Monday, August 5, 2013

Descension (Mystic 1) - Bonus Scene and Giveaway

We are so humbly honored to bring you this exclusive excerpt from B.C. Burgess.  After you've finished swooning over Quin don't forget to enter for your chance to win a signed 3-book set of the Mystic Series.

Quin Finds His Dream Girl
Bonus Scene from Descension (Mystic 1)
By: B.C. Burgess


The musty yet comforting aroma of well-worn pages flooded Quin’s senses as he closed the leather bound book and returned it to the shelf. He reached for another, its faded title obscured by shadows, but he already knew the title. He’d read it by the glow of a magical light time and again, along with all the other books lining the shelves that lined the walls of Enid’s back room.
To the hexless, Enid’s was a quaint bookstore with a modest collection displayed in one room right inside the entrance. To magicians, Enid’s had the most complete collection of magical literature in the Pacific Northwest. And unlike the books in the lobby, those in the much larger back room weren’t for sale. Locals could borrow them, and travelers could pay for copies, but the originals – hundreds of them, all written by magicians and some worth more than the average man’s yearly income – were not for sale.
Luckily, Quin shared a coven with the Enid of Enid’s bookstore and had unlimited access to the priceless writings of their hidden heritage.
Coming across a book titled Peaceful Slumber – Cleansing Unwanted Dreams & Blocking Uninvited Visions, Quin’s pulse quickened. He narrowed his eyes on the spine and swallowed, recalling the one time he dared to flip open the cover and scan the table of contents. Doing so had felt wrong, like he was breaking a cardinal rule of life, and his stomach had tightened as his unsteady finger drifted down the chapter titles. When he reached the words Chapter 9: Permanent Solutions to Unwanted Dreams, his stomach had churned as his heart skipped a beat, and he’d snapped the cover shut.
That was seven years ago, and he hadn’t touched the book since. Now, six days into his twenty-second year, he reached up and rested his fingers on the wooden shelf. He lifted his index finger, its tip less than an inch from the spine of Peaceful Slumber, his heart thumping so hard it resounded in the quiet space between the lofty bookshelves.
Quin?
Quin released the breath he didn’t realize he was holding as his name echoed in his head. Recognizing the mental energy as Brietta, he submitted to the mind-search and called back.
What’s up?
Are you in the bookstore?
Yeah.’
Will you come to the café? There’s… something I want you to see.
Sure,’ he agreed, letting his fingers fall from the shelf. ‘Be there in a second.’
He continued to look at Peaceful Slumber as he severed the mind connection. Then he sighed and turned away, extinguishing his magical light before entering the lobby of the bookstore.
“Find what you were looking for?” Enid asked, glancing up from her paperwork.
The shop had been closed to the public for an hour, so the lobby was empty as Quin weaved around bookshelves. “I wasn’t looking for anything in particular.”
Enid laughed as she returned her gaze to her work. “You have my inventory memorized, Quinlan. I don’t know why you bother perusing the shelves.”
“You got four new volumes in this week.”
She smirked and shook her head. “I should have known you’d notice. Taking off?”
“Yeah. There’s something Bri wants me to see.”
“Do you want me to stick around so you can come back and find what you weren’t particularly looking for?”
“No,” he laughed, “but thanks. I might stop by tomorrow.”
“Suit yourself. Lock that, would you? I’ll leave through the back.”
Quin gave Enid a wave then exited the bookstore, magically locking the door behind him. The café’s entrance was a few strides away – across a shared wooden deck – and as Quin took them, the turmoil he’d felt over looking at the spine of Peaceful Slumber was replaced by an odd combination of tranquility and anticipation. He tried to interpret the feeling as he opened the café door and walked inside, barely registering the heat emanating from the fireplace or the aroma of quality coffee.
A line stretched from the counter, three customers deep, so Quin moved behind the bar to help Brietta serve them. After washing his hands to appease the hexless, he scanned Brietta’s notepad and started fixing drinks. “What’s up?”
“I’ll tell you in a minute,” she answered, and the anxiety in her voice urged him to stop twirling the whipped cream dispenser and pick up the pace.
He would have mind-searched her for further explanation, but she hadn’t found her knack in mental magic yet and lacked the patience to practice the gift in every day life.
Working together, they cleared the queue quickly and were soon free to talk. “What’s going on?” he asked. Then his confusion grew as Brietta stood on her toes, took hold of his collar, and pulled his ear close to her whispering lips.
“There’s a woman... or a witch. I mean, she looks like a witch, but she doesn’t have a power band… I don’t think. It was hard to tell without staring. There were so many colors.”
Quin was about to ask her what on earth she was talking about when she huffed in his ear and got to the point. “Just look for yourself. She’s behind you, in the back corner.”
Brietta released his collar, and he straightened, turning his curious gaze to the darkest corner of the café. Well, usually it was dark, and the stools surrounding the tall table were rarely occupied due to their dim and secluded location.
