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Rane's Guardian [MultiFormat]
eBook by Carmen Marie Aimer

eBook Category: Erotica/Paranormal Erotica
eBook Description: Rane is talented, head-strong? and a witch. Born into one of the most powerful families in England, she bows to no one. But when her twin's life is threatened, she must turn to the most dangerous man she knows for help. A man with whom she shares a tumultuous past. The one man who holds the power to destroy her. Luken Ravens has never forgotten, or forgiven, his wayward lover. Now she needs his help and he sees his chance to settle old scores. A bargain is struck. But love has a way of disrupting even the best laid plans?

eBook Publisher: Cobblestone Press
Fictionwise Release Date: November 2009


9 Reader Ratings:
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Chapter One

Rane and Genevieve Silverwolfe exited the cinema complex located on London's famous Leicester Square. Despite the late hour, the area was still bustling with activity, and several people turned to stare openly at the two beautiful women as they laughed at some shared joke.

They made quite a pair.

As twins, identical from the masses of shining dark hair on their heads to their delicate toes, they were used to attracting curious glances and no longer took notice.

They were completely without artifice as they linked arms and threaded their way through the busy square.

"Ah, thank goodness the rain has stopped," Genevieve remarked to her sister. "It's turning into a lovely night."

"Yes," Rane murmured, tilting her head to contemplate the night sky. She sighed and fell silent, her gaze still directed at the heavens.

Genevieve looked at her sister wryly. After a few seconds she said, "Let me know when you find it."

Rane glanced over at her in puzzlement. "Find what?"

"You tell me," she said, gesturing at the sky with a sweeping movement of her arm. "The meaning of life, the solution to global warming, or whatever it is you think you're going to find written in the sky."

"Sorry. Was I doing that again?"

Genevieve was quiet for a moment.

"I don't pretend to know everything that's going on in your head, Rane," Genevieve whispered. "But I do know that you have changed in the last year. And it worries me."

"Evie..." Rane said, using the family's pet name for her twin. She looked away from her sister's knowing gaze, uncharacteristically lost for words.

"What?" Evie prompted in that gentle, understanding voice.

Rane looked helplessly at her sister. Her eyes sparkled with unshed tears, silently pleading.

Evie relented. "Okay, I'll let it go. But I'm here if you need me, all right?"

Rane nodded, even managing a genuine, if weak, smile for her sister. "I know. I love you. You know that, don't you?"

Evie grinned at her, enveloping her in a tight embrace. "I love you too, kid."

They pulled apart, realizing that they were standing in the middle of the famous Square with people streaming past and casting them faintly curious glances.

The women laughed a little at the picture they must make.

"Ice cream?" Evie asked, quirking her eyebrows at her twin.

Rane laughed. "Are you buying?"

"Don't I always? Anything for the starving artist. Besides I have to fatten you up. If you get any skinnier, you'll start making me look bad," Evie joked.

They wandered off towards their favorite Italian ice cream parlor, arms linked, heads bent towards each other, giggling like teenagers, the easy camaraderie returning. The emotionally charged conversation and its cause were put on hold for the moment.

* * * *

Hanging back in the shadows, he followed them, blending in easily with the eclectic crowd milling about the Square.

No one paid him any heed. Why would they? There was nothing about either his appearance or his clothes for anyone to take notice. He was just one more face in the crowd. People never noticed him.

Except her.

She noticed him. She smiled at him whenever she came into the store where he worked. She even sometimes chatted with him, though he was a nobody who stacked shelves and she was the exquisite, eldest daughter of Julian and Jasmine Silverwolfe.

The Silverwolfe Clan was one of the oldest magickal families and a force to be reckoned with. They were wealthy beyond his wildest dreams and worlds away in social terms.

And yet Genevieve Silverwolfe always had a ready, open smile for him. She even remembered his name, calling him by it as if they were friends.

He smiled a little to himself, not noticing when the woman sharing the bench looked around at him uneasily; shifting uncomfortably in her seat as if sensing a threat. The woman and her male companion moved on almost immediately, though she glanced back at him once in suspicious confusion and then quickly averted her gaze.

But he didn't see her look. His eyes never left the large plate glass window and the little table where his beloved sat with that bitch sister of hers.

They were laughing and talking while they shared an enormous ice cream desert. She licked chocolate sauce off her spoon, and he shivered at the sight.

He could watch her all day. It didn't matter to him what she was doing. He would have preferred to have her alone, but at least she wasn't with a date.

Not that she ever really dated. In the year since she had come into his life, she had only been out on a few dates. Mostly to social events connected to work or the family business, and none of the guys seemed to spend the night.

He knew this because he followed her often, keeping a little diary so he knew her routine probably better than she did. Her dates weren't serious.

But they had still made him violently jealous.

Her contact with men usually sent him into a depression that lasted for days. He had made himself so sick on those few occasions that he'd had to beg off work.

Not that he cared about his stupid job at Wong's Specialist Herbs and Oils. In fact, today he had told the old goat where he could shove his job.

