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A carefree, playful young witch named Angelica, is returning to her cottage in the woods when she detects the presence of a powerful man. A Warrior of the First Order, Darius Dunworthy, has been sent by the Prince of Zanderone to find her. There is an evil menace terrifying the citizens, and the Prince believes the talented witch can help.
Angelica agrees, but finds herself intensely attracted to the strong, muscled warrior. She casts an erotic spell, but being a Warrior of the First Order, Darius is no ordinary man. He immediately recognizes the naughtiness behind his burning desire to ravage her. Witch or no witch, he decides such mischief cannot go unpunished.
"Some ground rules," he declared as he continued to spank her. "You will not attempt to cast any further spells on me. Do you promise?" "OW! Yes, I promise!"
Though shocked by the spanking and his list of rules, she is even more shocked that he doesn't fear her, but when she learns they will be guests of Princess Lizbett and Lord Larian she is determined to travel with him.
Lord Larian and Princess Lizbett join them in their hunt for the evil villain, and bring with them all the fiery passion, salacious sex and sizzling spanking they shared in The Warrior and the Petulant Princess, the first book of this scintillating series, Warriors After Dark.
Angelica laughed merrily as she darted through the woods. Though some would chastise her for what she’d done, she saw it as her duty. The little boy deserved it. She’d seen him tease the animals in the forest too many times, and now he was sorry.�
������ It had been a simple spell, and for a young witch with such great skill and inherited power it had required only an incantation. When the child had begun poking the porcupine with a stick, she had hummed the words and sent them on their way.
��������Mean little child, be mean no more
������ If you continue, you will soon be sore
������ You will fall quickly and skin your knee
������ So I ask it, so it shall be
������ Each time, every time, that you cause pain���
������ You will fall down, again and again.
At some point he’d make the connection; hurt an animal, he’d trip over and be hurt in return. It was fair, it was justice, and it would stop him.
������ She’d had a pleasant dance through the woods, but as she neared her cottage she felt a presence. Pausing, she dropped the hood of her cape and tilted her head.
������ The presence was male, strong, pure of heart, and he was waiting for her. Taking a breath and closing her eyes she attempted read him, learn the message he had or what favor he might be asking, but to her surprise and disappointment she felt nothing.
������ Strange. How is he blocking me? No-one can block me, not unless he has a sorcerer helping him. Perhaps he does, though I don’t smell one.
A sorcerer would use oils or plants to thwart the senses of a witch, but she detected no such aromatic protection.
������ Filled with curiosity she hurried forward, skirting the perimeter of her house, and though she could feel him nearby he wasn’t in sight. Raising her arms above her head she let her fingertips touch the air.
������ Ah, a warrior. He is a warrior, and he has the stealth of a warrior. He is to the side and behind me.
Slowly turning around, still shrouded in the woodsy mist, she leaned against a tree trunk and smiled.
������ “You may come out, warrior. I know you are there, and I know you wish me no harm. I will take you into my cottage and brew you some tea, a tea you will enjoy and that will nourish your body.”
������ The tall, heavily muscled man stepped from the shadows, his sword gleaming at his side.
������ “Your senses are as keen as I was told,” he declared in a voice thick and deep. “I wonder, Angelica, are the other things I’ve heard about you also true?”
������ “Since I don’t know what you’ve been told, I don’t know the answer to that question. You’ll just have to find out for yourself,” she quipped. “Do you wish to come into my house and have tea?”
������ “I was told you can be very mischievous, that you don’t always listen to those you should,” he continued not allowing her to change the subject.
������ “Just because someone thinks they know better than me, it doesn’t mean they do,” she retorted. “I’m going inside now. You’re welcome to join me, but you must take my hand as we walk through my garden to the front door.”
������ “I’ve heard about that too,” and you are as capricious as my Prince said you were.
������ Moving closer, he wished he could see her more clearly. The mist around her was like a white veil, transparent, but allowing no detail to show through.
������ “I was told to wait for you out here, that no man, woman or even another witch, can enter through your gate and reach your door without feeling faint. No-one seems to know how you do it, not even other witches.”
������ “No-one shall,” she said firmly. “It is my protective spell, and sharing its secrets will lessen its potency. Are you joining me, or are you going to stay out here?”
������ “Thank you, Angelica, I’d be delighted to join you.”
������ “Your name?”
������ “My name is Darius.”