But tonight, the loneliest seat in the house gave way to a bright rainbow of sparkling fog, and Quin’s mouth fell open as his lungs emptied. Time seemed to stop, suspended in the moment Quin locked eyes on an aura unlike any he’d seen before – its bold colors too numerous to count, each flowing separately from the others and exuding an intensity found only in the most profound emotions.
Quin commanded himself to blink, to make sure he wasn’t imagining the beauty before him, but the dazzling mist had a supernatural allure that demanded his eyelids stay open. Or maybe he couldn’t blink because time wasn’t moving. He couldn’t be sure. In that moment, the only thing he could attest to was the undeniable need to feel that aura caress his skin, to find acknowledgement in its luminous translation.
His heart thumped his ribs, ticking away the frozen second, and his concentration narrowed on the woman within the mist.
Big, round eyes stared back at him, wide and shiny and honest – a betrayal of her vulnerability. And her pink lips were parted, the top lip climbing into a defined curve over a plump pout. Her chest quickly rose and fell, reminding Quin to breathe. Then her cheeks flushed as she bowed her head.
The insecure gesture shocked him; the motive behind it humored him; and its authenticity drew him deeper into her mysterious world.
A ponytail of pitch-black spirals started slipping over her right shoulder then gained enough weight to pull the rest of the tresses along. The curls cascaded down the front of her shirt into her lap, and Quin reverently watched every detail, curious and confused… and exceptionally aroused.
Brietta quietly laughed and nudged him in the back. “Down, boy. You’re supposed to be interrogating her, not seducing her.”
Keeping his gaze on the bewitching stranger, Quin took a steady breath and waved Brietta away. Until his dying day he wouldn’t recall putting one foot in front of the other to get to the angel. If not for the lack of a reaction from Brietta, who surely would have rushed to remind him to keep his feet on the floor, he’d be inclined to believe he floated out from behind the counter and across the crowded café to the only place in the world he wanted to be.
The angel’s aura parted around him, its humbling warmth penetrating deeper than his core to tantalize both spirit and mind. She continued to look down, as if her empty coffee cup were the most interesting thing on earth, and Quin couldn’t resist the opportunity to sweep his gaze across the back of her neck, its smooth flesh exposed by her high ponytail.
He wanted to follow the delicate curves of her neck down to her shoulder blades, but she wore a hoody, freeing his imagination to run wild as he speculated about what lay beneath the bulky material.
He swallowed and turned his attention to her aura, trying to follow its elaborate flow. Some of the more dominate colors had turned inward to slither along her form, expressing intense embarrassment, so he took a calming breath and spoke.
“Would you like a refill?” What he really wanted to say was You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen and I want to see more. Let’s go get a room at the inn down the street. But he’d been raised to be more respectful than that. And smarter. If he started the conversation like that, the most stunning creature on earth would disappear from his world as quickly as she popped into it.
“Um…” she mumbled, finally looking up, and despite her hesitancy, her voice was sweet and soothing, breathing life into Quin when his lungs refused him. “…yeah, sure.”
The flitting of lashes grabbed his attention, and he stopped staring at her lips long enough to glance up, expecting gorgeous eyes, but he got way more than he bargained for.
As his gaze locked on shiny emeralds – pure and bright and tucked into uniquely round lids fringed with long, black lashes – his life changed. Even if she never said another word to him, he’d never be the same, because the first time he got lost in her eyes was the first time he saw himself clearly. In that moment, the rest of the world melted away, and he was swallowed by her stare – huge windows into her soul flung open to expose not only her own potential, but his as well.
She blinked, bringing the rest of the world into Quin’s focus, and he glanced at her flushing cheeks, which were several shades darker than the first time she blushed. He wondered how red they could get and was tempted to find out, but he refrained, reaching for her cup instead.
“I’ll be right back.”
It took a great deal of restraint for him to walk rather than run to the bar, and it took even more willpower to avoid looking back every other second.
As he poured the angel’s coffee, Brietta approached and pretended to clean the counter beside him. “Geez, Quin, are you going to take her right here on the dining room floor?”
Quin knew Brietta was referring to his aura, which surely broadcasted his attraction, but he wasn’t one to make excuses. “I’ve said nine words to her, Bri.”
“What were they? How about you and I go get a room?
Her jokes would have made him laugh if they weren’t so damn accurate. “She probably would have run out of here if I’d said that.”
“You’re probably right,” Brietta agreed. “She’s weird, huh? Like she doesn’t even know.”
“We’ll see,” he murmured, walking away.
The angel was staring at the table when he returned, so he took a chance and seated himself across from her, once again basking in the warmth of her magnificent glow.
She looked at him, and he captured another moment with her eyes before holding up her cup. “How do you drink it?”
