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Mother May I (Knight Games Book 4) - ebook

Mother May I (Knight Games Book 4) - ebook

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Love will launch the mother of all battles.
When I’m caught off guard by a new supernatural threat, a vampire ally saves my life. Only his help comes at a price. My assailant's calling card makes it clear I’m marked for death, possibly by my very own goddess mother. With the help of my half-sister Polina, can I gain the power I need to win Rick back? Or am I destined for one of the graves in my backyard?

Synopsis

Love will launch the mother of all battles.

You’d think as a witch I could wiggle my nose and solve all my problems, but my life is a five-alarm dumpster fire. Not only have I failed to restore Rick’s mind from damage caused by an evil witch’s spell, but the repercussions make him unable to act as my caretaker. To make matters worse, compensating for his absence in the graveyard could cost me the nursing job I love and the strength I need to keep evil at bay.

When I’m caught off guard by a new supernatural threat, a vampire ally saves my life. Only his help comes at a price. My assailant's calling card makes it clear I’m marked for death, possibly by my very own goddess mother. With the help of my half-sister Polina, can I gain the power I need to win Rick back? Or am I destined for one of the graves in my backyard?

Read sample

True wanting drains a soul. It’s a persistent squeaky wheel at the back of your brain. I’d survived twenty-two years without Rick; a temporary hiatus from him should have been simple. But it wasn’t. As I searched for him in the woods behind his cabin, following the metaphysical connection that lingered despite the loss of our emotional one, I ached with a need that bordered on obsession. He didn’t remember me—no recollection at all of our shared history. But I remembered him. And that memory was a barb under my skin, a constant reminder that an evil witch had torn our love from its mooring and left us ruined. 

Amid calls of songbirds, I broke from the trees to see the bright spring sun reflected on serene waters. Rick’s silhouette was positioned on a fallen log near shore, broad shoulders hunched over a fishing pole in his hands. His caretaker powers meant he’d surely sensed me coming, and he turned to look at me 

“I brought you something,” I said, waiting to approach as if he were a skittish dog. My gift hung from my shoulder in a bag with the store’s logo on the front. I kept it tucked under my elbow, nervous about how he’d perceive it.

Blessedly, Rick smiled and patted the section of the fallen log next to him. “Come.” He rested his fishing pole on the ground between his feet.

“Fishing again?” I asked, lowering myself to the log next to him. I was not surprised, actually. Since Rick lost his memory, he’d taken to living the life he had before he became the vessel for my immortal soul, my caretaker. That life consisted mostly of fishing, hunting, and gardening. Harmless enough but a distraction from my goal of reviving his lost memory.

“Shhh.” He held a finger to his lips. “You’ll scare dinner.”

“Wouldn’t want to do that,” I lied. In fact, I’d eaten more rabbit, venison, and freshwater fish of all kinds in the three weeks since he’d lost his memory than I had my entire life prior. The food wasn’t bad. Rick could cook. He just couldn’t enjoy it—not like I could, anyway. While Rick could eat, food wasn’t nourishing to his constitution, nor did it taste any better than cardboard. Caretakers thrived on a diet of blood, sex, and supernatural souls. Although, since he lost his memory, Rick existed solely on my blood, served up in a glass that required no physical contact whatsoever.

“I was hoping you would come,” he said. He leaned his elbows on his knees and turned toward me on the log. “You always loved fishing.”

“You mean Isabella always loved fishing,” I corrected. His gaze slipped from mine to a clump of moss near his feet. “If you’re asking, I like fishing. I do. I went with my dad a few times. The lake was peaceful, and then there was the excitement of reeling in the catch. It was okay.”

Rick turned his face toward me again, his eyes narrowing as if I were a puzzle to be solved. “What do you love, Grateful?”

The word you stuck in my throat. I rubbed my palms on my thighs. “I love taking care of people. That’s why I became a nurse. I used to have a dog when I was little, and I would wrap up his leg with bandages and pretend he’d broken it. I’d feed him his food on a spoon, one nugget at a time.”

He laughed. “Isabella also. She was a healer by nature. My father would go to her for peppermint elixir every time his stomach would ache. Everyone in town counted on her remedies.”

Until they burned her, I wanted to finish for him. The wistful tone of his voice made a strange feeling come over me, and I stiffened. I was jealous. Jealous of myself in a previous life. This had to be a first.

