PRAISE FOR WITCH FURY
“Full of action, excitement, and sexy fun . . . Another delectable tale that will keep youreyes glued to every word.”
—Bitten by Books
“Hot romance, interesting characters, intriguing demons, and powerful emotions. I didn’t wantto put it down and now that I’ve finished this book, I’m ready for the next!”
—Night Owl Romance Reviews
PRAISE FOR WITCH HEART
“[A] fabulous tale . . . The story line is fast-paced from the onset . . . Fans will enjoy thethird bewitching blast.”
—Genre Go Round Reviews
“Smart, dangerous, and sexy as hell, the witches are more than a match for the warlocks anddemons who’d like nothing more than to bring hell to earth and enslave mankind. Always anexhilarating read.”
“Witch Heart is a story that will captivate its readers. It will hook you from the first fewpages and then take you on a wild ride. It is a fast-paced story but it is also a story thatwill make you feel emotion. Anya Bast uses words like Monet used paint. It’s vibrant. It’salive. Readers will be able to see the story come to life as it just leaps out of the pages.”
—Bitten by Books
PRAISE FOR WITCH BLOOD
“Any paranormal fan will be guaranteed a Top Pick read. Anya has provided it all in this hotnew paranormal series. You get great suspense, vivid characters, and a world that just pops offthe pages . . . Not to be missed.”
—Night Owl Romance Reviews
“Gritty danger and red-hot sensuality make this book and series smoking!”
PRAISE FOR WITCH FIRE
“Deliciously sexy and intriguingly original.”
—USA Today bestselling author Angela Knight
“Sizzling suspense and sexy magic are sure to propel this hot new series onto the charts. Bastis a talent to watch, and her magical world is one to revisit.”
“A sensual feast sure to sate even the most finicky of palates. Richly drawn, dynamiccharacters dictate the direction of this fascinating story. You can’t miss with Anya.”
—A Romance Review
“Fast-paced, edgy suspense . . . The paranormal elements are fresh and original. This readerwas immediately drawn into the story from the opening abduction, and obsessively read straightthrough to the dramatic final altercation. Bravo, Ms. Bast; Witch Fire is sure to be a fan
—ParaNormal Romance Reviews
“A fabulously written ultimate romance. Anya Bast tells a really passionate story and leavesyou wanting more . . . The elemental witch series will be a fantastic read.”
—The Romance Readers Connection
“A terrific romantic fantasy starring two volatile lead characters . . . The relationshipbetween fire and air [makes] the tale a blast to read.”—The Best Reviews
Berkley Sensation Titles by Anya Bast
WITCH HEART WITCH FURY
Heat Titles by Anya Bast
THE CHOSEN SIN
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product ofthe author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons,living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Thepublisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author orthird-party websites or their content.
A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author
Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / January 2010
Copyright ? 2010 by Anya Bast
Excerpt from Cruel Enchantment copyright ? 2010 by Anya Bast
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eISBN : 978-1-101-19544-4
BERKLEY ? SENSATION
Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of PenguinGroup (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014. BERKLEY ? SENSATION and the“B” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
This book is dedicated to my husband and my daughter
for filling every day with love, laughter, and support.
I cherish even the everyday domestic annoyances.
I am lost without you.
Thanks to Lauren Dane and Jody Wallace for giving me their proofing skills and opinions when Idesperately needed them.
Thanks to Brenda Maxfield for always being my sounding board and for listening to me prattle onabout my stories and characters.
Major appreciation to Axel de Roy, the brilliant artist who created the interactive map ofPiefferburg that can be found on my website. I have loved your art for the last fifteen years,just about the same amount of time I’ve been married to your good friend.
And an extra thanks to my husband for not only putting up with me when I’m stressed and/ordeadline-frenzied, but for suggesting the brilliant name of Faemous for the human media
coverage of the Seelie Court.
“SEX incarnate,” the women and men around her whispered. “Half incubus.”
Aislinn didn’t know if it was true, but she did know the man was Unseelie in a Seelie Court.That didn’t happen very often, so she stared just like everyone else as he passed down thecorridor.
Dressed head to toe in black, wearing Doc Martens, a pair of faded jeans, and a long coat overa thin crewneck sweater that defined his muscular chest, he seemed to possess every inch of thehallway he tread. He walked with such confidence it gave the illusion he took up more spacethan was physically possible. Seelie nobles shrank in his wake though they tried to stand firmand proud. Not even the most powerful ones were immune. Others postured and drew up straighter,offering challenge to some imaginary threat in their midst. Not even the gold and rose-bedeckedImperial Guard seemed immune from his passing, as if they sensed a marauder in their midst.
