A Gift For You

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Hey Gang! Happy holidays! Hope you are all having a wonderful day with family. I promised you a new Bronwyn book was on the way and I thought I’d share the first chapter with you. Please note, it has not been edited. But it will give you a little hint of what is to come. :)

A Charmed and Crazy Christmas

Dec. 23

7 p.m.

Dead Guys: 2 (But who’s counting?)

“I know I made a promise,” I said into the earpiece connected to my phone. A piece of concrete from the Prime Minister’s fountain flew past my head. I freakin’ hated demons. Hated them. I ducked to miss the punch from another asshole. We fought in the middle of the courtyard at the PM’s countryside estate. A peaceful place, away from London and the craziness that had invaded the PM’s life the last two months.

Right.

“Christmas,” Sam said at the other end of our nightly call. My on again boyfriend of the last six months, wasn’t happy with me. Nothing new. I seemed to live to disappoint lately. “Bronwyn, I left Africa a day ago. We were supposed to meet up at Heathrow. You’re not here.”

I sighed. Whispering a spell I threw out my hands. Fire flew from my fingertips and the first demon’s jacket caught fire. He’d and the other one had been posing as gardeners on the estate. I’d noticed a weird aura around one of them earlier in the day and had been keeping an eye out. We were an hour a way from the PM’s cronies showing up for a party where half of England’s Royalty would be in attendance. I should have known the PM’s troubles would follow us.

“What am supposed to do, Sam? Really. I’m fighting demons as we speak.” A chunk of fountain hit my left shoulder. Bastard. I stomped my foot in frustration and the ground shook. Worked in my favor, the damn demon tripped. The cherubic angel perched on top shooting his arrow, tipped over and crashed into the head of the demon.

Huh. Killed by Cupid’s arrow.

My lip twitched. “Daily attacks, Sam. I can’t leave him with the regular security. I don’t know who he pissed off, but it’s been like this for months.”

Silence. I didn’t blame him for being angry with me. “You moved heaven and part of Africa to get home for the holidays. And I will do the same, I just might be a little late.” For the past three months Sam had been working Doctors without Borders trying to get a handle on the latest violent virus outbreak.

I stumbled back, weak from using so much magic. I’d needed to recharge the natural energies for several weeks now. That was another reason we were in the country. Nature helped me to recharge, but the best place for me to do that was at home. On my ley lines and in my garden. And sleep. God, just five or so hours in a row would be magic.

“I’m just frustrated, babe. I was so looking forward to seeing you.”

That familiar ache twisted in my belly. I shoved some of the snow on the ledge of the fountain off and sat down. “You’re so close,” I whined. “That’s the real killer. I need your arms around me. That would make life so much better.”

“I can chuck the tickets and take a train,” he offered. “I could be there in two or three hours.”

And I’d have one more person to keep safe from this demonic horde after the Prime Minister.

“Or not,” he said quickly. “You’ve got too much on your hands as it is trying to keep everyone there safe.” Sometimes he was too understanding. Even if he was spitting mad at me, and that happened a lot lately, he always saw both sides of the argument. Annoying and one of the many reasons I loved him. Hard to find a man like that, and I was on the verge of losing him. We talked at least four times a week, but we’d been a part so much the last six months. The conversations became more distant and even awkward at times.

“I will find a way to get home to you,” I said. Placing my palms on the stone beneath me. “And stop being so damn understanding. It sucks. I suck.”

He laughed. “They’re calling our flight. Are you sure you want me to go?” I’d actually booked us on a commercial airline so I wouldn’t have to fly. I knew I’d be tired, but I’d had no idea. Now he had to go without me.

“No.” I drew in a deep breath. “Yes. Who’s bright idea was it to throw a Christmas Eve party?”

“That would be you.”

“Yep. So one of us should be there. I’m going to do my best, but other than dragging the PM and his team with me, I don’t know what else to do. I just can’t leave him the way things are right now.”

“So late, or probably not at all.” There was a long pause. “Just trying to manage expectations.”

“Don’t suppose you believe in Christmas miracles do you?” I joked. He didn’t laugh. “And look at it this way, you’re going to have heat, a real toilet and shower for a whole two weeks. ”

I heard him chuckle again. “There is that. I have missed my hot showers.”

A wave of tired hit. I just wanted to go home.

“As for Christmas miracles, I don’t know about that, but I believe in you.”

Stupid man had to be so sweet. Now I had to find a way.

“I love you,” I said.

“Love you, too babe.”

