Authors: Judith Leger
She knows how to unravel secrets, but getting to the bottom of this one might just kill her.
TV news reporter Caitlyn Rieley believes magic is for fools. Her assignment: prove Shay Evers, superstar illusionist, is a fake. Still, when she meets the almost mystical Shay, the charismatic magician ignites dreams she’s never encountered. In her sleep, Caitlyn visits a world beyond imagination, a land of beauty and wonder, yet one vaguely and strangely familiar…a place where she desires to stay forever with Shay.
Shay has accepted that his past crimes are to blame for the curse binding Caitlyn to the land of humans and has come to take her home to the Sidhe. First, he must gain her trust. Because, after all, rational beings know magic doesn’t exist, and the evil coming to claim Caitlyn for its own couldn’t possibly be real either. If he doesn’t get her to believe in magic and love, she may fall prey to the evil lurking, and he will have failed her yet again. But this time, the evil will have to pass through a force even Shay doesn’t fully understand–his love for the woman destined to stand between two worlds colliding.
He saw into her soul. The idea both intrigued and frightened her. “For instance, I think you would have me believe you aren’t affected by me at all.”
Her eyes widened with his unexpected comment. She started to deny it, but he continued. “I think you want me to believe that you, of all the women out there,” he made an easy motion toward the larger, still crowded room, “are here only to observe me before you interview me. Does that explain why you sit so far away? You’re afraid if you come closer I’ll see your interest is deeper, darker and a little less professional.”
The finely-shaped lips curled into a seductive smile that forced her lungs to stop working. The uncanny way he guessed the truth about her spurred an instinctive need to return to the safety of the other room. She gripped the arms of the chair to remain sitting.
“But I can see there is still a professional side to this interview. And now I am led to wonder, what would you do to keep your place in this interview?”
By Judith Leger
Copyright © 2012, Judith Leger
Edited by Abby Rose
Book design by Lyrical Press, Inc.
Cover Art by Renee Rocco
First Lyrical Press, Inc. electronic publication: August, 2012
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Published in the United States of America by Lyrical Press, Incorporated
To Terri with love.
Caitlyn. Two weeks until her birthday. Two weeks until her death.
The words seeped through Shay’s mind, filling every fissure to overflowing. He had to save her. Time ran too fast, and even magic couldn’t slow the days ahead.
Hoping for distraction, he glanced out the tinted window as the limousine glided along the curb in front of a sleek, mirror-glassed building where his agent, Lance Parker, leased office space. There, an array of reporters, with their corresponding photographers, milled about on the sidewalk.
Shay likened them to wolves, seeking to devour him whole. He hated the rangy beasts, having been attacked and severely wounded many years before. Now these human canines waited, some in dull wrinkled clothes, others in expensive suits or dresses. Yesterday, his requested press release had informed them of his arrival in Los Angeles for tonight’s performance. Today, they lay in wait for him at all the places listed on the press release where he might show up during his stay. He doubted Lance had missed a single tabloid with the announcement.
The limo pulled to a stop at the corner. The dark tint on the windows dulled the camera flashes as the photographers rushed forward. His heartbeat accelerated with excitement when he noticed his dark-haired agent elbowing his way past the crowd.
A bodyguard’s suited arm appeared and pulled the door open. Crisp, cold air mixed with exhaust fumes poured through the opening, ruffling Shay’s hair. Heels clacked on the concrete, and shouted questions spewed from the crowd as they shoved and pushed to take advantage of the chink in his protective barrier.
Shay shot a glance at the golden-haired man sprawled on the leather seat next to him. Rhys, casually attired in dark slacks and navy sweater, lifted a brow in return. Sudden panic came over Shay, bringing a contrary need to laugh. Uncontrollably. His freedom would soon end. Rhys would see to it. His long-time friend’s faith had ended years ago, and it was his fault.
With his power, Shay had been lucky he still lived. If only he’d not listened to one woman, none of this would have happened. With the news he hoped to get, for the first time in twenty-five years, hope for Caitlyn bloomed, but also for a possible healing of his friendship with Rhys.
Until he met Rhys’s eyes.
Was that hatred he saw darkening the blue? Shay swiped sweaty palms over the leather pants encasing his thighs, but his hands stuck for a second. No doubt, it’d take much more than saving Caitlyn for Rhys to forgive him.
When he faced the door’s opening, Lance dove through the crowd, stopped for a second to speak to the guard, then ducked into the limo. The door swung shut, muting the clicks from the cameras and the onslaught of questions. Shay studied his agent as Lance settled against the seat backing the driver. His skin prickled in anticipation for whatever news Lance brought him about Caitlyn.
Lance extended a plastic case containing a DVD. “I knew I could count on you to be on time. This just arrived by special courier. Reiley’s last newscast. All the arrangements have been made.” Breathless from his dash to the vehicle, he spoke faster than normal. His gaze shifted to Shay’s left and snagged on the other occupant of the limo. “So. Who’s your friend?”
