Mark of Damon by Eva Chase

Chapter One


Somehow I could always tell when Rose had come back to Hallowell Manor. While she was gone, doing her research into witching society’s history or working with the young witches who needed support after the conspiracy we’d unraveled last year, the old mansion looked as grand as ever, inside and out. The gardens bloomed just the same, and the cook on staff filled the place with the same rich smells as they prepared meals for the rest of us. But everything felt a little bit dulled, as if a haze hung in the air. When the estate’s lady was here, the atmosphere brightened in a way I could taste like a faint crackle on my tongue.

A quiver of that brightness ran through me the moment I walked past the gate that afternoon, before I even spotted Rose’s preferred car around the side of the garage. The electricity of her arrival might have hit me even more sharply than usual because of the uneasy thoughts that’d been niggling at me lately. I shook off them and the irritations of my day at work with the electrician who’d apprenticed me and hurried to the house to give her the welcome she deserved.

I didn’t get to her first. When I came into the front hall in all its Victorian mahogany glory, Rose was standing there already surrounded by two of her other consorts, Gabriel and Jin, who mostly worked on the estate, and the housekeeper, Meredith. I only had time for a brief flash of jealousy that I hadn’t gotten this first moment with her to myself before her head turned and a brilliant smile crossed her face just for me.

All right, I could be happy with that. I went straight to her and caressed my fingers over her cheek into the silky fall of her black hair as I leaned in for a kiss.

She’d have gotten at least two other welcoming kisses since she’d arrived, but you wouldn’t have known it from the eagerness with which she returned mine. Her fingers curled into the fabric of my shirt, grazing my chest. A deeper wave of desire thrummed through me. When she drew back, her cheeks were flushed, a matching desire gleaming in her dark green eyes.

“Hello to you too,” she said, still smiling.

I had the urge to drag her right upstairs to the master bedroom with its immense bed custom-built to handle her and all five of us consorts, but I could tell from her resigned air as she turned back to the others that she had different business to take care of.

“So, you don’t know where most of Evianna’s things would be?” she asked Meredith.

The housekeeper shook her head. “Your stepmother never seemed to trust me to handle much to do with her side of the family.”

Evianna—the older of Rose’s two stepsisters. I hadn’t seen them in over a decade, since they’d already moved away to start their own families before Rose’s dad and stepmother had returned to this estate, but what I remembered was mostly icy glances and open sneers. My posture tensed as if Rose would need immediate defending. “What are you looking for?”

Gabriel answered for Rose, with the unassuming confidence that had always marked him as the leader of our group even when we were kids. “Rose’s stepsister told her she’s coming by the house to pick up some old things of hers, but she doesn’t know where they’ve been stashed since she moved out—and neither do we.”

Rose’s mouth tightened. “I’ll have to talk to my father. He has at least one storage unit in Portland, and maybe other places too. It’d be easier just asking than spending weeks on a hunt.”

Easier in terms of time. Maybe not for her emotional state. Rose and her dad had been awfully close… until Rose had discovered he was part of a faction of witching men manipulating their daughters’ and wives’ powers for their own ends. Feeding their magical energy to demons, to be exact.

Maybe it sucked watching the women get to perform all the supernatural voodoo while you could only fuel it, but I didn’t have one iota of sympathy for those bastards, Mr. Hallowell least of all. My only regret was that the demon his people had allowed to escape hadn’t eaten him before Rose had managed to seal it and the rest of its kind away. But no, he’d been safely locked up in the Witching Assembly’s jail while the worst of it went down, and he was