Don't Hex and Drive by Juliette Cross

August 28, 2020


His body was a love letter of perfection.

Don't Hex and Drive by Juliette Cross

Don't Hex and Drive by Juliette Cross


Notoriously bad at peopling, Isadora Savoie spends most of her time in the greenhouse or at the local animal shelter, using her Conduit powers of growth and healing. Content to remain in the background of the Savoie sister shenanigans, she’s reluctantly roped into the mystery of missing neighborhood girls. Now, she’s partnered with a flashy, flirty vampire to find them before it’s too late.

Devraj Kumar has seen and done it all. Three hundred years roaming the earth as a Stygorn—a legendary vampire warrior who operates in the shadows—has its perks. But ennui has set in. That is, until he has a run-in—literally—with an intriguing witch while on a new assignment in New Orleans. Fascinated by her resistance to his charms, Devraj can’t help but push her buttons in an effort to get to know the shy witch. Fortunately for him, she’s been recruited by the Lord of Vampires to assist Devraj on the case.

Between a Bollywood marathon, supernatural dating app, secret package, and sexy driving instruction, Isadora is in over her head. And Devraj? After just one taste, he’s playing for keeps.

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Check out Wolf Gone Wild and find out why Mateo is such a favorite!

Delectable, smooth and charming Indian vampire. Quiet and awkward witch. Sweet, delicious times!

In DON'T HEX AND DRIVE, I witnessed the most unique meet-cute I've ever read. It was hilarious even while I knew that Devraj was going to have to work hard to get any of Isadora's affections. She took in what looked a fine as hell male specimen, his expensive clothes, and his fancy car and summed him up - he must be superficial and materialistic. When she finds out that he was also a famous Bollywood actor, she believes her first instincts were correct. And then he repeatedly shows her how wrong she is just by being himself.

🧛 The plot: 5/5 - while the romance developing between Isadora and Devraj was the main focus of this story, I liked how there was a side plot that didn't immediately affect them. Women were disappearing from the streets of New Orleans and that's why Devraj, a Stygorn, was there in the first place -- to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice. Meeting his soulmate was a huge bonus!

🧛 The hero: 5/5 - Devraj was a Stygorn, which simply speaking is an elite guard of vampires. They are the best of the best. Devraj was incredible! He was sweet and sexy, intelligent and humble. He knew he was one of the greatest vampires around, but he didn't carry himself with any form of conceit or arrogance. It was impossible not to fall in love with this man. He was in touch with his own humanity, he had a deep well of past pain and anguish, and he was an enlightened individual. I admired his patience when it came to Isadora.

Thoughtful was becoming synonymous with Devraj. And so many other words. Kind. Strong. Beautiful. I'd been too quick to judge when we first met, but the more I learned of him, the more I sank into a world of feelings.

🧛 The heroine: 4/5 - I went into this knowing that Isadora was going to annoy me. I knew this. So I was prepared. And aside from her disgusting treatment of Devraj, that lasted a bit too long for my taste, I ended up liking her in the end. Her fears were relevant and I felt like I could understand her. I wouldn't go to the extremes she did, or push people away or treat them the way she did, but I got it. Underneath her aloofness was a heart of gold. She was a sweetheart, a gem, and I was beyond thrilled about the insight the author gave into her character.

"So quiet. So unassuming. Lingering behind the bold front of your sisters when you hold such power in that pretty body of yours. That pretty mind. That pretty heart." - Devraj

I loved this book. I loved these characters. I even loved the intense subplot that was included which highlighted the interpersonal relationships of all the characters. The closeness, familiarity, and unconditional love between the Savoie sisters is the stuff of dreams. The way they welcome newcomers like Mateo and Devraj filled me with warmth. There is so much to adore with these people and I'm nowhere near done with them. I'm going to be patiently (not so patiently) waiting for the next book, Witches Get Stitches, which will be Nico and Violet's story!


CHAPTER 1:


~ISADORA~

I was thinking about purple pansies when it happened.

Just bumping along on my bicycle, down the narrow street that paralleled Magazine, while daydreaming of this particular little flower. It was right after sundown, which was my favorite part of the day to ponder things. I was a deep ponderer. Not deep thinker, mind you, because that would imply that I mused about profound, earth-shaking things. Nope. Mostly plants and flowers. And dogs. Sometimes cats. Or a more efficient way to organize our inventory at Mystic Maybelle’s. But really, mostly flowers.

