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The Curse of Nefarr

Author(s): Pamela T. Blackwood

Griffin McCallum knows the inky darkness of grief. He feels the weight of regret on shoulders well accustomed to the mantle of responsibility. Of duty. Commander of the vast Defender army, Griffin rules with blades of steel and a mind for strategy. Yet in the dead of night, he surrenders to the abyss of the past, the pain and loss a mire he can’t escape. When a powerful shape-shifting leopard bespells one of his own men, Griffin hunts the great cat himself. The promise of death hangs over his head.
 
Annalissa de Biassi is an accomplished thief. Three years ago, the theft of a golden cuff seemed so harmless and the promise of a rich reward was too tempting to ignore. What she got instead was a curse by Darrin Wilson, a man who seemed to defy the laws of time and space. When the spell ends—five days from now, so does Lissa.
 
When Griffin finds Lissa, something within him awakens. After so long, he dares to reach for an emotion he’d thought long gone. But Darrin wants Lissa dead, retribution for what she took. Now Griffin’s past threatens to repeat itself unless he can find a way to break the dual spell Darrin put on Lissa. With no time left, he must now save not only one of his warriors but also the beautiful thief who gives him a reason to live.

Excerpt


His gaze dropped to her fingers. The suteka, at one time familiar, traveled up his arm and through his entire body. It warmed him, made him think of wet kisses and the press of sweaty bodies locked in passion. Memories of long ago.
He pulled away. “Do you have any special needs, ah, as a wolf?”
“No, just feed me once a night. I don’t eat much. Throw me a steak and I’ll be happy.” She smiled distantly, as if her thoughts had whisked her away.
“No need for blood?”
Her eyebrows went up. “Blood? Yuck. No. No, I’m a wolf, not a vampire.”
Griffin tilted his head to regard her.
She sighed. “I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Nothing is going to change, and it certainly does not make me feel any better.”
“You don’t know that. We know people who practice magic. In fact, many live up in the mountains near my cabin. Someone might be able to help.”
“You’d do that for me?” She touched his hair again and smiled. “Help me live?”
“Yes, I would.” Griffin shifted again. She had the most amazing smile. She found one of the two long braids he wore at the nape of his neck and idly played with it. “It’s that benny whatever thing, isn’t it? If I was going to live, you’d be my husband, wouldn’t you?”
Griffin retrieved his braid, got up and stepped around her. “You know about that?”
“Mackenzie told me. Said we were perfect mates. Benny-wakka something.”
“Benekedas. It means ‘true mates’ in the old language.”
“Right. She mentioned that. What old language?” Annalissa sat in the chair he’d just vacated, leaned back, and looked up.
“Aluskarian. The language of our kind. I’m Eskarian.”
“You said that before. Immortal. I got that.” She fell silent. Her gaze dropped to her hands, now neatly folded in her lap. “Must be nice to not worry about time.”
Her soft words tugged at his heart. He dropped to a crouch beside the chair. “Annalissa—”
“Please,” she interrupted. “Call me Lissa.”
Catching a strand of her hair, he let it slowly sift through his fingers. “Lissa…if I can find a way to save you, I will. I promise you that much.”
“I don’t think Darrin will let you save me, if you want to know the truth. He wants me dead.”
Griffin’s eyes narrowed. “Who is this Darrin?” He knew all the wizards in the Pacific Northwest. Darrin didn’t sound familiar.
“The guy that made me what I am and took all my time away. I don’t know. Some rich asshole who lives in Seattle. I was paid to steal the cuff from him and somehow—I don’t know how—he found me and demanded I give it back. The deal had gone bad by then. The woman who’d contracted me bailed, so I sold the cuff to compensate for my loss. When I couldn’t give it back, he made me a wolf.” Her eyelids drifted down. She let out a heavy sigh. “I’d give anything to take back that day. Anything.”
Griffin stood up. If he could find this guy today, maybe with a little persuasion, the iharrau, the jerk, would lift the curse and they could celebrate tonight. “Let’s go find Darrin. I want to know who—and what—he is.”
Before she could say anything, he picked up his leather bomber jacket from the bed and was out the door, cell phone already in hand. He tapped in two numbers.
“Kat,” he said. “Lissa needs something to wear right now. Do you have something she could borrow?” He listened to her response. “Okay, thanks.” He snapped the phone shut.