������ “Darius, a good, strong name. You are welcome in my home.”
������ He knew she was gifted with extraordinary talent, but he’d also been told she could be unpredictable. Still wary of their meeting he continued stepping slowly towards her.
������ “Please don’t fear me,” she said softly, sensing his trepidation. “I only hurt those that hurt me, or cause malicious pain to others.”
������ “You can read me already?” he muttered somewhat unnerved, and how your voice changed when you said that. You sounded almost vulnerable.
������ “Of course I can read you,” she replied, but not as much as most, or as much as I would like.
She stepped out of the mist, and he discovered her loveliness had not been exaggerated. Her deep purple eyes shone, and her dark hair against her pale skin and red lips gave her the look of a fine porcelain statuette. Dressed in a pink and white, diaphanous gown that floated like a cloud around her body, he could detect her luscious figure as the fine fabric lightly touched various parts of her. The black cape fell behind her shoulders, exaggerating the lightness of the dress, and he thought it almost like a picture frame surrounding her beauty. Extending his hand he felt her fine fingers slip into his palm, and as they curled around his, a subtle tingle traveled up his arm.
������ “Come, Darius. We will drink tea, share some rosemary honey on bread, and you will tell me why you’re here.”
������ “You don’t know?” he challenged.
������ “Ah, you want to play that game. Very well,” she sighed.
������ “I’m sorry,” he apologized, “have I upset you?”
������ “It happens often, people wanting to test me. It does become tiresome.”
������ They had reached the front door of the thatched roof cottage, and to his amazement it swung open of its own accord.
������ “Do you hail from Zanderone?” she asked.
������ “Yes, I do,” he replied his eyes scanning the room as they entered.
������ “Are you a Warrior of the First Order?”
������ “I am. This is a very cozy cottage.”
������ The home was warm and inviting, with a stone hearth and furnishings that any fine house would welcome. Nowhere could he see the evidence of her craft. No bottles or jars, or smells in the air.
������ “This is my home, not my workroom,” she smiled. “Please, sit down. I’ll brew you some tea, and if you wish, I’ll play your game.”
������ “Thank you,” he frowned, disturbed that it appeared she could read every thought in his head.“I’m happy to tell you why I’m here, and I didn’t mean my question to be any kind of test. I don’t doubt your ability one bit. I was just surprised you didn’t already know.”
Prince Fenderon, the ruler of Zanderone, had told him to speak only the truth and leave nothing out, and as he sat down the warning words whispered through his mind.
������ “She will know if you are lying or trying to mislead her. You will lose her trust, and that, Darius, will not bode well for the success of your mission.”
������ He watched her move across to the stove and put a kettle on to boil, then open a cupboard, withdraw a jar, and pour a small amount of brown powder into a teapot.
������ “Do you know Lord Larian and Princess Lizbett?” she asked as she returned and sat opposite him.
������ “I do.”
������ “Were you at their wedding?”
������ “No. After the attempt on her father’s life the wedding was kept small in number. I was at the reception though. It was held in Prince Fenderon’s Palace.”
������ “I know,” she said wistfully. “It must have been wonderful.”
������ Angelica enjoyed her life as a witch, but in spite of the many meetings of her coven it was a lonely existence. When she felt the need for a man there were any number of love spells, but they were short-lived, lasting just long enough to enjoy what the man had to offer. It didn’t help that if used too often on the same person the spell became less effective, and over time would lose their potency altogether. She could not, and did not, expect to have true love in her life, the kind of love it was rumored Princess Lizbett and Lord Larian shared.
������ “The Princess and Larian are an interesting couple,” Darius remarked.
������ “They are?” she asked, intrigued by the comment.
������ “The Princess is strong-minded, and Lord Larian is a Warrior of the First Order, so it was not a likely pairing,” he chuckled, “but they certainly seem to have found peace, though I’m not surprised.”
������ “Tell me more,” she insisted. Why can’t I see it? Why can’t I see the images you have in your head? I know they’re in there, I can feel them. Why can’t I see them?
“Perhaps I’ve already shared too much,” he frowned.
������ “It was rumored that she was very spoilt and difficult until she wedded Lord Larian. How was he able to change her? Being a Princess, and he just a warrior, surely she would have had power over him, not the other way around.”
������ Darius broke into a broad smile.
