Authors: Viola Grace
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica
Tarot - The Fool
Book Four of the Half-Blood Club
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Archive - Book 4 of the Half-blood Club series.
Copyright © 2007 Viola Grace
SERIES ISBN: 1-55410-776-8
Cover art by Martine Jardin
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
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This is a generally positive card for new direction. The fool is stepping into an unknown universe, carrying with him all possibilities.
When it appears in the upright portion of a reading it means a new and fresh start. New beginnings, new directions. The world is your oyster. Shuck it.
It also warns against acting without thought, impulsive ideas may lead to disaster.
On a reversed reading it cautions against impulsive actions. You may alienate people through thoughtless impulses. Weigh your new directions carefully or all is lost.
To anyone with a close group of friends. You know, the ones that you can see every week or once a year, and it is like you were never apart.
Melissande Simpson was a little scared. Her grandmother had given her the use of the property in the woods without being given any details as to why her granddaughter required it. This blind faith was humbling and it made Jinx even more antsy about using the property to hide.
Not that anyone was going to come looking for her. Her only value was as an Archive. Her mother had not passed on the shape shifting ability that ran in her family and her father was just a normal guy, living a normal life, with his wife of twenty-nine years. She might have to make some appearances at the High Council to explain her talents, but she was fairly sure that no clan would press for her inclusion. Her mother’s clan certainly hadn’t.
The wolves never made room for half-breed children.
With Hex’s advice ringing in her head, she laid in supplies for two months. If she didn’t need to move around, the wards that Hex had had put in place around the cabin and property would keep anyone from finding her until she left the safe zone.
* * * *
Her phone rang just as she was getting ready to leave the service station for the last leg of her drive.
“Hey Jinx, it’s Arabel. I just wanted to let you know that the wards came down this morning.”
“Did you make it to your safe house?”
“Not yet. I had some car trouble.”
“Didn’t Hex fix that damned gremlin for you?”
“Yeah, but I decided to keep him. He’s kinda cute.” She flicked her eyes to the rearview mirror and smiled at the ugly little critter in the baby seat in back.
“Jinx, you are incorrigible.”
“Yeah, I know. Was there anything else?”
“Yes, actually. Which one of these spells was the fire-proof one?”
“The blue ribbon. Did you need to use it?”
“Not yet, but I may need to use the spell for my daughter. She is being stalked by a pissed-off dragon.”
“Her target? She got him?”
A rich and husky laugh broke over the cell phone. “Oh, did she ever. Bad part is, now he is out to get her. It should be fun for my little Graylin.”
Jinx shook her head and was glad that she was safely parked. Her luck wasn’t up to having this type of conversation while driving. “I wish her luck with him then.”
“And good luck to you as well, Jinx. You know that you need it.”
“Bugger off.” Her grin was in her voice; it was nice to know that someone was looking out for her. Especially since her friends were now occupied.
“Bye Arabel, take care of yourself.”
“And Jinx, find someone to take care of you.”
“Talk to you soon.”
Mel sighed as the phone disconnected. Hex and Hookey were already out of communication, and now George was off as well. She was truly on her own for the first time in years.
A squawking grunt came out of the back seat and she blinked rapidly, then grabbed the box of cookies she had bought at the station and smiled at the gremlin as it tore through the packaging to the sugary treats inside.
Having one’s car infested by a gremlin wasn’t as bad as it seemed. As long as she remembered to knock on the car before she started it, nothing went wrong. Today, she forgot and had to spend one hour at the service station getting her vacuum lines reconnected. Annoying, but not deadly.
Before she had left the garage, she knocked him out of the car and buckled him into his baby seat. She bought some cookies for him and a snack for herself at the store and then was ready to finish the last leg of her trip.
With both hands on the wheel and a happy gremlin in the back of her Taurus, she finished the last hour to her grandmother’s cottage.
She sighed with relief as she turned the corner to the driveway of the little house. She could feel the wards closing around her and relaxed on several levels at the feeling of security that permeated her. She hadn’t even realized how tense George’s announcement that they were now ‘out’ in the magical community had made her until now.
She released the gremlin from his little seat then grabbed her bags from the car. It was the first of three relays. She breathed another sigh of relief as she noted that her grandmother had had the house prepared for her. Everything was clean, the fridge was humming and the lights turned on as she flipped the switch. Power was occasionally unpredictable at the cottage. There was, of course, a generator connected to the house but Jinx could never get it to work.
She tracked her gremlin by the means of watching the flight of birds. He seemed to be having a good time, and the little beggar would come back to her before she left. He always did.
Unpacking was quick, a matter of moments. Melissande had never been one to spend her money on fancy clothes so the majority of her bags were food. The one bag that was saved for last was her bag of writing equipment.
She carried it over to the desk, turned on the light and laid out her tools. Rolls of parchment, ribbons, sealing wax, ink and quills. Satisfaction lit her features as the tools of her talent were in their proper places.