“Sugar and cream.”
Anxiety dominated every word she spoke, giving the impression of weakness, but her voice fiercely invaded all his senses to culminate in his head and heart, never to be forgotten.
Humored by her vague answer, he suppressed a laugh and grabbed the cream. “You’ll have to be more specific.”
“I’ll do it,” she insisted, taking the cup. “I use a lot of sugar.”
She wasn’t kidding, and he had to withhold another laugh when she dumped several teaspoons of sugar into her coffee. He mentally measured the amount, but he would have counted the grains if given the chance. He wanted to fix her coffee just the way she liked it every day for the rest of her life. “That is a lot of sugar.”
“We all have our vices,” she replied. “Mine’s really sweet coffee.”
Quin yearned to tempt the angel into a few addictions much sweeter than sugary coffee, but the longer he watched her, the clearer it became – she was completely out of touch with the woman she was meant to be, a stranger in her own body and in no position to let someone else in. As she sat across from him, blushing and reserved, her aura revealed everything she wanted to hide. This heavenly creature, this walking contradiction, was lost. She was frightened yet brave; guarded yet honest; bashful yet blazing; and she exuded both sexuality and naiveté.
She straightened her shoulders and met his stare. “Do you always sit and visit with your customers?”
“I don’t work here,” he confessed.
“Then why are you working?”
“I’m not. Earlier I was helping a friend. Now I’m a customer sitting with a beautiful woman.”
She glanced around the table, as if his words didn’t belong to her, and Quin started counting the seconds until he could tell her again.
Her gaze returned to his. Then she pointed to the empty table in front of him. “You’re not a customer.”
A technicality, and the fact that she pointed it out made him smile. “Would it help if I got a cup of coffee?”
“Help what?”
“Make you more comfortable sitting with me.”
“Maybe, if you tell me who you are and why you’re sitting here.”
“Then I’ll get some coffee.” He rose from his chair, reluctant to lose sight of her, but anxious to please her. He would cross the café a million times if that was the price of her time. “Be right back.”
As he walked behind the counter, he braced for more of Brietta’s ridicule, but the jokes didn’t come. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed her giving him a pointed look, obviously waiting for an explanation, but he didn’t have one, so he ignored her and returned to the beautiful stranger.
After taking a seat and adding a dash of sugar to his coffee, he sipped and set the mug aside. “Now, what was it you wanted to know?”
“Who are you?”
“That’s right.” He smiled and extended his hand. “My name’s Quinlan, but most people call me Quin.” His heart and lungs refused to work while he waited to feel her touch, and when she placed her petite palm in his hand, his organs restarted with a jolt as chills slid down his spine.
“It’s nice to meet you, Quin. My name’s Layla.”
Quin nearly swallowed his tongue as his hand contracted around hers, and it was all he could do to remain outwardly calm as bells echoed in his head – years of subconscious conditioning. His heart rate spiked and his blood quickened, inflaming his flesh and threatening to expose him, so he released her hand and looked down. Letting go of her was the hardest thing he’d ever had to do, but his world, which suddenly depended on her future, was spinning.
This angelic woman was not lost. Not anymore. The mysterious Layla had finally been found.
“It’s nice to meet you, too, Layla. Do you have a last name?”
“It’s your turn to answer one.”
Her bold reply surprised him… and pleased him. He wanted her to know him, everything about him, so he took a calming breath and looked into her eyes – eyes he’d waited more than two decades to see. “I guess it is. You wanted to know why I’m sitting here, right?”
She nodded, so he gave her a watered down version of the truth. “Because I’m intrigued by you.” And insanely turned on by you, and I feel like the sky will crush me if I ever lose sight of you. Obviously the watered down version was safer.
But maybe not safe enough. Her expression told him she didn’t believe him.
“And what about me intrigues you?” she asked.
“Nope,” he refused. “Your turn again.” His head was still spinning, and he needed time to contrive honest answers she’d accept.
She puckered, and his heart skipped a beat, his mouth watering for her pout. “What’s your last name, Layla?”
“Callaway.”
The name was familiar to Quin, adding layers to the proof, and he forced his gaze away from her, hiding the recognition she’d surely find in his eyes if she braved a long enough look.
“I’m not satisfied with your previous answer, Quin. Why are you sitting here?”
His reply was the hardest he’d ever had to give. “Do you want me to leave you alone?”
“No.”
She meant it, and it made his heart sing, but she blushed and bowed her head, embarrassed by the truth. This was not okay with him. “I wanted to meet you,” he explained, hoping to ease her discomfort.
“Oh.”
She slowly looked up, and when he found her gaze, he asked the Heavens to let him keep it… forever. “I’m in here a lot,” he noted, “and I’ve never seen you. Are you from around here?”
“No, this is my first time here.”
“Here in Cannon Beach? Or here in Cinnia’s?”
“Both. It’s my first time in Oregon.”
“Are you on vacation?”
“You ask a lot of questions, Quin.”