Did you know that pansies, especially when infused with my special brand of magic, can be brewed in teas to heal skin rashes, reduce fevers, and even help with high blood pressure? Pansies! Shocking, right?

Tia liked to tease me—and by that, I mean aggravate—by reminding me that it’s also highly effective in love potions. Ancient Greeks used pansies for love potions, giving it the nickname heart’s ease.

“Maybe you can whip up a batch and find Mr. Right,” she’d said with a cheeky grin this afternoon at her house.

To that, I’d rolled my eyes and waved goodbye, carrying my precious bundle like a newborn babe right out the door. This particular pot of pansies had been dug up in the Meteora region of Greece where they’d been growing wild and untouched for centuries. Every witch knew, especially Conduits like myself and Tia, that the most powerful of plants were cultivated by mother earth, not human hands.

“Almost home, my sweet angel,” I whispered down to the basket attached to my handlebars.

Yes, I talked to my plants. Research proved they responded well to human speech and song. You can Google it.

Okay, fine. I just liked talking to them. Plants and animals never judged you. Not for what you looked like, what you wore or didn’t wear, what you said or didn’t say, what you believed or didn’t believe, or even that you preferred to travel by bicycle as opposed to car.

So that’s what I was thinking about when my world turned upside down. Literally.

I didn’t even hear him until it was too late. The sudden screech of tires and whip of the headlights hit me a split second before his car did. The bump against my back tire was hard enough to send me, my favorite handbag, and my sweet pot of pansies flying into the air. I was so shocked I didn’t even cushion my fall with telekinesis because, unfortunately, I needed a little warning and preparation before I used that kind of magic. How fast had this idiot been driving, anyway?

Landing in a tumble of limbs, my ankle twisted painfully on the fall. “Ow!”

The simultaneous crack of pottery twisted my heart and hurt even more. The headlights of the jerk’s car shone on the devasting sight of my pansies limp on their side. The terra cotta pot was shattered, the soil spilled, her roots exposed like some horrific murder victim.

“Nooo.”

A gust of wind, then, “Hey bhagwan! Are you hurt?”

It had been no more than three seconds since his car had hit my bicycle before the man’s large hand gripped the curve of my shoulder. No, not a man. Not a human one anyway. Only one supernatural could move that fast. And carried that kind of potent signature. It hit me almost as hard as his car did, punching the breath right out of my lungs.

Before I could even get a good look at him, he was hovering over my feet where my knee was bent and I was holding my ankle. He lifted my injured foot gently and slipped off my flat. His long black hair fell in waves over his crisp white button-down, well past his shoulders. I tried but couldn’t see his face hidden by that fall of hair. Then I became distracted by his deeply bronzed hands. Long fingers brushed lightly over my ankle.

“Are you a doctor?” I winced, tugging at my foot. One, because it hurt. And two, because I didn’t like strangers touching me. For that matter, I was pretty protective of my personal space even with friends. “Do you even know what you’re doing?”

He ignored my questions, holding firm. “Try to point your toes.”

Aggravated, I pointed them anyway before biting my lip on a whimper.

“Not broken then.” He slipped my shoe back on, his fingers sliding over the injury before giving me a light squeeze.

Pulling my foot out of his hands, I accused as calmly as possible, “You’re not a doctor.”

When he finally looked at me, I wasn’t surprised by his striking beauty. So typical. His heavy lashes framed whiskey-warm brown eyes. His perfectly square jaw and well-defined cheekbones were all ridiculously symmetrical. What did I expect from a vampire? An old one, at that. His magic hummed in the air, tinged with power and control and the trait I hated most about his kind. Seduction. They all wore it like a coat, parading it around like proud peacocks. So annoying. But this one? It sealed his aura of magic like a second skin. Like it wasn’t a secondary trait at all, but a natural birthright.

Wait. Not perfect, actually. His left brow was bisected by a thin white scar that disappeared into his hairline. It was hard to see at first in the dim light. So he didn’t use glamour to mask his flaws? Interesting.

His concerned expression shifted, his mouth quirking up with one of those smirky smiles that cocky guys flashed when they thought they could charm their way out of a situation. Uh, no. I don’t think so.

“Aren’t vampires supposed to have superhuman eyesight? Say, to avoid hitting an innocent traveler on the road?”