Being the only living Archive in both the regular world and that of Realm was fun on occasion. It did mean that she was unable to use magic, but she was able to create spells for purposes that had never been conceived of before, on demand.
She looked down at her notes and sat to begin her assigned writs. The first spell that had been requested was a birth-control spell. It was a favourite of the goblin born. They tended to give birth in multiples, so skipping one or two breeding cycles was not a terrible thing. George had been the tester for that particular spell and Jinx hoped that it could withstand a dragon mating.
She wrote a spell in English and when it was completed she blew across the ink. A pleased smile broke over her features as the ink blurred and shifted into spell-script, just as it did every time. It never failed to amaze her that her own writing was becoming a part of the magical community. She sealed it and wrapped it with a red and blue ribbon, then tucked it aside.
George had come up with the idea of selling her spells as a way of getting them into use so that she could observe them in the hands of different users and change them to be more effective. It also had the side effect of making them all quite wealthy, although they could not tell any of their friends or family where the money came from, for fear of exposing her as an Archive. It was the biggest secret that they had shared until now.
The last three Archives had been taken to Realm and died in the service of the Magus and Warlock’s councils, respectively.
They were always on the lookout for new Archives, but as none had been seen in over two hundred years, they had relaxed their sweeps. Jinx could only hope that she had missed a sweep after the glamour came down.
Time would tell and in the mean time, there were spells to write and the whole night ahead of her. It was time to get to work.
A skittering at the window dragged her out of a sound sleep. The damned gremlin again. Melissande grunted as she rolled out of the warm sheets and stumbled to the back door. When he was in he wanted out, and now he was out and he wanted in. Sick little bugger.
There he was, prancing happily on the other side of the door, holding a live squirrel in his hands. Apparently he had made a friend while he was out.
With her eyes lifted upwards for guidance, she opened the door and he and his new pet scampered in and started looking for cookies. She stopped the grocery massacre by handing him a box and smiled as he handed the first one to the squirrel.
“So, you have a new pet, and now are feeding him out of your own rations. That deserves to be rewarded.” She prepped her own breakfast and then made a smaller portion for her companion and his new friend. The toast and eggs were happily received.
“There you go. Now don’t go saying that I never do anything nice for you.” She made quick work of the dishes, and then pondered getting dressed. It was still cool and she could wear jeans and take a walk in the woods out back.
With that in mind, she dressed quickly and headed out into the woods that she roamed as a child and teenager, the gremlin and squirrel roaming behind her as she walked.
The patch of poison oak was exactly where she remembered it, as was the tiny footpath and the berry patch. Her mouth watered at the remembrance of the tart raspberries and the bursts of juice that came with the blueberries. The nearby danger of itchy skin was a small price to pay.
A quick glance told her that the berries were not near being ripe, so she continued on, heading for the pond. When she was young, she referred to the pond as her ‘swimming pool’ and had imagined that there was an imaginary friend living in its depths. When she was a teen and told her grandmother of her swimming adventures, she had always seemed relieved. Melissande had never been sure why.
It was just as she remembered it. The rocky wall spilled down into a recessed pool that swirled gently and remained open and crystal clear the entire year round. It even defied the ice and frost that was endemic to the winters in the area.
It warmed her, this lack of change in her environment. With her world swirling with uncertainty, having a portion of her childhood remain constant was a comfort. Stepping firmly into the glade surrounding the pool she unbuttoned her jeans and stripped off in preparation for her swim.
The air this morning was brisk, but still warm and the pool was a welcome sensation on her bare skin. She had finished thirteen laps when she felt something or someone watching her. Surfacing and pulling herself up on a rock, she looked carefully around her to find her admirer. There was a brief flash of fur and silver eyes and then nothing but waving tree branches.
A wolf? That would be a little unusual. They normally didn’t stray into this territory. Her naked body was exposed to the breezes and it was when her nipples peaked at the wind’s caress that she realized that she was still being watched.
There was nothing on the banks, nothing in the woods; she shook her head and glanced down, then shrieked in surprise as she saw a face watching her from within the water. “What the hell?” She jerked her feet free of the water and swung them onto the rock with the rest of her.
As the water stilled again, the face reappeared. It was masculine, handsome and almost as transparent as the water. As she watched he slowly rose to the surface a few feet from her and waited for her to speak.
Manners mattered, her grandmother used to tell her. No time like the present.
“Hello Melissande. You are as lovely as I remembered.” He was wearing a wrap at his hips, slightly darker than his skin, which faithfully moulded to his body to do more than hint at his interest in her loveliness.
“Have we met?”
“No. Not formally. I am Orion, guardian of the Maiden’s pool.”
“I am Melissande Simpson. My grandmother owns the property that this pool is in.”
“Your grandmother was a devotee of the maiden. She worshipped the goddess in all her forms. The Maiden pool was once a site of devotion. Then, with the encroachment of man, it became a refuge, and now it requires its own protection.”
