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Druid of Oaks, Chapters 6-7




Aiden! Panic amplified the magic Jakub used to send a mental distress call to his cousin. That would hurry him along.

Much like a lightning strike indoors, Aiden appeared in the center of the showroom, using a form of transportation they tried to avoid as a human might see them.

"What's wrong?" Aiden took one look at Jakub kneeling next to Riley’s limp form and rushed to him. “What happened?”

“I don't know.” Jakub lifted Riley into his arms. “You're better at healing magic than me. Fix her!”

Aiden hovered his hands over Riley as he channeled his magic. His gaze went to the very stared out of. window Riley had stared through. He'd thought it was the storm, but if Aiden sensed something…

It was late, way past closing, and no one would be out in the rain, yet Aiden glowered at the window as if someone were standing there. “Dark magic.”

Jakub’s chest tightened. “What?”

“Do you not sense it?” Aiden asked incredulously. “Someone used dark magic on her. She’s soaked in it, Jakub. How could you miss it? Someone has been marking her for days.”

Now that Aiden mentioned it, the corrupted magic that mages used was all over her. How had he missed it? This was the exact sort of thing he was meant to look for.

Maybe after thousands of years he was losing it. Thinking a human could be his Maité. Not noticing when someone, a mage, used broken magic on her.

He roared, his power nearly bursting free. Aiden yanked Riley from Jakub as he stormed towards the front door. Yanking it open, he bellowed into the stormy night.

“Show yourself, mage!”

No response. Jakub pushed his senses further into the storm, ignoring Aiden's calls and the rain bucketing down. He caught movement out of the corner of his eye and paused, his power charging in his hands, ready to strike.

He drew on his magic and shimmered forms, becoming the raven he was most comfortable with. The Finnegans' bloodlines were ancient, and an interesting genetic blend of Other Worlders over thousands of years combined to give everyone a hodgepodge of abilities.

Most of them could shift to an animal, although they weren't true shifters who shared their bodies with an animal soul. When Jakub was a raven, he was still all Jakub.

Taking to the sky, Jakub ignored the rain and flew in an expanding, circular search pattern. There, skulking along an alley a couple of streets away, the only other person out in the storm.

Jakub swooped low, making the man skid to a stop and duck. Shimmering back to human, he stood in front of the mage. The corruption of stolen and forced magic wafted off him in disgusting waves.

A deep laugh had Jakub nearly rolling his eyes. Assholes with evil villain laughs were always the biggest losers.

Why had this mage tried to use his magic on Riley? She was only a human. She had no magic for a mage to siphon.

The mage straightened. He wore a trench coat.

Double loser. 

His hair and eyes weren't all white yet, but he was well on his way. The mage held a white ball of magic in his hand, as if that would make Jakub shake in his boots. When Jakub lifted a brow, the mage's smile faded, and he shook the ball of magic like it was broken.

“Why did you put your dark magic on my woman?” demanded Jakub.

He ignored the voice asking, Your woman?

Even if she wasn't, couldn't be, his Maité, as a resident of Bandrui's Grove, she was his to protect.

The mage squared his shoulders, as if to really take Jakub on. "She's not your woman. She's promised to me. Ask her."

A red fox joined them, and shimmered to human. Aiden held up a hand to head off Jakub's question. “She's safe in your bed.” He twitched his clothes into place. “We’ve company, I see.”

The mage took a step back. He lifted the ball of magic higher, and the brightness intensified.

Aiden nudged Jakub with an elbow. “Are we meant to be afraid of that?”

“That was my impression.” Jakub had missed the signs before, but the corrupted energy was clear now, and his magic rose to the challenge. Keeping his power tamped down so it didn't leak all over Riley had dulled his senses. Made him practically human. He hadn't realized how far down he'd locked his magic away.

No wonder he'd screwed up. Riley occupied his thoughts to distraction. His magic stretched out, reclaiming its territory, and a fight was just the thing he needed.

Looking between Aiden and Jakub, the mage appeared confused, then his face cleared. “You’re not human. So, Riley found protection with one of the Druids. She always does things with flair."

There were more options than human or Druid in Bandrui's Grove, but Jakub saw no reason to respond. If he and Aiden had been human, that magic could snuff their lives out, wipe their minds, or any number of other unpleasant possibilities.

“You don't say.” Aiden crossed his arms and his magic glowed in an apple green aura around his body, allowing him to stand dry in the rain “Hey, cousin, did you know we're not human?”

“Had an inclination.” Jakub’s jaw clenched. The more he thought about his Riley being touched by this man’s tainted magic, the more he wanted to obliterate him. "A few thousand years ago."

The man took yet another step back, nearing the edge of the alley. “Wait. If you’re that old, you’re part of the Comhairle.”

Aiden rolled his head toward the mage and waggled his eyebrows. “Check out the brain on this one.”

Jakub narrowed his gaze on his target. “Who are you?”

“My name is Shawn O'Neil.” The man stiffened. “I came for what is rightfully mine. I'll go peacefully when I have her.”

Aiden turned to Jakub. “I recognize that name. Came across our desks a month or two ago. He wanted to force a claiming.”

Jakub’s lips curled. A mage wanted to force a claiming with a human? With Riley? Forcing a claiming was frowned upon by nearly all magical communities nowadays.

Centuries ago it had been acceptable, though never with his family. Some ancient laws hadn't been eradicated from the old books. It seemed Shawn O'Neil had found one to exploit.

"I assume his claim was denied."

“Tá." Aiden nodded. "It's ringing a bell now. We told him no, all right." He glared at Shawn. "Did you not get the giant memo saying you're a sicko and to leave the woman alone?”

Jakub raised an eyebrow. Apparently, the meetings were more entertaining than he remembered.

Aiden nudged Jakub. “Is it me, or did the woman he wanted to force a claim on have some sort of magical incident and the Comhairle stepped in?”