His nostrils flared as he inhaled a deep breath. Recognition shone in his eyes. His charming smile slipped, his expression changing to…amused interest? “Aren’t witches supposed to have telekinetic powers? Say, to avoid being hit by cars?”

For a moment, I was completely distracted by the smooth, deep timbre of his voice and his subtle accent. Indian, definitely, but something more. The slow, intentional care of each word reminded me of a professor from Russia I had in college. His accent was strong and soft at the same time. This vampire’s was similar, liquid and lilting with an undercurrent of firm control. Casual dominance. If there was such a thing.

His gaze traveled down my body, taking in my forest green Boho skirt and navy blue top. “And why are you riding a bike at night wearing such dark colors, Mistress Witch?”

Unbelievable! He was blaming me for hitting me with his stupid car? The reason I wasn’t wearing bright-colored clothes, which I did if I rode at night, was because I hadn’t planned on staying at Tia’s past our lunch date. But lunch turned into afternoon tea, then we’d gotten into a heated discussion about night-blooming medicinal plants, and I left too late. But this dumb vampire didn’t deserve an explanation.

“Here, let me help you up.” He leaned forward and grabbed me by the forearm, which I quickly wrenched away.

“No, thank you. I’m fine.”

He eased back onto his heels and raised his palms up in a hands-off gesture, his dark eyes shimmering silver for a second. Freaking, nervy vampires. Driving around like bats out of hell. Thinking they owned the world.

Ignoring him, I reached for the strap of my canvas handbag and looped it over my head to cross my chest. I flattened my palms on the concrete and pushed up, hissing in a breath. I’d scraped my palms on the fall.

“Let me—"

“No,” I snapped, avoiding his gaze when he made a frustrated noise in his throat.

Managing to stand all on my own, ungracefully, but still on my own, I took a step toward the front of the car and whimpered at the sharp pain. My leg crumpled, but before I hit the pavement—again—the vampire reached over to steady me with an arm around my waist.

“Do you mind?” I wriggled and batted at his hand to get him off.

He released me. “Look,” he said, seeming to force himself to keep calm, “I’m just trying to help.”

“Where’s my phone?” I muttered, digging through my bag while leaning all of my weight on my uninjured leg. I could call Jules to come get me. “Dammit, where is it?”

The vampire walked away, leaned over to the pavement, and then returned with his palm out to me. He was holding my phone, fully cracked glass and the screen frozen on the weather app for some odd reason.

“Just great!” I snatched it from him and tapped the screen, knowing I’d get nothing.

“I’m seriously sorry about this. Why don’t you let me drop you off at home at least? I’ll fix your bike. I’ll replace your phone. I promise.”

I glared at him like he’d lost his damn mind. “I’m not getting in the car with you. Are you crazy? And, yes, you are paying for my bicycle.” I shoved the useless cellphone in my handbag. “But I have phone insurance.”

He propped both hands on his hips and looked up the street, his crisp white shirt glowing under the streetlight, stretching across his broad chest. “You can’t live far. Let me give you a ride home.”

“After witnessing your excellent driving skills? Um, no, thank you. And I don’t know you. Ever heard of stranger danger?”

Plus there was the whole issue of those college girls going missing. I wasn’t an idiot. Actually, I’d never seen him around this neighborhood before and suddenly eyed him with renewed suspicion. “Who are you anyway?”

His attention swiveled back to me, and then he frowned down at the ground at my foot as I wobbled.

“My name is Devraj Kumar.”

“I’ve never seen you around here.”

“I’ve just arrived in town. I’m a friend of Ruben Dubois. Surely, you know him if you’re a local witch.”

Ruben Dubois? The overlord of vampires in New Orleans? Uh, yeah, I knew him.

“You know Ruben?”

He pulled out his cell from his back pocket and dialed a number, holding the phone up to his ear. Within three seconds, he said, “Yeah, I had an incident.” His dark eyes fixed on me. “An accident, actually. My fault. I hit a witch on her bike.” He pivoted away so I couldn’t see his face. “Shut up, man. No, she’s fine. Well, except for her ankle. Will you tell her I won’t kidnap or kill her so she’ll let me take her home?”

He turned and passed me the phone with a seriously disgruntled look. I guess Ruben handed his ass to him. Good. A little smugly, I took the phone.

