The Ice Butterfly
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by Vivien Dean
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: Ten years ago, a searing affair nearly derailed Tomas Dalmau's budding career. Now Rana, the winter elemental who robbed him of more than his innocence, has struck again. As a sentinel, charged with keeping order in the paranormal world, Tomas knows his witchcraft can't touch Rana. He asks for the case anyway. Why? Because he has a weapon the other sentinels don't have. And he is bound and determined to take back what she stripped away the first time they met. The only problem is--desire doesn't die. No matter how cynical you are.
eBook Publisher: Phaze/Snuggler, 2006
eBookwise Release Date: December 2006
11 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [52 KB]
Reading time: 28-40 min.
Anyone who ever thought snow was soft and silent had never trudged through the bowels of northern Canada in the middle of the night in mid-December with a thirty-pound pack strapped to his back and a hundred-pound thief complaining at his side. With their destination still miles away, the only thing to keep the sound of the monotonous crunching from turning Tomas Dalmau homicidal was his dwindling pack of Winston Reds.
"Jesus, T..." Though the only light came from the few stars that remained in the night sky, the wave of Jett's lithe hand in front of his face was still all too visible. "What the hell did I ever do to you? You're trying to kill me here, I know it."
Deliberately, Tomas turned and blew the smoke he'd been holding in his lungs downward into Jett's face, watching with mild amusement when the smaller man burst into a coughing fit and waved more frantically in order to clear the air. "I don't see you carrying the pack," he said, his smooth baritone pitched low in the somber Saskatchewan night. "So stop bitching if I'm doing what I have to to stay warm."
"They're called coats. Look into 'em."
"For one assignment?" Tomas snorted. "They don't pay me enough."
His cigarette left a red arc in the air as he lifted it to his mouth and took another long, deep drag, savoring the heat flaring through his veins. He could practically feel them crisping. Of course, with as much whining as Jett had done since Tomas had teleported them north, he could almost see his lungs blackening, too, but he wasn't thinking about that right now. He'd think about that later. After he didn't need the nicotine courage to face the next four hours.
"And what the hell is it with taking this assignment anyway?" Jett was either on a roll, or he was talking to keep his mouth from freezing shut. Tomas was half-tempted to make the latter a very real possibility anyway. "I didn't think you ever set a foot north of the thirty-fifth parallel."
"I don't. This'll be my first."
"And you're busting your snow cherry and dragging me along for the ride because...?"
Tomas glanced down at the cigarette burning down between his long, callused fingers. He had been vague on details of the job when he'd contacted Jett in Miami, purposefully so. "I need the best hands in the business," was all he'd said, and the little guy had jumped on the compliment like a whore on a john at the end of a very bad night.
"Because I'm the only sentinel who's got a history with her," he admitted.
For the first time since they'd stepped ankle-deep in snow, Jett looked at Tomas with something other than annoyance. "The honchos roped you into it, huh?"
"No." It took twenty yards of silence for him to confess to the clarification. "I asked for it."
That shut Jett up. Tomas knew it would.
He didn't know if she would remember him, but he'd carefully left that detail out when he'd made the plea for the job. Their last encounter had been a decade previous, at a sentinel gathering in Tijuana. Tomas had been high off graduating the Institute six months early and Rana was part of an entourage that had crashed the party. They had three sex-drenched days when the city got hit by a freak cold snap and then she was gone. Along with half of his magical supplies and the Incan totem that had been entrusted to his care for his first official assignment. Tomas had sworn then and there never to let a woman use sex to get to him again.
Half the time, it was a philosophy that actually worked.
Next to him, Jett blew on his gloved hands, as if that would be enough to warm them through the thin leather. Tomas glanced down, a mild surge of guilt drawing his brows together, and tossed his cigarette butt aside, listening to the faint sizzle when it hit the top of the ice-encrusted snow.
"Sorry I couldn't get us closer," he said. It was a weak apology, but it was the best he could manage. "But Rana would've detected my magic and figured out there were two of us before we got within striking distance. The whole trip would've been a waste."
Jett shrugged. The thick anorak he wore barely moved. Tomas thought it probably weighed more than the tiny thief did. "I've worked worse," he said. "Don't even get me started on what happened at that furries and plushies convention in Brooklyn. And it's not like we're sticking around. In and out, right? Presto, change-o, I'm invisible."
"She'll never even see you," Tomas assured. "The spell will tip her off I'm in the area, but by that point, you'll be cloaked, and I'll be busy keeping her distracted while you find the butterfly."
"How come you can't just zap it out of there yourself?"
"Because she's not a witch. Our powers are incompatible."
"Wait." Jett stopped in his tracks and frowned. The ski cap he wore over his blond buzzcut didn't protect his face, and the tip of his nose was bright red from the cold. "What the hell are we dealing with here? I'm not going to have to watch out for fire-breathers or bloodsuckers, am I?"
"You shouldn't." He sure as fuck hoped not. "Rana's an ex-legate for the Elemental Regency. She's got some magical powers, but those all stem from the forces of nature, which don't reconcile with sentinel witchcraft. It's likely she might have a guard or two around her hideaway, but for the most part, they're redundant."
Tomas stuffed his broad hands into the pockets of his pea jacket. Talking about Rana made him itch to strangle something. "Because she's got the weather at her beck and call. Mostly. You think it's an accident she's squirreled herself away in the winter of our discontent?"
Jett stared at him for a long moment before letting loose a martyred sigh and resuming his path. "Oh, man..." he muttered. "I'm beginning to think getting stuck in an elevator for three hours with a six-one cowboy named Otis in a wolverine costume was preferable to this."