Eternal Magic

Book 3 in Magic For Hire

Bestselling author Alexandra Ivy returns to her bestselling Magic for Hire series, where the witches of a small New Jersey bookstore go up against a subtle and gruesome evil—and one woman changes her destiny forever…

Maya Rosen has plenty of experience with vampires, demons, and danger. She wears the scars that prove it. But she established Witch’s Brew, her bookshop and mage’s office, as a cozy place of safety and protection. When the brutally handsome vampire Ravyr appears, decades after she thought he died in the ruins of her master’s lair, Maya is prepared for a fight. Until he saves her life instead—and they realize they have an enemy in common.

Hunting down violent goblins, treacherous mages, and drug-dealing aristocrats with Ravyr isn’t enough to make Maya trust him. She’s been betrayed before, and she knows the vampire isn’t telling her everything. But the attraction between them grows, even as their chase brings them closer to a terrifying possibility. Maya knows desire is its own magic. And with horrors from the past lying in wait, they’ll need all the power they can tame…

Genre: Paranormal

Series: Magic For Hire, Book 3

Characters: Maya Rosen Ravyr

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Read an Excerpt


Spring was springing. Or at least there was a faint promise of spring in the air, luring the winter-weary citizens of Linden, New Jersey out of their homes. Who cared if the wind whipping through the narrow streets was more frigid than refreshing? Or that darkness was already gathering as they headed out of their offices after a long day of work? Or even that it was a random Tuesday in mid-April. Tonight they eagerly celebrated happy hour at the local bars and jammed the sidewalks as they wandered in and out of the various shops.

Including the Witch’s Brew.

The brightly lit coffeeshop with a white tiled floor and lavender walls wasn’t the largest in town, and it wasn’t part of a chain, but it was always packed with customers who crowded into the narrow space and battled to claim one of the small tables set near the large front window. Most were eager to munch on the variety of muffins and scones and brownies, not to mention the freshly brewed coffee. But there were a few who wandered into the attached bookstore in search of a good novel to enjoy during a quiet evening alone.

The private office at the back of the shop, however, was strictly off-limits. The only customers allowed through the door were by appointment. And only for those select few clients who could afford Maya Rosen’s outrageous fees. As one of the most powerful mages in the world, Maya could name her price.

And she did.

Plus, she only offered her considerable skills to demons. They were split into two categories. The goblins who had long ago been giants, ogres, and trolls. And the fey creatures who had been fairies, sprites, and imps.

She never worked for vampires. Ever. And, of course, the local humans didn’t have a clue that she was anything other than a successful businesswoman who was always generous with the neighborhood charities. Just as they didn’t know that they were living on the outskirts of a pool of ancient magic called a Gyre that fueled the demons who infested New York City. Or that the territory was ruled by Valen, a powerful member of the Vampire Cabal.

Ignorance could definitely be bliss, Maya wryly acknowledged as she calmly watched a male demon storm around the barren office like a caged lion, waving his arms as he vented his seething fury. At first glance, the intruder appeared to be a regular guy in a tailored gray suit with his dark hair smoothed from his square face. Maya, however, could see the dark crimson aura that throbbed around his large body. It not only revealed he was a goblin, but that his blood hadn’t been diluted over the centuries.

She could also smell the sour stench of his fear that he was trying to hide beneath his loud bluster.

Understandable. She had, after all, created a truth potion that had caused him to blurt out the fact he’d been routinely overbilling vendors and pocketing the money during a meeting with his manager. Plus he’d shared his nasty habit of forcing himself on his young female employees.

Now he was out of his job as an accountant at the glitzy nightclub in New York City, and soon he’d be facing Valen’s wrath for his sexual harassment. Something no demon wanted.

“Who was it?” he ground out as he stomped past her desk, his face an interesting shade of purple.

Maya pretended to be confused by his question. “Excuse me?”

“Who paid the contract to have my coffee spiked with a truth potion?”

Maya shrugged, not surprised he’d managed to figure out she was responsible for the potion in his coffee. But that’s all he’d ever know. There was no way in hell she would reveal that the contract had been negotiated by his last victim. The pretty fairy had sold everything she owned, plus taken a loan from the bank, to ensure that the goblin was exposed and punished for his crimes.

The payment would be returned to the fairy through some covert means. Maya had too much respect for the female to refuse the stack of cash she’d proudly handed over. Just as she hadn’t told the younger woman that she intended to add a secret layer to the potion. A layer that hadn’t kicked in yet.

A week from now the demon was going to develop a mysterious rash with oozing puss and a disgusting odor. It wouldn’t kill him, but it was going to make him miserable for several days.

“My clients are guaranteed confidentiality,” she informed the seething demon. “Unless they specifically request I share their name.”

“I don’t give a flying fuck about your—”

“Enough,” Maya snapped. She’d allowed the idiot to indulge his rabid temper—which was more than he deserved—but she was done. Beyond done. Opening the top drawer of her desk, she pulled out a small, glass vial.  “This meeting is over.”

“What do you mean over?” His face darkened from purple to puce as the male moved to slam his palms on her desk, spittle hanging at the corner of his mouth. “I’ll tell you when it’s over, bitch.” The threat was unmistakable, but Maya didn’t flinch. Instead she calmly pulled the stopper out of the top of the vial. The demon stiffened, the fury fogging his brain penetrated by the acrid odor that abruptly stained the air. “What’s that?”

“A very powerful potion.”

The male scowled. “Are you threatening me?”

“I’m giving you an opportunity,” Maya corrected in a soft voice.

“An opportunity for what?”

“You can walk out of here, and never return. Or I can toss the contents of this vial on you and various parts of your body are going to start shriveling.” She paused, studying the liquid that was beginning to bubble inside the glass container. “Perhaps even fall off,” she conceded with a small shrug. “I haven’t used this recipe before so it’s hard to say how bad things might get for you.”

