Candace [Witchy Woes Book 2]
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by Michelle Hasker
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance
Description: When a spell to undo harm goes awry, six witches find themselves knocked out by a powerful spell cast by the newest member of their coven, and things start to go terribly wrong for everyone. Candace wakes on the beach staring at the man of her dreams. The problem? He hates witches and thinks that if he can convince her to give up her magic, the world would be a safer place. Too bad she's so hot for him it's hard to keep her hands to herself.
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: May 2008
24 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [96 KB]
Reading time: 57-80 min.
"I am thrilled with this series and can't wait to read the third title! If you want to be utterly enchanted, charmed, and titillated, read this marvelous series."--5 Hearts from Steph B. at The Romance Studio
"Just as charming and engaging as the first book in the series, this one sizzles with humor and hot romance! And that hot tub scene--WOW!"--Night Owl Romance
"One can use the coven of six witches in many unimaginable ways and I am looking forward for Ms. Hasker to pen a few more good ones. Witchy Woes: Candace has a magical mix of everything that makes a tale a good read." - Reviewed by Mahaira Fatima, Just Erotic Romance Reviews
"Ms. Hasker has a way of making you mad at Candace's love interest and in the next chapter wanting to reach through and give him a big hug. I'll defiantly be watching for the next Witchy Woes novella!" ~5 Angels from Megan, Fallen Angel Reviews
Candace jumped up and down as she tried to stay warm. It was unseasonably chilly, almost as if a warning not to perform tonight's ritual. When she glanced around at the others, no one seemed to feel the same sense of foreboding, so she pushed it aside. Sandra was the one with Sight. If anyone knew what the outcome of this would be, it was Sandra. But since one could never see their own future, perhaps even Sandra didn't know what would happen.
"You made it! And on time. Thank you, Candace." Sandra gave her a quick hug.
Candace immediately missed Sandra's body warmth as she stepped back. "I aim to please."
"No. You knew how important tonight was and you made it. Thank you, Sweetie."
Candace blushed and turned away, looking for something to keep her mind off how cold she was. She watched Camryn set her tools in the center of the circle. Camryn looked not only very nervous, but like death warmed over. The poor thing was probably terrified of screwing up another spell.
A strong wind sent shivers up her spine. Candace stomped her feet, debating jogging around the circle for warmth. Even though it was the perfect night and place for the spell, the beach seemed intimidating and haunted. With the waning moon they had plenty of light, but she still wished it had been at one of their homes, or at least some place warmer.
As soon as Camryn finished laying out the altar items, Sandra handed her the broom. "As I sweep, may the Besom..." Camryn seemed more confident as she began to cleanse the circle. Perhaps she would do well after all.
The tattoo on Candace's ankle warmed at Camryn's words. A rose. Her symbol for earth. The earth which was where her power came from. Tamara held the power of fire, Allison held air and Macy had water. As their High Priestess, Sandra was their teacher, guide and best friend. Camryn was new to the coven and so far hadn't exhibited any power or talent other than screwing up.
Once Camryn finished sweeping, it was Candace's turn. Candace shrugged off her jacket and set it on the ground. She took her spot and lifted her hands up to the heavens. "I call upon light and earth at the north to illuminate and strengthen the circle."
The sand beneath her bare feet sent a surge of strength to her. Candace gave a whisper of thanks to the Goddess. They needed all the help they could get tonight. She closed her eyes, reveling in the surge of energy from Mother Earth while the rest of her coven took their turns.
"I call upon light and air at the east to illuminate and enliven the circle," Allison said.
A strong wind blew around the circle, whipping across her back, but not her front. Allison's magic was strong tonight as well.
"I call upon light and fire at the south to illuminate and warm the circle," Tamara said as she lifted her hands up.
Candace gasped as warmth filled her, chasing away the lingering chill and leaving her feeling loved.
"I call upon light and water at the west to illuminate and cleanse the circle," Macy said.
As the next wave crashed on the shore, all doubt and hesitation fled as Candace felt her mind clear. Thank the God and Goddess that Macy's power was so strong. Surely all of them had brought negativity to the circle, but now it was gone.
