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First Chapte
Chapter One

Found In Magic

She'll do anything to right the wrongs of her past…

He'll do anything to keep her safe, even if it means standing in her way.

 

Morgana Smith needs answers. After spending twenty years in captivity, her magic is weak, and she doesn’t know who she is or if she has a family.

 

Damon Stone uses his gift of persuasion to control every aspect of his life due to a tragedy in his past, and since falling for Morgana, he will do anything to keep her safe.

 

Only Damon’s gift is powerless to stop Morgana from setting out on a perilous quest when she uncovers a clue about her past. Refusing to let her go alone, he journeys with her to a foreign country where they encounter a sinister adversary seeking to unlock unimaginable evil.

 

To survive, Morgana must find the strength to let go of her past and trust who she really is. But only if Damon’s determination to protect those he loves isn’t the downfall of them both…

 

** The In Magic Series is best read in order although each book features a different couple and has its own Happily Ever After. **

Found In Magic by KJ Warawa, Paranormal Romance Author

Sneak Peak...

Chapter One

Morgana Smith had been free for 320 days.

She was physically free and yet she felt just as trapped as she’d been for over twenty years.

But she wasn’t free from the relentless pounding in her skull that threatened to drive her insane and prevented her from sleeping. She wasn’t free from the feelings of shame that came with her magic being so weak it was useless. She wasn’t free from the missing memories and the worry of not knowing who she was or where she came from.

The lack of memories was the worst — wondering where she came from and who she’d been. She could only remember the last year before she’d been rescued, the year she’d spent with Zeus. After her rescue, she’d learned his real name had been Louis Copeland; the day he died was one of the happiest of her life. At least, from what she remembered.

Every day she woke and wondered if it would be the day she remembered something about her life. And every night she went to bed disappointed, wondering who she was and where she belonged and if there were people who missed her. People she’d miss if she remembered them.

Ben Davis, the head of the FBI’s magic task force, told her that over the past twenty to thirty years, there’d been dozens of magic families killed after their magic was siphoned. The magic task force knew that children were taken, but they had no idea how many. If civilian police or FBI were alerted to the crime first, the information didn’t always make it to them. He’d said he also feared that there were even more missing children than they knew about because their disappearances were magically masked.

Ben had his team investigating the missing children’s cases, but so far there was no one fitting her description. Even photos age-progressed by twenty years hadn’t come close to matching her physical description.

As she watched the sun start its rise over the Rocky Mountains, she wondered if today would bring answers. She’d been in Blue Mountain, Colorado, for almost two years now and each day she watched the sunset, she wondered the same thing. Her first year there, she was trapped inside without windows and hadn’t felt the sun on her face.

Since her rescue ten months ago, she’d watched it rise and felt its warmth every chance she got.

Blankets had become one of her favorite things. She couldn’t remember having a special one growing up, or more than one at a time. Now she had lots to wrap herself in when the weather was cold. Blankets someone had conjured because she couldn’t. She couldn’t even conjure a cup of coffee.

Today a sweatshirt was enough to protect her against the chilly end-of-August morning. After several hours of fighting against the constant throbbing in her head, she’d finally given up and had come down to her usual spot and curled up on a chair.

She loved the back patio of the Williams’s restaurant, The Magic Plate. The Williams family owned three tall buildings they were renovating with offices and shops on the bottom level and condos on the higher floors. Meredith, the cousin in charge of all the renovations, had shown Morgana around the buildings. She’d fallen in love with all the plans for making the buildings into a community — something she’d yearned for.

Guilt swamped Morgana when she thought about the family’s generosity — they’d rescued her, given her a condo, and a family. They didn’t even expect her to work, but she did anyway, helping in the bakery owned by Reece, one of the cousins, and the restaurant.  

“Figured I’d find you up and thought you might need this.”

Morgana looked up, shielding her eyes from the sun with one hand. Rowena stood beside her with two mugs of coffee. “Thanks,” she said, taking the proffered drink. She inhaled deeply and took a tentative sip as the steam hit her face.

“Couldn’t sleep?” Rowena asked.

Morgana shrugged and sipped her coffee. Rowena, along with her cousins, Meredith, Jo, and Jo’s brother Reece, were in a similar situation as Morgana since they too were all learning more about who they were. The cousins knew where they came from, but last year they’d learned that they had been spellbound since they were children. They had grown up not knowing they were magic. They hadn’t even known magic people existed.