“Hey, Ruben. It’s Isadora.”

“Isadora,” repeated the vampire king in his always-steady-and-calm voice. But then he let out a little sigh. “Are you all right?”

“Fine. Just my ankle.”

“I’m glad you were cautious and didn’t get in the car with him.” Ruben had no idea how bad my car phobia was. There was no way I’d ever just get in a car with anyone. “But listen, Devraj is one of my oldest and best friends. You can trust him to give you a ride home. I’m sure Jules is already worrying since it’s late.”

True. She would be. Or my sisters, whoever was home right now. I eyed the vampire standing in front of me, looking somewhat innocent and remorseful, hands in his pockets.

Ruben knew our family well since he and Jules worked closely together as leaders in the supernatural world. He was a good friend to us, so if he said Devraj was trustworthy, then he was.

“If you say so, Ruben.”

“I do. Let him help you. I can promise you he’s already drowning in guilt. Let him get you home safely.”

“Okay. I will.”

“Can I speak to him again for a minute?”

“Sure.”

I passed the phone back. Devraj took it and listened to whatever Ruben was saying, his gaze sharpening on me as he exhaled the heaviest sigh I’d ever heard.

“I will,” he said to Ruben before ending the call and slipping it into his back pocket. “All ready to go then?”

I nodded, eyeing his intimidating looking car. One of those super-fast, fancy ones that made me cringe.

“All right.” Then he swept me up into his arms, one arm under my knees, the other cradling my back.

“Wait! What are you doing? Put me down!”

“I’m getting you in the car without you injuring yourself further.”

“I don’t like this,” I ground out, pressing my scratched palms to his white shirt, then jerked them back, realizing I’d likely stain it. Whatever he was wearing, it was expensive. “Please put me down.”

“I will. Inside the car, Isadora. Isadora what, by the way?”

“Savoie,” I muttered, gritting my teeth, my nerves fracturing on multiple levels.

“Your ankle is injured, and you can’t walk. You certainly can’t ride your bike.” He glanced toward where it had landed, the back wheel crooked, spokes popping out. His gaze swiveled to mine as he marched forward, looking a bit more contrite. “I’ll come back for your bike.” He strode around his sleek car, the engine still purring as he’d never turned it off. “I imagine you don’t live far.”

His voice rumbled against my side. I’d curled my hands against my chest, trying to avoid all contact. The vibration of his deep timbre against my ribcage reminded me how close we were. So did the scent of him. Some kind of fancy cologne. It smelled expensive and made me uncomfortable. I was ready to be rid of this vampire with his fancy car, clothes, and cologne.

“Not far,” I grumbled before adding emphatically, “I’m not leaving without my pansies.”

He set me down gently beside the passenger door and opened it, ignoring me. Before he could urge me in, I slammed it shut, almost taking off his fingers. The flash of silver across those dark eyes of his told me I’d made my point.

I leaned back against the closed car door. “Not. Without my pansies.”

He braced his hands low on his hips, drawing my attention to the sheer size of him. Most vampires were built lean and trim. He fit that mold. Except he was taller. More muscular. And his body seemed built for athleticism whereas most vampires were built for indolent leisure. Looked like he scaled skyscrapers and swam lakes for fun. Who knew with vampires? They seemed to be the most over-the-top of the supernaturals. Flashy, arrogant. Except Ruben, actually. He was all right. But the rest of them, I had no use for.

He surveyed my broken pot on the street in front of his car. “And how exactly am I supposed to transport them?”

Leaning against the passenger side, I rummaged in my bag, maneuvering around my hand sanitizer, my granola bar, the duct tape, and my first-aid kit, which I’d need in a second. Aha! There at the bottom, I pulled out one of my reusable shopping bags and handed it over.

“Please move her into the bag very gently. If the clustered roots separate, they may wilt and die, even if I get them back into a new pot. Pansies are extremely delicate. I would just be devastated,” I spit out in one breath.

He blinked at me, brows raised. Perhaps I sounded a little dramatic, but this whole freakish incident had made me, well, flustered. My ankle would be fine once I calmed down enough to heal it myself, but my precious pansies imported all the way from Greece might die because of this vampire’s reckless driving.

Glancing at where my plant lay, I pushed off the door and took a limping step toward the front of the car. “Never mind. I need to do it myself.”