Glad for the distraction, Shay held back a smile and took the case. He stared at the silver disk through the milky cover. “He’s an old friend of mine. Rhys. Lance Parker, my agent. Rhys is in town on business.”
“What do you do? Acting, music? Illusions like Shay’s?” Lance reached out with a neatly manicured hand and shook Rhys’. He shifted back and tugged his suit sleeves. Charm oozed from the practiced smile plastered across his face. When Rhys didn’t reply right away, Lance surveyed the slender blond man and continued, “If you need an agent, let me know. With your looks and body, you can go a long way.”
Unable to think of a better profession for Rhys, Shay commented. “He’s a gardener.”
His long-time friend deserved a reduction in status for arriving in Los Angeles without warning. Shay angled a remote at the divider next to his agent. A built-in, flat-screen DVD player rose from the seat and the drawer slid open. Handling the DVD with care, he placed it in the tray and closed the drawer.
Lance frowned. “Gardener?”
Shay glanced at Rhys and resisted the urge to grin. Rhys wouldn’t like the idea of everyone believing he worked for Shay. The slender man sat relaxed, his long legs propped up on the opposite seat. His finely etched features complemented the white-blond hair tied back with a black leather strip. He radiated quiet confidence and superiority, belying the tension seething beneath his calm facade. Muscles taut, Shay waited for the first words from Rhys. The older man had to follow his lead or all his well-laid plans would fall apart.
Rhys’s keen gaze turned toward him for a moment before moving onto Lance. “Yes, a gardener. I supervised the landscaping for Shay’s home.”
The low, accented voice flowed over Shay. He loved sounds. Loud, quiet, tinkling, clunks, all sounds. Even silence pleased him. Some, like heavy machinery, distracted him. Listening to Rhys’s lyrical Welsh tones soothed him. He needed soothing. Time was disappearing too fast.
did that?” Lance stared open-mouthed.
Ignoring the two men, Shay focused on the voice coming over the speaker. His heart pounded once before speeding up. He tried to slip from the leather seat, but the leather on his pants caught and halted his forward motion. As he teetered on the edge, an urge to fall to his knees in respect came over him. Instead, he leaned closer to the screen and stared at the dark-haired reporter, his breath suspended at the back of his throat. Excitement over finally finding and seeing her filled him, and he had to struggle to keep his expression noncommittal.
Her name meant pure beauty. Shay searched for the evidence on her face, but from what he could tell, her years in the human world had concealed her true beauty. Plain, perhaps dull, better described her.
Her slender figure was adorned in a simple navy suit. She appeared fragile. The genuine texture of her skin lay hidden behind a coating of makeup. The light coloring seemed wrong on her, and even caused her features to appear vague and unattractive. Dark-rimmed glasses obscured the beauty of her green eyes. Those eyes lacked the magical vitality that existed in every daughter of the Sidhe. Yet, she was the one he had been searching for the past four years. He sensed a different aura about her than what he noticed in normal humans. Almost as if her powers leaked through the cracks in the spell placed on her.
Lance frowned as he turned to the screen. “Why her? You could have anyone–Barbara, Joan, Maria–but you chose this.”
Rhys coughed, and Shay sensed his friend’s increasing hostility at the unintentional insult to the woman. Lance didn’t need to realize how important Caitlyn was to him, so Shay murmured, “I want to keep the viewers focused on me, not the reporter.”
With his gaze centered on the young woman reporting in clear and precise phrases, he waited to see if he had succeeded. He held his breath, not sure of what to expect with Lance’s response.
His agent stayed silent for a few seconds. Shay’s eye twitched as a bark of laughter erupted from him. “I should have known. You don’t want to share the limelight with a famous reporter.”
Excellent. He exhaled a slow breath, releasing the tight knot which had formed at the back of his throat from holding in the air. His agent had responded just the way he wanted. Greed and egotism were two human aspects Lance Parker understood. He would never comprehend any other motive behind Shay’s choice.
“This is great.” Lance grinned and tapped on the window behind him. “I’m out of here. I told your bodyguard to drop me off. Have a lunch appointment. Do me a favor?”
“Hmm?” Shay didn’t look away from the screen. Caitlyn was talking to another woman. In a span of one moment, she smiled. His heart skipped a beat, and an answering smile budded on his lips, but he stopped. His body swayed closer to the screen. In that brief second, he witnessed a fragment of her beauty. He remembered her smile.
“Keep your secrets. Remember, the more mysterious you are, the better your fans love you,” Lance remarked, slapping him on his shoulder before the limousine stopped. The door opened and with a backward wave, the agent was gone.
Shay eased back into the seat.
Rhys lowered his feet and sat forward, gaze trained on the screen. “Is it her?”