To Trap A Temptress (Southern Sanctuary - Book 2), страница 1
To Trap a Temptress
Southern Sanctuary – Book Two
Copyright©2013. All rights reserved by the author. Do not copy or re-distribute.
This is a work of fiction.
Front cover design; Fiona Jayde
For Jodie. Friend and Goddess. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a big sister like you.
“She needs to be sassy and strong-willed. A woman capable of standing her ground when faced with a predatory dominant male used to getting his own way. She’ll need a backbone made of steel combined with an alluring sensuality that would tempt the most hardened and cynical of men to fall for her charms. Maybe Gigi… or Darcy, now there’s a firecracker.” Great Aunt Alma clucked her tongue twice as she reviewed her options out loud.
“What you need is a Temptress.” A husky unfamiliar voice offered her opinion.
“Exactly.” Alma crowed approvingly. “A Temptress!”
“So not the sister then?” Alma’s acquaintance queried. “The Doctor?”
“Nell?” Alma laughed as if her companion had made the funniest joke ever. “Goddess no!” Alma paused trying to catch her breath. “Nell’s lovely, don’t get me wrong but to match her up with one of the Warrior Elite? Oh no, she’s way too… nice.”
Ouch! They say eavesdroppers never hear good things about themselves, well Nell Montgomery could attest to that as she inched lower in her chair, high colour blooming in her cheeks, her normally serene deep blue eyes darkening to indigo with anger. She’d passed wishing the ground would open up and swallow her about five minutes ago and was now praying to the Goddess above for a lightning bolt or at the very least a targeted air strike.
Talk about a day for being on the receiving end of a series of back handed bitch slaps.
The first sour note in Nell’s day had sounded just after dawn when she’d been jolted awake by the insistent ringing of her mobile phone. It seems her good friend Julie had accidently butt dialled her. Still half asleep Nell had listened as Julie and the rest of the ten year medical school reunion committee, having arrived at the five star Fijian resort early to set up for the four day event, tried to decide on the fake awards they would announce during the final night dinner. The group had sounded more than a little tipsy as they threw around ideas - biggest flirt, most divorced, biggest God complex, most boring. There was more laughter and then Devon Patel’s voice, dripping with derision, had cut through the laughter.
“Well we all know who would win the last category hands down.”
Julie made an attempt at a half-hearted protest. “Dev, don’t be mean.”
“I’m just stating the facts. Come on, if I say the words studious, focused, obliging, predictable and downright sweet, you all know who I’m talking about right?”
There was a bout of too loud laughter and then as one the group cried out. “Nell Montgomery!”
“See.” Devon’s voice mocked Nell down the phone line. “And we have our winner!”
Nell had forced herself to hit the disconnect button and tried in vain to go back to sleep, but that had proven an elusive quest as Devon’s disdainful voice and mocking laughter whirled around in her head taunting her. How had all her good qualities become so tainted? When had being nice, helpful and obliging become a bad thing?
Thankfully her futile attempt at getting back to sleep was interrupted yet again by the ringing of her phone. The second call of the day providing her with the best distraction ever, a genuine medical magical mystery. Getting dressed and ready in record time she’d headed straight to her cousin Riya’s place to make an emergency house call, and what a doozy that had turned out to be. The rest of the morning had been just as frantic as she raced around the countryside in an attempt to meet the needs and demands of her large extended family and their medical and sometimes mystical ailments.
She was too obliging, too nice. Thanks to her inability to just say no she’d only just made it to the afternoon party in time to witness the formal melding of her cousin Hadleigh to her gorgeous warrior partner Vaughn. Not only had she almost missed the vows and blood sharing officiated by the Head of their magically enhanced clan Great Uncle Edward but she was stuck in her work clothes. Depicting the proverbial buttoned up nun whilst all her female relatives in comparison looked pretty and relaxed in their flimsy summer party dresses, happily mixing and mingling with the sudden influx of male guests today as Hadleigh’s Valhalla relatives descended on them for the party.
Nell should have been out there with them but instead she found herself cowering behind a flower arrangement, trapped by the presence of her Great Aunt Alma standing not two feet away. According to… well mainly her big brother Edward, Leader of the Sanctuary, Alma was a lovely woman. And Nell was sure if she’d ever taken the opportunity to spend time in Alma’s presence she might well feel the same. Except that was never going to happen because Great Aunt Alma was the family match maker, returned to the family fold after a long absence, renown for wielding her skills with all the finesse of a Sherman tank. In fact that was the ‘not so secret’ nickname a lot of the older generation had assigned to her. If Alma were to be compared to a force of nature Nell was pretty sure it would be a Cyclone.
Goddess darn it, if her skirt hadn’t been so tight she could have crawled out from her hiding place and made good her escape. Or perhaps if she were less impolite by nature she’d climb over Great Uncle Alfric sprawled out in the seat next to her own fast asleep and make a swift retreat. But no, she was stuck and Alma, oblivious to her presence thanks to her shield of greenery was hatching an elaborate match making plot out loud.