The male stumbled backward, his jaws bulging as he clenched his teeth in frustration. He was a cliché bully who used bluster and intimidation to manipulate others. The fact that he couldn’t terrorize her was pissing him off as much as the knowledge he’d lost everything.

“You wouldn’t do it,” he snarled. “Those potions are illegal.”

They were. And the foaming liquid in the vial was nothing more than a harmless cleansing potion, but he didn’t know that. Maya slowly rose to her feet, stretching out her arm as if preparing to launch a spell.

“So is stealing. And lying. And being a pervert,” she reminded him in overly sweet tones. “Should I go on?”

The male smacked into the wall with a heavy thud. “I hope you rot in hell, you…you witch,” he rasped, his insult ruined as he hastily turned to wrench open the door and flee like a coward.

With a roll of her eyes, Maya tossed the contents of the vial onto the floor, allowing the potion to spread through the office and purify the air. The demons couldn’t touch their ancient powers when they were outside the magic of the Gyre, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t buy hexes and leave them behind.

Better safe than sorry. That was her motto.

Then, moving toward the open door, Maya paused to wipe her hands down her yellow cashmere sweater that she’d matched with a pair of ivory slacks. The meeting had gone pretty much as expected, but this was her least favorite part of her mage-for-hire business. Next, she combed her fingers through her shoulder length black hair that framed her face. There was no gray to be seen in the silken strands, just as there were no lines on her oval face. As a mage, she stopped aging around thirty, but there was no mistaking the hard-earned wisdom in her bright green eyes.

The only visible mar to her polished beauty was the silvery, spiderweb of scars that ran from her ear along the line of her jaw. The remnants of the magic that had nearly destroyed her.

Once she was confident that her composure was firmly in place, she walked through the empty bookstore and into the coffeeshop that was serving the last of the customers. It was after six o’clock and the shop was officially closed, but even on a Tuesday it was closer to seven before the staff could shut off the lights and call it a day.

Well, most of the staff, Maya grimly acknowledged, her gaze locked on the young woman who was tossing aside her apron as she grabbed the purse she’d stowed beneath the front counter. With long strides, Maya was across the white tiled floor to stand directly in front of her newest employee.

Courtney Tate had appeared at the coffeeshop a week ago, pleading for an opportunity to work with Maya. She wasn’t the first mage to apply for a job at the Witch’s Brew. Not only because Maya had mentored Peri Sanguis, a mage who’d recently ignited the wild magic that had been out of reach for as long as they could remember, along with Skye, a seer whose visions had recently saved the world. But because Maya’s own magic was off the charts.

Maya had been wary. The young woman’s magic was mediocre at best, which meant that Maya’s assistance would be limited. She couldn’t perform miracles. And worse, there’d been a hard arrogance beneath the mage’s pretense of eager longing that had rubbed against Maya’s nerves.

She’d lost Peri and Skye who were her two best friends over the past year. Okay, she wryly conceded, that was overly dramatic. She hadn’t lost them. But they’d both recently fallen in love with members of the Cabal and they’d moved out of the Witch’s Brew to be with their chosen mates.

Leeches… A shudder raced through her body. The worst sort of creature as far she was concerned. Unfortunately, they hadn’t asked her opinion.

But despite the very large hole that had been blasted into her life with their absence, Maya wasn’t desperate enough to take in the first mage who wandered off the streets. Especially one she didn’t even like.

Still, there’d been something suspicious about her. Maya couldn’t put her finger on what was off, but she knew without a doubt Courtney had no interest in being mentored. Not by anyone, but especially not by Maya. She also knew the only way to discover the reason the young mage had gone to such an effort to get access to the Witch’s Brew was to hire her. Eventually she would reveal the truth.

Now she studied the younger mage with a suspicious gaze. Courtney was several inches shorter than Maya with blond hair that was cut pixie short to frame her round face. Her eyes were blue and so wide they gave her the appearance of being perpetually surprised while her lips were plumped with some sort of artificial filler. She wore figure hugging dresses and designer heels nearly as high as Maya’s.

“You’re leaving?” Maya demanded, glancing toward the last of the customers who were shuffling out of the shop. “You haven’t finished cleaning.”

Courtney shrugged. “Yeah well, I gotta bounce.”

“Is something wrong?”

“Hard to say. My mom called and said she’s not feeling good. It’s probably nothing, but I gotta check on her.” Courtney widened her too-wide eyes. “You don’t mind, do you?”

Maya felt a surge of annoyance. Did the stupid girl actually think her innocent act could sway a battle-hardened mage?

“I assume you’ll be back tomorrow?” Maya asked in dry tones.

“Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll see.” With a finger wave, Courtney swayed her way to the door.

There was a snort of disgust from behind Maya and she turned to discover Joyce Shelton removing the unsold pastries from the front case even as she glared Courtney who was out the door and headed down the street.

“Sketchy,” the older woman muttered.

Maya arched a brow. Joyce had been working parttime at the Witch’s Brew for over a decade, and while she was a human with no idea that she was employed by a magic-user, she’d been one of Maya’s most loyal staff members.

“Why do you say that?” Maya demanded.

The older woman wrinkled her nose. She was in her mid-sixties with a square face and frizzy hair she kept died a bright red. She wasn’t fat, but she was solid beneath the baggy sweater and yoga pants.

“She comes in late and leaves early,” Joyce said, loading the pastries into one of the glass coolers that lined the far wall.

“She’s young,” Maya pointed out.

“Young doesn’t mean stupid. She can tell time, can’t she?” Joyce pointed out. “And it’s not like she doesn’t have a clock. Her eyes are glued to that phone of hers like she’s expecting a message from the Almighty.”

