“You don’t have to do anything around me, Mr. Hansen,” Skye returned
in a tone dripping more sugar than melted chocolate.
“All you have to do is release me.”

Rane’s hands dropped to his sides.
“You’re free to go, at least back to bed.
We’ll talk about this in the morning.”

Skye sailed toward the door and Rane swore he’d caught the look of
smug satisfaction on her face, almost as if she’d accomplished her
He hadn’t found out exactly
what that mission was, but he wasn’t in any shape to begin an interrogation
He needed to heal his body and to
do that, he needed privacy.
The witch
was only too pleased to accommodate him.

Skye paused with one hand on the brass doorknob.
“I hope I didn’t do too much damage.
It would be a pity to hamper your usual
nocturnal activities.
I wouldn’t want to
disappoint all those lusty women.”

Rane bit back a violent response and waited until the witch stepped
out into the hallway before he let out a rough curse of pain and fury.
If he’d listened to his head instead of his
manhood, he’d have been prepared for the attack.

Righting himself, Rane flicked one finger toward the door and the
lock clicked into place.
Closing his
eyes, he fisted his hands at his sides and he began the ancient healing spell,
restoring his bruised, battered body to health.

And in the air overhead, he swore he heard the snickers of his older
No doubt, Jaxon had appreciated
the scene with the witch.
But he
wouldn’t show his face.
Rane gritted his
teeth as the chuckles continued and he lifted his hand and deliberately sealed
the sound barrier, effectively cutting off his brother’s ability to listen in
on his life.

“You certainly seem to have your hands full, little brother.”

Rane growled his response and stormed toward his bedroom door.
“Brings back memories, does it?”
The snide comment in reference to Jaxon’s
wife hit its intended target.

“Perhaps you should reconsider your choices.”

“Perhaps you should stay out of my life.”

Jaxon materialized in the center of Rane’s bedroom.
“She is a witch, Rane.”

Rane whipped around.
I was not aware of that.
I really do appreciate the information.
You are free to leave now.”

Jaxon folded his arms and grinned.
“Want some advice?”

“Did you hear me calling your name?”

The grin broadened.
me for saying so, but you sound a little like a petulant child.”
Then all humor faded.
“What do you really know about this woman
other than that she is a witch?”

“That is information I am still gathering.”

Jaxon grunted.
“I will not be
able to keep this information from the Assembly for long.”

Rane waved one hand over his shoulder and opened his bedroom
“Your concern is greatly
Give my love to Mother.”




Skye paced the bedroom, digging her toes in the plush carpeting as
she circled the bed for the fifth time.
Her arms folded over her breasts, she fumed with each step.
How could the wizard have known she was
coming to his bedroom?
He’d known she’d
been outside his house as well.
had assured her the spell would work to cloak her presence.
Either it hadn’t or the wizard was simply too

Plopping down on the edge of the bed, Skye considered her
Maybe things hadn’t been
falling into place as well as she would have liked, but she’d already made her
first move.
And Rane Hansen had been
none the wiser.

She didn’t smile at her success.
She didn’t want to kill the wizard, but if she had to choose between his
life and Emily’s, well, there was no choice.

It didn’t matter now.
In a
matter of days, the wizard would be dead and she would reunite with her
Then, she’d leave the Craft
behind forever.




“She won’t kill him,” Emily informed the high priestess in a haughty
tone of voice.

Sabrina didn’t look over her shoulder.
She had little time for children.
“Your sister will do as she’s told.”

Emily snorted and dropped her feet to the floor.
Sabrina heard the slap of bare feet over the
concrete and knew the child approached her.
“You think she doesn’t know that you’re setting her up.”

Sabrina angled a look at the wispy thin teenager.
“I think I didn’t come in here to have a
conversation with you.”
The witch
whipped back around and studied the few items arrayed on the top of the
Small mementos she’d allowed
Emily to keep reminding her of home.
Sabrina figured they might come in handy at a later time.
Like now.

Emily folded her arms and bumped one hip against the corner of the
“What did you come in here for,

Black-tipped fingernails slid over the gold-encrusted comb, the
sparkling barrettes before finally settling on a silver necklace with a
heart-shaped locket.
Sabrina hummed low
in her throat.
“This will do nicely.”

Emily reached for the chain, but Sabrina held it high.
Her laughter rang out loud and clear.
“Give it back,” Emily demanded.

Sabrina curled the cool silver around her hand.
“My darling, why do you think I allowed you
to bring your collection with you?
sister gets easily distracted, I’m afraid, and every now and then, she needs a
reminder of her task.”

