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Midlife Magic Hunter by Shannon Mayer

Midlife Magic Hunter by Shannon Mayer PDF

Author: Shannon Mayer

Publisher: Independently published


Publish Date: August 29, 2022


Pages: 375

File Type: Epub, PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface


Put a finger down if you’ve ever gone out to lunch with a gorgeous French fae man at a cafe in London, only to be interrupted when your ex-husband shows up in a borrowed—and decomposing—body with a note from a voodoo priestess. Just me? Well, okay then.

The note was not an invitation to a party either. Or at least, not the kind of party anyone would want anything to do with. It didn’t help that Alan stood swaying beside us, further adding to the stench, but at least he wasn’t talking. For once, he was keeping his mouth shut.

Remy reached across the table and curled his fingers around my wrist, rubbing his thumb up and down my forearm. “What is it, ma chérie? I am assuming nothing good.” One side of his mouth tipped up. “Not that trouble is a surprise with you.”

I sighed and rolled my eyes. “That would be correct, it’s never good news when a mostly dead man shows up with a delivery from his boss.”

Remy and I had been through a lot together, searching for the first witch—a woman who held the power to be part of a major spell that would bring an army of vampires to life. And not a vampire like Roderick, who seemed to have good control over himself. No, this would be an army of ravenous beasts, unleashed on the world and killing at random.

Remy had been hunting for the first witch for a different reason.

She was his mother, and yet he’d seemed unbothered by her death.

That was a discussion we needed to have, for sure. I mean, mommy issues were not something I’d dealt with before with a man, and I didn’t want to start.

His fingers worked across my tense muscles. “Are you going to tell me what is in that piece of paper that has you so upset, or is it from another secret lover?”

That had me laughing. “Jaysus, no thank you! If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I can’t handle more than one man at a time. Lawd in heaven knows I surely don’t need to do that again.” I looked at the note a second time and shook my head.

The message was hastily scrawled but legible: The siren is next. It could only mean that Corb was next on the Dark Council’s hit list now that they’d killed the first witch. Maybe that was why he’d been so willing to go hunting for her. Maybe he’d hoped the Dark Council would leave him

alone if they got hung up on a different spell item.

So, yes the note was about another man, but although Corb had kissed me a few times, we most definitely weren’t a thing. Especially since he’d betrayed me on more than one occasion, most recently leaving me to die in a flooding underground cavern.

“Men are trouble,” I said finally, and folded the piece of paper into a tiny square and laid it on the table. I found my hand spinning the bracelet on my opposite wrist, the blue stones catching the light.

“This is a decision is all. A rather poopy one if I’m being honest.”

Remy’s dark eyebrows rose in tandem, and his mouth quirked. “Poopy?” He caught my hand, stilling me from spinning the bracelet.

“I’m trying to be good with my language, we’re on a damn date.” I tapped the corner of the paper against the table. Paper that held a warning that my friend—strike that, ex-friend—was next on the Dark Council’s hit list. In other words, he was in deep, deep . . .poopy.

And this note was supposed to send me chasing after him. Send me in the direction that the council—or at least the voodoo queen, Marge—wanted me to go. Her signature was clear as a day at the bottom of the paper.

Although she seemed like the kind of woman who followed her own council and no one else’s rules, I knew that she’d worked with the Dark Council before. Given they were the ones who wanted to bring about the whole vampire nightmare scenario, she was bad news—even if she was the kind of person who’d go wherever the money took her.

“It is a date, though I wouldn’t call it a damn one.” Remy smiled and sipped his wine. “What does this piece of paper say?”

Beside me, Alan swayed slightly. “God in heaven, Bree, can you just not be difficult for once?

Marge is trying to help!”

Remy barely glanced at him. “You really have a knack for working with the dead, don’t you? He quite likes you, I think. He seems unable to look away.” The space between his eyebrows narrowed a little, but the dancing twinkle in his eyes spoke louder than his voice.

“That’s an understatement,” I muttered. “I can’t get rid of him, not by divorce or death. Lucky me.”

Remy lifted a glass of wine and tipped it toward Alan. “Care for a drink?”

