Roxburgh for two years, I'm active in the community, and I own the local bank, but the locals still think of me as the outsider from the big city. I doubt they'll ever accept me fully. What they don't know is that I'm from a town even smaller than this one. I came here with a plan of what I wanted to accomplish, and I've almost gotten it all. And now, in walks Abby Jamieson - smart, beautiful, and a hometown girl. She's the icing on the cake, and she's going to be mine.
There is a long history of magick in the Southern Appalachians, in the Blue Ridge Mountians specifically. Ancient traditions from the Native Americans of the region speak of magickal "little people", spirits, and earth energies. The more recent history is rooted in the Scots and the Scots-Irish immigrants who settled that area in the mid-1700’s bringing their own Celtic magickal traditions.
Appalachia is especially known for "Granny magick" and "wise women." The folklore ranges from traditional healers like midwives, herbalists, and diviners to magickal fairy circles to full-blown broom-riding witches.
A good source of information on Appalachian magick and all things witchy is witchvox.com:
The Blue Ridge Mountains of