#Read An #Excerpt From Influential Magic By Deanna Chase
The ugly concrete building loomed before us, making my body itch with unease. I gritted my teeth and tried to mentally prepare for the long flight ahead. There was a reason faeries hated airplanes. Metal had an unfortunate way of draining our energy.
“You didn’t have to walk me in,” I said to Talisen, my brother’s best friend and the guy who’d just spent five hours transporting me from Eureka to the Sacramento airport. “I would’ve been perfectly fine if you’d dropped me off at departures.”
“Are you kidding?” Talisen draped a casual arm over my shoulders and made a show of stretching his legs. “One more minute in the truck and my limbs would’ve seized up.”
I eyed his lanky but muscular body. Tall, broad-shouldered, and tan from his long days of working outdoors in my mother’s nursery. He’d dressed nicer than usual today. Gone were his faded blue jeans, scuffed work boots, and pop-culture T-shirt, replaced by olive khakis, a short-sleeved, button-down shirt, and black canvas shoes. “I think you could’ve survived until you hooked up with your lunch date.”
He pulled the glass door open for me. “Date?”
“Yeah. Yesterday I heard you tell a client you weren’t available this afternoon because you had a date. I assumed that’s what this was about.” I waved my hand up and down, indicating the change in his wardrobe choice.
He laughed. “I was talking about you, Willow.”
“Oh.” I smirked. “Sorry excuse for a date. Is dropping your best friend’s sister off at the airport the best you can come up with? Maybe you need lessons. Remind me the next time I come home to set you straight on what a normal twenty-four-year-old would consider ‘dating.’”
“Ha! Look who’s talking. You didn’t even so much as look at any other dudes this summer, let alone go out with one. Pathetic, really. No, thanks. I’ll get my lessons elsewhere.”
His words hit a sore spot in the middle of my chest, and I was grateful we’d reached the ticket counter so I wouldn’t have to continue our regular banter. David, my ex back in New Orleans, had dumped me right before I’d left my store, The Fated Cupcake, in the hands of my trusted assistant so I could run my mom’s shop while she recovered from an accident. Other than missing New Orleans; my dog, Link; my shop; and my best friend, Phoebe, it had been fun and distracting, hanging out with Talisen nearly every day.
David had become a distant memory. Almost.
I paid the extra fee to check my bag and met Talisen near the security gate.
He held his arms out and sent me a rueful smile.
I tilted my head and eyed him suspiciously. “You don’t expect me to fall for that, do you?”
His smile widened. “Get over here.”
Wrapping my arms around his waist, I buried my head in his shoulder. “Thank you for this summer,” I whispered.
He placed one of his large hands on my head and gently stroked my hair. “There’s nothing to thank me for.”
Hot tears burned the back of my eyes. I squeezed them shut, forcing the emotion down. “Beau…” My breath caught on a silent sob.
“It’s all right, Wil. He’s been with us. He’s with us every day.” Talisen squeezed me harder, and I knew we were both picturing my brother on that fateful day four years ago. He’d been smiling and laughing only a few hours before we’d found him lifeless in my mother’s lavender fields.
I pulled back and nodded.
Talisen eased his grip but didn’t let go. His deep green eyes bored into mine. “Don’t stay away so long this time.”
“I already promised Mom I’d be back for Christmas.”
“Good.” He laced his fingers around a lock of my hair. “Your hair looks nice, lightened by the sun.”
Warmth spread to my belly. All the time spent outside this summer had left streaks of gold in my wavy mane. “I’ll get highlights for December.”
“Don’t. Natural’s better.” Faeries didn’t usually mess with chemicals. And I wouldn’t, either. But there were natural hair dyes. Still, Tal knew the one quality I really loved about myself was my long, slightly curly auburn hair. “Text me as soon as you get there.”
I grimaced and patted my pocket for my phone.
He rolled his eyes. “You didn’t leave it at your mom’s, did you?”
“Um…” I plunged my hand into my purse, frantically searching for the iPhone I never used. My fingers wrapped around something hard and cool. “Got it.”
Talisen took it from my hand and pressed the on button. “Your battery’s almost dead. Try to charge it before you get on the plane.”
I snatched it out of his hand and tossed it back into my purse. “Yeah, yeah. You’re worse than Phoebe.”
“She’s just given up on your lazy ways. Promise you’ll let me know when you land.”
“Good.” His expression turned serious and he seemed to really look at me. Then he leaned in as if to whisper something, but instead brushed his lips lightly over mine, lingering slightly longer than a casual goodbye kiss. “Stay safe,” he said against my lips and then turned and walked out of the airport. I stood still, stunned, my hand against my tingling lips as I watched him go.
Where had that come from? Flustered, I headed for the security gate.
One layover in Houston and seven sleepless hours later, I stumbled off the jet and into Louis Armstrong airport. I’d thought of nothing but Talisen ever since I’d left California. What in damnation was that kiss about? We’d been flirting with each other relentlessly for the past nine years, but because of Beau we’d never acted on anything. Not to mention Talisen’s constant stream of revolving-door girlfriends. Now, with Beau gone, if I lost Talisen due to some stupid relationship problem… it was too hard to even think such a thought.
No, we were just friends. More than that. We were family. And that’s the way I intended to keep it. I whipped out my phone and powered it on. The tiny red battery light mocked me. So I’d forgotten to charge it. Whatever. I only needed to send one text.
The phone buzzed with an incoming message from Phoebe. Vampire sighting at Saint Louis Cemetery. Meet me there are soon as you land.
Dang it all. I hadn’t even had time to pee. I sighed and typed out a message to Talisen. Not two seconds after I hit send, the phone died.
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It’s tough being a faery in New Orleans, a city fraught with vampires… especially when their very existence drains your life-force.
Willow Rhoswen, owner of The Fated Cupcake and part-time vampire hunter for the Void is having a rough week. Four years after her twin brother’s mysterious death, Willow’s life is threatened and the director saddles her with a new partner—her ex-boyfriend, David. To her horror, he’s turned vamp, which causes her physical pain whenever she touches him… and any other specimen of the undead.
In order to save Willow’s life, David agrees to turn double agent against the most powerful vampire organization in New Orleans. Or so he says. And she’s convinced they know something about her brother’s death. Unsure where David’s loyalties lie, she turns to Talisen, her childhood crush, to help her solve the mystery.
Caught between two gorgeous men and a director who’ll stop at nothing to control Willow’s gifts, she’ll have to follow her instincts and learn who to trust.
Otherwise, she risks losing more than just her life.
About The Author:
Deanna is a native Californian, transplanted to the slower paced lifestyle of southeastern Louisiana.
When she isn’t writing, she is often goofing off with her husband in New Orleans, playing with her two shih tzu dogs, making glass beads, or out hocking her wares at various bead shows across the country.
For more information and updates on newest releases visit her website at www.deannachase.com.
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