The Mayan Doom is real. Government witch Amaia Jones has the spreadsheet to prove it.
Amaia is a desk-bound research wizard, living uncomfortably in the shadow of her famous Venus-magic parents. Then she discovers the world is ending. Tonight. But her bulldog of a boss not only refuses to believe her, he won’t give her the secret to calling the one force powerful enough to help-the jinn. Amaia turns to her mental guardian angel, Rafe, the darkly handsome presence who has comforted her since her parents died.
Rafe has a secret of his own. He’s a black diamond jinn, one of the deadliest and most powerful of his kind. He’s detected an enemy ruthlessly using blood sacrifice to stoke Y12 public panic. Rafe needs to get into the human realm to stop the Doom, but he can’t unless Amaia calls him, and she is threatened by his scorching sensuality.
Amaia’s guardian angel is a stunning jinni and suddenly her job is far more complicated. Jinn take their pound of flesh in exchange for magical help, but the only flesh Rafe wants is hers, taut with delight. Sounds great, except Venus magic is what drove a wedge between her parents.
But her alternatives are rapidly dwindling, and with four hours to go on humanity’s darkest night, the only alternative to surrendering her flesh may be surrendering her life.
Read an excerpt of the novel:
I stared up, and up, at six and a half feet of hard male.
He stood before me, fists on hips. Loose pants barely covered him, riding low on those taut hips. Nothing at all covered his granite chest, a flawless bare canvas for the flame tattoo licking one pec.
“Oh my God. You're real.”
He was the Rafe of my imagination, but sharper, leaner. Harder. Dreamy chest muscles jutted fiercely in reality; six-pack abs were hard boulders. His well-cut mouth and square jaw were honed to an almost cruel degree. His black hair, bound in a braid, cascaded over his chest, the tail teasing the dent of his navel.
Black diamond eyes gleamed with an inhuman intelligence, a brilliance that encompassed galaxies. In them blazed a will that could defy the stars and a power that could wipe out entire civilizations, and perhaps had.
Those eyes marked him as jinn.
I swallowed hard. My guardian angel was a powerful jinni--and stunning in more ways than one. Physically compelling, haloed in a beautiful, deadly magic, the reality of him raked me with feelings from joy to heart-pounding terror--and instant arousal.
I squirmed uneasily on my pillow.
His nostrils flared. “You wish to engage in Venus magic?”
“Wha…no!” Damn Dennis for starting me down that road.
I scrambled to my feet, breathing hard and not just because I'd used up my energy and my lungs were diseased. “I'm not into…I don't do sex magic. In fact, I don't usually do much magic at all! I'm a pure research wizard. My dissertation was Chants for the Betterment of Humanity.”
“I know. I helped write it, remember?” A tiny smile tilted his gorgeous lips. “'The impact of behavioral physics has a historical genesis in Gregorian chant.' A little stilted, but good for an undergrad.”
Oh shit. He was real. All those times I'd thought…all those times I'd imagined…no, they hadn't been totally innocent. He was hot, after all. “But you've always been in my head. How did you get”--I gestured a bit desperately at the physical reality of the meditation room--“here?”
One black brow cocked. “You asked me to come, remember?” I'll give up my remaining months of life. I'll call a jinni. Bring him on.
He'd beamed the thought directly into my brain. I knocked myself on the skull. “Don't do that.”
His other brow raised. “We have been speaking thus your entire adult life.”
“Yeah, but I thought you were a figment of my imagination. A technique to consider all sides of a problem.” I kept my eyes glued to his. Despite the I-see-the-universe glitter to them, they were still less unnerving than his flame-licked naked chest thanks to my Venus-fevered brain. Mental note: kick Dennis's ass.
Rafe's brows took on an arrogant arch. “I am quite real, though my native form is pure energy instead of this physical manifestation.” He took a single step closer. With his long legs, it put him right on top of me. “But this form has its advantages.” He cupped my cheek in one hand and for just a moment his gaze softened. “Your eyes are green.”
I blinked up at him, the warmth of his palm radiating on my face. “All this time you've known me, you never noticed?”
“Colors are different on the ethereal. You have a Mayan noble's features, the bronze hair and skin. I didn't expect the green of your eyes to be real.” His thumb started stroking.
Soft need cascaded down my throat and melted my bones. “I'm only a quarter Maya. My grandpa Jones was Welsh and the Fletcher side…hey! Why didn't you know this, if you've been in my mind?”
“I never invaded your mind. Most jinn are not so careful of privacy, but I simply listened to what you chose to reveal to me.”
Which meant he might not know I thought he was hot.
The corner of his mouth turned up. That, you have not kept secret.
Busted. I stepped back from his warm, stroking thumb. “All right, I called you, but you set me up. You made that fuss about having a really strong defense against the Mayan Doom.”