A magical incident? Jakub racked his brain, desperate to remember. Because if this mage was here for Riley, and she'd had a magical incident… she wasn't human after all!

Somehow, she was hiding her powers. She could be his Maité, and everything that had been driving him crazy made sense!

“Tá. I believe so. Never caught her name.” Jakub looked to Shawn. “Are you here to exact your revenge on us for denying your claiming?”

"I'm only here to collect Riley and take her home. She killed someone. People are waiting for her."

Aiden laughed. "I don't think Riley has signed off on that."

"She's not going anywhere unless she wants to." Jakub stepped toward the mage, ready to end him. Bandrui's Grove was his to protect, as was everyone in it, including Riley. He couldn't imagine her murdering anyone. If there had been a death, there had to be extenuating circumstances.

This trenchcoat wearing loser didn't have permission to be here. And he'd attacked Riley.

The mage threw the orb at Jakub.

Jakub conjured his twin swords and deflected the missile back at Shawn. Now he'd attacked a Druid. In Bandrui Grove no less. That was a death sentence no matter what else the man had done.

Shawn threw a glowing white ball at Aiden. He conjured his axes and batted it back.

“This one isn't very entertaining,” said Aiden. "I think I'm done."

“Tá. Me too.” Jakub needed to get to his Maité.

His Maité!

“Shall we end this?” Aiden whacked another ball away.

Jakub stepped forward, caught the next orb in one hand, and added some of his magic, channeling the strength of his Oak. His tree was thousands of years old. This mage's power was decades, maybe.

He threw it back, hitting Shawn in the chest hard enough to lift him off his feet and send him flying into the street beyond.

Aiden laughed. “Well, that made that easy. I really hate revenge seekers. The paperwork is a nightmare.”

"You do paperwork?" Jakub started forward. With mages, it was always better to make sure they were dead. He should have set him on fire to make the clean up easier.

"No." Aiden paced alongside him. "But for some reason, that doesn't stop people from piling it high on my desk anyway."

Jakub hadn't seen his desk in centuries. They reached the street as Shawn stirred.

"Huh." Aiden nudged Shawn in the ribs with a boot. "He's tougher than I thought."

Shawn screamed, and a white flash lit the street. Jakub threw a hand up to protect his eyes, blinking as the darkness returned. Only ashes remained where Shawn had been. They held a man shape for a second, until the rain dissolved them into nothing.

"So considerate of them to self-destruct." Aiden brushed his hands together like he'd washed them of the situation. “Shall we check on your woman?”

"My woman." Jakub tasted the words, still trying to wrap his head around the idea that Riley was really his Maité.

Aiden pursed his lips. “Try to tell me she’s not your woman. I’ll call you a liar and throw your sorry arse into the nearest dumpster.”

“Fuck you.”

“I’m not into family members.” Aiden gave him an impudent grin. “Or dudes. Now. Your woman. Riley will be fine with some sleep and protective wards placed on her after you remove the mage magic. I think her Maité should handle the honors. Don’t you?”

He did. Because he'd murder any other man who touched her.





Riley raced through the dream forest of ancient trees, bare feet kicking up leaves from the soft, dark soil beneath. She kept one eye on the ground and the other on the biggest raven she'd ever seen flying ahead of her.

Every night since she'd arrived in Bandrui's Grove, she'd dreamed of the forest. It had something to tell her, but hadn't revealed the secret yet. Sometimes it felt like she spent hours wandering through the trees. Tonight was the first time she'd seen an animal.

"Wait!" She ran faster, but the bird disappeared into the dense canopy overhead. When she caught up and peered into the trees, she spotted the raven perched on an oak branch, contentedly preening his shiny, black feathers.

"That can't be what I was supposed to see."

The bird cawed what sounded like laughter and took off again.

Riley sprinted after him, but came to a sudden stop when the forest disappeared and she found herself in Jakub's office.

This was the second part of her nightly dreams — hot, sweaty sex with her boss. She stood in a corner, and watched the literal man of her dreams.

Jakub lounged in his office chair, shirtless, head leaning back, eyes half closed. The look of utter rapture on his face stole her breath.

His long legs were bare, as well muscled as his torso, tanned, and tattooed. The muscles of his neck stood out as he made a guttural sound that skyrocketed her pulse.

The tattoos inked onto his skin came to life, the magic contained in each of them obvious to her here. Raven wings glimmered in the light playing over Jakub, and one beady black bird eye winked at her.

Cheeky raven.

She'd been so fixated on seeing so much of Jakub and that raven, it took her a minute to notice the woman.

The naked woman.

… In Jakub's lap.

How had she not seen the other woman immediately? It wasn't bad enough she watched a parade of women visit Jakub when she was awake, now she dreamed about him having sex with other women?

There was something wrong with her.

The curve of the other woman's naked spine, and the spill of her red hair cascading over her shoulders were all Riley could see.

Irrational hurt carved an ache in her heart. She and Jakub had made no promises to one another. Hadn't even spoken about a relationship outside of work. Not that she'd consider being another groupie or notch on his bedpost, however beautifully carved.

But her brain and her heart had a failure to communicate. Riley's hand flew to her mouth to stifle an anguished cry at the sight of the other woman rising and falling in Jakub's lap. She rode him with abandon and enjoyed it, going by her throaty moans.

Jakub's hands slid down to grasp her ass. Riley took a staggering step back. She never should have come here. She should not be witnessing this, but no matter how much she wanted to run, she remained standing there as her torment built toward anger.

If anyone had asked her yesterday, or even hours ago, Riley would have said she wanted Jakub. Now, she couldn't stand the thought of his hands on her. She was nothing special to him, as part of her had started to believe.

No matter what happened, she wouldn’t allow Jakub to use her this way. Ever. She wanted to get as far from him as possible. More than the threat of Shawn, this was a clear sign she didn't belong in Bandrui's Grove.

There was no reason to stay.