And maybe this man was a marauder.
No one knew anything about him other than that the dark magick running through his Unseelieveins was both lethal and sexual in nature. The court buzzed with the news of his arrival andhis meeting with the Summer Queen, High Royal of the Seelie Tuatha Dé Danann.
According to gossip, Gabriel Cionaodh Marcus Mac Braire had been welcomed past the threshold ofthe gleaming rose quartz tower of the Seelie Court because he was petitioning the Summer Queenfor permanent residence, a subject that had received a huge amount of attention from Seelienobles. Predictably, most of the people against it were men.
Gabriel, it was said, held Seelie blood in his veins, but the incubus Unseelie part of himovershadowed it. The rumors went that he was catnip to females and—when his special brand ofmagick was wielded at full force between the sheets—he possessed the power to enslave a woman.The afflicted female would become addicted to him. She’d stop eating and sleeping, wantingnothing more than his touch, until she finally died from longing and self-neglect.
Just the thought made Aislinn shudder, yet it didn’t seem to deter his female admirers. Maybethat was because no one had ever heard of any woman who’d suffered that fate. If this mancould use sex like a deadly weapon, apparently he never did.
Yet some kind of sexual magick did seem to pour from him. Something intangible, subtle, andseductive.
Watching him now, so self-assured and beautiful, Aislinn could see the allure. His long blackcoat melded with his shoulder-length dark hair until she wasn’t sure where one began and theother ended. A gorgeous fallen angel whose every movement promised a night filled with thedarkest, most dangerous erotic pleasure? There was nothing to find uninteresting. Even herself,jaded and pride pricked by “love” as she currently was, could see the attraction.
That attraction, of course, was the stock-in-trade of an incubus and Gabriel was at least half,if court gossip was to be believed. But for all his dark beauty and lethal charm, and despitethat odd, subtle magick, he didn’t entice Aislinn. To her, he screamed danger. Perhaps that
especiallywas because of the very humbling public breakup she’d just endured. All men, attractive ones, looked like trouble to her now.
“Wow,” said her friend Carina, coming to stand beside her. “I see what everyone was talkingabout. He’s really . . .” She trailed off, her eyebrows rising into her ebony hairline.
“He’s really what?” Carina’s husband growled, coming up from behind them to twine his armsaround his wife’s waist.
“Really potent,” Carina answered. “That man’s magick is so strong that even standing in hiswake a woman feels a little intoxicated, but it’s false.” She turned and embraced Drem. “Myattraction to you is completely real.” Her voice, low and honey soft, convinced everyonewithin hearing range of her honesty.
“Do you think he’s ‘potent,’ Aislinn?” Drem asked, curving his thin lips into a teasingsmile.
She watched the man disappear through the ornate gold and rose double doors leading into thethrone room at the end of the hallway. The last thing she saw was the trailing edge of hiscoat. Behind him scurried a cameraman and a slick, well-heeled commentator from Faemous, the
annoying human twenty-four-hour “news” coverage of the Seelie Court that the Summer Queenfound so amusing. “A woman would have to be dead not to see his virility, but if he’s got anyspecial sex magick, it’s not affecting me.”
Drem shifted his green eyes from her to stare at the end of the hallway where the man haddisappeared. “So detached and cool, Aislinn?”
She shrugged. “He doesn’t make me hot.”
“You’re the only one,” Carina muttered. Her husband gave her a playful swat on her butt forpunishment. She gasped in surprise and then laughed. “Look over there. He’s the reason no menare making you hot right now.”
Aislinn followed Carina’s gaze to see Kendal in all his glittering blond glory. He stood with
her friends—in the meet-and-greet area to socializea couple of friends—people who used to be
outside the court doors.
Kendal locked gazes with her, but Aislinn merely looked away as though she hadn’t noticed him.She’d wasted too much time on him already. She could hardly believe she’d ever thought she’dloved him. Kendal was a social climber, nothing more. He’d used her to further his position atcourt, for the prestige of dating one of the queen’s favorites, and then tossed her aside. Ithad worked for him, too. That was the truly galling part.
“I have nothing to say to him,” Aislinn said in the coolest tone she could manage.
Carina stared at him, her jaw set. “Well, I do.” She began to walk across the corridor towardhim.
Aislinn caught her hand and squeezed. “No, please, don’t. Thank you for being furious withhim on my account, but that’s what he wants. The attention feeds his ego and Kendal doesn’tdeserve it.”
deserving of.”“I can tell you what that weasel is
Aislinn laughed. “You’re a good friend, Carina.”
