After her mother’s death three years ago, Audrey Hayes is mildly content to run the greenhouse left to her. She has a good life, though she is alone. Then, on All Hallows’ Eve, a man walks into the store looking for her mother, Clara.
Porter is a full blooded lycan sent to collect Clara and bring her back to the Dark Realm to be with Audrey’s vampire father so they may conceive a child by midnight in fulfillment of the elfin prophecy, or both their worlds will be lost to demons forever. Instead, he discovers Clara is dead and must he take her daughter instead —a woman who has no clue she’s even of supernatural descent. Getting Audrey to the realm is the easy part, it’s convincing her to join him in fulfilling the prophecy that proves to be a challenge.
This book was previously published in an anthology.
Must be 18 years and older to read. If not, please leave the site.
“Tick or teat, smell my feet!” a little voice chimed. Audrey Hayes looked up from the shop counter and smiled. The round cherub face of a four year old was painted red like a demon, but the big brown eyes looked better suited to a cute little puppy dog.
“Ew,” Audrey flinched, shaking her head and wrinkling her nose in mock disgust. “I don’t want to smell your stinky feet. Gross!”
The child giggled and Audrey loaded his little plastic bucket down with candy. The kid’s dad was a customer and he smiled kindly, urging the boy to say thank you.
“Tank you!” he chirped, before remembering he was a scary demon. He held up his hands to make claws, as he growled.
Audrey jumped back and pretended to be scared. “Oh, no! Don’t hurt me!”
The boy giggled and they left. Looking around her shop, she sighed. She’d owned the Dorian Greenhouse since her mother died three years before, leaving it to her. Her mother had been a witch, well a ‘naturalist’. Audrey had always teased her that she was a witch. Her mother had just always smiled and said, ‘You never know dear, you never know.’
Audrey had been pretty close to her mother. Clara had been eighteen when she got pregnant with her by the captain of the football team. She’d never met her father.
Audrey grinned as another group of monsters and a sorely outnumbered princess ballerina came in for candy. She liked to stay open late on Halloween for her customers’ children. It was, after all, her favorite holiday. The kids got a kick out of walking through her spooky haunted greenhouse out back. She’d hired a few high school students to watch over them to make sure no one and nothing was hurt—like her plant inventory. They also rattled leaves around to scare the kids. It was all in good fun.
Outside it was evening. The sun had just set and she’d be closing her doors in about an hour. Not many kids seemed to stay out past dusk trick-or-treating anymore. She couldn’t blame the parents. It’s not like when she was little. Neighbors had known each other back then and there was no ‘razorblades in the candy bar’ scare to contend with. Audrey wasn’t sure if that was just a myth or had actually happened to someone, but if she was a parent, she’d not take chances.
Frowning, she sighed as a wave of loneliness rolled through her. She went to reload her candy bowl with tooth-decaying goodness. What was she thinking? She’d never be a parent—not unless she met a man with a ready- made family or she adopted. Part of her wanted a baby desperately, but a serious infection when she was little had left her sterile, so she knew it wasn’t possible. Anyway, with no prospective man in her life, and no love life or sex life to speak of, the idea of a family had never seemed so far away.
The door chime went off and Audrey made her way back to the counter with the candy. A man stood just behind the front display, a look of distaste on his handsome face. Brown hair spilled in gentle waves to his shoulders, framing his dark features. She felt her heart speed up. His profile was to her as he glanced around—strong European nose, bold lips, perfectly chiseled features. Her body grew hot and she had to keep her knees from buckling by leaning on the countertop for support.
Damn! He was gorgeous, like a Greek God sent down to torment mortal women with his mere presence. Her whole body came to life just looking at him. It was strange for her to react so strongly to a man, but she was instantly drawn to him.
Audrey took a deep breath, trying to calm the very wanton sensations causing hot moisture to gather between her thighs. Her eyes closed and she got the strangest flash of being leaned over the countertop and fucked by him from behind. It was so real that she could practically feel his cock inside her.
