The only light was the snake-whips of lightning that slashed each time she raised her arms. And the light that came from her was a furious gold edged with murderous red.
The wind roared.
The violence of it, the sheer, unharnessedpower of it, thrilled her in some deep and secret place. She was beyond now, beyond right, beyond rules.
And part of her, still flickering, wept grievous tears for the loss.
She had done what she had done, and now wrongs were avenged. Death to death to death. A circle formed by hate. One times three.
She cried out in triumph as the dark smoke of black magic streamed inside her, smearing and choking out what she had been, what she had
vowed. What she had believed.
This, she thought as her cupped hands trembled at the force and the greed, was better. What had come before was pale and weak, a soft belly, compared to the strength and muscle of what was now.
She could do all and any. She could take and could rule. There was nothing and no one to stop her.
In a mad dance she spun across the sand, above it, her arms spread like wings, her hair falling in coils like snakes. She could taste the death of her sister’s murderer, the bright copper flavor of blood she’d spilled, and knew she had never supped so well.
Her laughter shot out like bolts, cracked the black bowl of the sky. A torrent of dark rain fell and hissed on the sand like acid.
He called her.
Somewhere through the wild night and her own fury she heard his voice. The faint glow of what had been inside her struggled to burn brighter.
She saw him, just a shadow fighting through the wind and rain to reach her. Love warred and wept in a heart gone cold.
“Go back!”she shouted at him, and her voice thundered, shook the world.
But still he came on, his hands reaching toward her—to gather her in, to bring her back. And she saw, just for an instant, the gleam of his eyes against the night, that was love, and fear.
Out of the sky came a lance of fire. Even as she screamed, as that light inside her leaped, it speared through him.
She felt his death inside her. The pain and horror of what she’d sent out springing back, times three.
And the light inside her winked out. Left her cold, cold, cold.
He didn’t lookso very different from the other passengers on the ferry. His long black coat flapped in the wind. His hair, an ordinary sort of dark blond, flew around his face and had no particular style.
He’d remembered to shave and had only nicked himself twice, just under the strong line of his jaw. His face—and it was a good one—was hidden behind one of his cameras as he snapped pictures of the island using a long lens.
His skin still held the tropical tan he’d picked up in Borneo. Against it his eyes were the luminous golden brown of honey just bottled. His nose was straight and narrow, his face a bit thin.
The hollows in his cheeks tended to deepen when he lost himself in work for long periods and forgot regular meals. It gave him an intriguing starving-scholar look.
His mouth smiled easily, sensually.
He was somewhat tall, somewhat lanky.
And somewhat clumsy.
He had to grip the rail to keep a shudder of the ferry from pitching him over it. He’d been leaning out too far, of course. He knew that, but anticipation often made him forget the reality of the moment.
He steadied himself again, dipped into his coat pocket for a stick of gum.
He came out with an ancient lemon drop, a couple of crumpled sheets of notepaper, a ticket stub—which baffled him, as he couldn’t quite remember when he’d last been to the movies—and a lens cap he’d thought he’d lost.
He made do with the lemon drop and watched the island.
He’d consulted with a shaman in Arizona, visited a man who claimed to be a vampire in the mountains of Hungary, been cursed by a brujo after a regrettable incident in Mexico. He’d lived among ghosts in a cottage in Cornwall and had documented the rights and rituals of a necromancer in Romania.
For nearly twelve years, MacAllister Booke had studied, recorded, witnessed the impossible. He’d interviewed witches, ghosts, lycanthropes, alien abductees, and psychics. Ninety-eight percent of them were delusional or con artists. But the remaining two percent . . . well, that kept him going.
He didn’t just believe in the extraordinary. He’d made it his life’s work.
The idea of spending the next few months on a chunk of land that legend claimed had been torn from the mainland of Massachusetts by a trio of witches and settled as a sanctuary was fascinating to him.
He’d researched Three Sisters Island extensively and had dug up every scrap of information he could find on Mia Devlin, the current island witch. She hadn’t promised him interviews, or access to any of her work. But he hoped to persuade her.
A man who had talked himself into a ceremony held by neo-Druids should be able to convince a solitary witch to let him watch her work a few spells.
Besides, he imagined they could make a trade. He had something he was sure would interest her, and anyone else who was tied into the three-hundred-year-old curse.
He lifted his camera again, adjusting the framing to capture the spear of the white lighthouse, the brooding ramble of the old stone house, both clinging to the high cliffs. He knew Mia lived there, high above the village, close to the thick slice of forest.
Just as he knew she owned the village bookstore and ran it successfully. A practical witch who, by all appearances, knew how to live, and live well, in both worlds.
He could hardly wait to meet her face-to-face.
The blast of the horn warned him to prepare for docking. He walked back to his Land Rover, put his camera in its case on the passenger seat.
The lens cap in his pocket was, once again, forgotten.