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Authors: Dani Kristoff


BOOK: Spiritbound
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Dani Kristoff

Dani Kristoff

The Sydney coven is suffering from a man drought—some witches complain, and some witches just get creative

Grace lives with her cousin Elena and her mother Elvira, and life is pretty damn fine, barring the warlock drought that has the coven’s younger witches a bit itchy. Grace isn’t worried—even if a suitable warlock were available, he wouldn’t be interested in Grace. Ever since she raised her dead cat as a child, Grace’s necromancy skills have put everyone around her on edge.

Then her childhood beau, Declan Mallory, returns from overseas. He’s a battlemage and hot property. To Grace’s dismay, she is but one face among many as the coven witches pull out all the stops to attract the tall, dark and handsome warlock’s attention. Fortunately their childhood friendship still holds some sway, and Grace and Declan soon find themselves reconnecting on all sorts of levels. But there are dark secrets in the coven, and Declan’s family is determined to shut their relationship down. But Grace has finally found her warlock, and she is not giving him up without a fight: not to the bitch-witches, not to his family, and certainly not to the past.

About the Author

Dani Kristoff lives in Canberra in a big house with views to the Brindabella mountains. Her partner is also a writer and they spend quiet evenings at home writing together. She delights in reading and writing paranormal romance. After writing science fiction and fantasy for nearly thirteen years, she decided to branch out after going to a Romance Writers of Australia conference. Dani began to write paranormal romance, the first book being
, which is a sequel to


It’s wonderful to have first readers to help you shape a book. For
, I have to thank Nicole Murphy, who told me I had to write Grace and Declan’s story in the first place and who also gave me feedback on the first draft. A big thank you to Cora Wright, who gave fantastic feedback too. I have to confess to Cora that I still think there are some rainbows left in the story. The lovely Joanne Anderton and Ingrid Jonach gave some insightful tips as well.

wouldn’t have been written without the encouragement of Kate Cuthbert, who provided so much guidance when I wrote
, my first paranormal romance. This story benefitted from the lessons she taught me. I believe they are forever engraved on my brain.

I’d also like to thank Harlequin and the Escape Publishing team for all the hard work they have done to make the imprint a success and I’m so proud and happy to be working with such a great collection of writers. I certainly never want for reading material.

For Matthew, the best dweeb


About the Author



Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Bestselling Titles by Escape Publishing…


In the back garden, Grace Riordon knelt on the grass and patted down the soil around the dandelion she had planted. The little willow tree cast shade over her as she picked up the trowel and pushed it into the ground to make another hole. A presence brushed her mind. With a smile, she turned. It was Declan. ‘Are you going to take all day with that?’ he asked, a twinkle in his dark eyes.

, she thought at him. She smiled when their minds touched briefly. Declan fell back a step.

, he thought back at her.
Your essence is so strong; so full of life

The week before, they’d accidentally touched minds. Declan had said it was her talent, rather than his. Actually he’d likened her ability to reach out to him as an unpredictable jack-in-the-box. She smiled, remembering her first encounter with his golden essence. At first she didn’t know what she’d done, until he’d turned to her and sent her a thought so vivid and strong that she’d nearly passed out. After that she’d wanted more.

Apparently witches her age weren’t meant to be able to do such things. Deciding between them that they best keep quiet about it, they carried on as normal and limited touching minds. Parents were strange about things like that and they’d fret and worry that such closeness, such a bond at an early age, would be detrimental to both of them. Only yesterday she had heard her mother talking to Matilda, saying she was concerned about how much time she spent with Declan.

‘Can I help?’ he asked, squatting down beside her.

She shoved the trowel into the dirt to make another hole. ‘Mother wants me to plant these in a particular way. It won’t take long. Why don’t you see what Elena’s doing?’

Declan smiled at her. Grace beamed back, unable to hide her love. He messed her hair. ‘Okay, but don’t take long or we’ll come to get you.’

He touched his mind to hers and she gasped. She saw the love he had for her. She sighed, knowing that one day they’d be together and never part.

He sauntered around to the front of the house to find her cousin, Elena. Being closer in age, they had a good friendship and could keep each other amused while Grace finished her chores. With a sigh, Grace picked up one of the plants and placed it gently into the soil and covered it up, repeating the incantation her mother had drilled into her that morning. Then, scooting over a bit on her knees, she dug the trowel in again and repeated the process. She rubbed her nose on her forearm, accidentally dropping soil into her hair. She shook her head vigorously and then reached for the next plant.

A piercing scream made her skin tingle and her breath catch. Immediately dropping the trowel, Grace jumped up, knowing in her gut that something awful had happened to Elena. The tremor in her heartbeat and the butterflies running rampant in her stomach were a dead giveaway. She and Elena had always had a connection, unable to shield each other against each other’s distress. Bolting around the side of the house, she couldn’t see Elena in the front garden. Two tennis rackets lay on the thick, green grass, a threadbare ball close by. Where had she and Declan gotten to?

Another cry from Elena and Grace turned, catching sight of her cousin as she knelt on the side of the road, huddled over. Declan squatted behind her, rubbing her back. His soothing tones reached Grace. She rushed over, the scene opening up as she approached. Fel, the cat, lay on the tarmac, blood leaking from its head.