Alan glared at him. “I can’t drink, I’m dead. Can’t you see that I’m dead? Are you stupid as well as ugly?”

A smile flitted across Remy’s lips. “Tres mal,” And then he lifted his glass and took a sip, never looking away from Alan. “This is the very finest wine, cool and crisp. Just the thing to quench a thirst on a warm summer day.”

Yup, Remy was teasing a now-scowling Alan. It made me like the French fae even more. Hell, it was a damn turn on.

Alan, who was still swaying slightly to my right in the borrowed body, put his fists on his hips.

“You really like these ugly brutes, don’t you?”

His swaying reminded me of Robert.

A pang pierced my heart at the thought of my other friend, once again trapped in his skeletal form.

He’d been free of it for a few short days, only to lose his connection to his living self once more.

I closed my eyes and found myself reaching for my hip bag. Robert was in there—close and yet so very far away.

Then my mind got around to processing what Alan had said.

I tipped my head and looked up at him. “Wait, does Remy look ugly to you?”

Alan snorted. “A toad would be better looking than this one.”

So Remy used the same trick as . . . someone else . . . someone whose name I wasn’t going to think of. This other person, he also showed men an ugly version of himself—and women a beautiful version. A type of glamor. As if to confirm that truth, our waitress showed up, unable to speak around her blushing and stammering as she stared at Remy, her eyes wide and her lips parted. She was so entranced with him she barely glanced at Alan. Would she see Alan, really see him, or just figure he was down on his luck and had forgotten to shower for a few . . .weeks?

Remy winked at her. “A moment, si vous plait.”

Her blush deepened, her chest lifted in a few deep gulps, and she stumbled away without getting a single word out. Yup, he was definitely pulling the same trick as that other person whose name I wouldn’t think. Or speak.

Leaning across the table, Remy put his hand on mine, pinning it down and stopping the drumming of my fingers. “Bree, your face has gone dark with your thoughts. What is the matter? Tell me what is in the note, so that I can help.”

I picked up my drink and took a sip of the chilled wine to wash the thoughts away. Not as good as a strong whiskey, but I’d take it in that moment. Setting the dainty glass back on the table, I slid my hand out from under his and then passed him the note. “Here, see for yourself.”

He unfolded the paper. “The siren? He is in trouble now?”

I nodded. “Corb is next on the Dark Council’s list. That’s what this means. And that puts me in a bind, seeing as I pretty much told him to duck off and never darken my doorstep again the last time we spoke.”

Alan dared to lean in close to me, reminding me that he was there, a waft of mildly rotting stink rolling off him. “He’s my cousin, Bree. I . . . hope that you will help him. If I have to, I will beg.”

I looked at him, knowing full well that Alan wouldn’t beg for his mother’s life if there wasn’t something in it for him. “And what do you get out of this deal?”

He rolled his eyes and threw his floppy hands into the air. Classic Alan avoiding the truth. “I’m trying to be a better person, Bree.”

“Maybe a better dead person,” I said and repeated my question. “What’s in it for you, Alan? A new lease on life?” The way his eyelids flickered said it all. I snorted. “I know your ticks when you’re lying. That’s how I knew you were cheating on me.”

Remy choked on his wine. “He cheated?”

Alan’s slightly gray lips pursed hard. “Please help Corb. That’s all I’m asking.”

So, Alan was pretending to play nice after years of being a total and complete asshole. If anything, that made me more convinced that they were trying to manipulate me into doing something that I probably didn’t want to do.

Marge must really want me to look for Corb. But why? Who was paying her this time?

That’s what had me drumming my fingers yet again. I picked up my wine and took another sip, thinking through what I’d seen in the last few weeks.

They’d been a doozy.

The council in Savannah had sent me running after the first witch, to stop the Dark Council from getting to her first. Things had not worked out the way they’d hoped. Sure, I’d found the first witch, but I’d pretty much led the bad guys straight to her. And, gem that she was, she’d sent my buddy Robert back to his skeletal form (admittedly, he’d become a vampire, so it was probably for the best).

Crash had shocked us all by killing Karissa. Oh, and Corb had abandoned us to die again, after we saved his life. Again.

