She needed this one night for herself. She added another layer of charms around her car for good meas-ure. As she neared the door, she closed her eyes and breathed in, taking one last fresh intake of air before entering, she made mental notes of the scents and smells around her to compare when she left.
She asked for a seat neat the window off to the side that set back into a small one-table alcove. Perfect. Pri-vate. Intimate.
Crossing the floor, she kept her eyes averted until she reached her table, immediately ordered a glass of her favorite wine and scanned the menu. Her stomach rumbled softly and she laughed, raising the interest of several couples a few tables away. She hadn’t meant to attract attention but the laughter slipped out before she could stop it.
Making up her selection, she handed the menu back to the water and sipped wine he’d brought. Lan-guidly, almost automatically, her eyes wandered the room, taking a detailed note of its occupants. Now, she placed a protective shield around the room.
As the door opened, her mouth went dry. She felt the air back up in her throat as his essence poured over her. Oh, goodness, he was strong. Strong of body. Strong of mind. Strong of will. His aura spread through the room as if poured from a cup made of gold. Every-thing faded away as their eyes met and she felt a pull of need deep in her belly so strong she felt the contraction throughout her body. When she managed to force her eyes from his, she couldn’t blink away his image. He needed a haircut, she had noted, hair the color of mid-night hanging in unruly disarray on his brow and curl-ing over his collar. It was the eyes that held her en-thralled. Eyes as black as coal burned into her soul from a tall muscular frame that heated her blood. She had the urge to run for her life knowing whatever spell she’d throw up, he would get through. She’d never been affected by a man like this and didn’t know what to make of it. She was eternally grateful when the waiter brought her food and she could avoid any further contact with the man. Was it a coincidence that he was here at the same time she was? Or, was he part of the tempest that was raging on the edges of her awareness?
She forced herself to concentrate on the waiter standing at her elbow waiting on instructions rather than on the stranger taking a seat on the other side of the restaurant. Forcing her eyes upward, she asked for the check and a to-go box. She’d take her meal with her and snack on it later. For some reason, she wanted to be on her way. Quickly. It had nothing to do with fear of being recognized and all to do the man watching her with curious eyes.
He handed her the check, waited discreetly while she searched her purse for a credit card and forced her-self to remain seated, carefully keeping her eyes averted until the waiter returned for her signature. She had to pass by the stranger on her way out of the restau-rant and could feel his eyes on her every inch of the way. By the time she reached where he was sitting, she wanted to scream. Something new for a witch who was known for staying in control.
She could feel the aura that surrounded him, his strength, a potent mix of heady sensuality. Her body stirred to life. She stabilized her body, prepared to move passed him and out the door to freedom.
“Hey pretty lady, mind if I walk you to your car?” he asked.
She looked down her nose at him in a haughty manner, hoping that would deflate his interest. “I don’t make it a habit of allowing strangers to escort me any-where.” She felt a slow burn in the pit of her stomach.
“Name’s Declan Fontaine.” He stood, offering his hand. “We’re not strangers anymore.”
She slid her hand into his, releasing her restraint a notch as the slow burn became a glowing flame, she let herself give a small smile of acknowledgement. “Rhiannon Cambridge.”
“Nice to meet you, Rhiannon Cambridge,” he said pleasantly. Usually he stayed away from mysterious women. He’d learned early on that more often than not it was just a ploy to peak interest. Then, too, he found his pickups in bars and singles clubs not quaint restau-rants. Deep inside, he knew she was different. The mys-tery that surrounded her was more than that.
He couldn’t be sure how he knew, but something, some unknown force pulled him to her like metal shav-ings to a magnet. He could feel the tug of within him-self. And knew, this was why he’d felt compelled to come to a restaurant on the other side of town when all he’d wanted was a quiet evening at home for once. He could tell by the way she looked down at him that she would’ve walked right on by if he hadn’t stopped her.
Their eyes met, clashed and held. Rhiannon noted with some odd twist of pride that his interest in her was more than wanting a woman for a night. Most men would’ve shrugged her off from the ice in her eyes, giv-ing up, chalking it up to her being a cold bitch. It was a rare occurrence that a man returned her stare with warm and curious eyes. He was a stunningly handsome man, a warlord in his own right, she thought. His features were physically powerful, sculpted by an unknown hand. She knew him yet knew he was a stranger, knew he was just a man. She felt the need to get away again. Strong and intense. She should’ve stayed in, should have controlled her indulgence. But his eyes held hers, assessing, inquisitive, appraising. She cloaked herself with subtle protection.
She swept by him. He stood now, lightly clasping her wrist. Standing, his shoulders seemed wider, his chest broader, his waist slimmer, his long legs more muscular. His mode of dress was black on black. Black polo shirt that showed off biceps. Black jeans that hugged his thighs. Black athletic shoes. He made a per-fect picture. She bit down on the whimper before it es-caped. He was too perfect … and dangerous. She needed put a lot of distance between them before it be-came worse.
He raised his brows, and shrugged. She stirred. She turned to leave. He held out his hand, lifted hers and tucked it in the crook of his arm, confident she wouldn’t refuse.
“I think you need to release me,” she stated firmly, staring straight into his eyes, pressing a silent spell into his mind.
He wasn’t the least affected by her spell. Instead, it was she that found herself floundering. She sensed his need, saw it in his eyes, attempted to ward it off with a simple spell but something in his gaze stopped her as his need wound its way into her. She couldn’t under-stand what was happening. She raised her eyes to his. Compelling. The need tingled up her arm and into her breast. As much pleasure as pain. She nodded her ac-ceptance.
He opened the door to a silver Jag before sliding behind the wheel. The engine purred to life. She felt the power of the car, the power of the man and wondered what she was letting herself in for. She wished she’d brought her crystals with her … as protection for her-self.
She allowed him to escort her inside the Silver Par-rot, a small pub that was exactly as he’d described, one that appealed to her in a lot of ways. She even allowed to order a drink she didn’t want. He was exceedingly handsome, charming when it came to pursuing a woman. His hand closed around hers, felt the fire and had no idea what he was in for.
And that was another thing she’d been mistaken about tonight. Quickly, she threw up a rhyming block, feeling the need to protect herself from any advances he may have in mind. She did not want his kiss. Her heart warred with that decision and her need became greedy but felt the pull of home calling her. She closed the car door and started the car.
He blocked her way, standing directly in front of her car. Why were her spells not working? She lifted her eyes to his when he laid his arms across her open window.
“You have a glib tongue, Declan Fontaine.” She saw it in his eyes, the need, the want for more. She couldn’t allow it. She focused, poured all she had into herself and whispered a chanting spell. She left him standing there looking off into the distance, unaware she was even gone.