Knights of Black Swan, Book 12
by Victoria Danann
by Victoria Danann
If you force a demon to agree to a deal under duress, you will live to regret it.
New York Times bestselling author, Victoria Danann, adds a long-awaited book to the Knights of Black Swan saga featuring everybody's favorite demon. ðŸ˜ˆ
Two and a half centuries ago Sixt had been a young witch with little control. In a fit of jealousy, sheâ€™d cursed the demon with an addiction spell. She thought better of it shortly thereafter, but couldnâ€™t find him to take it back. She did something unforgivable, but now she wants forgiveness anyway.
Deliverance had been a slave to sex for so long he could barely remember life before. When he learned the compulsion that was a never ending itch was an addiction hex, he was elated because hexes can be withdrawn by the witch who casts them. But giddiness was cut short when he learned the price heâ€™d have to pay to have the curse reversed.
Knights of Black Swan has been voted BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES every year for the past four years in a row. Reviewersâ€™ Choice Awards, The Paranormal Romance Guild.
â€œHarm.â€ He stuck his hand out.
Deliverance hesitated for a minute before deciding that he didnâ€™t want to punish Sixt through her brother. He shook hands.
Sixtâ€™s eyes had widened when her brother had announced his name was â€˜Harmâ€™. For obvious reasons, the principal credo of witches was keep a low profile. In answer to the claim that â€˜nobody expects the Spanish Inquisitionâ€™, witches would say itâ€™s always on their mind.
With his good looks and show-stopping smile, keeping a low profile was a challenge for Hans to begin with. But the addition of a name like â€˜Harmâ€™ was, well, curious.
â€œHarm? Really?â€ she asked.
He shrugged. â€œItâ€™s a new age.â€
She shook her head. â€œYouâ€™re wrong, brother. The outer trappings are new.â€ She waved her hand at the view out the window. â€œSkyscrapers, drones, internet, cars that drive themselves. Da. Da. Da. People are just the same.â€
He flashed a blinding grin. â€œGood thing we arenâ€™t people.â€
Deliverance looked at Harm like he was an infectious viral bacteria rapidly multiplying. And he was definitely not interested in family reunions. â€œMay I be excused?â€ he asked, words dripping with venom.
Sixt sighed and waved her hand. Deliverance disappeared.
â€œAm I interrupting something?â€ Harm looked at Sixt as if expecting an explanation.
â€œAs a matter of fact, now is probably not the best time.â€
Recognition lit up Harmâ€™s face. â€œHold. The. Newsflash. Thatâ€™s not that demon you were pining for…â€ The way Sixt jerked her chin up and fixed him with a glare caused him to rethink finishing that sentence. â€œOkay, then. Your business.â€
â€œThatâ€™s right. Just like I donâ€™t meddle in your business. But for the record, I was never pining for the demon. I just had unfinished business with him.â€
â€œOh. Right.â€ His tone changed. â€œYou worried about being hunted?â€
â€œWhy? Looks like youâ€™re…â€ He loooked around at the penthouse office. â€œFortified.â€
â€œAnd connected to judges, congressmen, even movie makers.â€
She canted her head. â€œCultures are shaped by their stories. Right? You know this.â€ She motioned to walk with her toward the kitchen. â€œI like movies that make witches comical, like Bewitched, or sympathetic, like Nanny McFee.â€
His lips twitched. â€œNot a Blair Witch fan?â€
â€œPlease. I had to pay those little fuckers three fortunes to say it was all a hoax.â€
â€œSo this is what itâ€™s come to? Instead of using your talents to get what you want, you bribe kids with cameras?â€
He nodded. â€œWho am I to judge?â€
She smiled. â€œAs I remember, back in the day, you rained down some major judgment on witch persecution.â€
He smiled. â€œI still keep track of their descendants and make sure thereâ€™re never more than one or two alive.â€
â€œSins of the great grandfathers sixteen times over? Maybe itâ€™s time to let that go.â€
He laughed. â€œHmmm. Maybe. Iâ€™ll bet they spend their lives wondering why they canâ€™t â€˜catch a breakâ€™.â€ He made air quotes when he spoke the phrase â€˜catch a breakâ€™. â€Maybe they donâ€™t know why theyâ€™re being punished.â€ He shrugged. â€œBut itâ€™s entertaining for me.â€
â€œSo whereâ€™ve you been the past…â€€ She stopped to try to remember the last time sheâ€™d heard from her brother. â€œFifty years?â€
He pursed his lips. â€œMore or less, I guess. Last time I saw you was San Francisco. 1969.â€ He waved at the penthouse. â€œSo youâ€™re trying on empire. I read all about WC6.â€
â€œKeeps me busy.â€
â€œDistracted, you mean. It keeps you distracted. Not busy.â€
â€œWhatâ€™s the difference?â€
Instead of answering, he said, â€œAnd you think youâ€™ve insulated yourself with so much power that youâ€™re safe from humans with torches and pitchforks?â€
She sighed deeply, looked out the window for a time, then turned back. â€œHide in plain sight. If somebody wants to hunt me, well, I have enough money to charter a shuttle to the moon if I want to. Enough to buy an army of mercenaries.â€
He smiled. â€œRemember the healing potions. Our parents sold them for just enough to get by?â€
She locked gazes with Harm. â€œOf course I remember.â€
â€œMakes more sense to take their money and let them die.â€
â€œI wouldnâ€™t put it like that.â€
â€œNo? How would you put it?â€
â€œThe enterprises I control arenâ€™t evil, Harm. Theyâ€™re just successful. I help a lot of people who are good money managers enjoy their retirement.â€
He laughed. â€œThatâ€™s what you tell yourself?â€
â€œI just play the game…â€
â€œThat was set up by nut job, insecure little men whose insatiable desire for more money is a cry for help. Or motherâ€™s milk. Usually hoarding syndrome.â€
â€œIs there a point on the horizon? Have you spent the last fifty years meditating on the Tibetan Plateau? And now you think youâ€™re a German warlock version of Yoda?â€
He laughed. â€œHardly. Iâ€™ve pretty much done the same as you. Just more quietly. If we pooled our resources, we could probably buy a country big enough to get a front row seat at the U.N.â€
She raised an eyebrow. â€œNo interest in politics. Other than the protection racquet they offer. Thanks just the same.â€
â€œDonâ€™t get me wrong. I donâ€™t care if you take advantage of humans. After everything theyâ€™ve done to us.â€ He trailed off then asked abruptly. â€œYou have any friends?â€ She scowled. â€œRight. Same here.â€ He poured himself a bourbon remembering how their parents had instructed them to go their separate ways and not make friends with other witches. Separation was key to safety. â€œHow about love? Whatâ€™s with the â€˜may I be excusedâ€™?â€
â€œMy business,â€ she reminded him.