Maya studied the woman’s stiff back with blatant curiosity. Joyce was gruff, but she never complained about the girls that Maya took under her wing. In fact, she’d doted on Peri and Skye as if they were her own daughters.

“Anything else?”

Joyce shut the cooler with a snap and turned back to face Maya. “While you were in your meeting I caught her coming out of the basement.”

Maya stilled, her gaze moving toward the steel door behind the counter. “You’re sure?”

Joyce clicked her tongue. “Of course I’m sure. I’m old but I’m not blind. I caught her sneaking up the stairs with my own eyes.”

“How did she get past the lock?”

“Don’t know.” Joyce grabbed a mop from the utility closet. Maya would cast a cleansing spell later, but she requested her human staff to follow a typical closing routine. Otherwise they would wonder how the place was always spotless. “I told her it was off-limits to everyone, including the staff on the first day she came to work.”

So had Maya, but she wasn’t surprised that Courtney had snuck down to the cellar. As a mage, the younger woman would know that the steel door was installed as a secondary layer of protection in case the vault where Maya kept the most dangerous potions and spell books was breeched. It could have been natural curiosity that led her down there, or something more sinister. Maya had several rare and valuable items stored in the vault. But what did surprise her was the fact that the girl had managed to break through the warding spell she’d placed on the door. Maybe she had more power than Maya had originally suspected.

“Did she say anything when you caught her?” Maya abruptly asked.

Joyce shrugged. “She claimed she’d gone down there to look for extra napkins, as if I couldn’t see that there’s plenty under the counter.”

“Hmm. Maybe I should have a word with her.”

“Good luck with that. Doubt she bothers to show up again.”

“You’re right.” Maya felt a stab of urgency slice through her. “I need to speak to her. Can you lock up?”

“Yes, but—”


With brisk steps, Maya returned to her office to grab a leather satchel that was filled with several vials of potions along with cash and a variety of ID cards. She paused to scoop her phone off her desk before she was moving back through the shop and into the coffeeshop. She was halfway to the front door when she felt Joyce reached out to touch her arm.

“Be careful.”

Maya blinked at the edge in the older woman’s voice, as if she was genuinely concerned for Maya’s safety. Strange.

“Always,” she murmured.

Continuing her path out the door, Maya touched the emerald pendant she wore on a gold chain. It was more habit than a necessity. She didn’t need the extra magic she’d stored in the priceless gem to track her young employee. Or even to blend in with the pedestrians that clogged the sidewalks.

She did slow her pace once she’d left the brightly lit business area of town and followed the trail that led her across a large parking lot and up the steps to the commuter train. Once on the platform, she paused to scan the waiting crowd. Courtney was easy to spot. She was standing near the edge, impatiently glaring toward the approaching train as if it was running late.

Maya edged her way around the gathered passengers, prepared as the train stopped and the doors slid open. There was the usual push of people trying to exit while others were wiggling their way into the carriages, but Maya waited to make sure Courtney was settled in a seat before scurrying onto the train just seconds before the doors slid shut.

The younger woman appeared impervious to the fact she was being followed as she pulled out her phone and scrolled with a bored expression. Or maybe she was trying to blend in with the horde of passengers who were equally engrossed as they stared mindlessly at their screens.

Maya remained standing in a shadowed corner, shuddering as they moved from the outskirts into the full power of the Gyre. As a mage she didn’t need the ancient magic to create spells or potions, but it intensified her power until it pounded through her with an addictive force.

This was the reason most mages were willing to bend the knee to the Vampire Cabal. They considered it a fair trade-off to pledge loyalty to the leeches so they could create magic inside the Gyre.

Not Maya.

Avoiding the rush as they came to a halt at Penn Station and the mass exodus that swept Courtney off the train and up the escalators, Maya waited until the carriage was empty. She didn’t need to keep the woman in sight. Mages weren’t as rare as vampires, but there wasn’t an abundance of them.

It was simple enough to follow the trail of magic Courtney left in her wake without mistaking her for another mage.

Heading south, away from the bustle of Manhattan, the younger woman walked at a rapid pace, not slowing until they’d entered the Meatpacking District. Even then she hurried past the redbrick buildings that had been refurbished into trendy apartments and rooftop taverns as if she was on a mission. It wasn’t until she reached a shabby building near the river that she paused, glancing side to side before she pushed open a wooden door to disappear inside what appeared to be an abandoned slaughterhouse.

Maya waited a full five minutes before she hesitantly moved to stand in front of the squat building with boarded windows and a rusted tin roof. Holding out her hand, she felt a familiar warmth tingle against her palm. Maya arched her brows. There was a protective barrier wrapped around the building, but it wasn’t an active spell or incantation created by a mage. A demon had woven this strand by strand, using the power of the Gyre. Just like a spider weaving a web.


Valen was more tolerant than most of members of the Cabal when it came to demons running their own businesses in his territory, so why would they go to such an effort?

The obvious answer was that the owner was hiding something worth the bother and expense of such an elaborate barrier.

Debating the wisdom of entering the building without backup, Maya muttered the words of a defensive spell. She no longer had Peri and Skye to call on when she needed assistance. Time to adjust to the fact she was on her own.

The ancient words seared her tongue, the bitter taste a deliberate warning to be careful. As if the scars on her face wasn’t enough to remind her of the dangers of using magic as a weapon, she wryly acknowledged. At the same time, the sweet, intoxicating power swirled through her veins, enhanced by the hum of the Gyre beneath her feet. The ancient magic added a seductive edge to the anticipation that sizzled through her, threatening to demolish her usual caution.

Grimly squaring her shoulders, Maya forced herself to step through the magic. The spell was locked and loaded. There was no reason to wait.

