"Kristine Grayson gives 'happily ever after' her own unique twist!" -Kasey Michaels
Child psychologist Megan Kinneally answers an urgent message from her brother Travers: Come to Las Vegas immediately. On the drive through the desert, she sees a handsome man with a falcon and dismisses him as a dream.
Rob Chapeau, aka Robin Hood (yes, the Robin Hood), made a mistake. He let one of the most beautiful women in the world see him hunting fake rabbits in the desert with his very real falcon. Rob still mourns the death of his true love eight centuries before. But Megan Kinneally brings him out of mourning. Her magic the strongest magic of all-and she enchants him.
Megan and Rob must save her family and rescue the Fates. And maybe find true love on a journey into the depths of Las Vegas, where the Faerie Kings rule and emotions vanish.
Praise for Totally Spellbound:
"Rounding out her Fates trilogy, the spellbinding Grayson again gives readers their money's worth by taking the familiar and turning it on its ear, with humor and charm."-RT Book Reviews
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By Kristine Grayson
ZEBRA BOOKSCopyright © 2005 White Mist Mountain Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMegan Kineally usually liked driving at night. The silence, the empty roads, the darkness surrounding her car made her feel like she was the only person on the planet. Driving in darkness calmed her-usually.
But she wasn't calm tonight.
She blamed the road. Interstate 15 between San Bernadine and Las Vegas had become a superhighway. Well-lit, congested, a gazillion lanes wide, it ruined the effect of night driving. Trucks zoomed by her Mini Cooper, shaking it. By the time she reached Barstow, her hands had formed new grooves in the steering wheel. Another hour later, she wished she had taken the back roads and risked breakdowns, desert heat, and the occasional wild-eyed loner.
Her best friend Conchita had tried to convince her to rent an SUV. You're gonna be driving your nephew around Vegas. The last thing you want is a teeny tiny car.
Rated best in its class for safety, Megan said.
In its class, Conchita said. The class of David, not the class of Goliath. Not even David would survive getting smushed by really big tires.
Megan was beginning to agree. Half the trucks that passed her-all of them doing at least twenty over the speed limit-could've crushed her tiny car with little more than a thought. Some careless trucker dozing at the wheel could drive over her and not even notice.
She blew an errant strand of red hair out of her face and shrugged her shoulders, trying to loosen them. She'd been unsettled ever since she had spoken to her brother a few hours ago. Travers the Unflappable had sounded flapped. She'd teased him about being in Sin City-Vegas, a place he hated-and he hadn't risen to the bait.
Instead, he swore and confessed that he was in trouble.
Travers the neat freak, Travers the accountant, Travers the exceptionally cautious was never ever in trouble. The trouble role in the family had gone to their oldest sister, Vivian, who had blackouts and strange psychic moments and crazy friends.
When Vivian had gotten married in Oregon a few weeks ago, the entire family had breathed a sigh of relief.
Then Travers, who had vowed he was heading straight home to L.A., had somehow ended up in Las Vegas, and now he needed his baby sister, not to help him out of whatever crisis he was in, but to baby-sit his precocious son, Kyle.
Megan loved Kyle more than anyone else in the world. They were both misfits-Kyle because of his big brain and his strange interests and Megan because-well, because she was Megan.
She sighed, straightened her spine, and heard her back crack. She flicked on the radio for company, spun through the dial, and heard talk, oldies, talk, rap, talk, hip-hop, talk, talk, and more talk. Finally she shut the thing off, preferring the sound of her own worries to the constant nattering of people who thought they were in great trouble.
She had enough of that at her job, which was why she was shutting down her practice. She was a child psychologist with a boatload of rich clients who all thought Little Johnny or Little Suzy needed a little talking-to to go with their Prozac.
She had become a psychologist to help people. Instead, she couldn't convince Johnny and Suzy's parents that when the kids had trouble, the troubles ran through the entire family. Usually, all Johnny and Suzy needed were some time and attention (and love would be nice too), but nothing Megan did could get that message through to the parents. So she tried to patch the holes where she could.
And she was getting tired of patching.
Three more trucks zoomed by, their horns blaring in the night. She squinted but couldn't see anything ahead.
In fact, the long stretch of interstate had cleared. Either everyone had vanished, or her speedometer was screwed up. She'd been keeping pace with the traffic before (not the trucks-she didn't want the ticket), but now there was no one ahead of her.
She glanced in her rearview mirror. No one was behind her either.
The road was empty, and even though it was what she'd wanted, she was a little freaked out.
Ahead, the street lights (unnatural looking things on a desert highway) winked out.
Darkness surrounded her. Darkness and silence and long, empty stretches of road.
The hair rose on the back of her neck.
She rolled down her window, hoping a little fresh air would calm her. Cool and dry, the air smelled of sage brush and sand.
Maybe she should pull over. Maybe she was asleep and dreaming. Maybe-
A creature ran into the road so fast she couldn't see what it was, only she knew it was in front of her. She slammed on the brakes, and the car skidded for a moment on the empty pavement before coming to a stop.