Now that the first witch was dunzo, the ‘first witch’ title would move on to another witch—most likely Missy. Missy, who’d been a thorn in my round ass since my return to Savannah. Missy, who had known that if the first witch died, the title would fall to her. And after it all, we were pretty sure that the Dark Council had her for their ducking spell.

Gawd above, what a mess.

Remy handed me the note back. “What will you do?” His question felt . . . careful. I hadn’t known Remy long, but he seemed to have his shit together. And he knew there was some tangled history between me and Corb.

Just like there was a history between me and Crash.

Damn it.

Why did I have to even think his name? My cheeks heated and I stared hard at the uneaten food on my plate as thoughts of Crash swirled through my head. There had to be a way to exorcize him from my mind.

The problem was this: when I closed my eyes, I could still see him so clearly, standing in front of me in nothing but a sheet wrapped around his waist. The tattoo across his ribs, his blue eyes, and his perfect ass. A shudder of remembered pleasure rippled through me when I thought about his fingertips brushing my skin. Hell, I could even feel his breath against my face as he spoke words that I wanted so badly to believe. That he cared. That he wanted to protect me. That he was trying to change.

He’d said all of that in Paris, before the big showdown with the first witch.

But trying to change was not the same as having to do some work on yourself. And I deserved better this time around.

“I need to get ducked,” I muttered.

Alan let out a low groan of disgust. Remy grunted as if I’d gut punched him. Then he laughed softly. “I can offer assistance with that. If you are truly asking, that is.”

I rubbed a hand over my forehead and lifted my eyes. Gawd in heaven, he was a gorgeous man, as beautiful as Crash. Maybe not quite as big—get your mind out of the gutter, I’m talking muscles here

—but just as pretty. Besides, he had a great sense of humor, he was into me, and he seemed to have more of his baggage dealt with than Crash. Or was that just wishful thinking on my part?

Did I even trust my judgement anymore? I wasn’t sure that I should.

“Thank you, I might just take you up on that.” I smiled. “But not today.”

“I can’t believe you’d sleep with him!” Alan spat out, showing me that no, he hadn’t really changed and was just as big of a tool as ever. “And flirt with him right in front of me! As if I’m not even here! Seriously, your standards have got to improve!”

A few of the other diners looked over at us, eyes wide and, I was sure, ears wider as they took in the scene. The ex and the new boyfriend. Jaysus.

“Shut up, Alan!” I snapped my fingers at him and watched in fascination as his jaw literally snapped shut and one of his teeth fell out. That was better. Much better.

A woman a few tables over, stood up and clapped for me. She wore a shirt with an American flag across the front. “You tell him, girl! Don’t let him ruin your date with that fine piece of ass!”

Remy stood, pushing his plate away. “Perhaps we should go back to the others? Maybe this is something to discuss with your friends? More minds on a problem can help us find a path that is hidden.”

I followed his move and stood. “Yes, let’s go back to the apartment and see what they make of this.”

Maybe one of them would have an insight to this situation . . . or a magic wand to make it all better?

Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

The skirt of my dress swirled around my legs, reminding me that for just a few hours my life had been quiet—normal.

Remy came around the table and offered me his arm. I slipped my hand over it, and he tugged me gently to his side. “You know, I’m starting to think there will be no peace and quiet while I am with you.”

He said the words as if it was already a forgone conclusion that he was with me—as in dating. A couple.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but I didn’t hate it.

I looked up at him as we walked along. “This is a surprise? Want me to find us another giant talking snail to fend off? Want to almost drown and chase off some psycho leprechauns while we’re at it?”

We’d survived both things in France the prior week.

Remy laughed and held up his other hand, palm toward me. “No, ma chérie, no! That one snail was more than enough. I am not sure that I will ever look at escargot again the same.” He tugged me a bit closer to his side. “Perhaps you have used up all the excitement allotted to you?”

It was my turn to laugh. “Oh, I don’t think that’s how it works.”

I looked over my shoulder several times as we made our way back to the apartment to check on Alan, shuffling along behind us, waiting for my answer. His face was not his own, but his ghost, soul, whatever you want to call it was superimposed over the new body he’d stolen. Or been given.

Whatever the case may be.

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