While traveling, Liza Cartwright lands in Devil’s Valley and she’s not sure why. Greeted by a witch while trying to rent a room, Eliza is greatly disturbed by what she learns. According to a legend, those who arrive in Devil’s Valley, never leave. Unwilling to accept some crazy myth, Liza goes to Gideon’s Hall looking for the vampire who can change her fate.
Convinced Liza is the mate they’ve awaited, Jake and Nicholas Devil dupe her so she can’t leave Gideon’s Hall until Gideon can meet her. When Gideon sees Liza a few hours later, he’s mesmerized. He soon realizes his attraction is mate lust but since Nicholas is the youngest “Devil” son and they can’t share a mate, he seeks answers by turning to a dangerous witch.
Soon, Liza is inexplicably drawn to Gideon and Jake Devil, but she’s horrified to learn all the ways they’re connected. Inevitably doomed to a fated love thanks to a curse she can’t escape, Liza gives up her traveling dreams for two sexy vampires and a family full of blood drinkers. And she makes it her mission to find out about the witches and their curses so she can do whatever necessary to break them.
“Permission isn’t granted.” His eyes turned as black as coal. “For starters, there isn’t a stagecoach leaving tomorrow or any other day. Someone should’ve mentioned that much. Next question.”
“What do you mean permission isn’t granted?” She stamped her foot.
He looked down as if he couldn’t believe she’d possessed enough nerve to do such a thing. Dragging his gaze upward to meet hers once more, he bit out, “Just what I said. Permission isn’t granted.”
“And why not?” She rested her hand on her satin sash. Was her nervous energy noticeable? Of course not, she mused. This man was too awestruck by his perceived power to notice every little detail about an uninvited guest. “Do you have any idea who I am, Mr.—”
“Devil. I’m Gideon’s cousin. Our fathers were brothers. You can call me Jake.”
“Perhaps I should speak with one of your cousins.” She peered over his shoulder and waggled her fingers at a man rushing down the circular stairs. “Is he the man in charge, Jake?”
Dressed in faded breeches, dusty boots, and a long-sleeved shirt, the fellow was in the middle of rolling up his sleeves when he stopped suddenly and jerked. His head tilted back and his nostrils flared. He took a sudden step but stopped short of another one, acting then as if he’d been punched and thrown off-balance. He stared at Liza as if she were the most unwanted guest to ever cross over the Devil’s threshold.
Jake motioned for the cowboy. “Nicholas, come and say hello to our guest. Miss Cartwright, meet my other brother, Nicholas.”
“I’ve seen her.”
Jake’s gaze jumped from one to the other and he snickered. “Guess I misunderstood. For some reason, I thought you’d just arrived, Miss Cartwright.”
“Yes, that’s true.” She turned to the younger Devil. “And you must be mistaken. We haven’t met.” She was certain of the fact.
“Saw you when you first got into town.” He yanked his gloves on his hands and glared at her as if he’d already made up his mind.
Nicholas Devil didn’t like her.
“Well it is certainly an experience to make your acquaintance.” Liza refused to be outdone. She traipsed across the polished wooden floor and extended her hand. She’d already dealt with a semi-rude cowboy. Two in the same hour was two too many but she was a lady and she’d conduct herself as such. “I’m Liza Cartwright.”
His gaze dipped to her hand but he didn’t accept it. “I know who you are.”
“You must have me confused with someone else.”
“No. I’m not mistaken.”
Jake laughed. “Stick around here and you’ll find my brother is seldom wrong.”
She had no intentions of ‘sticking around’ there, but she would gladly change her approach. “So we’ve met before, Mr. Devil?”
“No.” He glanced up at a now smirking Jake. “I gotta meet the boys at the river before Gideon and the others start the next drive. You comin’?”
Jake stroked his jaw and studied her with an intense gaze before he said, “Miss Cartwright, I’m afraid you’ve caught us at a bad hour. Why don’t you come back in a few weeks and we’ll be more prepared for your company?”
“A few weeks?” She raised her voice. “Oh that won’t work at all, Mr. Devil. See, I’ll be gone long before then.” She batted her eyelashes. “In fact, I hope to leave tomorrow.”
This time the other Devil came forward. With long strides and a fixated stare, he said, “Look lady, I don’t know who you think you are or where you think you’re goin’ exactly, but let’s get one thing straight. We don’t invite company here unless we want ‘em.” He let his gaze slide down her body. Then, he stroked his bottom lip with the pad of his thumb. “And somethin’ tells me you ain’t the kind of woman we’d invite here if you know what I mean.”
For a moment, she stuttered and stammered around, realizing precisely what he meant. Instead of saying as much, she ground out, “No, Mr. Devil. I do not.”
“You can guess,” he snapped, turning for the door. “Whether you can or can’t, don’t make a damn to me.”
He held up his hand to silence Jake. “On second thought, she might as well hear this now.” He took several calculated steps and stopped right in front of her. He tilted his head and looked down at her as if he were trying to decide if she were worth a cuss.
“Don’t do it, Nicholas,” Jake said.
Nicholas grinned. “Oh why not?” He cocked his head and narrowed his eyes. Then, the weirdest thing happened.
He tucked his gloved hand underneath her chin and tilted her head up, forcing her to look him in the eye. And at that moment, Liza had the most unusual out of body experience. It was as if she were mesmerized, but not necessarily smitten by the cowboy in that she wasn’t at all impressed. What woman enjoyed an egotistical self-serving cousin of the devil himself?
Certainly not Liza.
Still, she found it impossible to look away. She couldn’t turn her head one way or the other. Her ragged breaths resonated in her ears as if she were swimming, no drowning, in a deep part of a fast-moving river. For a few unsettling minutes, she tossed about, at least in her mind, struggling with a fact that was too terrifying to acknowledge.
Jake Devil had told her the truth. There wasn’t a stagecoach leaving tomorrow. She slowly turned to Jake and studied him then and in that moment she was totally smitten. Her stomach tightened. Her hands were clammy.
She enjoyed watching Jake and found him captivating and yet he hadn’t spoken another word since she’d started spinning and drowning. Oh yes, she was going under again. The significant pull was impossible to ignore.
Liza tried to save herself and keep her head above water, but this man—Nicholas— seemed determine to take her life, claim her soul. She reached out to Jake then, hoping he would save her.
A suffocating feeling overwhelmed her and great confusion left her staggering from one brother to the next. She was disoriented and there was only one thing she could determine with some level of confidence. Nicholas Devil had placed her under his spell and as she studied the young cowboy’s youthful face, she feared she would never be the same again.