Wing Slayer Hunters Series, Book 3
Jennifer Lyon Books (November 2, 2015)
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THEIR LOVE IS DESTINED TO RISE AGAIN
Ailish Donovan is a witch ready to do battle. Raised unaware of her powers, she is just sixteen when her mother tricks her into binding with the demon Asmodeus. Pure-hearted Ailish escapes with the connection incomplete but pays a heavy price: For the next eight years, she is shunned by her earth sisters and tormented by Asmodeus’s lust. After hardening her body and mind as a champion kickboxer, Ailish returns home to break the bond—or die.
The Wing Slayer Hunter Phoenix Torq is sworn to protect earth witches, but he is shaken by Ailish’s fierce independence—and his own forbidden cravings. Dark, impulsive, and haunted by his troubled past, Phoenix likewise arouses Ailish in ways she finds disturbing—and irresistible. Torn between mistrust and desire, each must go to hell and back to seek the magic that could set them both free.
Read an Excerpt
DAYS REMAINING ON HANDFAST CONTRACT: FOURTEEN
Ailish Donovan was home for the family reunion from hell.
She stood at the French doors of the small house she’d rented as the sun sank into the horizon. It had been nearly eight years since she’d seen a sunset or anything else. As a witch she was connected to the earth elements that fed her powers, so she could feel the day slipping away and the long fingers of darkness spreading across Glassbreakers, California. The darkness fed her mood, her tightly controlled anger, her determination.
With her right hand, she touched the binding around her left wrist. It was about an inch wide with a rounded shape that felt like a snug plastic bracelet, but it was indestructible. Once it had been plain rope that had been twisted by dark magic into a handfast binding. Nothing broke through it, no magic, no knife, no bolt cutters, not even fire. She’d tried every possible way, but nothing worked.
Thanks to her mother’s betrayal and trickery, she was handfasted to the demon Asmodeus. If the handfast was completed, Ailish would become a demon witch. Asmodeus would own her soul in exchange for dark powers. No way was she giving her soul to a demon. She had no intention of spending eternity in the Underworld as a minion.
All this added up to Ailish being one pissed-off witch. But she’d learned how to channel her anger into action, and she’d trained her body into a weapon. She was one of the top professional women kickboxers in the country. Being blind got her noticed, but her skills, speed, and power won her titles.
And now she’d come home, back to where it all started eight years ago, to win the most crucial battle of her life—break the handfast and face down her mother. Knowing her mother, she was sure it would be a fierce battle. Maeve Donovan was the high witch of the Deus’Donovan coven. She was a determined and dangerous demon witch who had never loved Ailish, only used her to gain more power.
Ailish might have run away a scared little girl, but she’d come home ready to fight. That meant she’d use every advantage, including the magic in her voice. When she sang, all magic was enhanced. She didn’t know how far her power reached, but she sensed it radiated for miles. It was the same power that had led to her blindness, but this time she intended to get control of it.
She would find the way to control her voice power. She had to.
“Ailish, here’s the knife,” Haley Ryan said from behind her.
She shut and locked the French doors, then turned and held out her hand. “It’s all silver?”
“Yes,” Haley answered. “I got it from some witch hunter friends. They always carry silver knives.”
The knife was cool in her palm, about eight inches in length. She felt the smooth hilt, then ran her fingers along the flat side of the blade. “Thanks, Haley. You’ve been a huge help. But you need to go.” Worry for her friend edged along her spine. Haley had insisted on helping Ailish get settled before flying out to Washington, D.C., where she was lobbying for more funding for her homeless shelter. But the woman was mortal and all too vulnerable; she needed to leave.
“My car won’t be here for a half hour or so.” Haley moved into the kitchen, then came back and set two glasses on the table. “Iced tea. How long do you think it’ll be before the coven knows you’re here?”
