The trio of witches stared down at the man lying on the ground. He glared up at them, but the immobilization spell prevented him from speaking. Panthea, the eldest of the witches, nudged Matthew with the tip of her boot. Alyce had not believed she would ever see these witches again, yet they had come at her summons.

"What will become of him?" asked Ezra.

"He returns with us to London," said Panthea coolly. "For daring to steal another witch's power, his own will be stripped from him. The rest of his life will be spent in exile."

Ezra crouched beside Matthew and gripped the front of his shirt. "If you come near Alyce again," he growled, "I swear to you, I will hang your guts from the Cornish cliffs."

Alyce thought his words the sweetest she had ever heard.

Though Matthew could not move, his eyes gleamed with terror. He actually appeared somewhat relieved when Ezra released his shirt and stood.

"Come back with us to London, Alyce," Panthea urged. "The coven misses your presence at home."

Alyce caught the scent of the ocean air, and felt the cold breeze sweep up from the cove below. She gazed at Ezra, seeing his tall, strong form outlined against the gleaming sea behind him, and felt a surge of freedom and joy she had never experienced anywhere or with anyone else. His own gaze bright and hot, he held out a hand. Offering it to her.

She walked to him and took his hand. Their fingers wove together, and the heat of him traveled through her. He pulled her close, tucking her against his side. Only she heard his low exhale of relief.

"This is my home now," she said.

Panthea nodded. "As you will it."

"I do," answered Alyce. She summoned her magic, shimmering and alive, and, with a wave of her hand, sent Panthea, Matthew and the other witches back to London. One moment, they stood before her, and the next, they vanished.

The moment the witches disappeared, Ezra's mouth found hers. He tasted spicy and sweet, and her heart swelled with a dangerous joy.

"My lady wife," he murmured against her lips. His hands slipped into her hair, cradling her. "I would have gone with you to London. I would have gone anywhere with you."

"I have come to love this place." She pulled back enough to gaze into his eyes. "I have come to love you."

Fierce happiness shone in his gaze. "Rough smuggler that I am, I can't give you pretty words. I can't cast spells and make rubies from salt."

"I want none of that--"

"But I can give you my love. Will that content you?"

"It will, indeed." Then she kissed him, and neither noticed as the dusk fell around them.

***

Snuggled into bed, with the covers pulled tight around them, Ezra marveled at the woman cradled in his arms. He wondered what blessed star he was born under to bring her to his life. It had to be a kind of magic.

Magic. He pressed his lips to the top of her head. "Alyce, were we not to perform a ritual to make you human?"

"So I had believed." She stroked his chest, and he had a difficult time concentrating on her words when her touch felt so wondrous. "I thought my powers were too strong for me to master them, yet I find that, the more I come to know them, the more I feel that I control the magic, not the other way 'round." She glanced up at him, her violet eyes shining. "I also rather think that having the presence of a courageous man close by keeps me grounded."

"A courageous man? Or this courageous man?"

His breath caught as Alyce shifted to straddle him. She placed her hands upon his shoulders and smiled. "This one, most assuredly. Now," she added, in a businesslike tone, "we must make the most of our true wedding night, for tomorrow, we've much business to attend to."

Ezra did not much want to consider the intricacies of planning the next shipment of silk and brandy, but the livelihood of Portwith depended on it. On him. Glancing out the window, he was dismayed to see the sky turn pale. "We haven't much time left before the sun rises."

Her smile was power and temptation, and utterly irresistible. She waved her hand, and the sky turned the deep indigo of midnight. "Now we have a few more hours all to ourselves."

He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. "I am a lucky man, indeed, to have such a witch for a wife."


THE END!

Thank you, everyone, for sharing in the story! I hope you enjoyed yourselves--I know I did.

Best,
Zoë