Each week on First Sight Saturday I welcome an author to share an excerpt of a first meeting. Today Ally Shields will share her urban fantasy/romantic paranormal Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch Book One).
Here is Ally’s setup of her scene: Twenty-three year old Ari Calin is a fire witch and a Guardian, a supernatural cop. She has just used her witch fire to save a human teen couple from a werewolf attack in a wooded park late one evening.
Ari retrieved her knife from the forest floor. The woods were quiet again. An ominous prickle persisted at the back of her neck, keeping her rooted to the clearing. She scanned the trees, opening her mind to the smells and energy in the wind.
A sharp round of applause shattered the silence.
A shadowy figure stepped from the shelter of the trees. The stranger stopped, silhouetted against the light of the moon. “Very nice, if a little overdone. I do not think he will return soon.”
A rich, masculine voice, softly accented, rolled over her. Ari’s pulse leaped. Her witch blood surged in response to the unmistakable vampiric energy, and she snapped into defensive mode.
The vampire stayed in the moonlight. An easy target for witch fire, Ari thought. Maybe he wasn’t hostile. More likely, he didn’t think she was any kind of threat. Either way, her advantage. She’d been underestimated before.
“You need not be concerned,” he said. “I intend no mischief.”
The distinctive cadence of Italy in his words trailed a feathery caress along her skin. The sound wrapped itself around her in lazy curls. A quiver swept up her arms, and she shivered. Ari quickly blocked the intrusion. She needed to keep her wits about her.
“No magical probing,” she snapped. “Your tricks don’t work on me. I’m stronger than that.” Yet even as she spoke, she felt the pull, smooth as silk and slightly wicked. Her blood hummed in response, as if her magic recognized his.
He chuckled. Audacious. Bold. Sexy? Ugh, contrary to popular fiction, seduction wasn’t something Ari associated with vampires. Federal civil rights laws, new treaties, and citizen status didn’t make them any less dangerous. They were predators—useful in the military, but not exactly her idea of boyfriend material.
“I heard there was a new guardian, but not that she was a fire witch.” The vampire moved closer, his feet skimming soundlessly over the layers of fallen leaves and pine needles. When he came to a halt, the moonlight illuminated his face, revealing dark eyes and strong, lean features. A lock of black hair had fallen across his forehead. He was dressed casually in black jeans and a crew neck T-shirt. “Our meeting is fortunate. Always good to know the local authorities.” He cocked his head. “You are not what I expected.”
Not again. Ari was sick of comparisons to her mentor. “Sorry to disappoint. Who are you? What do you want?”
“Did I say I was disappointed? On the contrary.” His gaze swept the length of her. “You are much younger, prettier, than your predecessor. But then Yana served a hundred years or more. Disappointed? Not in the least. I find you and your talents…most interesting.”
“Is that meant to be a compliment? Never mind. I don’t care.” Ari raised her chin and looked him straight in the eyes. “If you think I’m a pushover because I’m young, you can think again. I’m good at what I do. I’ve trained my entire life.”
His eyes narrowed at her bold stare. She thought she’d made her point, until he laughed. Ari bit her lower lip. Had she been too quick on the uptake? Again. Or was she reacting to vampiric magic? She nudged up the strength of her magical defenses.
“Your entire life,” he murmured. “As long as that. Impressive.”
Ari snorted but didn’t take the bait this time. She waited to see what he’d do next. Unfortunately, he had the same idea, and they stood staring at each other.
The vampire acted unbothered by the silence. He stood at ease, his body relaxed but waiting. The breeze ruffled the unruly, black hair that curled over his ears. He looked thirty or less in human years. Yet, despite his present efforts to hide it, she felt an underlying hint of power that said he was older. Much older. Awareness of him filled all the available space.
Whoever he was—she hadn’t forgotten he didn’t answer the question—his continued watchfulness made Ari uneasy. She moved her hand closer to her dagger. Although blood hunting was strictly forbidden, with a penalty of immediate execution, she didn’t trust any vampire to play by the rules.
His lips curved under her scrutiny, a hint of amusement reaching his dark eyes. Humor? That surprised her. As their humanity fell away, vampires usually took on a distinctive look: cold, predatory, reptilian. Except for the newborns, and this guy didn’t feel that newly minted.
In a rare flash of vanity, she wondered what he thought of her. The long, dark blonde hair wasn’t very witchy. And her five-five frame was more boyish than curvy. But the long-lashed green eyes? All witch, and her best asset. Great-Gran’s eyes. Her mother’s eyes. Ari jerked herself back from this weird train of thought. What was the matter with her? This wasn’t a hot-looking date.
Whatever was going on behind the vampire’s hooded eyes, he kept it to himself. He made no overt aggressive moves, simply stood there. Wasn’t that typical predator behavior? Lure the unwary into a sense of safety? Well, he could forget it. Wrong prey, bloodsucker.
She took the initiative. “I know what you are, but I’ll ask again, who are you? What are you doing here?”
He moved then, gliding forward. She was startled when he bowed with all the grace of an old world aristocrat. It didn’t quite fit the jeans and T-shirt. “Andreas De Luca, at your service, madam witch. And you are…?”
“Arianna Calin. Guardian for Olde Town.” She hesitated, then stuck out her hand. She really didn’t want him touching her, but getting along with both the human and magic communities was part of the job.
He accepted the gesture, grasping her hand in long, cool fingers. Ari felt a spark of energy, but its relative neutrality told her how good he was at controlling his magic.
“Arianna.” With his eyes never leaving her face, he repeated the word, his voice rolling it around. “Not exactly a Romani name.”
“No, should it be?” Her gut clenched at his unexpected remark. How much did this vampire know about the Calin family of witches? About her?
As if she’d spoken aloud, he said, “Your great-grandmother was the witch Talaitha. The last great fire witch in this region.” His smile said he knew he’d surprised her. “Talaitha is a Romani name.”
How did he know that? What right did he have to use her name so freely?
Andreas De Luca examined the hand he continued to hold. His fingers were inches away from Ari’s silver bracelet. Although he didn’t make direct contact with the trinket, he didn’t act bothered by the sight or presence of the charms, most of which were considered dangerous or at least harmful to vampires. The miniature silver cross, the vial of holy water, the protection stones. Ari lifted a brow.
“These slim fingers have inherited Talaitha’s gift for fire,” he said, using her great-grandmother’s name again, as if he knew it bothered her. “A rare and coveted talent.” His smile broadened, bringing charm to his attractive face, and he lifted Ari’s fingers to his lips in a brief kiss. Before she had a chance to react to this unexpected gallantry, he turned her hand over and nipped the palm with wickedly sharp teeth.
“Ouch!” She snatched it back, leaped away, and glared at him. Her witch senses flared with a rush of hot energy that ran to her fingertips. Ari clenched them into fists.
His rich laughter rang out. The real thing, no magic this time. Grinning, he threw up his hands as if to ward off retaliation.
“It’s not funny,” she snapped, getting herself under control. Unclenching her fingers, she stared at the small drop of blood that welled from the broken skin. Her brain warred between anger and a strong desire to get the hell out of there.
END OF EXCERPT
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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/allyshields
Witch meets vampire! Fire and fangs are flying. Thank you, Ally, for visiting with us today!