Audrey Taylor has carved a living out of society’s fringes using her supernatural abilities and street smarts. Freedom—sleeping beneath the open skies and under the radar—is all she’s ever needed. But when an ancient council of witches discovers her powers, Audrey must submit to their training or be stripped of her gifts and her memory. Audrey knows better than to trust anyone, and she’s never worked well with others, so it’s just her luck to be assigned a withdrawn and irritable falconer as her mentor. Even more disturbing is her desire to tear through his brooding façade and bare the man beneath when she should be focused on escape.
Corvin Wright values the solace of his duties and only finds peace among the birds entrusted to his keeping. But the council no longer sees a use for his unique gifts, and his sanctuary is in danger unless he can earn his place by babysitting a fledgling witch. The task becomes daunting when his apprentice turns out to be wilder and more broken than any creature he’s ever cared for. Her fiery spirit and dangerous beauty challenge every ideal of the life he’s built. As Audrey wrestles with her captivity and the bonds of responsibility laid upon her, Corvin must find a way to tame her wild heart before she breaks his.
~ Xpresso BT
Great, now she felt like a burden. She sighed and stormed back to the shed to retrieve the pitch fork. “At least one of us gets to leave. Can’t you just explain that to her?”
“I’m trying to form a bond, but she’s stubborn. Wild.”
The smile playing at the corner of his mouth made her stomach dip. “Fine, I’ll help you out. But how am I supposed to go in there without getting shit on? I draw the line at feces.”
His lips took on a mischievous curl, and she fidgeted, not sure what was so funny—she was serious. Corvin took a few steps back, rubbed his hands together, and rolled his shoulders back. He closed his eyes, and Audrey felt the familiar hum of magic pulsing through the ground beneath her feet, swirling in the air around her. She tried to tap into it, but nothing happened. Her own magic lay dormant.
A strange hush came over the tower. She hadn’t noticed the background noise of the birds until it was gone. Now she could hear every rustle of leaves in the forest around them. Then the rustling got louder. The wind picked up.
Corvin stood with his head bowed, calling energy. Straw swirled around his feet as he slowly raised his arms. The trees closest to them rocked back and forth, as if dancing to a song only they could hear. He tilted his face up to the sky, and his summoned wind tossed his hair and feathers about his face. Her chest squeezed at the sight. He was wild beauty and magic embodied.
A crush of wings erupted from all around them.
Audrey dropped the pitchfork and fell back against the stone wall with a hand pressed to her thundering heart.
Hundreds of black birds surged through the open windows of the mews and streamed into the sky in a tight formation. The flock curved through the air, turned back, and swirled around Corvin like a giant tentacle, following the pattern of the funnel of wind he’d created.
Though she couldn’t see him anymore, his laughter, charged with power and filled with pure joy, was what finally stole her breath.
He spun, and the birds followed him as if choreographed. His arms swung toward the woods, and the funnel of black beating wings surged in that direction, leaving him standing there, watching them as they filtered into the trees that still swayed softly.
“That was…” She cleared her throat and tried to calm the pounding in her chest. Her feet still thrummed from the magic lapping at her from the earth. Her mouth was dry from hanging open, and her cheeks felt flushed. “Impressive.”
Corvin’s answering smile was unguarded and the most joyful she’d ever seen. It did nothing to help her find steady footing. It made her long to see that heat in his eyes again, but they were cool and dark—darker, as his power settled. He walked toward her, his stare never leaving her face.
She felt a caress of cool wind against her heated cheek and shivered. “I mean, it’s not a fireball, but it’s a pretty cool trick.”
He stepped close enough that she could smell the sweat on his skin mixed with the loamy scent of earth and the crisp freshness of the wind. She held her breath as he leaned toward her… and reached past her to grab the pitchfork where she’d dropped it. “Perhaps next time I’ll call down some lightning. For effect. Would that satisfy?”
Hardly, she thought as a surge of heat ran up and down her body.
About the Author & Links:
Gwen lives a life of romance and adventure with her very own hero in Seattle. She’s a nature lover, science geek, and kitchen witch, with a nose for well-aged tequila and a pin-up fashion obsession. When not hiking to hidden waterfalls, taking in a burlesque show, or otherwise cavorting through the Emerald City, Gwen can be found in her favorite cozy chair brewing tales of magic, murder, and romance.