“What did you bring?” he asked, gesturing toward the bag tucked protectively under my arm. 

I maneuvered it onto my lap and pulled out the laptop computer I’d purchased for him. It was small and light, important features if, as I hoped, he’d bring it with him on excursions like this.

“What is it?”

I flipped the top open and logged in. “The password is hocus-pocus.” I chuckled, but Rick stared at me blankly. “I thought it would be funny because I’m a witch.”

He nodded but didn’t laugh. I cleared my throat. “You can use the personal hotspot on your cell when you’re out here.” I helped myself to the phone in his jacket pocket and changed the settings. 

The forlorn look on his face was a red flag of warning. Even with his memory intact, Rick never loved technology. Time to pull out the big guns. I placed the computer in his lap and moved to stand behind him. With some hesitation, I leaned over his shoulder and placed my hand on his. The chemical reaction from my touch was undeniable, his sharp inhale echoing mine. Where our skin touched felt hot, the starting point of a trail of electricity that meandered straight to my core. My cheek grazed his and I thought I might come undone.

Swallowing hard, I composed myself and helped him select the Internet icon. I clicked on the folder I’d made for this occasion and selected a video from the top of the list. My secret weapon: cat videos. The screen darkened for a moment. The clip started and a fluff ball of a kitten pawed a roll of toilet paper, unraveling it faster and faster until the cat was up to its calico ears in a mound of quilted sheets.

Rick laughed under his breath.

I clicked another one. This video showed a kitten lying on its back in its owner’s lap. The woman tickled its tummy and the cat curled into a ball, only to spread its paws wide when she stopped. 

This time Rick laughed harder.

“It’s not just for funny videos,” I said softly into his ear as my chest brushed the back of his shoulder. “You can look up things on this, things about the world.” I navigated to my favorite search engine. “Type what you want to know about, and it will show you a list of results.”

I demonstrated by typing in United States map and clicking on the first result, which was an interactive atlas meant for elementary schoolers. 

“This contraption has answers to everything?” he asked.

“Almost everything.” I moved to click on New Hampshire. 

The whir of the fishing reel sent Rick bounding off the log to lift the rod from its holder. Luckily, I caught the laptop as it slid from his lap. The absence of his body in front of me left me shivering in the cool spring air.

For Rick’s part, he didn’t seem to notice our disconnected bodies. He reeled in the line and pulled back on the pole, which bent and wobbled from the force of the catch. When the fish was close enough, he waded into the water and scooped two fingers under the gills, lifting it from the lake.

“Bass,” he said, proudly holding it so I could appreciate the magnificence of his catch.

“Way to go.” Privately, I wondered where he’d store this latest catch. The freezer in his stone cottage was overflowing with wild game he would never eat.

“I imagine you are right. I have kept too many.” He wrestled the hook from the fish’s mouth and tossed his catch back into the water where it swam away in a flash.

“Rick… could you hear my thoughts just now?” Since his loss of memory, we still had our connection. At least, I could pick up on his thoughts. But it was oddly a one-way street. So far, he’d seemed oblivious to mine.

He looked at me for a second and shook his head. “Your face is a book easily read.”

“I’m sorry. I just… I don’t want it to go to waste.” For a moment, the space between us seemed to grow even though neither of us took a step.

“You’re right.” He secured the line to his fishing pole and without another word, headed in the direction of his home, leaving the laptop and me behind.

Rattled, I plunged the computer back into its bag, slung it over my shoulder, and jogged to catch up with him. “Rick. You can still fish. You can put it in my freezer if you want.” I didn’t understand why he was so upset. Unless… Maybe he could hear my thoughts and just didn’t want to admit it. Was he upset about the fish or that he had experienced more evidence of our connection?

“It’s okay to be what you are,” I called.

He stopped abruptly. “What exactly am I?”

“You’re my caretaker.” My voice cracked as I said it. 

The desperate look he flashed broke my heart. “What, exactly, is the purpose of a caretaker?”

I hesitated. We’d talked about this before, but most of the time he rejected whatever I said. It was simply too much for his brain to absorb. Was he ready for more? “You take care of me.”

“By feeding you my blood and protecting you when you’re in danger,” he said.

“Yes.”

“In three weeks, I have not fed you my blood nor protected you from anything. If I am your caretaker, I am a failure. You seem to be doing quite well on your own.” He turned on his heel and strode toward his stone cottage.

