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“A Cold Spring” is a serial story about witches and magic and romance.
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A Cold Spring
Episode 6: Fashionably Late
Fashionably late, Aunt Clarissa, the matriarch of my family, stepped regally from an elegant silver and gray coach drawn by four matched gray mares. Her burgundy brocade gown emphasized the gleaming green eyes and ivory skin for which we Darkmores are known. An onyx and diamond comb adorned her once blonde hair, now streaked with glittering strands of silver. Escorted by a young footman in sable livery, she ascended the seven steps to the broad veranda of Castle Highmoor and into the foyer like the queen she was. She extended a stiff hand to Maddock.
“A pleasure to welcome you to our home, Aunt,” he murmured his voice dripping with charm. His blue eyes twinkled as he solemnly raised her pale claw to his lips. “You’re by far the classiest dame here.”
She snatched her hand away, but not before a blush rose on her pallid cheeks. “‘Classy dame’ is not an acceptable term for a powerful sorceress such as myself. I’ll forgive it in light of the general festivities. But I’ll thank you not to call me ‘Aunt’, young man. At least, not in front of all these people. You’ll give them the impression I condone this union.”
I hugged her tight, despite her protestations. “They’ll never suspect a thing. It’s only been a millennium since the Darkmores and the La Croixs broke bread together. I doubt most of them know who is who.”
“Oh, they know. Watch them eye each other like hungry wolves. What’s the old saying—keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Lucia’s curse may have kept us separated in space, but even she can’t control everything.”
Aunt Clarissa wriggled from my embrace and smoothed the brocade gown back in to place with perfectly manicured fingers. A satisfied smile curled her tinted lips. “And you two needn’t look so smug. Your little secret won’t be a secret for long. You’re not the first couple to achieve such a thing. Now, point me in the direction of Aurora La Croix. It’s been a thousand years since I laid eyes on her and I doubt she’s aged as well as I.”
Aunt Clarissa cocked an elegant and knowing eyebrow at us as she swept into the drawing room where raven-tressed Aurora La Croix sipped blood-red wine amidst an admiring throng of La Croix cousins.
“I’m never sure if she likes me or if she is simply humoring her favorite niece,” Maddock whispered. His lips close to my ear sent a delicious tremor down my neck.
“If anyone else called her ‘a classy dame’ she’d turn him into a fly and fill the room with spiders. She likes you, alright. But you are exceptionally ignorant in courtly manners. I blame America.” I smoothed the collar of his velvet jacket, ran my hands down his arms, enjoyed the feel of taut muscles beneath the garment.
Black magic simmered in his cool, blue eyes. “Touch me like that again, and I’ll be forced to carry you upstairs, courtly manners be damned.”
I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled his face to mine. “Scandalous. What will Aunt Clarissa say?”