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A Balefire Chronicles Excerpt: Ever Closer
by K.G. McAbee and Cynthia D. Witherspoon
This is an excerpt from the third book in our series, Balefire and Bloodstone

          I stopped just outside the door Tommy kept open just so he could hear me in the suite beside his.  Despite his Grand's reservations at having us so close to one another, Tommy refused to let me stay anywhere that he couldn't get to me quickly if I needed him.  The gesture was sweet; loving.  Careful.  In case the nightmares came back to keep me awake.  Or if the man who had snatched me away from him before tried to do so again. A memory of the time I'd spent in captivity at the hands of the Witchfinders, of WFG, hit me with a force so strong it left me gasping for breath. 

          I watched him sleep for a moment, shoving the horrifying images out of my mind, before I decided that I should go back to my own room.  His voice made me stop.

          “Annie...you ok?”

           I went to the side of his bed before shaking my head.  The auburn hair was growing back unusually fast from where it had been cut away.  Proof that I was healing after my powers that marked me as a Chosen One – a witch – had been drained by WFG.  I ran my fingers through it now, pushing it back from my face as my eyes searched for him in the darkness.

          “I just didn't want to be alone, love.  I'm sorry if I woke you.”

          He pulled the blankets that covered him back and I slipped underneath them to curl up against his chest.  Tommy had always been so good about things like this.  Calming me down when my thoughts were escalating into fear.   Now, after the gala tonight, he'd taken his place as the head of WFG, Limited.  It was the company that his family had started centuries before, seeking Chosen Ones like me.  It was also one of the many things  he vowed to protect me against despite the curse that had been placed on his bloodline by the first Chosen One ever destroyed by WFG.

          “Nightmares again?”

          I shook my head against him as he ran his fingers through my red curls. 

          “No.  Memories.”

          His body stiffened against me before I looked up.  The face that was the source of all that was good in my world twisted.  I reached up, brushing my fingers against the scars he had suffered from helping me escape the Witchfinders.  Tracing the pale one at his collarbone that had been left there by my kiss.  Tommy's arms tightened to pull me ever closer as he buried his nose against the top of my head.

          “You shouldn't have stopped me, Annie.  It is my only regret when it comes to you.”

          I pulled back, moving my hands up to trace his jaw;  moving upward towards the lines that had formed around his eyes that seemed to be blue darker than what I was use to.  Tommy had come so close – too close – to killing the Witchfinder responsible for my capture; my torment.  If I hadn't stopped him, my beloved would have changed into someone I didn't know.  He wouldn't have been the kind, sweet Tommy that I adored.  Instead, he would have become someone much darker.  Someone evil.

          “I don't regret it, love.  That one action...you killing him...would have destroyed you.  It would have made you someone you weren't meant to be.  I...I believe that.”

          Tommy searched my face as I interlocked our fingers together. 

          “Hun, is it true?  What Zachariah said...about you being able to know things?  Feel things?”

          He sighed, tightening his fingers around mine before nodding.  “Yeah.  I guess so.  When...when we found you gone, I was able to feel things in your apartment.  Zachariah called it 'scrying'.  But I think that what I knew...what I saw....just happened because of how close we are.”

          “Have you tried to use it since?”

          Tommy shook his head.  “No.   I'm no Chosen One, Annie.  No matter what I'm told about my mother.”

          His mother was a Chosen One, a witch who had fallen in love with and married his father after getting caught up in the curse.  I shuddered at the thought of it, knowing that we were next in line to be separated by the evil words that would – eventually – kill me and leave Tommy filled with hate and bitterness.  Yet, Tommy was different than all the other men who had stood in his place.  Because his mother was a witch, she had passed along her powers to him.  They were nowhere near as strong as the powers of a Chosen One who was the product of two witches, but his psychic abilities were there.  I knew it each time his blue eyes changed, or could feel the sudden shift of electricity in the air around him.

          “Maybe you should try to use it again.  For something good.  Something positive, instead of...well, when you used it last.”

          “I don't know if I can.”

          “Just focus on me, love.  I know that you can feel my energy against you.  Focus on that...and see what happens.”

          Tommy sighed, but I knew that he would give it a try.  He was so eager, so willing, to please me.  I watched as his eyes closed and he began to focus.  I couldn't hold back a quick gasp as I felt a twinge against my palm, like an electrical charge, as his powers came to him.  It was my turn to focus, to show him, just how much he meant to me.

