A family legend could lead to a treasure more precious than pearls…or get them killed.
Between babysitting her very pregnant sister-in-law and fending off her mother’s nagging about her marital status, Blair Moreau is going insane. Her only hold on sanity is her daily walk for a guilty peek at her crush, the sexy neighbor who’s fixing up the old Cotesworth place.
Conn Lucas, the bastard son of Culford’s leading family, got way out of town a long time ago. When the only relative who didn’t despise him leaves him her 250-year-old house, Conn plans to refurbish it, flip it, and get back to Connecticut as soon as possible. Until a local beauty with a rare talent for DIY gives him a hand with some stubborn siding.
When he makes her mad enough to swing a two-by-four at his head, he realizes Blair is better than perfect. Especially when his efforts to keep her from killing him explode into an erotic rush of adrenaline that unleashes desires they’ve both kept hidden.
Breaking through Conn’s tough shell isn’t as difficult Blair’s next hurdle—telling him she’s a werewolf. First, though, they’ve got to deal with meddling ghosts and a bad ol’ boy cousin who isn’t above taking what he wants at nail-gun point…
Product Warnings This book contains a smokin’ hot werewolf chick with serious DIY know-how and a man who thinks that’s sexy; illegal use of nail guns; things to do in a claw-foot tub; pirate references; piddling Dobermans and meddling ghosts. Which is better than meddling Dobermans and piddling ghosts.
Copyright © 2010 Sela Carsen
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
“Jesus Christ. Holy shit. Jesus Christ.”
“Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, boy.” Aunt Pinkney’s voice would have startled him, but he was currently all out of startle and well into his stock of what-the-hell.
“You might want to consider getting those nails out.”
“I have to take her to the hospital.”
“You can’t. They won’t know what to do with someone like her.”
“Well, where am I supposed to take her, Aunt Pinkney? The vet?” Conn knew he was shouting, but he felt entitled.
“Settle down, child. Take her down to the kitchen and see what you can do.”
“What if she’s hurt inside? I could kill her if I move her.”
“I doubt it, unless you’ve been using silver nails on your roof.”
He shook his head and realized he was shaking all over. Oh please God, not Blair. Please don’t let her be hurt. Please don’t let her die. Reassured by his aunt’s words, he gathered her close for a moment before he pulled himself together and carried her downstairs into the kitchen.
Other than some glass near the door, everything was still clean and tidy. He set her down on the floor, thanked God she was still unconscious, and got to work. He quickly scrubbed his hands in water so hot he nearly blistered, then brought a steaming bowl and a stack of dishcloths with him.
He had to pull the nails out with his fingers.
The first one was under her armpit and fairly shallow. It slid out easily, its passage eased by a trickle of fresh blood. The second, lodged in the flesh of her breast, was also simple. The third one, though. The third one was lower down on her side and it had hit bone. He wasn’t sure if the rib was broken, or if it was merely grazed. Either way, he ended up using a pair of kitchen shears as leverage to pull it out as smoothly as possible.
As bad as the third nail was, the fourth was worse. The fourth hadn’t hit bone; it had gone between her ribs and hit blood. When he pulled it free of her body, instead of the seeping he’d seen before, he got a flood. It gushed out in pulsing spouts and he frantically pressed down with the towels, trying desperately to stem the tide that soaked through towel after towel with no end in sight.
As he worked to keep the blood inside of her instead of pooling on the floor, he began to realize he wasn’t alone. More than just his aunt, the kitchen was filling with vaporous forms in costumes that varied from Pinkney’s 1950s housedress all the way back to knee breeches. Each form stretched a hand toward the fallen woman, then made way for one figure in particular.
A woman in a Colonial-style gown with her hair tied back in a tidy bun came forward.
“You’ve done well, Conn Lucas.”
“I’ve killed her. She won’t stop bleeding.” His heart bled with her, dripping out onto the floor where the generations of his ancestors could step all over it.
“You have the right of it, Pinkney. He worries overmuch,” she said over his head before answering him. “She will not die. Not by such a trifling wound, though it bleeds heavily.”
Footsteps sounded. Real ones, not ghostly ones. A hugely pregnant woman came through his door, then stopped at the counter and put a hand under her massive belly. “Whew. That’s a hike to get over here.”