A prickle of heat crawled over her as she moved forward. It wasn’t the delicate power of a fairy. It was raw and intimidating. Goblin. With a grimace, she pushed open the door and cautiously headed down the steep staircase that led her beneath the empty slaughterhouse. The steps ended at another heavy door, but this one was lit with blinking neon lights that spelled out:


Enter at your own risk

Maya rolled her eyes. Goblins were powerful, cunning, and ruthless, but they had the creativity of a turnip.

Pushing open the basement door, Maya winced at the avalanche of noise that assaulted her. Not only the heavy thump of music that spilled from the overhead speakers, but the harsh cries of bloodlust from the crowd gathered at the far side of the long room.

Maya paused, allowing her vision to adjust to the thick gloom that surrounded her. She wanted to follow Courtney, not stumble over her because she couldn’t see. Or worse, stumble over one of the numerous demons who would love to rip out her heart and eat it.

At the same time, she studied the brightly lit corner where the crowd was gathered. They circled something that looked like an elevated square. A stage? No, it was a boxing ring that was surrounded by a tall, chain link fence. The flashing lights caught the outline of a large male goblin with a deep red aura who was holding a slender fairy over his head. She watched as he turned in a slow circle, obviously prodding the crowd into a frenzy of excitement before he launched his opponent through the air to hit the fence with enough force to bend the metal post.

An underground fight club.

The crowd roared and Maya turned away with a disgusted shake of her head.

At least she understood the need for the layers of protection. Valen had strict rules about this type of club. And the first rule, that no one could run one that wasn’t personally under his supervision.

It wasn’t that he worried about the fighters being injured. He was a leech, not a saint. But these types of places tended to attract a violent crowd who lost all commonsense when they were in the throes of their bloodlust. It was all too common for brawls to erupt in the club and then spill onto the streets where innocent humans could be injured or killed.

That was never good for business.

Using the distraction of the crowd, Maya edged through the thick shadows, absently absorbing the waves of demon energy that pulsed through the room. She could store it in her emerald pendant to amp her magic. Another benefit of being in the Gyre.

But again, not worth having to bend the knee to a vampire.

Reaching an opening at the side of the room, Maya glanced around before she entered the narrow hallway that was lined with closed doors. The trap couldn’t be more obvious and Maya couldn’t help but be offended. Did Courtney think she was that stupid? Or was she just lazy?

She was going with the lazy theory. Her ego couldn’t accept that she’d reached an age when the younger generation assumed she was so old and feeble-minded she could be this easily fooled.

Following the tingle of magic to the end of the corridor, Maya pushed open the wooden door and stepped into the small, square room. She didn’t have to search for hidden dangers. The floor was cement. The walls were cement. There was one bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling and zero furniture. The only thing to see was the young mage watching her with a smug expression.

“Hello, Maya.”

Magic lashed out, wrapping around Maya as if she was a mummy being entombed. She didn’t fight the spell. Her own magic was primed and ready to shred through the invisible bonds. For now she wanted Courtney to believe she was in control of the situation. It was the only way she was going to discover why the younger mage had lured her to this location.

“Courtney.” Her voice was calm as she inspected her captor with more curiosity than fear.

Courtney’s pleasure dimmed, her eyes narrowing. “Surprised?

“Not really. Why have you attacked me?”

“Hardly an attack.” The mage clicked her tongue. “It’s no more than a binding spell.”

“Answer me.”

“Answer you?” Courtney stepped forward, her heels clicking on the cement floor. “Are you seriously giving me orders?”

“I asked a simple question.”

The younger woman snorted. “After enduring a week of being treated like I’m your slave, I can happily tell you to fuck off,” she hissed. “You’re not the boss of me.” She snapped her fingers in Maya’s face. “I quit.”

Maya arched a brow. The girl didn’t qualify as an employee let alone a slave. “If you didn’t want to work at the Witch’s Brew why did you apply for the job?”

“Because I need the money.”

“There are lots of jobs available. Most of them pay more than I can offer.”

Courtney released a sharp laugh. “Do you really think I’m the sort of woman who works for a living?” She deliberately glanced down at her designer outfit and manicured nails. “When I say I need the money, I’m not looking for a lousy paycheck. I want the sort of payout that can keep me in luxury for the next year.”

Maya wasn’t offended by the snarky words. In fact, it was reassuring to know her instincts about this mage hadn’t been wrong.

“And how do you intend to get your generous payout?”

The woman lifted her hand and gestured toward the door. A second later it slammed shut, muting the music and roar from the distant crowd. Maya breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe she was getting old. Her ears were ringing from the noise.

“Obviously by capturing the infamous Maya Rosen,” Courtney informed her.

“Infamous?” Maya kept her expression mildly curious, even as she inwardly dismissed the various fears that entered her mind as she’d followed Courtney. In the past year Peri had battled an ancient evil magic. And then Skye had been swept into a plot that would have bathed the world in fire. It was almost boring to discover this was nothing more than a mundane desire for revenge. “Should I be flattered or insulted?”

“Be whatever you want. I don’t give a shit,” the younger woman snapped. Clearly, Maya wasn’t as terrified as she’d hoped. “I just want my money.”

“Who’s paying you?”

Courtney rolled her eyes. “What a stupid question. In my business we don’t exchange personal information. I do my job and I get paid.”

“Your business?”


“Ah.” Maya rolled her eyes. There might be a handful of demons and mage assassins who had the skills to kidnap or kill her, but they weren’t stupid enough to try. On the other hand, there were a whole plethora of assassins who plied their trade without an ounce of talent. Most of them bumbled from one job to another, hoping to get paid before they could be exposed as incompetent amateurs. “I hope you offer coupons.”

Courtney blinked. “Excuse me?”

“Just a little warning, my dear, from one mage to another,” Maya taunted. “If you’re as bad at being an assassin as you are at being a barista then your client is going to want a discount.”

Courtney flushed, the bonds around Maya tightening as the woman struggled to maintain her temper. Clumsy. Emotions were the enemy of any mage. Especially when they were actively using magic.