“Wait, wait, wait.” He stopped me with a firm but gentle grip around my wrist, then plucked the shopping bag from my hand. “I’ll do it. You stay here.”

No hint of annoyance in his voice. This vampire wasn’t easily rattled, I’d give him that. Even with my less-than-kind attitude, he’d handled me gently enough. Surely, he’d do the same for my pansies.

Biting my lip, I watched him carefully remove the pieces of broken pottery and drop them in someone’s garbage can at the curb. Then he scooped his large hands under the soil and roots, the entire plant fitting nicely in his palms, and placed it in the bottom of the bag.

“Don’t lift it by—” I stopped mid-sentence since he hadn’t hauled it up like a sack of potatoes like I thought he would have. Instead, he lifted from the bottom with both hands and walked toward his trunk. He held my gaze, arching one dark brow as he passed me by.

Okay then. Clearing my throat, I opened the door and hopped in, belting myself and staring at the spaceship-like console with more fancy gauge readings and computerized stuff than I’d ever seen in a car. Of course, this was a seriously expensive car compared to the Jeep Cherokee and the Honda sedan driven by Jules or Evie, the two I trusted most to cart me around town if I needed something beyond the neighborhood.

Deep breath in and out, I reminded myself we were only a few short blocks from the house. Surely, he wouldn’t wreck again in that short space of time.

Shoving that fear away, I rummaged around in my bag and had pulled out my first-aid kit by the time he settled into the driver’s seat. He’d moved my bicycle safely onto the sidewalk before getting in.

“Where to?” he asked, his gaze fixed on my lap where I’d set out my tube of homemade antiseptic, antibacterial wipes, and Band-Aids.

“The end of this block and take the first right. I was actually almost home before you decided to hit me with your car.”

I dabbed at the scratches on my palms, wiping off the small amount of blood and removing any dirt.

“Believe it or not, I didn’t plan to hit a witch with my car today.” He shifted the gear stick into first and accelerated down the street. “It was on the agenda for tomorrow.”

Pausing, I looked over at him, his gaze fixed forward but his mouth ticked up with a wicked smirk.

“Well.” I folded the used wipes and put them in a Ziploc bag I had in my handbag to dispose of later. “I’m so happy I was able to get you ahead of schedule. Nothing better than ticking off your to-do list early.”

“Mmm. Unfortunately, I had a brunette witch on my list, not a blonde.” His gaze roved from the top of my head to down around my shoulders before he moved his attention back to the road.

“Do you have something against blondes?”

I prepared myself for a dumb blonde joke or something else equally offensive. What I wasn’t prepared for was his sultry reply.

“Not at all, darling. I’m a lover of all women.” His gaze caressed my face, shimmering with silver in the dark interior of his car. “I don’t discriminate.”

Darling? Lover? What was he talking about? Wait. Was he flirting with me? What nerve!

“Let me get this straight.” A shocked laugh belted up my throat. “You speed down an unfamiliar road, hit someone with your Porsche, send her flying into the air, injure her ankle, break her expensive, imported plant, and then decide to flirt with her?”

He muttered a curse in another language, but when he spoke, he was all silky sensuality like before.

“First of all, love. This is not a Porsche. This is a Diablo GT Lamborghini, one of the finest Italian cars money can buy.” His tilted smile might as well have added silly little girl. “Second, why are you so sure this is an unfamiliar road to me? I could live right around the corner.”

He could turn off that smooth-talking charm immediately because it wasn’t working on me. “Turn right.”

He downshifted and slowed on the turn.

“You said so yourself you’ve just arrived in town,” I bit back accusingly. “And anyone who lives in this neighborhood knows not to drive their Lamborghini Devil down this road like a bat out of hell.”

“It’s Diablo.”

“Diablo. Devil. All the same.” I snapped my first-aid kit shut and shoved it in my bag, smiling sweetly at him. “It suits you well, I’d say.” Then I pointed. “Stop here. This is my house.”

He maneuvered onto the curb, staring at our two-story bungalow-style house, his gaze wandering to the driveway with keen interest. Kind of creepy-keen interest, actually.

“Something wrong?” I asked as I opened the passenger door.

He snapped out of whatever daze he was in. “Not at all.” He flashed me a bright smile, then traced in vampire speed around the car before I was even fully standing.

“I’ve got it,” I protested, trying to hobble.