Riley took a controlled step back as she struggled not to release the tears burning her eyes or the scream of fury burning her throat.

She could never give voice to that power again, even in the dream world.

“Jakub.” The other woman panted his name in a voice husky with sensuality.

Riley stretched out a hand to brace herself on the nearest wall. Her eyes were drawn inexplicably to Jakub. His mouth was against the other woman’s shoulder. Riley was so desperate, she imagined she felt his mouth on her shoulder.

His eyes blazed with a faint green color rather than grey. Her breath caught when his unfamiliar eyes met hers with a look of astonishment and hunger.

She'd been caught creeping. Instead of fleeing as any sane woman would, she remained frozen, unable to make a single move. This was her dream! Why couldn't she change the damn channel?

His gaze never left hers as he raked his teeth against the sensitive flesh of the other woman’s neck in a sensation Riley felt on her skin.

Riley and the other woman cried out together. The other woman clawed desperately at his shoulders, sinking her fingers in, drawing him closer as his tongue swirled over her skin.

She swore she felt his breath and tongue against her shoulder as he tasted the other woman's flesh.

Riley's breasts tingled. Her nipples puckered. Jakub seemed to know that as his eyes fastened on her chest with such hunger that her thighs trembled. How could he be staring at her with such desire while he was inside the other woman?

What was she still doing in here? Why hadn’t she fled? How could she be standing here watching him with another woman, while he watched her? Her feet remained frozen to the ground. The sheen of sweat on his body caused her tongue to lick over her lips with the urge to taste him.

She had lost her mind. Jakub was having sex with another woman and she wished it was her. Felt what he was doing to the other woman. Riley managed to take a step back, hand grabbing for the doorknob somewhere behind her.

“Do you like that?” Jakub's words froze Riley before she could bolt. His hands slid higher on the other woman’s back in a caress that moved up either side of Riley's spine.

"Yes." The other woman arched her back, and panted.

Jakub turned his head into the other woman's hair and, still holding Riley's eyes, said into her ear, “Come for me, Maité.”

Riley's body reacted as if he’d spoken to her. A moan escaped her as her inner muscles contracted rhythmically. She took another step back, torn between unanswered yearning and wanting to scream over her unreasonable reaction to him. She closed her hand around her throat.

Don't scream. Don't scream. Don't scream.

Where was the damn doorknob?

Wait. This was just a dream. A bad dream, but she should be able to wake up. She closed her eyes and willed herself awake.

Nothing happened.

A sane woman would have stormed out of here as soon as she’d entered. She most certainly wouldn’t be watching Jakub as he lowered his mouth to take one of the other woman’s nipples into his mouth, nipping at it, making her buck as her fingers scratched his shoulders.

Riley's nipple tightened, the imagined suction of his mouth making her need grow deeper.

The other woman drew blood with her nails, and Riley scented his blood in the air.

Jakub lifted his head from the other woman's breast and, for the first time since he’d noticed Riley, he looked away from her to focus on the woman in his lap.

Riley tried not to, but followed his gaze. Her eyes landed on the other woman as she arched against him and threw her head back.

The world lurched as Riley gazed at her own face. Her Dream Jakub was having sex with a Dream Riley.

She couldn’t move while she watched her… the other woman… her…

Movement drew her attention back to him. She… the other woman… whoever she was vanished, and it was only the two of them.

His green-grey eyes burned into hers when he leaned forward and clasped his hands between his legs.

“Welcome to my dreams, Maité,” he murmured.

Maité? Who was that? That's what he called the other woman… her. The song her heart recognized the term and the music hummed inside her.

"This is my dream."

"Is it? And what do you dream of happening, Riley?"

This was strange. There wasn't so much… dialogue in her previous dreams. It made things feel too real, and she didn't like reality intruding here.

"I dream you want me."

The green in his eyes blazed. "It's only you. Riley. Even in my dreams, I only want you. Tell me how wet you are from watching me with you.”

What was the harm in indulging one last time before she left? Because even though she hadn't dreamed of Jakub having sex with another woman while she watched, that irrational hurt she'd felt told her she was already more than a little in love with him. There was only hurt for her in the sanctuary of Bandrui's Grove.

“I’m soaked.” Riley stepped around the desk toward him. “Feel for yourself.”

His eyes held hers as he jerked her toward him. She gasped as she found herself on her back atop his desk, ass almost hanging off the edge.

Her heart thudded against her ribs in an ancient Irish drumbeat.

He smiled at her, and her eyes remained riveted on him as he lowered his head between her thighs. His tongue licked her clit, sending bolts of electricity racing across her skin. Her hands gripped the edge of the table as he parted her folds with his fingers and thrust his tongue inside.

Her body went tense and became boneless. Her blood ran hot and flowed languidly. She fell back against the desk, giving herself over to sensation. Grasping her ass, Jakub lifted it in his palms and pulled her closer to feast.

The slide of his tongue, his hands, and the scrape of his teeth against her flesh had her panting as her hips rose and fell with the rhythm he set.

She couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t think. She needed… needed him to….

He took one hand away from her ass to rub her clit as his tongue delved inside.

That was what she needed.

Her back arched as a cry erupted from her. She waited for the waves to crest, but they pounded through her as every nerve ending sizzled to life. Before her orgasm ended, he entered her on a single thrust.

The ripples of her orgasm, combined with his hard cock suddenly filling her, prolonged her pleasure.

Riley loved sex. Savored the sensuality of it, but had never experienced anything like that, and craved more.

From the tips of her toes to the tingling in her scalp, every part of her was alive with blissful sensations coursing through her body.

For a moment, she imagined she felt him in mind as well as body. Sights, sounds, and sensations grew sharper. Her passion joined his and ran higher. Jakub's emotions fueled hers until she couldn’t tell his ecstasy from hers.

No other man could have made her body come alive or possessed her as thoroughly as Jakub. Deep inside her, he grew thicker and stretched her further.