The knowledge had changed all four of the cousins’ lives, especially Jo’s and Rowena’s. Jo now worked for the magic council and Rowena had decided to change the direction of her practice. She was still a psychologist but now worked almost exclusively with magic people. Morgana was one of them. Sometimes.

“I’ve got an early client this morning, so I can’t stay long, but it’s nice to have company,” Rowena said.

Morgana eyed her friend suspiciously. “Just coffee and company, or are you going to put on your psychologist hat because I haven’t made an appointment with you recently?”

Rowena chuckled. “Just coffee and company…for now.”

Morgana snorted and took another sip. “It’s been quieter since Jo and Simon left for Budapest, but it’s nice having Jack and Meredith back from their honeymoon.”

“I expect we’ll see them at dinner tonight, and Reece is around somewhere too. As much as I love my cousins and their partners, I can’t keep track of them anymore with everyone able to flash here and there.”

One more thing Morgana couldn’t do — flash. She looked down, letting her hair fall over her face to hide her shame.

Rowena took a sip of her coffee and then turned wide eyes to her. “Oh, Morgana, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that the way it sounded. I didn’t mean to boast. Not everyone can flash.”

“It’s okay. Maybe Jack and Meredith and the other council leaders will figure out what’s wrong with my magic. Or maybe they won’t.” She didn’t want to give up hope, but how long should she hold out? Another month? Another year? Forever? At what point would hope in the hopeless start to hold her back?

She looked out over the mountains, loving the way the sun reflected off the peaks, and decided to enjoy the moment. “Is Meredith organizing the dinner tonight or does she need help?” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she looked at Rowena and they both burst into laughter. “Right, dumb question.” Meredith was an organizer extraordinaire and made it seem effortless. “Well, maybe I’ll still ask if I can help.”

“Good idea. I think it’s going to be a large crowd tonight and I love seeing who shows up.”

Weekly family dinners in the restaurant were a tradition and it seemed the invitation was open to all the magic people the Williams family knew. Morgana liked meeting new people and catching up with those she’d met in the last year. One person in particular — Damon Stone. He never seemed to miss a weekly dinner if he could help it. He was best friends with Meredith’s husband, Jack, and had grown up with all the cousins.

He was sexy and bossy, friendly and annoying, giving and controlling. Yes, he was good-looking, but the bossiness was enough to cancel out his hotness. She’d been bossed around her entire life and now she refused to let anyone else tell her what to do. She’d had over twenty years of that, and Damon seemed to live to tell her what to do. Ten months ago, she promised herself she would never be controlled again.

No one said she had to be at the dinner, but it was the one time each week when she felt like she had a family and belonged. There’d been so much loss and turmoil over the last year; she wasn’t the only one who clung to the normality of the dinners. It was a time to be with friends and family and cherish the time they had together.

One of the people they’d lost had been Meredith’s mother, Elise. The fact that she’d died while rescuing Meredith and Morgana from Louis Copeland still sat heavy with her. Several months before, Jo and Reece’s mother had died. But at least amidst all the tragedy, Reece had been saved from his death bed.

She took another sip from her mug as movement caught the corner of her eye.

The coffee mug slipped from her fingers, shattering on the patio.

Brown liquid oozed into the cracks between the tiles, but Morgana gave it only a fleeting thought. Her entire focus centered on the black spider crawling across her left white sneaker.

The world around her receded as her gaze stayed locked on the spider. Rowena’s voice was distant, as if she was calling to Morgana through a long tunnel.

Her vision blurred and there wasn’t one spider anymore; there were dozens of them as she was thrown back into the past.

She’d been tied to a chair. Her ankles and calves secured to its legs, her arms fixed to the rests, and another rope around her torso.

At first it was just a dozen or so spiders, sending threads of terror spiraling through her body. When she was scared, her magic came close to the surface, and with just a small spell, someone could siphon it from her easily. They then took the little power she had within themselves. Morgana would be weak for days, sometimes weeks, until her magic regenerated.

The special magic rope limited her movement and prevented her from using her magic but still allowed her captors to drain it from her.

Zeus would conjure spiders onto the floor and then direct them toward her. When she wore shorts, she’d shudder at the feel of their legs inching up over her skin, like small, hairy predators invading. As horrific as that was, long pants were worse. The little creatures would get trapped between her clothing and her skin, invisible attackers working their way up her body.

