I knew I was different by the time I was five years old. I come from an all-American family; two parents that love one another, a bratty younger brother that can sometimes make my life a living hell, and the family dog, all tucked in a normal residential neighborhood in Manchester, New Hampshire.
I however, was far from normal.
No big deal for me, I like knowing I’m different than other people, I like knowing I can do things that normal people can’t.
The first inkling I had that I was different was the day that I made it stop raining.
I wanted to go out and play so badly after I came home from school, because my friend Becky Sullivan was talking about getting together to play Power Rangers, and they were my total favorite. Hey, I was five.
The sky opened up just as my mom pulled into the garage, and I was totally devastated. I cried while I stood at the door of the garage, staring out into the rain, and my mom couldn’t shut me up. I wailed. I remember looking at the clouds and yelling at them, but not out loud. I was calling them dirty names in my head and then with a great big yell at the top of my voice, I told them to go away. They did, in a manner of speaking. The rain stopped, a rainbow came out (because this was what I pictured as a five year old), and a flock of birds flew across the sky in perfect v-formation (remember, I was five).
I don’t think my mom knew what to make of it, but she hustled me inside and proceeded to ignore all the strange things that started happening in the house after that.
It was a little later when I found that I could read minds, and it helped to get me out of quite a few childhood scrapes, I can guarantee you that.
The whole controlling weather thing got out of hand on occasion, but I was a very self-possessed young woman, for the most part. Before I found my coven and learned even more self-control, I had created numerous snow-days in winter and always knew when my brother was planning on ambushing me as I came home from school or softball practice. He never caught on why his plans failed.
No one else in my family have powers, only me.
I was running late, as usual. Harley O’Connor, my best friend and business partner, had left ahead of me from Written, our bookstore/house, yelling at me to finish getting ready, for the Goddess’ sake, although she knew it was pointless. This occasion should have been one that I tried to be on time for, but it was as much a part of me to never be on time as was the blue color of my eyes.
I dashed out to my car, throwing myself behind the wheel, not even taking a moment to enjoy the spring air of late May. It was almost dark out, and there was a slight chill in the air, but the long sleeves of my gown offered ample protection for a Northerner such as myself.
I hated wearing a dress, was never in one if I could help it, but you couldn’t be a maid of honor in a wedding wearing pants, or so I was told repeatedly and vehemently by the bride and my other best friend, Anna Greer. Or, rather, soon to be Macgregor.
I laughed softly to myself. Why bother getting married when you were pretty much already bound to one another by blood? Who the hell knew? Despite my parents’ fabulous success in being married for over twenty-five years, I was not in favor of marriage; or rather I was, just not in the foreseeable future. I was young, only twenty-five, but I had never been the kind of girl to dream about getting married. No hidden issues, no tragic accident from a past relationship had caused this; I came by it as naturally as my tendency to be late. And if I ever did get married, I would wear a pants suit.
I drove through Manchester, heading west to Weare, which was where Anna and her soon-to-be husband Gareth lived in a completely awesome old farmhouse, but that’s what you get when you’ve been a vampire for two hundred years and make a lot of money.
Not that Anna had been a vampire for two hundred years; that was Gareth.
What a hottie he was.
Oh God, I couldn’t believe how weird it was to think about your best friend’s fiancé/husband that way. I shook my head to rid myself of that thought. It was just because I was lacking in male companionship myself that I could even think that. Gareth was like the cool older brother that I wished mine would be, and that was so not the way that I should be thinking.
I ran a light that had just turned to red, hoping that I wouldn’t get stopped by a cop since I was already late. Nothing came up behind me and as I got on the outskirts of town, I floored it. It was eight o’clock, which was when the wedding was supposed to start, so I called.
On my way, I am so sorry!
The guilt that rushed through me was genuine, and I waited for the scolding that I deserved.
I heard Anna laugh in my head, Oh, don’t worry about it Teagan. The wedding isn’t until nine.
Sneaky. Instead of being annoyed that I had been tricked, it made me feel good to know that they knew me so well.
I’ll definitely be there by then.
She laughed again, and then was gone.