He’s mine. All mine. 

At least, he was in the moment here and now. His hand clamped around the back of her head as his groan reverberated against her flesh and his muscles bunched around her.

The world spun away until it was only him and her. The musky scent of their sex intensified. The slick feel of their bodies joined together became all she knew.

Harder. Faster. Harder.

Her body rocked against his as a tightening started in her lower belly and spread. She recognized the feeling of impending release, but this was far more intense and demanding.

She grasped Jakub's shoulders and used them as leverage as she rotated her hips in just the right…

Her eyes rolled back as her body splintered and ecstasy crashed through her.

His mouth on her shoulder muffled his shout as he shuddered against her. The heat of his seed spreading through her while her inner muscles contracted along his length brought a smile to her face as she nuzzled closer. Strong and protective, Jakub would make an excellent father.

Her eyes flew open. Father? Why was she thinking about children?

"Rest now, Maité. We'll talk when you wake."



Riley came awake groggily, unsure of where she was. Definitely not her studio apartment. This bed she found herself in was bigger than her apartment. The bedposts were tree trunks — carved, naturally.

Chairs, a square table, an enormous trunk, and a bookcase took up more space — all carved with a style that brought out the character already in the wood rather than trying to force the wood to conform to a desired shape.

Jakub's room.

She was safe.

Pale sunlight streamed through a window framed by heavy curtains, and kindling in a fireplace lay ready for lighting.

What had happened with Shawn? She'd screamed. Not a full banshee scream, but on the way to it. Her throat felt like fire. Had she killed him?

She had to get out of here. The Comhairle might have already sent someone to find her. Riley sat up. Her clothes were on. Where were her shoes?

Jakub appeared in the open doorway. His long black hair was down and mussed. Without the little braids, his hair looked tamed, and didn't fit the warrior image she imagined for him at all.

“You're awake. Good. We were worried.” He was minus a shirt, which was typical. He smiled.

“He was worried.” Aiden pushed past Jakub with a tray of soup, crackers, and goddess bless him, a pitcher of water. “I knew you’d be fine.”

Riley stared up at him and touched her throat. “What happened?” Her raspy voice was barely audible. She had to know how much they'd seen before she tried to concoct a story they'd believe. No point in volunteering information.

She'd never counted her banshee power as a bonus before, but having a sore throat was the perfect reason not to talk much.

“You didn't eat enough and fainted.” Aiden glanced at Jakub as if waiting to be contradicted.

As much as the idea of being seen as some helpless, fainting damsel appalled her, she'd swallow her pride and let that be the narrative if she didn't have to explain magic, what she'd done, or what she was.

Riley pulled the bedding smooth over her legs as Aiden put the tray of food across her lap. The soup smelled delicious. She uncovered the bowl. Huge chunks of potatoes in thick broth, with big pieces of bacon and shredded cheddar cheese in small mountains on top. Her stomach growled.

She sipped some water to ease her sore throat. “Please, tell me you made this, not Jakub.”

In the past weeks she'd learned Jakub could hand her a bottle of water, but anything beyond that as far as food or drink was… best avoided.

Tipping his head back, Aiden chortled. “Come on, lass. His cooking isn't that —

She arched an eyebrow.

"Yeah, you're right. His cooking is horrible.”

Jakub grinned and took a seat on the bed. “I swear I didn't prepare anything on that tray." He dipped the spoon into the soup, making sure to get potato, broth, bacon, and melting cheese, and lifted it to her lips, staring at her mouth. "Eat."

She shivered. How did he manage to put so much sexual innuendo in three innocent letters?

Aiden’s eyes widened as he stepped back. “I’ll see myself out.” He fled.

Riley opened her mouth and let him push the spoon between her lips. Almost before she'd finished that bite, Jakub lifted another spoonful near her mouth.

“Eat more.”

Shaking her head, she touched her stomach. “I can feed myself.”

“Maybe I like putting things in your mouth.” He drew the spoon across her lower lip. “Eat.”

Fire shot through her veins as she accepted another spoonful. Heat gathered lower than her stomach when she swallowed.

Great goddess. Potato soup never felt naughty before.

Jakub's gaze locked on hers. “Did you sleep well?”

She blushed and looked away, feeling like a teenager caught with a bodice ripper she shouldn't be reading. He couldn't know about her dream, could he? There was no way.

Riley chewed her lip as she stared at Jakub’s bare chest. He fed her more soup. She was ravenous. How long had she slept? Or was it being fed by Jakub that made her feel like she couldn't get enough?

There was a new look in Jakub's grey eyes. Stark hunger that riled up all kinds of tingling as he watched her. The man needed to learn to wear a shirt.

“So, you slept well? Nothing kept you up?”

He must know somehow! But that wasn't possible.

"Uh, no. I slept well."

As his grey gaze raked over her, Riley shivered. Goose bumps formed on her skin and Jakub rubbed her upper arms and shoulders.

She cursed herself for wearing the thin camisole. There was a black wrap blouse downstairs in the office, but as the storms had moved in, causing the power to go out earlier that day, she had taken it off as the office grew stuffy.

Now, she was left with next to nothing between her and Jakub’s touch. Her nipples hardened to hard points, and although Jakub made her heart race, she could do nothing more than lie there, allowing his touch as he rubbed warmth into her arms.

How could her blood run so hot and her skin feel so cold?

“You're like ice, lass. Something the matter?” The teasing tone in Jakub’s voice told her he knew damn well what the problem was. The arrogant jerk.

She had half a mind to cast a spell to make him croak like a frog for a week, but imagined how she would explain that to her cellmate in a supernatural prison.

So what are you in for?

I murdered five hundred people, cut them into pieces, cooked them in pies, and ate them. How about you?

Oh, I, uh, made an arrogant jerk croak like a frog.

At least her life imprisonment would be short. She'd die of humiliation on the spot.