He swept me back up into his arms, ignoring me again. I’d have objected but, to be honest, my ankle was already swollen twice its size, and it would’ve hurt too much to try to make it on my own. I might be stubborn, but I wasn’t an idiot. Still, it was pissing me off to no end to have to depend on this guy who happened to cause my injury in the first place.

With a thorough push of magic, the familiar tingling sensation shooting through my veins, I opened the wrought iron gate at the front. He glanced down at me, all congenial and smiling, like he hit women with his car and carried them around for the fun of it every day of his life. I tried to ignore how he maneuvered me in his strong arms like I weighed nothing, his powerful strength on full display. But of course, all vampires were exceptionally strong. No need to ponder on his.

While I didn’t have the fuller curves like my sisters, I was the tallest. I loved my height. I owned it, relishing the fact that I could look most men eye-to-eye. Or even down at them. But not this one. His powerful physique and easy strength made me feel strangely vulnerable. It wasn’t a feeling I was used to, and I didn’t like it.

Before we made the steps to the front porch, the heavy front door swung open.

“Well, this is interesting,” said my sister Violet, a red Twizzler hanging out of her mouth, one hand on the door. “What did you do?”

“What do you mean what did I do?”

“I’m sorry to say,” the vampire interrupted smoothly while carrying me into the house, “that I hit your sister on her bike.”

Violet heaved out a breath. “I knew this would eventually happen.”

“Thanks for your sympathy, Violet.”

She shrugged, walking ahead of us toward the living room. “You look alright.”

Kicking up my leg with my swollen ankle, now about three times its normal size, I replied, “Yeah, I’m just dandy.” Then something occurred to me. I snapped my attention back to the vampire. “How do you know she’s my sister?” I asked, my attention now riveted to the underside of his chin where his short beard was cut close and trim, defining the square angle of his jaw.

A fleeting glance of those mahogany eyes. “Similar shape of the eyes.” He walked me to the sofa and set me down lengthwise, his gaze fixing more intently on mine. “But the shade is entirely different.”

To break the uncomfortable snare of his gaze, I cleared my throat and tried to reach for the throw pillow to put under my foot. But he was there doing it before I could even ask.

“What happened?” Livvy stood in the open arch leading to the kitchen. Her long black hair piled in a messy bun, she wore a typical Livvy outfit—red-and-orange dragon-flame tights with an off-the-shoulder fitted black top and wide patent leather red belt. She held a mixing bowl against her belly and a chocolate-smeared spatula.

Before I could say anything, Violet piped in, standing above me at the head of the couch. “Isadora finally got herself hit by a car while on that bike.”

“Violet. Go away.” I wasn’t in the mood for her attitude, especially with my assailant standing by my feet, listening in.

Livvy tilted her head, her full red lips smoothing into a sympathetic line. “You need to learn to drive, Izzy. You’ve had too many close calls, and now this.” She stepped into the room, her gaze skating to my ankle.

“I don’t need a lecture.”

Livvy was the next oldest sister above me. And while she rarely played the big sister card, she tended to become maternal when pointing out this one particular flaw of mine. Or phobia, however you wanted to look at it.

“You need to get over this driving thing.” She sighed, standing right beside me now. She gave my shoulder a squeeze. “How badly are you hurt?”

Anger rolled in my belly, spiking my adrenaline. I didn’t want to have this conversation for the hundredth time, and I certainly didn’t want to have it in front of the jackass who hit me with his car.

“I’m fine. And why are you baking? What’s wrong?” Livvy tended to bake, especially with chocolate, when something was bothering her.

She dropped the spatula into the bowl and moved it to her hip so she could trace her fingers lightly over my swollen ankle. “Not too bad.” She had ignored my attempt to shift the attention to her. But it seemed ignoring Isadora was the theme for the night. “You can fix this quickly enough.”

The vampire, still quiet, made a sudden movement, his brows raised. “You’re a Conduit?”

I nodded, lips pressed tight. Because I knew what was coming before he said it.

“Then why not fix it back on the street?” His expression wasn’t accusatory, more confused.

I’d been known to heal a number of people while they writhed and screamed in pain. That had never unsettled or stopped me from using my healing magic before. Traumatic events didn’t knock me off-center. But something about this whole night had rattled me to the core. I knew I couldn’t summon my magic until this vampire got the hell out of my presence. I was sure it all stemmed from the fact that I’d been hit on my bike when I’d always touted how safe the transportation was.