“You’re here aren’t you?” Courtney taunted. “Exactly where I wanted you to be.”

“If you say so.” Maya deliberately paused. “Now what?”

“I send word to my contact and he comes to pick you up.”

Good. There was no point in going through this charade if she wasn’t going to discover the person responsible for hiring Courtney.

“How?” she demanded.

Courtney flashed an impatient frown. “I don’t know. And I don’t care.”

“How do you contact him?” Maya clarified.

“Oh.” The mage reached into her purse to pull out her phone. “Through the app.”

For the first time since entering the trap, Maya was genuinely surprised. “There’s an app for assassins?”

“There’s an app for everything, you stupid hag. Not everyone is stuck in the past.” Courtney dropped the phone back into her purse. “Some of us are smart enough to change with the times.”

Maya grimaced. The words didn’t hurt. Not exactly. But there was enough truth in the insult to rub across a raw nerve. There were times when she did wonder if she was becoming obsolete. Not because it was increasingly difficult to keep up with technology, but she couldn’t deny there were occasions when she considered selling the Witch’s Brew and moving to a tiny cottage in the middle of nowhere with a dog and stacks of books to keep her company. A little peace and quiet sounded like heaven.

A worry for later, she sharply reminded herself. There wouldn’t be any cottages in her future if she didn’t get out of this basement alive.

“So you have no idea who hired you?”

“I get a job, I do it, I get paid. Simple.” Courtney pursed her lips, her gaze flicking over Maya with blatant dislike. “Of course, on this job I have the added bonus of never having to hear the name Maya Rosen again.”

Maya was baffled by the angry sincerity in the younger woman’s voice. Okay, she could be cold and demanding and sometimes impatient, but she wasn’t a monster. Was she?

“Is there a particular reason you dislike me?”

“I don’t dislike you.” Courtney leaned forward, only to flinch as she encountered Maya’s protective spell. Unlike other mages, Maya’s magic didn’t spark and flicker around her. It blasted out with the force of an industrial furnace. Even humans who had no idea mages existed avoided standing too close to Maya. The younger woman sniffed, pretending she wasn’t unnerved by the thunderous power. “I loathe you.”

Loathe? Well that seemed unnecessarily dramatic.

“Why?” Maya asked. “You know nothing about me.”


“I’m always serious.”

Courtney made a gagging sound. “Every young mage in the world is sick of listening to stories of how you battled against a vampire and forced the Cabal to bend to your will. The older generation whisper your name in tones of awe, and your enemies tremble in fear. It’s even worse now that your precious protegee, Peri Sanguis, has tapped into the wild magic. A magic that’s out of reach for the rest of us.” Her voice was thick with envy as her gaze moved to the scar on the side of Maya’s face. “There are some of us who realize that you’re not some sort of hero just because you survived. And that it doesn’t give you the right to be a bully.”

Maya kept her features smooth even as the accusations pierced her heart. She never revealed the torment she’d endured from her former master or how she managed to escape. Which no doubt explained the endless rumors that had swirled around her for decades. If the gossips couldn’t get the real story they would just make one up.

More importantly, she never ever discussed why she refused to bend the knee to the Cabal. That was a secret she would take to her grave. And beyond.

“I’ve never claimed to be a hero,” she informed the younger woman. “And I’m certainly no bully.”

“No, you just suck up all the jobs that offer a hefty payout and leave the rest of us to squabble over the crumbs.”

Maya silently released the breath stuck in her lungs. Okay. She could deal with petty jealousy. The past? Not so much.

“You forget, I’ve seen your work,” she reminded Courtney with a mocking smile. “Maybe if you were actually willing to put in an effort and learn some skills you wouldn’t be squabbling for crumbs.”

“You—” Courtney raised her hand, as if she was going to strike. Then, watching Maya’s smile widen in anticipation, she wisely backed away. “No. You’re not worth the effort,” she muttered, angling until she was close enough to pull open the door. She paused to blow Maya a kiss. “I hope whoever paid to have you captured intends to kill you. Very, very slowly.”

Courtney exited the room, slamming shut the door with a dramatic flick of her wrist. Maya shook her head as she listened to the heels clicking against the cement fade into the distance.

“Drama queen,” she muttered, easily busting through the magical bonds that held her.

Once free, she did a mental sweep of her body, making sure Courtney hadn’t left behind a nasty curse or a hex that would trigger as soon as Maya lowered her defensive shields. It was something Maya did on a regular basis. If her head-on attack failed, she had a backup in place.

Not surprisingly, Courtney hadn’t bothered with the additional layer.

A hack, Maya acknowledged as she moved to press her back against the wall next to the open door. Whoever had trained the younger woman was an embarrassment to mages around the world.

Keeping her shields in place, Maya began to weave a delicate web of magic over the door. It was designed to allow anyone into the room, including her mystery enemy, but they wouldn’t be able to escape. She intended to get her questions answered one way or another.

She was still in the process of weaving her spell when a frigid gust of air swirled through the room.

A shiver raced through her as she instantly recognized her danger.


With the skill that came from decades of practice, Maya grimly reformed the spell she’d been weaving, thickening the strands of magic to slam against the blur of darkness that darted into the room. It wouldn’t hurt a leech, but it would hopefully catch him off guard. She needed time to dig through the potions she kept stocked in her satchel.

Unfortunately, she only had one laced with enough silver to cause actual pain. It hadn’t occurred to her that she might stumble across a leech when she’d followed Courtney into the city, she wryly conceded. Valen had a low tolerance for allowing his brothers into his territory. Especially after the Cabal had descended on New York City a few months back to determine if Valen’s mate—and Maya’s best friend—was a danger to the Cabal.