Jakub returned to feeding her, and they finished the soup. He set the tray aside, removing the only thing between them. His smirk grew, as did his touching. He moved onto the bed, easing over her, pressing his body to hers, forcing her back as he moved up and over her.

What was with all the touching all of the sudden?

The feel of his erection against her stomach made her gulp. She needed to stop dreaming about that. About him. The man would break her body, then break her heart.

He chuckled as if he could read her thoughts, and hear her fear of being impaled by his massive cock. She wanted to smack his hands away, but the thought of losing contact with him made her gut clench.

Wind whipped against the bedroom window only a few feet away, vibrating the glass in its frame. Lightning lit the darkness outside. Thunder cracked across the sky. In a heartbeat, Riley was wrapped around Jakub, clinging to him.

He stroked the suddenly too sensitive skin of her upper arms and drew idle circles on the nape on her neck with strong fingers. Each caress brought a whimper closer to the surface. Still, she stuck to him.

She was going to do something stupid and have sex with him.

“It’s only the storm. You don't need to be scared, Riley. I’ve got you.” His accent thickened.

“Is it me, or is it cold in here?” she asked. "I think it's cold in here.'

“Arctic.” He pulled her against him with his warm, callused hands.

She shivered. Her nipples scraped against his chest, making her moan.

Jakub stiffened. He brushed his thumbs over her hardened peaks.

Riley could fight no longer. Her tongue darted out and over her bottom lip as her breathing grew ragged.

He's a ladies' man, the sane part of her pointed out. While she had fallen for him, she didn’t have it in her to get her heart broken.

Besides, she had to keep some sort of emotional distance from him, especially since she had to run because of Shawn. She still didn't know what had happened to him. If he was still around, she had to lead him away.

Riley tried to block the sensations being touched by Jakub brought out in her.

She failed.

Regardless, her pussy was soaked, and need twinged in her core. Fuck me was on the tip of her tongue. She was afraid the plea would actually fall from her lips.

She wanted him that badly. Only Jakub made her body react this way, and it seemed to be getting worse as time went on. What started off as mere curiosity now bordered on obsession.

Maybe she should let herself go for once. If actual sex with Jakub was anything like dream sex with him, the orgasms should last her a while.

He consumed her waking thoughts and invaded her dreams. It had to end soon. Why was she drawn to this moody millionaire who insisted on running a small antiques shop?

His looks had something to do with it. How could they not? The man’s black tousled hair hung to his shoulders, as untamable as the rest of him. His lean frame carried muscles from work, not reps at a gym. The seemingly endless tattoos adorning his body added an additional layer to Jakub’s mystique.

Setting aside his money, he was perfect. He also had the ability to not only make her feel safe, which was rare, but to make her laugh, when she'd thought she might not again.

Women flocked to him. It was sickening. They arrived at the shop in groups sometimes, retreating to the back with Jakub until the wee hours of the morning.

Riley refused to be one more in his endless stream of women. She was not a Jakub groupie, nor would she ever be one. If she had to abandon everything and run again, she'd leave with her pride if nothing else.

Disgusted by her lack of willpower, Riley steeled herself to Jakub's touch. It didn’t work. It did, however, make her painfully aware of how close she was to becoming one of his groupies.

I will not throw myself at this man’s feet.

Jerking out from under him, Riley rolled off the bed and stood, shaking her head, sending tendrils of hair flying.

Jakub moved off the bed with her, grabbing her. Her hair fell to the tips of her erect nipples, driving her closer to the brink of begging him to fuck her.

“That's it, lass, tell me what you want from me.” Jakub sounded so sure of himself. Too sure of himself. “You know you want me too.”

Riley flipped Jakub off in a very unladylike, impolite gesture that her mother would definitely not approve of.

Jakub nipped playfully at her finger. “If it’s rutting you're after, you’ve only but to ask. I’ll never deny you.”

He ran a hand over his bulging erection and arched a brow. “I wouldn't suggest being fool enough to tempt me again, or you might find yourself spread out before me like an offering. And, lass,” he added in a low voice, ''I will consume you.”

Her jaw dropped. Jakub sucked her finger and flicked his tongue, sending sparks of desire through her body. Her thighs clenched and her pussy slickened.

Jakub worked his tongue over her finger with a skill she could easily imagine him using to bring her better pleasures, since she'd just experienced his talents in her dream. He lifted her against his body. Her legs wrapped around his waist. His hands wandered up her back.

"You're mine, Maité." Jakub tugged on her camisole, and ripped it down the back.

He said those words with such longing and reverence, something inside Riley broke. She couldn't do this. Couldn't offer him the promise of what he wanted when she had to run.

Riley jerked away and targeted him with all the fury she could muster. “Jakub, I happen to have loved that shirt.”

“I’ll buy you another one.” He bent his head to take her mouth again.

She leaned away from him.

He growled. “I’ll buy you thousands of shirts.”

“You arrogant son of a bitch.” Riley slapped his face as she channeled her scorned woman persona.

Jakub set Riley on her feet. The look of confusion and sadness on his face almost undid her. But she had to be strong enough to walk away.

“You've never met my mother. She is a lovely woman who will pester you endlessly for grandchildren. And lots of them.” He offered her an uncertain smile.

Her hand seemed to rise of its own accord and slapped him again.

“I actually feel bad for your mother. I can’t imagine raising such a… a…” Riley waved her hand in the air. “…a!” She had no words. Her intelligence had taken the elevator and abandoned her again.


“Yes, a!” Riley took a half step back and the prices of her camisole fell to the floor. She squared her shoulders. “Jakub, I don’t know where this is coming from, but I’m not one of your groupies. You aren't entitled to me. I don't share my lovers with hundreds of others. You need to respect that.”

He paused and then took a step back. “Woman, do you not see I’ve nothing but respect for you?”

With a huff, she turned and stomped away, for once, unaffected by the crashing thunder rattling the window. “Funny way of showing it.”


