Authors: Lynn Cahoon
A rogue hunter, a clueless witch and a mission to save an unknowing world.
Parris McCall, owner of the dive bar, The Alibi, has finally constructed a life where her little quirks don’t show or matter to anyone. As for her grandmother's warnings that she’s different, well, she'll cross that bridge if she comes to it.
But when Ty walks into her bar, both lives are instantly changed.
Ty Wallace loves his life. How could he not? He’s a powerful human lawyer by day and the Magic Council's rogue witch hunter by night. But after he agrees to substitute on his secretary’s dart team, all hell breaks loose. Now Ty has to help Parris admit who she is before her long-lost relatives kill her.
“Sally knows how to recruit a substitute.” Parris looked in his brown eyes, juggling her darts. “You’ve never played before?”
Ty shot her a smile designed to melt the coldest of hearts. Yes, he knew what he was doing all right. At least in the flirting department. Parris’ knees felt weak looking at him.
“I swear. I’ve never played league before. Beginners luck.” Ty motioned to the dart machine. “You ready or you want to throw a few practice darts?”
Parris’ eyes narrowed. Ha. He’d said he’d never played league before, not ever played before. Sally had brought in a ringer.
Confident, she shook her head. “I’m ready to get this over.”
“Pretty sure of yourself aren’t you?” Ty tilted his head to the side, watching her reaction.
“You don’t have to be cocky when you’re good.”
“And you think you’re good?” Ty pressed. “A natural?”
She frowned, her face crinkling. “I have a lot of free time on my hands here when there’s nothing to do except practice.”
Another couple hours and Ty Wallace would be out of her sight, her bar, and her life. She wished erasing him from her thoughts and dreams would be as easy.
A Member of The Council
This book is dedicated to my husband who introduced me to the world of darts and taught me that love isn’t all about giving, that sometimes, you have to be willing to receive.
Thanks for letting me walk this journey with you.
The moment he walked through The Alibi’s wooden door, the hair on Ty Wallace’s arms tingled from her power. Hell, he could even smell her–chamomile, thyme, mint, and a surprising touch of vanilla, mixed with a slight smell of sulfur. No doubt about it, somewhere in this remote dive bar crowded with humans was a witch.
Ty Wallace used his photographic memory to run through the area’s register. Unless this witch turned out to be a sixty-year-old male high school chemistry teacher, she was undocumented, therefore, his responsibility.
He glanced down at his secretary, wondering if Sally Jones knew what trouble she’d started. Her bright smile told him one thing. Clueless.
“I told you this was the best bar ever. You’d never guess how big this place is from outside. In the summer, Parris opens the garden patio. We’ll come back then.” Sally bubbled with what he assumed to be anticipation. “I’ll grab a couple beers.”
Ty watched Sally maneuver her way through the crowd toward the bar. Her tiny body usually hidden by formal business suits, seemed at home in tonight’s low hanging jeans and halter top. Coming here with her was a mistake. He hadn’t dated in years, especially not anyone he worked with. Tonight was only a favor.
A favor turning into a lucky coincidence. He scanned the rowdy crowd of customers trying to pinpoint the witch setting off his senses. Did the magic flow from the girl leaning over the pool table, her barely covered breasts threatening to fall out of the lacy bra top? No, the power she radiated was human. Ty smiled, nothing magical there.
At tables scattered across the room were couples focused only on each other, the smell of anticipated sex rolled around the bar like a turbulent sea. No doubt, those guys were getting lucky tonight. Country music poured from the wall speakers that hung in every corner, volume not too loud to disturb intense conversations.
Frowning, he skimmed the bar one more time. Everyone acted happy. Ty knew most of these neighborhood joints didn’t get this kind of a crowd on a Wednesday night. There wasn’t one lonely outcast sitting at the bar with waves of despair rolling off him. Not one.
Ty’s day job, successful trial lawyer, kept him busy. He had an innate sense of people, resulting in seating jury mixes assuring a favorable outcome. His partners believed he got extremely lucky in judge assignments. He’d never lost a case, even ones everyone knew he should have lost hands down. Talk floated around the courthouse about a judgeship in his future. Rumors about political office.
Successful, bachelor lawyer and witch hunter, guardian of The Council Code during his off hours, Ty led a full life. He’d consider a judgeship if the offer came his way but never political office. Human politics held no appeal after working under the politically driven Magic Council the last ten years. Council’s rogue hunter…his real vocation.
Still standing at the entrance, he focused on the task at hand. Finding the source of this happiness. His gaze landed on Sally talking to a woman at the ancient wooden counter.
The late twenties, raven-haired woman at the bar locked gazes with Ty, her warm smile leaving her face. Her pale, creamy white skin, grew paler as seconds passed. Her dark eyes, never flinched and seemed to infiltrate his soul, scanning his thoughts.
Impossible. If she’d read his mind right now, she’d know he wanted to undo the tight peasant corset she wore over a white cotton shirt, allowing her ample breasts to fall heavily into his hands. The way she looked was making his mouth water. She’d have him turned out on his ear.
He knew. No doubt in his mind. He’d assumed he’d come here to substitute on Sally’s dart team. He’d learned to listen to what others called coincidence. Giving thanks to fate directing him here, he had stumbled upon a new assignment.
Parris McCall, owner-operator of The Alibi, was a rogue witch.