Sandra lifted her athame and stepped forward. She stopped in front of the altar and said, "I draw this circle in the presence of the Lady and the Lord, that They may aid and bless us in our work." As Sandra walked around the circle, Candace felt an answering hum from the earth.
When Sandra finished, the ground shifted slightly and settled, but no one acted like they noticed. Continuing with the ritual as if nothing happened, Sandra chanted a spell to protect them while they cast tonight's spells. Finished, Sandra moved back to the altar and blessed the salt which she then sprinkled in a circle around them. As it touched the ground, the color turned bright white and rose, wrapping over them until they were sealed inside a huge bubble.
Again, they went around the circle, starting with Candace once again. "I call upon you, Guardians of the North, Element Earth, to guard this circle. By the body and strength that is ours, we ask you to attend this rite." Before she finished speaking, a loud rumble sounded underneath them. This time she knew the others felt it when they smiled.
"I call upon you, Guardians of the East, Element Air, to guard this circle. By our breath and thoughts we ask you to attend this rite." Another strong gust of wind whirled around the outside of the circle. Allison grinned and turned to Tamara.
"I call upon you, Guardians of the South, Element Fire, to guard this circle. By our energy and consumption of life we ask you to attend this rite." As Tamara finished, flames leapt up surrounding the circle, reaching high and wide, like a protective shield.
"I call upon you, Guardians of the West, Element Water, to guard this circle. By our emotions and blood in our veins, we ask you to attend this rite," Macy said.
A light rain drizzled down upon them, then ceased as Sandra lifted her arms up in the air, holding her athame up high. "Hail to the elements! Welcome to the Lady and Lord! We stand between the worlds surrounded by light, love and power."
Sandra poured wine onto the ground for the Lady and Lord, and turned to face Camryn.
"I know we've done spells before, but the power you five hold is amazing," Camryn said.
Even though she shouldn't feel pride at the words, Candace couldn't help it. Magic was the only thing in her life she did right.
"Are you ready to begin, Camryn?" Sandra asked.
"I'm not sure where to start. I did spells for love, money, health, a job and looks."
"Did you follow my instructions?"
"Yes, I did. But--"
"No buts. Get your spells in order, Dear. Job, looks, health, love, money. Please start when you are ready."
Camryn nodded, but looked nervously around the circle.
Oh dear. This doesn't bode well. The cleansing obviously didn't work on Camryn. But why and how had it failed? We're doomed.
Gritting her teeth together to keep back a groan, Candace watched as Sandra piled some small oak twigs inside the cast iron cauldron.
Camryn rifled through her papers until she produced the one she wanted. After reading the paper, Camryn reached for the frankincense candle and lit it. "Please cleanse me, as I reverse the spells I cast in ignorance."
The flame flickered, but held strong. Then Camryn drew in a deep breath, looked down at the sheet and repeated the spell. Fortunately, this time the flame stayed strong and true. When Camryn finished, she dropped the paper in the cauldron. It burned with a brilliant flash of light.
Camryn smiled and looked around the circle before she pulled out the next spell. As she read this one her confidence was more assured, giving Candace hope Camryn wouldn't mess up the spells.
When she finished the last spell, Camryn dropped the papers into the cauldron. A huge flame leapt out and split into five separate flames. One shot at each corner, and the last at Sandra as she stood next to the altar.
A flame hit the ground at her feet, and immediately the sand parted, and her feet started to sink. "Shit! Goddess! Someone help!" Frantic, Candace looked around the circle and wept at the sight. Tamara lay on the ground, blue flames licking at her chest as she rolled back and forth. Macy flew out of the circle and landed in water, but didn't come back up. Allison was nowhere to be seen, and Sandra lay in a crumpled heap near Camryn who appeared paralyzed or too stunned to move.
"Cam! Camryn, help me!"
Camryn's eyes never moved toward her as she sank deeper and deeper into the ground. If this was quicksand, it would only be a few feet deep. As long as she didn't struggle she'd float back to the surface. Instead she sank further, the ground shifting underneath her, splitting open and swallowing her whole.
The last thing she saw was the ground closing over her head as she gasped for air. * * * *
"Candace, please wake up. Candace!"