She shivered. What was she doing? This man was probably out with his kids and wife! Any second now the happy family would come trotting through the door, and the wife would be a gorgeous supermodel, and they’d both speak Italian and…
Her thoughts faltered as his dark brown eyes turned around to meet hers. The spark inside her continued to grow at his look and she felt the strongest urge to jump over the countertop and wrap her arms around him. He blinked, smiling slightly, his firm lips curling up at the side.
As he came from behind the front display into view, she saw he wore tight black leather pants. They molded to him like a second skin. He had tight calves and strong thighs with a large bulge in between them. His dark shirt was just as tight and Audrey wondered what it would be like to rip it off him right then and there.
What is wrong with me?! Say something clever, her mind yelled, even as her throat went dry. Say something! Anything! Just stop staring at him and picturing him naked.
“You’re a little old to be trick or treating aren’t you?” Audrey forced a laugh, continuing to eye the handsome man. Her voice wasn’t as strong as she would’ve liked, but at least the words came out light.
“I am looking for Clara,” the gorgeous man stated.
Audrey was disappointed to note his voice only held the barest trace of an accent. Damn. She’d been so sure he’d have a strong accent. Still, his voice was wickedly low and smooth enough to give her chills. Altering the fantasy playing in the back of her mind, she felt a wave of desire again assault her. Oh, yeah, his voice would do just fine.
“I’m sorry,” Audrey answered, doing her best to keep up the polite smile she gave him. It was hard to talk with her heart in her throat. Her mind raced for what he’d said, and finally she answered, “Clara’s not here.”
The man came forward and she saw a look of desperation cross in his eyes. “I must speak with her—tonight. Please, tell me, where might I find her? She’s…expecting me.”
“Listen, I’m sorry. Clara was my mother. She died three years ago in a car accident,” Audrey said, keeping her voice light. How on Earth did this man know her mother? Clara had looked young, being as this would’ve only been her thirty-ninth year.
“No,” he said, more to himself and she could but wonder at it. He glanced around and then turned to study her. “You own this place?”
“Yes,” Audrey answered with a small nod. The door chimed and a group of children rushed in. Audrey smiled at them and then glanced at the handsome stranger, “Excuse me one moment.”
“Are…are you like your mother?” he asked, ignoring the fact that she walked away from him.
Audrey sighed. Great. Just her luck. She’d finally feel a spark of burning desire for a man and he’d only want to talk about her mother. It wasn’t the first time. Her mother had always naturally drawn attention to herself. Couldn’t this one have just been married? She ignored his question, politely teasing the kids. Peeking through the corner of her eye, she saw he looked very annoyed by the interaction.
When the kids were gone, he stated, “Clara never gave out candy and dressed up for All Hallows’ Eve. It really isn’t a time to celebrate.”
Audrey blinked in surprise, looking down at her outfit. Her long sleeve black t-shirt had a skeleton on it, but she’d hardly call that a costume. “How do you know that? How exactly did you know my mother? Who are you?”
His mouth opened to answer and he looked uncomfortable. He glanced away, before placing his palms flat on the counter. “I’m Porter. Are you sure it was a car accident that killed her?”
Audrey nodded. The memory of it brought her pain and she had to fight down the burning of tears. “Yes. Strangely enough it was caught by a news crew filming a local festival. She was hit by a drunk driver in broad daylight. It was very…sudden.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Porter answered. “Very sorry.”
“Thank you,” Audrey nodded. The whole affair was a blur. She barely recalled the funeral, except as a bad dream. “Now, how did you say you knew my mother?”
“I didn’t,” Porter returned. He began walking away from her, craning his neck as he looked around the shop. “Tell me, do you know why she called this Dorian Greenhouse?”
“Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. It was her favorite book. That’s what she told me,” Audrey answered. “She was eccentric like that.”
“No,” Porter said, laughing slightly. “She named it after your father, Dorian Risdon—Lord Dorian Risdon.”