Ailish sat, placed the knife carefully on the table, then found her tea glass and took a sip. All she could see of Haley was a gray shadow across the table. Did she still wear her hair in a thick blond bob? When Ailish had seen her last, Haley had been slim, with an athletic build. She’d had piercing blue eyes that saw right through bullshit. Bringing her thoughts back to the question, she lifted her wrist. “Since I’m wearing the ultimate tracking device, the demon knows, and he’s told the coven. To night, they’ll summon Asmodeus into a mortal’s body and try to seduce me into the Claiming Rite that will finish the binding.” And turn her into a demon witch. She shivered at the thought. The handfast binding created a link between her and the demon that not only allowed him to track her, but could also ramp up her lust until just a simple touch from a man would create a painful hunger in her.
Haley set her glass down with a determined thump. “I’m canceling this trip.”
“Hell, no. My mother tried to kill you to get to me.” She wouldn’t let her. Ailish would use magic if necessary to force Haley to get on that plane.
“What’s your plan, Ailish? Why come back now? What’s the knife for?” Worry and frustration underlined her short, sharp questions.
Ailish reached out and touched the knife. “Silver conducts magic. Since my voice enhances all power when I sing, I should be able to focus enough of it into the silver knife and cut the binding.”
Haley sucked in her breath. “Can you open your fifth chakra? You’ll need it to control that magic. If you can’t control it . . .”
“I know, Haley,” she said dryly, reaching up to touch the thin, spidery scars around her eyes. Right after she ran away at sixteen, her mother had found her with Haley. Furious, Maeve Donovan had used her dark magic to strangle Haley in retaliation. Ailish had panicked and begun to sing, sending out the waves of uncontrolled enhancement. The car windshield had exploded, hitting her mother in the eyes.
The witch-karma backlash blinded Ailish. In doing her mother an injury, she’d lost her own sight. In one lifechanging moment, she had learned the brutal price of using her powers to cause harm.
Shaking off the memory, she said, “I’m physically much stronger now.” She had to be. She couldn’t use her powers to protect herself because of witch karma, so she’d honed her body into a weapon with kickboxing. The beauty of all that training was the added strength in her mindbody connection, giving her more control of her first four chakras.
“That’s good, but you need more than your elemental magic in your first four chakras to control the power. Have you been able to open your fifth chakra?”
“No.” The failure tasted bitter. Without a familiar, few witches could open their fifth, sixth, or seventh chakra. A curse three de cades ago had broken the witches’ bonds with their familiars.
“Then what makes you think you’ll be able to use your voice to cut the binding?”
“I’ve been using it. When I get stuck in the dreams”—she tried not to shudder as the memories tormented her, memories of the nights Asmodeus had used the link between them to force sex dreams on her that took her to the edge of desperation—“I can wake myself by singing. If my voice can break the demon’s hold on my dreams, then it should work when I’m awake.” It had to, it was her only hope.
“I still think you’re taking too big a risk by being in Glassbreakers, where the coven is. Why now, Ailish?”
She wished she could see Haley’s face. All those years ago, after her mother’s attack, Ailish had expected Haley to revile her, to hate her because she was the daughter of a demon witch. But Haley hadn’t. Instead, she’d thought Ailish to be some kind of hero for fighting her mom. Hero . . . the idea was laughable. She was handfasted to a demon! She’d lived for sixteen years with her mother and the coven without grasping what they were doing, how they were hurting people. Haley had known the terrible things demon witches did, like stealing homeless girls for sacrifices. Yet in Ailish, Haley saw something . . . worthy.
It had been Haley who used her connections with homeless shelters across the state of California to get Ailish out of Glassbreakers and away from her mother.
But Ailish had never told Haley this part. In fact, over the years, she’d kept their contact minimal so her mother wouldn’t try to use Haley to get to her. She’d waited until just before Haley had to leave to tell her. “The handfast binding contract is for eight years. It ends on my twenty-fourth birthday in two weeks.”
Haley set her glass down sharply. “What does that mean? You’ll be free if you don’t submit to the Claiming Rite?”
“No. Not if I still have the binding on.” She lifted her wrist.
“But then what . . . Oh God, no.” Haley’s voice rose in horror. “You’ll die?”
Maybe it was better that she couldn’t see Haley’s expression. “Yes.” Then she forced a smile she didn’t quite feel. “But at least I won’t be a demon witch. Even better, my mother and her coven will die with me.”