* * * *
Watching the dark haired man at the entrance, Parris felt a wave of desire. Yummy hotness standing in her bar. Sally, the rival dart team’s captain continued talking. Parris couldn’t hear above the roaring in her ears. A warning bell went off. The man felt dangerous. Sexy and dangerous to the core. A slight smile crossed her lips.
“So, it’s okay if he substitutes? I swear he’s not some ringer I recruited to play tonight.”
Parris leaned closer, pretending noise kept her from understanding Sally’s words rather than hormones screaming Parris had found a perfect sperm donor. Not that she was looking for a baby daddy, no matter what her body said.
“The man at the door? He’s with you?” Parris wanted the pair to be dating. If he was committed, she wouldn’t give him a second, okay, maybe a fourth or fifth look. Who was counting?
“You’re perfectly in your rights to call a forfeit. John’s stuck in Portland last minute. I didn’t even convince Ty to play until twenty minutes ago.” Sally rubbed the neck of the beer bottle, her fingers collecting the condensation already dripping off the ice-cold bottle. Then Sally answered Parris’ unasked question, “And no, he’s my boss, we’re not dating.”
Parris knew Sally would quit in a heartbeat for a chance to be jumping the man’s bones. Sally dripped with a strange mix of desire tinged with admiration for the hot hunk. A mixture of musky sex and stuffy law book odor rose off Sally.
Putting her better judgment aside, Parris decided. “My team’s here, wanting to play. He can sub. If you’re scamming me…”
Sally bounced off the stool. “I’m not. I don’t even know if Ty can hit the dart board. He’s a runner.”
Parris nodded to the tall, muscular man still rooted to the spot where Sally’d left him. He still watched the women, his gaze caused her to shiver. “He looks like a runner. You might want to go collect him, before he runs, leaving you without a fourth.”
“Thanks.” Sally grabbed both bottles, weaving her way back through the crowd.
Ty. He looked more like a Luther or a Matthew. Tyler didn’t fit him either. Parris loved matching names with personalities. She could tell a lot about a person knowing his name. Something bothered her about this guy. Something she couldn’t name.
“Sweetheart? Get me another shot of whiskey,” the grizzled old guy at the bar called.
Without thinking, Parris flicked her fingers. Ed’s glass brimmed with clear amber liquid. “Six dollars.”
“What, I got to pay before you’ll pour?” Ed barked at her.
Parris broke eye contact with Ty, even though the action felt like pulling out of a tractor beam in an old sci-fi movie. “What are you talking about Ed? Your shot’s right there.”
“You haven’t poured a drop.” Ed glanced down at his full glass. Surprise filled his face. “How the hell did you do that?”
“Pouring a drink isn’t a magic trick.” Parris put her hands on her hips. Distraction always worked. Besides, the man was three sheets already; he’d forget he’d never seen her pour the whiskey. “You going to pay or not?”
“Hold on, you move too fast. Everything moves too fast these days.” Ed opened his wallet, shoving a twenty at her.
“Be right back. Or I’ll take my time since you’re all about slow these days.” Parris patted the man’s arm. Ed had become her first regular after she bought The Alibi, where for the first time in her life, Parris didn’t feel different.
She shook her head, frustrated she’d lost control again. Thank God Ed could be manipulated to believe anything. Even that he didn’t see her pour his shot or put away the bottle. The hunk of amazing standing in her bar was to blame. Ty had her feeling like a runaway roller coaster. It stopped now.
Unexplained events started happening to her on her sixteenth birthday. First, food appeared as her stomach growled. At the end of the game, her soccer uniform looked and smelled clean as when she’d dressed in the morning. Math made sense. The last straw was Brittney Sherman’s hair turning a bright pink right after she’d accidentally for the third time that month, tripped Parris in the hallway.
That night she’d finally told Grans about the strange occurrences. She knew she took a chance her grandmother wouldn’t believe her and send her to the state mental hospital. Instead, Grans taught her to control the weird occurrences by focusing. Keeping her mind in the present made sure flowers didn’t bloom out of season or cars mysteriously start up without a key.
“Focus, Parris,” she said under her breath. “Focus on the bar and tonight.”
Taking a deep breath, she counted Ed’s change, slamming the cash register shut. She hoped her grandmother’s advice worked tonight, because her body felt like all hell would explode any time. Laying money in front of him, Parris patted Ed’s hand, surging good feelings to the man through her touch.
She didn’t know where her gift came from or how she got lucky to be cursed with this power. After she’d purchased the bar, she realized it was a perfect place to work. She could hide away from people she’d grown up with. People who’d seen weird stuff happen and called her a freak. She was different. Here, at The Alibi, everyone was different.
She glanced at April, Alibi manager, night bartender, and the closest thing Parris had to a friend. April sported more piercings in her face than a normal twenty-two year old–her way of rebelling against her Baptist preacher father and dutiful housewife mother. April’s heart was good and more importantly the kid had a natural ability working with people. During the day, she attended the local university, working toward a counseling degree. She wanted to work with homeless kids, those lost on city streets.
“The bar’s yours. Holler if you need me. I’m off to kick some dart butt.” Parris grabbed her case hidden under the bar. The case sparkled with award pins. She’d added a six-dart out pin last season. Rarely, did a woman player reach that level of skill in the dart world.
“Have fun. I can handle this crowd. Will you close? I have a test early tomorrow or I’d stay.” April wiped down the counter with a clean rag.