Damn, she kept him on his toes. He’d never had such a hard time engaging a woman in conversation. “Am I bothering you?”
“Not really.”
She cleared her throat, and her attempt to put her insecurities aside wasn’t lost on him. Why she was so insecure he didn’t know, but he was prepared to spend his life fixing it.
“Do you live in Cannon Beach?” she asked.
“No,” he answered, bolstered by her interest, but when he leaned forward, she froze. Her aura, however, picked up speed, threatening to draw his gaze from her face. “I live northwest of Jewell,” he revealed, “a logging community between here and Portland.”
“I saw the junction.”
“Junction?”
“Yeah, the Jewell Junction. On the highway from Portland?”
“Right.” He’d never seen the junction from the ground, and as senseless as it seemed, he yearned to see it now, to experience everything she had been through, to experience her. “Is that where you’re staying? Portland?”
“For now. I moved here on a whim, so I don’t have a place yet. I’m at a hotel until I figure out where I want to live.”
“Is that what you’re doing in Cannon Beach? Looking for a house?” He’d buy her ten houses if it would get her to stay near him.
She hesitated then gave what she probably thought was an obscure answer, but it revealed much more than she intended. “No. I’m here for the coffee. I was told Cinnia’s Cannon Café has the best.”
Cinnia’s has a good reputation. It’s been around for years.”
“That’s what I’ve heard.”
“So you drove to the coast just to try Cinnia’s coffee.” He didn’t expect her to tell him the truth. He didn’t want her to tell him the truth. It would scare the hell out of him if she gave away her secrets so carelessly. But he couldn’t help but ask. He longed to discover everything happening in her head.
“Well,” she answered, “I also wanted to see the beach.”
“Did you see it?”
“From a distance.”
“Do you have a warmer coat in your car?”
She glanced at her hoody then back up. “Yes.”
“Good.” Unwilling to let her go so soon… and dying to get her alone, he presumptuously took her cup and stood. “I’m going to refill our coffee. Then we’ll go to the beach and watch the sun set.”
He turned and walked to the counter, not wanting to see her doubt and reluctance to trust him. He couldn’t blame her, but seeing it would deal him a hit to the heart and ego. Every night, for more than twenty years, he’d gone to sleep hoping to find her in his dreams, and he’d spent countless hours imagining the moment he’d find her in reality. But neither his dreams nor his musings compared to the real thing, and they sure as hell didn’t prepare him for the nerves and the terror of possible failure.
As he rounded the counter, he practically ran into Brietta, who was looking up at him with wide eyes. “What is going on, Quin? Your aura’s a mess.”
“In what way?” he asked, helping himself to coffee.
“Well,” she answered, leaning on the counter as she searched the air around him, “I’ve never seen it so agitated… or active. Does that woman turn you on or stress you out?”
“She doesn’t stress me out,” he corrected, moving to the cream and sugar. “But this situation does.”
“Why? Nothing ruffles you, least of all meeting a beautiful woman.”
He glanced at Layla, finding her putting on her backpack. Then he returned his gaze to Brietta. “That’s not just a beautiful woman.”
Brietta grinned and jabbed him in the ribs. “Look at you all starry-eyed over a girl. Never thought I’d see the day.”
“Bri…”
“Right,” she interrupted, “sorry. Not just a beautiful woman. So what’s she got? Besides the looks of a goddess and an aura that puts the sun to shame.”
He turned and laid a hand on Brietta’s shoulder, trying to keep her from reacting. “I need you to stay calm.”
Her eyebrows furrowed as her smile fell. “Okay.”
Layla was undoubtedly on her way to the counter, so he lowered his voice to a whisper. “That’s Layla.”
Brietta’s mouth fell open, and Quin quickly reached up and closed it, switching from a whisper to a mental connection. ‘Don’t react. She has no idea who we are or who she is. I’m taking her to the beach. Call Caitrin. Tell him what’s going on and that I’m trying to find out where she’s staying. Assure him I understand what’s at stake and that I’ll give him all the information I have soon.’ He paused and searched Brietta’s dumbfounded stare. “Do you understand?”
“Yeah,” she mumbled.
Her eyes shifted to the right, and Quin looked over, finding Layla turning away from them, her aura swirling insecurely. Damn. He needed to fix that.
Calling her name, he introduced her to Brietta, who hid her surprise and excitement well, which must have been a challenge. Brietta was easily excited, and it wasn’t every day a person gets to meet their long lost cousin.
Thanks, Bri,’ Quin mentally conveyed, walking around the counter.
His gaze swept from Layla’s head to her toes, but he only allowed himself a brief look, and it merely made him want more. She was tiny, on the short side for a witch, but she didn’t lack curves, and his head filled with visions of his hands on her. Even through jeans, her shapely backside would probably shoot his arousal to the moon, and not even a hoody could hide the generous proportions of her chest.
Yes, her body and all its parts called his name, awaking urges he’d never experienced, but her bashfulness and mistrust was like a blinking red light, so he merely laid a hand on her small shoulder. “Ready?”
“Um… yeah. Bye, Brietta.”
“Bye, Layla. See ya, Quin.”
“See ya,” he returned, guiding Layla out of the café.