Now he had something to go on. Darrin lived in Seattle and was wealthy. If he was also human, he’d be easy to find.
He sent a silent call to the chauffeur and swore to all the gods that if Jeremy took too long to bring the limo around, he’d find himself marooned in the Arctic.
The click of his boot heels echoed in the long hallway, seemingly the only sound in the massive house.
As he barreled through the kitchen, Christopher looked up from the dining room table. “How’s the new—”
Griffin shot him a glare. “Not now, Christopher.”
He slammed the front door behind him. The limousine had not yet arrived, so there he stood, impatient and annoyed that he had to wait, even one moment. Reaching into his pocket, he felt his Eskarian dagger, a forked beauty with gemstones set into handle, and etchings on the twin blades. Darrin was about to get intimate with those blades.
Where was that damned limo?
The front door opened and closed behind him. Without looking, he knew who stood there. “What.”
Christopher paused beside him. “I might ask you the same thing.”
“Annalissa—Lissa was bespelled by some guy in Seattle. Now that I have a name and an approximate location, I need to go have a little chat with him. And then likely waste his ass.”
Christopher remained silent, his gaze hot against Griffin’s profile. Seconds turned into minutes and still, neither said a word. Finally, Griffin faced his friend. Evidently, the limo wasn’t going to arrive anytime soon.
“Did you forget anything?” Christopher leaned against the house, idly chewing on a toothpick, arms crossed over his chest.
Griffin shook his head. “No.”
The heavy oak door opened again, and Annalissa stepped out into the morning. Griffin’s heart rate shot up at the mere sight of her. She’d changed into faded blue jeans that sat low on her hips, and a white sweatshirt. Her long blonde hair was bound at her nape with a tie. The white shell necklace amplified the warm glow of her skin. She was so beautiful. Sensual. Her wolf-like movements captivated him utterly.
“Your mate, maybe?” Christopher stepped into the doorway, holding the door open. “She wandered into the kitchen and asked where you’d gone. She’s a wolf, Griffin, not a psychic. Do try to keep that in mind.”
He left, closing the door behind him.
Lissa’s gaze rested on him. He glanced at her once, but quickly looked away, uncertain about what he should say. Again. Christopher had been right.
So had Ian.
Maybe having Michael around would be a good thing.
He reached up to fiddle with the tiny gold crosses that dangled from double piercings in his right ear lobe, and turned to smile at her, a simple apology.
She looked away.
He heaved a sigh of relief when the limousine pulled up. Jeremy stepped out of the car and swung around to open the back doors.
Griffin turned to regard Lissa. Ian’s words stuck in the back of his mind. Work with her. “I’d like to have a little chat with Darrin. Do you know where I can find him?”
She shook her head. “No. He usually finds me.”
“No problem. I’ll manage. Let’s go shopping. You need some new clothes. I’d like to buy them for you.” Griffin held out a hand toward the limo, and Lissa silently crawled into the back-facing seat of the car.
He followed to sit opposite her, settling back against the soft leather, stretching to work out the tension in his shoulders. Absently, he watched Jeremy return to the wheel, engage the drive, and roll up the privacy window.
Even at this distance, the sutekan heat between them was so strong, he couldn’t think. Her lips were full and moist and he knew, just knew, she’d taste like the sweetest honey or the finest wine. If he’d had the time, he would’ve scooped her into his arms, whispered his vows, and then taken her on the floor of the limo.
The words to bind them together were on the tip of his tongue, ready to spill forth. Words he hadn’t thought about in more than five hundred years. That long, already? He wondered if they’d really come out so easily. Tragedy had marred the last time he’d spoken them and after that, his life had descended into a black mire. Would it really be that simple to just lift himself from that dark place and reclaim the light? He was almost afraid—no, he was afraid to try. He was, damn it. They said time healed all wounds, but if you buried that wound deep enough, it could quietly fester for a very long time. Maybe forever.

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ISBN (Print): The Eskarian Series: Book 2
ISBN (Electronic): 978-1-60180-068-8
Genre: Paranormal
Date Published: 11/28/2011
Publisher: Mojocastle Press

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