The older and stronger she became, the more spiders they had to use to incite fear in her. The more fearful she was, the easier it was to drain her pitiful amount of magic. Her heart would start pounding so hard she could hear the blood passing through her ears — a literal thump, thump, thump — and looking down she would see her chest moving up and down through her clothing. Her arms trembled, causing the magic rope to rub back and forth across her wrists, tearing her skin like jagged little teeth. Sweat broke out on her skin, prickling at her forehead and running down between her small breasts. Her vision would become darker and narrower and a voice in her head whispered, “This is what dying feels like and you are going to die alone.” There was nowhere to escape or slow the panic that overtook her.

She refused to die. It had taken months, but she’d practiced over and over until she’d learned to shut her mind off to the little crawlers. She’d go someplace deep in her thoughts where all feeling melted away.

The tactic had worked until they’d switched to biting spiders. They bit into her flesh, small bites over and over again, never-ending, like they would consume her one bite at a time. The death of a thousand tiny bites.

She would scream until her throat was raw and her voice was too hoarse to make a sound. The pounding of her heart would worsen. Her breathing would feel restricted and she’d shake uncontrollably as the spiders climbed higher. They continued onto her chest and neck and eventually onto her face, forcing her to shut her mouth and squeeze her eyes shut tight.

She would sit silent and unmoving, her eyes watering from squeezing them so hard, and wonder if the torture would ever end. That was when the biting would finally stop.

After one particularly brutal session of enduring hours of bites, she laid on the cool bathroom floor, her stomach empty after she’d puked for what felt like hours, and a realization came to her. The more she moved and screamed, the more agitated the spiders became. They were attacking what they thought was a threat in order to protect themselves.

From then on, she never moved.

 

************************

Damon Stone leaned his hands against the brick wall of the Williams’s building and stretched his calves, swallowing a groan.

 

“Too much for you, Damon?” Meredith asked from beside him.

“No.”

“Really? The look on your face says something different,” she said, elbowing him playfully in the side. “And I had to slow down the last couple of miles.”

“Bullshit.” He laughed, bending to elbow her back. He’d known Meredith for as long as he could remember, but they’d become closer friends in the last year. “I’ve just been sitting too much lately.”

“Yeah, right.” She laughed again as she reached for the door of The Magic Plate. “I said you didn’t have to come with me, remember? I’m perfectly safe running on my own. I did it for years when Jack wasn’t around, you know.”

I know.” He grabbed the door from her as she walked in and followed her into the air-conditioned interior. The place was empty at the early hour, but the quiet was sometimes a welcome reprieve from the craziness of his life.

They always ended their run at the restaurant, more times than not grabbing a drink or breakfast. Sometimes others joined them. “Maybe I’ll just join you and Jack more often to give you a run for your money.” It would give him an excuse to run into Morgana — which would be both a pleasure and a torture. He was drawn to her in a way he’d never been drawn to another woman before, but she frustrated the fuck out of him. She was beautiful to look at with her long, straight blond hair, light gray eyes, and curvy body, but he wasn’t a shallow man. He was attracted to more than her looks. The juxtaposition of her shyness and strong backbone was sexy as hell. She was also kind, and sometimes when she concentrated, she bit into her lower lip and all he could think about was picking her up and taking her someplace where they could be alone. He’d soothe that lip of hers with his own.

“Sure, fit us into your busy schedule, Mr. Businessman.”

Meredith’s comment brought him back to the present and he had to remember what he’d last said. Joining their run. Right. “Funny coming from you, Kettle.” Meredith was busier than several people combined between running her business and co-leading the North American magic council with Jack. They both chuckled since they knew he was right.

 “Want to just conjure a coffee and sit out back? I think Rowena said she’d come for a coffee before her first client.”

 

“Sure, lead the way.”

Meredith pushed open the door to the back of the kitchen that led to a patio and the sight greeting them had all thoughts of coffee fleeing his mind.

Rowena was kneeling in front of Morgana, talking softly, but not touching her. “You’re in Blue Mountain. You’re safe, Morgana. What you’re seeing isn’t real.” Rowena repeated the words again and again, offering Morgana reassurances.

Rushing to Morgana, he knelt down beside Rowena on the brick patio. He reached up to touch Morgana on the leg, but Rowena gently knocked his hand down and shook her head at him.

Morgana’s light gray eyes were open and unfocused. It was as if she had gone somewhere deep into her memories.

