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Copyright© 2017 Serenity Snow



ISBN: 978-1-77339-440-4


Cover Artist: Jay Aheer


Editor: CA Clauson



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.


This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.



HEAT IN THE AIR


Windswept, 2


Serenity Snow


Copyright © 2017


Chapter One


Camille Bay stood behind her desk, body vibrating with barely suppressed anger. The headmistress stood mere inches away. Her face was a mask and her lean body clad in a black Berber suit paired with emerald green blouse and a little bowtie with fine blue and yellow checks. Her curly ebony hair seemed to ripple around her face, just reaching jaw length, giving Tylor Storme a sultry look that all but made Camille wet and tingly all over.

And for a moment Camille was back in time on a stone veranda with lush green lawn sprawled out before her. But her eyes were trained on the beauty standing in front of her. Long blue-black hair rippled around the other woman’s face and her gray eyes held a hint of mirth that made her heart beat faster.

I’m glad you could come, Carina,” Nina said. “I’ve missed you so much.”

And I you, mi amada,” she murmured. “The Inquisitor has been attempting to build a case against you, but I’ve attempted to stop him at every turn. However, it won’t last long.”

Nina frowned as the words cut her like a blade. The High Inquisitor had been her husband’s closest friend, but he’d crossed a line one cold night not too long ago. He’d asked to have her in his bed and she’d refused him which had sparked a wrath that had seen her husband dead.

He wants me, too,” Nina told her.

I know,” Carina said and her eyes darkened to storm gray.

He’ll stop at nothing to have me in his bed,” she said angrily.

And he will die,” she said softly and closed the distance between them. “I will never allow him or any other man to put their hands on you. I will always protect you.”

Camille snapped back to the present, breathing a little fast and shallow.

The dreams were so real and filled with so much passion Camille ached to find a woman like Carina, but they’d never invaded her waking state until now.

“Camille, are you okay?”

She blinked and Tylor’s concerned stare came into sharp focus. There was a strong air about her, a powerful and sensual vibe that was more than mere confidence and sex appeal. Her skin was just brown enough to make one question her ethnicity, along with intriguing gray eyes with silver flecks that had a slight tilt at the corners.

Everything about Tylor drew her, making her want Tylor with every breath she took, and that always left her disconcerted.

“Just leave me alone, Tylor,” Camille muttered, rage coursing through her. She looked quickly away, to avoid getting lost in Tylor’s beautiful eyes.

The meeting with the board had been a frigid slap. All she’d wanted to do was get up and go running from the conference room at cheetah speed and not look back.

“Camille, I did my best for you,” Tylor told her evenly. “I kept you from losing your job, and I kept this from turning into a media circus.”

“Not without my help,” Camille snarled, but Tylor’s gray eyes were a sea of calm despite the turbulence tearing at Camille and that only aggravated her more. She clenched her fists against the pithy retort on the tip of her tongue and stalked across the room to stare out of the window that overlooked the school’s lush grounds.

“The family wanted to file charges against you,” Tylor told her coolly. “But I made them understand just how embarrassing this mix-up would be for their daughter. I know you counseled the girl to talk to a professional about her feelings. I told them that.”

Camille wasn’t surprised. The headmistress had no problems standing up for her students or her staff, but this wasn’t a simple issue. The delicate nature ensured that if handled incorrectly, this could ruin both their careers.

She turned to face Tylor, again finding her stare enigmatic and it tore at her. She wanted—no she needed Tylor to be outraged for her, but there was no reason why she should be. They weren’t lovers and no matter how interested Camille was, Tylor had given her no indication she was even interested in lunch with her let alone a romantic interlude.

“The board couldn’t care less about me or even that girl,” Camille muttered, hands shaking. The bracelet on her wrist sent a light breeze down her arm to curl around her wrist.

She was an air witch, and her power always rose a little when she was angry but in the three months it had become a little erratic.

“A-all they were concerned about was some homophobic snob refusing to accept that her kid is gay.”

A light breeze moved around her, spraying the air lightly with moisture, and she gritted her teeth at the loss of control.

Tylor sighed deeply, the expression on her face patient, but for a second her eyes seemed darker, and shot through with lightning.

Camille blinked, knowing her mind had to just be playing tricks on her, but a soft cool wind caressed her skin causing her to shiver.

