Cocktails & Cauldrons
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At the pinnacle of a successful career, reclusive artist Eoin O’Malley is forced to put his life on hold to deal with the return of his family’s ancient magic. He must learn to control his new influx of power or risk hurting those he loves. In need of someone he can trust to run his business, he rushes to hire quiet, capable Brenna when she’s disowned by her overbearing aunt.
Wallflower and art enthusiast Brenna Sullivan has always longed for the day she could escape her Cinderella-before-the-ball existence. So when her secret crush, sexy Eoin O’Malley, hands her a first-class ticket to Ireland and a job offer that turns all her dreams into reality, Brenna accepts. Really, how could she refuse?
But betrayal comes from unexpected sources, and around every corner, there’s a new evil waiting to steal the ultimate magic. Caught up in a game where no rules exist, Eoin and Brenna are finding it difficult to trust anyone. They must discover a way to neutralize Brenna’s unwelcome inner Siren or risk her turning into a demonic Succubus who will destroy the lives of everyone in her path.
Release date: December 13, 2022
Publisher: Fae Press
Print pages: 269
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Cocktails & Cauldrons
No.” Eoin gave a handsy art patron a smile filled with faux regret. Really, it was barely a twist of his lips, but he’d dealt with this particular woman for nigh on four years now, and he was irked she refused to keep her pudgy, bejeweled fingers to herself. In desperation, he blurted, “I’m gay.”
Yelled it, in truth.
All heads in the gallery whipped their way, and Eoin closed his eyes against the painful tension headache forming.
“My apologies, Ms. Sullivan.” Although his voice was only loud enough for her to hear this time, the other gallery visitors leaned forward as if they had a vested interest in the conversation. “Sure, and I hope you’ll pardon me.”
From across the room, he caught Reginald White’s laughing jade-green gaze. Reggie was Eoin’s closest friend and the inspiration for Eoin’s desperate excuse. All he had to do was channel Reggie and his fussy mannerisms for the evening, and he might get through this nightmare. Reggie would surely call Eoin on the lie later, if only to tease him.
Eoin glanced at his watch and gritted his teeth. Only forty minutes left of this torture. After tonight, he intended to tell his soon-to-be-ex business manager, Margo, he wouldn’t be making any more appearances for the sake of his art. His reclusiveness would only add to the mystique of a temperamental artist and likely drive up the prices. He absolutely hated the idea of finding new representation, but Margo had become exceedingly demanding, both in the bedroom and office. Mixing business with pleasure had been a stupid idea, but Eoin tended to go with what felt right at the moment. And Margo’s talented mouth on his cock had felt extremely right during negotiations.
“I’m sorry.” The soft apology came from behind him and danced across his skin, sending a surge of blood to his dick and removing all thoughts of his manager. He suppressed a shiver.
Her sultry voice was siren-like and could make him hard with a single word. And she just happened to be the grandniece to Odessa Sullivan, one of the top-five richest women in New York and the person he’d been forced to reject at every turn.
Had Brenna heard him declare that he was homosexual?
He shifted to face her.
Her expression said she couldn’t apologize enough for her aunt and that she wished she could crawl into a hole.
“No apology necessary,” he said gruffly but equally as low.
The doubtful look she cast him said she didn’t believe him. “Aunt Odessa is used to getting what she wants, and I’m afraid you’re it.”
“Not this time.” His tone was hard, and he noticed her wince, slight though it was.
“No, of course not. I’m sure she didn’t know you were… um… well, gay.” Pink flooded Brenna’s cheeks, and she compressed her lips together as she shoved her tortoiseshell glasses up her pert nose.
He wanted to tell her the cat-like style did nothing for her heart-shaped face, but it wasn’t his place.
“However, you might want to introduce her to your partner, or she’ll likely try to convert you to the other side.” She grimaced as she said it.
Mostly, his reaction was due to the idea of Odessa Sullivan attempting to convert him in any way.
One evening after a charity dinner, the wily, old fox had shown up in his hotel room. Eoin was still at a loss as to how she’d gotten in. He’d eventually concluded she bribed the cleaning crew. The remembered visual of her in a tight leather bustier and sheer lace skirt made his bollocks shrivel.
“I owe you a debt of gratitude for saving me last month, Brenna,” he managed stiffly, still unable to discuss it with anything less than anger.
“No. It’s the other way around. I owe you for not pressing charges or suing our hotel for trespass.”
