The Lost Alchemist (MF)
[BookStrand Fantasy Romance, HEA]
Claire Evans ran away from her cheating groom moments before the wedding. Hoping to find peace, she heads to France. Instead, she finds Alistair Durand. After a night of passion, Claire is left with a mystery. Where is he? Alistair has a secret. He has been a lonely freed spirit for over two centuries. As an alchemist, Alistair recognizes Claire possesses elemental magic, too. Drawn together by magic and need, the pair falls into bed and then love.
But how can a spirit and a living person make a go of it? Besides, Alistair may have some competition in Remy Chevalier, an immortal alchemist still alive and well. Remy wants an immortal magical family. Who will Claire choose?
When the jilted groom shows up bent on kidnapping Claire, Alistair and Remy place themselves between the woman they love and danger. But can they save her from his revenge?
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
She couldn’t help it. The more it touched her skin as she dried off, the more she thought of her dream. The blanket on the floor had been soft. The quilt on the bed had been warm and inviting. The smell of the rose-scented soap and the fabrics against her body made her shiver. Again, she closed her eyes and saw his in her mind. Cobalt-blue glass looked down at her in the candle and fire light.
“Claire, I remember you, too.” It sounded like the wind through the trees, just wisps of sound.
“Who’s there?” She turned her back to the sink. No one was in the room but her. She checked the door. Perhaps she forgot to lock it. No. It was locked from the inside. So was the one from last night. Maybe I’m more tired than I thought. She shook her head as if it would shake out the voice. It knew her name.
I just need to rest. That’s it. I’m exhausted. A nap will set me to rights. She dried quickly and dressed even faster.
Back in her room, Claire closed the heavy drapes and lay down. The duvet was down feathers and fluffy soft. The lofty pillow cradled her head and shoulders. It was like sinking into a colored cloud. The last thing she remembered was the bedside clock flickering to 10:30. She fell asleep so quick, she wasn’t even aware she had gone.
“Claire. Wake up.” Overlapping whispers whirled around her.
“Don’t you knock? Go away. I’m not done sleeping yet,” she mumbled to whoever it was. Rolling over onto her back, she drifted back off to sleep.
A tingling kiss touched her forehead. “Will you wake for me now?”
Her eyes flew open. The dark room held only shadows. One seemed familiar, like a tall man. Nothing about this made sense. Was she awake, or was this another vivid dream? Shadows can’t talk, and they certainly can’t kiss. I’m dreaming again.
“Are you? Who says a dream can’t be just as real as anything else you think or feel?” A shadowed finger slid down her arm. She could feel her arm chill in its path.
I’m asleep. That’s the only answer. French guys from the late 1700s can’t speak modern English. They just can’t. This is a dream, a very real dream, but a dream just the same.
“I know your heart’s desire. I know what it wants and how it wants it. Let me give it to you.”
The shadow approached her. The bed didn’t shift. Like last night, only her movements made any noise or impressions on the bed. Believing she was asleep, she repeated to herself, It’s not real. It’s not real. You’re going to wake up.
A hand caressed her breast. Cold imprints could be felt through her clothes. Another slipped down her side and along her hip. Kisses began to climb their way up her neck to her mouth. She could feel lips against hers, strong and passionate. She kissed back. They moved back down her neck. Her head turn to one side, exposing more flesh. Pressure applied to her knee asked her to part her legs. Her breathing became faster as she complied. The button on her jeans came loose and the zipper moved down. One of the blouse buttons began to tug open.
Dream or not, you didn’t ask.
“You didn’t mind last night. Let me love you more. I know what you want. You need someone to love you, to care for you. You want someone to make the pain go away. He hurt you. I will love you forever.” Shadowed hands squeezed her breasts, and she could feel more pressure against her hips, pulling open her jeans. Part of her wanted this, needed this. Her heart leapt with joy at the thought of another passionate encounter.
Again logic started asking questions. Who are you? What do you want?
“You know who. I want to feel your warmth, your desire, your passion. I want you,” the shadow whispered in her ear. Those were the words she had always wanted to hear. She had fantasized about having a man in her life to look after her, to be both partner and caregiver. She sighed.
But was this even a man? An unseen shadow was undressing her, touching her. Part of her wanted more of what she had last night, but warnings screamed from her mind. Not safe! Get out! You don’t know what you are doing!
This had to stop. She grasped the front of her blouse closed with one hand. The other pulled at the waistband of the jeans. They stopped sliding down.
“You know you want this. You need this,” the whisper coaxed. More pressure was applied over the zipper, digging into her soft, sensitive spots. She let out a soft moan. She could feel her desire struggling with her reason.
“I do, but I can’t do it like this. Who are you? What are you?” she whispered as softly as he had.
No answer came. Fingers ran themselves through her hair. The gentle stroking mimicked the brush she dreamed about the night before. Another kiss caressed her forehead.
“Alistair Durand.” Shock froze her.
No! You’re dead. Dead and gone over two hundred years ago!
“No. I am not dead and certainly not gone, only freed.” Claire could feel the full length of his body on top of her. “You are the first in many years to call to me as you did last night. Let me be with you now,” the whispering shadow requested. Fear overtook her. He pulled back away from the bed.
“What are you?” she shouted. A familiar pounding came from her door. The knob twisted and turned. It was locked from the inside. Turning its head toward the noise, the shadow let out a low hiss and faded away. There was no one with her now.