I got out of the cab, headed up the walk to the front steps, and triple-checked the address on the envelope.
This was it. No going back.
Straightening my shoulders, I took a deep breath and climbed the stairs. I didn’t see a doorbell, so I slammed the iron knocker three times. The metallic clang reverberated unnaturally through the air.
Tires squealed as the cabbie peeled away, which didn’t do wonders for my confidence.
No one responded, but the cab was out of sight, so I was stuck.
I slammed the knocker twice more before the door suddenly jerked open. An attractive dark-haired man in his mid-twenties opened the door. “Hey, what are you doing?”
He had broad shoulders and a Van Dyke, and bore just the slightest resemblance to my father. Not that my father would have been caught dead with facial hair. The similarity was possibly a coincidence.
My voice hitched when I tried to speak. “I’m looking for a Laurel LaSalle.”
The man’s eyes narrowed. “And who are you?”
I sure as hell wasn’t giving that information away for free. “None of your business. I’m here to see Mrs. LaSalle. I have a note for her.”
He scrunched his nose and held out his hand. “I can give it to her.”
“No,” I said, stepping back and using the same tone I’d used when I had to tell guys no for the last time.
His pupils dilated a bit, and he stepped back. “Hey, no need to use your hocus-pocus on me. One minute.” He turned back. “Mom! Some chick is here to see you! She says she’s got a note, and she’s a little sassy.”
My stomach swam. Holy shit. My aunt was in there. That made the irritating obstruction my cousin—a thought that was a little too much to take.
Footsteps echoed on wooden floors inside. The man—my cousin—moved out of the way, replaced by a silver-haired woman with a penetrating stare and rings on most of her fingers. “You have something for me?” She held out a bejeweled hand.
She was wearing so much perfume, I could feel it with all my senses. Her scent was of nutmeg and hot wax, and the sweet taste of honey. My skin prickled from a sensation that felt like smoke curling over my skin, and as I focused my mind, I could hear a faint buzzing like bees. It felt like happy bees, for some reason.
It was overwhelming.
She raised an expectant eyebrow.
“Uh…” My voice broke.
It was now or never. “My name is Savannah Caine. I grew up in Wisconsin—I think you might be my aunt.”
The overwhelming sensation in the air intensified, and I felt it wrapping around me like an invisible serpent. The woman’s voice was hard. “Is this some kind of joke?”
I fought to keep my breathing steady. Something about her terrified me to my core.
Practitioners of the dark arts. Black magic. Could turn a man to stone with her stare.
But it wasn’t the things people had said. Instead, it was that feeling of raw, barely restrained power all around me. I’d never felt anything like it, except maybe near Jaxson.
I pulled out the note my father had left and thrust it forward with a trembling hand, barely able to speak. She snatched it and opened it.
Brushing my hair back, I steadied my breath. “No, it’s not a joke. I didn’t know about you until yesterday. I’m sorry to bother you, but my father passed away five years ago, and I never knew I had an aunt. I don’t think I’m supposed to know, and I’m not trying to cause trouble.”
The woman looked at me with hard, penetrating eyes, and then glanced back at the letter. “How do I know you’re my niece and this isn’t some sort of trick?”