He saw by the tortured look on her face that heâ€™d hit a nerve dead center.
â€œAh. The demon. Whatâ€™s his name?â€
â€œDeliverance,â€ she said quietly. â€œWhy are you here, Hans?â€
â€œHarm. Canâ€™t you guess? Iâ€™m lonely. And it satisfies to the core to talk to somebody who knows who I really am.â€
She nodded, walked over and sat down on the end of the sofa close to the big plush chair he plopped into. â€œItâ€™s nice.â€
â€œMaybe we should seek out others like us. Enlarge our social circle.â€
She laughed. â€œIt wouldnâ€™t take much to enlarge a social circle that consists of two.â€
â€œYou mean three. Donâ€™t forget about Deluvian.â€
â€œDeliverance.â€ She sighed and looked at the fire. â€œNot a friend.â€
â€œOuch. Well, all the more reason to network. Come on. Youâ€™ve never thought about it? Casting a spell to find out what others are out there?â€
â€œMaybe I donâ€™t want to know if weâ€™re the last.â€
â€œPish. Thatâ€™s beneath you. And weâ€™re not.â€
â€œHow do you know?â€
â€œI just know.â€
â€œOh, well then,â€ she agreed sarcastically.
â€œHe reached over and tapped her knee with two fingers. â€œLetâ€™s find out for sure.â€
â€œWhat are you suggesting?â€
â€œWe have to lower the personal guards so we can be found. Right now there might be somebody out there looking for you. Or me.â€
Sixt gave Harm a snide smile when she saw a dreamy look cloud his eyes. â€œAnd there it is. Youâ€™ve devolved into a sappy romantic who thinks that love is just over the next hill.â€
â€œWhy does that make me a sappy romantic? Our parents loved each other.â€
Sixt turned to face forward at that. It was true. Her parents had given every appearance of loving each other and their children. They were crazy idealists. Love family. Serve community. Harm none.
His face softened when he saw that Sixt was wearing the faraway dreamy look he knew he got when he thought about a mate. â€œSo whatâ€™s wrong with that?â€
Her eyes snapped to his as her attention slammed back to reality. â€œClusters invite being burned at the stake. Or drowned by dunking.â€
He waved around the room. â€œWeâ€™re not poor, powerless farmers, Sixt. They should stay awake at night worrying about what we could do to them. If we combined our resources, we could rain global economic woes down on the world. Like plagues of Biblical proportion. We can put people into power or yank them away from every good thing theyâ€™ve ever known. Now weâ€™re the big bad, sis. Donâ€™t you know that?â€
She sighed. â€œSeems like our insecurities, and Iâ€™m not saying they arenâ€™t justified, drove us in similar directions.â€
â€œIt was only logical to insulate ourselves with money and power. As far as the benefits we could have given the humans? Like our parents wanted to do? Their loss.â€
She felt a wave of affection for her brother. It had been a while since sheâ€™d felt connected to anything other than work and Ashes. She smiled. â€œYou hungry?â€
He ran his hand over a divinely formed six pack that rippled under his salmon colored knit shirt. â€œIâ€™m always hungry. You know that.â€
She chuckled. â€œI figured some things never change.â€
His eyes crinkled at the corners as he returned her look of affection. â€œSome things never do.â€
â€œLetâ€™s go out among the torch and pitchfork crowd. Theyâ€™ve learned a thing or two about culinary arts since we were children in Germany. What do you feel like?â€
â€œWhat is that?â€
He looked scandalized. â€œYou must know. Americans specialize in manly food. Burgers. French fries. Steak. Prime rib. Shall I go on?â€
â€œNo. I get the idea. I heard about a place where people go after work sometimes.â€
Victoria Danann is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty romances. For the past four years in a row, Victoria's Knights of Black Swan series have won prestigious Reviewers' Choice Awards for both BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES and PARANORMAL ROMANCE NOVEL OF THE YEAR. This past year three of her series and three of her novels were nominated. Two of her series took the top two places and two of her books took first and second place in the PNR Novel of the Year category.
In addition to vampire hunting knights, Victoria writes other paranormal romance, scifi, fantasy, and contemporary romance.
Victoria co-hosts the popular ROMANCE BETWEEN THE PAGES podcast which can be found on itunes or at â†’ www.romancecast.com