Elena screamed again, dissolving into tears.

Grace dashed over. ‘Oh no,’ she said as she bent down to examine the treasured pet. ‘What happened?’

Her questioning gaze met Declan’s. ‘A car ran over it,’ he replied, then chewed on his bottom lip.

Elena’s green irises were vivid against the bloodshot whites. Such distress twisted Grace’s insides.

Grace reached out with her talent, touched Declan’s mind gently and was overwhelmed by the turmoil inside of him. He blamed himself for the cat being injured and hearing Elena scream had been torment. She moved her talent away, realising that he was so distracted, he hadn’t even noticed her touch. ‘It’s dead,’ he added, his voice gravelly.

Grace glanced at the cat and rolled her eyes. ‘Don’t be silly,’ she said, as Elena began wailing again, placing the cat on her lap.

‘Elena, let me see.’ Elena nodded, her fists rubbing against her swollen red eyes. Grace gently took Fel from Elena’s hold.

Her cousin then chewed her knuckles as tears continued to roll unabated down her cheeks while she watched Grace examine the cat.

Grace sent her talent into the small furry body. She could sense it there, its life—just hovering on the brink. She couldn’t let Elena lose her pet; couldn’t see her suffer. ‘It’s not dead. See.’ She gave a little tug and life surged back into the cat.

Declan reeled and fell back on his hands. ‘What did you do?’ His dark eyes bored into hers. His sweet face was marred by horror, his eyes wide and mouth agape.

‘Nothing. I just called to the cat.’

They all looked down. The cat’s translucent body rose up, leaving the bloody, furry mass behind. Elena sucked in a surprised breath. ‘Fel?’ The cat meowed, but it sounded unearthly.

The hairs on the back of Grace’s neck stood erect. One look at Elena revealed that her mouth was open but nothing came out.

Fel’s ghost rubbed itself against Elena’s knee.

Instinctively, she reached for Declan with her talent and cried out at what she found in his mind. Horror engulfed him; revulsion and fear tinged his golden essence with fingers of brown. It was then she knew she’d done wrong. Declan met her gaze and shook his head. Then like shutters slamming down, he blocked her from reaching him.

She jerked back and blinked at the suddenness of it. ‘Declan?’

The front door slammed. Her mother was coming. Declan backed away from her, shaking his head.

‘What is it?’ she asked. ‘What have I done? Please.’

‘You’re a necromancer!’ Declan’s face was pale.

The way he looked at her cut her to the core. ‘A what?’

‘You raise the dead.’

Grace frowned. ‘Don’t be silly. It wasn’t dead.’

‘Yes, it was. Look at it. You’ve animated its undead spirit. Only evil, dark witches raise the dead.’ All trace of Declan’s softness was gone. He was angry, afraid.

Grace sucked in a breath. Oh goddess, he was afraid of her. She tried to touch his mind again, but was met with a hard wall.

Please Declan
, she thought at him.
Don’t shut me out. Don’t hide from me

But he wouldn’t answer.

Grace didn’t want to look at Fel. The force of Declan’s rejection shocked her. Yet the cat’s body sat there and its ghostly form was kneading its paws on Elena’s knee. Elena’s wide, green eyes stared at the cat, then lifted to Grace, her face clouded in puzzlement.

Fel lifted its head and let out a melancholy cry. Declan jumped back as if stung. His eyes were large, his mouth ajar. He shook his head. ‘No, this is wrong. It can’t be.’

His attention shifted to Grace. There was hatred in his eyes and his fists were clenched. Grace’s world crashed around her as his negative emotions washed over her. ‘You broke the law, Grace. You’ll be punished, cast out of the coven.’

‘I didn’t mean it. Please, Declan, don’t say that.’

‘It’s true. There’s no stopping it.’

Her eyes burned with tears. ‘But you’re my friend, Declan. Nothing can change that.’

Standing over her, he shook his head. His body was stiff with outrage. ‘I can never see you again, Grace. You’ve gone too far.’ He turned and bolted down the street. Grace watched his retreating back, tears streaming down her cheeks.

Her mother, Elvira, appeared, hands on hips, her gaze fixed on the retreating back of Declan Mallory. ‘Well, now. I never thought to see that Mallory spooked by one of the Denholm clan. I thought he was made of stronger stuff.’ Grace sat very still. What had she done? She’d broken the law. Her heart was beating double time. Elena reached over and squeezed her hand.

Grace began to babble. ‘I didn’t mean to do anything wrong, Mother. I thought…I thought it was still alive. It was there. I mean, I could feel Fel. Just there, and I called to her. Like I—’

‘There now, don’t fret.’ Elvira patted Grace on the head and then bent to survey the cat. When she put out a hand, Fel rubbed her head against it. ‘It’s Fel alright. The cat always was a bit unusual. Descended from a long line of folk-bred felines, so it’s not surprising it wasn’t going to die like a normal one. A strong spirit, and attached to Elena, is my guess. No wonder it was just there waiting for you to fetch it back.’

She stood up straight. ‘Come along then. We best bury the body in the garden and then prepare for a council meeting. They’ll be here soon, I suspect.’

‘Will they send me away?’ Grace asked as she cradled Fel’s cooling body. ‘Declan said I’d be cast out.’

BOOK: Spiritbound
3.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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