Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Craft of the Wise: Divination by Dee Carney

Jenna Whiteman threw her hands into the air as if praying for divine intervention during her conversation with the stubborn, arrogant werewolf.

She tried again. “We need to get the Book of Shadows back. It doesn’t matter how much protection we provide Ava if she doesn’t have the means with which to defend herself. And us, I might add!”

Frosty blue eyes did their level best to bore a hole into her forehead. She simply glared back. No way she’d let the lieutenant intimidate her in any shape or form. No matter how good looking he might be.

He slammed his fist against the table, then winced as the noise echoed in the large room. The growl that followed was low and contained. “My pack leader is upstairs recovering from severe injuries after trying to save the princess. From another witch, I might add. We are pledged to protect her. I will not break that pledge!”

Just to get him to stop talking, she wanted to scream her frustration at him.

If Ava Valentine’s cousin, Dina, didn’t possess the Book of Shadows, they wouldn’t be in this mess. But no, the thirteenth daughter of the coven had a relative who wanted the power the book and related tools could provide. Never mind she joined forces with the demons to do so. If they could get the book back, Ava might be able to permanently banish the demons from their realm. Until now, the werewolves’ protection was supposed to be a boon, not a hindrance, to that mission.

Jenna had no problems standing toe to toe with the pack’s lieutenant, Vince Albright, who wanted no part in trying to retrieve the book. He wouldn’t be budged without further instruction from his pack’s leader. Unfortunately for everyone, Aaron was still recovering in bed upstairs. Ava would not allow anyone to seek his guidance for their next steps in defending the witches from demons. Not, at least, until he had regained his full strength. That could take days. The longer Dina had the book, the more Jenna feared.

Jenna’s hands formed a mock strangling position. If An’ it harm none, do what thy will didn’t guide her life’s principles, she could have wrapped them around his thick neck and throttled to her heart’s content. The conversation–argument–had long since taken her past the tipping point.

What made matters so much worse was simply how irritatingly good looking Vince was. Long red hair tied in a ponytail, shocking blue eyes and a firm, muscled body were only a few of the attributes that held her attention when she talked–argued–with him. An intricate tattoo flexed over a meaty bicep. He walked with a hunter’s grace and carried himself in a manner that could intimidate lesser men. All of it made her heart thump louder.

She’d drown out the thumping by yelling at him if that’s what it took.

How could she get him to understand what her dreams foretold? Each hour they delayed, Dina strengthened her position within the demon community. As the days passed, she would seek other witches to join her cause. Congregate a coven of her own. Solo practitioners, dark arts idolizers, and any banned from covens would be quick to buy her twisted philosophies. The Craft would never be the same.

Jenna had already cost her coven by not interpreting the signs quickly enough. She might have been able to prevent the injuries already caused if she had done more. Guilt preyed on her mind every hour that passed. Dark circles under her eyes grew darker with each morning. Nights found her enveloped in black dreams.

She looked towards the High Priestess, who sat with a bemused expression on her face. Why didn’t she say something? “High Priestess, we need your guidance here. Please?”

Mayda Valentine waved absently and then leaned forward in her chair. “I suspect you object so vehemently because you know more than you’re telling us.” She arched her eyebrows. “Am I correct?”

Jenna stared into the soft green eyes. The older Valentine could always read her like a book. She fell back into her chair in a slump. Chewing on her bottom lip for a moment, she opened her mouth to reply but then caught a glimpse of Vince waiting expectantly for her answer. His expression made her snap her mouth shut.

Stupid, arrogant werewolf. He’d probably ridicule her or dismiss the unclear warnings if she voiced them out loud.

Closing her eyes, she shook her head. She didn’t know. Not for certain. Just fleeting images and feelings.

“See? There’s no rush. No need to move forward without a plan,” Vince sneered. He took his seat again and pointed a finger at Jenna. “Not until we hear from Aaron.”

She chanced a glance at Mayda only to feel a blush creep over her cheeks. The white-haired woman kept her gaze on Jenna. She probably knew full well there was more to the story. But she wasn’t ready to share it. Not yet, at least.

She couldn’t share with the group that she knew without a doubt waiting would be a mistake that would cost them dearly.

A huge mistake.

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