Once they were outside, he dropped his hand and let her breathe, but when they approached the road, he felt a strong need to protect her. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to protect her from. Cars? Curbs? Cracked asphalt? Whatever the case, the need was adamant, roaring its presence in his chest, so he tentatively touched her back as they crossed the street. She trembled, but he could tell by her aura she liked his touch, even if it made her nervous, so he kept his hand on her back as they made their way to her car.
Following a few questions about her trip, she opened up more than she had in the café. In fact, she rambled a bit, and she knew it, her cheeks brightening with her beautiful blush, but he didn’t mind. He could listen to her ramble all night. Her voice remained touched by insecurities, but once in a while, he detected the angel who spoke to him in his dreams.
She held out her keys and triggered the locks on a sedan, and his hand abandoned her back so he could open her door. The shocked look she gave him pissed him off, and he was tempted to ask her if she’d come from a land of inconsiderate pigs, but he didn’t want to pressure her, so he hid his displeasure and stifled his temper.
He hadn’t ridden in a car in several years, not since high school, and he could count on one hand how many times he’d been in a vehicle, so it felt odd climbing into the passenger seat of her car.
The backseat was full, nearly obstructing the view of her rear window, and while he wondered, somewhat sadly, if that was everything she owned, he celebrated the fact that she obviously planned to stay a while.
“We’re only a few blocks from a beachside parking lot,” he noted. “Since we’re here to get your coat, we might as well drive. Take a right out of here and follow the signs advertising Haystack Rock.”
“Will we see it?”
“Yep. So you’ve only been in Oregon for two days, right? Including the drive in.”
“Right.”
“And you’ve seen downtown Portland, the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway, the Sunset Highway, and Cannon Beach.”
“Yes. Now I’m visiting the Pacific Ocean for the first time in my life.”
He smiled, feeling like the luckiest man in the world. Not everyone got the chance to show an angel her first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. Sharing this experience with her indulged him in a way nothing else ever had. “Really?”
“Yes. I’ve seen the east coast a few times, but I’ve never been this far west.”
“You’ve been busy, Layla. Do you always do a lot in a little amount of time?”
“I don’t know. It didn’t seem like a lot. Maybe I accomplished more because I didn’t have anything slowing me down.”
Taking a chance, he started flipping through her music uninvited, memorizing the artists and albums. They were all hexless, but she had a wide range of genres, most of which he enjoyed. “Like what?”
“I was by myself.”
“Other people slow you down?”
“Well, it always slows things down when there are others to consider. I’m on my own, running my own schedule.”
“Is that how you like it?” He held his breath, bracing himself for a crushing answer.
“Not necessarily,” she replied, “but that’s what I’m used to.”
The answer did crush him, just not for the reasons he anticipated. She didn’t want to be alone, but she was, and if her social anxiety was any indication, she’d been alone far too long. He slowly filled his lungs, determined to end her solitude, one way or another, very soon.
She cleared her throat and changed the subject. “Have you always lived in Oregon?”
“Yes. Well, I moved to Alaska for about a year when I was a baby, but other than that, yes.”
“Same town?”
“Same place, same house.” Realizing how weird that might sound to someone raised by the hexless, he looked up from her CDs, catching the sideways glance she threw him.
“You still live with your parents?” she asked.
He couldn’t lie. Lying wasn’t in his nature, and he didn’t want to lie to her. He wanted to tell her everything, every thought going through his head. It was driving him crazy to filter himself. “I do,” he confessed. “Does that worry you?”
“May I ask why?”
“Because I don’t need to move. I have a great relationship with my parents and all the freedom and privacy I want. Until I have a reason to go, I’ll stay.”
“You guys don’t get on each other’s nerves and fight about petty stuff? Like most families?”
“We don’t fight.”
“Ever?”
“Nope.”
“That’s unusual.”
“Maybe, but it’s always been that way for me. I’ll move out when I need to. In the meantime, I enjoy living at home.”
Her eyes stayed on the road as she considered his claim, and he flipped his gaze from her profile to her aura, finding she liked the idea of a happy family. Good, because she had a big one waiting for her.
She practically jumped out of the car after she parked, and he kept his eyes on her as he followed suit at a more leisurely pace, wondering if she had a streak of feminism. He’d find out soon enough.
After removing his shoes, he slipped them in his bag. Then he scanned her from head to toe, bracing himself to test her boundaries. “You should leave your shoes in the car.”
Her eyes got big as she looked between him and the beach. “We haven’t made it to the sand.”
He withheld a laugh as he knelt and untied her shoes. “Lift your foot.”
“I can do that, you know.”
If it weren’t for her aura, he would have worried he had, in fact, pressed a feminist button, but her objection wasn’t based on a need to be independent. She was embarrassed, obviously unaccustomed to men doing things for her. “Just lift your foot,” he insisted, smiling up at her. He didn’t want to change her, but he would show her another way and hope like hell she liked it.