The doors at the end of the corridor opened and a male hobgoblin court attendant stepped out,dressed in the gold and rose livery of the Rose Tower. “The queen requests the presence ofAislinn Christiana Guinevere Finvarra.”
Aislinn frowned and stilled, looking toward the doors at the end of the corridor through whichGabriel Cionaodh Marcus Mac Braire had recently disappeared. Why would the queen wish to seeher?
Carina pushed her forward, breaking her momentary paralysis. Aislinn moved down the corridoramid the hush of voices around her. She’d grown used to being the topic of court gossiplately. The Seelie nobles didn’t have much to do besides get into each other’s business.Magick wasn’t a valuable commodity here, practiced and perfected, like it was in the UnseelieCourt.
She entered the throne room and the heavy double doors closed behind her with a loud thump.Caoilainn Elspeth Muirgheal, the High Royal of the Seelie Tuatha Dé Danann, sat on her throne.Gabriel stood before her, his back to Aislinn. The Imperial Guard, men and women of less pureSeelie Tuatha Dé blood, lined the room, all standing at attention in their gleaming gold androse helms and hauberks.
It always gave her shivers to stand in the throne room before the queen. Arched ceilings hand-painted with frescoes of the battle of Cath Maige Tuired, depicting the Sídhe taking over
Ireland from the Firbolg, who were humans in their less evolved and more animalistic form,instilled a sense of awe in all who entered. Gold-veined marble floors stretched under hershoes, reaching to rose quartz pillars and walls. It was a cold place despite the warm colors,full of power, designed to intimidate and control.
The Unseelie, Gabriel, seemed utterly unaffected. In fact, the way he stood—feet slightlyapart, head held high, and a small, secretive smile playing over his lips—made him seem almostinsolent.
The Faemous film crew had been allowed within. They stood near a far wall, the light of thecamera trained on the Summer Queen and Gabriel. Though now the camera turned to recordAislinn’s entrance. The silver-haired female commentator—Aislinn thought her name was Hollysomething—whispered into her mike, describing the goings-on.
Ignoring the film crew, as she always did, she halted near the incubus, yet kept a gooddistance. The last thing she was going to do was fawn like most women. Out of the corner of hereye, she saw him do a slow upward appraisal of her, the kind men do when they’re clearlywondering what a woman looks like without her clothes. He wasn’t even trying to hide it. Maybe
he was so arrogantly presumptuous that he felt he didn’t have to.
Aislinn was seriously beginning to dislike this man.
She curtsied deeply to the queen, difficult in her tight Rock & Republic jeans. If she hadknown she was going to be called into court, she would have worn something a little looser . .. and a bit more formal. Today she was wearing a gray V-neck sweater and wedge-heeled blackboots with her jeans. She’d twisted her hair up and only dashed on makeup. This was not anevent she’d planned for.
The queen, as always, was dressed in heavy brocade, silk, and lace. Today her color theme was arich burgundy and cream, her skirts pooling at her feet like a bloody ocean. The royal’s longpale hair was done up in a series of intricate braids and heavy ruby jewelry glittered at herears and nestled at the base of her slender, pale throat. She wore no makeup because shedidn’t need it. Her beauty was flawless and chilly. Her style, as ever, old-fashioned. Itworked for her.
Caoilainn Elspeth Muirgheal gestured with a slim hand, the light catching on her many rings.“Aislinn, please meet Gabriel Mac Braire. He is petitioning the Seelie Court for residency, incase you hadn’t already heard. It seems word has spread through court about it. I am stillconsidering his case. As you know, we don’t often grant such requests.”
Yes, but there were precedents. Take Ronan Quinn, for example. He was a part-blood druid andUnseelie mage. He’d successfully petitioned the Summer Queen for residency in the Rose Towerover thirty years ago because he’d fallen in love with Bella, Aislinn’s best friend. Not longafter his residency had been granted Ronan lost Bella and consequently fell into a state ofreckless despondency that had lasted for decades. Last year he’d pulled some mysterious jobfor the Phaendir that had nearly gotten him beheaded by the Summer Queen. In the end, Ronan hadretained his life and won Bella back—but both had been banished from the Rose Tower aspunishment for Ronan’s transgressions. Aislinn didn’t know where they were now.
She missed Bella every single day. Bella had been the only one to know her deepest and darkestsecrets. Without her presence, she felt utterly alone.