Anna was a sorcerer, and now a newly changed vampire. Harley and I were witches. I usually did not like sorcerers; they were know-it-all assholes who thought they should inherit the earth, but Anna came into her power late in the game, and despite Gareth bringing in a sorcerer friend of his to help her learn her power, she hadn’t fallen victim to the ego. I sincerely hoped she never would.
Grudgingly, I admitted to myself that Noah Jacobs wasn’t too much of a jerk. He was a real stand-up guy, someone handy in a pinch, or when you were being attacked by a centuries-old vampire with a bad attitude. He was loyal to Gareth and Anna, which gave him points in my book, but he was still a smart-ass.
I pulled into the drive at Gareth’s, zooming up the long road that led to the house. As I pulled around the back of the house, a figure stepped out of the shadows, illuminated by the car’s headlights. Speak of the devil and he shall appear, I thought as I brought the car to a stop. Noah stood in front of the garage, hands shoved deep in the pockets of his tux pants.
I watched him come toward my car, and even I could admit that he was a sexy son of a bitch. He was tall, probably close to 6’3”, with shaggy, light brown hair and bright blue eyes. He had a full mouth and straight nose, and a strong, sexy jaw.
Yuck, I couldn’t believe myself, thinking about him like that. When we’re put in the same vicinity together, it was like putting a match to gasoline. We brought out the worst in each other. I must be desperate for a date
“About time you made it here.” He said as he opened my car door and held a hand out to me. I ignored it and brushed passed him. He shut the door with a slam and followed me as I ran up the steps of the porch, but he caught me by the arm before I could open the door. I stared down at his hand, loathing plain on my face, but he didn’t let go.
“Noah, what have I told you about touching me?”
In response he took my other arm and made me face him head on.
“Can’t we call a truce for tonight? It’s a special night for them; they don’t need us bickering back and forth.” His tone was sincere, but his eyes were still slightly mocking, as if he didn’t believe I could rise up to the challenge. Oh, I could rise.
“That’s a wonderful plan, and I’m surprised you came up with it all by yourself. Fine, yes, we can call a truce for tonight.” I held up a hand to silence his retort. I knew I shouldn’t goad him, but it was so much fun.
“Good. It wouldn’t look good if I tripped you as we were walking down the aisle after the ceremony.” He turned to the side to avoid my kick and turned back to smile at me, flashing white, even teeth in the gloom of the back porch light.
“Starting now?” I asked, referring to the truce, not the tripping. I yanked my arms out of his grasp and turned toward the door, opening it.
“One last thing; you should wear a dress more often. You’ve got great legs and people wouldn’t confuse you with a boy so much.”
I slammed the door in his face.
I dashed up the stairs, barely taking in the decorations. I had stayed at Written while Harley had come over to help with them, which I gladly volunteered to do. I hated all things wedding.
As I came upstairs I saw Gareth in the hallway, pacing. I gave a low appreciative whistle, and he turned with that supple grace that all vampires have and smiled at me.
“Don’t you look handsome. Not that you don’t always, but you know. Gotta love a guy in a tux.” Well, some of them, I thought to myself as I hugged him and placed a kiss on his cold cheek.
He returned my hug then stepped away, holding me at arm’s length. He looked at the dress, the long red silk draping me like a second skin. I had to admit that I felt gorgeous in it, the empire waist flattering to my figure, but it left me feeling strangely exposed, even under the brotherly perusal that Gareth was giving me. His white-blue eyes were surprisingly warm, and I could see why Anna would prefer the true color to the colored contacts he wore during the day and in public.
His black hair was cut short in the back and was slightly longer in the front so that it naturally formed short spikes and whorls. He was like any vampire, with insanely breathtaking good looks, a square jaw and firm mouth. And then he spoke. This is where he got you; just sucked you in and made you fall in love with him.
“Teagan, you look unbelievably beautiful. I can’t believe I’m looking at the same woman who was here last night in a pair of sweatpants and running shoes.”
His voice held more than a hint of Scotland in it, and it was smooth like the finest Scotch whiskey. When he was upset or injured, like the injury he had just recovered from a few months back, his accent got real thick, and you wanted to just keep him upset so he would talk all day long. When he was with us, the accent came out too, just not as thick.