Her cheeks flamed, but she obeyed, and he slipped off her shoe, his pulse strengthening as he imagined stripping away all the layers between them, both tangible and intangible. His fingers disappeared under the hem of her jeans, and he let his sense of touch take over, getting a clear visual of her dainty ankle as his hand followed its curves.
Damn. He was losing his mind. She was making him lose his mind. As a man who’d seen more than his fair share of naked women, a mere foot shouldn’t spike his arousal, but he’d never wanted anything like he wanted her – every part of her… any part of her, ankle or otherwise – and his body wholeheartedly agreed.
Making a noble effort to calm himself, he removed her sock and laid it on the ground. “Here, stand on this while I get the other one.”
She did, flexing and wiggling a perfect row of toes. “The ground’s freezing.”
“You won’t be on it for long,” he assured, removing her other shoe. He’d never had an unusual attraction to feet, not even a hint of a foot fetish, but with her, he could see the appeal.
She was barefoot and standing on two socks, and what he was going to do next would either get him slapped or make his dreams a reality. Hooking one arm around her knees, he straightened and swept her off her feet, softly catching her back in his other arm. Even without magic, picking her up was easy, and while he couldn’t feel the details of her body through the layers of clothes she wore, holding her in his arms made him feel like he held the whole world. He looked at her face – wide eyes, bright red checks, and not a puff of air slipping from her parted lips. He wanted to kiss her, pull her one inch closer and press her lips to his. He could smell her – a sweet and soothing combination of flowers and vanilla – and her aroused aura practically begged him to cross the lines he’d drawn for himself. But she wasn’t breathing, and he feared she’d pass out if her lungs didn’t get some air soon.
He smiled and gave her a soft squeeze. “Put your arms around my neck.”
“What?”
“Hold on to my neck so I can pick up your socks.”
Her arms circled his neck, and he imagined her never letting go as he gathered her discarded footwear and tossed it in the car. “How are your feet?”
“Chilly, but tolerable.”
“Tell me if that changes.”
As he left the parking lot and made his way toward the water, he kept his eyes on her face, studying every feature as if they were his destiny, a gorgeous map to his purpose. And the more he looked, the more he found… and the deeper he fell. “You’re stunning, Layla. And the longer I look at you, the more beautiful you become.”
Her gaze fell to her lap, and he wondered if anyone had ever pointed out the obvious to her. “You’re not used to compliments,” he assumed.
“No,” she confessed, looking back up. “Not ones like that.”
“That’s too bad. We’ll have to change that.” And he would. If she’d give him the chance, he’d tell her every day how gorgeous she was. “Should I keep carrying you?”
He lost her gaze as she looked at the sand. “I’ll walk. Until my feet succumb to frostbite.”
Not while he was around. “I’ll warm them up when I give you a ride back.”
He lowered her legs, and she wiggled her feet in the sand, flashing the silt a smile he was dying to see straight on.
“Now I see why you told me to leave my shoes in the car,” she conceded, walking toward the water. “This feeling is definitely worth the shock.”
“I think so, too. Everyone should try it at least once.”
When they reached the high tide line, she stopped and gazed across the ocean to the colorful horizon. “Wow.”
The wind was whipping her ponytail around, and Quin’s fingers itched to vanish the band containing the curls so they could dive into them, but she grabbed the long tresses and pulled them over her shoulder.
Swallowing temptation, he turned his gaze to the ocean. “We missed the final plunge. You would have had a more detailed view ten minutes ago.”
“It doesn’t matter. This is perfect. Well, a little fishy.”
Quin smiled and breathed deep. “Can’t avoid that. You’ll want to be careful if you come here alone. Keep your eyes peeled for sneaker waves and debris. It’s common for entire trees to wash up.”
“Sounds dangerous.”
“It can be.” Quin didn’t want her coming to the beach alone… ever. He wanted to be with her every step she took, whether she was on asphalt, the sand or in the clouds. He’d follow her anywhere, to hell and back, but he wasn’t invited, so he tucked his hungry hands in his pockets.
After giving her a moment to watch the sun fade into the sea, he decided to delve a little deeper, try to collect information her family would want to know. “Why did you move to Oregon, Layla?”
She looked away from the ocean and found his stare. “I heard it’s a nice place to live.”
“Where were you living?”
“Oklahoma.”
“That’s a long way away. Don’t you have people there who’ll miss you?”
“Sure. My friends Travis and Phyllis will miss me.”
“No family?”
“No.”
This not only surprised him, it punched him in the gut, leaving him breathless, but he hid his discomfort in an effort to ease hers. “Still, that’s a big leap of faith—moving halfway across the country for no reason.”
“Is it not a leap of faith even if you have a reason?”
A loose curl drifted across her cheek, calling his name loud and clear, so he took a chance and reached for the strand of shiny hair. Her breath caught in her chest, so he paused, giving her a chance to object to his touch, but she didn’t, and his heart sighed as his fingers found a silky spiral. “I guess it would be. Did you have a reason?”
