by H M Irwing
A well shod foot encased in high heeled leather made a resounding smack onto the sand stone paving as its owner pattered across in determined strides making for the many staircases that would lead her up and into the depths of bountiful knowledge. The library summoned Casey Smith’s attention on this fine day even as the cloud clear sunny blue skies rivalled for her attention. The beach was fairly close and its scent wafered through the crisp morning chill enticingly. The day would heat up soon enough and that would just make the allure of the beach more appealing.
“You’re bright and early.”
Casey tore her gaze away from the wall of books that greeted her on her entrance into the vast confines of the musty old library. Yes, she was early but no matter how early, she could never get in before its librarian, Madam Lilian Du Pond. Du Pond was the resident ghost. A position of some noteworthy in this place of endless fascination.
“I could not sleep,” Casey muttered shortly, muffling an explicit oath. Du Pond of old school did not take lightly to swearing of any kind. Justified or not. Sleep had been evasive for the past two weeks. Indeed the dark bags she carried beneath each weary cat green eyes attested to that fact.
Du Pond clucked her phantom tongue disapprovingly as she misted through the front counter to stand before her eyeing Casey, consideringly. “The prophecy still bothering you?”
Casey had to roll her eyes at that. How could it not? It was all she lived a d breathed since it popped into her head one night like a dream. Only she couldn’t dismiss it like one. Not with all its dire warnings. It wasn’t everyday a knight in shining armour rode a white stallion through her dreams sprouting out impending doom if she, Casey Smith, did nothing about it.
It was hard though. Hard enough being a witch, harder still being an unimpressive Smith but harder still ignoring her suspicion over who her knight really was beneath all his armour.
Dane Lockwood had to be the mysterious knight. Dark haired with violet eyes, Dane brandied a name as old as time quite shamelessly about town. Old family wealth cushioned him against any unseemly repercussions even as power surrounded him like a mother’s hug. All embracing and at times even suffocating. She didn’t know how he could move about with such ease towing along such a power-keg.
Casey, herself, kept hers well unwraps. Close and reeled in tight, just so she could move along undetected. Live quietly without the demands of her heritage haunting her every step. Yet one chance encounter with Dane Lockwood and her cover was blown. There was no way he could not have detected her for what she truly was. It was only after that encounter that the taunting knight appeared in her normally mundane dreams. For some reason Dane had seen the need to pop into her dreams uninvited and… and… haunt her about some impending doom.
Sighing unhappily, Casey closed her eyes and took a deep breath, the sooner she got this over with the better. She was done singing to the tune of others. First her mothers and now apparently, the very eligible but otherwise elusive Dane Lockwood. This would be the very last time she would let another have her dance to their tunes. It was just pure chance that he touched on the one thing that would get her bounding to do his bidding. Disturbing her sleep was an unpardonable offence. She was already dead on her feet from the lack of it. So enough was enough. She would do this one thing and then confront the man himself and set him right about a few things.
What had he been thinking haunting a girl’s precious sleep and in encased in a gleaming armour too? The least he could have done was had the balls to show his face. She could have faced him head on then and told him to his face exactly what he could do with his so called prophecy.
The volume she sought popped into her mind interrupting the little vent she was having at Dane Lockwood’s expense. The spine of the book she sought appeared terribly old. It was instantly apparent she would not be sighting it on these shelves. Like the ghost of Lilian Du Pond before her, the spelling books that were once housed in this library also left an essence of their own. While Casey could no longer read the book, she could just as easily assimilate its contents with a simple luring spell.
She threw that web out now. Casting out her spell, inviting the essence of the book in. It bucked, floundered on the edges of her conscience, prevaricating the inevitable and then finally gave in to the tug to swamp her with the knowledge within.
Casey brushed aside her unbound golden locks and pushed back the purple framed glasses from where they hung precariously on the bridge of her nose and braced herself for the inevitable onslaught of ancient knowledge to bombard her very being. The hit when it came was a rush followed by intense pain for the knowledge contained within its volume was dark… terribly dark. It bruised her otherwise golden soul. Tarnishing it with shades of ember and even dashes of red. It was all she could do to withstand the outright ebon black. Fighting back the evil within to filter out the good was difficult with a volume this black. But she understood now why Dane had summoned her for this task. Why he had lured her into this trap… securing her innocence towards his own ends. He could not have survived the spill from assimilating the content of this volume. It would have spiralled him off into his own piece of hell. A souls as black as his could not have taken much more before the depths of hell opened up to pull him right in, where he undoubtedly belonged.
But it was too late to back out of her own foolishness in giving in to a soul that dark. She should have known better. Weeks of no sleep was no excuse. Indeed, she would reluctantly admit, it had been more than the mere lack of sleep that had led her here. It had been the man himself. The man behind the shield. The man she knew was Dane Lockwood, the lure to her trap. Resisting his inherent sensuality no doubt fuelled by devil may care attitude had clearly been beyond her meagre means. She who had lived the simple life. Safe and unyielding to the allure of the dark. It was only a matter of time before the dark sent across a worthy opponent to lure her into its midst. But the fight was not out of her yet. She would battle on. She would withstand the evil she felt even now creeping up her bones.
The battle wore on but what had seemed an endless age had only been moments. The rush left her deflated, spellbound and silent in its wake. She wavered where she stood seeing spots of black hovering about her vision. Perhaps rushing straight over here, first thing in the morning had not been the brightest of ideas. Perhaps she should have paused… stopped for… breakfast.
It was a lost cause trying to fight it off. The peppered black only got thicker, drowning her vision before she pitched forward in a dead faint.
Only her body never hit the ground. Instead, she fell face first onto the smooth expanse of a well chiselled chest encased in the softest of nude leather.
“God, but you’re a beauty. I knew you could do it. There are not many who could assimilate the Amun Ra- Book of the Dead, but I knew from the moment I set eyes on you, that if anyone could do it, it would be you.”
Dane Lockwood, narrowed his purple eyes down at Casey even as his wide luscious lips parted in an appreciative grin.
But this was far from over. He may have succeeded in his quest to transfer the content of that book into the unsuspecting Casey Smith but now that she was no longer innocent to its content, gaining that knowledge from her was going to be a hurdle that would be almost insurmountable. His research on her told him that while she may not be a red head in a true sense, her family tree was peppered with them and the tenacity that came with that particular family heritage had gotten passed down the line accompanying the forest greens of her incredibly alluring eyes.
With a heavy sigh, he sat back on his hunches as he eyed the delectable beauty sprawled with utter abandon before him. A furrow of concentration covered his brow. Uncovering the information he sought was going to be a tough job.
But he was always one up for a challenge. The wicked grin that tugged at the corners of his lips would have set Casey Smith’s hackles rising in alarm. But as she was still unconscious, battling her own inner demons unleashed by the unparalleled power of the Book of the Dead, she remained momentarily oblivious to the devious plotting unfolding overhead.
A fact, Dane Lockwood unhesitatingly took full advantage off. He knew this was just the first of many Halloweens they would be together. Unfolding the secrets of the past has been his mission for as long as he remembered, it was a passion he’s inherited along with the generations of Lockwood before him. It was a passion he would pass on to his unborn sons and daughters. Sons and daughters who may inherit their mother’s blond hair and green eyes or burrow deeper into her heritage to unearth the reds he knew lay buried within her family tree.
The future held endless possibilities. Entwining their futures together onto a singular path was the one he would assuredly see though to its pleasurable end.