Watching the waves of magic smack against the shadowed form, Maya’s eyes widened as the powerful spell fizzled and sputtered, as if being absorbed by the darkness.

Genuine fear pierced her heart as Maya shoved her hand into her purse to grab a vial. Right now it didn’t matter what was in the potion. She needed a distraction to get the hell out of there.

Her fingers wrapped around the glass tube, but before she could pull it out, the shadow had moved with blinding speed to stand directly in front of her.

“Easy, Maya,” a male voice murmured.

A voice that she easily recognized despite the years since she’d last heard it.

Shock slammed into her, the ground feeling as if it was buckling beneath her feet. Or maybe it was her knees that were buckling. Whatever the case, Maya would have collapsed if strong hands hadn’t reached out to grasp her arms, keeping her upright.

At the same time, the shadows dissipated, revealing a tall, heavily muscled male with silver-blond hair that was shaven close to his scalp and chiseled features. His skin was smooth with a hint of gold and his eyes were the precise shade of turquoise rimmed with silver.

He wasn’t handsome. That was too small a word. He was…brutally, ruthlessly gorgeous with the sort of raw animal magnetism that made her entire body sizzle with awareness. This male didn’t seek attention, he demanded it.


Emotions erupted through her, so intense they were impossible to contain. Astonishment, bewilderment, and a strange sense of giddy relief. As if the sight of him healed a wound she didn’t even know she carried deep inside.

The last emotion to bubble out was fury.

The sort of high-octane fury that shattered her hard-earned composure and demanded a physical release. Lifting her hands, she pounded them against his chest.

“No. It can’t be,” she hissed. “You’re dead.”

Chapter 2

A low growl rumbled in Ravyr’s throat. A growl of hunger.  Need. Want.

Endless, desperate want.

It’d been over forty years since he’d seen Maya Rosen, but that hadn’t lessened the impact of being in her presence. In fact, gazing down at the impossibly beautiful face he felt like the time he’d been tossed off a cliff during a battle. Plummeting through the air with no idea if he was going to survive the landing.

Planting his open hand on the wall, Ravyr leaned forward, effectively caging Maya in place. Not as a threat. But this woman was a powerful mage who possessed the sort of magic and cunning to escape before he could talk to her. Plus, if he was being entirely honest, his reaction to seeing her again had knocked his equilibrium offline. He needed the extra balance.

At last regaining control of his composure, Ravyr met his companion’s horrified gaze, trying to recall what she said. Something about him being dead, right? Not surprising. He’d gone to a great deal of effort to convince the world he’d perished in Cambodia four decades ago.

“I suppose it’s technically true that all vampires are dead, but it’s not entirely accurate,” he retorted.

She shook her head. “How?”

“A story for later. Right now we have to get out of this building.”

“What?” She lifted her hands to press them against his chest. “Let me go,” she commanded, futilely attempting to shove aside his considerable weight. Realizing it was an impossible task, she tilted back her head to send him a glare that would whither a lesser male. “Are you deaf? I said—”

The sharp, acrid smell of nitrate cut through Maya’s rich scent of orchids. An urgent reminder of why he’d interrupted his reason for being in the building to find Maya and get her the hell out of there.

“You can indulge your desire for a hissy fit later.” Keeping on hand wrapped around her upper arm, he tugged her toward the door. “Let’s go.”

Predictably she dug in her high heels, painful pricks of magic stabbing into his hand.

“Stop it. I’m not going anywhere with you.”

“Fine.” He parted his lips to expose his massive fangs, a gesture of intense irritation. “Enjoy the fiery explosion. You might survive. Probably not.”

She blinked. “What?”

“Maya, don’t you feel it?”

With an obvious effort, she forced herself to battle through her hatred and concentrate on the hum in the air. It wasn’t magic or the power of the Gyre. It wasn’t even the echo of the demons screaming and stomping their feet overhead. It was the buzz of a lethal explosive about to be unleashed.


Giving into the inevitable, Maya darted out the door and down the hallway, moving with remarkable speed considering she was wearing heels that could be used as weapons. Ravyr followed close behind, his gaze scanning the area as he searched for a hidden enemy. He didn’t know why Maya was at this particular location, but it had to be shady. No one came here to conduct legitimate business.

With respectable speed they were up the stairs and darting out an emergency exit. On the way, Ravyr hit the fire alarm, hoping at least a few of the demons had enough sense to get out. Then, feeling the pressure build at an alarming rate, Ravyr ignored Maya’s angry tirade as he scooped her off her feet and held her tight against his chest.

She already hated him, what did it matter if he infuriated her by saving her life?

Running across the street and down the block with a speed no other creature could match, Ravyr vaulted onto the balcony of a towering apartment building. He’d barely landed when he was jumping to the balcony above his head, zigzagging his way upward until they were at last on the top of the roof. A second later the explosion hit.

Ravyr turned his back, keeping Maya wrapped tight in his arms as the searing wave passed over them, busting windows along the block and sending lethal debris flying.

It wasn’t until the last of the tremors shaking the neighborhood settled that he reluctantly lowered Maya to her feet and stepped back. He wanted enough space to defend himself if she decided to strike out. A very real possibility.

Instead she whirled around to study the empty space where the Slaughterhouse Club had been standing minutes ago.

It was a full and utter devastation. The walls and ceiling had not only collapsed, but they’d tumbled into the basement, leaving behind a hole that resembled a gaping wound. Smoke billowed from a fire that burned beneath the rubble, tainting the night with the charred stench of burned wood and melted plastic.


At least there were a few customers fleeing down the street, he acknowledged. Several dozen had escaped the inferno and were desperate to disappear before the authorities arrived. Or worse, before Valen, the Cabal leader of this Gyre, made an appearance.

“Is that your work?” she demanded, turning back to confront him with an accusing expression.

He wiped his face to an unreadable mask. The next few minutes were going to be…interesting.