“I had to. Our time is limited and I couldn't come without your call.” He sauntered to the daybed, sat with animal grace, and patted the space next to him. “Our options are limited too. We must make our plans quickly.”
“You mean my options are limited.” I folded my arms and stood firmly where I was. Even if the comforter was clean, no way I was sitting on a bed anywhere near someone so big and hard and overwhelmingly male. Not while I had Venus magic on the brain. If sex magic could ruin two human lives, I could just imagine what it would do to a wizard stupid enough to bonk a jinni. “Everyone knows jinn don't give away squat for free.”
“Some jinn do.”
My arms fell. “I find that hard to believe.”
“Belief isn't necessary. Action is.” He patted the bed again. “Come, Amaia. You've been pursuing your calculations single-mindedly for days, ignoring proper food and rest, and just now expended most of your magic attempting a neutralization spell. You're tired. Sit.”
I was tired. Practicality won out over caution. I took a step toward the bed.
His black eyes flashed with triumph.
Smack me with a stupid spell. Everyone knew jinn could talk you into anything, including surrendering your life. They were the grifters of the universe. I shook my head stubbornly and levered myself against the wall. “I can talk from here. So what plans do you have in mind? The neutralization failed and you shot down my Calm spell idea.”
“Shot down…I didn't mean to.” His granite features softened. “I'm trying to be practical, like you.”
“Because it's useful? Or plain dumb?”
“Because it's human. Cute.”
My mouth fell open. I shut it with a snap. “Okay, let's be practical. Can we free enough people from this dire end-of-world shit to un-pillbug and replenish the public pool?”
“I doubt it. Fear is sucking the magic away faster than a few positive emotions can replenish it.”
“Right.” Karmic Physics for Dummies. Positive acts added energy, negative used. Yes, there are nasty people who seem to get energy from fucking up others' lives. But take heart--their negative acts drain their personal wells. One day their “luck” runs out, and sooner rather than later.
Which, parenthetically, is why the wizard's motto is Make Positive Karma.
But it did mean calming a few people wasn't going to help when so many more were afraid, and their fear was sucking it out again. “It's annoying that you're always right. Even when you were my guardian angel, it was annoying.”
“Ah.” His head tilted. “I believe this is where I say…I sympathize.”
I couldn't help a snort of laughter. “Being practical?”
“Being human. Or trying to be.” His face remained smooth granite and I couldn't tell if he was kidding or not.
Read another Excerpt:
December 21, 2012
7:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
“The Mayan Doom is real, Chief. I have proof!” I shoved the stack of papers under my boss's nose, spreadsheet on top. Not because I'm a dick (just the opposite, in fact--unless you counted Mervyn's opinion that my lady parts clanked when I walked) but because I was trying to save the world and Chief Wizard Arnie Wenkermann was as nearsighted as a myopic bull dog and twice as stubborn.
“Damn it, Jones!” The Chief jerked back. “Your job is to reassure the public, not fan the nonsense higher.”
His ex-drill sergeant bark nearly blew me away, but I stood firm. “It's not nonsense. The world is ending tonight. Look.” I shook the papers.
My boss clamped his eyes shut. “Numbers mean nothing to me.”
“Fine.” I pulled out a page. “See the pretty graph?”
He cracked an eye at the plummeting black arrow, squinched it shut again. “That can't be right. The adepts would've noticed it. The ones who bothered showing up for work, anyway.”
“Adepts?” I snorted. “Part-time school kids?”
“You're barely out of school yourself.” He upped my snort with a Chiefly sneer. “Class of 2012.”
“I've had six months in the real world,” I said, stung. “And Mervyn…I mean Wizard Analyst Johnson will back me up. Chief, we've already gone beyond what a team of adepts can handle. Look at my numbers and you'll see--”
“Wizard Jones.” The title was a slap. “It's just numbers. You're overreacting.”
“Really Chief, I'm not.” Didn't he understand that, as a government witch, this was the part of the job that I knew cold? In case it was his myopia and not his stubbornness blinding him, I traced the line with a finger, starting at business-as-usual and plunging to screaming end-of-world oh-shit. “We'll be past the help of full wizards in a couple of hours. Ground zero in four. We must attack this immediately.”
“Jones, I have enough shit to shovel in the final hours before Y12. I don't need a newbie witch gone Chicken Little.”
I held my temper, barely. Thank you, mandatory unfunded anger management classes. “Fine. It's almost too late to chart a neutralization spell anyway, much less set it up. So give me the secret.”
“Secret? What secret?” He slit both eyes, cutting-narrow. Yeah, he knew what secret but wouldn't say it first. “What are you suggesting?”
No less than counter-doom, but the world was mere hours from getting fucked without a fondle and I was dying anyway. With the cancer eating my lungs and my life, I was down to months, so this was my last chance to make a real difference. No time to hold back. I took a long, shallow breath. “I want to call a jinni.”
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