������ “Just a warrior,” he chuckled. “A Zanderonian warrior, especially a Warrior of the First Order, is not, as you say, just a warrior.”
������ “I must admit, I have met a warrior or two, but they didn’t carry your energy,” she nodded. “I’ve heard Lizbett and Larian share a great love. Is that what changed her?”
������ “Angelica, it is not right for me to gossip about my colleague, or about the Princess, but they are very happy together.”
������ “I wonder what that’s like,” she mumbled. “Being a witch doesn’t allow for such things.”
������ “Perhaps, if the circumstances were right...” he mumbled, not sure what else to say.
������ Feeling uncomfortable she paused, shifting her mind away from the attempts to learn about the royal couple, and sought the reason for his visit. When it floated into her mind she was greatly relieved, though why she couldn’t discern some of his other thoughts, especially those about Lizbett and Larian, was perplexing.
������ “You are here because you need my help,” she declared. “There is trouble in Zanderone, an evil presence, a presence the warriors cannot find or defeat.”
������ “Yes, Angelica, that’s exactly why I’m here,” he nodded.
������ “Tell me the details while I pour the tea,” she said rising from her chair.
������ “There is someone, we assume a man, who is causing havoc in Zanderone. He a murderer, killing for sport it seems. Both men and women have fallen victim to his wicked depravity. The people are afraid to leave their homes, merchants won’t open their stores for fear of being robbed and killed. Children cannot go outside and play. We don’t know how to stop him.”
������ She had poured the tea, and as she brought it back to him, along with some bread smothered in honey she had collected herself, she could feel his angst and see the troubled look in his deep blue eyes, but she felt something else, something unfamiliar, something that made her pulse tick up.
������ “This tea will strengthen you,” she smiled. “You have traveled far to find me. I will make you a proper meal, but the bread and honey can fill the void for the moment. Is your horse in the village?”
������ “Thank you. The tea has an inviting aroma,” he said gratefully. “Yes, I left him in the care of the village stable. My journey was long, and I will need the sleep of Zinyana as the suns fall away tonight.”
������ Zinyana was a deep sleep unique to the warriors. It rejuvenated the body and mind, sinking the subject so deeply into sleep the heart slowed to half its rate; there was no dreaming and no movement.
������ It was the only time the warrior was vulnerable; he could not leap from his bed, his waking was measured, and he had to straighten his body slowly. Once rising from the state and having eaten, his prowess and strength were restored, and could often function for several days without further rest.
“Do you have somewhere safe for your sleep?” she asked.
������ “I will seek out an inn at the village.”
������ “Will that give you the protection you need? An inn? I have an extra cot for those who stay here while healing. You are welcome to it. I give you my word I will not bother you.”
������ As his eyes touched hers he could feel her sincerity, and a softness, and a kindness that had not been immediately apparent.
������ “Thank you, Angelica. I will gratefully accept, but I must ask, will you travel back to Zanderone and help us, can you help us? My Prince is very generous and will pay you handsomely, though I am given to understand you may not be interested in coin. What might we offer you to help us catch this villain?”
������ “I may be a witch, but I still need to pay for food and items essential to living and for my work, but there may be other forms of payment as well. Yes, Darius, I will help you and your people, and I will think about the cost.”
������ “My Prince and I thank you. It has been a terrible time. When will you be free to travel?”
������ “In the morning. This evil must be stopped.”
������ “This is wonderful news,” he said quietly, then sighing heavily he leaned back, finally feeling that he could catch his breath. “I should collect my horse. Is there a place close where he will be safe?”
������ “Yes, I have an enclosed area in the back that is quite large. My spell doesn’t affect animals, and it offers excellent grazing.”
������ “Thank you. A warrior and his horse don’t like to be separated.”
������ “You depend on each other,” she remarked.
������ “We do,” he nodded, “and our bond is sacred.”
������ As he sipped his tea and ate the bread with rosemary honey, he could feel himself relax. There had been no guarantee the young witch would agree to travel so far and put herself at risk, Had his request been denied he wasn’t sure where else they could turn for help. Lifting his gaze, he found her staring at him.
������ “Is there a question?”
������ “No, no question,” she replied quietly, at least, nothing I can ask you. I cannot read you, and I feel a fluttering inside me. I want to lay with you, to enjoy your body, to sit on your manhood, but it is more than that. It is a very pleasant feeling, but it is a worrying one, very worrying indeed.