Druid of Oaks, Chapters 1-3



Bandrui's Grove was the first place that popped into Riley's head when she needed a place to hide. It could be her new home, or so she hoped. It had a reputation as a sanctuary, which meant protection. She hoped it was enough.

Shawn's spies would make living in a major city too hard. He had contacts everywhere and had threatened to use all of them to find her.

A new beginning was required for her survival and sanity. No one could know the truth — that she was a banshee, descended from a long line of witches that could be traced back hundreds of years.

She would just be Riley. It saddened her that she had to abandon her Doyle surname. It was too well known among Other Worlders, espevislly in Ireland. She’d considered changing her first name too, but her father had given her a name passed down through the generations. She'd had to abandon her family. Her name wasn't uncommon. She could at least keep that part of her past.

Riley needed to think of a suitable surname fast if she wanted a job. A sharp wave of loneliness swept over her, bringing sudden, stinging heat to her eyes. She longed to call one of her siblings. They’d help her think of a name and cover story, Her twin brothers had a particular talent for skullduggery. Not that her sisters were slouches in that department.

But she couldn’t. No contact with anyone from her past. That was one of the many hated rules she had to live by now. She also hated the men who made the rules. The Comhairle. She didn’t want anything to do with that antiquated bunch of old men who thought they ruled the world, but Shawn had made that impossible.

She wished she was powerful enough to handle them. Well, powerful enough to handle them without killing them. Riley shuddered. That was an experience she didn't ever want to repeat.

Maybe send the misogynistic old men of the Comhairle to the middle of nowhere and see how they liked being exiled.

If she used her magic, or made a single misstep, they had her dead to rights. She'd taken a mortal life — nevermind that she'd acted in self defense.

Of course, everyone claimed innocence, so the Comhairle didn't believe her. She was only guilty of falling for a mage who had everyone convinced he was on the side of right.


Shawn lied as easily as he breathed. He had a way about him that made others hang on his every word. His magic was so potent, he'd even bamboozled a banshee. No mean feat.

She hadn't known he drew his power from darkness and preyed upon witches. Mages started off looking normal, and as they grew more corrupted, the telltale white drained their color and soul. She’d been the latest obsession in Shawn's quest for power. His charisma made turning him down impossible when they met. She’d eventually come to her senses and escaped him. He'd not taken the rejection well.

Riley had been lucky to get away, and that the Comhairle only exiled her and banned her from using her magic. They could have locked her away for life, or demanded her execution.

The only reason they gave her another chance — so long as she started over and gave up everything she knew — was because of her father’s influence.

She had to make a clean break or she’d spend the rest of her life in some prison with a bunch of supernatural lawbreakers.

Riley sighed. Starting over was a bitch, but she had to begin anew or else. So she'd fled Ireland, crossed the Atlantic and most of North America, to arrive in Bandrui's Grove — a village in high, forested mountains, nestled in the shadow of a volcano.

Damn Shawn.

Love was for idiots. She’d never make that mistake again. No. She wouldn't put her heart on the line or trust a man.

Especially not an Other World male.

She’d settle down with some clueless human once she figured out what she was going to do. Until then, she’d work whatever jobs she could find and do her best to stay below Shawn’s radar. If she could hide from him, the Comhairle wouldn't be able to find her, either.

She had been in Bandrui's Grove for three days, and so far, the antiques shop was the only place hiring. The locals claimed the owner needed help with running the shop, along with managing the books.

Since she was qualified for such a job, Riley was hoping she’d be able to land it. She couldn’t exactly hand over references or announce her qualifications. Well, she could, but the minute anyone checked, Shawn would be all over her. That wasn’t an option, and funds were running low.

Riley stood outside the store, eyeing the grey sky. It rained a lot in Bandrui's Grove, just like at home.

The antiques shop, like the rest of the village, had an old-world Irish charm to it. Bandrui's Grove had become a human tourist attraction after being featured on some television shows and magazine articles about haunted and picturesque villages. A film crew left only yesterday.

Riley had always been fascinated with Bandrui's Grove. Her family had visited a few times when she was a child, and it had felt perfect. A piece of Ireland across the world from where anyone expected to find it, located in a pocket of its own. Immune to goings-on around it. Far from problems. Far from what was normal. Safe.

And she needed to feel safe — or, at least the illusion of it, more than ever.

She peered into the window of the shop. There were no signs indicating the owner was looking to hire someone.

The air smelled of pending rain and she glanced into the distance, her gaze skimming over the mountains. It certainly looked like rain was on the horizon. Great. Just what the area needed. More rain. Seemed like all it had done was rain since her arrival.

Bandrui's Grove was losing some of its attraction. She sighed, running her hands through her long, unruly, deep red hair.

Riley would look like something the cat dragged in if she waited much longer. Her available wardrobe wasn't appropriate for cool weather. There'd been less than an hour to abandon her home. Not much time to pack discerningly.

She’d hoped her father would defend her before the Comhairle. He hadn’t. He’d agreed to exile her for ten years. She’d never believed he would allow any of his daughters to move away, let alone stand over her, looking hurt, then turning his back on her.

Her father’s disappointed expression haunted her. Shame. The last thing she'd seen on his face was shame. Of her, for violating the rules. Even he hadn't believed she’d used her power against another in self defense. But her word, against the men on the Comhairle, who swallowed every lie Shawn spouted, meant little.

Riley raised her head and squared her shoulders. She would not cry again. No. She was a stronger woman than that.

She had to be.




Jakub Finnegan bent over his woodworking bench and turned a piece of oak in his hands. He'd been toying with it for the last few days, but it had nothing to say to him yet. Oak was special to his people — the druids.

Especially his bloodline. There were many Finnegans, and each clan of the family was attuned to a particular tree. Jakub's branch was Oak.

He was a Druid, given magic and immortality, and charged to protect humans. Ironic, since they held little regard for nature. They didn't care for much, other than themselves and their personal comforts and conveniences. He was not a fan, but almost eight billion of them weren't going anywhere.

