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Tag Archives: Mythology



Tatzelwurms are a sort of dragon from German mythology. They live underground, and depending on what you read, are anywhere from six to twenty feet long, and have a cat face.

On the second day of my Christmas series, in Two Tatzelwurms, a Tatzelwurm has a forbidden relationship with a Brownie, which comes to light rather spectacularly during the Gingerbread House Contest.



I had a crazy idea to do a paranormal version of short stories based on the Twelve Days of Christmas for next month. Traditionally, the first day is a Partridge in a Pear Tree, but that isn't very paranormal.

So, I came up with a Penghou In a Pine Tree!

What the heck is a Penghou, you ask? I couldn't find a good picture, so get your imagination ready — it's a tree spirit from Chinese mythology that takes the form of a black dog with a human face.

They are said to inhabit camphor trees, so you'll have to pretend there's a Penghou in the tree.

On the first day of Christmas in my series, the Penghou Shen finds Zacky, his long lost Dryad love, at the Tree Decorating Contest in Ashana.


#thatplacethursday - A place I use in my stories from our world, mythology, or my imagination. Fae is a location I love because anything is possible. People eating trees and The Hunt are possible dangers, as is getting lost forever. Despite the dangers, I imagine it as beautiful.


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 4-5



Jakub watched the fiery redhead walk through the door to the back offices. He’d have followed to make sure she got a proper tour, but he needed a moment to collect his thoughts, and his powers.

Magic trickled through him, wanting free, wanting to sink into Riley, wanting to cradle her against him. His cock was on board with this idea.

He’d fucked plenty of women. More than he could remember in seven centuries, but couldn’t recall a time his dick had been this eager. He wanted Riley Doyle something fierce. His magic seemed to be making a play for her as well.

As an immortal, he'd had time to learn exacting control over his magic. He was known for his control and strength. Until Riley walked in, unable to even speak her name, and his magic had strained like a hound ready to hunt trapped on a leash.

When the magical wards around his shop had danced in excitement, he'd nearly cut his finger off. His magic had never reacted like that to anything or anyone before. He'd expected to find a powerful or unfamiliar Other Worlder had entered his store. Instead. He found a befuddled human.

The wards hadn’t shaken as they would to indicate a threat, but rather stroked tantalizing feathery touches against his power, alerting him to something he definitely wanted to see.

He didn’t think he could be surprised anymore but Riley proved him wrong. When he’d thrown open the door to find her green gaze eating him like her favorite dessert, he'd been so turned on he nearly burst into flames.

He’d wanted to grab her, kiss her, and devour her as equally as she was him. He had the strangest urge to call Aiden like there was news to share that couldn’t wait. Like they were gossipy girls.

But what news? Did he dare call Aiden and confess his magic, and his cock, had lost their minds? His cousin would never let him hear the end of it.

The front door of the shop opened.

Jakub blinked. Maybe Aiden had become part Djinn and could be summoned.

His cousin grinned, his black hair down and free from a tie today. They looked so much alike they were often mistaken for brothers. It was the same with all his brothers and cousins — broad shoulders, towering height, black hair of varying lengths, and grey eyes.

He knew a sign when he saw one. Jakub glanced where Riley had gone to make sure she wouldn't overhear, then rushed to grab his cousin’s arm and drag him to the front corner of the showroom.

“There's a woman here,” he murmured, low and urgent.

Aiden craned his head in exaggerated gestures, then eyed Jakub, a questioning expression on his face. “Is she invisible?”

“Shut it,” Jakub warned, in no mood for unwitty banter. He thought of lying but decided against it. If this was a sign, Aiden needed the truth. “She caused my wards to… waver.”

“The invisible woman rocked your wards?” Aiden smirked. "Men don't normally worry when a woman does that for him."

Jakub growled. “She’s not invisible, dolt! She’s in the back.”

The amused look upon Aiden’s face vanished, replaced by astonishment. “Truly?”

“Tá,” Jakub rolled his eyes. "I don't need to make up stories about women."

Aiden finally looked serious. “Is she magic?”

“No." Jakub sighed, his next words bitter. "I sensed no magic on her. She's as human as a human gets.” A heavy loneliness weighed his spirit down. If she were Other World, she could be his Maité.

But never a human.

Maybe he'd just been over excited because he'd been wallowing in wishes for the future when Riley came into the shop. If he could truly summon someone to appear with a thought, it would be the woman he'd been waiting seven hundred years to find.

His cousin looked him over for a long moment. “What are you not telling me, Jakub?”

