The Craft of the Wise 4: Healing Hearts
In the final book of The Craft of the Wise series, the coven will use whatever methods are available to them to ensure the permanent safety of witchdom. Unpredictable Devin ?the Devil÷ Remington, a cursed werewolf, might provide them the edge they need. Only his curse makes him a danger to not just the demons, but the witches and werewolves seeking his help, too. Can the coven's healer, Selena Owen, help him find a way to break the curse and remain by her side forever?
The tension in the air made drawing in oxygen almost impossible, definitely difficult to breathe. Every werewolf stood facing the door, some with a ready hand on the hilt of his curved blade. None would allow any of the witches to leave the virtual security net they formed. If she didn't know better, Selena Owen would think the men were ready to battle against a threat instead of just greeting another of their kind.
Not just one of their kind, either. Aaron Remington's brother. As the alpha of the pack, Aaron should have been concerned by the wariness of his men, but his tightened jaw and stiff stance were evidence that he was just as agitated as them. Ava Valentine stood just behind him, holding his hand. From where she stood, Selena saw the gentle squeezes she gave him every few minutes. He kept his attention on the door, but Selena recognized the calm that seemed to wash over him every time his mate provided him with silent encouragement.
What she wouldn't give to have a man who stood by her like that. Someone to share life's troubles and victories with. Someone to love.
She looked towards the other mated witches and werewolves, a small, subconscious sigh escaping as she did. Jenna and Vince. Liana and the twins, Jarod and Ronan. Along with Ava and Aaron, all of them had been brought together to fight a single foe who threatened all of witchdom and mankind. Somehow the men and women found each other as mates, too.
Selena was happy for all of them. Really, she was. But she wished...just once...
Even though she also made up part of the senior leadership of the coven, somehow the fates had overlooked her. Again.
Not that she minded, but just once it would have been nice to be one of the popular girls. Or one of the pretty girls. Popular and pretty? That would have been just downright greedy. Toss in being able to call herself a powerful witch like one of the others would probably make the world stop spinning on its axis.
She should be content with her part in this battle against Ava's cousin, Dina. She didn't have to put her neck on the line, but maybe she'd perhaps get a chance to offer her healing hands when needed. In the war against Dina's demons, the day would soon come when her skills might be useful to someone. She only had to sit patiently by until then. Ever the wallflower waiting to be noticed.
"Calm, Aaron," Mayda Valentine urged with a gentle voice. Her words weren't meant as an order for the leader. More of a reminder that his men picked up on his tension.
He glanced at her, turning enough so he faced both her and the closed door. "High Priestess, he is dangerous. I'm still not sure about bringing him here."
"He is your brother, Aaron," Ava reminded him.
"He is also unpredictable, Ava." He brought her hand to his mouth and dropped a kiss on the back of her knuckles before releasing her. "That he is my brother has nothing to do with the fact that he is demon-touched and could turn on any of us in a heartbeat. That includes me."
"Let's cross each bridge as we come to it. We need his help."
"But we don't, High Priestess. We don't have to know where the demons are in order to close the portal between the demon realm and ours."
"So rather than bring your brother here, you would risk Ava's life instead?"
He shook his head. "Of course not."
"Then, once again, we should consider the matter settled."
Aaron blew out a breath, but nodded.
Of course it was settled. From the moment one of the twins mentioned Aaron's estranged brother, the witches saw past the possibility of danger to focus on the advantage his curse could bring them all.
In just a few days, Ava would be instilled as the thirteenth High Priestess in a line of familial High Priestesses. Once there, she would have the ability to shut down the portal to the demon realm, keeping the creatures trapped there forever. Her cousin would stop at nothing to prevent that from happening and from absconding with Ava's powers for herself. So far, she'd been thwarted in all of her attempts, but they were quickly running out of options. Their greatest fear was for Dina to become desperate enough to make an attempt against Ava's life. Especially before the power of the coven could be transferred from Mayda to her granddaughter.
To Selena's knowledge, no one asked Aaron how his brother had come to be cursed by the demons, but how on earth had it happened? Werewolves were notoriously difficult to beat, yet somehow a demon managed to hold one down long enough to cast a spell that would make the shifter's life a living hell.
Goose bumps covered her arms as the air rippled. Static charged around them enough for even her to pick up on a new pulse of energy, and pull her from musing. Footsteps, heavy like the weight of doom, came to rest just outside the door and caught her attention.
Her gaze trained on the slow turn of the doorknob, the shifting of the cold metal silent, the lack of noise ominous. Was it any wonder that she watched in fascination while, around her, every werewolf tensed? Whatever walked through the widening space held all of their futures in its hands.
Her breath caught when he, presumably Devin, stepped through. In the doorway stood one of the largest men she'd ever seen. Not just extremely tall, but wide. He filled the space, making it seem too small for him to pass through without turning sideways. Although Devin was Aaron's younger brother, he must have outweighed the brutish alpha leader by a good twenty pounds, if not more.
The familial resemblance had no place to hide. Like his brother, Devin's eyes seemed too dark to be labeled black. They were depthless pools almost hidden behind long tendrils of equally dark, unkempt hair. The cleft in his chin was more pronounced, the angles of his jaw and face more defined. What caught her attention first, though, separated him from his brother right away.
A red handprint, almost claw-like, imprinted his neck. The demon-touch. Some of the fingers of the print fit over his jaw. Part of the palm sat just above his clavicle. He made no effort to hide the mark. His shirt gaped open wide enough to display the imprint and--sweet Lady--a very well-defined chest. His legs were thick like tree trunks, and her imagination admonished her for wondering what might hang in between them.
But a girl had to wonder. There was that saying about the size of a man's hands and feet to consider, after all.
"You must be Devin Remington," Mayda said. With grace, she walked toward him past the phalanx of werewolves, her hand extended.
Devin glanced at her outstretched hand and ignored the peace offering. His raking gaze traveled to where his brother stood. With a gritty voice, he announced, "The Devil Remington."
Selena winced. So, he knew the name the others gave him.
"I wouldn't know about that. I do know that we need your help and I'm very glad you agreed to meet with us." Mayda maintained a smile as she dropped her hand. If she'd been the least bit offended by him, she didn't show any sign.
"Welcome to our home," Ava added. She started forward, but Aaron shifted to block her path. He continued to say nothing to his brother, his silence as telling as any words they could have exchanged.
He pierced Ava with a slanted look. "I am not welcome and we all know it."
Devin stiffened and tilted his chin up. He sniffed the air, holding himself as if invisible hackles rose. His body all but vibrated as he scanned the room. When their eyes locked, Selena held her breath. In that moment, in the milliseconds of time that passed between them, his past, who he was--dear Goddess--their future together, filtered through her mind at rapid-fire speed. Images, emotions, sensations swirled around the core of her being, demanding that she understand. Acquiesce.
She'd never known anything before like it. Before her legs buckled from the weight of his presence sinking into her soul, his voice whispered into her mind.