Candace woke with a start as someone shouted in her ear and shook her. Coughing, she rolled on her side and opened her eyes. Blinking back as sand blew in her face and mouth, she gagged and rolled onto her back. Staring up into dark green eyes, she recognized the person she'd have picked last to see her like this.
Brody Hollinger of Brody's Bakery stared down at her, worry etched in every handsome feature on his face. His full lips were in kissing range as his warm breath fanned across her cheek.
"You scared me, Sweetheart. Are you all right?"
How many times had she wished for tenderness and a lot more from this handsome cowboy?
"I'll live. But Camryn might not," Candace growled as he helped her sit up. She looked toward the water and saw Camryn and Allison attending to Macy. A quick glance in the other direction showed Sandra trying to rouse Tamara.
"I've already called for an ambulance. You and your friends were dabbling in something you shouldn't have, weren't you?"
"What?" She stared at him wondering just how stupid he thought she was. Then it hit her. What does he know about magic?
"Magic isn't something that should be taken lightly, and dabbling in black magic is never a wise idea."
"Trust me, we weren't dabbling in anything, and never black magic."
"You lost your job again, didn't you?"
Candace sputtered as she stared at him. And to think I thought he was the perfect guy.
"It's okay, Sweetheart. I understand. You had to do something, right? I know you go through jobs like crazy. You got bored and joined this coven hoping for some excitement. Why don't you come work for me at the bakery?"
"Excuse me?" Did she have a concussion or did he just make no sense at all?
"You were down here trying to conjure up a job, weren't you? I know you need the income. Who doesn't? And the cost of gas is going up again." He shook his head and gripped her hands. "What do you say? Will you come work for me and give up this magic stuff?"
"Are you mad?" Candace pushed him away as she struggled to her feet.
"Mad? No. As a friend I'm very concerned for you. This game of yours is a dangerous one. Innocent people have been injured. What did happen to knock you all unconscious anyway?"
"Camryn. She happened. And I meant mad as in crazy, not angry."
Brody cupped her elbow, but she jerked away from him. Dabbling in black arts, my ass. She nearly hissed at him as anger flowed through her. A rumble in the earth beneath their feet reminded her to control her power. Before she lost total control, Candace closed her eyes and focused on centering herself and releasing the energy and magic she'd summoned unintentionally in her anger.
"I'm not crazy, Sweetheart, and you know it. Give up the magic and come work for me. Things will get better. You'll see. I know how much you love the bakery and the regulars. Besides, since Crystal left, I need the help."
"Look, Brody. If you don't mind, I feel like I have the worst hangover of my life. I have sand in places you would not believe, and my friends are hurt. I don't need you criticizing me and accusing me of dabbling in the black arts. I'm Wiccan, damn it and I'm not dabbling!"
"I didn't mean to upset you, Sweetheart--"
"Stop calling me sweetheart!" she snapped and pushed against his chest. His eyes widened in surprise and she closed hers on a groan. Shit. I just pushed him with my magic.
"That was weird." He rubbed at his chest and stared at her with his eyes narrowed.
"Look, Brody, I'll come to the bakery tomorrow and we can discuss this there. I need to know my friends are okay."
"They're okay. Macy swallowed a bit too much water, and Tamara is still unconscious. There's nothing you can do for either of them."
"I need to see that for myself, but thanks." Candace pushed past him, without her magic this time, and dashed over to Macy. "Are you okay, Macy?"
"Yeah." Macy gave her a feeble smile.
She looked like a drowned rat, and not okay in the least, but at least she was alive.
"Can I do anything for you?"
"No." She coughed, then gestured to her throat. "I swallowed too much saltwater. I'd rather not talk too much right now. My throat is raw and sore. Puking saltwater back up isn't fun."
Candace grabbed her and hugged her tight, before releasing her and stepping back into Brody. She sighed and rolled her eyes as she sidestepped him and ran over to Tamara.
"She's still out cold, Candace. I'm worried about her."
"I know. I am, too. Want me to take care of Camryn?"
"No!" Sandra gasped and grabbed her arm. "Don't even talk like that. She did the spells correctly. What happened isn't her fault."