She rubbed her arm, the flesh pimpled, the short sleeves of her thin blouse little protection against the sudden chill.

“You know the board is basically conservative,” Tylor murmured and her voice was as soothing as a soft breeze on a summer day. They believe sexuality is black and white.”

“Meaning if I were gay they’d fire me in a heartbeat,” she muttered in disgust. However, in this moment with Tylor’s eyes on her face making her skin warm, she hoped Tylor would tell her she was wrong. Then, she’d take the risk of asking Tylor out.

“More than likely,” Tylor admitted quietly. “Your program was a leap of faith and most of them are still skeptical about it.”

Camille glared at Tylor, and her power slipped the leash a little more.

“I didn’t invent the program, you did.” She jabbed an accusatory finger at the headmistress who cocked a brow at her. “I didn’t beg for a job. You sought me out. If they were that afraid of these kids becoming truly self-actualized adults, why bother?”

Thorne Academy was a prestigious, yet little known, private school for the deaf and the blind. She’d applied here because she’d been looking for a change of place and a change in her life. She’d thought the challenge would be good for her and give her a chance to flex some of her more flaccid educational muscles.

Tylor’s lips quirked up and humor lit her eyes for a moment. “I still have some of the same dreams of changing the world through education that you do, Camille, and I don’t mind fighting for them, that’s why you’re still here.”

“The letters weren’t even written to me,” she muttered. “They were meant for her classmate, Camille Chase.”

Tylor sighed. “That will never matter. Now, stop snarling at me like I got you into this mess, and heed my advice this time. Don’t be alone with Caroline McMahon again.”

“Why don’t I just quit!” Right now, she felt like doing just that, although it was the last thing she really wanted to do.

“Do what the hell you want,” Tylor advised nonchalantly. “But you’re a good teacher, and I knew from your record you’d make a difference, that’s why I suggested you for the assistant headmistress post for next term.”

Camille stared at her, her mouth dropping open as excitement made her heart pump faster. She shut it quickly, clenching her fists on the hope taking wing in her. She’d worked hard for just this kind of chance, but she wasn’t going to get it now.

She swallowed tightly as she moved to her desk where Tylor perched. Her gaze locked on her lean thigh for a moment and the soft scent of her perfume floated to Camille. Being near Tylor was always like breathing in air after a spring storm. Fresh with a hint of floral essence.

She looked up into Tylor’s eyes, and her mouth dried out while her stomach muscles pulled taut.

“Great time to tell me,” she muttered breathlessly as she opened her laptop.

“The board wasn’t against you,” Tylor told her in a low intimate tone that made Camille’s skin heat from the inside out. “In fact, they voted to give you the shot.”

“But now?” Her hands were almost shaking, and she knew the answer to her own question.

She’d gone through this two years ago when she’d been on a fast track for a promotion at a private school. A boy from a wealthy family had developed a crush on her. He’d pursued her with relentlessness even after she’d reported him to the administration and talked with his parents.

“Now, we’ll have to see,” Tylor admitted with a shrug as she spread her hands wide. “It’s not out of reach. Once this all dies down…”

She snorted. “Then I’ll be waiting forever,” Camille said, regret a heavy pain in her chest. “I’ll never get a chance and you know it. They’ll look at what happened in New York, and it’ll be all over.”

“No, it won’t,” Tylor said and pushed to her feet. “The board is conservative not stupid. They know about New York, and this isn’t the same. So, don’t write this off if you want a future here. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Camille grimaced, shaking her head at Tylor’s retreating back, but her muscles immediately began to relax once the door closed behind the headmistress. It wasn’t the same, but it made her look bad.

She exhaled roughly and turned to the blackboard and began copying assignments for tomorrow’s junior class.

This too would pass. All she had to do was play by the rules and the board members would realize she was more of an asset than a liability.

“Hey, you still here?” a masculine voice quizzed. “I’m surprised you didn’t just quit and storm out.”

Her power rose again, air trying to break free and suffocate the other teacher. He was human, but something about him had always rubbed Camille the wrong way.

However, as she slowly faced Trent Cummings, she choked off her power. Trent was a six-foot-one inch tall, barely tanned man with golden eyes and thin lips. He had a boy-next-door look about him that had the female students and teachers swooning. He was a good history teacher and very good with the kids.