Ahead of her, the creature-a rabbit?-had frozen in her headlights, its round eyes staring at her as if she were the very image of death.
Then, out of nowhere, a falcon swooped down, caught-the rabbit??-in its talons and carried the thing, screaming, into the air, disappearing in the darkness.
Now Megan knew she was dreaming. There weren't rabbits in the Nevada desert. Nor were there falcons. And creatures being carted off to certain death didn't scream like that, did they? Not unless they were human creatures.
She glanced in her rearview mirror. Still no cars. She took a deep breath, and limped her vehicle to the shoulder. Then she got out, and slapped herself hard across the face.
Didn't work. Nothing had changed.
Except now her face hurt.
A man stepped onto the shoulder from the side of the road. He had a leather glove on his wrist, and he held a tiny hood in his hand. In the swirling dust illuminated by her headlights, he looked like a ghost.
"Did you see a bird?" he asked.
He was tall but slightly built. His hair was long and brown, tied into a ponytail with a leather cord. He seemed to like leather-not the shiny black leather that bikers wore but soft brown leather, maybe even some kind of suede. If she had to label his shirt, she'd call it a jerkin-it even looked handmade-and his tan pants seemed just as crude. Even his boots looked medieval-all fabric with soles too soft for the desert on a cold summer night.
He was looking at her like he expected something from her. Then she realized that he did-an answer. To his question. About a bird.
"Um, yeah," she said. "I think it ate a rabbit."
"Nonsense," he said.
"That's what I thought," she said. "But it took the rabbit in its claws and flew off-"
"You didn't see it eat the rabbit then, did you?"
"No." She couldn't believe she was having this conversation. "I saw it capture the poor rabbit and cart it away. I think the rabbit was screaming."
He nodded. "They do that."
As if it was the most normal thing in the world.
"Which way did they go?"
He stepped out of the headlights and into the darkness of the road. By reflex, she looked over her shoulder. Still no trucks or cars or SUVs. No sign of anything but her, the mighty hunter, and his bird.
Only she hadn't seen the bird for nearly five minutes now, and the screaming had ended long ago (except in her memory) and even though she squinted, she no longer saw the man on the road.
The streetlights flicked on one by one, and then a truck whizzed past, the wind in its wake so strong that she nearly toppled into her car.
Standing on the shoulder was not the brightest thing she could do.
She got back into her car as more trucks, and SUVs, and sedans went by-all the things she had thought she missed. Her breathing was hard, and she wasn't quite sure what had happened.
She'd have said she had fallen asleep at the wheel, but she had felt the wind and smelled the truck exhaust. She knew she hadn't taken any drugs, so she wasn't hallucinating. And she wasn't prone to wild flights of fancy-those were reserved for Vivian and their late Great-Aunt Eugenia.
And Kyle, of course.
Kyle, who saw superheroes and monsters behind every tree. Kyle, who kept saying that Vivian's new husband looked just like Superman.
Megan could not see the resemblance. But then, she rarely read comic books. Relaxation wasn't her forte.
Maybe it should be. Maybe this was some kind of psychotic episode.
Because it certainly hadn't felt like a dream. Her cheek still stung from her self-administered blow, she was a little chilled from the night air, and her eyes had taken a minute to adjust to the increased light.
And somehow, she had gotten to the side of the road.
She couldn't quite believe she had driven there in her sleep, without hitting anyone, without being hit.
That was as much of a miracle as seeing a medieval hunter in the darkness, following the trail of his falcon into the desert.
She glanced at her watch. Somehow, she'd lost about fifteen minutes.
If she were being logical and practical, she would find a place to turn off and get some sleep before going any farther. But she only had an hour to drive, less if she kept up with the trucks, and the way her heart was pounding, she wouldn't get any sleep anyway.
She'd known the stress was getting bad, but she'd had no idea it was this bad.
Maybe she should call Travers and flake out on Vegas. She wasn't in the best shape to deal with trouble.
But Kyle needed her. And just as a baby-sitter, Travers had said.
She could baby-sit her only nephew. That couldn't be stressful, not compared to life in L.A.
She'd be all right.
At least for the time being.
Chapter TwoHow had she gotten into his bubble?
Rob Chapeau stood beside the interstate for a good minute, watching the Mini Cooper slam on its brakes and then limp to the side of the road. When the pretty woman had gotten out of the driver's side and slapped herself, he knew that she saw his magical little world.
And she wasn't supposed to.
No one was supposed to.
He brought Felix out to hunt at least five times a week-a falcon got restless in the big city-and he did it as far away from anything as he could get. Of course, he didn't go too far because there were sorcerers nearby, ones who would take advantage of regularly scheduled magic.
He tried to vary his locations, using the interstate only when he felt he had no other choice.
Like tonight. He'd gone to his favorite spot only to find that someone was holding a rave there. He probably could have created a bubble in that spot-bubbles warped time just enough so that most normal folks felt a shiver as they passed through or saw a heat shimmer-and no one would have noticed.
But he hadn't wanted to risk it.