Jakub bent his head, ashamed at his loss of control around the young woman. “I couldn't find words to speak when I first saw her, and my magic was all over her. It was hard to think of anything other than siring sons upon her.”

Aiden was silent for a moment, then burst into laughter. “You are joking. Nice one. I believed you right up until the sons part. That was too much for you.”

Jakub’s jaw dropped. He wasn't that bad, and certainly no worse than the other Finnegan boys.

Aiden thumped Jakub's arm. “You're as randy as they come, and do your best to get into any woman’s britches. Nice try on this one bein’ different. You're not the monogamous, settling down type.”

There was never a reason before, but he wanted to be.

A soft gasp caught Jakub’s attention. Turning, he found Riley there, just inside the door.

Shit. Had she heard them? She stared at him with a hurt expression. She'd definitely heard something she didn't like. He wasn’t sure why that bothered him, but it did.

“I, uh —” she stammered. “It looks like you were taking inventory. I could work on that if you want. Or I could go. I mean…”

“No. Stay!” Jakub practically shouted.

Aiden touched his arm. “Hello. Jakub is a rude lummox. I'm Aiden, his handsomer cousin. And you are?”

“Riley.” She smiled at Aiden.

Jakub's fist itched to smash Aiden's nose.

Aiden crossed the showroom in a deceptively casual lope. “Riley, what do you say you and I head to the back and I can help you with that inventory? I think Jakub has a few things to finish up here.” He glanced back at Jakub. “Plus, I think he may need to find a shirt.”

A shirt? One hand smacked his bare chest. He rarely wore shirts in his woodshop, and then Riley's eyes had been all over him. "Right. A shirt."

Aiden nodded and ushered Riley into the back of the store.

Jakub headed into the rainy darkness. He needed to think, to clear his head, and double-check his wards. The cold shower helped a bit.

Something was off. He’d never been this out of sorts. He headed around to the back of the building where his truck was parked.

There was no shirt inside. He conjured a shirt from the apartment rather than one of the extras he kept in his office. It would do no good to blink away a shirt if Riley was standing near it, and saw it disappear.

One did not show magic to humans. It simply wasn’t done, although most of them were so blind they couldn't see magic anyway.

While Riley had made his wards tremble, she wasn't magic or an Other Worlder. He’d never met a magic user who didn’t have at least a residual amount of power on them.

It occurred from usage and just being around it all the time. As far as he could tell, she was stunning — but very, and only, human.

He’d search through his books, to look for a way to make her immortal and supernatural, as he was.




Riley bit back an appreciative moan as a shirtless Jakub lifted the painting he was trying to hang higher. His back and arms bulged in so many interesting ways. If she had some ice cream or popcorn, she'd happily stream the Jakub show all. Day. Long.

The man made the mundane seem extraordinary, especially when his shirts found somewhere else to be, as they often did. It was like Jakub had an allergy to being fully clothed.

Not that she minded.

In the weeks she’d known him, he surprised and captivated her. Case in point, Riley couldn’t tear her gaze from his performance with the painting. Who needed cable TV and late night premium channels?

And he did love to show off what the gods had given him, always teasing and taunting her with it. She stared at his backside and did her best to remain silent. The man should not still have this much sway and power over her, but he did.

It was difficult to look away. Considering the amount of intentional flexing going on, Jakub didn't want her attention anywhere else. It would be rude not to stare appreciatively, and her mother had done her best to teach Riley to be polite.

With each sway of the painting, another bunch of muscles flexed under all that tawny, tattooed skin. She might have to sit on her hands to behave.

His biceps flexed, and she heard herself moan. Hopefully, Jakub was too busy to have heard her.

Cringing, she pushed the thought away. She most certainly could, and did, moan, drool, pant, and trip over her own two feet around him — her body loved to embarrass her.

The man twisted her into an uncoordinated, stammering, unintelligent schoolgirl by offering her nothing more than a smile.

She’d tried to make herself immune to his charms after hearing he was a man whore. That had become easier when she'd stayed late a few times and encountered some of the women.

He didn't seem to have a type. Tall and short. Lanky and curvy. Redhead, brunette, and blonde. Young to middle aged.

Jakub was an equal opportunity womanizer. After the shop closed, a parade of them went in and out of rooms he kept locked to her.

It shouldn't matter. He wasn't hers. The only relationship they had was employee and employer, so anything more would be inappropriate anyway. That didn't stop her heart aching. A little stab each time a new woman smiled at her as they came and went.

