Familiar (Paranormal Romance)
Slade Spencer is a warlock in denial. But when he returns to his hometown to find his sweetheart, Susie Vasilly under a curse, he must hone the skills of his Craft or risk her staying cursed as his uncle’s Familiar.
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Excerpt from Familiar:
Slade pushed open the old iron gate, the squeak scaring a few dozen of his uncle’s pet cats which scattered through the high grass and disappeared under the porch or somewhere in Susie’s yard.
He felt his nose tingle and his eyes water. Those damned cats were still affecting him. He’d almost forgotten how miserable he’d been living with his uncle’s three dozen felines. He sneezed loudly, and a few straggling cats hurried on past him out onto the front walkway.
“Damn these cats,” he griped, pulling a fresh handkerchief from his back pocket to wipe his nose.
“God bless you.”
He stopped in mid-motion, afraid to turn around. Afraid he knew only too well which angel belonged to the blessing being sent his way. He put the hanky back without turning to look. It couldn’t be true. It couldn’t be her.
He turned then, half hoping it was only his imagination and not her. But as he expected, Susie stood there with a slight smile on her face and a bag of groceries balanced on one curvy hip. Matter of fact, she had a few curves he didn’t remember the last time he saw her.
“Susie,” he whispered and watched as her peacock-blue eyes lit up when she saw him. Just as he’d remembered. He willed his mouth to speak, but the words wouldn’t come. There was so much he wanted to say to her. So much he wanted to tell her. I’m sorry, for starters, but he knew the words would never be sufficient for what he was supposedly responsible for doing.
“So,” she said, the pregnant pause after the word a little unnerving. “You decided to move back to Caton?”
“Move back?” He was stunned that she’d think he’d come back here to live after what happened. He was even more stunned that she didn’t slap him or punch him or give him the kind of treatment he truly deserved. Instead, little miss Susie Homemaker stood with a bag of groceries balanced on her hip looking as if she were about to invite him in to dinner when she should be running from him instead. Fearless, yet trusting. Just like his Susie.
“No. No, I’m only here on business,” he said, blinking his irritated eyes which the cats always triggered off in him.
“Business?” she asked with a raised brow. “Something to do with the new development plans of the mall they foolishly want to build here?”
“It’s about time Caton had a mall, Susie. This town is dying. If it doesn’t pull in revenue soon it’ll be nothing but a ghost town.”
She looked up at the setting sun just then and her face paled slightly, her eyes losing their sparkle. Her expression changed from one of comfort and nurturing to one of disturbance, anticipation and a little of something he couldn’t explain. Her eyes closed and she swayed. She loosened her grip on her grocery bag and Slade jumped forward, taking it from her hands before it spilled, yet being extra careful not to touch her.
“What’s the matter, Susie? You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.”
The chill of the evening was more noticeable now as the sun started to set on the horizon. He knew she must have felt it too, because he could see the gooseflesh on her bare arms.
“Nothing. I – I’m fine. I’ve just got to go now.”
“No, not yet,” he said. “I have so much to say to you. So much to ask. Do you still live in the house – why’d you come back? I thought you went to live in Europe with your parents. Isn’t that what Aunt Maeve told me?”
She reached for the bag, but Slade caught her by the wrist. She stopped and stared down at his hand, and he realized he may be gripping her too tightly. He quickly released her wrist, cursing himself for doing that. Hadn’t he learned his lesson last time? Still, he told himself he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Oddly enough, he couldn’t help but notice that when he’d grabbed her, her skin felt cold and clammy. Not like the warm, soft skin he’d remembered. Also, her body felt tense and rigid. Then again, it was probably just him triggering off those reactions in her and he couldn’t say he blamed her at all.
“Susie, tell me what’s bothering you. Has Uncle Galen been pestering you again? I know he’s an odd sort of man who can get under one’s skin. He’s not knocking at your door in the middle of the night asking you to help him find a lost cat, is he?”
She looked scared. Her eyes met his for a brief second and then she glanced to the ground at his feet. “No. Galen doesn’t come to my house. Not anymore.”
She pulled the grocery bag from his hands, almost ripping the paper in the process.
“Let me walk you to your door,” he said. “It’s been a long time. Maybe we can have some dinner and -”
“No! No, not tonight.”
It was so unlike her. And such a rapid mood swing from the girl who’d just blessed him when he’d sneezed.
“But I thought that . . .”
“Not tonight,” she whispered with a slight waver to her voice, and hurried off toward her house. She didn’t look back as she ran up the stairs and slammed the door behind her.