That entire story aside, Ronan Quinn was one example of an Unseelie male who’d managed to finda place in the Rose. Gabriel, like Ronan, was exceedingly good-looking. That would weighheavily in his favor. The queen couldn’t resist a virile, highly magicked man.
“He’ll be staying here for the next week and I have decided you shall be his guide andgeneral helpmeet while he’s here.”
“Me?” Aislinn blinked. “Why me?” The question came out of her mouth before she could thinkit through and she instantly regretted it. One did not question Caoilainn Elspeth Muirgheal;one simply obeyed.
not you?”The Summer Queen lifted a pale, perfectly arched brow. “Why
“With all respect due you, my queen, I think—”
“Do you have a problem with my judgment?”
Oh, this was getting more and more dangerous with every word the queen uttered. The room hadchilled a bit, too, a result of the Seelie Royal’s mood affecting her magick. Aislinnshivered. “No, my queen.”
Gabriel glanced over at her with a mocking smile playing on his sensual, luscious lips.
Nope, she didn’t like him one bit even if he did have sensual, luscious lips.
“That’s a good answer, Aislinn. Do you have a problem with Gabriel? Most women would kill tospend time with him.” The queen gestured airily with one hand. “I thought I was doing you afavor after your . . . unfortunate incident with Kendal.”
Oh, sweet lady Danu. Aislinn gritted her teeth before answering. “I don’t have a problem withhim, my queen.”
The queen clapped her hands together, making Aislinn jump. “Good, that’s all settled then.You’re both dismissed.”
Aislinn turned immediately and walked out of the throne room, Gabriel following. She didn’tlike having him behind her. It made her feel like a gazelle being stalked by a lion. He’d soonfind out this gazelle had fight. There was no way she was going to lie down and show him hervulnerable, soft stomach . . . or any other part of her body.
They exited into a corridor thronged with curious onlookers. Carina, partway down the hall withDrem, made a move to walk to Aislinn, but Aislinn held up a hand to stop her. All eyes were onher and Gabriel. She didn’t want to linger here and she really didn’t want anyone listening
Faemous for the juicyin on their conversation and using it to weave rumor. They could watch
details, just like everyone else.
Falling into step beside her, Gabriel surveyed the scene and ran a hand over his stubble-dusted, clefted chin. “Is it always like this over here?” His voice, deep and low, remindedher of dark chocolate.
“Like what?” she snapped in annoyance.
He encompassed the corridor with a sweep of his hand as they made their way down. “All theSeelie nobles standing around and gossiping.” He glanced at her stern expression and sobered.“Never mind. Forget I mentioned it.”
“Insulting my home is not a good way to start things off, Mac Braire.”
“Call me Gabriel, and I wasn’t insulting it. I was making an observation. I want this to bemy home, too, remember? That’s why I’m here.”
“Sounded like an insult to me,” she muttered, hightailing it away from the clumps of Seelienobles doing exactly what he’d just accused them of. Although he walked faster than she did.She had to fight to keep up with the strides of his longer legs.
“How does the Shadow King feel about your defection from the Black? He can’t be very happy.”
Gabriel gave a low laugh. “He’s not. I’m taking a huge gamble. If the Summer Queen rejectsme and I lose the protection of the Seelie Court, I may lose my head, too.”
“You don’t seem all that nervous about it.”
“I don’t live my life in fear. Anyway, I’ve lived so long that I’m a thrill seeker.Anything to break up the monotony. Anything for change, Aislinn.”
The way he pronounced her name sent a shiver down her spine. He rolled it on his tongue like aFrench kiss, smooth and sweet as melting candy.
It made her miss a step and deepened her annoyance.
She picked up her pace and matched his strides once more. “Listen, I don’t know why the queenselected me for this job, but the last thing I want to do right now is babysit you.” Ouch.That had been harsh. She winced as the words echoed through her head. He hadn’t done anythingto her and she wasn’t sure why she was feeling so hostile. It had to be because of her recentbreakup with Kendal. Gabriel reminded her of him.
Every man reminded her of him.
She still felt so raw and vulnerable. She needed time alone to lick her wounds and heal. Thelast thing she wanted was to be forced into spending time with an obvious womanizer who couldwield sex as a weapon. Literally. Perhaps she was using this man as a scapegoat for her woundedpride and broken heart. If so, that was wrong . . . yet she couldn’t seem to help herself.
He halted, hand on her elbow. “Whoa. Look, Aislinn, if you feel so strongly about it, I’msure I can find someone else to ‘babysit’ me.”
She winced again, turning to face him. She was being a bitch and needed to rein it in. Regretpinched her and she opened her mouth to apologize.