          I let my thoughts turn to the sheer happiness that hit me every time I saw him.  I shared with him how I loved him so much that it was almost painful and how grateful I was that he was there, protecting me, loving me, in return.  Before I could stop myself, the desire I felt for him flowed through; how much I wanted him as my own.  I saw his expression tighten before the electrical charge slowed, until finally, it stopped.  When his eyes opened, they were a sapphire so beautiful, that I felt my heart stop in my chest.  But I managed to smile, gripping his palm with my own, as I spoke.

          “See?  That wasn't so bad was it?”

          Tommy kissed me then, filling me with a heat so strong that, for a moment, I was afraid that the fire of my birth had finally returned.  Instead, I shoved the memory of burning him with my own kiss to the back of my mind as I focused that fear into an energy that was making me stronger.  A groan escaped; but I wasn't sure if it was from me or him as he pulled back just far enough to breath a single word against my lips.

          “Anya...”

          I let the energies of the moment take over.  My body leaned up as I reclaimed the kiss that he stopped giving to me, deepening it until I felt him release my hand to grab my waist, pulling me back up against him before we fell back into the sheets.  I felt the fingers move up from my hip to push the nightshirt I wore up and we parted only long enough for him to slip it over my head.  The sudden chill of the air in the room hit my skin, and I shivered before he came back to my embrace.

          Tommy's kiss moved downward, brushing against my shoulder before finding the nipples he'd exposed.  His soft growl escaped as my hands began to move, tracing the lines of his chest and stomach before slipping beneath the pants he wore.  I heard him gasp out loud, felt his breath on my skin, when I took hold of him.  The sounds of his breathing quickened, coming out in short bursts, as my hand began to move. A sudden hum took the place of the sounds filling my ears, almost as if someone had turned on a radio somewhere in the room.  The words that I could hear were coming from Tommy himself, though he never spoke out loud.  It was the first time I had ever felt his powers and what they were like for him.  Exquisite....god, Annie...so beautiful...  His thoughts left me as soon as they had appeared, and I had to admit, I was surprised that I'd been able to experience them at all.  I nudged my nose against his head and he brought his mouth back against mine, grabbing hold of my hips to press me against him as he groaned against my lips.

          I released him with reluctance when he pulled back, letting him remove my own sleeping pants before his own were discarded.  Here, in this dark hotel room in New York, I could make out every inch of the man I loved.  He was gorgeous; and I reached back out to him greedily.  Tommy was back beside me within seconds.  I felt his arms wrapping around me as he pressed against me, shifting to lay on top of me before those dark blue eyes met mine.  I leaned up, kissing him once more, to give him the permission he was seeking. 

          I could hear my groan as we came together, but I didn't recognize it as my own as my back arched up against him.  Tommy stopped, leaving both of us gasping for breath, just before he shifted and our lips met once more.  I felt the electrical charge that denoted the use of his power flowing through me, then a rush of the emotions that he was feeling just as I had heard his thoughts only moments before.  It was a combination of everything that was going through my body as we moved together.  Awe, pleasure, love; that rush was so sudden, so sweet, that I couldn't focus on a single one of them.   

          Then, the flow changed into something else.  Something more.  I could feel my own powers leaving me as his entered in.  We exchanged these energies with the other gladly until finally, they crashed around us.  I felt Tommy shuddering above me; his lips tender against the skin that was flushed red with the heat that I had given him in return.  It took a minute before I heard him whispering words of love to me.  Words that were almost as sweet as the feeling of him in my arms just as I was entangled in his own.

          “Amazing, angel...God....I love you...so much...”

          I whimpered as he shifted off of me, laying back on his side before he gathered me back up in his arms.  Anything I could have said in response would have seemed to lessen the moment, so I turned my focus back on him.  Letting my hands explore his lean frame, his beautiful face.   We fell into silence,  wrapped up in the other, while the rest of the world disappeared.

          It was then that we began to give each other the shattered remains and jagged shards of what was left of ourselves after all that we'd been through.  And as the night gave way to the pale shades of a new dawn, we pieced them back together, making something solid.  Something stronger than ourselves.

          Together, we built something meant to last.

 

 

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