He owned one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the East, and he was a vampire. He had to keep up appearances and his cover was that he was from Scottish parents who moved to New Hampshire before he was born.
I preened under his scrutiny, doing a little twirl. I sketched a curtsy, and walked over to the bedroom door. I looked back at Gareth and shook a finger at him.
He laughed and held up his hands in surrender. “Wouldn’t think of it.”
“Where’s Damien? I saw the other one.” I rolled my eyes.
“He’s downstairs, making sure everything is ready.”
Damien Stavros was another one of us. He wasn’t a vampire, or a witch, or even a sorcerer. He was a werewolf, and up until a few months ago, had been Gareth’s enemy. Now he was Gareth’s other best man, Noah being the first.
“Oh, and don’t worry, Noah and I have come to a truce for the evening. No fighting, I swear. It’s my wedding present to you two.”
“It’s a much appreciated one, thanks.”
I gave him a wave and slid in through the door, so he couldn’t get a look inside.
“Oh wow, Anna!” I breathed. She looked up from where she was watching Harley make a last minute adjustment to her dress. Her eyes sparked with warmth as she caught my gaze, and I marveled at how they had changed color when she was changed into a vampire. They used to be a mossy green and now were light jade, lighter than Harley’s jade colored eyes. Against her pale olive skin and mahogany-colored hair, they sparkled with happiness.
Her dress was a simple silk sheath in what I was told was called champagne, but I just called it taupe. It draped her in graceful folds, the back of it dipping low, but the front had a boat neck that covered her shoulders. It was very old Hollywood. Even if she wasn’t unearthly beautiful, she would have shined like a star in that dress.
“Do you like?” She asked, and in her voice was the old Anna; at least that hadn’t change. When she had first told us that she was going to beg Gareth to change her, I had the most trouble with it, along with Gareth. Noah, Damien and Harley had come to grips with it a lot sooner than me, and knowing Anna’s will power, Gareth shortly thereafter.
The love the two of them had for each other…I had never seen anything like it. My parents loved each other, but this was the stuff that fairy tales were made of, if you went in for that stuff. They were truly soul mates.
When Anna had thought that Gareth was killed a few months back, she was only happy to be alive so that she could kill the vampire she thought had killed Gareth. I didn’t sit with her that day, Noah had been up there, but he had told Harley and me that she had no purpose to live other than to hunt Padraigan down and kill him.
I had been with her though when she had first woke up from her own injuries, and her grief had torn me to pieces.
She had keened like a madwoman and Noah had to put her back to sleep, or else her mind would have snapped; we were all sure of it.
Now, she stood in front of me, her smile wide and all the happiness she felt radiated from her and infected Harley and I.
“Can you believe this? I’m getting married!”
“I can swallow you becoming a vampire more than this.” I had to get in a little dig.
“I can’t wait till this is you standing here. Then we’ll make you eat those words.” Harley snorted through a mouth full of pins.
“Not going to happen, at least not for ten years or more.” I strolled over to the windows and looked out. The men were gathered on the back lawn, the gazebo where the ceremony would be held was all lit up with thousands of white lights, and flowers were everywhere; red and yellow roses covered every flat surface. I rolled my eyes again. It would smell like a florist shop down there.
I glanced again at the guys, and thought to myself that if the Goddess was watching us right now, she would surely want to recall those three back to the heavens.
They were all tall, all wicked handsome. Damien with his dark gypsy looks and green, glowing eyes, Gareth with his regal bearing, and Noah with his model-perfect face…I didn’t want to go there. I turned back to the giggling women.
Harley had stood and was fluffing out the back of the dress, finished with her last minute adjustment. She was the tallest of us, and had curves that I could only wish to have. She reminded me and Anna of an Indian princess, her bearing almost as regal as Gareth’s, her dusky skin giving away her mother’s heritage, but her eyes were all her father’s side, as sparkling green as an Irish countryside. Her hair was the same mahogany of Anna’s, although just recently she had added a streak of turquoise to it, her inspiration my own pink streaks in the blonde and brown mass of my hair.