And then he was gone. My soul hurt. Sam and I’d been through the ringer the past year. No more than most folks, but we were on shaky ground when we parted. He went off to Africa, and me traveling full-time with the PM. And absence wasn’t making the heart grow fonder. It just made me sad.

The stone had been cleared of snow and ice, but it was still cold through the velvet dress I’d put on for the party. But I didn’t have the energy to stand.

“You always have such a way with men,” a familiar voice said from behind me. “And what’s with this sitting down on the job you lazy bitch.” Simone stood behind me decked out in a dark green gown that hit her curves in a to-die for way. I wasn’t sure if I was more surprised to see her, or what she wore.

Tight leather was her usual uniform.

She held her favorite scabbard in her hand. “You had all the fun without me.” Raising up the hem of her dress to her thigh, she sheathed the scabbard in the harness she had there.

“What are you doing here?”

She reached down to help me up.

“PM said a certain skank wanted to spend the holidays with her man. He knew you wouldn’t leave with the demon hordes attacking, so the second string is up.”

“You aren’t second anything, but I’m glad you’re here.”

“Well, consider this my Christmas gift to you and Sam. By the way, the PM had your stuff packed up. It’s waiting in the limo. And Azir, your favorite Sheik, has a private jet waiting for you at Heathrow. The crew is on standby you.”

What the hell? They’d planned all of this?

Her hair had been twisted into loose bun with tendrils hanging down. She looked very un-Simone. “Uh, you’re dressed for the party tonight? Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?”

“Surprise,” she said drolly. “There wasn’t time. We’d been talking about it for the last week, but I wasn’t sure I could leave L.A. until yesterday. Azir was on his way back from some thing in Santa Barbara, so I hitched a ride with him. So toodle loo get your ass in gear.” She waved her long fingers at me.

Five minutes earlier and I could have had Sam meet me at the hangar. There was a chance, since he had a transfer in NYC, I might be able to beat him home. Now that would be a surprise.

For the first time in days, I could breathe.

“Go.” She gave me a light shove. Then she pulled me back and wrapped her arms around me. “Merry Christmas, witch.”

“Merry Christmas, slayer.” I squeezed her tight. God she was a pain the ass, but she was also a damn good friend. “Thank you.”

She slapped my ass. “Welcome. Now go. You’re going to be late for your party later. Tell the gang I said hello, oh, and you have an extra bag of presents to take back with you. Azir and I did some Christmas shopping for you.”

“Uh, you and the PM. You and Azir. You guys are all kind of chummy.”

She shrugged. “Just looking out for you witch. Now shove off before I change my mind.”

I glanced back at the PM’s country house, well, truthfully it was a castle.

“I need to at least say goodbye.”

“No need.” Simone nodded toward the window on the second floor. The PM’s bedroom. He waved and then he winked. He actually winked.

“Thank you,” I mouthed. He nodded. And did the same shooing motion Simone had done.

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear these guys were trying to get rid of me.

“I know when I’m not wanted.”

I followed Simone down the path to wear the limos had just begun to line up to let the partygoers out.

In about 14 hours, if I were lucky, I might make it home for my little party, which would definitely not have limos lined up in the drive…

Will Bronwyn make it home for Christmas? And what kind of question will Sam be popping on New Year’s Eve? Find out in A Charmed & Crazy Christmas, November 2015.

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About Candace Havens

Bestselling author Candace Havens has written six novels for Berkley including, Charmed & Dangerous, Charmed & Ready, Charmed & Deadly, Like A Charm, The Demon King and I and Dragons Prefer Blondes. Her new venture is writing for the Blaze line of Harlequin. Those books include Take Me If You Dare, She Who Dares, Wins, Truth and Dare, and The Model Marine. She is also in the anthology Spirited, and the proceeds go to help literacy. Her books have received nominations for the RITA's, Holt Medallion and Write Touch Reader Awards. She is the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation's leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities including Tom Hanks, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, George Clooney and many more. Her entertainment columns can be read in more than 600 newspapers across the country. Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 1800 writers, and teaches comprehensive writing class. She does film reviews with the Dorsey Gang on New Country 96.3, and is the President of the Television Critics Association.

One response »

  1. Please don’t leave me hanging! You said nov 2015? I can’t wait that long! Bronwyn & Sam! I feel so bad for them, they are so perfect for each other but always conflicting schedules. Please Candy I beg of you, release a kindle version! Tho you know I’d buy it in paper too lol. Your favorite stalker 😁 Raime

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