Came and went!

Riley snorted.

Jakub peered over his shoulder, catching her in his hypnotic grey eyes. "Did you say something?"

Busted. She tried to recover pitiful scraps of her self-esteem. "I think you're slightly left of center."

"Really?" He hoisted the painting again.

Riley only half watched the show now. It was almost time for her to go home, and there were ominous signs that Shawn had found her. For days, she’d been receiving hang-up calls from a blocked number on her new burner phone.

A bouquet of orange flowers had been left on her doorstep — the same flowers Shawn bought her as an apology after one of his violent streaks.

More disturbing were the signs that someone had been in her apartment. It was a tiny studio and she took particular care about everything having a place and keeping it there. When she’d returned home late last night, things had been moved. Only slightly, but not how she'd left the few things she owned.

The last thing she wanted was to put Jakub or the others she’d come to know in danger, yet she couldn’t muster the will to go. The idea of never seeing Jakub again hurt worse than the pain of watching the parade of women in and out of his rooms.

Everything in her screamed to trust Jakub, but she hadn't told her secrets to him. How could she now, when the danger had found her?

Hi, I know you think I'm human, but I'm actually a banshee on the run from a mage. By the way, I'm also in exile because the Comhairle let me keep my life in exchange for not using my magic. Oh, you think I need a room with padded walls? No surprise there. Now I've been found, so I have to leave. Thanks for everything.

It would only paint a target on him. Humans who knew the truth of magic often met with unfortunate endings — courtesy of the Comhairle. She’d heard of too many incidents to risk Jakub's life.

She shuddered at the thought of anything happening to him, or his cousin, or Niamh. Maybe it was because loneliness had become a constant companion, but they'd become a sort of family to her.

Niamh and Riley were close, or as close as she could allow anyone with her past and lack of future to get. Niamh suspected Riley had deep feelings for Jakub and teased her like a sister.

If she was honest with herself, she had to admit she was head over heels for her boss. She had been from the moment she met him, and her feelings grew stronger with each day. Maybe he was the human she could settle down with one day.

But she kept her feelings to herself. It was clear Jakub had no time for, or interest in her. Just in every other woman he met.

Jakub moved to reposition the painting again. It was a little too far to the right. Every muscle on his upper body flexed, causing Riley’s sex to flood with slickness.

“What about now?” The bulging muscles in his arms looked ready to pop, while the ones in his abs made ripples that taunted her.

"A bit to the left."

She considered using her power to help him, but thought better of it. Somehow, Riley didn’t think a floating painting would go over well.

Especially when Jakub was human. Other than that initial flash of magic on that first day, she hadn't felt anything else magical around him, or his cousin, or Niamh. The wards could very well have been placed by the protectors of Bandrui's Grove and had nothing to do with Jakub at all.

Riley hadn't met any of the guardians, but she was glad about that. She didn't want to draw attention to herself, especially the attention of anyone so powerful.

“Damn thing,” Jakub muttered, drawing her attention back to his tempting body. He shifted his weight, drawing her gaze to his ass. She licked her lips.

Today was giving her plenty to visualize for when she inevitably resorted to pleasuring herself. Each flick of her nub, each clench in her pussy would be a direct result of her imagining Jakub being the one bringing her pleasure.

It would be his dick she imagined in place of her vibrator. His fingers tweaking her nipples. If her dreams remained the same, and goddess, Riley hoped they did, Jakub would play the starring role.

If only dreams could come true.

Jakub set the painting down and cast a questioning look at her. Pulling on her all-business persona, she held out a file.

Riley tried to focus on anything other than his body coming toward her.

She’d taken over the bookkeeping. It was for the best. Jakub wasn’t great about his accounting. He didn’t seem to mind where his money went or how it was spent. He had so much that she wasn’t surprised.

“Here are your taxes. I thought you’d want to take a peek at them.”

It might be the last thing she could do for him. If she found her apartment violated again, she had to leave. Staying even this long was pushing her luck.

He glanced at the folder. “You did my taxes? Did I not tell you that you didn't have to worry about those things?”

She winced. “You did, but they needed to be done and I’d already gathered everything needed. The forms aren’t filed, just filled out. Look them over or throw them away. I was only trying to help.”

Jakub gave her his lady killer smile, “Thank you, lass. If I didn't already think you were perfect, the taxes would put you there.”

He thought she was perfect? Shame flushed her cheeks. She’d been lying to him from the moment they'd met.

“I’m not perfect, Jakub. Far from it.”