“Are the guys down there?” she asked as she came over to the window.
“You mean Gareth, Damien, and As-“She reached out and put her hand over my mouth.
“Please behave on my wedding day.” Anna begged from behind me, and I didn’t have it in my heart to tease her.
“Noah and I already talked it over, and as a wedding gift to you two, we called a temporary truce. I just figured I could talk freely amongst friends, jeesh.”
“Thank you, I know you really will try hard.” Anna hugged me, keeping her strength in check. Surprisingly enough, this was the hardest thing for her to master in her transition from human to vampire. It wasn’t the all-consuming thirst that she had had trouble with after all, which was what Gareth had been worried about. Her newfound strength was much like her power as a sorcerer; she had sometimes gotten out of control with it, and things had been broken.
“I’m just amazed that they actually talked together without one of us to referee for them.” Harley said sarcastically. I extended the middle finger of my right hand and pointed it in her direction and she gave me a mocking smile in return.
“I knew Teagan was in that dress somewhere.” Anna commented dryly and I bestowed a smile on her instead. She was the bride, I couldn’t flip her off.
“What time is it?” Anna asked suddenly, and I looked at the watch I had pinned to the bodice of my dress.
“You’re going to be late for your own wedding. It’s nine.”
“Oh God. C’mon, let’s go.” She walked out ahead of us, Harley and me scrambling to catch up.
“Anna! Slow down! We can’t walk that fast and we’re supposed to go out ahead of you.” Harley called as we chased her down the staircase, hiking up our dresses to our knees. Noah and Damien were just coming in from outside as we came rushing into the great room. Harley pulled up short at the sight of Damien, all of a sudden turning into the Indian princess.
“I knew you had great legs.” Noah whistled, and I hurriedly dropped my dress, giving him a dirty look.
“You promised!” Anna said sternly, pointing a finger at Noah and I. We grumbled but turned away from each other.
“We were sent in to look for you. Are you ready?” Damien asked, looking at Anna and giving a low whistle himself. She sketched him a curtsy and he returned with a bow. Oh gag.
“Okay, here we go.” Damien opened the door again and Noah followed him out.
Harley and I turned to Anna, who was brushing down her dress, shaking out wrinkles that didn’t exist.
“Ready?” Harley asked her, and she nodded. She passed a hand across her eyes, and when they were revealed again, they were the color they used to be. Glamours came in handy. If she could have cried, she would be blubbering at this point.
Harley and I grabbed our bouquets that were laid out on a table next to the French doors, and we went out ahead of her. I went first, being the second maid of honor.
There was a white runner that ran from the back stone patio to the gazebo, and it was strewn with red and yellow rose petals. Chairs draped with white covers were placed on either side, guests that had no idea that they were watching two vampires be married watched us come down the aisle.
I kept my eyes on Gareth as I came down the aisle, needing to concentrate on something other than the justice of the peace. Gareth had used his own contacts for this, not wanting to arouse suspicion, and the odd brown was disconcerting. I was so used to him with those white-blue eyes that the brown truly struck me as false.
As I made it to the gazebo, I moved to take my place, just as Harley came up behind me. As soon as the two of us were situated, the Wedding March played, and I heard Gareth’s quick intake of breath as his bride came out of the house.
She glowed; that was the only word I could come up with to describe her. They say all brides are beautiful on their wedding day, but she truly was astounding. Her hair rippled over her shoulders and her eyes shown bright. She walked sedately, keeping the speed down, and with a huge, beaming smile came to stand by Gareth. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her, nor could most of the people present. The men envied Gareth and the women envied her, her looks and her soon-to-be husband.
I let my mind wander as the words were said. I was here strictly for Gareth and Anna and I drew the line at listening to meaningless words. They were bound together more than any little paper could bind them, so I thought this was just frivolous, but when I heard Anna catch her breath over Gareth’s vows, I smiled, and it made me happy to know that this made my friend happy, no matter how ridiculous it seemed to me.