“Why would I quit? I’m not guilty of anything.”

“Yeah, but we all know that’s not how it looks.” He moved into her classroom and perched on the edge of the side of her desk. “You never talk about your lovers or accept dates.”

She rolled her eyes at the edge of anger in his tone. “And that makes me guilty of what?” Camille demanded icily. “Not wanting my business all around the school?” She gave him a chiding look. “I’m an adult, Trent, not a school girl gossiping about her conquests.”

“We’re all educated, good men. What’s wrong with having dinner with one of us? Or even sitting down at the lunch table with us? You act like we’re not good enough for you or something.”

She crossed her arms over her chest, holding his glare with one of her own. “Is that why you came here? Come to tell me if I had sex with you I’d be more believable?” She wasn’t going to compromise who she was for him or any man.

“That’s not what I’m saying, Camille,” he said in a hard tone.

“No? Sounds like to me you’re saying I should just drop my panties like a common tramp, and let you gang bang me for credibility’s sake.” She leaned toward him, ice pumping through her veins. Her magick rose in her with her flaring temper. “Not going to happen.”

He swallowed tightly and his gaze wandered down her face to her breasts and then to rest on her exposed arms.

“Forget about the others,” he muttered and met her gaze again. His eyes held a new light that confused her. “It wouldn’t hurt you to go out with me. I’ve never treated you with anything other than respect.”

Her arms slid down to her sides. “Until now,” she said softly.

“Camille—” She turned her back to him, and he broke off.

“Please leave my classroom.”

“Fine,” he muttered. “But you know the board just might start thinking—”

“That you’re a jerk?” The voice floated from the doorway. “Something like this has happened to most teachers at one time or another. Don’t tell me, Trent, no student’s ever been guilty of having a crush on you?”

“I wouldn’t say that.” He grinned. “But that’s—”

“How many boys? Have you even noticed?” she demanded.

“I’ve never been accused of getting involved with one,” he snapped and glared at the other teacher, Grace Miller. “You won’t be around here long with that attitude.” He gave Camille a hard look and strode out.

“What an arrogant ass,” Grace said and gave the door a look before perching on the edge of the desk facing Camille.

“I know.” Camille pushed out a rough breath.

“Some men think they’re the gift of the gods,” she said and laughed as her gaze skated over Camille and rested on Camille’s bracelet a moment before meeting her gaze again.

“Unfortunately, they think we should all share that opinion.” Camille turned back to the blackboard.

Grace laughed. “How’d things go with the board?”

“Fine, for now,” she said darkly, thinking of the headmistress.

Camille put the chalk down and faced her. Grace’s platinum blonde hair fell around her shoulders in a perfect cascade and shimmered in the light. Her makeup was flawless and her peach blouse complemented the delicate peaches and cream of her complexion.

“Great, then.” Grace smiled. “Don’t worry about Trent. They obviously recognize that you’re a great teacher.”

“I don’t know,” Camille murmured. “I can still teach, that’s all that matters.”

“Right. Hang in there.” Grace gave her a wink. “See you later.”

She gave the other woman a wave and turned to finish copying the assignment on the blackboard.

Chapter Two


Her office door opened and Selene Darkstar’s lips pulled into a thin line as she slowly lifted her head to level a cold stare at the intruder. She was attempting to finish her books before she left today since she had a busy schedule tomorrow.

“Hey, Selene,” Juno said with a smile.

Her coven member’s dark eyes held an excited glow that set her on edge rather than piquing her curiosity.

“You’ll never believe who I just got off the phone with,” Juno exclaimed.

“Don’t make me guess,” Selene remarked coolly as she leaned back in her leather chair. Her patience was already worn thin after closing her case with a whiny client today.

Juno hurried across the room to drop down in one of the red cushioned guest chairs. “Necron. He still wants to conscript us into his coven’s ranks.”

Selene snorted. “Conscript is a very nice word for force.” She tightened her jaw as anger sizzled through her. “Necron is more than the co-leader of Dark Hollow. He’s a down in the trenches hit man for Kryto.”

Juno gave her an amused look. “They’re forward-thinking demons who—”

“Who despise our breed and think it’s our lot to serve them,” Selene jumped in angrily.