“I do not recall giving you a say in the matter.” He winked.

A huge bolt of lightning lit up the sky outside, quickly followed by thunder so loud she nearly launched herself at Jakub. Nervous and embarrassed by her fear of storms, Riley babbled.

“Did you want to look over everything tonight, or you probably have people for that. I’m sorry.”

Jakub arched a dark brow and narrowed grey eyes. He was gorgeous. “Is this really that important right now, Riley? Am I in danger of going broke?”

Not unless someone swooped in and sucked your millions dry.

The man made no sense. He was loaded beyond belief but only operated the antiques shop. His cousin had mentioned a time or two that Jakub had once owned quite a few businesses, but had decided to give them all up and go with a quieter life. He didn’t look old enough to have amassed a fortune, but who was she to question someone else's life choices?

“So…” His gaze was slightly mocking. “Am I out of money?”

Not bothering to answer, Riley dropped her gaze to the swirling shield-knot tattoo on his upper arm and bit her lip. It was one of his many markings, and he took great pride in explaining each one to her.

Riley didn't let on that she knew what the majority of them represented. Another sort of lie. There was a lot she held back from Jakub, but he had secrets too. Probably not as big as hers, though.

Another flash of lightning sent thunder rolling across the sky.

She closed her eyes. Nothing good happened during thunderstorms.

Shawn's laughter accompanied the thunder in her mind. He'd always made fun of her fear. Okay, so it was irrational, but she had no control over it. It was irrational! All the signs meant he was in Bandrui's Grove. She’d gone so far as to pack her bags for a speedy escape..

“Riley?” Jakub's deep voice brought her back from the edge of panic. “Are you well?”

She pasted a fake smile on. “Peachy.”

He didn’t look as though he believed her. She couldn’t blame him. Thankfully, he returned to his task at hand — hanging the painting.

The man looked like he should be in a gym, or, with his long hair and braids, on some ancient battlefield wielding a sword. Not hanging a painting on the wall of an antiques shop.

Riley sighed and wished again that she could call her sisters. She wanted to hear her sisters’ voices, share her feelings for Jakub with them, and even sit through their lectures about bad-boy men who would break her heart in the end.

“Lass, you feeling okay?” Jamub asked, his lilt shining through.

Growing up, Riley had been taught that the greatest heroes came from Ireland. Her father had only been allowed to marry her mother because of her ties to the motherland, and keeping with traditions was expected of Riley and her siblings would have to do the same.

Though, her older sister liked French men, which made their father crazy. Finding a man worthy enough, according to her family’s standards, was next to impossible.

Unless the man was a living, breathing Celtic warrior with unearthly powers, the chances of him passing the Doyle family tests were slim to none. She wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find her father had a checklist of prerequisites.

Not that it mattered in her case. She’d shamed her family. And her last boyfriend was a real winner. She shuddered thinking about him. She’d known he’d find her if she stayed in one spot too long, and she’d been in Bandrui's Grove weeks, and had hoped to have longer. Maybe she hadn't been a resident long enough for the protections to apply to her.

Her magic bristled, ready to defend Jakub should the need arise. She would do whatever it took to keep him safe. Even if it meant exposing herself and magic — though she wished with all her might it would never come to that.

Countless nights she’d begged any goddess who would listen for the chance to spend the rest of her days by Jakub's side, be the one who caught his fancy, won his hand.

An equal number of days, she’d awakened to heartache, finding that she was nothing more to him than a friend, someone who helped run his shop.

Jakub propped the painting against the wall and turned to face her. “Riley, have you eaten today? You're paler than normal, and that is saying something.”

“I’m fine. Totally fine,” she said, even as the room swayed. She'd planned to eat lunch, but gotten sidetracked by the books, then she’d worked straight through.

Worry over Shawn being in town made her stomach too upset for her to think of adding anything to it. The storm outside seemed to grow in intensity and she wasn't looking forward to walking home. She glanced out the nearest window.

Gasping, Riley jerked back as she thought she saw Shawn standing on the other side of the glass pane, glaring in at her, white eyes glowing.

Terror took over. A scream burst out of her as her magic thrashed to break free of its prison. Her scream went on and on as fragments of her magic successfully escaped to power her voice.

Oh no. Oh no! She yanked her magic back and stuffed it into the box, but it was too late.

Someone was going to die.

Jakub's voice came to her from a distance. The vision of Shawn disappeared.

She whirled and bumped into Jakub, bounced off him and turned so fast her vision darkened around the edges, then closed in around her