Jakub sighed. While he would never say the goddess had made a mistake, he often thought she might have chosen a bit hastily when sending him to be birthed to a family of immortal Druids, then tasked them with overseeing humans’ safety as well as the training of other magic users.

He didn’t mind the Other Worlders as much. Though, more and more, they also held less respect for the craft and its roots. They sought power for the sake of it. Those types almost always ended up going bad — becoming something Jakub, his brothers, and his cousins hunted.

It had been a month since the last threat had surfaced and he felt restless. He had ended the mage and harnessed his white magic to keep it from reentering the ether. The man had more attitude than power. He should have waited to go completely white before he tried to be a badass.

Bandrui's Grove attracted more than its fair share of danger. Most threats were simple to deal with, but every now and then, one took some effort. Aiden, his cousin and best friend, had just returned from a hunt for a mage like that — one who took a toll on the hunters.

Aiden had acquired some bruises, but was fine. The same couldn’t be said for their cousin Blake. He’d already suffered at the hands of demons and paid the price every day.

All the Finnegan men held guilt over Blake. They'd failed him. He’d been savagely attacked, held prisoner, and tortured for months by a mage who had turned to the ways of the Abhartach — blood drinkers.

They'd extricated Blake, and he'd survived, but he'd not come out of the ordeal unchanged. As a result, he was considered an Abhartach, though none of the Finnegans would hunt him.

The damn idiot thought himself a danger to mankind and was doing a damn fine job of trying to end himself. The fool had no idea that the kind-hearted man he’d once been still remained. That the blood drinker side of him did not rule him. Couldn’t get it through Blake’s thick skull, though.

Stubbornness was a Finnegan family trait every one of them inherited.

Should he try to call Blake? It would be Christmas soon. The man typically refused to answer his cell, and even magical contact yielded no results. If Blake didn’t respond soon, Jakub would bring in the big guns.


Their grandmother would straighten Blake out, or pull him by his nose to the rest of the boys so they could. Jakub had found himself on the receiving end of her disappointment and correction often enough.

For a woman who didn’t even come to his shoulder, she was terrifying when she wanted to be, but entirely loving and nurturing all other times.

Yes. If Blake didn’t respond soon, Jakub would leave the matter in Maimeó's more than capable hands.

He smiled, his focus returning to the piece of oak in his hands. This time, a form revealed itself, and his knife moved to free the Oak King.

So much of his time had been poured into carving toys, figures, and furniture over the centuries. He needed the outlet, or he’d dwell on the past, and all the things he couldn't change. That way led to insanity.

A few of them had gone that way. Their family lived such long lives, not even being born to it guaranteed immortality suited them.

Worse than the regrets of the past were the diminishing hopes of the future. The last generation of the Finnegan boys hadn't found their Maité — the other halves of their immortal souls.

What had his family done to piss off the goddess? They respected her and feared her. Did her bidding to protect humans.

Yet, they were all single. Some liked that. Others, such as himself, were more than ready to start families and have something more in life. He sighed. It hadn’t happened in seven hundred years and didn’t look as if it ever would.

For now, he’d do what he always did with his spare time — stay busy and alert for the next threat. He carved the mouth and beard of the Oak King.

The soft sounds of music from the motherland played on his speakers as he lost himself in his work. His building was large enough that he the antiques shop out front, a workshop in the back, and an apartment above it.

It was almost time to open the store, but he could carve a little longer.

Any of the Finnegans could live like kings, but they chose to lead simple lives. Others did not need to know he was worth millions, perhaps billions.

He easily recalled when he and his clan hunted for food, living off the land. Modern conveniences meant so many took so much for granted. Not Jakub. He held great respect for the land, and for the magic.

That same magic ran through his veins, often wanting to be free. With his age and position came high titles within the Other World magic community.

He, his brothers and his cousins, each held positions on the Comhairle. There were so many Finnegans that the other members joked the vote always went whichever way the Finnegans wanted.

The truth was, he avoided as many of those meetings as possible. He had no interest in politics. The threats he dealt with required swift action, not drawn out proceedings. And no jail sentence would rehabilitate a mage, once they went bad.

The old men could have their Comhairle.

Jakub had a pair of magic-eating swords.




Riley took a deep breath to summon courage, and studied the carved oak door. The thing was huge and wouldn't have been out of place in a castle. A third of the panel depicted a hunting scene of an archer aiming at a boar. Below that, fairies cavorted with humans. The bottom third was a forest of trees with a river wending through it.

She put her hand on the doorknob. At the contact, energy blasted up her arm, zipped through her blood, and ended with a warm swirl in her chest.

The magic hummed a melody she'd never heard before, but knew in her heart. It was from the old world and beckoned to her magic, trying to coax it from the box she'd locked it away in.

No, no, no! It couldn't get out! Shawn or the Comhairle would find her. She gasped and remained rooted where she was as she used every ounce of her will to shut her magic back into the prison.

It went, but not willingly. Riley blew out a breath and blinked water out of her eyes. Great. She'd been standing around long enough for the rain to start.

Hoping that brief flare of power went unnoticed, she tried to gather her wits. It would do no good showing up to ask for a job dripping magic everywhere when she probably resembled a drowned rat.

She could use her magic to dry herself and to tidy up her appearance, but after the near disaster just now, there was no way she dared risk it.

Even the slightest mistake could get her killed. That was what Shawn was counting on. Then he would swoop in to save her so she owed him her life. That… That mage had probably planned this all along.

Riley curled her hands into fists. She wanted to turn him into a worm and step on him.

Stop it before you get yourself in more trouble.

She’d never actually met a member of the Comhairle. They'd worn hooded robes during her sham of a trial, but the stories told to young Other Worlders were enough to keep a kid up at night.

They were probably decrepit-looking old men who had bald patches on their heads, and giant noses full of bristly hair.

