By Roberta Winchester
Falling in love with the enemy will not only endanger his mission, it may cost him his life...
Ashton Chase lives to vanquish witches. Tormented by a curse cast by an evil witch long ago, he can never fall in love or he will die. So when he hears word of a new witch in a nearby town, he immediately pursues her—but what he finds will not only endanger his mission, it may cost him his life.
After Vivien Lane's ex-husband discovers she’s a witch and almost kills her, she flees to her aunt's Victorian bed and breakfast by the sea. All Vivien wants is a new start, and to never allow anyone to hurt her again. But when a sexy, edgy stranger takes up residence within the bed and breakfast, Vivien quickly realizes she may never find peace again. And when he’s in trouble, she realizes the only way to save Ashton is to confront her past and face what she fears most.
An icy chill stabbed through him and he froze. Something was very, very wrong.
Flowers were growing in a perfect half-circle around Vivien’s long hair. Twisting stems shot up through the green blades of grass, spreading leaves and unfurling delicate, purple petals. Ash scrambled backward, his hand instinctively wrapping around his dagger’s hilt.
Vivien leaped up from the ground and the flowers continue to grow, spreading in every direction from where she stood.
There was something evil nearby, and it had chosen to focus its power on Vivien.
“Don’t move,” he whispered, his grip on his dagger tightening.
“Ash, what’s wrong?” She stared at him with wide, terrified eyes.
“That”—he pointed at the freakish flowers with his blade—“is not natural.”
The flowers stopped growing. Vivien looked down at the ground, and then met his eyes with an expression he’d never seen on her before. Her face went white.
“You see them?” He gestured again. “What the hell is that?”
She shook her head, and took a step back, her body shaking violently.
“No. No, no, no.”
Her panic-stricken eyes looked wildly from the flowers, to his knife, and then back again. She took another step back.
“Vivien, wait! Don’t step on th—”
And then it hit him. She wasn’t backing away in horror from the creepy little flowers.
She was backing away from him.
And with every step she took, the grass beneath her feet grew, sending little shoots of green up all around her.
His breath escaped him. The world began to spin a little.
“Oh, my God. It’s you. You’re the one doing this.”
Comprehension slammed through him. The increasingly familiar pain in his chest ripped through his whole body, and he struggled to stand. Declan had been right all along. And Ash, ever the fool, had allowed himself to get caught off-guard, yet again. He stared at her eyes, her unnaturally green eyes. That should have been his first clue. What a fucking idiot. He took a shaky breath. Damn it. Damn it.
He choked on his own breath. “You. You’re a witch.”
For one brief second, Vivien’s expression altered, and she appeared more offended than afraid. Confirmation of what he dreaded most. He wanted her to deny it. He wanted her to call him insane. But she didn’t. She knew exactly what he was talking about.
“What do you intend to do?”
Good question. Every fiber of his being screamed at him to attack her, to plunge his dagger into her heart immediately.
“I came here to kill you,” he admitted, the words sour in his mouth. “If you proved to be what—what you apparently are.”
She took a step backward, away from him. “That’s ridiculous. Put the knife down, Ash.”
Oh God, he’d slept with her. Eaten her food. Drank her wine. Spent an entire week with her. A witch. Satan’s spawn.
“You’ve done things to me, haven’t you?”
It made perfect, sickening sense. That was why he hadn’t felt well in a few days.
“No!” she shouted, sinking to the ground where the remnants of the picnic lay, forgotten. “I can make plants grow. Sometime when I’m feeling strong emotions they grow around me, without my control. It’s nothing!”
Ash looked down on her lovely face, upturned to plead with him, the sunlight bouncing off her hair like a halo. The tiny purple flowers surrounded her like a fairy ring. She was about as far from being a witch as a witch could be. The dagger grew heavy in his hand. For the first time in his life, he hesitated.
For the first time in his life, his sole purpose and reason for being, the one thing that drove him every day, seemed wrong.
He didn’t want to kill her. A witch.
He shook his head. She’d gotten under his skin. His feelings for her did nothing to change what she was. Fighting the rising bile in his throat, he lunged at her. Pulling her into a half-nelson, he held his blade to her throat with a trembling hand.
“So you’re going to kill me,” she whispered. Tears dripped onto his arm that held her against his chest.
His heart clenched.
“I have to. I don’t want to. God, you cannot imagine how much I don’t want to.”
Within his grasp her shoulders sagged. “Why would you do this to me? Why would you wish to kill me for such a silly thing? What threat do I pose to you?”
Ash swallowed the rising lump in his throat.
“I’m a hunter. It’s what I am bound to do. I’ve pledged my whole life to the pursuit and destruction of evil.”
“You think I’m evil?”
Ash’s grip on his dagger faltered. No. No. God help him, he could not do it. She wasn’t even struggling against him.
He never saw it coming.
One moment he was contemplating the sudden overturning of his entire universe. The next, Vivien squirmed out of his hold and he saw the side of the wine bottle hurtling straight toward his head.
Blinding pain exploded behind his eyes.
And darkness swallowed him whole.
Roberta Winchester lives in a two-hundred-year old haunted house in Kentucky with her husband. She is also a graduate student working to complete her MFA in Writing from Spalding University in Louisville. When not writing, Roberta is reading, sipping coffee, and daydreaming about all the places she would like to travel to someday.
You can also find her on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/robertawinchesterauthor/