“I wanted to get out of Oklahoma.”
“And you heard Oregon was nice.”
She started chewing her lip, and he struggled to let her. What he really wanted to do was pull her pout from her teeth and suck it into his.
“I recently found out I have family here,” she confessed.
“There it is,” he approved, surprised he got that much out of her. “Are you here to see them?”
“Um… not really. I don’t know their names, let alone their addresses, so I’ll probably never meet them. It was just time for a move, and Oregon was as good a place as any.” She glanced at the ocean then back to his face. “Better actually.”
She wasn’t talking about the scenery, and it gave him a huge rush to know he’d made a good impression on her. He’d never tried so hard to do so. Usually he didn’t give a shit what people thought of him, but he’d be anything this angel needed him to be.
“What about you?” she asked, abandoning his gaze. “Do you have family here? Besides your mom and dad?”
“I have a very large family.”
“That’s nice.”
“I think so.”
“Do you work anywhere? Besides the café?”
He laughed, incredibly turned on by the sense of humor she portrayed despite her nervousness. “I work with my parents. You could say we’re contractors, but we also design and decorate the spaces we construct.”
“The whole nine yards, huh? Did you go to college for that?”
“No. I’ve been involved in the business my entire life. After I graduated high school, my parents made me a partner.”
“Do you like it?”
“Sure. It’s creative work, and I get all the days off I want.”
“That is a perk. Do you think that’s what you’ll always do?”
At that moment, he was ready to quit his job and make himself available to her 24/7. He didn’t need money. He needed her. “Unless something better comes along. What about you? Do you have a career?”
She looked away, obviously embarrassed by her answer. “No. I was a waitress for three years before moving. Not a career waitress, a diner waitress.”
“Did you like it?”
“I didn’t hate it. I worked with the friends I mentioned—Travis and Phyllis, so it was a pretty easygoing atmosphere.”
“It helps to like the people you work with.”
She nodded. Then a moment of silence passed, silence that made her uncomfortable, but not him. He could spend the rest of his life simply staring at her.
“I haven’t asked what your last name is,” she noted.
“Kavanagh,” he answered, “with a K.”
“How old are you, Quinlan Kavanagh?”
Hearing her say his name sent a tingle down his spine and through his appendages. “I turned twenty-two last Saturday. You?”
“I turned twenty-one on the third.”
Yep, there was no mistake. He had the right girl, the woman of his dreams, a woman like no other. “Happy late birthday.”
“You, too.”
Pulling his forefinger from a spiral, he took her cheek, his palm warming up with her blush. “Do you have to go back to Portland tonight?”
“If I want to sleep, I do.”
“My aunt owns an inn here, right down the street. She would gladly give you a free room.”
“I don’t want to impose.”
“You wouldn’t be. You’d be doing me a favor.” To say the least. If she did this, he might be able to sleep. But if she were to refuse and return to Portland, he wouldn’t rest until he saw her again.
“How so?” she asked.
He wanted to tell her the whole truth, but only gave part of it. “I want to see you tomorrow.” And the next day, and the day after that… every day… forever.
“Um…”
He held his breath, hoping like hell his good impression was good enough to make her stay.
“Okay,” she agreed, lightening the weight on his shoulders, “but I’m paying for the room.”
“That’s not necessary.”
“Yes it is. I won’t stay otherwise.”
That did the trick, and he caved. “If you must, but she’s going to give you a discount.”
“Fine,” she sighed, feigning annoyance.
He laughed as he glanced at her car. “I guess you have clothes with you?”
“Everything I own is in there.”
That’s what he thought, and he couldn’t deny the urge to give her more. “If you’re missing something, we can stop by one of the shops.”
She gave him a knowing grin, and while it wasn’t as bright as the one she flashed at the sand, it was gorgeous and took his breath away.
“That won’t be necessary,” she insisted.
She was stubborn, but he enjoyed a challenge and was prepared to put forth the effort and patience it would take to convince her to accept him and everything he wanted to give her.
Moving a little closer, he smiled and lowered his voice. “I’m going to try one more time. Then I’ll give it a rest.” Until next time anyway. “Will you let me buy you breakfast at Cinnia’s in the morning?”
“Throw in a cup of coffee and it’s a deal.”
Her quick agreement shot a tingle down his spine, and his grin stretched, his heart soothed by the thought of seeing her the next day.
Her gaze lingered on his smile then shifted to his eyes, intently searching them. He let her look, hoping she liked and believed what she found. Her expression didn’t give him cause for concern, but when she looked away to yawn, he decided he better stop stealing her time. A woman as lovely as her undoubtedly needed beauty sleep.
“Ready for your ride back?” he asked, reaching into his bag.
She nodded, so he swept her off her feet, which had lost their pink coloring due to the cold. Kneeling on one knee, he braced her weight on the other. Then he wrapped her feet in a piece of velvet he’d warmed up with magic. Hopefully she’d assume his body heat did the trick.
Her tension eased, but she was gawking at her feet, and he had to stifle a laugh as he stood and carried her across the beach.