Mr. Wong had been speechless, he reminisced with relish.

He had only kept working there because it had meant he could see his Genevieve occasionally and possibly talk to her. He had worked almost every day, taking any extra shifts he could get.

Mr. Wong, the old fool, had thought that he was being a good employee, that he needed the money, when in fact he was terrified of missing her on one of her visits to the store.

He had missed her on two occasions that he knew of, and he had barely been able to contain himself when he found out. The first time it happened, he had gone home early, saying he was sick.

On the second occasion, he had barely made it through his front door before bursting into tears. He was ashamed of that. Real men never cry. He would never tell anyone that he had cried.

The women were gathering their things now and heading to the Underground to catch a train home. They didn't live together. He knew this because they both frequented Mr. Wong's, and he had delivered to both their houses in the past.

He was glad that she lived alone. It made things easier for him. Also, he couldn't stand the sight of that disaster of a sister of hers.

As much as he loved Genevieve, he hated Rane in equal measure. She made his skin crawl.

He always made himself absent whenever she came into the store, unless his beloved was with her. Then he would just skulk behind a corner hoping to catch a glimpse of Genevieve.

His one love was always so open, so friendly and kind.

But Rane was a different matter. She was much more reserved than her sister. Those black, bottomless eyes that were somehow so much older than her twenty-three years should allow seemed to bore into him. As if she could see right through to his soul and was suspicious of what she found there.

If he were less of a witch, he would say that he feared her and her talent. But he had his own power.

When it came to subterfuge, he was a master.

He had hidden the true shape of his thoughts from them all: his employer, his co-workers, everyone.

No one looked too closely at him. No one saw beneath the surface. No one suspected.

If only they knew his plans.

And he was always careful to stay out of that bitch Rane's way, finding excuses for not being the one to deliver to her house, to not have to be around her at all.

Soon, he reasoned excitedly, he wouldn't have to worry about any of that.

He had made the deal; the die was cast, and after tonight there would be no one standing between him and his love.

He couldn't help smiling to himself as he followed the women onto the train. He was careful to stay a few carriages down, a baseball cap pulled low over his forehead.

He couldn't see Genevieve anymore, and that made him unhappy. But he consoled himself with the knowledge that his beloved would be getting off the train in a few stops, and then he could see her safely home.

And that appalling sister of hers would stay on the train for one more stop, and he would be rid of the sight of her forever.

He understood that they were twins and that his gentle-spirited Genevieve must feel affinity for the bitch, but the very sight of the perpetually disheveled Rane standing there with his beloved's face made him sick.

She was nothing like his Genevieve, who was always dressed like the perfect lady in feminine little dresses and tasteful high heels. Even when she had to wear slacks and comfortable shoes for her work as a midwife, she still oozed elegance.

Rane, on the other hand, always looked like she had dressed in the dark, with her baggy corduroys and scuffed boots.

Her hair was never perfectly styled like his beloved's but was always falling around her face in careless abandon or pulled back into a haphazard bun, usually with a forgotten pencil anchoring it.

But now the time was approaching when all would be made right in his world. And it couldn't get here quick enough to suit him. He was practically vibrating with eagerness.

Patience, he counseled himself, realizing that a few people had begun to stare at him. A young woman actually got up and moved to the other end of the carriage. He clamped down on his emotions. He could afford patience now that all he wanted was almost in his grasp.

After what seemed like an eternity, the train pulled into Hampstead Station.

He would see his beloved home safely to her beautifully appointed apartment with its high-tech security system, before attending to their future together.

On his deliveries, he had never gotten further than her hallway, but he had been able to scope out the discreet alarm panel as well as some furnishings and artwork. From what he had seen, he could tell that she had great taste. And he was glad about that fancy alarm. He felt it was only fitting that her family should guard her like the precious treasure she was.

Of course, she would never have been able to afford the place on a midwife's salary without her wealthy parents' help. Not that she didn't deserve every luxury money could afford. She was worth her weight in gold.

And she didn't flaunt her wealth either. Her daddy could have gotten her a mansion if she wanted. But that wasn't her style.

She was caring too, always taking care of others. He had lost count of the number of times he had sat outside her place, at some ridiculously early hour of the morning, waiting for her to come home. And then she would drive up in her modest, practical little car and drag herself inside, exhausted from a long day at work.

It was the only time he ever saw her look less than perfect. He hated that she was allowed to do that to herself. He would put a stop to all of that soon.

He watched now as she let herself into her building. It was a dignified, Victorian, terraced affair that had been converted into two apartments. Genevieve's apartment occupied the top three floors.

He saw a light go on in one of the windows and knew she was home. He imagined her going through her neat apartment, kicking off her heels, taking her hair down. His entire body shuddered at the mental picture.

Anticipation hummed through him. He felt almost dizzy with elation. He forced himself to turn away from the house. He had somewhere he had to be.

Tonight was their night. His and Genevieve's. After tonight they would be together.

Bound as one.

Forever.

And no one would ever come between them again.


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