Witchful Thinking: A Jolie Wilkins Novel by H. P. Mallory

Witchful Thinking: A Jolie Wilkins Novel

byH. P. Mallory

Mass Market Paperback | February 28, 2012

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From H. P. Mallory—the exciting author of Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble—comes her new paranormal romance featuring the sassy, self-deprecating witch Jolie Wilkins.
Jolie thinks she’s seen it all, but life continues to spring surprises. The latest shocker? She’s just been crowned Queen of the Underworld. Jolie may possess a rare gift for reanimating the dead, but she doesn’t know the first thing about governing disparate factions of supernatural creatures. She can barely maintain order in her own chaotic personal life, which is heading into a romantic tailspin.

First there’s sexy warlock Rand, the love of her life, from whom Jolie is hiding a devastating secret. Then there’s Sinjin, a darkly seductive vampire and Jolie’s sworn protector—though others suspect he harbors ulterior motives. As the two polar opposite yet magnetic men vie for Jolie’s affection, she must keep her wits about her to balance affairs of state and affairs of her heart. Overwhelmed, under pressure, and longing for love, Jolie decides it’s time to take charge—and show everyone that this queen won’t take jack.

About The Author

H. P. Mallory is the author of the Jolie Wilkins series as well as the Dulcie O’Neil series. She began her writing career as a self-published author and after reaching a tremendous amount of success, decided to become a traditionally published author and hasn’t looked back since. H. P. Mallory lives in Southern California with her husb...
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Details & Specs

Title:Witchful Thinking: A Jolie Wilkins NovelFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 6.88 × 4.17 × 0.88 inPublished:February 28, 2012Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345531450

