SPELL BOUND...Darkly Enchanted #1

Magic lives among us,
if you know where to look...

SPELL BOUND is the first book in the Darkly Enchanted series.

I actually wrote this book before I started the Magical Seduction series. I had this idea about curses and witches and magical protectors but I knew I didn't want to do Celtic witches. I wanted something that came from my heritage, which is Italian on my dad's side.

When I started researching Italian witchcraft, I had no idea of the rich history I'd find, in particular the work of Raven Grimassi. I devoured ITALIAN WITCHCRAFT and HEREDITARY WITCHCRAFT, which in turn led me to ETRUSCAN ROMAN REMAINS by Charles Godfrey Leland and finally led to my obsession with the Etruscans and books written by Etruscan scholars like Larissa Bonfante and Sybille Haynes.

Make no mistake, SPELL BOUND is first and foremost a romance. There's sexual tension building to steamy sex and a happily-ever-after. There's magic and bad guys and a curse and a young boy named Leo who, along with Cat, is one of my all-time favorite characters.

Shea is a strong heroine who's committed to keeping her brother Leo safe, even if that means asking the forbidding Gabriel for help. Gabriel is a magical protector with revenge on his mind. But Shea and Leo worm their way into his heart until he has to make the decision to give up his quest or give up the woman who steals his heart and condemn the boy to a fate worse than death.

Interested? You can find SPELL BOUND at Amazon and B&N, soon be available through Smashwords and in print.

How about an excerpt? A little about Gabriel, a little about Shea.