I picked up the pace, stomach tight. “Not as well as you might think.” 

He kept walking. Our connection was fuzzy, as if Rick was trying to block me but wasn’t very good at it. He was upset; that much was obvious. The confusing part was why. Rick had always been an alpha male. To feel comfortable in his skin, he needed to play that role. Had I treated him too much like a patient and not enough like the man I knew he was? If so, to win him over, I needed to help him help me.

By the time we reached his place, the sun was already dipping on the horizon. “I need your help with something,” I said desperately. “Tonight. As soon as the sun sets. It can’t wait.”

He opened the door for me. “What kind of help?”

“The magic mirror that shows me my night’s work is stronger when both of us use it. My readings have been difficult since you lost your memory. Could you try tonight?”

He straightened slightly before answering. “Tell me what to do.”

I placed the laptop bag on the kitchen counter and gestured toward the bedroom. He joined me as I pulled the stretch of silver that I used to see the future from his closet. I laid it on the wood floor between us.

“Sit across from me and rest your fingers on the edge, like this.” I demonstrated our regular procedure, although usually we were naked. I didn’t share that particular detail. He wasn’t ready.

“What now?” 

“Now, we open our connection and concentrate on where we need to patrol tonight.”

I closed my eyes and focused, not on the mirror but on that gossamer thread that tethered us to each other. Our connection was strong, and I could read Rick’s effort in the hum between us. But when I tried to draw on his power, to channel it into the mirror, all I got was a static throb in tempo with his heart. It wasn’t that he was blocking me; I was in his head. The problem was, there was something missing. I could sense his trepidation, his desire to please me, but his power—the heart of what I used to draw on for this magic—was an empty pit. I blocked this thought from him, a hard task considering I was deep inside his head, and passed my hand over the mirror in front of me.

“Reveal.” Power or no, the silver bubbled up before me. It stretched and morphed to form a quaint cobblestone street lined with historic buildings. “Looks like Salem,” I said. 

Rick remained silent, his eyes widening at the display between us.

“It’s okay. This is supposed to happen,” I said. The form of a human woman materialized in the alley. I memorized the landmarks as she walked the street, waiting for my target to appear, but the supernatural being I was supposed to capture and judge never came. Without warning, the woman collapsed dead in a pool of her own blood.

“What just happened?”

“The woman died,” Rick offered.

“Did you see what attacked her?”

“Nothing attacked her. She just died,” Rick said.

I looked over the mirror at him. Was Rick messing up my reading? It had never worked like this. I could always see the supernatural bad guy I was supposed to thwart. Was Rick’s presence helping or hurting?

I forced a smile. “That’s it. I’ve got my assignment. Thank you. You did great.”

“Would you like me to come with you tonight?”

I chewed my lip. “Not yet. You need to learn to shift first or it could be dangerous.”

He didn’t say anything, but I could feel the bruise to his ego down our connection. “With how fast you’re recovering, I’m sure it will be a matter of days before you get it.”

In fact, Rick had attempted to shift without success almost every day since I’d rescued him from Tabetha, but nothing either I or my familiar, Poe, tried brought the beast to the surface. Rick’s loss of memory seemed to run deep and include his magic. I was certain it was in there somewhere. I needed to find a way to draw it out.

“I’d better get to work,” I said. I uncrossed my legs and began to rise from the floor, but Rick’s hand shot out and grabbed my wrist.

“I’m sorry I’m not what you need me to be.” His gaze met mine, and my heart melted.

I shook my head. “Rick, you are and always will be exactly what I need. Give it time. The evil witch who did this to you meant for it to be confusing. Tabetha didn’t throw softballs. The spell she put on you was meant to break you. To break us. We just need to figure out how to put you back together.”

He flinched at my words and I instantly regretted my bluntness.

“And what if you can’t ‘put me back together’?” he asked, his tone as bitter as his glare.

I looked him in the eye and opened our connection as wide as it would go. If he had any thought-reading capability at all, he would sense what I was about to say was true. From the very heart of me, I promised, “If we can’t get your memory back, then I’ll take you just as you are.”

Main Tropes

  • Bad ass witch
  • Greek goddess Hecate
  • Immortal shifter protector
  • Vampires
  • Unlikely alliances
  • Witches & magic
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