ISBN - 13:9780345531452

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PRESENT DAY FAE VILLAGE, CAIRNGORMS FOREST, SCOTLAND At the sound of a knock  on the wooden door, I lifted my gaze from the parchment in front of me where I’d scribbled my journal entry. I laid my pen  on the  oak desktop  and stood  up,  catching a glance at my outfit as I did so, and I had to laugh. One fact about the fae and fae communities in general was that magic ruled.  When  you were in a fae  village, and  if  you happened  to be female,  fae magic  dictated you be dressed   in what looked  like Renaissance  garb. My dress  had an empire  waist and was  so long that it skimmed the ground. The material was light and gauzy, off-white, and bedecked with pink ribbon piping around the waist,  the bust, and the wrist-length sleeves. I didn’t even have to look at my hair to know it was three times its usual length, now grazing my butt in a mass of golden sausage curls, kissed by pink cherry blossoms.I’d gone   into battle dressed in stretch  pants and come out of it looking like Rapunzel.I pulled  open the door  and found  Rand  standing  be- fore me. His chest was bare, revealing ripples  of sinuous muscle. Rand’s physique is nothing short of awe inspir- ing, but his muscles  aren’t  the  type  you’d find in the gym. He’s  not into lifting  five  hundred  pounds  and grunting as loud  as he can to make sure  everyone knows he’s lifting five hundred pounds. No, Rand’s physique was sculpted from hard work and training  with were- wolves,  master vampires,  and fae kings.I couldn’t help but stare as my eyes trailed  his beautiful upper body and rested on his blue-and-green-tartan kilt.  While fae magic  bedecked women   in gowns,  the same magic endowed men with kilts. It was like living in the book  covers of every Highlander   romance in existence. Rand still wore the filth and misery  of the war—blood and dirt staining   a face that  surpassed  all others in its beauty. Well, maybe the master  vampire  Sinjin Sinclair (who just happened  to be  Rand’s  detested ally—long story) could compete with Rand’s good looks, but at the moment I wasn’t thinking  about vampires. No, instead, I was getting drunk on the beauty of a warlock.Rand is tall enough,  maybe six-two or six-three, but he appears  even taller by the proud way that he carries himself. He has chocolate-brown hair, cropped short. If you took  that same chocolate, melted it, and added just a touch  of cream,   you’d have the color  of his eyes. His complexion  is  what could  only be  called   sun-kissed, without interruption  by freckle or mole. And his face is pretty angular—a strong jaw, cleft chin, and high, sharp cheekbones. The beauty of his lips—full  and plump under his strong nose—is on par with his gorgeous eyes. When he smiles,  his dimples light up his entire  face until you would  swear you were beholding someone heaven-sent.Neither of us said anything for a second  or two. We just stood there, staring at each other  as if we were from different  planets and unable to communicate. And it made sense  because, although  we definitely  loved each other, the best way to describe our relationship  was as an emo- tional roller coaster. As such, I still  didn’t know where we stood—whether  we were together as in boyfriend– girlfriend or . . . not.Jolie. It  was Rand’s  voice  in my head—complete  with his thick English accent—a form of communication  he and I have shared  ever since we first met at my shop in Los Angeles two years ago.“Rand.”  I said his name  out loud and suddenly  his arms were around me, holding me tightly.  I felt the heat of his skin against my cheek as he pulled  me close. He smelled like spice and sweat,  the  scent of masculinity, the embodiment of Rand. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply, wanting nothing  more than to fill myself with his very essence.“I lost you,” he whispered   with a strained   voice. He was referring to my death, when  Gwynn’s  blade  had pierced my stomach. He pulled away from me, and his eyes were glassy.  “I will never forget the pain of watch- ing you die. It will stay with me forever.”I didn’t want to think about pain. I’d  known my fair share but I also couldn’t deny him the ache in his eyes. I wanted nothing more than to soothe him, to promise we would never  be  apart  again.  “Mercedes brought   me back,” I began. I’d only really been dead for a second  or two, so did it really  even count?He crushed me against him, almost as if he was trying to remind himself I was truly flesh and blood, and not some figment of his imagination. He held me incredibly tightly, as if he could erase the past twenty-four hours by smothering  me.“I don’t know whether to be indebted  to Mercedes or furious with her,” he said.  I wasn’t sure where my feel- ings leaned  on the  subject  either.  I had  a damn  good hunch that Mercedes knew beforehand that I was going to die—there  didn’t  seem  to be much  of anything she didn’t know. But at the same time,  she was the one who brought  me back to life, so how mad could I be?“Let’s put it behind us now,” I whispered. “You said Mercedes was the prophetess,” Rand  continued.  “Are you sure?” I nodded. If I was sure of anything, it was that Mer- cedes  was the  prophetess—the   fabled  and  legendary witch to end all witches. The prophetess was rumored to be able to change history, something  Mercedes had art- fully  demonstrated  by pulling me  back  to 1878. Her magic was so potent, it was scary. “Yes,  I’m positive.”   