“From women who are no longer maidens.” He grinned at her through silvery eyes that slanted like a cat’s. Unless she was mistaken, he was a half-breed between elves and elementals. A rare combination.
“What?” His last statement sunk in. So he knew that she was still a virgin after all these years.
“Each woman who is no longer a Maiden that swims in these waters, takes some of the magic with her. A Maiden gives more than she takes. Her purity cleanses the water and relieves the souls of those who meditate on the banks.”
“So, that is why Grandma was so relieved when I would come here to swim as a teenager.” She shook her head ruefully, heedless of her naked body. He would not endanger her maidenly status and seemed to wish to speak to her.
“Indeed. She did become concerned as you entered adulthood however, and pressed me for any details. Even trying to bribe me into seducing you after your twenty third birthday.”
Her mouth opened in surprise. She had indeed come to visit back then, and had felt the eyes most keenly while she was swimming. Her body had also acknowledged a few fluttering touches, but at the time she had put it down to her imagination.
“Why didn’t you show yourself to me then?”
“It was not your time. I could feel that your destiny would take you down a different path than that. After all, no Archive would be able to hide here indefinitely.”
She sighed heavily, “Does everyone know?”
“Now? Yes. There are search parties out for you around the globe, but the wolves have something more subtle planned. If you go with them, you will be safe, and your choices of a mate will be unlimited.”
“Mate? With a werewolf? They are just
beginning to interact with other races of Realm. Why would they want an Archive? They can’t use the spells themselves yet.”
“You have said it; they have just begun to interact with magical races. You would be an immediate advantage in their bargaining.”
She could see his logic, from where the wolves currently sat, they were charity cases. With an Archive at their disposal, they would be able to dictate the terms of new spells and control all access to her. They had the manpower to do it.
“Yes. But do I want to be? I don’t know.”
“The way things are moving, you will have no choice, Melissande.” The water shimmered around him. “They are going to come for you, and your family will hand you over, rather than lose you forever.”
“Do you think that they will?” She knew that her mother would fight for her, as would her father, but against the Councils of Realm she didn’t know how effective they would be.
“Yes. It is already in motion. The werewolves will make themselves known to you in the next two or three days. Be ready.”
“Alright. Uh, thanks for the warning.” She shifted on the rock as the sun came around and sparked against the pool’s surface. “Can I go and retrieve my clothes now?”
He looked surprised, “Of course.” He gestured for her to re-enter the water.
Eyeing him carefully, she slipped back into the water, and smiled as it warmed in her vicinity. The column of warmth followed her to the edge of the pool, and it sluiced off her in a smooth sheet as she left the pond.
His eyes followed her carefully as she waited for her body to dry. Appreciation was in his gaze. “You know. It is amazing that you have not yet taken a lover.”
She tugged her shirt on as quickly as she could. “No one has been right. I have come close, but I haven’t felt like getting that close to someone.”
“It is a great shame. Your body is fantastic and you have an amazing mind.”
She wrestled her jeans on over wet skin, “Uh, thanks. They are a matched set.” Finally clothed she turned to face him again.
His arousal was tenting the fabric over his groin. A heat in his eyes almost had the water steaming. “It was lovely to see you again, all grown up. Please come back and visit anytime.”
“Same here. I will try.” She nodded awkwardly to him and then beat a hasty retreat down the path that led back to her house.
Safely inside once again, she leaned on the door and pondered the surreal encounter that she had just had. Her life was definitely taking an odd turn.
* * * *
That night, her dreams were wild.
She was swimming in the Maiden pool. Her body was warm and heavy, the water cool and calming.
She sensed a presence and looked up.
A wolf was silhouetted against the moon, a silver fang shining in the dim light and silver eyes watching her every move.
Slowly, with a boldness she did not know she possessed, she stood and faced the wolf in all her naked and lunar-kissed glory.
A growl broke from her audience. He paced forward, the look of a hunter in his eyes. She moved calmly to the edge of the pool and stood without fear or trepidation.
This was right. He was hers.
As he approached, he shifted from wolf to human form, still in silhouette. She admired his shoulders and the tilt of his head as stood before her. Bands of muscle gleamed in the light of the moon, his thighs bulging as he moved closer and closer. She only wished that she could see his face.
His scent enveloped her, and she knew that she would recognize him in an instant, just by that wild aroma.
Her hands shook as she reached out to him then stilled as they encountered warm flesh. Hard muscle under smooth skin teased her and as soon as she made contact, he began to move.
His lips skated along her neck and she shivered in reaction. Her nipples rose against his chest as she cuddled close. Her head tilted to give him full access to her neck and she shivered as he growled and set his teeth against her skin.
Belatedly she realized that she had just surrendered in wer fashion. Startled and struggling, she pushed herself away from her dream lover and ran through the woods.
She could hear the pounding of his feet behind her, pounding, pounding…