Candace ground her teeth together, but listened to Sandra. She was their High Priestess not only because of her skill, but also her knowledge of Wicca and magic. If she said Camryn wasn't to blame, then she wasn't.
"I think it was her old coven. Brody said he saw a group of women headed away from here."
"I'd been jogging when I'd seen the flashes of light." Brody met her gaze, but Candace looked away.
He spoke the truth, but she felt more than a little uneasy. Why is he acting like this? She'd considered him a good friend, and often had dreams of him where she'd waken covered in sweat and tangled in her sheets. She'd never have wasted time dreaming of him if she'd known his opinion of Wiccans, witches and magic.
"Brody, can you take Candace home? I don't want to see her suffer for what happened here tonight. The press will be all over us and none of us will have any peace in the foreseeable future."
"I'm not letting him take me home. You're all my family. I'll stay here and face the music with the rest of you."
Sandra looked up at Brody. "Please take her home even if you have to pick her up and carry her kicking and screaming."
As he reached for her, she summoned some of her power and aimed it at him. She was shocked and frustrated when it bounced off him and hit her. Even worse was that he didn't seem to notice and continued toward her.
She glared at Sandra. "You would actually force me to leave here?" Candace tried to summon more magic, but anything she tried failed. "Shit! You bound me. You freaking bound me!"
"It's only temporary and for your own good. Now please, go home and rest. We'll need you before too long."
Candace growled when Brody scooped her up as if she were weightless, and jogged back down the beach. So what if she was barely five feet tall? She wasn't that light, and he wasn't even breaking into a sweat. Damn. Candace tried to summon her anger, but all she could feel was desire for this musclehead.
Mesmerized by the movement of his arm muscles, she reached out and squeezed his bicep. Liquid heat pooled between her thighs at his display of masculinity. His delicious scent didn't help. He smelled like chocolate and male. Deep, dark, delicious male. Her fingers itched to run through his black hair, but she clenched her fists tight, digging her nails into her palms. No way did she want to give in to the urges racing through her body. No matter how much she wanted him, he was obviously anti-Wiccan, and she couldn't live with herself if she dated someone like that. * * * *
Brody glanced down at the spitfire in his arms. He lifted her up higher so she wouldn't feel his erection. His dick strained against the tight spandex of his shorts. He prayed it subsided before he put her down in his car. She'd really freak out if she saw he was aroused by all this. But then he'd wanted her ever since she'd first stepped foot in his bakery. Nothing would change that. Not even finding her practicing magic. He'd save her from the danger of magic if it was the last thing he did.
It had been raining and she'd stumbled in drenched and looking like something out of one of his wet dreams. While he'd tried to play it casual and get to know her before he asked her out, he'd yet to find the right time to ask. Now it seemed like he'd never get to.
"I can walk. I'm not helpless, you know."
"If I put you down, you'd run right back there and you know it. Sandra asked me to get you out of here and that is what I'm going to do."
"You know Sandra?"
Is it my imagination or is she jealous? "Very well."
She made a frustrated sound and turned away. But when her hand closed on his bicep a second time he bit back a groan. What is she doing? Feeling my muscles? As if confirming his unspoken question, she squeezed his arm, then quickly released him and looked away. His dick hardened even more when he realized she was attracted to him.
When they reached his truck, he set her down gently but kept a firm grip so she couldn't escape. Once she was safely inside, he jogged around to his side and climbed in. As he started the truck and put it in gear, the doors locked and she jumped. Hmmm. She's jumpy and sitting as far from me as she can. I think I'm not the only one feeling desire right now.
Thoughts of how to find out for sure if she desired him filled his mind as he drove back to the city. It wasn't until he pulled up in front of her house that he realized what he'd done.
"How'd you know where I live?"
Snagged. "It's a small town. Most everyone knows everyone else and where they live."
"Yeah, I don't think so."
"I asked Sandra where you lived when I heard you'd been fired. I really do need help at the bakery. And you are friendly, you like the atmosphere and the food, or you wouldn't keep coming in every morning."
"You asked Sandra for my address so you could ask me to work for you? Why didn't you just ask me the next time I came in?"
"Because you haven't been in all week. And I kept meaning to come ask."