“Why would I blow up a building?” he demanded.

“You’re a leech.” She lifted her hand to touch the scars on the side of her face. “You don’t need a reason to destroy things. Or people.”

He leaned forward, refusing to offer sympathy. She had survived her past. More than that, she’d thrived. It was nothing less than a miracle.

“Still bitter after all these years, Maya?” he drawled.

Narrowing her eyes, she refused to back away. In fact, she stepped closer, blatantly refusing to be intimidated.

“Not bitter, just reconciled to the fact vampires are ruthless, untrustworthy bastards who will sacrifice anyone and everyone to gain power.”

Her smile widen a millisecond before the spell smashed into him with shocking force. Ravyr used his specialized skill to absorb the magic, oddly pleased to discover it was a defensive spell rather than an attempt to genuinely hurt him.

Wrapping his arms around her slender body, he contained her struggles, careful not to bruise her delicate skin. He needed to talk to her before she managed to escape, but he wasn’t going to risk hurting her.

“Glad to learn that some things never change,” he murmured, lowering his head until their lips were nearly touching.

“Same.” She jerked her knee up, trying to smash his tender bits.

Ravyr lifted her off her feet, chuckling even as he tried to remember Maya Rosen wasn’t the reason he traveled to New York. Even if he wished things could be different.

“I’ll release you if you swear not to use your magic to hurt me,” he murmured.

Her eyes smoldered with a fury that had been festering for years. But with an inner strength he’d always admired, she battled back the ferocious desire to lash out at him. Grinding her teeth, she released a slow breath through her nose.

“I…” A word appeared to stick in her throat, but stiffening her spine, she at last managed to spit it out. “Swear.”

He resisted the urge to close the small space and claim a kiss. He’d spent far too many nights fantasizing about the precise taste and feel of this woman’s lips to ruin the moment by taking what she was unwilling to give.

Instead, he slowly lowered her to his feet, reluctantly loosening his arms and taking a step back.

“That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

Her jaw clenched, emphasizing the silvery scars. “I will kill you.”

It wasn’t a threat. It was a promise.

Ravyr’s lips twisted. Fate had created them to be enemies. It wouldn’t be easy to overcome that destiny.

“Perhaps someday, but for now I need you to explain why you were in that building tonight.”

She made a sound of disgust. “You should know. You’re the one who paid to have me lured into a trap by that pathetic excuse for a mage.”

He studied her in confusion. He had no idea what she was talking about. He’d been at the fights to track down the magic that had lured him to New York. It’d been a genuine shock when he’d caught the familiar scent of orchids when he’d entered the basement.

Of course, he’d known she lived in the area, but he hadn’t expected to encounter her. Just the opposite. The plan was to go out of his way to avoid her.

At least until he realized the building was about to explode.

Then nothing would have stopped him

“If I wanted you trapped why would I pay someone to do it?”

Her brows snapped together. “You don’t expect me to believe it was just a coincidence that I happened to be led into that particular building at the same time you were there?”

Ravyr stiffened. “You’re right. It seems highly unlikely,” he slowly admitted. Was it coincidence that the two of them had been in that building together? Or a deliberate ploy? “How were you lured to this area?”

“Why should I answer your questions?”

“The sooner I know the truth the sooner I’ll disappear,” he promised. “That’s what you want.” He lowered his gaze to her lips. “Isn’t it?”

She trembled. Desire? Or fury. He allowed her delicate scent to flood his senses. Charred orchids.

A combination of desire and fury.


“The mage you hired—”

He immediately interrupted. “She wasn’t hired by me.”

“Fine,” she snapped, clearly willing to do whatever necessary to get rid of him. “I discovered a new employee was sneaking into the private vault beneath my shop. Naturally I followed to ask her a few questions. That’s when she lured me to the Slaughterhouse and trapped me in the basement.”

“You walked into a trap?” He arched a brow. “Sloppy.”

“Of course not,” she retorted, clearly insulted. “I’ve known from the minute Courtney took a job at the Witch’s Brew she was trouble. I also knew that she was deliberately acting suspicious in the hopes I would follow her.”

That explained why Maya had been at a fight club, but not how her presence might be connected to his prey.

“Tell me about this Courtney,” he abruptly demanded.

Maya shrugged. “Young. Arrogant. Mediocre magic.” Her lips curved into a humorless smile. “She claims to be a mage assassin.”

“You don’t believe her?”

“If she is one, she’s not very good.”

“Not many can compare to you, Maya,” he pointed out in dry tones. She blinked as if she wasn’t fully aware that her magic was off the charts. “Was this Courtney a local mage?”

She cleared her throat. “I’m not sure. I’ve never seen her before.”

“What did she want from you?”

“She claimed she’d been hired to kidnap me, but she didn’t know the identity of her client.”

Ravyr felt a pang of frustration. Of course it couldn’t be easy. Like a name and location of whoever had lured her to this location.

After chasing shadows for the past forty years, he was accustomed to smashing into one dead end after another.

The story of his life.

“Do you have any enemies?” he asked.


He arched a brow. “Any who would be willing to blow you up in a building?” He tried to narrow the list of potential suspects.

“Hundreds, but we don’t have any proof it exploded because of me,” she reminded him.


It didn’t feel like a coincidence that they were both in the same location when someone decided to plant a bomb, but then the explosion could have been intended to destroy him, while killing Maya was just a bonus.

Considering the limited number of suspects that would know they were acquainted, let alone that they had a complicated past, it should be a simple matter to—

“Why were you there?”

The sharp question cut into Ravyr’s musings. He glanced across the street where fire and smoke continued to belch out of the large crater. In the distance he could hear sirens screaming through the air as a crowd of humans gathered along the sidewalk to watch the show.

“Vampire business.”