~ * * * ~

Quin showed Layla to his aunt’s seaside inn, and was relieved to find the parking lot and lobby quiet. The last thing Layla needed was dozens of curious eyes on her. The intrigued gaze of the desk clerk couldn’t be avoided, though, and Layla blushed and seemed to shrink when confronted by it.
After passing over the room key and collecting the money Layla insisted on paying, the clerk glanced between them. “Need anything else?”
“Yeah,” Quin answered, pointing behind the counter. “Do you have one of Morrigan’s CDs back there?”
She swiveled on her stool and opened a drawer, flipping through CDs until she found the one she was looking for. “Here it is.”
“Great,” he approved, accepting the case. Then he smiled at Layla. “Ready?”
Layla stayed quiet until they were almost to her room. Then she pointed at the CD. “Who’s Morrigan?”
Quin wanted to tell her exactly who Morrigan was, but it wasn’t time yet, so he only gave her part of the truth as he unlocked her door. “The best pianist I’ve heard play.”
Layla’s mouth fell open. “And you know her?”
“Yep.”
Layla entered the room, and Quin watched her appraise the space, relieved to see she liked it. Maybe that would convince her to stay a while.
“Is Dion your aunt?” she asked, taking a closer look at the paintings hanging on the wall.
Quin once again had the urge to spout the full truth and tell her most of the artwork at the inn was created by her birth mom and grandparents, but he resisted. The story wasn’t his to tell. “No,” he answered, laying her suitcase and room key on the bed. Then he walked to a corner desk and propped Morrigan’s CD against a stereo. “My aunt’s name is Karena. She tries to avoid working nights. What time would you like breakfast?”
After checking the clock, Layla returned her gaze to him. “How about nine?”
“Great.”
He didn’t want to leave. In fact, his body screamed at him to stay, to do everything in his power to get her to agree to spend the night with him. But he had over twenty people waiting for him, and as much as he wanted this night with her, he was far more interested in a future with her, so he unglued his feet from the floor and left her standing at the end of the bed.
Once he was in the hallway, he turned and pointed toward the threshold. “I’ll be here at 8:45.”
“I’ll be ready,” she assured.
Her stance remained timid, but she was making solid eye-contact, and the happy colors in her active aura eased his anxiety and lightened his heart.
“Goodnight, Layla Callaway.”
“Goodnight, Quinlan Kavanagh.”
He smiled as he reached for the doorknob, but it took every ounce of willpower he possessed to shut himself out. As soon as he lost sight of her, his anxiousness returned, and he stared at her door for several minutes before finding the strength to walk away.
Yep, he’d found the mysterious Layla, and in the process, he’d lost ownership of his heart.


Copyright 2013: B. C. Burgess

I mean seriously who doesn't love Quin?  Thank you so much Bonnie for treating us to another look at Quin and Layla's first meeting.  If it's possible I think we are even more in love with Quin than before and his perspective was well worth the wait!  Thank you also to all those who lobbied for Impassion's 100 Amazon Reviews.



In addition to the excerpt BC Burgess has graciously offered to giveaway a signed set of the series.  To enter to win this awesome gift please share the information about this excerpt/giveaway on either Facebook or Twitter, then come back and comment on this post with your name and where you shared the info.  We will randomly choose one lucky winner on Friday, August 9th at 5:00 pm (EST).  We would love for as many people as possible to discover these amazing books and be swept away in the Mystic Series!

If you haven't already read this series, what are you waiting for?  Go one click the first book now!







20 comments:

  1. Shared it on my Facebook page :) - Kimberly Stover

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  2. I shared on fb!!!! Would love to add paperbacks to my library! Quin is a super stud, perfect inside and out, gimmie more, lol :) Thanks to BCBurgess for creating this perfect specimen.......Elissa Driscoll

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. I shared on my facebook page! I would love to win this set so I can give the paperbacks I already bought to a friend who has just started reading the series! -Helen Ly

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  5. Oh my that was fun! Thank you soooo much for that. I shared it on Twitter.

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  6. Shared on fb. Thank you for such a wonderful series. I cannot wait to find out what happens next. Brooke dille

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  7. Shared on Facebook! LOVED reading Q's POV!! Absolutely in love with this series and can not wait for more! Thank you Bonnie and Romance Rewind!

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    Replies
    1. Congratulations Liz, you are our lucky winner!!!! Please email us your mailing address at romancerewind@gmail.com

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  8. Shared on FB! So glad there were finally enough reviews to get it released! Can't wait for book 4!!
    Torii Garcia

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  9. Shared on facebook (Jessica Alexander). Thanks for giving us more of Quinn

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  10. Shared it on Facebook. I can't wait for book 4, I know it's going to be amazing.

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  11. Thank you to the ladies of Romance Rewind for the feature! And thank you to all the readers who shared. Love you all so much! <3

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  12. Shared on Twitter! I can't wait for the 4th book, I love this series!

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  13. I shared on Twitter!! MizzEvil is the name.
    Here is the link
    https://twitter.com/MizzEvil/status/364784363751227392

    Mystic Series is one of best paranormal books out there. Witches, Wizards and an amazing young love. Can't ask for anything more! I was captivated from the first chapter of the first book & that does not happen often!

    Cannot wait for book 4!! I stalk Bonnie on FB a lot waiting for book 4 and threat her with Spankings <3 <3

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  14. I love this amazing series! I am really,.really looking forward to the next book. I shared on my facebook page. I tweeted and sent many recommendations VIA goodreads for all of the books.

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  15. I posted this on my facebook page Emily Shearer. I LOVE this series! Bonnie has quickly become one of my favorite authors. II am keeping my fingers crossed, would love to win these signed books for my collection!

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  16. I shared this on my Facebook page. Thank you for doing this. It's nice to hear the what the other person is thinking too.

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  17. I shared on Twitter. I absolutely love this series and it would be so amazing to win these signed books!!!! It would be an awesome early b-day present. As my birthday is coming up in September.

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  18. Thank you so much for giving us Quin's side of their first meeting. I loved it!

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