Some plans are made to be broken…

   Being judge, jury and executioner for the magical Vallen people is Kat Havelock’s hereditary duty, but she’s desperate to live a normal life. Sometimes even just a few minutes for herself would be amazing. Her plan is to enter Regency society, fall in love, and live happily ever after.

   Jack the Lad, the notorious smuggler, has a single-minded quest to destroy his wealthy and intolerant father, who had driven Jack’s late mother to penury and despair. It has taken him ten years, but now the powerful Vallen is finally ready to put his plan into action. 

  When Jack tries to use his magic for revenge, Kat is obliged to stop him. He convinces her to give him another chance, entangling her into his vengeful scheme. Can Jack and Kat carryout their dreams? Or does destiny have a better plan to steer them together through the storm?

Kat could hear the hysterical tears all the way from the library in the back of the house. With a sigh, she stood up from the table where she’d been attempting to read through the cramped handwriting of one of her ancestors and prepared herself for the inevitable knock. It came a lot faster than she expected.

“I beg your pardon, Miss Havelock,” Michael, the footman, said his voice shaking slightly. Kat couldn’t understand why he sounded so upset when they had been dealing with these magical problems almost non-stop for the past nine months. They’d started out as many as twenty visitors a day, but more recently had trickled down to no more than five, thank goodness. Ever since last summer when her cousin Morgan had been elevated to high priest and took on the role of the Seventh—the one to re-empower all the Vallen—people hadn’t been able to control this increase in their magical abilities.

Normally it would have been Morgan’s job to help with magical mishaps, but since he was off empowering people throughout the country and enjoying being newly married, Kat was left to deal with problems in London and the surrounding area.

It was almost her job.

When Morgan had been made the Seventh—as the seventh child of the seventh child in the seventh generation—she, as the sixth child of the sixth child in the family, was tasked with being the Sixth, keeping the laws of their people. They were pretty simple laws—do no harm to others and don’t profit illegally through the use of magic. But now she also had to deal with this…

“What is it, Michael?” she asked the footman.

“A woman, Miss. Her hands are on fire,” he said, holding the door for her as she started down the hall.

Kat paused and half turned back to him. “Did you say on fire?”

“Yes, Miss.”

Kat spun back toward the front of the house and walked more quickly. “Oh, dear,” she breathed. As she approached the drawing room she could smell the heat of fire.

The woman was dressed in scullery maid’s clothing, covered with soot and singed in a number of places.

“Help,” the woman cried as soon as Kat walked into the front parlor where all visitors, regardless of rank, were to be brought. “Oh, please, help.”

The woman held up her hands from which brilliant yellow flames writhed and danced.

Kat approached the woman with a confidence that had grown remarkably over the past few months. Taking her elbow, Kat tried to encourage her to sit next to her.

The woman looked down at the beautiful rose brocade sofa as if it were going to attack her if she dared to sit on it. “No, oh, no, I couldn’t.”

“You can, and I need you to do so. Now, please.” Kat kept her voice firm and yet gentle enough so as to not scare the young woman.

Reluctantly she sat at the very edge. Her crying had quieted to a gentle whimper.

“Good. Now, close your eyes, if you would…” Kat let the word hang in the air.

“Peggy,” the woman supplied.

“Excellent, Peggy. Now close your eyes.” She waited a moment while the woman complied, her tears calming further.

“Now I want you to picture your hands as they normally are—not on fire,” Kat said infusing her words with calming magic. She made sure to keep a hand on the woman’s arm to keep the connection between them and strengthen the impact of her magic, but did her best to stay away from the heat of the fire licking Peggy’s hands.

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Meredith Bond
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