Demons of Desire (Half-Breed Series Book 1)(5)

By: Debra Dunbar


I was on my back, staring up at Darci’s dark brown eyes, her face framed by a cerulean sky. Jordan stood to the side with her hand covering her mouth. She wasn’t as concerned over my horizontal position as Darci was; she was too occupied staring at the Live Oak. Emphasis on “live”.

“Low blood sugar,” I told Darci as I tentatively sat up. Her eyebrows shot up, but she held her tongue. Jordan wasn’t so circumspect.

“You cured it! I’ve never seen a magical working have such a quick result. Wow, if you can do that for a tree, I can only imagine what you could do to help rebuild the swamp areas. Centuries of damage could be corrected in one day. You must meet my coven.”

“She must get a sandwich.” Darci’s voice was stern as she helped me to my feet.

“What kind of magic do you practice?” Jordan continued, undeterred.

“The low–blood–sugar kind.”

“Let’s get you some lunch,” Darci chimed in.

“But the tree… .”

“Yep. Looks like a tree to me.” Darci’s voice was cheerful as she waved a dismissive hand at the oak. “Exactly the same as all the other trees.”

“I know. It was sick — dying. Now it’s healed. She cured it.”

Darci pursed her lips, eyes giving the tree a quick sweep. “Huh. Looks exactly the same as it did before Amber fainted.”

Jordan turned toward me in mute appeal.

“It’s a lovely tree. Perhaps you were mistaken about the Phytophthora ramorum. It’s an easy mistake to make.” It wasn’t, but I’m not the greatest at thinking on my feet … or lying.

Darci grabbed my arm and hustled me to the car, away from Jordan and the inquisition that probably wouldn’t have ended until I’d confessed all. Low blood sugar. What a crappy excuse. I was feeling shaky and weak, but part of me realized it wasn’t from lack of food — at least the kind that went into my stomach. Healing the tree had drained every last bit of energy from me. The monster inside me, the succubus, crossed her arms in smug judgment.

I told you so. Now go find someone — anyone — and fuck their brains out.


We were tucked away in a dark booth at the rear of a busy French Quarter restaurant. Aromas of peppery spices and sizzling cooked meat filled the place, and my stomach growled in response. Under all the tempting food aromas was a faint air of age — like the heat and humidity of centuries had seeped into the very brick and beams of the building.

The Zydeco band was a perfect complement to the atmosphere. The drummer was inexplicably behind a wall of clear plastic, while the keyboard and guitar players stood just outside the enclosure. The man on the accordion danced close to the door to draw in passersby, but my eyes couldn’t stray from the woman front and center. She played a metal washboard that hung over her shoulders and across her chest. Her dark eyes flashed as she stomped her cowboy boots in a hopping, swirling, fast two–step that was so typical of Cajun dancing.

It was like I’d been transported to another world, where centuries melded together in the passionate embrace of scent and sound. The people, the buildings, the food and music — it was rich beyond words, larger than what I’d ever imagined. I knew immediately why Darci loved this city so, why she’d left the excitement of a different state and college to return here when that big scholarship had come in. It had hurt to lose my best friend to a city a thousand miles away, but now I understood her choice. It was about so much more than funds or a wise career move. This was a place that seduced your heart. I’d been here only a few hours, and I longed to make it my home too.

The waitress plopped two pints and several dishes in front of us. The glasses wept drops of condensation, but the significant appeal of the icy beer was outweighed by the bowl of red beans and rice in front of me. The thick, savory red was filled with shredded pork and chunks of beans. Garlic and cayenne gave what would have been bland food a bite of flavor and mild heat. I closed my eyes and murmured my appreciation at the first mouthful. This was the kind of food I could happily eat every single day.

“Okay, spill it. What the heck was that all about?”

I’d barely taken two bites when Darci launched into an interrogation. She’d been squirming across from me in the booth, casting me impatient looks as we ordered and waited for our food. The time had come to tell her everything I’d held back over the last few months. Still, I hesitated, worried that what I was about to confess would cost me my best friend.

“I healed that tree, but it took too much out of me and I passed out.”