She narrowed her eyes. “You forced me to explain why I was there. I insist you offer me the same in return.”


She folded her arms over her chest, her expression defiant as the emerald necklace hanging around her neck glowed with power.

“I don’t remember you being hard of hearing, Ravyr,” she taunted. “Of course that was a long time ago and you were old even then.”

His gaze focused on the soft curve of her mouth, the scent of her desire abruptly spicing the air.

“Dangerous games, my Maya.”

As expected she stiffened in outrage. At the same time, Ravyr sensed…something. A strange layer of power that shrouded around her. As if she was being protected by some unseen force.

“Never yours,” she hissed. “Never.”

Without warning, she turned and with one fluid motion dove over the edge of the building and plummeted toward the ground. Muttering a string of ancient expletives, Ravyr rushed forward, glancing down just in time to see Maya land feet first on the cement parking lot before disappearing into the shadows of the night.

Rayvor shuddered in relief. She’d used a spell to ease her landing.

Not that he was entirely happy. She’d used that same spell to escape him, which broke her promise. Then he shrugged. Actually, he’d only demanded that she swear not to use the magic on him, he reminded himself, not a ban on magic in general, so…

“As charming as ever, Ravyr,” a deep male voice drawled from behind him.

Ravyr slowly turned. He’d already sensed Valen’s approach when Maya took her nosedive over the edge. Now he studied the slender male with pale hair that laid smoothly against his head and chiseled features that gave him an austere beauty. His eyes were the precise silver of the moonlight that pooled over the rooftop and his gray suit along with his crisp white shirt were hand tailored.

The Cabal leader of the local territory possessed an elegant sophistication that disguised the thunderous power just below the polished exterior.

“I’ll agree my charm is dubious, but that’s not why the lady jumped,” Ravyr said. “We have a history.”

Surprise flickered through the silver eyes. “Interesting.”

Sensations that Ravyr hadn’t felt in years jolted through him. He shuddered, not sure if it was a good or bad thing. It was certainly dangerous.

He’d been chosen to complete a delicate mission because of his unique skills that included a mastery over his emotions.

“You have no idea.”

“Actually I do,” Valen insisted, his expression wry. “Maya is the best friend to my mate, Peri, and fiercely protective of her. She scares the shit out of me.”

“I always suspected you were smarter than you look” Ravyr congratulated his companion. Only a fool would underestimate Maya Rosen and the damage she would do to keep her friends and family safe.

A dead fool.

Valen hesitated, then obviously sensing that Ravyr wasn’t going to share any details of his relationship with Maya, the older male glanced toward the smoldering hole across the street. Several firefighters had arrived and were gathering to assess the flames that continued to shoot upward while cops were climbing out of their vehicles and heading toward the gawkers with their hands raised in a futile effort to push them away from the destruction.

“Are you responsible for the explosion?”

Ravyr folded his arms over his broad chest. “Why do people keep asking me that?”

“Something that deserves some deep introspection, old friend,” Valen murmured.

Ravyr shook his head. “I assume Sinjon told you I was entering your territory?”

Sinjon was the current leader of the Cabal and the reason that Ravyr had spent the past four decades on a frustrating search for an enemy that stayed just out of reach.

“Yes, but not the reason why,” Valen admitted. “Or why the world thought you’d perished along with Batu in Cambodia.”

Ravyr shrugged. The death of Batu, the Cabal leader of Cambodia had been a perfect opportunity for him to become a ghost so he could continue his position as Sinjon’s hidden spy.

Or at least, that was the hope.

Lately he wasn’t so sure they’d been successful.

“He likes to keep his business quiet,” Ravyr said.

“Too quiet,” Valen groused.

Ravyr sensed that the older male wasn’t discussing the rumors of Ravyr’s death, but rather Sinjon’s decision to send several Cabal members to discover the danger that Valen’s mate, Peri, posed to the vampires with her wild magic. And the disaster that had been narrowly avoided.

“I’m sure Sinjon would be happy to discuss a change in leadership if you’d like to take over the Cabal,” Ravyr assured him. “Last time we spoke Sinjon was telling me about the lair that he’s building on a private island in the Mediterranean. He’s anxious to enjoy a long overdue retirement. The sooner the better.”

“Rule the Cabal?” Valen shuddered in horror. “Do I look like I’ve lost my mind? No one would want that constant headache.”

Ravyr winced as another wave of emergency vehicles descended on the jam-packed neighborhood, their sirens blaring and their flashing lights threatening to give the crowd a seizure.

“Your headaches aren’t going to go away any time soon.”

“Is this involved?” Valen nodded toward the crater.

“That has yet to be determined.”

“By you?”


“How hands off do I need to be?”

Ravyr considered the question. He hadn’t had the opportunity to discover if the explosion was related to his investigation. Or how Maya might be involved. Or even if the mysterious enemy he’d been tracking was still in the area. All he did know was that something had changed tonight.

After remaining an elusive shadow that managed to stay one step ahead of Ravyr for years, this felt like a direct attack.

“You might consider a vacation for the next week or so,” he warned his companion.

Valen shrugged. “I could use some time alone with my new mate far away from the city. We never did have a proper honeymoon.”

“Good idea.” Ravyr grimly ignored the pang of envy at Valen’s besotted smile when he spoke about Peri.

He’d accepted Sinjon’s offer to become his secret weapon. The position had taken away the possibility of controlling his own Gyre despite his massive power. As well as denying him the ability to settle down with a mate in a cozy lair.

There was something about making a bed and lying in it, right?

Even if it did feel like a punch to the gut on occasion.

“Feel free to stay at my penthouse,” Valen offered.

Ravyr shook his head. “Thanks, but I’d rather keep under the radar. At least for now.”

End of Excerpt

Eternal Magic is available in the following formats:

Lyrical Press

February 25, 2025

Magic For Hire


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