Darn why had she chosen to sit down for a short rest? If only she’d joined her friends to flirt and dance with a few of Hadleigh’s cousins she wouldn’t be stuck listening to Great Aunt Alma plot the downfall of her next targeted dupes. Though who was she kidding, she was hardly the poster girl party animal type or for that matter much of a flirt. Not that there was anything tragically wrong with her. It was ridiculous really, she was a competent medical doctor for Goddess sake, slim of build, not short but not too tall at five ten, her hair was neither blonde nor brown but somewhere in between, her skin was clear, her eyes were blue. Goddess darn it she might not be heart stoppingly memorable but she was pretty, and besides a love of shockingly expensive sky high shoes she had no other vices. She didn’t drink to excess or smoke, curse or sleep around, so why weren’t men banging down her door?
Of course Great Aunt Alma had hit it on the head; being deemed too nice was the kiss of death on the dating scene. She was the equivalent of vanilla ice-cream, predictable and boring. She hunched her shoulders, praying the afternoon breeze wouldn’t dislodge the decorative pot of roses and ferns she was being forced to hide behind.
“She sounds like quite a challenge for your matchmaking skills - the Doctor girl.”
Goddess, they were still talking about her, as she listened to Alma issue a soft derisive snort.
“Challenge? Hardly, I already have a bead on a lovely young man, an accountant, not tall mind you and a bit timid. There’s a few things I need to work on. He still lives at home with his mother and I’m told he suffers from a slight nervous stutter but the grapevine assures me that he’s just the nicest man. No doubt a perfect match for Nell. Besides there’s no hurry, it’s hardly like any man will come along and sweep Nell - of all my girls - off her feet.” Alma issued another soft laugh, one that grated across Nell’s last nerve. “Oh look Hadleigh and Vaughn are heading onto the floor for their first dance, come on I want to test out my new camera.”
Head down Nell fe
What she needed was a man. And not just any man, a completely shocking, ridiculously inappropriate, insanely unsuitable, ludicrously improper man. She swore to the Goddess above when she found him she would seduce the heck out of him and bury her goody two shoes image once and for all.
A timid man indeed! Tapping her peep toe wine red Ferragamo clad right foot she surveyed the available men trying to gauge their bad boy quotient and over all shock value. Mentally she discarded all of the visiting Valhalla boys, too well known for their womanising ways. It was one thing to seduce a man and give her ego a boost. It was another to be just another notch on some Romeo’s bed post. Then there were all the boys she’d grown up with, yuk, major ick factor, no matter how far removed some of the cousins were on the family tree.
So, just who did that leave her with exactly? Great Aunt Alma’s short timid accountant with a stutter? No there had to be someone, whoa, hold on a moment. Goddess dare she? The only viable pool of men left available to her was Vaughn’s fellow elite warriors. As she stared across the dance floor at the six sun-kissed huge buffed and gorgeous candidates she began to question her sanity. Currently all appeared to be relaxed and enjoying the party but she knew that could all change in an instant if a threat loomed. Common sense snuffed out her anger.
What was she thinking? That she - nice girl Nell Montgomery- had enough daring… enough sex appeal to seduce one of Maat’s noble elite?
Okay new plan. Duck out of the party early, race home and finish packing for the reunion… or better yet forget the reunion, climb into bed and spend the next four days with her head under the covers. There was certainly a lot less chance of her making a fool of herself that way.
Hmm, lurching to her feet she was dithering over her limited escape options when three things happened simultaneously. One her mobile rang, glancing at the caller id her stomach tightened. Even though she was officially off duty and there were three doctors on call she was being paged. Because of course the all too sweet and obliging Doctor Montgomery never said no. Two, out the corner of her eye she happened to note Great Uncle Barty heading straight for her. As one of her more high maintenance hypochondriacs he no doubt intended to corner her for the rest of the party and squeeze out every last free drop of medical advice he could. Which just left the final nail in the coffin, blocking her only means of escape were Great Aunt Alma and her companion… Maat. Goddess above her aunt had been gossiping about her shortcomings with an actual Goddess? Would the humiliation that was known as this day never end?
At that precise moment both women happened to look up, matching smiles that could only be described as pitying were sent her way. Suddenly seething once more Nell jabbed down hard on the phone’s ignore button before swinging around sharply to stalk across the packed dance floor in search of a completely an utterly inappropriate man to seduce.
Drum fought hard not to lift his head to taste the air and go on the hunt immediately. There was plenty of time he reminded himself, mentally sending soothing vibes to the black mamba snake tattoo that graced his upper body. But the snake was too restless, he could feel its smooth scales shimmy across his upper back and neck as it sought a better position on the canvas that was his body to sight their prey.
When he had awoken over a hundred years ago, sun blessed by the Goddess Maat and imbued with the strength of an elite warrior the snake had been imbedded in his skin with scales as black as night, glistening with hints of silver and dark blues as if the tattoo actually lived. Over the years he had come to accept its presence on his flesh as one more tool in his arsenal of identifying and annihilating the magical bad guys. He believed it was due to the snake’s presence that he could taste smells on the air and track so easily. Most men listened to their gut for signs of imminent danger, Drum listened to the snake.