“Hey, you,” growled a masculine voice as it came up the stoop. “You want to tell me why my pregnant wife decided to haul ass over to a stranger’s house in the middle of the ni—sweet Jesus. Blair?” He turned on Conn and snarled. “What happened to her?”
“There was someone in the house. He broke in and went upstairs. He was standing in the nursery room door with my nail gun.” His voice broke and he tried to pull it together. “She…she jumped in front of me.”
“Where is he? I’m going to kill him.”
“Now Maddox, she’ll be fine,” said his wife. “You know she will. There’s no silver in those wounds, is there?”
“No,” answered Conn.
“Then it’ll be all right, Conn. These guys are unbelievably tough.”
He shook his head. “She’s bleeding so much.” Still pressing down with one hand, he moved the other to caress the pearl at her ear, leaving a smear of blood on the dull glow.
Debra—he knew her from her walks with Blair—lowered herself to the ground on all fours like a camel with the hump on the wrong side. “I am never going to get back up on my own.”
Conn lifted the towel and used a fresh cloth and the hot water to wipe away the worst of the gore. She was still leaking a steady flow of crimson.
“Is this the nail you removed?” she asked, picking up the two-inch spike.
He nodded, beyond words now, and watched as she poked and prodded around the wound. She laid her hands over the black hole and concentrated for a moment. Conn swore he saw a soft golden light pulse around her fingers, but then it was gone.
Debra leaned back with a gusty sigh. “She’ll be fine. Based on the placement, it’s possible she nicked something, but she’ll be healed by morning, I promise. You’ve cleaned it and you’re applying pressure. There’s not much more to do until she stops bleeding.”
She reached up for her husband, and Maddox lifted her with relative ease, then pulled out a chair for her to sit on.
Conn checked Blair’s side again and decided that the bleeding had slowed, seeping now in a sluggish flow. He didn’t understand any of this. “Hey, can you…” He looked around for a corporeal helper who wasn’t about to pop and spotted Maddox. “Can you grab one of the quilts off the couch for her?”
“Not one of my prize-winning quilts! Why don’t you use one of those other blankets?” screeched Aunt Pinkney.
Conn rolled his eyes. “Or maybe a blanket from my bed?”
“I heard her,” said Maddox before he went in search of a warm covering for his sister.
“He heard her?” he asked Debra.
“Oh sure. It’s a werewolf thing,” she said, waving a hand breezily. “They can see and hear ghosts. Not too many humans can, though.” She didn’t quite pose it as a question, but her curiosity was unmistakable. He had no answers for her, though. He’d never seen one before he got to this house and now they were popping out of the woodwork.
“He is my kin, after all,” said the Colonial lady. “I am Temperance Cotesworth.”
So that’s who she was. Not enough his aunt was hanging around. He also got to meet Great Great Great whatever Grandma.
“Wow,” breathed his neighbor. “You’re the Swamp Witch.”
Temperance smiled. “I believe the title now belongs to you, daughter of Morgaine.”
Blair moved slightly and moaned. His attention snapped back to her as Maddox came in with a warm microfleece blanket. Conn wrapped her up and lifted her in his arms.
“Y’all can stay and chat and have your coven meeting or whatever. I’m going to go make sure she’s comfortable.” He nodded to everyone, thanked Debra, and pushed past Maddox to climb the stairs to his bedroom.
Once there, he gently laid her on the bed. Before his eyes, the shallowest of the wounds seemed to be healing themselves. The third and fourth nail holes were still there, but no longer bleeding.
He took his softest T-shirt from the dresser drawer and pulled it over her even though her nudity was unimportant now. He wanted her warm and comfortable more than he wanted to see her naked. The perfection of her body was secondary to the wounds she had received. For him.
She had jumped in front of a nail gun for him.
“What were you thinking, Blair? Why would you do that?”
He received no response from his insensate savior, although he suspected she was more asleep than unconscious now. Her breathing was deep and even, and her color was back to normal.
He heard the back door close and checked to see the lights were out in the kitchen. Maddox and Debra were gone. There were no ghosts around.
They were alone.
He stripped down to his boxers and crawled into bed beside her, making sure he lay against her unwounded side. Dim starlight filtered through the old lace curtains at the window and he watched her face as she sighed and moved, her brow furrowing slightly before she rested again.
Tonight, it was enough to know she was safe in his arms. He’d deal with the werewolf thing in the morning. And then he was going hunting. With a nail gun.
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