Another dead end.
Gabriel Borelli slammed the front door behind him and threw his coat at the nearest chair. It missed and fell to the floor with a heavy thud.
Fuck it. He’d check the weapons later.
Right now, he needed a drink. That bottle of Mezzaluna vodka in the cabinet didn’t stand a chance. Not after the month he’d had.
Four fucking-endless weeks chasing a rumor that turned into a dead end. The versipellis Harry had put him in touch with had been positive she’d seen a man who fit Dario Paganelli’s description in a restaurant in the Outer Banks. It’d been his first lead in more than a year, but it’d been a damn bust.
And now it was time to face the music for his absence.
Bottle in hand, he took a healthy swallow before he picked up the black handset from the 1940s-era phone and dialed the eight-number code to get Phil.
“May I help you?”
As always, that high-pitched female voice made him think of the old Lily Tomlin phone-operator skit on “Laugh In.” His dad had loved that show.
“It’s Brown. Messages?”
Phil’s purely feminine sigh made his temples throb.
Damn, this is gonna suck.
“There are several, as you would know if you’d checked in every week, as you’re supposed to. Not once a month, Gabriel.”
Gods be damned. He was a grigorio, a lean, mean, Etruscan bad-ass whose enhanced senses made it damn-near impossible for anyone to get the drop on him. His affinity for all metals but iron gave him the power to slap bullets out of the air with a simple spell. And his unusual strength made him hard to kill and nearly impossible to beat in a fight.
And Phil was not his mother so why the hell did he, a twenty-eight-year-old man, feel like he had to apologize?
No way. He wasn’t gonna do it. He didn’t need to—
“Look, I’m sorry.” Shit, you’re an idiot. “I’ve been out of touch—”
“And where exactly have you been?”
Not in this lifetime, babe. “Personal business. What messages?”
Phil huffed and, for a few seconds, he was sure he was going to have to apologize again and that might just make him chug the rest of the bottle.
“Crimson Moon called three times.”
Yeah, he’d figured his mom would call at least once while he was gone, even though she had his cell number.
“Lupe’s Low End called twice.”
Goddamn Quinn. His best friend needed to get over his distrust of cell phones, too.
“And one attempt was made to procure your services.”
Fuck. For Phil to forward an outside call to him meant someone had asked for him by name. That usually only happened when another grigorio wanted his help.
“Who was it?”
Huh? “What the hell does that mean?”
“That means,” Phil huffed, “she didn’t leave her name.”
“And this female asked for me by name?”
“Yes, she asked for Mr. Brown. When I told her you were unavailable, she hung up.”
Well, shit. The existence of the grigori and the cursed streghe they protected was a carefully maintained secret, even among the Etruscans. The story of how the women had been cursed by Fabrizio Paganelli to unending life had become myth. How their sons were born grigori, the great warrior protectors thought to be extinct, a legend.
For someone to ask for him by his call name…
“Christ, Phil. Did you find out where she was calling from? Did you—”
“Do you think I don’t know my job, Gabriel Borelli?”
Fuck. Second rule of being a grigorio—Don’t piss off Phil.
“Of course you know your job. I’m sor—”
“Don’t bother,” she snapped. “I don’t appreciate your language or your insinuations, Gabriel. You are expected at ritual in four nights. I suggest you get some sleep before you get your ass over there. And the next time this phone rings, I expect you to answer it.”
Gabriel took another slug from the bottle as Phil hung up on him. Loudly. And not before shoving a tiny spell through the line to make his head ache. Damn, that woman was vindictive.
Still, he should have checked in. It was part of the deal. Grigori were to be available at all times, any time. His father, the former Mr. Brown, never would’ve missed a check-in.
No, Davis Borelli had been one of the best grigori ever.
Before he’d been murdered by Dario Paganelli.
No, Dario hadn’t pulled the trigger. But the bastard was responsible for his dad’s death. Just as Dario’s father Fabrizio had been responsible for the curse that had arrested the lives of the streghe.
Maybe Fabrizio would have been more careful if he’d known the curse would screw his son, too. The deities could be spiteful when they granted your wishes. Fabrizio had cursed the thirteen streghe but that curse had trapped his son Dario in eternal life, as well.
And now Dario hunted the streghe with a bloody vengeance. The bastard had a lot to answer for. And Gabriel would make sure he answered in blood.
Another few slugs and the bottle surrendered its last drop.
Gabriel’s gaze slid to the cabinet. No more Mezzaluna. He had a bottle of Grey Goose, but on top of the Messaluna, it might be lethal.
He sat there for a few seconds, wondering just how drunk he needed to be to take his mind off the fact that he wasn’t any closer to finding Dario and murdering him.
Pretty damn drunk.
He definitely needed a change of scenery.
Gods be damned, there he was, Mr. Brown, their supposed savior, drinking himself into a stupor.
For the third night in a row.
Shea grabbed the pole in the center of the catwalk and gave the few men sitting in the Spyder Club’s front row a good view of her naked breasts as she swung around a second time. She needed the tips.
While the midnight regulars lining the catwalk ogled her, Mr. Brown never glanced toward the stage from his table in the back corner. She didn’t think he even realized there was a dancer up there.
The dark-haired man with the don’t-fuck-with-me expression probably wouldn’t recognize her if he fell over her on the street, which was a distinct possibility at the rate he was sucking down tequila.
Great. Just great. What the hell am I supposed to do now?
She barely heard the throbbing beat of the Black-Eyed Peas’ “My Humps” as she went through her bump-and-grind. She knew it well enough not to trip over her four-inch, stiletto heels. But the chill spreading through her body scared her.
Four days ago, she’d called the number in the phone book, the one she and Leo had found using the locator spell.
A female voice had said hello but when Shea had asked for Mr. Brown, she’d been told he was unavailable and would she liked to talk to Mr. Blue?
Her mother’s letter mentioned only one name. Mr. Brown. Not Mr. Blue. She’d hung up without answering.
That night after work, she and Leo had cased the street listed in the phone book. They’d scrutinized every building for ten blocks and she had known immediately which house was Mr. Brown’s. The Etruscan runes carved around the door like decoration gave it away.
They’d parked and staked out the house, her ’72 Dodge Dart blending in among the older Plymouths and Chevys on the street. Later that night, an unfamiliar dark-haired man had walked into the building.
They’d left without knocking on his door.
Tomorrow, she told herself. She’d approach him tomorrow.
But the next night, that man had taken up residence at that table and begun to drink. And drink. And he’d returned to that table every night since.
He hadn’t said a word to anyone except Harry. Of course, “Give me the bottle” wasn’t exactly conversation.
This was the man her mother wanted her to entrust with Leo’s life?
Uh, no. She didn’t think so. Not until she’d learned a lot more about him.
Stephanie Julian