The opening and banging of the back door leading into the kitchen echoed a few seconds before our sister Clara walked in. “Oh, no! What happened?”

Thank you, Clara, for saving me from answering the vampire.

Clara was the sweetest of my sisters. She was also the youngest, having arrived three minutes after Violet.

“This guy hit Isadora with his car,” said Violet, nonchalantly, balancing her butt on the back of the sofa.

“Isadora, you poor thing.” Clara knelt at my side and clasped my hand. “Are you hurt bad?”

Her worried expression zoned in on my foot. Without even knowing it, I’d bet, she pushed waves of tranquility into me with her empathic magic. She couldn’t help it. Auras needed to spread joy and peace like Conduits needed to help and heal.

“I’m fine, Clara.” I squeezed her hand, happy at least one sister was on my side. “Thank you.”

“I know you from somewhere.” It was Livvy, eyeing the vampire still standing in my living room, hands in his fancy pants’ pockets.

For some reason, in the light of our living room, the force of his magic seemed to have amplified. Or maybe that was just because I wasn’t so focused on the accident now that I was safe in my home.

He reeked of power. His disarming stance and charming smile did nothing to diffuse it. My Conduit magic could detect potent sources of energy better than any supernatural, and this guy was pumping it out in waves. I suddenly wanted him out of our house.

“Oh, my goodness,” gushed Clara, wide blue eyes staring at him. “Your aura is…”

His head tilted, his expression softening to one of humility. As if. “I’ve heard from other clever Auras that it’s a kaleidoscope. Am I right?”

She nodded eagerly. “Such a pretty rainbow.”

His smile brightened even more. Good Lord, Clara! Don’t encourage him.

“But I know you,” continued Livvy, standing closer to him, studying his face. “I’ve seen you.”

He offered her his hand. “I’m Devraj—”

“Holy shit!” Livvy gasped, grasping his hand in hers. “You’re Devraj Kumar.”

With a modest smile, he nodded once and shook her hand. “I am.”

“Who?” I asked. I mean, he’d told me his name, but why would Livvy know him?

She let out a laugh that sounded a little too fangirly to me. Livvy never gushed or fangirled.

“Isadora. You were hit by the Devraj Kumar. Famous Bollywood movie star.”

“Oh, a movie star. Well, I guess that makes it all right then.”

“And you’re a vampire,” added Violet with wicked glee. “So fucking cool.”

Livvy dropped his hand and held her mixing bowl with both hands again. “Do you work for Ruben?”

Was she fluttering her eyelashes? What was happening here?

He paused, charming smile still in place. “On occasion. And I’m in town to visit and help him with a case. If I can.”

His gaze skated to me on the sofa where I was sure my glare of extreme annoyance—or seething hatred rather—was more than apparent. I don’t care if he’d won Sexiest Man of the Year, two Oscars, a Golden Globe, and Coolest Asshole in a Lamborghini Award. The fact that he had my sisters all swoony and girlish made me want to hurl.

“Speaking of which…” He glanced back toward the hallway that led to the front door. “I should be going.” He rounded the sofa and leaned over, taking my hand in his. “It was a pleasure bumping into you.”

“Really?” I snapped, a little too much venom in my voice.

He stifled a laugh. Just barely. “Truly.” He squeezed my hand with both of his, then he removed a card from his pocket and handed it over to me. “I’ll deliver your bicycle to you as soon as possible. And replace your phone.”

“I have phone insurance,” I said again, staring at the white card with just his name in bold print and his phone number.

“Then send me the bill for the deductible. I take full responsibility for this accident.”

Even though he’d mouthed off to me when it first happened, I was almost mollified as he strode for the hall.

“Wait! My pansies.”

He turned. “How could I forget? Could one of your sisters…?”

“I’ll go,” and “Let me help,” and “I’ll get it” came out of my sisters’ mouths all at the same time.

His charming smile brightened, and I wanted to punch it off his face. His sultry gaze swept back to me.

Sighing, I said, “Clara, you go.”

He dipped his head in a slight bow like some aristocratic lord from the 18th century then gave me one last searing look before he left. Which made me wonder again how old he was.