“Right.” He’d forgotten Odessa had made the lion’s share of her wealth through a hotel chain. “Well, after tonight, I’m sure part of your headache will go away.”
“I’m heading home.” To deal with his pesky new magical abilities before someone got hurt. Probably him. He’d accidentally set fire to three of his easels this week alone. Much to Reggie’s entertainment.
Last fall, he’d felt a tingle of something starting in his cells. Little did he know at the time, the family curse was in its reversal process. His brother Cian had fallen in love with Piper Thorne and had started the ball in motion. When his other brother, Carrick, reunited with Roisin Byrne, more power had flooded Eoin’s veins. And when his sister Bridget accepted the Sword of
Goibhniu from Ruairí O’Connor as a show of his love and commitment, the final barrier to their magic was removed. Both Eoin and his sister Dubheasa had felt the new infusion of power all the way across the pond.
“Oh.” Brenna initially looked crestfallen, but rebounded enough to smile. “That should be nice. Ireland in the autumn months is beautiful, or so I’m told.”
Eoin had been in the process of sipping his champagne when her comment hit him. Glass arrested halfway to his mouth, he stared.
“What?” She fiddled with the snap on her clutch, opening and closing it as if she had an attack of nerves.
“You’ve never been to Éire? Ever?”
“Is it so unusual?”
“For you? A Sullivan? Yeah.” He took a casual sip of his drink and shook his head. “How is it you haven’t gone yet? Sure, and we’ve only discussed my homeland in relation to my landscapes, but I always received the impression you loved it there, all the same.”
She shrugged and gave him a sad half smile. “I’m positive I would if I had a chance to go. Aunt Odessa has been somewhat”—she glanced around then leaned in—“demanding.”
A lightbulb went off in his brain. “She couldn’t spare you, could she?” And by spare, he meant let go of the leash enough to give shy, unassuming Brenna freedom. Why should she? Odessa had the perfect little servant in her niece.
Eoin studied her objectively. She was a petite, benign creature with bland brown hair that couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be blonde or brown, so it settled somewhere in the middle. If he were being kind, he’d say it was caramel, but calling her frizzy mop caramel would be romanticizing the unremarkable shade. Her clothing was as lackluster as the rest of her. And if there was one thing Eoin abhorred, it was uninspired clothing. Perhaps Reggie’s lofty preferences were getting to him.
Brenna blinked, and tears flooded her eyes, making their color an even brighter shade of blue. Those soulful aquamarine eyes of hers made him want to promise her the moon and stars. Eoin wasn’t quite certain why.
“Sure, and you should come home with me,” he blurted.
They both stared at each other in astonishment. She looked like he’d suggested they murder Odessa and dump her body off the Brooklyn Bridge. He, with his heart thudding rapidly, wondered what the hell had prompted such a suggestion. When Brenna’s gaze dropped and lingered on his crotch, Eoin cleared his throat. Her skin darkened to a distressing shade of crimson and drastically clashed with her hair and dreadful glasses.
Not her eyes, though.
Those soul-destroying peepers of hers were enhanced by the contrast.
“I only meant, my family owns an inn. I’m happy to comp you a room,” he offered. When she looked as if she’d object, he hurried to add, “To pay you back for rescuing me.”
Why the hell was he pushing so hard? It was no skin off his back if she didn’t set foot outside of New York. And yet, the sight of her poignant face triggered something inside him similar to the new influx of magic.
“You’re kind, Mr. O’Malley, but I couldn’t possibly impose.”
Her rejection irritated him. “You wouldn’t be imposing, now, would ya? I’m asking you to be my guest, Brenna.”
Brenna sucked in her breath and struggled not to c
hoke on her own spit. Eoin O’Malley had quickly become a living legend in the art world, and here he was, taking the time to converse with her. He’d just invited her to Ireland and acted as if her acceptance of his offer meant something to him.
She found herself nodding. Mainly because she’d always wanted to be in his orbit, to bask in the beauty of Eoin’s stunning creations—and maybe get lost in those all-seeing emerald eyes of his, too.
Brenna wasn’t a fool. She knew Eoin wasn’t homosexual. He’d simply grasped the first excuse he could to dissuade Aunt Odessa from mauling him to death. Although Brenna wasn’t interesting enough to attract a man like Eoin, she could at least be his friend, if he was willing.
“I do want to go,” she said softly. She shot a glance to their left, where Aunt Odessa was, even now, copping a feel of an unfortunate server’s bottom. Brenna frowned. “Um, excuse me, I have to—”
“No, you don’t.”