I came out of my reverie when they were pronounced husband and wife, and to a roar of laughter and cat calls, Gareth dipped her deep and gave her a thorough kiss. I clapped my hands, smiling like a lunatic. I could only be so lucky as to find half their happiness.
I sat at a table a few hours later, my shoes off and my feet kicked up on the chair in front of me. Almost all the guests had left, and Damien and I were sitting, recovering from a lot of drink and a lot of dancing. The werewolf had some serious moves on the dance floor.
He picked up the champagne flute on the table and drained it. “I am beat. Are you going to be okay to drive?”
“Harley and I are staying here tonight, cleaning up in the morning while they’re off on the honeymoon.”
“Harley is staying too?” he asked, twirling the glass with his long fingers. I eyed him speculatively.
“Yeah, just said that, didn’t I?” I winked at him to take the sting out of my sarcastic remark, but he cocked a black brow in my direction, his green gaze cool.
“So you did,” was his reply.
“Is she annoying you as badly as she annoys me?” Noah strolled up and pulled out the chair from under my feet. “Hey!” I squealed, leaning forward to snatch at the chair, but he held it out of my reach and twirled it so that he sat down on it backward, his arms draped across the back.
“I thought you two had a truce?” Damien inquired, leaning his elbow on the table.
“The newlyweds are gone, left for the airport. Truce is over.” He wiggled his eyebrows at me and I threw him a disgusted look.
“Then I’m out of here. I can’t watch you two snipe at each other. I don’t know how the others stand it.” He stood, stretching his long frame.
“Going hunting?” I asked as he stooped to place a kiss on my cheek.
“No, not tonight. I’m for home.”
I was glad he was going home. He needed the rest. He had been trying to pick up Padraigan’s trail for the past few months, and although he had some promising leads, nothing had come of it.
He was our black sheep. Unlike Noah, who was tied to us through Gareth, Damien came into our little group a stranger, actually an enemy. He and Gareth had had a long standing feud going back twenty years, but he came to Anna’s rescue when Padraigan had kidnapped her back in February, having shown up at Gareth’s house and alerting us to where Padraigan had taken her.
He was not your ordinary werewolf. He could turn at will, not just at the full moon. The full moon was when he lost control, and the beast took over, so needless to say, we didn’t see him much during that time.
Which was coming up. “I won’t see you all for a bit, considering, but I’ll let you know if I find anything.” He waved at Noah and walked towards the front of the house, nearly running into Harley as she came out the French doors. He moved so fast away from her that I barely caught it, but my interest was piqued again as I saw Harley look after him when he dashed inside, as if the fires of hell were after him.
Noah caught it too. “Interesting. I wonder if there’s anything there.”
I made a derogatory noise, although his words mirrored my thoughts.
“No. I don’t even know if Harley likes him much.”
Which was bullshit. I knew exactly what her feelings were regarding Damien.
She joined us at the table, and I moved in my chair to face her, stretching my legs out on the other chair next to me, which effectively put my back to Noah.
“If you two are going to fight, I really don’t want to sit here with you, so what’s it going to be?” she asked, rubbing a hand on her neck, her eyes narrowed at Noah and I.
“Why do you people deprive me of the little bit of fun that I have in my life?” Noah lamented, raising his eyes to the star-filled sky. I really wanted to kick him, but that meant that I would have to face him, and I just wanted to end the night on a good note.
“I’m going inside. It’s late and I’m tired.” I stood and stretched, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Noah watching me appreciatively. I almost whirled on him, shock keeping me frozen for a moment. I knew that look; it was the look that men gave women that let us know they wanted us in their beds. Not the look that I would expect from him and it upset me enough to scramble my brain.
“Uh, goodnight.” I mumbled and picked up the trailing train on my dress and made my way inside, turning my back on Harley’s puzzled expression.
I didn’t even bother to look around and see what kind of mess would await me in the morning. The caterers took care of the kitchen, but thanks to our big mouths, they hadn’t hired anyone to come in and clean anything else.
My thoughts were a jumbled mess, and I was fighting that image of Noah’s approving gaze when Harley intruded.
What the hell was that?
I grimaced, knowing she would ask.