Vampires could live well close to a thousand years. They had the longest lifespan of the supernaturals. That we knew of, anyway. Werewolves could live to half a millennium or thereabouts. Most witches lived well into their three hundreds. Sometimes a little longer. The only one we still weren’t sure of was grim reapers. But that’s because we knew next to nothing about them at all. And they liked to keep it that way.

As soon as the front door opened and closed, Violet fanned her face with her hand. “Fucking hell, that vampire is hot.”

“You think everybody is hot,” I snapped.

Violet laughed, but Livvy shook her head, tasting the chocolate batter from her spatula before pinning me with her narrowed gaze. “Isadora. You can’t pretend he isn’t. Even you with your no-man-is-worthy attitude can’t pretend he isn’t panty-melting.”

I sniffed and straightened on the couch. “Whether he is or isn’t means nothing. He’s an arrogant ass who hit me with his car.” I pulled down the faux why chinchilla throw on the back of the sofa and draped it over my legs. “Besides, a man with that kind of conceited personality and driving a car like that must be suffering from small man syndrome.”

Violet’s throaty laugh burst out hard and loud. “Are you kidding me?” She sauntered around to Livvy and tried to dip her finger into the bowl. Livvy slapped her hand. “If anyone is swinging around BDE like a fucking pro, it’s that vampire, Devraj Kumar.”

Livvy grinned, her red lips widening as she turned to Violet. “Even his name is sexy.”

“Right?”

Traitors.

I wanted to scream with joy when Clara rushed in, carrying the shopping bag with the pansies inside. She set the bag on the coffee table and knelt down beside me, eyes glittering with excitement. “He said he carried you inside?”

I shrugged. “So? I couldn’t walk.”

“Oh, my goodness, Isadora!” She clasped her hands at her breast, a dreamy glint in her sky-blue eyes. “It’s just like Willoughby and Marianne in Sense and Sensibility when he rescued her with her sprained ankle on the down.”

“Willoughby didn’t hit Marianne with his car,” I protested.

Violet chimed in. “Willoughby was also a total douchenozzle who dumped Marianne for a rich sugar momma.”

Clara frowned. “Oh, right.” Then her expression brightened again. “Then he’s like Colonel Brandon when he rescued Marianne from the rain.”

“This Marianne was a bit of a klutz,” Livvy added before disappearing into the kitchen. “Eighties movies are better, Clara,” she called back.

Exhaling a growling breath, I said through gritted teeth, “I am not Marianne. And that, that man—”

“Vampire if we’re going to be technical.” Violet lifted my foot and stuffed another pillow underneath.

“Whatever.” I huffed out a breath, blowing a strand of hair out of my face. “I don’t need rescuing.”

“Says the Conduit who didn’t use her magic to heal herself at the scene of the accident.”

“Violet,” Clara chastised her twin, “don’t make Isadora feel bad when she’s been injured.” They were polar opposites in just about every way. They both had platinum-blond hair, but Violet dyed hers constantly. Right now it was a vibrant turquoise.

“I don’t feel bad,” I assured Clara. And Violet’s snarky comments never bothered me. Too much, anyway. “I just want to rest here on the couch a bit while I heal my ankle. I just need some quiet.”

She nodded. “I’ll get you some hot tea. That’ll make you feel better.”

I smiled as they both went off to the kitchen, leaving me alone. I heaved out a sigh of relief. I wasn’t about to admit to anyone that Violet’s remarks had bothered me far more than they should’ve. That vampire had unsettled me enough to throw off my magic. Men didn’t throw me off-kilter. Honestly, they barely registered on any kind of barometer of mine at all. Whether for needs, desires, or just plain semi-interests. I didn’t dislike men. I just had no need of them. I could handle all of my needs by myself. Which is why Devraj Kumar shouldn’t have gotten under my skin at all. But he so had.

No worries. At least now he was gone for good.

Juliette lives in moss-laden Cajun country in Louisiana where she lives with her husband, four kids, and black lab, Kona. She is a multi-published author of paranormal and fantasy romance with confident, persevering heroines and dark, sexy heroes. While she enjoys reading and writing the dark, broody types, she also appreciates the fun, levity of humor in a good love story, so she tries to give her characters both on their way to their HEA.

4 comments

  1. Stunning review Nat!! Makes me want to jump in and read this one!! xox

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  2. Thank you so much! Amazing review. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! It wouldn't be possible without your incredible words ❤️

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