Emily positioned herself in front of the door.
“You’re not leaving with my necklace.”

Sabrina gave her a pitying look.
It wouldn’t take much to subdue the child
A simple turn of her wrist,
really, but then, it was possible Emily’s death could get back to Skye, and
that would never do.
At least not until
Skye had completed the job.
“I don’t
want to hurt you, Emily.”
Sabrina said
the lie with smooth aplomb.

The teen squared her shoulders and tossed her golden hair back over
her shoulders and for a brief moment, Sabrina caught a glimpse of Skye’s fire in
the young girl’s eyes.
Emily might not
be aware of the abilities she possessed, but one day, she would, if Sabrina
wasn’t successful in eliminating the possibility.

“You’re lying,” Emily responded in a clipped tone of voice.

Sabrina lifted one shoulder.

“Why are you even bothering to keep me alive now?
We both know you have every intention of
killing me once Skye kills the wizard.”

Sabrina’s eyes narrowed.
much did the child know?
And even more
interesting, how did she know it?
thought it bore further conversation.
“What makes you think I’m going to kill you, my dear?”

Emily leaned back against the door and pressed one foot behind
“I don’t think it.
I know it.
I can see it in your eyes.
don’t like me and once Skye does your dirty work, I’m expendable.”

Sabrina gave a short laugh.
She relaxed only marginally.
Maybe the child didn’t know anything after all.
“You might be of some use to me in the
You never know.”

“I don’t want to be a witch,” Emily shot back.

Sabrina moved forward slowly, her feet barely touching the
She lifted one hand and caressed
Emily’s cheek.
It bothered her little
that the teen shivered and turned her face away.
My sweet Emily.
Some things are
Do you think your sister
wanted to be a witch?
It’s in her
She was born of the Craft and
though she may spend her entire life fighting against her destiny, in the end,
the magic will win.
It always wins.”

Emily’s lower lip trembled and Sabrina watched her bite down in an
effort to regain control.
“Skye might be
a witch, but I’m not.
And I won’t become

Sabrina patted her head like she would a playful puppy.
“Of course not, my dear.
That’s why you’re here.
Now, as much as I’d love to continue this
conversation with you, I really must leave you now.
Try not to worry too much about your
She’ll be safe as long as she
does as she’s instructed.”

“She’ll be safer if she doesn’t kill the wizard,” Emily returned.

Sabrina’s back stiffened.
you won’t be.
So for your own sake,
you’d better hope your sweet sister can follow instructions.”




Skye found the locket lying on her pillow.
Her hands shaking, she picked up the gold
chain and held the heart in the palm of her hand.
Emily’s necklace, the same one their mother
had given her before she died.
Her blood running cold, Skye sat down
on the edge of the bed and curled her fingers around the chain.
you, Sabrina.”

“Just thought you might need a little wake-up call,” Sabrina purred.

“I don’t need anything from you.
I know what I’m doing here.”

Sabrina’s voice seeped in under the door and though she wasn’t in
the room, Skye could feel her presence.
“Perhaps, but I have noticed your intense infatuation with the wizard.”

“I feel nothing for him.”

“Then get the job done.”

Skye opened her palm and stared down at the heart.
“Do not touch my sister.”

“Don’t make me have to kill her then.”

Skye leaped to her feet.
you hurt her, I will kill you.”

Sabrina snickered.
“You can’t
even manage to take care of the wizard.
How do you plan on going up against a witch who has far more magic in
her little pinkie than you have in your entire body?”

Skye felt her temperature rising in tune with her temper.
“Do not push me, Sabrina.”

Sabrina’s laughter echoed until it finally faded to silence.

Skye knew the witch had left her alone, but Sabrina would never
really leave her.
Not until Rane Hansen
was dead.




Rane tapped once on the bedroom door and entered without waiting for
an invitation.
He carried a bamboo tray
to the bedside table and placed it next to the intricately carved wooden
“I thought you might be hungry.”

Skye glared at him.
“I was
expecting bread and water.”

His lips twitched.
“You have
to admit that your accommodations are much better than an ordinary prison

“Since I’ve never been in prison, I can’t really make that

“With your breaking and entering skills, I find it difficult to
believe you’ve never been a guest of at least one law enforcement division.”

Skye whipped away from the window and stalked across the room.
“Weren’t you just leaving?”

Rane settled himself on the edge of the bed.
“Actually, no.
I fixed enough for two.”

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