And then this: No one had ever driven into one of his bubbles before, skidded to a stop, and slapped herself.
He knew he had to do something-and quickly-but he wasn't sure what. He couldn't just dissolve the bubble: There was Felix to think about, first of all, and he didn't want the falcon to know that his night's catch wasn't real. Besides, the woman might get into trouble if she stepped into the road at the wrong moment.
So he walked out onto the road, pretended a nonchalance he didn't feel, and said, "Have you seen a bird?"
Which he had been kicking himself about ever since. Have you seen a bird? Of course, she had seen a bird. She had slammed on her brakes (nice woman, that) and she had pulled over to the side of the road. She'd probably seen the rabbit too, and then she saw him, in his hunting garb.
He liked to wear the clothes he'd grown up in on these nights, even though they were more suited to an English forest than to a Nevada desert. Just a little touch of his past.
But he saw her lovely green eyes assess his clothing as if he were dressed like Bozo the Clown, and he noted something like weary resignation on her face. Either this woman expected strange things to happen to her, or something had been going wrong in her life long before he'd asked his inane question.
She answered him, of course. She had a deep, throaty voice that sent a tingle through him. He hadn't heard a voice that beautiful in centuries.
But he tried to ignore it. He didn't even smile at her, he did nothing to put her at ease, and then he hurried off the road, only to crouch on the other side of the interstate and watch her gather herself and get back into the car.
He felt bad; he really did. He had added to her difficulties without intending to, and she looked like she hadn't needed that. So he decided to be especially gentle in easing her out of the bubble.
Instead of simply dissolving the bubble over the interstate, he dismantled it piece by piece, sending her little warnings such as the lights coming back on, a few trucks going by, a whole host of small things before he let her out of the magical protection and back into her ordinary life.
If, indeed, she had an ordinary life. Not many people could see magic if the mage didn't want them to. Unless, of course, those people had magic themselves. And she was too young. No one had skin that creamy in middle-age, not even women who had fortunes to spend on reinventing themselves with plastic surgeries and too many cold creams.
He remained crouched by the side of the road long after she had driven away. He restored the bubble over the interstate, and no one else entered it, so he knew that his magic hadn't gone awry.
Just that woman-that young, pretty woman-had managed to get through his defenses.
No one had been able to do that for more than eight centuries. He felt a pang of loss, mixed with a sharp thread of loneliness.
And he had let her drive away.
Chapter ThreeMegan arrived in Las Vegas at one in the morning. The streets were filled with cars, the neon stabbed her eyes, and she had never felt so relieved in her life.
She was beginning to think she had seen a mirage in the desert-and it wasn't a hotel designed by Steve Wynn. That hunter got handsomer and handsomer the more she thought about him, a dream lover appearing in the foggy mist of her lonely headlights.
Lonely. That probably was the cause of her mirage, her hallucination, her dream-vision. She hadn't spent quality time with anyone-her family, her friends, let alone a man-in a very, very long time.
The hotel that Travers had picked was a no-name thing off the Strip. That didn't surprise her. What surprised her was how nice the hotel was. Travers, once the poorest of the siblings, had become the richest (at least, Megan thought so, although Vivian inherited all of Great-Aunt Eugenia's estate). Travers claimed he had made his fortune by staying at the lowest priced hotels, refusing to splurge on the latest fad, paying cash for his house.
He called it "being frugal." Megan called it "unnecessarily cheap."
This place looked like a splurge from Travers's perspective. From Megan's, it seemed like a godsend. It actually had a front lobby instead of some dweeb living on-site, and rooms inside the main building instead of cabins down a long sidewalk. Elevators, a fitness room, and a restaurant inside-all the necessary amenities from Megan's point of view.
It took only a few minutes to check in (competent desk clerks! What a concept!) and take the elevator up to Travers' floor. A bellman, on duty in the middle of the night (such luxury!), hefted her single bag all the way to her room for her.
According to the numbers that greeted her when she got off the elevator, her room was at the end of the hall. She walked past door after door, wondering how Travers had found this place. The farther she got into it, the more unlike him it seemed.
Then she used her keycard to open the door to her room and stopped in amazement. He hadn't gotten her a room. He had gotten her a suite, complete with living room, small kitchen, and a single bedroom.
Three large rooms behind one locked door, and quite obviously hers, because the bellman had placed her overweight bag on the luggage rack inside the nearest coat closet.
Nearest coat closet. There were others.
A shiver ran through her. This was confirmation that Travers was in trouble. He would never voluntarily take a place like this-and he would never pay for one like it for her.
Maybe she should check to see if hell had frozen over.
Excerpted from Totally Spellbound by Kristine Grayson Copyright © 2005 by White Mist Mountain Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book has romance, action, mystery, surprise, humor, and a little bit of magic. A new spin to an old story keeps you reading!
I bought this book on a whim.. I was not sure if I would like it and had not really read anything from this author. I must say though the book was interesting and I enjoyed it. It had humor, action, and romance. I think people who like books about magic and romance will enjoy it.