The tattoo for almost a century had remained virtually dormant on his skin until five months ago when they had caught the vaguest whiff of an elusive scent at the base in Washington DC. Since then he’d had a hard time sleeping or working. The tattoo likewise suddenly restless, roaming his upper body in a futile search for an answer to what plagued them.
The distraction could not have been timed more poorly. All his focus should have been on the mission to find Serena. A friend and witch, Serena had been working on their TV show - ‘Paranormal Exterminators’ - a smoke and mirrors front to hide the real work they performed off camera of tracking down the mystical bad guys and dealing with them. Little had they known they were harbouring one of the bad guys under their very own roof. The host of the show Xander Marr had gone to the dark side, lured by the promise of riches if he succeeded in waking his great, great - throw in a couple more greats - Granddaddy Apep, the God of chaos and trouble.
Part of the ritual to bring Apep back to this plane involved the blood of a witch. Xander had secretly conspired with Apep’s three sons - his uncles, several times removed - to kidnap Serena and use her in the ritual. But Serena hadn’t proven to be a docile prisoner. In one of her many bids to escape she’d managed to kill Bal, Apep’s eldest son.
Swearing eternal vengeance the two remaining brothers had secreted Serena away somewhere in Texas… according to their source, Hadleigh, who Xander had erroneously believed was a witch and presented to the brothers as a substitute for their little ‘let’s wake up the God of chaos’ ritual.
Long story short, Xander Marr was catatonic in a loony bin, the remaining brothers Sek and Mot were missing, Apep’s burial chamber was empty, his sarcophagus gone and Hadleigh was now officially melded… mated... wed to Vaughn, his Captain and friend.
With Vaughn understandably distracted by his unofficial melding with Hadleigh that had occurred four months prior just after he’d saved her from almost dying it had been Drum’s responsibility as Second to step up and lead the search for Serena and the chaos brothers, Sek and Mot, who had been known in the past to masquerade as sheriff’s deputies. Unfortunately Texas was a big state and even with all Marcus’s high tech toys, hacker abilities and nerd contacts they had still yet to identify where Serena was being held.
Thankfully they had lucked out when it came to replacing Xander as host of their reality TV series, as a cover for all their off screen activities it was hard to beat. One of Hadleigh’s cousins, an actor, had eagerly volunteered and Hadleigh, begrudgingly, as a favour to the team occasionally donned the black uniform and cap to help provide on screen back up when she wasn’t hunting down any potential threats looming against her family.
Still all the new responsibilities, lack of sleep and that darn elusive scent that haunted his dreams had made Drum a little short tempered of late. It was all he could do not to break Flynn’s scrawny neck when his comrade elbowed him in the ribs.
“You okay there big guy? It’s a party remember, try to lighten up.”
At seven feet tall Drum had a couple of inches on Flynn, and with his massive shoulders and chest he was quite possibly double the man’s width. Still that didn’t stop him from elbowing Flynn back in kind. Smiling slightly as he watched Flynn wince and rub his ribcage.
“Ahh now you’re smiling, that’s the ticket.” Flynn continued on blithely. “Of course it’s kind of an evil smile. Try not to scare the women and children would you.”
Drum surveyed the two hundred and fifty odd party guests and shrugged. “I think it would take a lot more than one of my smiles to scare this lot.”
Flynn bobbed his head in time to the music and grinned. “I know it’s so cool isn’t it, to have this many magic types in one place.”
“I thought you’d be out there dancing already.” Drum eyed tawny haired Flynn with suspicion.
“Nah I’m good.”
“And what’s up with Dash? Does he seriou
The twins were all but identical except for the colour of their eyes, a slight difference in the shading of their tawny hair and whilst Flynn had a dimple on the right cheek, Dash had one on the left.
“Hey.” Dash struggled, managing to free himself from Drum’s grip.
“What’s up with you two? You’re acting weird… well weirder than normal.”
“We’re being…” Dash mumbled the rest of his sentence staring hard at his boots.
“You’re what?” Drum scowled. “It sounded like you said the two of you were being stalked.” Absently he scoped the nearby crowd milling around the edge of the dance floor to identify the threat.
“Don’t!” Flynn gripped Drum’s arm, his voice urgent and low. “Don’t be so bloody obvious.”
Dash sent him a matching glare. “Covert dude! Ever heard the word?”
“Okay I’m not sure if it’s the time difference or all this sea air but the whole team is acting out of whack. Marcus is quarrelling with the pregnant chick, Rafe just went AWOL, Nate is on the dance floor with an expression on his face that he usually reserves for funerals and now you guys are saying you’re being stalked? The only potential threat I see for you two are the little blonde things over there smiling this way.”
“So you admit they are smiling at us?” Dash demanded between gritted teeth.
“It’s not just our imagination right?” Flynn followed up.
Drum flexed his neck and took another discreet look. “Those two itty-bitty girls have you two acting crazy? Why they seem real sweet.”
Flynn shook his head in bemusement at his tall comrade. “The emphasis needs to be on the word ‘girls’ dude! My favourite pair of shit kicker boots are older than the two of those girls combined.”