The image  of her manipulating the sky came to mind. “Didn’t you see how she  ended the battle?” I mean, hello,  if that wasn’t proof I didn’t know what was. He nodded but didn’t say anything else, just continued to hold me, stroking my head like I was a child.  Finally he spoke,  and his voice was soft. “And what is this about you being Queen?” That was a tough  subject,  and I could read lots more into Rand’s question  than the mere fact that he asked it. Rand wasn’t crazy about any form of monarchy, no offense to the Queen Mum. He’d  rebelled against Bella’s plans to become Queen  of the Underworld,   and  even though  he and I were allies and I was as different  from Bella as day is from night, I couldn’t imagine he’d be  any more  eager to see me  ascend  to the throne.  No, Rand believed  in the ideals  of democracy  and  justice.  Even though he was as English as tea and crumpets,  he could easily have been an American revolutionary   from the eighteenth century  based on his feelings about equality, liberty, and freedom. And he did make a mean apple pie. “I  don’t  know,”  I answered,  which was sort of the truth. I mean, I didn’t know  what Mercedes had in mind for me, and although  Rand  had been there  to witness everything  she had to say about me becoming Queen, there hadn’t been much.  In fact, as I recall, she said I’d become Queen  and it was my destiny to unite  the creatures of the Underworld,  and that had been that. “Mercedes  made it sound like prophecy,” Rand continued,  eyeing me as if he thought  I knew  more than I was letting on. “You heard everything  I did,” I answered simply. “I don’t  know what to make of it or what it means, but I imagine Mercedes will fill me in at some point.” “You have freedom of choice, Jolie. If you don’t want to be Queen, you don’t have to.” How  ironic—this was the  first  time “freedom   of choice” had ever been mentioned with regard to the Underworld.  Freedom really wasn’t  something that came easily to Underworld creatures.  Their  society  wasn’t structured like ours—a lesson I’d learned the hard way. “Mercedes assumes  I have no choice in the matter.” I sighed, not really wanting to shatter  the beauty of the moment with thoughts  of my new career path. “She said it was my destiny to unite the creatures. And if it is my true destiny,  how  can I avoid it?” Rand was quiet for a second  or two before he shook his head. “Let’s not think about it right now,” he said, pulling me closer. “We can  figure out all of the details later.” He kissed the top of my head. I closed my eyes as I held him, but it was a false sense of security. As if foreseeing my own future,  I realized Rand would most likely oppose  me if  I chose  to follow my destiny to become Queen. It wasn’t a reality  I wanted to face. The sound of cheering and laughter broke my reverie. I was suddenly  aware that our alone time was nearing its end. “What’s  going  on out there?”  I asked,  although  I wasn’t  really all that interested.  Instead my mind was teeming with all the discussions  I needed to have with Rand—centering on a turn of events in 1878. So much had happened, and unfortunately   what happened  in 1878 couldn’t stay in 1878. “A celebration, Jolie. That’s why I came to get you—to escort  you to the  festivities,”  Rand answered  absent- mindedly,  as if the last thing he was  interested  in was celebrating. He and I were on the same page. A celebration. I hadn’t even considered  it. The overall tone after the gruesome battle was one of mourning  and charity  as our soldiers cared for their fallen, separating our dead  from the  maimed  and  injured and bringing them to this fae village. One of the benefits to having  me on Rand’s side was the  fact that I could  reanimate all of Rand’s  deceased soldiers. It was going to be a long  and arduous  job,  but I had promised  I would  do it, to myself  as well as to our legion—those  soldiers who had  stood beside  us from the  beginning  and vowed  their loyalty to Rand. And it  was something  I wanted  to do—something  I needed to do. As far as I was concerned, death was no longer permanent; it was merely an inconvenience to be overcome. “How many are dead?” I asked in a hollow  voice. “No  final count  yet,” Rand responded  in the  same barren tone. He secured   a stray tendril of hair behind my ear and grazed my cheek with his fingers. “Everyone is  asking after you—apparently  word of your death spread, causing quite a bit of anxiety. I want to prove to everyone there isn’t anything to be worried  about.” He paused,  and  a sweet  smile lit  his face.  “I know you’re exhausted, but it is important for both of us to make an appearance. Will you oblige me?” I really  had no choice but to oblige him. Rand was the captain of our legion  and as such,  he had to be there, congratulate his men, and play  his role as their leader. And so would I. I needed to promise the family members of the fallen that I would  bring  back their  dead. I’d have to hobnob with Mercedes and introduce her to everyone as the prophetess,  the highest  of all witches. Most suspected she was  only a legend.  Little did they know.“Yes, of course,” I answered with as sincere a smile  as I could muster.  The truth of it was that I was  beyond exhausted, physically   and emotionally.   And times like this called for nothing  more than an amaretto sour and an early night. The war and reanimating   our fallen legion  weren’t thoughts I wanted to address at the moment.  