"She could have given you my phone number."
"Sandra and I are really good friends. She knows I'm not a stalker or anything. Are you mad I know where you live?"
"No. I do want to know why you are against magic if you are such good friends with Sandra."
"That isn't open for discussion. Will you please work for me, Candace?"
She sighed and looked out the window. Whatever thoughts were rolling around in her head, they didn't look favorable, but finally, she turned back and nodded. "Fine. I'll start in the morning."
She'd left before he could say thanks or tell her what time she needed to arrive at the bakery. * * * *
The next two weeks at Brody's Bakery passed in a blur. Between Brody's flirting nature and the fun, talkative customers, Candace was in heaven. She was even willing to overlook his dislike of Wicca and magic because she'd finally found a job she liked and was good at. And it had looked as if this was one job she couldn't fail at. Until today.
Last night Dante and Tamara had announced their engagement and their plans for a handfasting. In all the excitement she hadn't gotten to bed until after three in the morning, and as a result, had been late for work.
Brody had been in a bad mood before she even walked in the door. It was obvious from the way the others refused to meet her gaze, that she was the reason they were all staying far away from Brody.
He'd asked why she was late, and she'd apologized, but it didn't seem to matter. Which made no sense. Whenever one or another of his other employees was late he'd been a lot more understanding and kind than he'd been to her. If she were being truthful, he had been kind to her in the beginning. First he'd asked if she was okay. Then he'd barked at her and warned her in front of the others that partying all night was fine as long as she "got her ass in to work on time."
Candace had kept silent through his tirade until she just couldn't stop herself. "I was only late because of Dante's--"
"I don't need to hear about your lovers, Candace. Just get your ass to work on time and everything will be fine."
Again with getting her ass to work on time. "Since you're so obsessed with my ass, why don't you just kiss it?"
A collective gasp ran through the tiny bakery. She'd forgotten about the customers. Too late for that now. If she still had a job, maybe he'd let her get back to work instead of continuing to harass her.
"You can stay after and clean up." His tone let her know he didn't want any excuses either.
So here she was, all alone in Brody's Bakery, scrubbing tables and dishes. Apparently it didn't matter that she'd worked a double shift today, either.
As she walked back into the kitchen, she stopped dead in her tracks. Brody stood near the stove stirring what smelled like dark chocolate. Her favorite. Mouth watering, Candace walked over to him and leaned close to peer in the pot. Yup. Melted dark chocolate.
"Done out there?"
A shiver raced up her spine at his husky tone, and she quickly backed away. "Yeah. I finished."
"Good. Put those cleaning supplies away and wash your hands."
"Why? Do you need help? What are you doing?"
"I have a special order of chocolate covered goodies for a luncheon. And you, Miss Smart Mouth, are going to help me make them."
Oh, yeah. I'd like to help you. But there's something else I'd rather dip in chocolate. Keeping her eyes away from that part of Brody's anatomy, Candace concentrated on scrubbing her hands and lower arms. Covering goodies in chocolate could be fun and messy. Kinky, too, with the right person.
"What's taking you so long?"
"Sorry, I'm scrubbing as fast as I can. You know, I understand I was late this morning, but you aren't this hard on anyone else. Not one of them. And considering how much you said you needed my help, frankly I think you could be a bit nicer. I did stay and clean up after working a double shift. I'm tired, cranky and want to go home."
Brody blinked at her as if seeing her for the first time. "You know, you're right. I was a little harsh on you. But then none of my other employees have ever told me to kiss their ass either. Why don't you go upstairs to my apartment and use the Jacuzzi? I'll bring you up something to eat."
"Excuse me?" What's with him tonight? He's like a damn seesaw. Up, then down, then up again. But a Jacuzzi. Yeah, I wouldn't mind having a nice soak in there.
"I often let the others use it from time to time."
"I know but why are you offering it to me now?"
"I'm trying to apologize for jumping down your throat earlier. You're right. I haven't attacked anyone else like that. I'm sorry." While he looked sincere, she couldn't help but wonder why he'd reacted like that in the first place.
Unless he was jealous.
Ha. Fat chance. You wish, Honey. * * * *