Focus on why you're here. You need a job!

Riley turned the knob and entered the shop.

Calming scents of lavender and vanilla filled the air. The store was as pleasing to the eye on the inside as it had been on the outside. Carved furniture stood everywhere amid tables displaying statues, vases, and bric-a-brac.

Tiny carvings of wood to life-sized statues were everywhere. One wall held an elaborately hand-crafted bookcase holding tomes and decorative boxes. Someone had spent a fortune having a woodsmith custom design each piece. It was beautiful.

Riley may not be able to live among her family anymore, but this place felt like home. She’d accept anything at the moment.

“Hello?” Riley took a few steps inside, the heavy carved oak door shutting behind her. She expected an ominous thud from the heavy door, but it swung closed soundlessly.

The sound of drums and faint chants filled the air. Some sort of Celtic music playing from the back of the shop. She walked in the direction it came from, calling out two more times in hopes someone would hear her.

She ended up next to a door she assumed led to the back, where patrons weren’t welcomed. This one was also beautifully carved, depicting a scene of fairies having a party. She touched one of the figures, half expecting the winged creature to take flight.

“Anyone here?” she shouted, straining to be heard over the music.

The music shut off and the door swung open. Riley blinked, at a loss for words as she stared at a bare, very muscular chest, displaying every Celtic marking she could think of inked permanently on tawny skin.

Touching each one seemed like the best idea she’d had in… maybe forever Her gaze slid lower, to the V framing a series of intriguing ridges down the center.

Oh yeah. She wanted to touch every one of those, too.

All she could think about was the sight of the man before her. Her sisters had mentioned muscles on a man making a woman stupid, which Riley had laughed at.

As she stared at the expanse of male so magnificently displayed, her level of intelligence plummeted like a free falling elevator.

“Tá,” the man said, his voice deep, his Irish lilt evident, making her sigh softly. “Who wants to know?”

Her intelligence was still lost in the plummeting elevator car. Who? What the hell was her name? Why had she come here? She forced her gaze from his chiseled chest to his equally square, stubbled jaw line.

Her throat felt dry as she raked her gaze farther up, spotting full, kissable lips, then penetrating slate-grey eyes. Eyes that were looking at her with a strange expression. Long black hair with several braids fell to the tops of his broad shoulders.

“Who are you?” he asked.

Hot men clearly made her stupid. “Um.” Riley wasn’t sure how long they stood there, neither saying a word, but the silence ticked by, growing awkward.

“Wh — ” she croaked. Yep. She was now one of those women who couldn’t think straight around a half-naked, muscled man.

He blinked, his black brows meeting for a moment before he nodded. “Come this way, lass.”

She followed, unsure what else to do since she’d been struck stupid at the very sight of him. Of course, now her view was of his muscled back, all the tattoos there, and his ass in low hanging jeans.

Was that sawdust? He'd carved all the things in the shop? He entered a break room with a few roundtables and plastic chairs. A microwave stood atop a counter next to a fridge, which he opened, to pull out a bottle of water.

Riley stood back, still surprised by her response to a perfect stranger. He twisted the cap off and extended the water. The moment her fingers slid over his, a rush of magic surged between them.

That song her heart recognized trilled in her mind. She gasped, eyes widening as she fought to contain her magic. Her throat went drier.

Riley was about to sip the water when Mr. Muscles pulled it back, his eyes were on her chest as he gulped the water down. There wasn’t a drop left when he was done.

Laughter escaped her lips. At least she wasn't alone having issues.

Mr. Muscles looked from the empty bottle to her and smiled abashedly. “Sorry.” He went to the fridge again and got her a new bottle that he set on a table as if he didn’t want to chance getting closer to her.

That was fine. She wasn’t sure she could handle him any closer either. Smiling, Riley took the water. “Thank you.” She sipped it as he continued to watch her.

“We don't open for another thirty minutes.” His voice made her want to melt into a puddle at his feet.

She'd only sworn off love, not lust.

Best decision ever.

Riley took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I’m here about the job. I was told you’re hiring.”

He shook his head. “What?”

“Hiring." It appeared his intelligence had left the building, too. "Are you hiring?”

Putting his palms on the table top, he leaned toward her.. “Tá. You're hired.”

She took a step back. “You didn’t ask if I was qualified. You don’t even know my name.”

He squeezed his hands into fists, watching her with a strange expression. “I seem to recall asking, but you didn't answer.”

Oh, right.

“What is your name, lass?” he asked for the third time, his lips quirking.

“Riley Doyle.”

Shit. Why did I give him my real name?

Riley tried to think of another name, but it was too late. She’d already told him the truth. All she could do was hope he didn’t run a background check on her.

“Good enough for me. You're hired.”

Riley balked. “You didn’t ask for my resume or if I’ve done bookkeeping.”

Why was she trying to talk him out of the exact decision she'd wanted him to make?. Him not wanting any of those things was a godsend. Her intelligence hadn't taken the elevator back up yet.

“I don't care. You're hired, lass. Stop trying to talk me out of it. The girl I have working for me threatened to quit if I didn’t get some help in here. She’s naught but a slip of a thing, but can scare the hide off a bear. So, you're hired. Niamh will be happy." He held out his arms. "I keep my skin in one piece.”

This man definitely needed to keep all that skin exactly how it was.

He motioned to the door he’d come through. “Look around and get to know the place. You start now.”

Riley stood rooted in place again. “Um, Mister? I don’t know your name.” She doubted he’d like it if she went around calling him Mr. Muscles.

“Jakub Finnegan,” he responded. “Owner of the shop, and your new boss.”




Grove of Bandrui

Book 1: Druid of Oaks cover reveal inside.


While I was writing Angharad and Fetu's story, I needed some Druids, naturally, since that is what Angharad studied to be.

As usual, I couldn't write just one story, and ended up with a series outlined. Druid of Oaks is the first story and will be available in September.