Not when I was in the arms of the one man  I loved with all my heart. And, more so, there was so much I had to tell him. Before my little excursion  back in time, things with Rand  had been strained. Although  we loved each other, our relationship had never been an easy one. Rand  had begun  our affiliation as  my benefactor/employer   and consequently,  he restrained  his carnal feelings  for me, fearing  he’d be   taking advantage  of the  situation. As that  became less of a problem,  we were faced with the issue of bonding.Ah, bonding . . . what  a bitch. When  witches  love  each other, they form a bond that is  like  a  marriage   on crack.  Bonding  lasts forever— there’s no divorce. And witches live longer than humans, by a few hundred  years at least, so bonding is definitely a  long-term   commitment.   When witches  bond,  their powers increase tenfold, but so do their vulnerabilities. So if  one  bonded  party dies, the  mate  also dies. And bonding isn’t something you can actually  choose—it’s as if  your body  decides for you, usually right about  the time  you’re getting hot and heavy. And I know this from personal experience. Talk about a buzz  kill . . . Prior to the war, when I was still  in the present time, Rand and I had succumbed to the heat of the moment— and  just when  he’d  been ready  to seal   the   deal,   he’d freaked out and proceeded to take  a cold  shower, literally. Later  he explained that we’d nearly bonded, which in turn freaked  me out. And  scared as I must have appeared, Rand  looked  like he’d  just gotten up close and personal with the headless horseman.  Needless  to say, all sexual  bets were off and we were  relegated to star- crossed lovers who couldn’t get it on. To  say I’d been   sexually frustrated for the  last two years of my life was the understatement of the century. Sexual frustration or not, this is where my story gets even more complicated. Part  of the reason Rand was so freaked out about bonding  with me  was the fact that he’d bonded with a witch  in his past and had nearly died because of it. It had taken Mathilda,  the wisest and oldest of the fairies, to keep Rand  sane and alive. Little by little, she nursed him back to health, using  her magic to make him forget  the details  of the witch  he’d  bonded with until he could  no longer recall her face, name,  or anything   else  about  her.  He survived, but only by a thread,  and the fact that  he endured the “death” of his bond mate was testimony  to Rand’s incredible strength and stamina. But there’s  more. On my tour de  1878, I met Rand during his initial steps in warlock training. To make  a long story short, we both  fell madly in love  and bada bing bada boom,  we had the best sex ever and yep, you guessed it, we bonded. Our happy little tryst didn’t last long, though. Before I knew it, Mercedes insisted  that I return to my own time, saying I had to save the world or some other such crap, and I reluctantly  had to leave my Rand of 1878 behind. If you’re following my story, you probably just figured out the whole thing. If not, let me spell  it out . . . I was the witch  Rand  bonded with, and my departure nearly killed him. It was  a truth that had been hard  for me to digest . . . one I had to share with Rand. “What happened out  there,  Jolie?” Rand  asked as he glanced down  at me. “Where did Mercedes  come from? And why were you wearing my mother’s ring?”It was the same question  he’d  asked me when  I died on the battlefield. God, it felt weird to say that. I didn’t imagine I’d ever get used to it.I swallowed  hard and  glanced  down at  my hand, where I still  wore his mother’s ring. Suddenly I wanted to cry over the injustice  of it all: Rand  had once loved me  and  given  himself to me  and  I to him. He’d  also asked me to marry  him and I’d said yes, although I knew all along that I would  have to return to my own time. He’d given me his mother’s ring and forced me to promise him that he  and  I would reunite in my own time. Even as I made him that promise, I’d wondered if I’d be able to keep it; if I’d be  able   to convince the Rand  of today that we were meant to be together.“Something  amazing   happened,” I said simply and racked  my brain, trying to figure out the best way  to explain.Sometimes the best route is the direct  one. “I traveled back  in time, Rand,”  I said slowly, hoping  the words would sink in. “And?” he  prodded,   as  though   my comment  was completely understandable. That was one thing  I could appreciate about Underworld  creatures—nothing really surprised  them. When you got hairy during  a full moon or had a hankering   for O negative, it only made sense that  what  might  be considered unusual  by some standards  seemed little more  than  commonplace and ordinary. “I traveled   back  to 1878. Mercedes  is the  one who orchestrated  it.”He nodded but didn’t  seem to get the  gist of what I was saying, so I figured  I should start from the beginning. “It was wintertime, Rand, in England. Even though it was summer  when the battle here began—”“About that,” he interrupted in a scathing  tone. “You knew I didn’t  want you anywhere  near that battle, Jolie.”Yeah, that was true. But I was stubborn  and I’d made up my mind to fight even though  Rand  had forbidden  it. I was determined  if  nothing  else. I’d  also been  smart about it, though, realizing  I would  need some form of false identity  in order to deceive Rand  into letting  me participate in the battle.  