“Carrel didn’t find them so hard to work with even on paid assignments,” Juno told her, eyes glittering with a light that set Selene on edge.

“And look where that got her,” Selene drawled. “Dead.”

“She was probably arrogant and careless,” Juno muttered. “This is a chance we shouldn’t pass up.”

“Maybe, but Kryto is the embodiment of all that was dark and horrible, do you seriously think that demon is going to cut us any slack when he realizes we’re acting against him?”

“He’s not indestructible, Selene,” Juno snapped. “He can be defeated and replaced.”

“But doing so has proven impossible for those who’ve tried in the past, so what makes you think this little rebellion will succeed?”

“I think it already is if Necron, Kryto’s right-hand man, is attempting to oust him,” Juno said with a wicked grin.

“What are the terms?” Besides her immortal soul.

She had nothing against losing it, but she wanted to be in control of who she sold it to and the terms under which she did so. As high priestess of the Dark Crystal Coven, she had the final say over her life, and she intended to keep it that way.

“Necron is recruiting a team of hitters,” Juno told her. “It seems Kryto is buying into this new dual congress thing which will force us to be governed by the same standards and laws as good witches.”

The new dual Witch’s Congress was to be composed of the Light and Dark Witch’s Congress. The move was so that the dark ones wouldn’t go unpunished or the punishment would more aptly fit the crime.

While she was against the new council, she still wasn’t for joining Necron and Voltaire’s ranks against Kryto. She’d rather take her chances with the new council.

“What does that have to do with us?” Selene asked evenly.

“You know we wouldn’t survive under the new congress,” Juno snapped. “Necron said he and Voltaire are working to ensure it never comes into being and they need our help.”

“Then let them hire us like everyone else.” She didn’t want to put her coven at any more risk than necessary since they were already being implicated in murders they hadn’t committed.

“This is about allegiance and our kind pulling together to prevent the underworld from being pulled apart as well as keep the good witches from interfering in our business. They’ll make sure we hang for what we do.”

“They’ll probably try, but that’s still not sufficient reason for me to join Dark Hollow.”

“We’ll still be independent, and you’ll still be high priestess,” Juno told her coldly. “You’ll just have his protection as a resister.”

“I can protect myself and this coven, Juno, so if that’s all—”

“He’s already given us a task,” Juno jumped in. “We have to find the possessor of the western wind stone and bring her to him.”

The properties of the stone would give them power if they knew how to activate it or could get it from the witch as a gift not by theft. The best time to get her to bestow it was during the upcoming Autumnal Equinox, it was a time of great power for witches and the stone was part of the witch and her power.

“Where there is a wind stone, a nymph guardian isn’t far away,” Selene told her.

A few hundred years ago the wind nymphs, or aurai as they were called, had been hit hard along with their consorts, the Knights. Dark witches as well as light ones had combined to destroy them, but she didn’t believe they were all dead.

“There aren’t many left,” Juno told her. “But I never thought you a coward. Sitting behind this desk has turned you weak and lazy.”

She lifted her brows, but didn’t remind Juno of just how many of the nasty and dangerous cases she took herself.

“I don’t fear the aurai,” Selene murmured. The aurai were wind nymphs, immortal keepers of the balance of good and evil. “I simply don’t want a war with them.”

The breed had proven deadly and determined when the demons and witches attempted to exterminate them hundreds of years ago.

“We can handle any of the aurai who might be in this city,” Juno assured her.

“Just because we can handle it doesn’t mean we should make this fight ours,” Selene told her icily.

“Why would you hold us back from a great new life? Necron is offering us some exciting opportunities. Our race could finally become leaders in the demonic world.”

“I’m not joining Team Hot Bed of Trouble because when you play with the devil, sooner or later he turns into the team bully,” Selene said firmly. “If he wants us to steal a stone, he’ll have to pay us like anyone else.”

“You do realize he could come after us if you refuse?”

“You do realize I’d rather die on my terms than his?” Selene demanded coldly. “Give him my decree. If he has issue with it, tell him to see me.” She wouldn’t back down from any asshole.

“You’re making a mistake,” Juno told her icily. “I’ll let the others know so they can have the option to die with you or walk away.”