She whipped her head back to stare at Eoin, her mouth agape. “Pardon?”
“You don’t have to run off to save Odessa from her own outrageous behavior. Sure, and let her suffer the consequences for once.”
“You don’t understand, Mr. O’Malley—”
“Eoin,” he insisted again. “My name is Eoin.”
Brenna almost melted into a puddle. Not only was he severe and assertive in his insistence, but he was focused solely on her, as if her compliance in calling him by his first name was of utmost importance to him.
“Eoin,” she whispered lovingly.
His gaze sharpened on her, and Brenna almost swallowed her tongue.
“Say it again,” he commanded in a low, urgent tone.
Was it wrong to grow aroused when he got all growly and demanding?
The corners of his eyes crinkled as if he guessed her thoughts and was entertained by them. He shifted closer, and his dark brows lifted in challenge. The musky scent of his woodsy cologne short-circuited her brain. “Say my name again, love.”
“Eoin,” she gushed.
His gaze grew hot and dropped to her mouth.
Her throat went bone dry, sending all the moisture to her candy land, and she licked her lips in an attempt to lubricate them for speech. She thought she heard him laugh softly. A laughing groan, really.
“Say you’ll come home with me.”
“Yeah. Okay. Sure. All right. I suppose I can do that.” Crud! What she wouldn’t give for a little duct tape to slap over her mouth!
“Excellent. I leave in three days’ time. Do you have a passport?”
Did she have a passport? The reality of what he was asking sank in. Odessa wouldn’t let her go. “Three days? I can’t. Three days?”
“I ask again, do you have a passport, Brenna?”
She frowned as she gave his question more thought. Did she? Surely she’d gotten one at some point. “I don’t know. I can’t seem to remember. I—”
“Eoin O’Malley, you talented devil! Your Heaven’s End piece is incredible.”
Speaking of breathing, Brenna wanted to kiss the newcomer for distracting Eoin and shifting his hawk-like stare. The entire time he was focused on her, she hadn’t been able to take a fortifying inhale. The arrival of the blonde bombshell was both a godsend and a curse.
“GiGi!” Eoin’s wide, happy grin was a fist to Brenna’s gut.
She studied the other woman a little closer. GiGi was tall, but then again, everyone was taller than Brenna’s own five-feet. She also had a lion’s mane of hair in varying shades of blonde, and it appeared to have a life of its own as it flowed down her back.
Brenna had serious hair envy. And as she watched, Eoin wrapped GiGi in a bear hug and followed it with a full-mouth kiss. They made a stunning couple—him, dark and mysterious with his artistic vibe pulsing strong, and her, a goddess in an elegant, form-fitting dress that outlined every luscious curve.
“You’re a sight for me sore eyes, me darlin’ GiGi. Promise you’re here to run away with me.” Although the hint of an accent was always there, Eoin went all out with his Irish brogue to charm his lady friend.
Brenna wanted to throw up the half glass of wine she’d consumed.
“Don’t worry, she has that effect on everyone,” said a deep a
nd somewhat thrilling voice next to her. “She’s very much in love with her husband.”
She looked up into twinkling sapphire eyes. The arrival and attention of this second sexy male was an overload of Brenna’s senses. If anything, he was hotter than Eoin, and for her, that was saying something because she’d been obsessed with Eoin since the moment they’d first met four years ago. All she could do was gape at this newcomer, her brain having gone south for vacation.
The blond man tilted his head to the side to study her, and a small smirk played about his full lips.
She had the distinct impression he could see to the farthest reaches of her soul. “She’s beautiful,” Brenna blurted.
His smile widened.
She felt scorched by the warmth.
“My sister, GiGi? Yes, she is, indeed.” He held out a hand. “Alastair Thorne.”
“Brenna Sullivan.” She placed her palm in his and jumped when a small current of electricity sparked between them. “Oh! I’m sorry. It must be static. I…” What could she say? And why the hell was she apologizing for something she couldn’t control?
“Sullivan?” Alastair glanced over his shoulder to see Odessa bearing down on them. “A relation, I’m betting.”
“My grandaunt. And I’m going to apologize in advance for whatever you’re about to witness.” Brenna’s eyes flew wide, and she clapped a hand over her mouth. Never before had she been so open with a stranger!
Her gaze shot to Eoin.
He grinned. “I thought you might have a little fire inside you, love.”
Oh, she’d give him all the fire he could handle if he’d continue to look at her like that for the remainder of her days.
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