With the help  of Mathilda, I had managed to drum up a spell  that  changed my out- ward appearance  so Rand wouldn’t  recognize  me.  I fought alongside him, alongside our legion, and none of them was the wiser. That was before I nearly died. Once that  happened, and I’d  been transported   back in time, all my careful spell preparations   had been for naught because my false identity  was stripped from me. Upon my return to my own time, with Mercedes in tow, I was again sans my disguise,  and of course Rand  had recognized me instantly.“Rand, that’s in the past,” I reminded him, not up for being chided about something  that really  didn’t matter now.“If you had listened  to me, none of this would  have happened.” His tone wasn’t angry, more wistful than anything, as if he were imagining  a completely different outcome, one in which he’d  been spared  from witnessing my death.I shook  my head and smiled  up at him. “No harm, no foul.”“So stubborn.”   He chuckled.   “Jolie.” He tilted my chin up and gazed down  at me lovingly. “It’s been too long since the last time I kissed  you.”Before I could even respond,  his warm and sumptuous lips were  on mine  and I melted  into him, feeling  my body wilt against his. He chuckled and held me more firmly, running his hands through  my hair as I felt his tongue enter my mouth. Suddenly, in my own mind, I was transported   back to 1878 when  Rand loved  me freely  and neither  of us had to hold back. The thought depressed me so much I thought I might start crying. So I pulled away, thinking  I should focus on the rest of my story. I had to get it out in the open, just to get it over and done with.“I nearly   froze to death when  I arrived in 1878 but two  maids  helped me. One was named Elsie.” Elsie had been one of the attendants  at Pelham  Manor, the same manor Rand now inhabited and owned. But in 1878, it  had  belonged  to Rand’s  best  friend, William Pelham. Upon Pelham’s death, William had bequeathed his property to Rand. Either way, the name Elsie wasn’t ringing any bells in Rand’s head. I could tell by the blank look in his eyes.“It  was Pelham  Manor,  Rand,”  I admitted  finally. “Mercedes was responsible for bringing  me back in time to Pelham Manor.”He blinked for a  few seconds  and  then  eyed me inquisitively. “Pelham died in 1878. I was in residence at the manor.”Hmm, about Pelham dying—that  was another issue I had to address with Rand, but it wasn’t at the top of my list. I’d sort of taken it upon myself to heal Pelham while I’d been   his guest. As it was told, Pelham  had died of cholera, but the ailing  man I’d cured seemed to be dying of something  else; his symptoms were different from those of a cholera  patient.  Well, I’d have   to shelve that subject for another day. Now I had more serious  stuff to get off my chest. Big stuff.“Yes,” I said firmly. “You were there.”“I was  there?” he repeated, his eyes narrowing  as he considered my words.“You gave me your mother’s ring.”He shook his head as if he was finding  it difficult to believe.  “I have no recollection of any of this,”  he said and pulled  away from me, beginning  to pace as  he al- ways did when agitated. “When I first met you in your store, there was nothing that seemed in any way familiar about you.”I nodded, but I had no clue what the laws  were about time travel either. “I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe I didn’t seem familiar because you  didn’t know me yet at that point? Maybe technically you hadn’t met  me yet?” “But if you traveled to 1878, we had already met—over one hundred years earlier.” I shook  my head. Somehow  I had to tell him that  we’d bonded. But suddenly it was like a figurative light switch went off in my head. Rand  and I were no longer bonded. Of that I was  convinced,  because when  you’re bonded with someone   you’re one  with them—you   can feel the same  emotions   they do, hear their thoughts.  And I couldn’t feel any of Rand’s emotions. Nor could I hear his thoughts,  and it didn’t appear that he was cognizant of mine. In traveling  back to my own time and  Rand nearly  dying,  the bond between us had to have been destroyed . . . We were two  separate beings. With this discovery I felt nothing but an isolating  numbness. I swallowed hard as I further considered it. There was a  big chance  that Rand might not take  news of our bonding very well. Bonding had nearly killed him, and I didn’t imagine that would  be easy to swallow, especially since over the past one hundred  years he’d carried with him the void of believing that his partner  had died. So, really, wouldn’t it be better not to tell him, better not to dredge up something that was so incredibly painful to him? I mean, we weren’t bonded anymore,  so maybe it was better just to let that conversation die and focus on the future?  Focus on a  fresh start? Besides,  Rand  had made it pretty clear that he wasn’t interested in bonding again, not after the first time around nearly killed him.“Rand,” I began.“Rand  an’   Jolie, where   be  ye?” The voice  boomed from outside and seemed to rattle  the walls of my make- shift cottage room.“Odran?” I asked Rand with a smile,  referring  to the fact that the baritone  voice could belong to none other than the King of the fae.Rand nodded  with a  sexy grin. “You  and  I have  a party to attend. Are you ready?” He held out his arm and I took it with a nod, pushing  thoughts  of bonding conversations to the deep recesses  of my mind.