“You do that,” she retorted. “They’re free to do as they please and so are you. Now, get out. I have real work to do.”


Chapter Three


The crowd at the Sandy Bar and Grill was thinner than usual, but a good number of patrons filled the tables on both levels. The old brick building with its worn dark wood floors was rather nice with reasonable prices. The gold and black blended well with the dark wood of the floor and shutters that were thrown open, revealing large windows that looked out the side and back patio.

Tylor sat at a table alone sipping a beer as she contemplated the mess she would probably be dealing with for weeks to come. The misunderstanding of sexual misconduct had ensured Caroline would be seeing a counselor to cure her of her unnatural urges and Camille would be getting sideways glances from the staff for a while.

Caroline’s parents wanted to keep things as quiet as possible, but they had insisted their daughter be removed from Camille’s class which Tylor had agreed with whole-heartedly.

On top of that she had her other duties as storm aurai to deal with now that the dark ones were hunting wind-marked witches.

“Tylor, do you mind if I join you?”

Tugged from her reverie, Tylor looked up and into the brown eyes of Amollia Holt, one of the board members. She was the granddaughter of one of the wealthy families who’d started the school.

“Hello, Amollia.” She gave her a smile as she stood. Amollia had taken her grandmother’s seat on the board though she was only twenty-seven. “By all means.” She gestured to the chair across the table from her. “Would you like a drink?”

“Oh, no,” she said shaking her head. “I’m here with a guest, but I saw you and wanted to come over.”

She didn’t speak as they sat, deciding Amollia would give her reasons when she was ready.

“This is quite an interesting place,” Amollia commented. “Looks like a lesbian hang-out despite the male-female couples dotting a few of the tables.”

“You’re here with a man, so perhaps appearances are deceiving,” Tylor replied giving her a ghost of a smile.

“At any rate, the board is really quite taken with Miss Bay’s credentials. She’s very young, and she’s accomplished so much.”

“That’s one of the reasons I sought her out for the school’s new program.”

“One of your creation which my grandmother and mother are both delighted with. My grandmother was just saying about this situation with Caroline that sexuality doesn’t affect the ability to do a job,” Amollia said.

“Your grandmother was always reasonable.”

“Unlike my mother,” she said with a little laugh. “She said Miss Bay should be fired and never allowed to work with kids again considering her past.”

“As you know, the incident you’re referring to, was thoroughly checked out. Camille was vindicated or I wouldn’t have hired her.” And the board wouldn’t have approved.

“My grandmother pointed that out, and said she would recommend Miss Bay remains on probation until end of semester and if she does well, to lift it without prejudice.”

“That will be great considering she’s not guilty of anything. And she could always sue the school for sexual discrimination if she’s gay.”

“Exactly what my grandmother said and that’s part of the reason she wants to lift the probation so soon. Besides that, the likelihood of Miss Bay being involved with the student is so low as to be impossible.”

Tylor studied her, seeing something in her eyes. The younger woman normally had a strong, very well-shielded aura, the invisible egg-shaped energetic body around each person and object, but right now her aura sparkled color, indicating excitement.

Amollia’s grandmother was a coven leader, and she was looking for that thirteenth member of her circle.

“She wasn’t being indiscreet,” Tylor said coolly.

“If she had a lover that would certainly set everyone’s mind at ease,” Amollia told her, her gaze straying to another table.

Tylor shrugged, her gaze following and landing on one pretty face in particular. The creamy pale skin had a kiss of gold that made her think of warm cream. The chocolate brown hair cascaded around her heart-shaped face, calling attention to the cute little smattering of freckles across her nose and that sweet little mouth was pulled into an enticing smile.

“Yes, well, we don’t regulate the staff’s social lives, Amollia.”

Camille looked up then, laughing. Her eyes were filled with a playful light that quickly turned to a sensual storm that made Tylor’s pulse race.

Their eyes held and so did her breath. Tylor had wanted Camille in the most primal of ways, and she’d refrained from making any moves due to the possible threat to both of their careers. But she had been drawn to Camille with a power born of something alien from the moment she saw her picture on the computer screen.

And Tylor knew tonight was the night she should make her move.

But…

“I didn’t suggest a regulation of her sex life, merely the possibility of curing the lack of one,” Amollia said mildly.


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