Nothing, I’m just tired. I lied.
Her skeptical snort echoed in my thoughts.
Sure you are. I saw it too. Coward.
Those were usually fighting words with me, but I let it pass. She was right, and leave it to Harley to know what prompted my flight inside.
I’m going to do some digging.
I gasped in horror, a grimace on my face she couldn’t see.
Don’t you dare!
She laughed her diabolical, scheming laugh that usually made me laugh with her. I was not laughing now.
Are you scared of what I’ll find out?
I had to admit she hit a nerve. Things with Noah and I were in no way black and white. Other than his extreme arrogance, which in itself was not something bad, considering I had a healthy dose myself, I really couldn’t find anything wrong with him. He was kind to everyone but me, baby sat his sister’s kids, came to the rescue of strangers and was extremely gorgeous to boot. The kind of man any sane woman would want, but every time I looked at him, my blood boiled, my heart raced and that made me so angry I could spit.
Then there was the kiss. When we first met, which was not a good day, we almost got into a shoving match and he ended up kissing me, purely to shut me up, I’m sure, not out of any desire he felt for me. But the feel of his mouth on mine was shocking, and I’m glad he pulled back when he did, because I didn’t know how much longer I could have resisted it.
I tried to tell myself that it was because I hadn’t even been on a date in months, let alone had some quality alone time with a hot guy, but there was a part of me, one that I fought with on a daily basis, that wanted to grab him sometime and shut him up in the same way.
Hello? Earth to Teagan?
I shook my head and grimaced again, hating the path my traitorous thoughts had taken.
I’m here, just contemplating jumping off the landing.
Nothing. Good night. And don’t say anything to him, please.
I went into my room, closing the door softly behind me. This room, like all the rooms in the house, was completely beautiful in a simple, tasteful way. It was painted chocolate brown, with white wainscoting and chair rails, and had huge windows that faced west, which was perfect for me, since I was a late sleeper and hated having the sun shine in on me in the morning. The bed was massive, an oak and wrought iron fantasy that kind of sucked you in with its masses of pillows and down comforter.
I crossed the room to the little sitting area framed by the windows and grabbed my bag that Harley had brought over for me earlier and carried it into the bathroom.
Another room to die over. I could live in the big copper soaking tub if they would let me. The separate stall shower would be my vacation home, with its multiple full-body jets and rain shower spray head. All I needed was a television and a refrigerator and I would be all set.
I grabbed my pajamas and struggled out of the dress and hung it carefully on its hanger, then pulled the plastic bag over it. I pulled my night shirt on, which had the quote “Well behaved women rarely make history” in big block letters on it and dug into my bag and got out my toothbrush, toothpaste, and face wash, threw my hair up and went about getting ready for bed.
As I brushed my teeth, I looked at my reflection in the mirror, checking for blemishes and judging my features too harshly as always. My eyes were a good color, bright blue, but the almond shape was all wrong, or so I thought. My nose was too thin and my lips too full, but I did like my chin, which was slightly pointed and my cheekbones, which were high.
My hair was my favorite thing about myself. It was thick and wavy, and I could do anything with it that I wanted. I had finally achieved color perfection with a blend of browns, blondes and subtle pinks that everyone thought would be punk, but turns out, it wasn’t. My pink wasn’t really visible unless it was up like it was now, and I could see the long strands drifting down my neck. I loved it.
I wiped down the counter and padded across the cold wood floors, wishing that I had packed slippers, and dove into the big bed. I turned off the bedside lamp and plunged the room into darkness, and as was my luck in life, fell immediately to sleep.
I knew I was dreaming, or so I thought. I was still in my nightshirt, but I wasn’t at Gareth and Anna’s. It was a house I had never been to, starkly modern, all glass and metal. I was in a huge living room that was sparsely furnished, and the furniture that was there looked like it came from a Swedish furniture showroom. Everything was streamlined and cold, done in glaring black and white and the coldness of it made me shiver, painfully obvious that I was bare from the mid-thigh down to my feet.
I walked through the room, looking for a way out, my path lit by the light of the almost full moon that shone in through the massive wall of windows.