His protective instincts kicked into high gear whenever he was with Morgana. He wanted her to be safe and happy. Yes, he wanted that for everyone, but more so for Morgana. Seeing her happy settled something inside him. He had to force himself to keep his instincts in check and not pick her up and carry her away.

Seeing her like this made his instincts worse and harder to resist. He wanted to wrap her in his arms and take her to his home where she’d be safe. There was no way to protect her from her past, but if he could figure out a way, he would.

Her skin was paler than usual, and the ever-present lines of pain bracketing her eyes were deeper. Her long blond hair hung in a braid down her back and wisps floated around her angular face. “What happened?”

 

“I think she’s having a flashback,” Rowena said, glancing at him before looking back at Morgana. “Morgana, it’s Rowena, your friend. Damon and Meredith are here too. We’re at The Magic Plate in Blue Mountain. We’re having coffee on the back patio. You’re safe. Listen to the sound of my voice.”

Rowena continued the explanations, but Damon wanted to push his friend out of the way and hold Morgana. He wanted to be the one to help her through her troubles, defend her against physical threats, and hold her to reassure her that she was safe and that nothing from her past could harm her here.

Time seemed to crawl by as he watched Morgana. Finally, she blinked, slowly coming back to them.

He’d been struck by Morgana’s beauty from the moment he’d laid eyes on her, but it wasn’t just her blond hair and light gray eyes. There was something about her that just spoke to him. His magic essence had stirred the first time he saw her, as if reaching for her, like she was a part of him, even though they’d never met before. A first for him.

Female companionship was a regular occurrence in his life — he was a healthy and attractive male in his thirties, after all — but he’d never been drawn to another person like he was to Morgana. He got a sense like he’d always known her.

“Rowena? Damon?” Morgana turned her head from side to side then dropped her face in her hands. “Oh my god. I’m so sorry.”

He pulled one of the patio chairs over and sat, careful to keep his knees from touching Morgana’s. Resting his forearms on his thighs, he hunched over, making himself appear smaller and hopefully less intimidating. He was a big guy and sometimes it was a disadvantage when he wanted to appear non-threatening. “No, Morgana. You have nothing to be sorry for.”

 

“I need to go.” She pushed out of her chair and hurried to the back door of the restaurant.

He was out of his chair, ready to go right after her.

“No. Let her go,” Rowena said, her hand on his arm.

He was torn between yearning to help Morgana and listening to Rowena’s advice. “She’s scared and embarrassed.”

“Damon, conjure yourself some coffee,” Meredith said, pulling up a chair next to his.

He would have preferred a good scotch, but six-thirty in the morning was a little early for alcohol. Coffee would have to do.

The three of them sat in silence for a moment as they drank their coffees, but the itch to go after Morgana wouldn’t leave him. “Rowena, are you sure I shouldn’t check on her? Her headaches are getting worse. Maybe she needs someone to look after her, at least until the headaches stop.”

“I know. She’s holding so much in and except for some superficial stuff, she won’t talk about it. But, Damon, we can’t force her. Morgana has to do this on her own time.”

Even with her own comforting words, Rowena looked worried, like she wished she didn’t have to follow the advice she dished out. But he knew she was right. It just went against every cell in his body to sit back and not persuade her to get help.

“Damon, don’t do it.”

He didn’t have to ask what Meredith meant. “I won’t use my specialty to persuade her.”

Meredith looked skeptical. “You promise? I’m sure you used your persuasion on me when I freaked out after learning I was magic.”

Rowena frowned. “Is that true? Did you use it on us?”

He just shrugged. He enjoyed life too much to admit to a very powerful magic woman that he may have used his magic to persuade her to listen when she didn’t want to. He wasn’t dumb.

“I’ll let it go for now, but if she doesn’t come down for the dinner tonight, I’ll check on her,” he said.

Meredith snorted. “I’m not sure that was much of a promise, but okay.”

He stayed for a few more minutes, chatting with Rowena and Meredith, and then flashed home to get ready for work.

While he was showering, Morgana’s image popped into his mind, like it’d done every day for the past ten months. But not just in the shower — also in his dreams or while he was in a meeting.  Even when he was reading a book, he imagined what it would be like having her nestled up against him. They’d both be reading and then they would stop to talk about their book; they would kiss. He could see them acting out some of the love scenes from their favorite books.

Grabbing the body wash, he soaped himself up, then turned the water to cold and rinsed off quickly. He wouldn’t jerk-off to Morgana’s image.

He respected her and refused to let her become an obsession. He just worried it was too late.

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